There are hordes of examples of companies whose culture is rather lacking to say the least; led by a CEO or management team who foster a culture that breathes anything but diversity, examples of those whose staff are vilified for calling in sick, even with potential covid symptoms; where a toxic work environment is normalised.
I am pleased to say that working at Software Solved is none of these things.
I have been at the company now for five months, therefore despite joining during a pandemic , a nationalised period of ‘working from home’ and not yet actually meeting any of my co-workers in the flesh, I feel part of the team and as though I’ve been part of it for much longer.
‘Inclusive, Passionate, Authentic and Creative’ are the company values that were established a few years ago and they really are central to how the company operates. Four values which were actually chosen by the team as the most pertinent, the ones which resonated, and they wanted the company to be aligned with.
To enable the team to have a healthy work/life balance, the system of flexible working was introduced. Staff need to be online between 10 – 12 and 2 – 4 but aside from those hours, they can work at any time they choose, and have to have worked no less than 80% of their normal working hours each week and complete their contracted hours each month.
With the pandemic proving that remote working worked well; that the team was productive whilst working from home and it fitted in with the healthy work/life balance aspect that we are all keen to achieve, all the team are now contracted as ‘remote first’ – we primarily work from home and only have to visit the office 12 days in every year. But we can, when rules enable us, work primarily from the office if we like, but most probably, right now, it looks like the majority of us will choose a hybrid, a mix of working from home and the office.
Creating a diverse workforce is key to a happy, workplace that delivers. It’s those small differences and similarities that provide an interesting and stimulating array of fresh ideas and prevents stagnation. We’ve a diverse workforce in terms of age range, sexuality and backgrounds, a team who embrace change and diversity and see it as a force for good.
Mental health support is considered important. Ensuring that the team is both physically healthy and mentally healthy is also of prime consideration for the team. The company has recently trained its first Mental Health First Aider. We also chose MIND as our charity of the year to raise funds for. Regular 1-2-1’s and general check-ins are in place, not solely for a work consideration, but to ensure that members are mentally ok.
Monthly ‘All Hands’ team meetings are held to give the team a transparent look at the company, with presentations from different teams including Accounts, giving an honest and open account of the company position. I really value this; it makes me feel like part of the company and gives me a good understanding of the ‘why’ when asked to deliver something. What I really like is that this is not just the Leadership team presenting, but each month, other members of the team present something about the work they’ve been doing, or what their team does so that we all get a finer understanding and a chance to celebrate successes. Monthly Stand-Up meetings do the same thing too, with each team member sharing one thing they delivered in the last month, what they might be doing in the present month and what their personal, non-working highlight of the previous month was. Getting to know team members through this has been invaluable.
As a keen supporter of the STEMM subjects, our MD, Lindsay Lucas is a keen advocate for our region and has built relationships with local higher education establishments and other local tech companies to provide support and learning opportunities to younger people interested in Tech. We are members of the ExIST group, which was founded by Exeter Chamber of Commerce to showcase science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine in Exeter. We also have an Undergraduate Scheme which we’ve been running for the past 14 years for 3 students to come and take up positions with us to learn valuable on the job training. This has proved exceedingly popular and the mix of students working with other team members works well. Refreshingly, the team response to having undergraduates on a regular basis is very positive, with the feedback being that the fresh faces have great ideas, they question rather accept and keep us from getting stale.
Corporate Social Responsibility is high on the agenda as well, ensuring that the company has a positive impact on staff, customers, partners, suppliers, community, and the environment. Building relationships within the community, supporting charities, selecting suppliers that have a positively aligned CSR practices and ensuring that the company is committed to equal opportunities and is free from discrimination or harassment. Environmentally, the company identifies initiatives that reduce our impact on the environment, alternative travel methods (Marsh Barton is terrible to get to by car anyway) recycling and sourcing sustainable office goods. A litter pick (done before my time) is also an example of how the Software Solved team members volunteer their time.
We also have a CSR team picked from the staff who plan and run regular activities to encourage engagement and socialisation.
With an annual training budget allocated for everyone; personal development is actively encouraged. Each month one afternoon is put aside for personal development where everyone can do further research, catch up on a training course on a topic or discipline that interests them and will help them in their work. Within individual teams, these findings are often disseminated to others to foster further learning.
My on-boarding experience was great, it really felt as though the company had considered what my needs would be, from delivering the hardware to my door to setting up individual meetings with the leadership team. Yes, conducting all the initial meetings via Teams wasn’t ideal, but it was pretty evident that with everyone in the same boat – inquisitive cats, parcel deliveries, spin cycles and loud children are apparent in other people’s lives too and at Software Solved, we’re not made to feel awkward about their intrusion.
One other part of being a newbie is the regular probation meetings – one a month during the three-month probation period, followed by quarterly performance reviews and goal setting ensuring that conversations and communications are regularly held, creating a positive mindset. Regular chats with managers are always helpful but never more so than when you’re working from home, so I’ve found these immensely helpful.
Celebrating success is a thing; a monthly anonymous votes gives rise to a Three Cheers winner, the person who has been nominated by the staff for their participation and their embodiment of the values who are then celebrated for the month.
Staff events are run regularly from Friyay yoga, quarterly team events, ad hoc fun from bingo, polls, quizzes and more to encourage engagement and socialisation.
The company celebrates the individual and is both forward thinking and empowering. There is an employee forum which meets quarterly, and issues are raised between management and team and they are also regularly asked for feedback and ideas.
To summarise, I feel very fortunate to have landed a job at such an inclusive, empowering, friendly company, one that will nurture and foster collaboration creating a brand ambassador in myself.
If this has inspired you to find out more about working at Software Solved, then please take a look at the current vacancies available.