Creating a legacy – Best Employers 2021

Our Best Employers Eastern Region 2021 awards conference took place virtually on Thursday 30 September. We were delighted to host this year’s conference alongside our co-founders’ eras Ltd, and partners Birketts and Archant. Congratulations to all the winners and organisations which were accredited.

What’s Best Employers?

Best Employers Eastern Region brings together companies from across the East of England to encourage economic growth through better employee engagement. Beginning as an employee survey, it’s now become a community designed to help leaders develop their organisations’ cultures, engagement levels and workplace environments.

The awards conference is the final event in this year’s programme. Launched in March, it also included a culture and values survey by eras, and a programme of eight virtual events and webinars.

90 people joined us online to hear the award and accreditation announcements. They were also treated to speeches from Hamish Taylor, former head of brands at BA, CEO of Eurostar and Sainsbury’s Bank, and Andy Wood, CEO of Adnams.

Lynn Walters, Executive Director at Pure, kicked things off by thanking all the organisations that have still taken the time to listen to their people during what’s been a challenging year for all of us.

A tribute to Alex Pearce

The conference was dedicated to Alex Pearce, cofounder of eras Ltd, who sadly died in 2020. Lynn said: ‘I think Alex would be incredibly proud of what your team and our team have all achieved together. And that we’ve been able to carry this on as your legacy.’

Through the programme and participants’ generosity, we donated over £11,000 for the charities Nelson’s Journey and Winston’s Wish. Both of these organisations supported Alex’s family during a very difficult time.

Who were the winners?

We presented 10 organisations with Best Employers Eastern Region 2021 awards. They won these after getting exceptional results in the employee engagement survey, where they were rated on a range of factors by the people who know best – their own employees.

Here’s a full list of the winners.

  • Alex Pearce award for the most improved  - The Big C Cancer Charity
  • Best large company  - Treatt
  • Best medium company - Beckett Investment Management Group
  • Best small company - FutureYou Cambridge
  • Best hospitality and retail - Holkham Estate
  • Best digital and technology - TigerEye
  • Best business and professional services - PolicyBee
  • Best not-for-profit - Centre 33
  • Best manufacturing - Thurne
  • Best healthcare and pharmaceuticals - IPRS Group

Which organisations were accredited?

As well as the award winners, we presented 31 organisations with either platinum, gold or silver accreditations. These were awarded to employers who scored in the top 25% of the Best Employers Eastern Region employee engagement survey (they also showed us evidence of their working practices to back this up).

You can find the full list of accredited organisations on the Best Employers’ website.

About our speakers

With Best Employers we aim to inspire organisations with insight and ideas – all to make the most of their employee engagement. And we’re pleased to say that our two keynote speakers did exactly that.

Andy Wood, CEO of Adnams, shared his story of innovation through lockdown, but explained that it was actually much bigger than that. He said:

‘What’s the role for me as the leader in all of this? I could do only three things – pick the right team and continue to develop it even when working through a crisis, establish their priorities, and catalyse action. So [I would] encourage them to act, and then get out the way and let far more talented people than me do their stuff.’

He continued:

‘We were very glad about having a progressive culture. And as Peter Drucker said all those years ago, “culture eats strategy for breakfast” – and so it proved. Mike Tyson also had a really good phrase: “everyone has a plan till they get punched in the face.” And COVID was quite a punch in the face. But our progressive culture really supported our organisation through this. We continue to celebrate the achievements of the company and individual members of staff every week. [For example] we had a roll call of staff’s birthdays [and] made sure that every member of staff got a birthday card from the directors.”

Hamish Taylor, former Brand and Innovation Director at BA, CEO of Eurotunnel and Sainsbury’s Bank talked about how companies should focus on the things they have in common when engaging employees, through the concept of ‘ruthless simplicity’. Drawing on his experience, he said:

‘I’ve worked with lots of organisations in lots of different places. And what interests me is the commonalities, rather than the differences. If you look at the work environment that we’re in at the moment, we’re all facing the same challenges – even before COVID came along. When it comes to things like how we move forward, we can learn from the experiences of other organisations, particularly in the area of customer engagement. And for me, getting back to this theme of ruthless simplicity, that’s the really simple way that I look at the employee engagement.’

Lynn wrapped things up by saying:

‘We’d like to congratulate all our winners and accredited organisations. I really hope many of you are going to really enjoy sharing the news with your teams and celebrating. With our partners eras, Birketts and Archant, this has become a fantastic Best Employers year, during a time of significant change. We had no idea what to expect when we set off, so I really appreciate you giving your time and supporting Best Employers. I hope you and your teams enjoy celebrating your achievements.’

Need some help with employee engagement?

At Pure, our consultants can support you with your recruitment and employee engagement strategies. Contact our team today. You might also like to find out more about Best Employers, including how to sign up for next year’s programme.

 

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