Driving Great Place to Work and fundraising

One of the key challenges for a company driving toward a Great Place to Work status in their organisation is getting the funding to do it.  In today’s climate there is less and less funding available for fun events and social gatherings, where ROI is difficult to measure.  In this blog, we discuss the things that companies can do to improve their Great Place to Work standing, plus give a really useful fundraising tip to allow you to generate funding to take your GPTW status to the next level.

Most companies now understand the power of being a great place to work and the benefits it brings to productivity and staff tenure through improved employee engagement.  In a recent independent financial study, publicly traded companies that had achieved ‘Great Workplace’ status consistently outperform major stock indices by a factor of 2.  These workplaces also have 64% less staff turnover than their competitors. This inevitably saves vital margin eroding spend on things like training and recruitment.

According to the Great Place to Work website, when times are tough, employees at a great workplace show the resiliency to pull through. When times get better, those same employees are ready to lead the rally. It all adds up to cumulative success 2x better than the market average.

So, how do you bring your staff together when it’s hard to demonstrate the hard and fast short term benefits in a traditional business case and of course without breaking the bank?

Firstly, before thinking about spending any money, the one key piece of feedback that employees raise time and time again is around good workplace communication – and by that we mean two way communication.  It’s about trust, keeping employees informed, listening to their concerns and demonstrating that where you are able you are acting upon their suggestions.

This should be fairly easy – quarterly roundtables or Town Hall Meetings held by Executive and Senior Managers to talk about strategy and performance.  Trust your staff with information, but call out when information is sensitive and is for their ears only and not to be shared – clearly this is not about sharing confidential board room level strategic decisioning, but moreover giving your staff all the information they need to understand what is happening with the business and where it is going, including the challenges it faces.  This ensures staff feel engaged and aware of what is happening in the company (rather than like mushrooms – in the dark and fed…well, you know what)!

Ensure the sessions allow for people to raise questions.  If you want to be even more open, allow them to put forward questions and comments anonymously – this way you get a better view of what they think without expecting them to put their head above the parapet and risk shredding their career.

If you keep coming back to them with regular updates and further comms sessions, talking  about what they raised last time and what has been done, you will soon gain their trust and they will see that you are listening to them.  Where ideas, thoughts and suggestions cannot be implemented, as long as you tell them why rather than glossing over them then the majority of staff will understand why.

All that sounds fairly basic and straightforward, however the given the number of companies that fail on staff engagement – it clearly isn’t.  Cascading information down the management chain is critical however sometimes people want to feel like they matter, and to be visited by the CEO and asked for their important opinions on how the company is performing is a great way to get your staff engaged.   Remember, those at the coalface usually have the best view of what is happening with your clients and customers, senior management can get real insight here. It’s a win win.

So what else can you do to ensure your staff feel engaged and enjoy working for your company?  These are our key principles that we feel are really important, they aren’t exhaustive by any means, however these are the ones we’ve actively adopted to drive GPTW:

  1. Brand affinity and loyalty – drive a pride in your workforce around your brand products and services. If your staff love the business, they’ll give more and defend it to the hilt.
  2. Create a culture of inclusion – a blameless culture where employees are encouraged to push further, where it is OK to take risks as long as they are well thought through and understood, and mistakes are learnt from and not repeated.
  3. A culture of development with recognition of high performance – strong company values that are driven from the top down and lived every day are important here.
  4. Staff are not just numbers – a company that cares. For instance, in the recent spate of terrorist attacks, a company that ensures that staff are safe and issues communications offering advice to ensure staff remain safe will more likely engender an environment where staff feel like they are treated as individuals and that the company truly cares about them as people.
  5. Wellbeing and Diversity programs driving Health, Welfare and inclusion.
  6. Social activities outside of the work environment to drive a closer community within it.

Point 6 is always the challenging topic mainly due to the costs of funding such an event, however there are a number of things that can be done to avoid a huge outlay, and sometimes bring in money to fund other internal events…

Corporate or Staff Parties

These can be a great way for staff to meet outside of the work environment and get to know their colleagues on a personal level.  A fun event creates a talking point back in the workplace which improves camaraderie and teamwork. Many teams, departments and organisations will raise funds internally (from the likes of a cake bake or samosa sale in order to part-fund a summer or Christmas party).  Alternatively, by selling tickets at an affordable rate, funding for food and events can be gathered that way.

We recently ran an incredibly popular campaign called “Fundraising through fireworks” where organisations sold tickets for a works event with a huge firework display at the end.   The promise of a really spectacular firework display helped sell the tickets which drove the funding. The events were typically held at a local pub with land, or a community centre. The display was linked to the corporate brand (Eg, the companies name in firewriting, corporate colours for the finale), and with the money raised through ticket sales they were able to put on food, plus things like bouncy castles for the children, inflatable games for the adults (Eg, bucking broncos, bungee runs) as well as pay for the display.  They also put on free games like rounders, space hopper races, sports days etc.  Staff were happy to pay for their own drinks and by inviting a local ice cream van they were more than covered for a very successful night.  The display at the end of the night tops off the event, creating a celebratory atmosphere and the wow factor that keeps everyone talking about what a great night it was for months to come.

We’ve had some really positive feedback from organisations that have done this, and we are seeing an unprecedented repeat booking level as events grow in size. Many organisations that have rebooked with us year after year have told us that ticket sales grow YoY, it becomes more inclusive and they have enough money left over from ticket sales allowing them to fund other purchases such as new coffee machines, games tables and in one instance a refit to their staff kitchen!

Our corporate firework displays don’t cost as much as you would think, and we do all the hard work around the display planning, insurance and the health & safety assessments.