A healthy workplace culture is a vital component not only for the success, but also the sustainability of any modern business. It’s a shared responsibility between employers and employees to shape a workplace’s culture, and this is precisely why VST is committed to creating an environment where their employees can thrive.
Recognising the significance of this topic for VST, we recently conducted a Q&A-style discussion featuring two senior members of our team, our Managing Director Louise Howson and our Founder and Solutions Director Andrew Smart, delving into the nuances of workplace culture. Here, we present some key takeaways and notable quotes from their conversation.
Fostering a Healthy Working Environment:
- Louise Howson emphasised that factors such as employee happiness, work-life balance, and transparent communication at all levels play pivotal roles in cultivating a healthy working environment. This is reflected in indicators like high staff retention rates and a substantial number of internal referrals when recruiting for open positions.
- Andrew Smart talked about how their efforts to establish a thriving work environment had yielded remarkable results. VST had, for the first time in years, accumulated a waiting list of recruits, largely due to internal referrals and a stellar reputation for employee care. He attributed this success to the culture they had diligently crafted and consistently worked to enhance.
- Louise Howson echoed Andrew’s sentiments by noting that VST’s workplace culture had enabled them to recruit effectively, even during times when other companies faced difficulties. Job candidates frequently commented on the positive atmosphere and camaraderie observed during interviews.
Approach to Cultivating a Strong Workplace Culture:
- Louise Howson highlighted the importance of fostering a calm, professional, and motivated environment where every team member feels like an integral part of the organisation. VST places a strong emphasis on data and expertise guiding their meetings and overall agenda, rather than relying on who speaks the loudest.
- Andrew Smart discussed their proactive approach to measuring and improving workplace culture, mentioning their participation in the Sunday Times ‘Best Places To Work Awards’ to gauge tangible results. He emphasised the value of anonymous surveys, like the ‘Times Best Places To Work,’ as sources of honest feedback. VST also elected employee representatives and organised frequent one-on-one sessions and focus groups to address staff concerns.
- VST recently introduced a health and wellbeing app to their employee benefits package, promoting activities such as yoga, guided meditation, cardio classes, and friendly step competitions among colleagues.
- Andrew Smart emphasised that building a healthy workplace culture is essential for VST because culture, happiness, and productivity are closely intertwined. He described the VST team as a family, underlining the significance of this culture.
Work-Life Balance and Hybrid Working:
- Louise Howson discussed how hybrid working, which allows staff and working parents to strike a balance, was proven to be the most successful model for both happiness and performance. She stated that this commitment to work-life balance has been integral to VST’s identity from its inception.
- Andrew Smart shared that VST was among the early adopters of flexible hours and career progression for part-time employees, emphasising the importance of putting trust in employees and valuing family as a core principle. This approach has resulted in increased staff numbers and internal promotions, all while maintaining flexible working hours.
- Louise highlighted that what other companies have been forced to offer in terms of flexible working models, VST has been doing successfully for years.
2023 Workplace Culture Expectations:
- VST predicts that discussions around workplace culture in 2023 will primarily focus on the flexibility granted to employees, especially in hybrid working arrangements. Andrew Smart remarked how some companies are now calling employees back to the office after pandemic-induced flexibility, but it was important to offer flexibility to meet employee expectations.
- Louise Howson noted that more people are working remotely, even from abroad, and that the demand for flexible working arrangements is growing. She mentioned the increasing accessibility of co-working spaces and advanced technology as factors driving this trend.
- Andrew Smart pointed out that 2023 might witness a more significant integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into workplace culture to manage hybrid working more effectively. He mentioned their use of AI technology for monitoring calls, productivity, and remote coaching.
- Louise stressed the need for integrating remote workers fully into the workplace culture to avoid isolation and ensure they feel like a part of the team. VST achieves this by offering its remote employees many opportunities to participate in office activities and social interactions.
- Andrew Smart highlighted the importance of establishing a strong workplace culture as a foundation before implementing hybrid working. He emphasised that numerous subtle factors contribute to the success of hybrid working and efficient workplaces.