What does a culture of co-owners look like?

I’ve built my career in HR, Diversity & Inclusion over many years and across several different employers. I thought I knew what a truly inclusive company culture looked and felt like until that is, I joined my most recent company.

I can honestly say that it’s taken me just over 18 months in position to grow accustomed to the ‘all-inclusive’ culture that pervades every area of BCS Consulting. From taking a truly collaborative approach to our work to weaving the Company’s values, beliefs and behaviours into every decision made – the Company more than lives up to its ‘Expect Excellence’ tagline.

But why is that and how is our culture impacting the success of our business?

Well, BCS is a 100% employee owned company where every member of staff owns an equal share in the business. And that’s rare.  Our people are more than simply employees, they are co-owners, making for stronger performance and greater engagement and commitment. 

For me, culture is about working together to reach strategic goals and objectives and having fun doing it.  That’s sounds so simple, doesn’t it? However, I can assure you that a huge amount of thought and effort goes into creating it!

For instance, we’ve really put a lot of time and consideration into providing employee benefits that fit our team’s demographics as well as developing a first class learning & development and career management portfolio that allows employees to grow their careers and cultivate their knowledge and expertise.  And when they do succeed, we celebrate individual achievement and applaud it openly on an internal social media channel (Yammer) because we know that peer-to-peer recognition means so much more.

We also have over 12 BCS Clubs covering sports, languages, wellbeing and other interests. As HR professionals welcoming new BCSers to the business, we encourage everyone to get involved in our clubs from Day One which really helps them to get to know people, embed our culture and feel at home quickly.  

Of course, like many others in my position, as COVID-19 approached in March I thought a lot about how we could maintain our close-knit culture even though we were all so far apart.

I needn’t have worried. Speaking with our management teams in the early days of transitioning to home working, the responses I received were overwhelming. Pretty much all Managers were regularly communicating with each other and, most importantly, checking in with their people about their work and wellbeing and offering support where needed. I was delighted to find that they were already in tune with team members who needed extra support and were reaching out to HR for details of additional tools and services that we could provide. Company-wide surveys were also circulated to ensure people could let us know how they were feeling and coping with the sudden changes.

One of HR’s primary roles during this pandemic has been one of regular companywide updates. Our early messages were around guidelines from government however, as time has gone on, the emphasis has moved towards wellbeing and working from home advice and help. We were conscious we had many employees living on their own and so worked hard to keep them in touch with others, who live close by. We ran, and continue to run, virtual quizzes, bingo, virtual coffee/cocktail hours and general wellbeing calls and we’re even currently working out how to run our annual awards ceremony recognising our team’s achievements virtually!

The world has changed, and we’ve been able to quickly change with it. We are very much driven by what our clients want and therefore remote working has not been on the agenda. Thankfully, we’ve managed the transition seamlessly, but it’s left us considering what the future looks like, in terms of office versus home working.  I have to say that the majority of our people have enjoyed working from home full time however, in instances where two parents are both working full time and home-schooling children for example there have been pressures that have proved hard to manage.  As well as monitoring individual situations closely, we’ve also been able to put in place support for those who have found this a particularly challenging time.  Thankfully our employee healthcare benefit provider has been superb in offering all types of face-to face-counselling and the Wellbeing Centre on our benefits platform has offered daily mindfulness and exercise routines have been a big help for many.

As a direct result of our unique company culture and status as co-owners, taking individual responsibility for the long-term sustainability and success of our business, I believe that we will come out of the COVID -19 challenge stronger than ever before.

As we begin tentatively returning to the office and encountering the challenges that this is likely to bring, I am confident that our culture will see us through. It takes a lot to build a good company culture but it takes trust, genuine kindness, shared goals and beliefs and an innate understanding that we are in this together to make a great one.

Written by Jane Olds HR Director | BCS Consulting

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