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Cambridgeshire-based healthcare communications agency Cuttsy and Cuttsy has not sat on its laurels since winning Workingmums.co.uk’s Top Employer Award for smaller SMEs in 2016.
The agency’s commitment to developing a flexible and supportive culture and its recognition of the business benefits saw it win the Workingmums.co.uk’s award for the second year in a row.
It must be doing something right because the team has grown by 30%, with an increase in fee revenue of over 50% in the last year. “We have seen rapid growth this year,” says director Mathew Cutts, “and our work culture is one of the things that has made the difference.”
That culture is built on regular feedback, career development, flexible working and team work.
Staff have monthly “Be Proud” meetings which focus on their achievements. These allow the team to adapt quickly to the needs of their clients. The positive “Be Proud” approach emphasises great work that the team members have done in the last month and the work they are looking forward to doing in the next month. They also have three long-term objectives to work towards. The monthly meetings mean they have the flexibility to alter those objectives in line with changing circumstances and they also identify any training needs immediately.
Cuttsy and Cuttsy was already committed to regular ongoing training, but it has more than doubled the amount of training it has funded in the last year. “Training is embedded in the business as you are only as good as the people you employ. By making sure everyone has the skills they need, we have been able to bring work that we used to outsource in house,” says Mathew. As a healthcare communications agency working with pharmaceutical companies, another area of training that is imperative is compliance. “Working in a heavily regulated industry, we have thorough training built into our induction programme as well as our monthly updates,” adds Mathew.
Flexible working is part of the company’s culture. People work in so many different ways, for instance, some people might work reduced hours at one point in the year and full time when there is peak demand. “It’s about building a culture of trust and give and take,” says Mathew. “Sometimes we need people to do longer hours. Sometimes they have things they need to do at home. Everyone has their own flexible working pattern.”
That flexibility is something the company promotes in its efforts to get the best talent.
Recently Cuttsy and Cuttsy has taken on a team member who has returned to work after eight years raising her family. Every new employee has a bespoke induction programme and the returner’s gave her the support she needed to ease back into work, including meeting her training needs. “Returners are a massive talent pool. It would be crazy not to tap into it. We are happy to invest with the hope that what we get back is trust and loyalty in the long term,” says Mathew. That support extends to those on maternity leave who might need a gradual return. When Mathew and his sister Caroline Benson set up the company they had young families so they know the demands.
But it is not just parents who need support, he adds. “Everyone has different needs at different times, for example, an employee who needed flexibility because of a parent who was ill and another who needed to do his driving lessons in his lunch hour. Mathew has worked for other companies which have been reluctant to embrace flexible working because they are worried that agreeing one pattern means they will set a precedent. “By treating every person as an individual, it works,” he says.
Within the flexibility that Cuttsy and Cuttsy offers there are only a few rules. For instance, everyone must be available at 09:30 on a Monday for a team meeting – although they can dial in remotely. Outside of this there is a great degree of autonomy and the company tries to hold social events within the working day so those with family responsibilities can take part.
Mathew is aware that some companies struggle to retain their flexible culture as they grow. He says that is why Cuttsy and Cuttsy is investing heavily in team building and creating an open and honest culture as well as focusing on making sure they recruit the right people. Mathew recognises that culture is something that needs constant work.
That means outlining the company’s core value – that Cuttsy and Cuttsy is a healthcare communications agency where people matter – so that the whole team knows what it stands for and what we are trying to achieve. That understanding makes a huge difference. “It gives us a proper sense of direction. Members of the team now feel more confident to talk to clients about what we stand for,” says Mathew. “There is a consistency to what we do. Our core values mean our team’s wellbeing matters, it means our clients matter and most importantly patients matter.”
Staff wellbeing doesn’t just mean flexible working and a non-hierarchical structure. Cuttsy and Cuttsy gives members of the team a free pair of trainers every year and provides private healthcare for them and their families as well as pensions, childcare vouchers and access to a cycle to work scheme.
It is also looking to the future. It invests in younger members of staff and has taken on graduates and upskilled and promoted them. Mathew says: “We are creating a talent funnel and that is something we want to continue to develop. We are looking for people with the potential to grow.”>