CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamAugust 9, 2018
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5min794

Experts in background music and technology experiences for the retail and hospitality industries, Startle International has seen outstanding growth since beginning trading in 2015.

A start-up moulded by its team members and an employee-first culture that translates across all operations, the company adopted a remote-working model from the start. Aside from the vast employee benefits of no commuting cost or stress, flexibility, and more control over time, this meant that Startle had significantly low operating costs, allowing more to be invested in the development of the business.

Startle recently took home the award for Employee Engagement – Growth By Design in the 2018 UK Employee Experience Awards, showcasing how the business has made ‘working from home’ work exceptionally well for them. With some of the team now based in North America, a common question asked is how Startle will maintain its highly-regarded Employee Experience reputation and build on their remote-working culture as they continue to grow.

Founder and Head of Operations, Adam Castleton, advised that, while there are certainly challenges in working as a remote team, he is confident that the business will continue to benefit from doing so. He explains:

Operating remotely has been our plan from the beginning, and we’re proud to do things differently! Our team members embrace this, and we continue work on the challenges of communication while benefiting from Deep Work, enabled by fewer distractions. Expanding internationally means we’ve already faced complexities of time-difference and have had to invest more in building relationships with our American colleagues, we’ve always found ways to innovate and make this work in our favour.”

In the next year, Startle plans to implement a host of initiatives to improve team communication, productiveness, and subsequently, happiness.

The first of these is to arrange local satellite hotdesking areas for each employee, allowing them somewhere to work from outside of their homes if they want a change of scenery or prefer to meet face-to-face with a colleague. These spaces will be offered for employees to use as much or as little as they wish, giving more flexibility and everyday support.

Secondly, while Startle has always treated its team to fun-filled Christmas getaways (including an all-expenses-paid trip to a German theme park last year, for which the US team were flown over), the company has now introduced what will be an annual Summer ‘retreat’.

A mixture of company workshops and social activities, these whole-team getaways help to strengthen relationships, brainstorm ideas for growth, and importantly, celebrate success. The theme for this year’s retreat was The Customer Journey, which was entirely broken down, analysed, and re-mapped to create what the team will now collaborate towards in the months to come.

Along with a personal development programme that steers team members towards progression as Startle grows, and a share scheme that means all employees are owners of the business, these initiatives signify a forward-thinking business that, as described by Employee Experience expert, Ben Whitter, has “thrown out the tatty old rule book” and “created their own rules through experience and innovation”.

In the coming months, Startle hopes to acknowledge and celebrate its achievements further at the 2018 International Customer Experience Awards, for which the whole team will be flown to Amsterdam. But, shhh!…they don’t know that yet!


John BrettJohn BrettJuly 26, 2018
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9min2141

In the 21st century, technology has become a ubiquitous part of modern workforces.

Businesses are increasing their IT budgets and investing more in new IT designed to energise business performance and staff productivity. However, it seems not all employees feel quite so confident in their ability to use new technology at work.

Sixty-one percent of staff are anxious about new technologies at work, according to a study conducted by Microsoft, Goldsmiths, University of London, and YouGov. At the same time, only 23 percent of business were investing in cultural change programmes to help staff adjust to changing work practices and understand the value of technology investment.

Low confidence and apprehension over digital changes is evidently impacting workforces, and with the rapid pace at which technology evolves this is not surprising. Sixty-oner percent of UK leaders also agree that alterations in tasks create anxiety among employees.

With this in mind, it is imperative that businesses implementing new hardware and programmes also focus on creating a confident digital culture at work. While thorough support and training are key elements in this transition, fostering a more positive mindset around technology is at the heart of this culture change. It is only then that companies will truly see the full benefits of their IT spend as staff positively engage with their technology.

Today’s workers are under pressure to possess the right IT skills and adjust quickly to different IT programmes, particularly with mounting fears over Artificial Intelligence (AI) and job automation. Such a task is made even harder when staff are accustomed to legacy systems and not supported in the transition by their companies.

Equally, employees who are too connected with their technology can find themselves feeling more pressured. The rise of remote and agile working means individuals can create a work schedule which best suits their lifestyle, however the constant connection to the office through smart devices often makes it harder to switch-off, resulting in increased anxiety.

