Business Values: How Important is Putting Employees First?

Business Values: How Important is Putting Employees First?

Many businesses are fond of talking up their values, but how do they establish, maintain and develop them practically? While it is easy to come up with a set of business values, it is much harder to make them work by embedding them in a corporate culture.

“Trust comes up repeatedly as a core business value,” observes Donald Moore, Managing Director of Rowlinson Knitwear. “But how does a business demonstrate trust clearly and realistically to its customers, stakeholders and employees?”

The answer, for Donald, and for the family business, lay in transforming Rowlinson Knitwear into an employee-owned company.


The Benefits of Change

“We wanted to build a business for employees, not shareholders,” Donald explains, “and we wanted to consolidate and develop a positive culture where the business values were aligned with those of the people working in it.”

As Donald sees it, the benefits of this change were both inward and outward-facing for the business.


Trust and care were values we cared about in being completely customer-focused, but what has helped enormously in integrating them into the fabric of the business is how we demonstrate them to our employees

Donald Moore, Rowlinson Knitwear


In this sense, trust works on several different levels simultaneously.

The business demonstrates its trust in the employees through an indirect model of employee ownership – the same way John Lewis works.

The employees reciprocate by showing their level of engagement in the business. As Donald points out, Rowlinson Knitwear has a very high staff retention.

Also, this engagement is manifested in high levels of customer service, repaid by the customers’ own trust in the business.


“Employee-owned businesses tend to foster strong bonds of customer loyalty, making them better equipped to ride out economic downturns and recessions”

Donald Moore, Rowlinson Knitwear


The Value in Business Values

Rowlinson Knitwear recently announced its expansion plans, purchasing new premises to continue to grow and thrive.

At the same time, the company is now ranked 23rd on the Best Workplaces 2017 Small Company category.


“We’re doing business in increasingly value-led times.  This means the culture we have as a business plays a vital part in how well we perform, and how our customers respond to us”

Donald Moore, Rowlinson Knitwear


Having recently joined as a member of the Institute of Directors, Donald sees a symbiotic relationship developing there.

“The IoD is enormously supportive of business initiatives, but it is also open to new viewpoints and ways of doing things to develop and enhance leadership in business,” Donald concludes. “In this sense, we can offer our experience to the IoD as a model to meet the challenges of changing times.”

To discover more about Rowlinson Knitwear, please call 0161 477 7791 , visit or meet Donald Moore and some of the team.


The Institute of Directors (IoD) is the UK’s longest-running membership organisation for professional leaders.  

With the help of the IoD North West Regional Director, Claire Ebrey, this is one of series of articles profiling some of its members and how they champion responsible leadership and entrepreneurial growth.