A workplace culture that has people at the centre of it has become increasingly important. A recent study by Deloitte found that on average 32% of Millennials and Gen Z employees will leave their company in the next two years; employers are having to work even harder to retain their people. Ensuring employees are the priority is what makes a successful business.
We were delighted to win the Bronze Award for Employee-Centric SME at the Employee Experience Awards this year. Since then, we have been reflecting on the top 5 approaches we have taken to create a people-centric culture.
1. Know what you stand for – your values
The whole team were involved in designing our values; Inclusive, Authentic, Creative and Passionate, but just having your values isn’t enough. They must be embedded in your day-to-day. Each department knows what the values mean to them specifically. For example, being authentic to the project managers is encouraging a culture of openness and honesty, and being creative to the IT team means not simply asking “have you tried turning it off and on again”. We believe behaviours and how an individual interacts with the rest of the team is as important as their technical abilities. We hold each other accountable through 360-degree reviews and celebrate those people demonstrating our values through our Three Cheers award. Every time we make a decision at a senior management level, we ask ourselves “does that fit with our values”. All these initiatives allow the team to not only think about what they do, but how they do it, fostering a people-first culture.
2. Create an inclusive culture, where people feel they belong
Our approach to inclusivity means that we recognise people are different, and this is a benefit and what makes the team brilliant at Software Solved. We recruit from any background and do not ask for specific qualifications or number of years of experience. We focus on recruiting in line with our values and invest in training. We have a training budget that is fairly applied across the company regardless of seniority and give staff CPD time each month. Diversity for us is not about having a statistic we want to hit, it is about recruiting and retaining people free from expectations and assumptions.
We have various initiatives that support equality, inclusion and diversity, including:
- Access to Mental Health First Aiders and being nationally recognised as a Mindful Employer.
- We are members of the Tech Talent Charter which helps us to benchmark ourselves.
- In terms of gender diversity, we employ double the number of women compared to 2020 and 4 of our 6 leadership team members, and 2 of our 5 board members are female which is incredibly rare for a software company.
- We are passionate supporters of STEM and are members of Tech Exeter and Tech South West, both of which help grow the tech talent pool.
- We employ three placement students each year, who generally join as permanent staff.
- We work closely with local educational establishments to refine their offerings and support their students.
It is not just about encouraging people to join Software Solved, but about supporting talent into STEM no matter where they end up employed.
3. Listen to your people AND act
People need to have forums to provide feedback and where they feel listened to by management. After all, one of the key stakeholders is Software Solved’s people. Whilst meetings are great for providing information, and we regularly have a ‘you said, we did’ slot, communication has to be two-way. Our employee forum is a key part of this and is an opportunity for the team to voice ideas and concerns, act as a sounding board and challenge decisions made by the leadership team. A good example of the value the employee forum brings is when we moved to remote first/hybrid working, the forum helped us develop our approach and policies before the rest of the team was consulted. It is important to remember to act off the back of staff feedback, not just listen, nod and then forget about it!
4. Be genuinely flexible and empathetic
During the pandemic, companies were forced to be more flexible and supportive of employees’ wellbeing. However, flexibility and supporting your team should be at the centre of your culture not a ‘nice to have’ or because you were forced into it. We offer our people the chance to work from home or in the office, to work abroad and visit family, and to manage their own hours around basic core hours. This all means people can choose to work how best suits them. We trust our team to work where they want to and measure performance on output as opposed to time or location. We also know life isn’t always a smooth ride and make sure our line managers are empathetic to everyone’s individual situation and support our team with various enhanced paid leave, such as compassionate, bereavement, sick, annual, family-friendly, fertility and more.
5. Have fun at work
After all, we spend most of our lives at work. Being remote first presents a challenge in terms of getting the whole team together. We have found creating the employee-centric culture that we want is much more of a conscious effort than it would be if we were all present in the office together. A crucial part of creating this culture on an everyday basis is the CSR team. Owned by the team, they make the effort to bring everyone together. So far this year we have had a themed Tea Party summer event, nature craft workshop, played remote games, a paint colour name quiz (did you know there is a paint called Elephant’s breath?) and more. We are also proud supporters of Devon Air Ambulance who are our charity of the year. Team members took part in a sponsored walk to raise vital funds, reaching our target of over £1,000.
Would you like to join our employee-centric team? Discover more about our current career opportunities.