Digital anxiety can be detrimental for individual wellbeing and actually hinder employee productivity rather than increase it: 44 percent of workers mentioned technology issues as their top reason for lack of productivity.

How do businesses begin to build a supportive digital culture?

One of the recurring issues hindering positive digital adoption at work is training. Many companies might assume that their staff are happy with the technology they use, however the truth is frequently that workers have not had adequate training with even the fundamental systems they use on a daily basis.

The key to putting IT fears to rest permanently is proper support and training. It can take time for staff to transition from legacy systems to new devices and software. Upon executing any new IT organisations should provide staff with individual training in the office to enact a real digital culture change.

This initial training will not only enhance individual’s technology usage, but will be more cost-effective in the long-term as it reduces the need for calls to external technical support.

Staff will benefit from a personalised training experience where they can learn fundamental skills and ask questions freely. Organisations might consider training courses on their existing programs such as Office 365, helping to maximise engagement and enrich workers’ digital skills. Offering training to the company’s own IT Department with a ‘Train the Trainer’ course is also indispensable when adopting different systems and equipping staff with a continuous support system.

Tailored training for each staff member will help to minimise skills shortages and enhance individuals’ confidence but it is also useful to highlight the value new IT applications will bring to the business. Educating your workforce on the benefits of the new technology through workshops and seminars will reinforce positive a positive digital philosophy and in particular support those who are struggling to transition from older technology.

For many employees, the issue with new technology is not only in the application, but having the confidence to voice your worries or concerns. Therefore, opening a discussion around technology issues is certainly helpful in fostering a digital culture.

Often individuals will feel inadequate when they cannot understand a new programme, for instance a new video calling software, preventing them from asking for advice. Advocating communication around digital issues is vital for changing this mentality.

The Deloitte Digital Disruption Index found that less than half of executives are confident in their own digital skills and ability to lead their organisation in the digital economy. If senior figures within a company have little faith in their technology ability, it becomes doubly hard for employees to have confidence in themselves. Starting a discourse around IT concerns and building up confidence must be embraced at each strata of the business and become a core part of the company’s ethos.

Before purchasing new IT, companies should also consider the needs of the end user and how that device might benefit their working day. Forty-nine percent of workers waste an average of 10 minutes per hour in a median 35 hour week with technology that does not work.

Purchasing the right IT which will simplify workloads and support collaboration is crucial to avoid a surplus of software which creates more problems than it solves. Each employee’s engagement with technology is different and this can be amplified in a multigenerational workforce. Appreciating everyone’s individual skills and avoiding unhelpful stereotypes will inspire greater confidence and effective collaboration.

Spending considerable amounts of time in front of screen can also slow down productivity and increase pressure for individuals. Encouraging staff to take breaks from their devices at work, such as a simple walk outside, will also see a great effect in individual wellbeing.

While installing new IT in your workplace can take a matter of days, the process of positive digital adoption will take slightly more time. It is essential that staff are fully supported in the technology shift, both emotionally and with training programmes and a continuous support system.

Encouraging staff questions, transparent conversations, and showing empathy towards the concerns and abilities of each employee will have a tangible impact on employee engagement. Organisations who take this holistic approach to a digital culture change will see more confident staff with a brighter outlook towards the future of technology.


Luke CardyLuke CardyJuly 18, 2018
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6min1036

Here at digital marketing agency Spindogs, we were extremely excited to have won Silver for Agency of the Year at this year’s UK Employee Experience Awards.

This esteemed event recognises and rewards great employment initiatives and celebrates employee practices across many industries, so the award means a lot to us.

Employee Experience at Spindogs

We were incredibly excited to be nominated in the Agency of the Year category, and spent the weeks leading up to the awards putting together our presentation and making sure the whole team was involved, even if they couldn’t attend in person.

On the day, we had the opportunity to give an open presentation on all the amazing things we do for our employees. It was fantastic to be able to share with the attendees all the ways in which we ensure the Spindogs team always has opportunities for continuous improvement, learning, and personal development.

