Christchurch barber Ben Scott thinks kindness in the workplace is underrated.
When Scott first started out in 2014 aged 21, he wrote a phrase on his whiteboard, which he then said to himself daily.
“Be the employer that you would want to work for,” it read.
It’s a mantra that Ben, now 24, continues to live by.
As the owner of Benny’s Barber Shop, Ben has ten staff working for him, across three locations in Christchurch.
“I think there’s a weird thing, which has probably come from an older generation, where you have to be hard and you just don’t care and you have to treat your staff within the hierarchy system. Rather than the ‘I’m your boss’ hierarchy, at each store… we took a sporting approach to it.”
Even in the early days of launching and managing a successful business, Ben never wanted to be seen as ‘the boss’.
“I’m just the barber,” he says, from his converted Bedford van, which now acts as a retail space.
His sporting approach means he has his captains and vice captains, who step in when needed.
Ben says it has helped to create a supportive culture, rather than a hierarchical system, where staff feel comfortable talking to him about personal or work-related matters.
“My role on the team is to oversee everyone and the general running of the business - and that could mean I hang out the washing, fix a broken chair or coffee machine, build a new space and then squeeze in haircuts.”
In a week, Ben’s team of ten pump out more than 500 haircuts.
As he splits his time between three sites, builds new spaces, coordinates staff and oversees the overall running of the barbershop, he tries to give himself a little time out.
“I have a few things that I try do but obviously when the work gets busy, it makes it a little bit harder.”
For Ben, finding balance means turning his phone off in between meetings and hitting the gym, even if only for 30 minutes. He also plays touch, and on the weekends he lets off some steam on his motorbike.
“You literally have to zone out, because you have these bumps coming up. It’s quite fun and it’s an adrenaline rush,” he says.
He encourages his staff to work smarter, not harder, so they can get little breaks between clients during busy days.
Their wellbeing is important to him.
Ben offers his team a respectful environment to work in so that they want to come to work. He arranges regular social gatherings and encourages the guys to strive to be better - in whatever it is they do.
Once a month, the team will venture out for a group activity, with paintball, the driving range and BYOs all proving beneficial so far.
“Everyone works as a team and keeps in contact with each other.”
When it comes to his ten-strong team of barbers, Ben hopes his newest initiative will help them to find balance in their lives.
The tragic death of a 23 year-old Christchurch man in 2018 really touched the barbers and prompted Ben’s goal setting idea.
He is now asking staff to come up with three individual goals and for every goal they tick off by the end of the year, Ben will give them $100.
“I think it was just how young he was. There are lots of things he could have done in the future.”
“His life got cut short.”
“To die at 23 is tragic, and I’m sure there were things he had always wanted to do but never got round to doing because of the balance of work and things like that.”