Growing Happiness, one step at a time

Our Communications & HR Director, Hannah Powell, shares some thoughts on improving well-being in the workplace.

We currently have six people who are dyslexic getting one to one coaching, which is part-funded via the Access to Work scheme from the Department for Work and Pensions. It’s proving very useful, and there is nothing more rewarding than seeing one of the Perrywood family thrive and blossom.

Here is a Whatsapp message I received from one of the team.“I had my first session this afternoon! You picked the right person she was spot on! Basically, she knew more about me than me, and especially understood the things I feel I really struggle with, which I find so hard to express, looking forward to the next session and actually learning some strategies. Thank you!” 

I received the above message from one of the team after attending her first coaching session, to help her make the most of her dyslexic traits or super skills and to understand why her brain works differently to others. It really made my day to receive this and since then there has been positive feedback from others too.

I took over Director responsibilities for HR (Human Resources) in January 2018, and since then we have introduced several new initiatives to improve the physical or mental well-being of the team.

  • We are currently offering an employee assistance programme via Health Assured. They offer health and wellbeing advice online and via a 24 hours phone line to employees and their immediate families, and each employee also gets access to free face to face and telephone counselling sessions each year. They can help with lots of worries which families might come up against from financial problems through to relationship advice and support for changes to health.
  • We are now referring people with physical or mental health problems that are impacting upon their work to an occupational health professional, who gives advice on whether they are fit to work or not, and can often suggest adjustments to their working day. They have supported phased returns for staff members who have returned to work after long-term illness or an operation, and have assisted people who are struggling to do their job for all sorts of reasons out of their control
  • We scrapped traditional appraisals, and now conduct Growing Happiness 1:1s, which are structured catch ups which allow managers and their team members to take time out of their day to day roles and discuss how they are getting on
  • 18 months ago we promoted team leaders to become line managers, so that each line manager doesn’t have too many people reporting into them, and put in additional training and support for managers, to ensure that each manager is able to support their team and has the right skills. Sixteen managers have just completed seven days training over several months on a ‘Developing Manager’s Course’, and another group of managers and some of our office team have just started this course too.

Awards also bring happiness to the Perrywood team!


There is always more to be done and some other areas are still a work in progress. But we do care about the Perrywood Family and we remind ourselves of our core values whenever we are making decisions about what to prioritise. If you want to join our family please keep an eye on our recruitment website which is regularly updated with vacancies for both Tiptree and Sudbury.

We have recently employed a new HR Manager, Jenny Greenwood, who is taking many of these initiatives forward, alongside making some much needed improvements to our processes and systems. As a company which has experienced huge growth in the last five years we need to ensure that the way we work in the HR team has caught up with the size of company we now are – with 200 people working across our two sites.

Huge thanks to Heather from Mindtrip  and Lindsay from CEDAR  in their support in making much of this happen. They have supported me, and our able managers, in moving things forward. I’ve also had some very useful chats with HR Directors in other garden centres, which is one of the benefits of being in the Garden Centre Association (GCA) network.