We channelled the positive energy we are known for into giving a presentation that was truly inspiring and portrayed the fantastic team morale and working environment we maintain, both in HQ and across our remote locations.

The message we communicated to judges was the exceptional care we take of our employees, how engaged and supported all our team members feel, and how positively our Employee Experience has affected the business.

What we do for our amazing team

We are firm believers that our people are our business, so we are constantly striving to improve the Employee Experience for both our HQ staff and our remote workers in big and small ways, including:

  • Culture Club: Representatives of the different departments across the company assemble every week to come up with after-work events and treats for our team, as well as discuss any wider issues to do with spreading and maintaining the Spindogs company culture. From coffee runs and movie nights to integrating our remote staff, the Culture Club activities are designed to boost morale and show appreciation across teams.
  • Team Socials: We make sure all our team members work well together and have fun through organising a variety of socials. Focused on developing different skills, we take our staff to pizza making and murder mysteries, escape rooms and sports activities. We encourage everyone to bond through working together and staff always look forward to our team socials.
  • Warm Welcome: All our new starters are greeted with a welcome pack with a personalised welcome letter and personalised mug, and encouraged to pick a postcard to add to our collection. We also schedule 1-2-1 meetings so new staff members can get to know the team and welcome drinks in a more relaxed after-work environment, where we can really bust out our dance moves.   
  • Wellbeing & Support: At HQ, we are dedicated to looking after our team’s wellbeing, both professionally and personally. Staff members are encouraged to develop and upskill, and provided with internal training and recognition for their successes. We also run mindfulness sessions with Fresh Air Fridays and treat our team to free massages to keep everyone in top shape.

Why this award is so important for us

Here at Spindogs, we take great care to make sure all our team members are happy and feel supported, both in their job roles and outside of work hours. For us, Employee Experience is not just an initiative, it’s our culture. The Silver in Agency of the Year means our efforts have been recognised across industries.

We’ve also had some really positive feedback from the judges on the EXA panels, who we thoroughly enjoyed networking with. Watch this space for the next year’s awards when we snatch up the gold!


Ben WhitterBen WhitterJune 19, 2018
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14min831

Ben Whitter is known as Mr Employee Experience in business circles, and his role as a global Employee Experience (EX) leader brings him into contact with many companies keen to improve how they accommodate their most important resource – their staff.

He is the CEO and Founder of the World Employee Experience Institute, which partnered the 2018 Employee Experience Awards, and also leads CXM’s Employee Experience Masterclass.

As part of his blog series for Customer Experience Magazine, Ben is touring the headquarters of awards finalists to uncover and highlight what makes them EX pioneers…

The quality of the Employee Experience is fundamental to the client experience.

It is a distinct competitive advantage that provides a massive opportunity in business, and no-one knows this more than the Group CEO of DRP Group, Dale Parmenter.

DRP, a creative agency with 250 employees and a turnover of £27.5 million, is light years ahead of where the company found itself a few years ago. Imagine having 60 percent of your business wiped out almost overnight. Well, that’s exactly what happened to DRP Group following 9/11.

That moment changed everything and the company was on the brink. This was a crisis on a scale that the management team had never faced before. The response was not too dissimilar to any other company in this position – they had to cut costs and find ways to remain in business.

One cost was an employee base that had grown significantly. The proposal that was taken to staff was to scale back employee numbers by nearly half and let people go.

However, at the get together, one employee presented a different idea. They were determined to move ahead and grow the business together. There was clearly a real and deep connection to the company.

This alternative idea was a collective pay cut across the business that would save jobs and ensure the firm weathered this storm. It was a profound moment for the CEO and proved to be a major catalyst that provided the foundation for the multi-award-winning company we see today.

During this crisis, the CEO directly experienced the full power of leading in a human-centred way, and the huge benefits that this unlocks for everyone. Employees became the solution and the business took this to heart. The business made transparency and trust the central pillars of a now award-winning approach that ensures people feel a part of something special every day.

The group, bonded by a renewed sense of togetherness, drew on their collective experiences to create new revenue streams which would bring them back stronger than ever before. Inevitably, with employees now at the centre of the business, morale and business results went through the roof.

