The Best Employers Eastern Region initiative was founded in 2012 by professional recruitment specialists Pure and people development & 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.
To date, 24 Best Employers Eastern Region Awards have been presented to organisations following the excellent feedback provided by their own employees.
Lynn Walters, director and co-founder at Pure, caught up with Ian White, Managing Director at Beckett Investment Management Group, who received the Best Small Employer in Suffolk at the Best Employers Eastern Region Awards in 2014 and the region’s Best Small Employer Award for Customer Focus in 2016. The company was established 30 years ago and currently employs 50 people.
Lynn and Ian discussed how winning these two awards has helped the organisation stand out as an employer of choice, and how the organisation’s commitment to employee engagement is delivering tangible business benefits.
A different approach to recruitment
“Every firm wants to employ the best people they can and we’ve taken a slightly different approach to achieving this. Rather than looking for the finished article of someone who has already enjoyed extensive success, we aim to find those who we consider to be ‘whispering talent’. We look for the individuals who have achieved good results but are yet to find the right environment in which they can really thrive and excel.”
Commitment to employee engagement
“We firmly believe that, to be able to achieve high levels of customer satisfaction, a business has to have a strong workplace culture. Our culture is based around three key values: empowerment, engagement and innovation. Getting all three right culminated in us receiving the Best Employers Eastern Region award for Customer Focus.”
Growing our own talent
“Because the financial services industry is heavily regulated, staff need to have a high level of qualifications and competency. This is one of the biggest barriers to entry for new employees; not only do they need the relevant qualifications, they need to demonstrate experience as well.”
“We are now committed to growing our own talent. We’ve started to train our own junior consultants and we’ve identified two employees to progress with the support of experienced mentors.”
Happy staff makes us stand out
“The high level of qualifications needed to enter our industry means we can struggle to find new team members so it’s important our organisation stands out for all the right reasons. We want talented people to want to work for us, and our strategy is to be considered the employer of choice within our sector. Being able to demonstrate an exceptional level of employee happiness and engagement is key to achieving this - especially as it is probably unusual for the word ‘happy’ to be used in the context of a financial services company! The external accolade of winning Suffolk’s Best Small Employer award at the 2014 Best Employers Eastern Region Awards also helped to reinforce our employer brand within the region.”
Happy staff leads to happy customers
“There is plenty of powerful research which shows that a happy workforce will produce exceptional results. Trust is a vital element when delivering our services to a client and this is built by providing the right solutions and delivering a consistently high level of customer service. Our employees need to be engaged to work in partnership with our clients to help the meet the different challenges they may face in an increasingly complex financial world. We want them to be motivated to build long-term relationships.
“Winning the Best Employers Eastern Region Customer Focus award has helped to reinforce our belief that our focus on employee engagement, and our strategy of putting our customer first in everything we do, is working. The award was further complemented by what our customers had to say themselves: our most recent customer survey showed that satisfaction levels had improved on the previous year.”
Happy customers help grow the business
“Many organisations will see 90 percent of their new business come from referrals and we’re no different in this respect. Our aim is always to be top of the list when our existing clients are asked by a friend or a colleague who they would recommend. This will only be the case if they’ve received exceptional levels of customer care from motivated, happy and engaged employees.”
The added value of the Best Employers Eastern Region initiative
“Our industry is traditionally very poor at benchmarking and one of the biggest bonuses of being part of the Best Employers Eastern Region initiative is the opportunity to compare our organisation against other SMEs in our region. In addition to the employee survey, and the networking opportunities, the Best Employers conferences have also allowed me to discuss and share best practice with people at other like-minded organisations. The willingness to discuss the implementation of employee engagement programmes really is infectious!”
Top tips for other organisations
“Our main tip is to be prepared to act on the results of the survey. There’s very little point in asking your employees to take the time to provide feedback if they don’t see any action taken.”
“It’s also good to share the results with your team, whether they are good or bad. We see employee engagement and customer service as an ongoing journey and the results of an employee survey are the signpost to how you are progressing.”
“The greatest challenge, having recruited and built a high performing team, is to retain them. To do this, you need to understand how your staff are feeling and to have a consistent measure of engagement levels. We’ve now introduced a small pulse survey every 90 days, made up of just nine questions covering the subjects of vision, leadership and empowerment.”
The proof is in the pudding
Our focus on employee engagement has enabled us to keep our staff turnover to a minimum. We employ 50 people and, over the last two years, only five members of staff have left which includes two people who have retired.”
“In an environment of huge regulatory change within the financial services sector, our profitability has increased by over a third for three consecutive years. Engagement pays!
Lynn is a founding Director of Pure and leads Pure Executive with over 25 years recruiting for Executive appointments. Lynn supports East of England-based businesses with senior management and Board level recruitment. Lynn leads the Best Employer Eastern Region Initiative and the Women In Leadership Programme both of which are aimed at helping companies and people to develop.