ISL Wins 4th Place at the UK Great Places to Work Awards!

We’ve done it again! Absolutely delighted!

After our debut on the Best Workplace list last year we’re over the moon to achieve a Great Places To Work award once again.

We are now the 4th Best Small Business in the UK. This is a massive testament to the great people that work for ISL, so a huge thanks from Henry and I to our team. It’s a cliché but people really are our greatest asset.

The Best Workplace award recognises organisations with great employee engagement. We had to submit to a rigorous audit process, including an anonymous survey asking all our team how they feel on a range of work issues. Our people practices were assessed to show how they help create the culture our employees experience.

We love awards but this one feels special, as so much of the score comes from our employees rather than just my thoughts on why we are great. Or how big a table we bought at the ceremony!

Sticking to our guns

Right from day one, the belief at ISL has been that we can create a great recruitment company, one that is both a great place to work and a successful one measured by results.

There have been many times that Henry and I have debated if our primary focus on employee engagement was the best way to achieve strong results. We’ve looked enviously at some of our competition who’ve achieved good sales growth but chosen different values to follow.

Two things have kept us to our original vision of providing people-focused, honest recruitment.

Our own confidence has been boosted by the growing volume of evidence that companies with great employee engagement achieve great business results. If you’re interested in exploring then Great Place to Work have some enticing stats on their website.

The other key thing is that it’s never been solely about the end game for me and Henry. No doubt our wives would love holiday homes in the Caribbean or early retirement in the South of France, and hopefully that will still come one day. But the journey is where you’ll spend most of your time, and enjoying coming to work each day is important to us.

Maybe we could have grown quicker by removing autonomy and adopting some harsh micro-management tactics, but that’s just not us.

24th to 4th! – How did we do it?

Having made such a big leap to be awarded the 4th Best Small Business then you’d expect us to be able to show what we’ve done differently, and thankfully that’s the case.

A big appeal of the Great Place to Work is that as well as hopefully getting a badge to show off to the outside world, you get some really rich feedback on the specific areas of employment engagement that you’re doing well and where you’re behind the curve.
So for example in 2017, in developing our staff we scored 4 of 5 (better than then benchmark of other great workplaces), but in listening to upward communications we only scored 2.5 of 5 (below our peers).

With this relative and absolute feedback we set out a project to improve. Key to the project was our belief that employee feedback and communication were critical. Some of the practices we introduced included regular 121 drop-in sessions with our directors, anonymous 360 feedback on our leadership team and anonymous employee surveys.

One of the changes we made as a direct result of listening to our employee feedback was introducing flexible working. I personally was nervous about introducing it, largely down to a culture that I’d grown up in where if you weren’t at seen to at your desk for 12 hours a day then you weren’t seen to be productive.

We worked across the business to scope out how to allow our employees to utilize flexible working, introduced a pilot, sought feedback, revised the scheme, and it’s now a standard part of our working practice.

Listening to employees and driving change as a result, saw us achieve 95%-plus positive responses in the Great Place to Work survey across: diversity, job security, working environment, strategy, communication, values & ethics and empowerment & accountability.

We’ve seen improved results across the business. Employee retention is up by nearly a third, absenteeism through illness is down by nearly half and in the first three months of 2018 we recorded both our best financial quarter and a record-breaking revenue month, 40% better than ever before.

Where do we go from here?

So fourth is great, but it’s just one step away from the podium. Another big improvement might mean we can take that coveted top spot!

So once we’ve enjoyed a celebration or two and made sure we’ve thanked everyone who’s helped us achieve this result, we’ll be sitting down to consider the detailed results and feedback.

We’ll look at the areas we can build on the great things we’re doing, and assess how we can improve the places we fell short of what we think we can achieve.

The aim for the next 3 years is to keep our core business growing substantially while taking some bold steps. We’re aiming to:

• Double our headcount in that time, but not at the expense of employee retention
• Continue to grow our contract recruitment services
• Add significant international business alongside our successful UK teams

Clearly with all these expansion plans we will need to make sure we support our people as well as ever, so we will be putting a lot of effort into developing future leaders via our own leadership academy.

If we nail all this then maybe that villa in St Lucia will come sooner than I think!

Join our journey

Our people are great, and that clearly makes an impact on the relationships we have with our candidates, clients, and service providers. So thanks again to everyone who’s helped us get to this point and played a part in winning this award.

ISL is a business that Henry and I are really proud of and we want to find other people who are share our values.

If you want to chat about who we might be able to help you find a new role, plan how to find some great talent, or build a great career in recruitment then I’d love to hear from you.

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