Leading Midlands homeware brand shown digital way forward by WELL Training

A heritage Midlands homeware brand have boosted their programme for developing their staff through a partnership with leading global development provider WELL Training.

International home and brushware manufacturer Charles Bentley & Son Ltd, based in Loughborough, have benefitted from a long-term partnership with WELL, which was set up to improve their processes for supporting the performance of colleagues throughout the business.

The experienced digital training staff at WELL drew upon their growing reputation for online delivery to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic with web-based courses which achieved the aims of the family business despite the challenges around social distancing and home working.

Formed in 1860, Charles Bentley can point to “six generations of manufacturing excellence” of home, garden and leisure products, which it supplies to customers worldwide.

The management team enlisted support from Wolverhampton-based WELL in 2019 as part of their growth plans and development of a larger online offering. Working with WELL, Charles Bentley developed their vision for the future, values and brand, which was encapsulated in a core foundation programme for all staff entitled “the Bentley Way”.

Through WELL’s programme, Charles Bentley ensured staff at all levels participated to give the entire workforce a firm understanding of the way forward for the company and how it can be supported through the business operations.

On the back of this, WELL were commissioned to deliver a second programme for managers last year which would allow the “Bentley Way” to be applied to performance development review meetings with employees, aimed at giving each member of staff a fixed point for evaluating their work and agreeing ways for support and development.

The manager scheme was expected to take place face-to-face but with the global COVID-19 pandemic hitting just before the course was due to take place last March, WELL made swift arrangements to move online during lockdown.

Adept at delivering digital training sessions for leading national and international brands including high street coffee chain Caffe Nero and fintech food delivery business City Pantry, the WELL team redesigned the program to be delivered virtually.

Video technology

WELL, which has its headquarters in Queen Street, Wolverhampton, drew upon extensive experience of training staff around the world, often delivering classes in different languages, to use video technology to lead the Charles Bentley participants successfully through the courses.

Lianne Russell, Director of Teaching Learning and Assessment, led the programme for WELL Training. She said: “The COVID-19 pandemic forced a rapid change of plans and allowed us to deliver an effective course online, rather than face to face.

“The aim was to standardise performance development reviews, which were new for Charles Bentley, so they were introduced for every employee. It was vital that over the two days of training, every manager understood the process and how it related to ‘the Bentley Way’.

“Despite all the initial planning being around classroom-based learning, the Charles Bentley management were delighted with the virtual experience in what was their biggest online training programme to date.

“As a family business ourselves, WELL understand how Charles Bentley want to offer staff a personal experience in their internal training as part of the wider ethos of the business. By having worked closely with them over time we have built up a strong understanding of their business and a partnership which benefits both sides.”

In 1860 founder Charles Bentley sold his first broomstick, launching a successful wooden brushes and brooms family business. Since then, the business has diversified its portfolio to include other cleaning-related equipment now sold by the UK’s leading retail chain stores and latterly online via eBay and Amazon.

Course success

Claire Perry, HR manager at Charles Bentley, said the WELL course had been a success. Claire said: “Despite the challenging circumstances around lockdown, the WELL Training course has had an immediate positive impact within our business, allowing us to further embed ‘the Bentley Way’ into our growth plans and company operations.

“We have established a strong relationship with WELL, based on mutual trust, to ensure the programme content and structure met our own objectives at every stage.

“Although we had to switch to digital platforms, the WELL course was delivered in keeping with the way we value our employees and put their success at the centre of our business.

“Allowing colleagues to learn together online in shaping a performance development review process, at a time when social distancing was keeping many of them apart, has been a positive for Charles Bentley.

“Working with WELL over a lengthy period of time has given us the chance to develop a large group of managers simultaneously, ultimately benefitting the staff they support.”

Established in 2010, WELL Training have grown their international reputation as a leading partner for apprenticeships, as well as training in leadership, management coaching, mentoring, learning and staff development.

They have worked with a range of clients across public and private sector both in the UK and with recent expansion into Europe, the USA, Middle East and Asia.