Essex-based Amara and Ipswich’s Pound Gates are crowned the region’s Best Overall Employers

Amara, the luxury interior design company based in Rayne, and insurance brokers Pound Gates, based in Ipswich, were crowned the region’s Best Overall Employers at the Best Employers Eastern Region Awards 2016 yesterday (Thursday 6 October). Further awards were also presented to organisations across the region which excel in Customer Focus, Employee Engagement and Innovation.

The Best Employers Eastern Region initiative was founded by professional recruitment specialists Pure and people development and psychometrics experts eras ltd. It aims to celebrate the region’s best employers and supports organisations across Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire to create inspiring, innovative and engaging places to work.

The 2016 awards conference took place at Hengrave Hall in Bury St Edmunds and was attended by more than 100 members of the region’s business community. The morning was dedicated to sharing ideas and inspiration on employee engagement and discussing its impact on business performance. The guest speakers at the event were Chantal Misquitta from AstraZeneca, Daemmon Reeve from Treatt plc, Norman Pickavance and James Brown from Grant Thornton, and business transformation consultant Steve Turpie. These five high profile business leaders, all from very different organisations, shared their journeys to creating great places to work. Key themes included authentic leadership, the challenge of maintaining employee engagement in a growing organisation and the benefits of a people-focussed approach.

Lynn Walters, co-founder and director at Pure, said: “All our guest speakers are from local organisations already doing great things around employee engagement. We’re really grateful to them for giving up their time. With many people in the audience being SME owners, the opportunity to hear from a growing business like Treatt, alongside large, established organisations such as AstraZeneca and Grant Thornton, was very thought provoking. Steve Turpie’s insights into his experiences of supporting leaders to take a more authentic approach also really hit home. Our aim is to bring the region’s employers together to share ideas and problem solve challenges. Working together will put our region on the map as a great place to work. Being able to attract and retain talented employees is a key factor in achieving business growth, which will ultimately support the overall growth of our regional economy.”

Lynn Walters, alongside Margaret Burnside, Director of People Development at eras ltd, also led discussions on the latest employee engagement trends and shared the key findings from this year’s Best Employers Eastern Region survey. The results of the employee survey also determined this year’s award winners, with accolades being presented to the organisations with the highest scores, based on their own employee feedback.

This year the award for the region’s Best Overall Large Employer award has been sponsored by East of England law firm Birketts. Jeanette Wheeler, partner and head of employment law, presented the award to Amara, and also presented the award for the region’s Best Overall Small Employer to Pound Gates. This is the second time Ipswich-based Pound Gates has been honoured with a Best Employers Eastern Region award, having previously received the same accolade at the inaugural awards event in 2012.

The full list of Best Employers Eastern Region 2016 winners:

Large employers (organisations with more than 50 employees)

  •          The Birketts Best Overall Large Employer Award: Luxury interior design company Amara, based in Rayne, Essex
  •          Customer Focus Award: Arthur Rank Hospice Charity (ARHC), based in Cambridge
  •          Employee Engagement Award: Merchant services provider Cashflows, based in Cambridge
  •          Innovation Award: Sports equipment manufacturers Harrod UK, based in Lowestoft, Suffolk

Small employers (less than 50 employees)

  •          Best Overall Small Employer Award: Insurance brokers Pound Gates, based in Ipswich
  •          Customer Focus Award: Financial planners Beckett Investment Management Group, based in Bury St Edmunds
  •          Employee Engagement Award: Allia, a social ventures charity based in Cambridge
  •          Innovation Award: LSI Architects, based in Norwich

The Customer Focus award recognises the organisations which have motivated employees to go the extra mile for their customers. The Employee Engagement awards honour the employers which have worked hard to develop high levels of staff morale. The Innovation Award is presented to the businesses which have shown the best ability to innovate and harness the creative talents of their employees.

Margaret Burnside, Director of People Development at eras ltd, said: “The winners of these awards have been selected based on the feedback from their own employees, gathered through the survey. Their staff have effectively voted for their organisation to win by sharing their experiences of what it’s really like to work there. This not only makes these awards more unusual, they also feel extra special and very genuine.” 

Lynn Walters added: “A massive congratulations to all of our winners. It’s great to see such a spread of different organisations. It feels very representative of the type of companies we have here in our region. Those taking away awards will be in a stronger position to attract, recruit and retain talent for many years to come. I’d also like to thank everyone who has participated in the initiative overall. Not everyone participating has the intention of winning an award. However, all the organisations involved have the shared aim of improving business performance by developing exceptional employee engagement strategies and creating fantastic workplace cultures.”

The Best Employers Eastern Region initiative has also raised over £3,200 to date by donating a proportion of ticket sales to local charities. This has been shared between; Brightstars, a support group for disabled children and young people in Bury St Edmunds (founded by guest speaker Steve Turpie), West Suffolk cardiac support group Upbeat Heart and St Helena’s Hospice in Colchester. 

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