Rotas, productivity and leadership with Jennifer Handley at LUSH Handmade Cosmetics

by Rotageek on 30 July 2021


How important is an open feedback culture? And how can the flexibility of a staff scheduling solution support this? 

These were some of the questions covered in a recent Rotageek interview with the handmade fresh cosmetic brand, Lush. Nick Toon and Alexander Saleh of Rotageek were joined by Jennifer Handley of the Lush Global Flagship Store and Spa Management Team in Birmingham. 

Sparked by the huge learning curve she experienced during the pandemic in her role, Jennifer shared her thoughts in an article. Written to help others improve their employee’s wellbeing, increase productivity and think more strategically about rota scheduling, Jennifer shared how implementing effective rota writing during the pandemic at Lush’s Birmingham Flagship store saw amazing results. 

YTD productivity increased by 65% and December 2020 alone saw a productivity increase of 16%, accounting for an extra £83k worth of sales.

Jennifer joined the Rotageek interview to discuss these learnings, touching on topics including leadership, considerate scheduling and the future of automatic scheduling. 

Scheduling to consider employees’ work/life balance 

Scheduling whilst understanding that an employee has a life outside of work is key to employee wellbeing and productivity. The rotas need to be suitable for the employees and the teams they lead, and considering that the rota may have a direct impact on what they can do in their spare time is how Jennifer measures her own success.   

Jennifer explains “People don't really like to feel as though they're being managed, but they will follow strong leadership. So with that in mind, we manage things like rotas and budgets and all of those hard measures, but you don't want to manage your people in that way.  They have to have their own autonomy.”


“Don't manage your rotas in a way that makes it difficult to lead your teams.”

This autonomy is also driven by Lush’s open feedback culture; “
it’s really important that your teams feel able to talk to you if they’re not satisfied with their rota or if they’ve made plans and want to have that work/life balance. Across the pandemic, people have spent more time at home, so there’s been a real shift in where people’s priorities have moved to and the kinds of things that they want to do.” 

“Having an open work culture is really important - making sure that everyone knows that their views and opinions will be heard.”

Jennifer explains that therefore having both an effective rota and someone that will always take your views into consideration is what will directly lead to the productivity of your team; ”We talk a lot about motivation at work and how to motivate your team, but I think the question really should be, are the team happy at work? If they're happy at work they'll be motivated and that will increase productivity as a result."

Flexible staff scheduling is driven by an open work culture

So how can leadership help to maintain the happiness of their employees through staff scheduling? Jennifer explains that it does require flexibility; “Having an open work culture is really important, making sure that everyone knows that their views and opinions will be heard first and foremost is really important. You also need rota software that allows you to be flexible, so when you make a change to someone’s shift it can be sent out to them immediately, or if you have a gap on your rota you can fill it easily.”

Before Lush rolled out Rotageek’s workforce management solution they were still using excel spreadsheets, where every change felt like a chore and a time-consuming process. But through effective rota scheduling, Lush saw an improvement in staff wellbeing, where an even spread of workload was helping to minimise sick days and shift swaps that could impact their business’s bottom line. 

“Flexible scheduling has been made really easy with what Rotageek has provided us with. Before it felt as though we were working with quill and paper and using endless amounts of spreadsheets.” 

When Lush saw an increase in sales from the stores opening post-lockdown, the Rotageek solution allowed for flexibility and accurate labour matching. This type of footfall trend - normally seen from September/October onwards through to the Christmas period - often sees store targets double, so it was about ensuring the fluctuation in demand could be catered for through smart staff scheduling.   

Maximising productivity and efficiencies

“Productivity is often spoken about in terms of sales advisors and their targets”, Jennifer explains “but this could be broken down for managers too. How much time are they spending creating the rotas? Because if they don’t have the technology to support them, then it can take a very long time." 

Boosting productivity is also down to proper planning; “the £83,000 pounds we made extra in December 2020 alone is incredible, but I think that only happened because of the time that I spent planning. There were numerous delivery rotas, stock team rotas and skeleton rotas made in preparation for December.” 

A future of smart scheduling

“It seems to me that retailers are a bit resistant about taking the next step to smart scheduling, but when a rota has been pushed out in 30 seconds versus the 2-3 hours of doing it manually, I think they will be pleasantly surprised”.

Jennifer says “I’m hugely excited about the auto-schedule function. I think for smaller Lush stores this would be brilliant where there’s only a management team and sales advisors. Where larger stores have different contract types and more niche roles such as spa therapists, bar trainers, digital creatives and a stock team and delivery team, then auto-scheduling will be the way forward”.  

If you would like to find out more about Rotageek’s retail scheduling capabilities for your business, speak to a geek - we’d love to see what smart scheduling can do for your people, your customers and your bottom line. 

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