In 1906, the company commissioned a documentary, A Visit to Peek Frean & Co’s Biscuit Works, which illustrated the detail of every stage in the biscuit manufacturing process – delivery of raw materials, production of steam, moulding dough, baking biscuits, packaging and distribution. They achieved this on a mass scale thanks to the focus on the physical mechanics, machinery and factory workers.
Like many good employers of the Victorian age, the company developed an enlightened matriarch-like approach, giving many innovative benefits to its employees. At its Biscuit Town factory, as well as having an on-site Bank, Post Office and Fire station; employees and their families had free-to-use access to on-site medical, dental and optical services.
The original contracted hours were 68 across a Monday-Saturday double-shift pattern, but these were reduced from 1868 without a reduction in pay.
The directors wanted to ensure that the workers didn’t indulge in “virtuous pursuits”, and so formed the first of the company paid-for societies, including a cricket club, musical society, and athletic and dramatic societies. Staff magazines also brought together a vast workforce.
Post-World War I, they set up a tribunal, through which workers could freely express and debate their concerns. This resulted in the company giving its employees a pension plan, plus a week’s paid-holiday per year.