It was a very special time at DRP and the CEO determined that they could never go back to the way it was. They absolutely needed to build an employee-centric company to lead, not just for the turnaround, but the future growth of the company.

Fast forward a few years, and I find myself standing in DRP’s reception surrounded by a gazillion industry awards.

The firm recently won Silver in the Learning and Development category of the UK Employee Experience Awards, and it’s easy to see why they have been successful.

What stands out from my visit and several hours talking with Dale is the journey the company went through and how that experience created a successful people-centric organisation.

Experience is woven into everything at DRP, and connecting this is the company’s mantra ‘Anything’s Possible’. This is the way people experience the business every day and through this lens experiences are crafted, created, and delivered for clients.

So much so that just a taste of the Employee Experience and the way this business operates is enough to convert 85 percent of the prospective clients that are invited to tour the company and ask questions directly to employees.

The company is now doing the same within the candidate experience and people who are interested in working for DRP can spend time at the HQ in the Midlands. This type of approach requires a significant level of trust and at DRP it is incredibly high – this may partially explain why there is a 92 percent staff retention rate.

The team is involved in every aspect of the business and this is a genuine example of growth by design. It is conscious, intentional, and aligned to drive business performance.

The sense that the founder sincerely cares about the people within the business is palpable. My high-energy conversation with Dale spilled out of the meeting room and we explored the company in-depth, from values to systems to people. As we walked around the offices and the storage and creation facilities, what became evident was that the CEO was in amongst the detail of the employee and client experience, and I mean details: the history, the background, the changes, the people, the stories, the anecdotes, the developments, and the achievements.

What also became clear was how little HR was involved in this. It may come as a surprise to learn, given the level of employee-centricity, that HR was resisted at every turn. Resisted by the CEO and for a very long-time.

He resisted the need to even form a function around human resources; it just did not sync well with the way they progress the company and community. What’s the point? Aside from compliance, administration, and regulation, why did he need the function? What value did it add?

These are big questions coming from the CEO of a successful company and should serve as a wake-up call to professionals busying themselves with low-value work. But if that is the case, how do they lead EX projects and deliver the work?

Well, that’s simple- as a team and based on an internal client brief. For example, for a senior project, if the CEO is the client then everything within the business is mobilised to deliver it. It is treated like a client engagement, which also serves to sharpen skills, process, and the overall experience, but the high standards delivered on the outside must also be evident on the inside of the business. This, I believe, sets EX organisations apart from the rest.

While others are squabbling over internal agendas and resources, organisations like DRP are delivering based on a strong and accountable mandate from the top. I have talked about the CEO as the ‘Chief Experience Officer’ many times before.

In these scenarios, colleagues from the Board are matched with key talent from marketing, internal communications, and other functions to develop, prototype, and bring into operation experiences that add significant value to client and Employee Experience.

Examples of this include the ‘build your own’ performance review experience, HERO awards, and internally designed and produced apps to connect colleagues.

It also includes the drip-feed on TV displays around the firm highlighting key news, progress, and other key experiences; one such experience is the annual Christmas party for employees and families. Harry Potter took over DRP last year in a themed winter wonderland. This £100,000 experience will live long in the memory and affects not just employees, but also families and clients.

This is a team that is together and they are often found working on charity projects and experiences that impact society at large, which is another theme within EX organisations, as companies seek to become more sustainable and environmentally-friendly.

Investment is strong in career development and in the all-staff meetings to maintain and deepen to connection within the company. All staff can attend a two-day event and experience to take a pause in the year.

One evening is a meeting for the leadership community and deals with themes specific for that audience. The main elements of the overall experience include speed-dating with the board, client panels – where staff can ask candid questions to existing clients – four development workshops, and sessions where every board member can be asked any questions about the business…and then it’s party time!

It’s not all work – EX organisations are never afraid to treat people as adults and have fun, so a key element of the event is a staff party.

There is a lot more I could say about my visit to this company, about the specifics within the Employee Experience, and I may follow-up in the future on this, but I think the point of this story has been well and truly made already.

The role of the CEO and top team in creating progressive and employee/client-centric workplaces is critical because the quality of your Employee Experience is a direct reflection of your CEO and, quite frankly, I believe that ‘Anything’s Possible’ with a people-centric CEO.

