Phil Jones MBE
Phil Jones MBE, managing director of business technology solutions provider, Brother UK, looks at how business leaders can create a strong culture within their companies.
Culture takes time. It takes a lot of ingredients, and there’s no perfect recipe for success.
Market sector, the age and size of the business and workforce demographics are all things that influence culture, as well as the vision of the leadership.
Our fundamental purpose at Brother UK is to make the people and businesses we work with more successful, more quickly. That’s made our own business sustainable and adaptable over five decades.
It works for both our people and our business – the two go hand in hand. We have a low sickness absence rate and our employees stay with us on average for an industry-leading 13 years, giving us a stable, reliable workforce.
In 2018, our commitment to our people has been recognised with a Queen’s Award for Enterprise and a Princess Royal Training Award, and we’ve maintained our Investors in People Platinum Status.
All of this supports our reputation and makes us an aspirational employer, while contributing to a 27% reduction in recruitment costs.
Now in our 50th year, we must constantly innovate to stay ahead. Our position as a leading technology solutions provider is intrinsically linked to our status as a top employer, and the innovative approaches we take to both products and people.
It’s essential that employees feel engaged with what’s happening in the business, which is why our key decision makers are always accessible.
As managing director, I make sure I know everyone in the business and I encourage dialogue and debate. As a leadership team, we work alongside our Employee Representative Committee to ensure everyone has a voice.
Whatever your business strategy, if your people are not motivated to deliver it, you’ll find your aspirations are further away than you think.
These are five key ways we keep a positive, successful company culture:
1. Meaningful learning and development
We have a continuous focus on professional and personal development. 100% of employees have undertaken learning and development appropriate to their role, focusing on what we call developing a ‘T Shape’, with a great depth of knowledge in specific areas and a range of broader skills and experience. We’re giving them the confidence to challenge or suggest new ways of working, and the skills to work in a constructive, inclusive way.
2. Diversity as a Platform (DaaP)
It’s important we address what we see as an employability crisis among young people. We’re committed to educating and developing under-25s and are proud of our successful apprenticeship programme, which accounts for 5% of our workforce. Apprentices bring immense value and every one of ours has secured full-time employment with us. We’re equally proud of long service and have many employees with 20 or 30 years' experience. Successfully blending years of knowledge with fresh new ideas and perspectives can deliver superb outcomes. It's essential to have diverse teams who don't all think the same way.
3. Connecting our employees
We use social media to bring people together within our organisation. Being able to share good news and insight is especially important when we have sales teams out on the road. We encourage kinetic working, which allows our people to work across different functions, building a network of contacts and developing their skills and understanding of the business. We also regularly award Red Letter Days, acknowledging high levels of collaboration with unforgettable experiences.
4. A vibrant, inspiring and welcoming workplace
Our modern office space reflects our Manchester heritage throughout, with informal, creative spaces and quiet zones to aid concentration. Our dress code is informal and the culture has a 'family feel' – a positive atmosphere is key for getting things done.
5. Contributing to the community
Like any business, our people can spend more waking hours at work than at home, so it’s important they can pursue things they care about and can take pride in. A good example is our community engagement volunteering initiative, which encourages staff to donate a certain number of working hours to local causes.
Ultimately, a strong company culture comes down to good communication. If the leadership is engaged and values all staff as individuals, it's easier to find out what they want from their work and to implement change if needed.
Business leaders often think this requires an expensive, time-consuming overhaul, but it’s the smaller day-to-day changes that make all the difference. They help improve performance, productivity and efficiency, which delivers real benefits for us, our partners and customers, too.
Our BQ Bulletin emails will land in your inbox at 7.30am, Monday to Friday, with a mix of the latest local business news, national news, and features to inspire you. Sign up here!
Click here to read our privacy statement