Amanda Nuttall is HR Director at Approved Index, one of the UK’s leading business-to-business services and part of MVF. The company were recently awarded a three-star accreditation as part of The Sunday Times Best 100 Small Companies list. In our latest interview, Amanda gives us her insight into creating such a recognised positive workplace culture.
You were recently awarded a three-star accreditation as part of The Sunday Times Best 100 Small Companies list. Can you tell us some more about this list compiled by The Sunday Times?
The Sunday Times Best Companies list is the definitive list of the best companies to work for in the UK, and is an important event for us each year as it is voted for by employees. MVF prides itself on providing an enjoyable and rewarding place to work, so these awards reflect how happy our staff are. Each employee is sent a questionnaire asking their views on 8 core areas including leadership, wellbeing, personal grow and charity work and once all the results have been reviewed, each company is then given an overall score.
We first entered the Small Business category in 2013 placing 84th and we were recognised as an ‘excellent’ company to work for. In 2014 we jumped 40 places receiving three-star accreditation meaning MVF was acknowledged as an ‘outstanding’ workplace. This year we are hoping to jump another 40 places and if possible to reach the top ten!
Currently, you are only aware of the awarded 3* accreditation. Your exact positioning will be revealed at a ceremony in London on 25th February. Can you tell us some more about this event?
So far we know that we have achieved the highest possible star accreditation, making MVF and Approved Index an ‘extraordinary’ place to work, we will not know until the ceremony where we rank against the other top companies. The winners are announced at a glamorous awards ceremony at the prestigious Battersea Evolution in London. It is a spectacular event with a delicious three course meal followed by fantastic entertainment so it is always one of the highlights of the year, and a great way to celebrate our success.
What do you think are some of the most crucial elements in creating such a recognised positive workplace culture?
The Sunday Times Best Companies Index (BCI) score is based on workplace engagement across several key factors including employee wellbeing and personal growth, leadership and how satisfied staff are with their pay and benefits package.
At MVF we believe understanding our employees on a personal and professional level has been crucial for creating an enjoyable working environment.
Realising that we had a varied workforce, with some balancing family commitments with their work, we have implemented numerous policies to help staff achieve a good work-life balance. Flexible working is available to all staff and all employees can come to the HR department to discuss what would make their working lives easier. Company laptops can be taken off the premises and documents are shared and stored via cloud storage to ensure there is flexibility to work from home or remotely.
Everything we do for our staff is based on recommendations from employees, and the key element to having a happy workforce seems to be to listen to what they need and want. If there is anything we can implement to improve the working environment or keep our staff happy, we consider it and any member of staff can make a suggestion at any time via our online ‘suggestions box’.
Do you think creating a great workplace culture is always down to management within an organisation, or are there things that employees can do themselves to enhance their own wellbeing and working environment?
A positive workplace is the responsibility of both management and the employees themselves. Our founders have instilled a positive attitude within our staff to be proactive in sharing their thoughts for how the organisation can be improved. Our employees are encouraged to make use of the company suggestions box with any sports, charity or social ideas. Most of our sports and interest clubs have been founded and run by employees. By making staff feel their opinion is valued, we can encourage a sense of investment and pride in the company.
We are frequently hearing in the media how difficult it can currently be for companies to attract and retain top talent. How valuable do you think having a recognised workplace culture can be with regard helping employers attract these sought after employees?
Receiving prestigious employment awards has had a hugely positive impact on the volume and quality of candidates applying for positions here. Having a recognised positive corporate culture helps to make our recruitment process more efficient and attract the best talent.
If potential candidates know we take care of our staff and provide clubs, trips and socials, they are more likely to choose a career at MVF and, often now, the talent comes to us!
Typically, we receive a staggering 1,000 applications per role from all corners of the world which is testament to our company reputation.
Do you think seeking to improve employee wellbeing would be particularly beneficial for certain industries, or do you think businesses across all major industries have just as much to gain from taking such steps?
All businesses are the product of their employees so it is in the interest of the company to monitor staff welfare. Reports show that workplace stress is directly responsible for 25% of sickness absence and 85% of serious illnesses, so looking after staff not only reduces staff turnover, but also makes sure they are healthy and feel happy to come to work.
Our commitment to staff welfare was a key driver in us jumping 40 places between 2013 and 2014 in the Sunday Times Best Companies list.
Last year’s results demonstrated that overall our employees have a strong sense of wellbeing and an impressive 79% of respondents felt positively about the way MVF looked after them. Undoubtedly this has a positive impact on productivity as our employees are happy to be at work and always arrive with lots of enthusiasm and energy.
Do you think workplace culture and employee wellbeing are issues that more employers are now starting to prioritise?
What companies offer their staff outside of mere salary and job prospects has become a key concern for businesses in the last few years. Start-ups like us in particular have raised the bar and shown that we can get the best talent by offering simple things to improve people’s working week, so other companies have had to follow suit.
Making sure employees are happy and healthy means retaining staff for longer, attracting the best employees, and gaining a good corporate reputation, so the incentives are huge.
MVF has had employee wellbeing as a central concern since launch, and we are pleased to set an example for employee perks and happiness. Last year we took all our staff to Ibiza as a reward for hitting targets, so we really are leading the field for company benefits. The tricky thing now is how to top that!
How important do you think access to private healthcare and other employee benefits can be in increasing employee wellbeing?
Additional company benefits are what make our organisation stand out from others in the employment market. At MVF our benefits package means our employees are working for themselves as well as the company.
We acknowledge the diverse nature of our workforce and their personal circumstances meaning that certain benefits will be more valuable than others at different points. In Q1 2016 we are seeking to launch a flexible benefits package so staff can select which perks are most important and helpful to them.
From our internal feedback reports our staff expressed an interest in private healthcare so we are in the process of exploring a range of plans and packages that would best suit our team.
Where can we find out more about yourselves and ‘The Sunday Times Best 100 Small Companies to Work For’ list?
As mentioned, the winners will be announced in The Sunday Times Best 100 Companies supplement and online at http://www.b.co.uk/ in late February.
You can find out more about Approved Index at: www.approvedindex.co.uk
For more information about our parent company MVF please head to: www.mvfglobal.com