To join Ben at the CXM Employee Experience Masterclass, click here.


Paul CorkePaul CorkeJune 6, 2018
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5min874

Paul Corke is the Leadership Development Manager at credit firm MBNA, and was a judge at the recent 2018 UK Employee Experience Awards. Here he tells CXM about his judging experience… 

I have worked in the financial services sector for over 20 years, specialising in leadership development, so it was great to receive a call to be asked to be a judge at the UK Employee Experience Awards.

In previous years I have been part of teams entering awards, so I have an idea of the different types of emotions you feel when wining, or when you fail to pick up an award. This was the first time as a judge for me, so moving from providing a submission and presentation to being able to sit and listen to group presentations was quite the experience.

Being my first time as judge, there was a little bit of nervousness, but the plan was to project calm, enjoy the day, and have confidence in knowing I could ask the right types of questions. For me, being a judge is all about having a growth mindset – to want to listen, learn, and be curious about what is happening in other companies and across different industries.

It’s a great way to learn what current thinking is, who different companies are working with, what is cutting edge, and to scan different industries in your field of expertise. What I found was that each business is generally very unique, but often have similar issues – though different ones based on where they are in their life cycle.

This makes it interesting, but also a challenge for the judges with different sized organisations competing against one another at those different stages of their life cycle. I wasn’t disappointed by the teams, as I saw some great presentations along with some amazing projects, initiatives, and strategies.

The biggest thing I learnt from the process is that the initial submission is really important, as it needs to be well-thought through, providing real insight into how the company’s strategy has made a difference. For me, when scoring as a judge it really does make you realise exactly what should be going into the submission and the importance of taking your time to get this right. The presentations I observed were excellent, with an opportunity to ask questions, so backing this up with a great submission is key to success if you want to pick up an award.

We used a scoring mechanism where each judge scores both the submission and the presentation. Prior to this opportunity, I believed that the judges had a discussion to decide who would win based on what they had read and seen. But it was the opposite, where judges individually rate each company and then scores are added up to ensure you have a winner based on objective scoring. Yes there is a little time for debate between each presentation, but each judge then decides how they will individually score each company. It makes it very objective and fair.

It was also great to meet fellow judges and to learn about. It was interesting to hear the types of questions they ask the groups to see where their focus was compared to mine.

Overall, the whole experience – from reading submissions, to presentations, to the Awards dinner itself – was excellent and brilliantly co-ordinated. You really do feel the excitement for the winners and it’s a fantastic way to meet like-minded individuals. I would highly recommend the experience because it enables you to benchmark yourself in your field and gain valuable insight. I’m looking forward to being part of a judging panel again soon.


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2min729

A new survey of senior HR professionals  has revealed a number of concerns they are facing, relating to business productivity and employee engagement.

The survey by MintCentral, an employee engagement app provider, showed that an ageing UK workforce and increasing numbers of millennials entering the workplace are seen as the biggest threat to workplace productivity in the next five years, while employee apathy and remote working were cited as the main factors influencing the effectiveness of internal communication.

When analysing the factors affecting workplace productivity, 63 percent of participants ranked an ageing UK workforce and increasing numbers of millennials as more significant than the impact that Brexit will have (21 percent), or stagnating wages (14 percent). This suggests that organisations have a very real and pressing set of age-related concerns to tackle the evolving workplace age demographic.

When the survey asked about the factors that influence the effectiveness of internal communication, employee apathy and distance were jointly ranked in first place. This is indicative of a geographically disparate UK workforce which is not fully engaged.

A MintCentral spokesperson said:

Seventy-one percent of respondents said that online surveys are the most effective technology used to measure staff engagement. Interestingly, company intranets were ranked as the least effective technology for measuring staff engagement. This questions their continued use when the average UK workforce is increasingly non-desk bound. The inability to engage with employees through their intranet was cited by one respondent as why they ranked it as least effective.
When asked about the alternatives to their current employee engagement technologies 35 percent of respondents said that an internal communications app would help boost productivity and improve staff morale. The ability to measure staff engagement was ranked as the next most desirable feature of alternative staff engagement solutions.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthMay 30, 2018
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9min973

As summer heats up, so too does your ability to hone skills in a wide range of areas thanks to Masterclasses offered by CXM.

Throughout the second half of 2018, expert-led Masterclasses will train participants to perfect abilities in delivering Customer Experience, Employee Experience, and effective event management.

What makes these events unique is the sheer talent overseeing the classes. These include one of the world’s foremost experts on Customer Experience, Ian Golding, and ‘Mr Employee Experience’ himself, Ben Whitter.

Customer Experience

Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP) Ian, who is the CEO and Founder of Customer Experience Consultancy, will lead participants in the next Customer Experience Masterclass on July 2-3, before hosting a CCXP Exam Preparation Workshop on July 4.

Taking place at the Business & Technology Centre in Stevenage, the Masterclass will provide students with case studies, exercises, and stories to sharpen the skills required to succeed as a CX professional. This is a highly popular course and a chance to learn from the UK’s top CX personality, who is currently riding a wave of success thanks to his new book, Customer What? The Honest and Practical Guide to Customer Experience.

Attendees can expect to focus on all core CX competencies, including strategy and brand proposition; the role of employees in delivering said strategy; customer journey mapping; establishing a customer-centric culture; and much more.

Meanwhile, the one-day CCXP workshop will see Ian offer the best preparation possible for those seeking CCXP accreditation and aiming to pass the exam first time.
Ian was the first person in the world authorised by the CXPA to teach CCXP accreditation skills and is responsible for helping create around a quarter of the world’s qualified CCXPs.

Another two-day Customer Experience Masterclass led by Ian will be held on October 22-23, and a CCXP Workshop on October 24.

Also, an exciting new CX Masterclass is on the horizon, led by multi-award winning CCXP business leader and founder of CXellence, Manuela Pifani.

The 2015 UK CX Professional of the Year will oversee the Customer Strategy & Design Thinking two-day course, that will enable participants to get to grips with different strategy and design methodologies, and teach how to align organisations behind the delivery of a consistent Customer Experience.

The course will feature case studies and exercises that will aid participants in designing their own customer strategy, and successfully embed it within their own business.
The dates for this Masterclass will be revealed soon, so please keep an eye on Customer Experience Magazine for details.

Employee Experience

Meanwhile, the CEO and Founder of the World Employee Experience Institute, Ben Whitter, will lead the Employee Experience Masterclass at the Park Plaza Riverbank in London on September 10 and again on November 12.

Participants will learn the tricks of the EX trade from Ben, who is known in the industry as ‘Mr Employee Experience’ – and deservedly so – for his ability to help bring out the best in businesses when it comes to hiring and retaining staff.

Over the course of the day, participants will discover how to build outstanding employee experiences that contribute to key business metrics and deliver invaluable results.
Everything from pre-hire to retire is covered and the training has already been successfully delivered to hundreds of delegates worldwide.

Event management

Sarah Halfpenny is the face of Sarah Halfpenny Events and one of the UK’s most sought-after event management experts.

She is now heading up two exciting Masterclasses. The first is Event Strategy and Planning, that will cover meaningful event objectives, understanding audiences, forging partnerships, and content creation.

 

Her second Masterclass, Event Project Management, covers the fundamental elements required to project manage an event from concept to completion. Participants will learn all aspects of event management, from constructing an event brief and developing a project plan and schedule, to delivering it on time, in budget, and on-brand.
Both classes will be held at the Business and Technology Centre in Stevenage.
Event Strategy and Planning will be held on July 3, with Event Project Management on July 4. The classes will also be held on September 25-26, and on November 7-8.

Meanwhile, CXM Masterclasses are also available as in-house training sessions, that can bring the experts to your place of business. To learn more about in-house training availability, and to make bookings, email antonija@cxm.co.uk, or call 0207 1937 483.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthMay 29, 2018
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3min831

Motivating staff to ‘think like owners’ was one of the key factors in helping Startle achieve success at the 2018 UK Employee Experience Awards.

The firm, which helps brands provide outstanding digital venue experiences, won the Employee Engagement – Growth by Design award at the gala event earlier this month at London’s Park Plaza Hotel. The event was hosted by Awards International and sponsored by Benefex, with the help of other partners.

Startle was recognised for its unique approach to business growth; namely, how it operates completely remotely and achieved 400 percent financial growth in its second year. With an EMI share scheme that means all employees are owners of the business, Startle aims for motivated team members who ‘think like owners’, meaning there is great care and consideration for costs across all departments, helping to set the company up for further future growth.

Head of Operations and Co-Founder of Startle, Adam Castleton, said:

To have Startle recognised not only for our dedication to a unique Employee Experience, but how this aids the business in achieving excellent levels of growth, is a testament to the great work all of our team put in. Proving that it’s possible to run a multi-million pound business that operates globally from our homes signifies the future of employee experience, and demonstrates our commitment to providing an excellent work/life balance for all of our employees.”

Congratulating the winners, Neil Skehel, CEO of Awards International, said:

We are truly inspired by the incredible talent showcased once again at the UK Employee Experience Awards. This year we have seen many outstanding examples of businesses which are breaking the mould and creating working environments that are truly supportive and engaging. This amazing event gave us the opportunity to acknowledge those companies and celebrate with both the finalists and the winners.”


Dan HardingDan HardingMay 22, 2018
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6min1026

Let’s set the scene: you’ve just pulled up to the offices of the client you have your morning meeting with. You make your way to the building’s entrance, only to be greeted by an eerily deserted lobby with an unmanned reception and an old tattered guest sign in book.

No instructions, no direction, and more importantly, no idea what to do or where to go next. Unfortunately, this scenario is more common than not. With meetings taking up an average of 17, 470 hours over the course of an employee’s career, it’s no wonder that people are less than impressed with a welcome from an abandoned foyer and a dusty sign-in book. But visitor satisfaction isn’t the only aspect businesses should be worried about when it comes to this scenario.

With GDPR coming into effect as of May 25, if your business still utilises the traditional book and pen, your GDPR compliance stops before anyone can even make it past the lobby.

Having all your visitors’ data sitting at your unmanned front desk for the world to see is no longer an option for businesses. With strict regulations in place regarding what data businesses can obtain and store from customers and for how long, having years’ worth of names, contact details, and guest preferences at your fingertips, is just no longer viable. And what happens if that data sitting on your unmanned reception desk ends up in the wrong hands?

Businesses often take a siloed approach when it comes to visitor data gathering. Those in finance may want bank details, those in IT may want account log-ins, and receptionists may want car registrations. And it all has to be GDPR compliant. So, how can businesses effectively provide a seamless and detailed sign-in process for visitors whilst also being GDPR compliant?

The visitor experience

A guest sign-in book is what most UK employees are welcomed with when visiting a business’ premises. But what about first impressions? And second and third impressions for that matter? How do visitors know where to go once they’ve signed in if you don’t have a receptionist? Do they need a badge to proceed? What if they need to sign your data policy or an NDA prior to progression?

Many of us are guilty of making snap judgements when walking onto a company’s premises, but if your visitor is uneasy the second they step through the door, you’re already starting at a disadvantage, and the real question is – is it worth the risk? You’d never expect not to be directed upon entering a hotel, so why should a visitor to your company expect anything less?

The solution

What many businesses are unaware of, is that both the GDPR and visitor experience aspects can be tackled with innovative technology, and the deployment of electronic visitor management solutions is key. There are now numerous smart solutions to streamline the visitor sign in process with GDPR readiness already built in, so there’s really no excuse for non-compliance.

So, let’s set the scene again. You’ve just pulled up to the offices at which you’re having your morning meeting. You make your way to the building’s entrance, only to be greeted by an eerily deserted lobby with an unmanned reception. But instead of signing an old dusty guest book and fumbling around to find out where you’re meant to be heading next, you notice a screen displaying the name of the business you have your meeting with.

So, you walk over and follow the on-screen prompts to sign in. You then enter your car registration, contact details, and sign the necessary documents on screen, it then takes a photo of you and prints an identification badge simultaneously as you follow the directions on screen to get to the correct floor and meeting room you require. Meanwhile, your hosts have already been informed you have arrived, and are already on their way to greet you.

