What made StrategiQ stand out as the Best Employer winners at the Suffolk Business Awards?
We were extremely proud to once again be co-sponsors of the Best Employer category at the 2019 Suffolk Business Awards. Our congratulations go to StrategiQ as the overall winners, and also to the extremely well-deserved finalists Morgan Sindall, BDO LLP and Red7Marine.
As part of the judging team, alongside Catherine Johnson from Birketts and Alison Rich from Archant, Jodie Woodrow, Business Director at Pure, has shared her thoughts on what made these businesses really stand out.
What were we looking for?
The key themes we were particularly assessing were employee engagement, learning and development, employee reward and recognition, the organisation’s vision, values and purpose and its employer brand. We wanted to get a real sense of the culture of the businesses and to discover just how they were going the extra mile for staff.
Why were StrategiQ chosen as the winners?
StrategiQ were finalists last year and were already doing lots of great things, but they have really turned up the dial this year. For example, they have employed a professional psychologist who helps employees manage factors that may inhibit their personal performance and they have also invested in initiatives to support mental health. This all showed in the great scores they achieved in their Best Employers Eastern Region staff survey, which also earnt them the Best Digital and Technology Company Award and Gold Accreditation. Their continued energy, commitment and financial investment in the employee journey is impressive. It is clearly a vibrant, forward-thinking, dynamic and ambitious business which has put people at the heart of the organisation. With an inclusive, open culture that celebrates the diversity of experience and thinking, StrategiQ were extremely worthy winners of the award.
How did the other finalists stand out?
All four finalists had extremely vibrant, engaging and progressive workplace cultures. As national companies, it could be assumed that BDO and Morgan Sindall would have bigger budgets to invest in employee engagement, but it was how they were going above and beyond expectations to support employees here in our region that really impressed us. Many of the initiatives both organisations have developed and implemented in Suffolk have now been adopted on a national scale. Similarly, as a construction-based business, you would expect health and safety to be imperative at Red7Marine, but the genuine passion for staff welfare was impressive. Its exceptional focus on learning and development and on creating an inclusive culture also stood out. While we may have been judging these businesses as employers, I came away from all four companies thinking I would also feel valued and engaged if I was dealing with them as a customer. They are clearly committed to developing long term relationships, not just quick wins.
What role does the leadership team play in an organisation being recognised as a Best Employer?
Our own experience with Pure Executive shows that culture and engagement need to be led from the top. If the leadership team doesn’t authentically display the culture and values of the business, how can you expect employees to? All the leaders we met were inspiring in different ways, but they all shared an obvious commitment to investing in their people and understood the business benefits this brings. Andy Smith, owner and CEO of winners StrategiQ has an energy and drive which is just infectious. You can’t help but get swept up in his enthusiasm for what the company does and how it is doing things differently. In return for working hard, he is committed to rewarding and celebrating his team and he genuinely values their opinions and gives them a voice to share their input. He also recognises that leadership is an ongoing journey in itself and is passionate about continuous improvement. Both Andy and StrategiQ’s Director Sarah Smith have participated in leadership development programmes and coaching initiatives. They have also invested in delivering a bespoke leadership programme to support the professional development of their senior management team and the company’s succession planning.
How can other organisations be inspired?
All four businesses shared a strong vision of where the business was going and this had been clearly communicated to employees so they understood their role in achieving success. The leadership teams also really understood the markets they were operating in, and what they needed to do to stand out as employers of choice. We see every day how businesses which haven’t genuinely invested in their employer brand find it harder to attract the best people. All of the finalists demonstrated a clear passion for creating great places to work and in supporting their people to progress and flourish.