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Wetherspoon Employee Motivation Case Study

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Wetherspoon (business name J D Wertherspoon) is a UK-based award winning publican (pubs) chain. This organization is one of the largest and fastest growing industries in United Kingdom. This national chain was founded by English-born, New Zealand-raised Tim Martin in 1979. The company was named after Tim’s Geography teacher Wetherspoons in New Zeland and the initials came from a character J.D. ‘Boss' Hogg from American television series, The Dukes of Hazzard.

Company profile

Wetherspoon operates more than 320 pubs and modest number of hotels in UK.

The USP of the organization is the unconventional locations that include former automobile showrooms, theaters, banks and grocery stores, low beer prices, all-day food service and non-smoking areas with strict ban on television and music.

Industry served

Hospitality industry


Public houses (pubs) and hotels


26,000 (2012)

Special features of the company

A business becomes successful when it knows the game plans of recruiting, training, developing and motivating employees. The key factors that place J D Wetherspoon on the top are:

  • Providing good quality food and drink that are served by well-trained friendly staff
  • Another unique feature that the organization boasts is that they are music-free. The Wetherspoon pubs are music-free to encourage conversation
  • They also specialize in selling cask-conditioned (cask ale) beer.

In modern service industries, employees decide the success and failure of an organization. Customer service always needs friendly and motivated employees. Keeping this in mind, this UK-based company takes precise measures like recruiting, training, developing and motivating in order to create skilled staff.

Employee motivation by Wetherspoon

Here are the factors on the basis of which the company motivates its employees in order to achieve the desired goals of the organization.

Business culture

Generally, decisions are made by hierarchy and passed down the lower level. But modern service sectors require open culture that encourages employees to take part in decision-making process. Companies provide a guideline on how to deal with a customer’s complaint, but sometimes the customer executives need to react immediately without any hesitation.

Wetherspoon is convinced that well-trained, trusted and motivated employees are beneficial both for customers and to the company’s reputation. This is why it inspires its employees to challenge the existing ideas and practices to be a part of the continuous improvement process. This approach leads the employees to adjust many things rather than sweeping things. The company proposes that suggestions should come from the employees based on their work experience.


Wetherspoon has taken a unique initiative that proposes the associates (the ones who are paid hourly basis) should put forward suggestive ways to improve the menu or the food preparation. They are also asked to provide advice like which product should be promoted to lure more customers. This company has taken the initiative because hierarchy managers often fail to come up with improving on daily basis but the associates do. The reason is manager do not interact with the customer regularly but the associates. So whenever these associates regenerate a new idea, they convey it to their line manager.

Another scheme this company promotes to encourage internal communication is to organize a ‘Big Meeting’ that includes the company chairman and directors, pub managers and some associates. Over 1000 employees attend this meeting in order to share their views on the company. The core subject of the meeting is to bring out best possible ways to improve the brand.

Wetherspoon is the firm believer of retaining committed employees. They further believe this ideology makes them standout in the competitive market.


Every employee possesses its own individual needs and Wetherspoon recognizes all needs and takes extra measures to meet them. There are four significant pillars to identify needs.

  • Cognitive needs involve the intellectual stimulation being expected to think and make decisions.
  • Atheistic needs dictate how human reacts to see beauty in many forms. The employees always crave for appealing workplace rather than working in an unappealing work environment.
  • Self-actualization is related to fulfillment of personal needs.
  • Self-transcendence is defined as the joy that comes from meeting the personal expectations.

These are the factors that encourage an employee to make commitments to a certain organization. Successful organizations always take effective measures to motivate employees by fulfilling their individual obligations. This step drives their employees to meet the desired objectives. In case of Wetherspoon, it offers possible facilities to every employee so that they feel comfortable in the work environment.

Training and development

It is one of the significant rules of corporate house that creating and maintaining workforce accomplishes the company’s target. When a firm develops skilled labor force, it becomes the asset of the company.

Wetherspoon accepts the facts that not all employees are going to stick to the company for rest of their life. But they want to develop loyalty in their employees by providing them higher salary package compared to their rivals in the industry. This active move encourages employees and helps the company to create attractive public image in front of the aspirant employees.

Employee retention

The only way a company can contribute to its success is to treat its employees in proper ways. This move can get the company a group of committed employees. J D Wetherspoon has initiated bonus scheme in which all employees receive bonus according to their performance in the pubs. There is also monthly incentive scheme. For example, for the customer care department, they offer holiday trip for two in New York. Here are some incentive strategies that work for Wetherspoon.

  • The company operates in shares markets and offer share option scheme to its employees. This enables its employees to buy company’s shares at guaranteed price. This is a master plan Wetherspoon has developed because employees will start feeling greater sense of belonging. They will want to see the company in better position as they are directly related now.

  • Wetherspoon has advanced training and development program that consists of training courses on career progression and leads to national qualifications. The training course offered by Wetherspoon is closely linked to qualifications sponsored by British Innkeeping. The results of the program favor the company in many ways. The following statistics are the results of this training and development program:

  1. 54% of pub management began as hourly paid associates

  2. 40% of area managers were once pub  managers

  3. 50% of Wetherspoon’s board members were area managers.

Areas like licensing law, food hygiene and health and safety are included in the training course so the employees can have the basic knowledge for each sector that is needed in food and drink industry.


Wetherspoon’s approach towards employee motivation is soundly based and realistic and capable of drawing positive outcomes. This is the reason the UK-based company has won a wide range of awards. These trophies are the reflection of its commitment to serve the consumers the best product.

The list of awards bagged by Wetherspoon includes:

  • Pub Company of the Year 2000

  • Retailer of the Year 2000

  • Retailers’ Retailer Award for Best Company 2000

  • National Innkeeping Training Award: supreme award for overall training programme 2000

  • National Innkeeping Training Award:  The best course designed to develop food and catering skills 2000.

The strength of every company is to have coherent knowledge of recruiting, training, retaining, motivating and developing its employees. Due to the competitive business environment, each company has to know how to attract and retain proficient and skilled labor within the company. The strategies of Wetherspoon have worked in its favor in these regard. It further has broad opportunity to grow its business.

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