Not only is this visitor experience seamless, it’s personal. Guest information is preloaded into the solution prior to arrival and what’s more, the solution is GDPR ready.

It’s time to bring the visitor experience in line with the technology available.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthMay 18, 2018
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10min1131

Some of the best businesses in the UK to work for have been honoured at the 2018 UK Employee Experience Awards.

Taking place in the heart of London at the Park Plaza hotel overlooking the Thames, the spectacular day-long event saw the winners of 22 categories take to the stage following a morning of detailed presentations before expert judging panels.

Firms, including some of the best-known brands in the UK, outlined strategies and initiatives that lead to high staff satisfaction and retention rates, and explained how this translated into customer satisfaction and even boosted profits.

Attendees also enjoyed a day of networking opportunities and met with representatives from the event’s influential partners. This year, they included employment engagement specialists Benefex; global professional services provider FDM; Cranfield School of Management; Therapy Solutions; and the new venture from awards judge Donna O’Toole, August: The Awards Consultancy, the world’s first online course designed to help firms win awards and significantly raise their profile.

Meanwhile, also partnering the awards was The World Employee Experience Institute, and its founder Ben Whitter, AKA Mr Employee Experience himself, met with finalists throughout the day and also took to the stage during the gala ceremony to share valuable insights.

The event was also sponsored by children’s charity Barnardo’s, which outlined to attendees their amazing work in rescuing victims of child sexual exploitation.

The highlight of the day was the award presentations, which saw wholesalers Bidfood UK take home the coveted Overall Winner title after an outstanding victory in the Team of the Year category.

Other notable success stories includes London’s Jubilee Street Practice, which won Overall Best Employee Engagement, and the Holly Private Hospital in Essex, which won an amazing three category titles: Employee Engagement – Values & Strategy; Reward & Recognition; and Talent Management.

Speaking with Customer Experience Magazine, Ben Whitter said:

“Employee Experience is one of the most important aspects of business in the UK, and this event is the premier celebration of that.

“I have heard of some truly amazing EX initiatives in the run-up to today’s event, and I was lucky enough to tour the HQ of finalists to see for myself exactly why they deserve to be here today competing for these titles. They are all raising the standard for other businesses and I salute each and every one of them.”

Meanwhile, Matt Nathanielsz of Benefex added:

“EX is a massive trend in industries after years of being overlooked and undervalued. It’s great to see so many companies making the experience for their employees so special.”

Judges were also “hugely impressed” with the presentations. Judging Chairperson Hina Sharma, Head of Communications with Pitney Bowes UK, said:

“What was most impressive for me and many of the judges was how the finalists linked their employee engagement initiatives to overall business success. That standard of entries was exceptional. Well done to all who entered.”

Neil Skehel, CEO of hosts Awards International, added:

“It was fantastic to see so many inspiring companies who are leading the way in effective employee experience. Congratulations and thank you to all of our finalists, winners, and judges. See you again next year.”

Employee Engagement – Recognition & WellbeingStaysure

Employee Engagement – Growth by Design – Startle

Diversity & Inclusion –  Sky

Employee Engagement – Values & Strategy – The Holly Private Hospital

Employee Engagement – Transforming through EX – Jubilee Street Practice

Employee Engagement – EX Design – Manpower Group

Health & Wellbeing – Let’s get healthy

Insight & Feedback – Sparks Grove and FCA

Learning & Development – BT Business and Blue Sky

Reward & Recognition – The Holly Private Hospital

Talent Management – The Holly Private Hospital

Innovation in Recruitment – Marketing VF

Business Transformation & Managing Change – Homeserve

Organisational Development – BT Business and Blue Sky

Thought Leader in Employee Experience – Rebecca Robinson, Sparks Grove

SME – The Holly Private Hospital

Technology for Productivity – LifeWorks

Agency of the Year – Manpower Group

Leader in Employee Experience – Marketing VF

Team of the Year – Bidfood UK

Overall Best Employee Engagement – Jubilee Street Practice

Overall Winner – Bidfood UK




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