Workplace of the week: Cascade HR

Cascade HR’s Emily Cryan explains how their Leeds offices help in their quest to put the ‘human’ back into human resources.

Describe your business in no more than 100 words

Cascade provides fully integrated HR and HMRC-recognised payroll software solutions for clients ranging from micro businesses, up to organisations with 10,000+ employees. Whilst we are, ultimately, a tech firm, we have grown to become one of the UK’s leading HR system providers because of our people. We support clients to automate as many HR processes as possible, so that they can spend more time adding value to their businesses. We like to think we’re putting the ‘human’ back into Human Resources, and a prestigious client base including Randstad, Everton Football Club and Lindt, is hopefully a testament to that.

What kind of workplace do you have? 

We work in a vibrant office at One City West, just outside the centre of Leeds. It is spread over two floors and comprises workstations for around 200 people, plus a number of different meeting, and workshop spaces.

We understand the importance of employee engagement, so we’ve created a bright, open-plan office environment, complete with large breakout areas and flexible workspaces – which all contribute to a collaborative atmosphere and the improved wellbeing of our staff.

From the minute a visitor steps inside, we hope the office makes a bold statement about who we are as a business. Our bright red reception desk is very on-brand, we have floor to ceiling wall vinyls telling the Cascade story, and the open plan environment demonstrates how transparent we are as a company.

Is there an interesting history to your workplace? 

One City West is a well-known commercial district on the outskirts of town, and it has always provided office accommodation. But our decision to move here hit the headlines when the relocation was announced as Leeds’ largest out of town office deal of 2015. We had previously been based in Pudsey, where the Cascade journey began as a four-strong business in 1994.

What makes your workplace special?

An office is just bricks and mortar – it’s what people do with the space that matters.

I think we’ve struck the right balance. When it comes to important meetings, we provide a sleek, professional environment with modern, glazed, high-tech rooms, for example. However, it’s not all work and no play. We enjoy pool tournaments in our multi-coloured kitchen – a space which plays host to charity events such as bake sales too. And our social team doesn’t stop there! Pop by and see us and you could witness anything from a Cascade Christmas Market to the Office Olympics.

In summary, ours is a brilliant, friendly place to work. Everyone has a smile on their face and will always step in to help you out if you need it. That’s probably why we welcome clients here on a daily basis, whether they’re coming for training or a catch up with our team. We have a somewhat infectious culture that people enjoy being a part of.

Who is responsible for making your workplace brilliant?

Everyone!

What made you want to deviate from the standard ‘desk, chair, kettle’ office setup?

These things are important of course, so we still have plenty of desks, chairs and kettles! But we know that your surroundings say so much about you as a business. We therefore wanted to make our office a welcoming space for clients, and a hub that will help to attract talent as we continue to grow. Leeds has a very competitive employment landscape and people now expect more than just four walls from their workplace.  

Our effort seems to be paying off. Throughout the IRIS Software Group – of which Cascade is a part – we’re becoming renowned as a real centre of excellence.

How does this affect morale, productivity, staff retention?

The office environment is one of the most obvious manifestations of Cascade’s investment in its people. And this doesn’t go unnoticed. Colleagues comment, for example, that our kitchen is the best they’ve ever had! The open plan layout promotes collaboration and breaks down departmental boundaries that can arise as a business grows, particularly in the world of tech.

Our culture is based on four brand values – transparency, integrity, quality and care. It is this ethos – and commitment to key HR principles – that I believe enables us to retain our highly-motivated calibre of staff. We try to incorporate these into all facets of our work, which is why we’ve made such an effort to channel them into our office space.

And I think the happier we are as a team, naturally, the harder we work to all push in the same direction.

What kind of reaction do you get from visitors and clients when they see how you work?

Most of them ask us where their desk can be!

How far is too far – have you had to say no to anything?

Not yet – we try to ensure we cater for everyone’s tastes.

What other plans do you have to make your workplace even better?

We have our own social committee and they’re constantly looking at ways to freshen up the space or put on notable events. We pretty much leave them to it, given they’ve done such a good job until now!