How to nurture and empower our employees

Treating people as food citizens isn’t simply thinking about our customers or members differently. It is about how we interact with people within the food system, including our employees. If change starts from within, how can we support people within our organisations first? How do we nurture our immediate community and how do we empower our colleagues?

We spoke to Adam Thompson, Chief Rebel at Rebel Kitchen, to hear about how one business approaches its relationship with employees.


In today’s climate, we are becoming increasingly aware of the environmental impact that our consumption has. We are tuning into how we need to look at health holistically, and understanding the symbiotic nature of the mind and body, so it made no sense to me to be a progressive purpose based business, without taking that concept right through to how we operate as a team, treat our employees and also redefine the vision of what ‘good business’ looks like.

There is an old definition which says that the role of a CEO/MD is to maximise ‘value’ for a company’s shareholders, but I fundamentally disagree. If you are setting out with that mentality you are bound to make decision along the way which do NOT support your employees and they are the ones that are ultimately responsible for the success of your business. A CEO should in my opinion be responsible for the employees physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Work is the most time-consuming thing that we do in a week so if we are not doing that, how can you expect them to give their best and what type of culture/business/organisation do you expect to create?

A CEO should in my opinion be responsible for the employees physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.”

– Adam Thompson, Chief Rebel at Rebel Kitchen

That’s why at Rebel we have a heap of policies that aim to not just put people first, but support and encourage them to actively grow and learn. To find more about and within themselves. Amongst things like flexi time and unlimited holiday, we ensure that everybody has a weekly 1-2-1 where they can talk about anything that is going on for them. We always start this with ‘personal’ items and allow the employee to drive the agenda. Come the bi-annual reviews we use a wheel of life to discuss all areas of life and explore the inter-relationship of them to how they have been able to perform. It’s not a typical KPI review tick box activity that does not explain any of the ‘why’.

Together with this, we encourage people to make mistakes and fail forward. We are agile enough to pivot if something isn’t working and are all willing to jump in and help one and other as a ‘family’ would do. We do not blame, we learn and we move on.

You cannot expect good results from people if you see them as nothing more than a number, but if you understand the person, you can always understand the problem. Similarly to that, we are also proud to be a B-corp which means that we are legally required to consider the impact of our decisions on our workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment. By signing up to be a B-corp we have committed to the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose.