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Car dealer Swansway to reveal benefits of treating staff like family members

Treating employees much like an extended family drives performance, but only if there is genuine commitment from senior personnel, Swansway Group director Peter Smyth will tell delegates at this year’s AM and Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) People Conference.

Smyth will take to the stage to give his insights into how to engage employees in a way that motivates rather than being a tick box exercise at the event which takes places on June 11 at The Park Plaza Riverbank in London, before the prestigious AM100 Dinner.

The conference - now in its second year and still unique in automotive retail - focuses on the industry’s greatest asset, its people and explores a range of topics including attracting high calibre apprentices, developing individuals and nurturing ‘home-grown’ talent as well as highlighting the IMI’s measures to create a more professional sector.

Family-owned group Swansway is well-placed to talk about employee engagement having celebrated their fifth consecutive year in the Sunday Times Best Companies to Work for list with a current position of 34 compared to 75 when it was first listed. The list recognises businesses that provide a great working experience for staff and are based totally on anonymous staff surveys.

Smyth said: “We’ve created a culture where staff are treated like they are part of an extended family, but just like family relationships, it doesn’t just happen, you have to put in huge amounts of time and effort to make it work. You need buy-in from the top and not just at the highest level, but at each strata of management. Not surprisingly, exceptional communication is crucial, but that also means being a good listener and acting on any issues raised or implementing good ideas as well as genuinely appreciating the people who work for the business and recognising their contribution to the group’s success.”

Swansway, which  has 17 sites, with 11 brands, including Audi, Volkswagen, Seat, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, Honda, Peugeot, Citroen, Fiat, Jeep, Abarth and Land Rover located in the Midlands, north west and north Wales, operates an open door policy and it is this approach which Smyth believes has helped establish an environment where employee engagement is not just encouraged, but flourishes. In addition, the group runs a ‘buddy’ scheme which allows employees to vent their frustration off-the-record.

Swansway Group employs 678 people whose survey comments in the Sunday Times Best Companies to Work for list recognised their bosses’ willingness to tackle any task and their passion for the business as being one of their own key motivators. In their responses, employees across the board said senior managers embody the company’s values and gave them a top-30 score of 77% positive whilst their chairman Michael Smyth also received a sound vote of confidence.

Smyth said: “The survey responses reflect our belief that you will only create a truly engaged workforce who are motivated and committed to over-delivering in terms of customer care and performance, if you are prepared to live and work by those values yourself, which in turn leads to high levels of employee engagement.”

Tickets are available to dealers and manufacturers, with a limited number of supplier tickets on sale.

To book, please contact Emma-Louise Kinnaird on 01733 395133, email  or visit

The AM/IMI People Conference 2015

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