The Best Employers Eastern Region initiative was founded in 2012 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.
Having handed out more than 24 Best Employers Eastern Region Awards to date, Pure was keen to further explore what makes these award-winning organisations so successful in the eyes of their own employees. Scott Woodrow, Associate Director at Pure, caught up with Jayne Oakes, Director Organisational Development & HR, at CashFlows in Cambridge. The organisation, which develops core technologies and innovative payment solutions which help businesses to manage their cash flow, was crowned the region’s Best Large Employer for Employee Engagement in 2016. It also featured in The Sunday Times Hiscox Tech Track 100, an annual league table which ranks Britain’s fastest growing private technology companies.
Jayne talked to Scott about the award-win, the company’s recruitment and retention strategies, and how it has strived to develop high levels of staff morale and an extremely innovative culture throughout rapid company growth.
Recruiting for cultural fit
“Our team has grown from 67 to 133 employees in the last year and covers a wide range of skill sets from IT and software through to marketing and sales. When recruiting for new people we look for cultural fit over aptitude. We work in an extremely fast-paced environment and have succeeded by fostering a very collaborative approach. While knowledge and experience of the financial technology sector is important, we also look for those with an energetic approach and a team-spirited attitude.”
Attracting and retaining high calibre employees
“Our staff turnover is extremely low, but we can’t become complacent. We recognise we need to stay competitive and we’ve significantly enhanced our benefits packages to help look after our people. Our offering includes life assurance, income protection, wellbeing initiatives and flexible working. We also invest significantly in training and provide clear career development opportunities, including two different graduate schemes, one at a management level and the other on technical skills.”
Leading a culture of innovation
“We’ve deliberately maintained a relatively flat leadership structure across the organisation and none of our senior management or executive team sit in different offices. Innovation is one of our core values and it stems from the unrelenting pace of online payments and our desire to stay ahead of the game. We want our leaders to be just as accessible today as they were when first started out. If our employees have any ideas, or need any additional support, they can go straight to the right people. No idea is too crazy and if you want to speak to the CEO you just stroll over to his desk. This approach also helps us to make decisions quickly, so people see their good ideas come to fruition and are not left waiting for their ideas to filter through.”
Developing an inclusive environment
“We’ve worked to develop an inclusive environment which is attractive to everyone. Despite being a historically male driven industry, over a third of our employees are women including senior members such as our Head of Development. Our team also includes a diverse range of nationalities with employees from Thailand, the United States and across Europe.”
Open and honest communication
“We pride ourselves on a culture of honest and open communication, which starts from the top and filters through the entire organisation. We aim to be transparent and use our six-weekly team updates to share both challenges and successes with the team. However large the company grows, and however much things change, this is a culture we want to work hard to maintain. While we encourage people to just come and talk to us, we chose to also use the Best Employers Eastern Region employee survey as it’s important for us to monitor our overall culture and engagement levels and to be able to benchmark ourselves against other organisations in the region.”
Engaging employees to provide feedback
“This was the first time we’ve taken part in the Best Employers Eastern Region survey and it was a great experience for us. We looked to engage our teams in the process by making sure they understood the reasons why we were doing it and stressing that it is a confidential, safe and positive way to provide feedback. We communicated the full results to all our employees and shared our action plans for areas we would like to develop. We were pleased and delighted to have won the Employee Engagement Award, but not surprised. We were surprised that the results were as good as they were though.”