Employee engagement

Share your ideas

We believe that some of the very best ideas, feedback and decision-making come from the experience of pub-based employees who are in close contact with customers.

All employees are encouraged to participate actively in the business strategy, including:

  • a ‘Tell Tim’ suggestion scheme for all employees – this generates over 200 ideas a week, all of which are reviewed and responded to by directors; some of the suggestions received are for new products, while others are for small (or sometimes big) improvements in our ways of working.
  • a selection of pub managers, area managers and other pub employees being invited to attend and contribute to weekly head-office operations meetings, hosted by the chairman or chief executive, the minutes of which are sent to all pubs, with employees encouraged to add their comments to the discussions and debates.
  • regular liaison meetings with employees, at all levels, to gain feedback on aspects of the business and ideas for improvement.
  • directors and senior management completing regular pub visits – and pub employees visiting head office.
  • directors, senior management and area managers regularly working in all areas of pubs’ operations, including the kitchen, bar and hotels.
  • a weekly e-mail from the chief executive to all employees.
  • a dedicated employee app: myJDW

Wetherspoon has appointed four employees to its board

Wetherspoon’s chairman, Tim Martin, said: “A successful pub company depends primarily on gradual improvements, based on suggestions from employees.

“Pub and area managers, along with other pub team members, have always participated in weekly decision-making meetings, which distil suggestions from the ‘front line’.

“The appointment of employee directors will extend this approach to board meetings and will help to preserve the culture of the company for the future. “Wetherspoon is pleased to welcome Debbie, Hudson, Will and Emma to their new role.”

The employee directors are:

Debbie Whittingham – regional manager for the West Midlands. Debbie joined Wetherspoon in 1992 as a shift manager and was appointed as a pub manager in 1993, then as an area manager in 2002. Debbie is a head-office sponsor for the company’s network groups. In 2014, she was named ‘area manager of the year’.

Hudson Simmons – area manager for Sheffield. Hudson joined Wetherspoon in 1997 as a shift manager, was appointed as a pub manager in 2003 and as an area manager in 2014. In 2010, he was named ‘pub manager of the year’.

The associate employee directors are:

Will Fotheringham – general manager for the Manchester area. Will joined Wetherspoon in 1998 as a shift manager, was appointed in 2000 as a pub manager and as an area manager in 2006. In 2011, he was awarded ‘area manager of the year’; in 2013, he was ALMR’s* ‘area manager of the year’. *Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, now called UK Hospitality.

Emma Gibson – pub manager of The Imperial (Exeter). Emma joined Wetherspoon in 2004 as a bar associate and was appointed as a pub manager in 2010. Emma has chaired the Torquay and Exeter Best Bar None groups. In 2019, she received the Commissioner’s Award from the Police and Crime Commissioner of Devon & Cornwall Police for services to Best Bar None.

Debbie Whittingham said: “I am tremendously proud to work for Wetherspoon and incredibly excited and honoured to have been chosen for this role.

“Wetherspoon has always been forward-thinking and innovative – and I see this role as another example of that.

“The success of the company has been driven largely by incredible people. The company’s values and culture have always been centred around our belief that running pubs well is a ‘people thing’.

“This role is an extension of that, further putting our employees’ voice right at the heart of the company.”

Hudson Simmons said: “I am very excited to be able to provide a direct link between the board and the rest of my colleagues across the business.

“I am also looking forward to contributing further to the continued success of Wetherspoon.”

Emma Gibson said: “I am honoured to be given this new role. It is an incredible opportunity for me. I have always loved progressing within Wetherspoon and am still keen to continue to do so. I love running The Imperial.

“This new role allows me to continue as a pub manager and also to be part of the bigger picture and represent pub employees on the board.

“I am very much looking forward to the role. It is wonderful how Wetherspoon has chosen to appoint employee directors. Having a greater and more diverse skill set at board level can only benefit the future success of the company.”

Will Fotheringham said: “I am excited to be appointed as one of the new employee directors and look forward to playing my part in contributing to Wetherspoon’s success.

“I aim to use my more than 20 years’ experience with Wetherspoon to contribute to future ideas and initiatives which will enable the company to progress even further.”