John Lewis has launched a supplier engagement initiative called ‘Better Jobs’ that will focus on the job satisfaction of employees at its own-brand supply base.

The retail group’s new supplier engagement programme will ‘replace traditional ethical audits’ and be rolled across the business’ 120-strong UK manufacturing supply base.

The programme aims to ‘create more rewarding and enriching jobs for the people who make John Lewis own brand products’ by offering suppliers a framework to develop their employee support and engagement programmes alongside an employee survey.

John Lewis’ new initiative was developed in conjunction with a group of suppliers and an employee engagement advisory group.

The programme will focus on seven themes for suppliers to engage with their workforce on - voicing opinion,  progression, reward,  security, job design, respect and health & wellbeing.

Based on feedback from annual employee surveys John Lewis will offer suppliers an action plan to deliver against and a custom built portal to track progress. 

The scheme, which has been created for John Lewis’ long-standing suppliers which ‘have already undergone forensic style audits to confirm that they comply with laws on employment and human rights, and health and safety’, will also be trialled with 15 of the retailer’s Chinese suppliers.

John Lewis’ social impact manager Nadia Youds said: “The Better Jobs Programme was set up following discussions with suppliers about how the Partnership could support them with the challenges they face such as recruiting skilled people,  future-proofing their industry and being more innovative.  

“We wanted to support them to go beyond just meeting the law through ‘tick box’ audits which suppliers said they found restrictive; and to deepen our relationship with our suppliers and share some of our resources with them. So, we created the Better Jobs Programme which assesses continuous improvements that have a positive impact on their employees’ experience of being at work.”

The programme was launched after a year-long trial across 23 John Lewis suppliers, comprising 800 employees. The inaugural survey found that 70% of staff felt they could voice their opinion and the majority felt their employer supported their wellbeing.