We recently hosted a CP Talks Creating Inspiring Cultures event, where we learnt lessons from some of the Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For. Here’s a summary of what our audience heard on the night.

Ari Ratnakumar, Co-Founder and CFO of Wiser opened our event. Wiser is one of the fastest growing start-ups in the UK. His business came second in the 100 Best Small Companies to Work For. And in a team of 70, the average age is 24. So, one of Ari’s big topics was around how to attract and retain millennials.

Millennials – how to find and keep the best

Did you know that by 2025, 75% of the global workforce will be people born between 1981-96? But how do you find and keep the best young millennials? Ari spoke about how it’s not all about Instagram and avocados. And he shared a few of his beliefs behind creating an amazing team.

Culture vs. performance – Ari talked about his early career in banking. He described it as, “A high-performance environment where culture is neglected.” But he couldn’t understand why culture and performance had to be mutually exclusive. He left to set up Wiser.

Trust – “The biggest thing is trust,” said Ari. “It’s telling people, “Yes, we trust you, we’ll give you responsibility, we’ll throw you in at the deep end and allow you to flourish.” “I hear lots of people saying millennials need to be praised all the time. But I think as employers, it’s our responsibility to offer a guiding, helping hand. We should include people in conversations. Be transparent. Trust people.”

Creativity – Ari said that 78% of millennials want to be creative in their working environment. “They want to come up with suggestions and solutions. Yet, in banking and most large corporates, you have to go through 10 layers of sign-offs to make something happen.”

Progression – “When you join a large organisation, you have to jump through hoops,” said Ari. “People are thinking, ‘why should it take me so long to work my way up?’” Ari spoke about how learning and development should be personalised to help people grow too.

Creating gender diversity in leadership

Jane Keir joined us from Kingsley Napley, the highest-ranking law firm in the Best Companies list. Kingsley Napley is also one of the only law firms in the UK’s top 100 to have an almost equal split of male and female partners, where just over 50% are women. How was creating this diversity possible? Was it all down to culture? Jane talked about how there are a few things behind it.

“We don’t have any positive discrimination” – But Jane did explain how they have a strong culture that enforces the Kingsley Napley values. She remembers saying to one member of the team, “If you work for this law firm, you have to abide by our values – no matter how big your fees are.”

Teamwork – “I’m a divorce lawyer and if a client calls up one evening and says my ex-partner has just emptied the bank account, we can’t say call back next Tuesday when your lawyer is in,” said Jane. “Teamwork is everything. Everyone helps each other.”

Transparency – “Transparency and trust are huge in our work,” said Jane. But taking trust to another level, Kingsley Napley also hold an AGM every year where people hear what the senior partners earn. This transparency is invaluable. And it also meant one year the business could say, “We’re sorry, the bonus pool is smaller this year and here’s why” – with no repercussions.

Investing in an employee experience for everyone

From having a master’s degree in Engineering to setting up a pub and bar company, Chris Hill, CEO of The New World Trading Company, spoke about his unorthodox career. It started with washing pots for pocket money. And now his company is the UK’s fastest growing pub businesses. The New World Trading Company (NWTC) also came seventh in the Best Companies list.

Hiring the best people – “It’s all about having great people,” said Chris. “They’re your biggest asset and biggest challenge.” But how do you get them? For NWTC’s 22 restaurants and bars, the business’s hiring process revolves around their values. “It doesn’t matter if you can do the job. It’s whether you fit the values. And when people join the business, we don’t forget about these values.”

Creating tribes – Chris also shared his secret to engaging his 1,400 people workforce, up and down the country. He’s created four Tribes, which involved dividing the business into four, regardless of location. These tribes have competitions and “lots of wholesome fun” throughout the year. It means people mix with people they wouldn’t ordinarily. It takes £200,000 investment, with two full-time people running it via an app. Chris said, “It’s worth every penny. 950 employees engage with the app once a day.”

It’s a “must” to think about culture – “Yes, it’s nice to do nice things,” said Chris. “But if I want to attract and retain the best young people, I have to do this. Unless you can surround people’s working life with the benefits of being with your company, they will leave.”

The best chance of creating an experience – Chris finished with a nice statement: “Everyone in this room has had a bad food and drink experience at some time in their lives. Now, we’re not perfect. But my best chance of giving people the best experience is being served by happy people. That’s why it matters.”

Creating Inspiring Cultures was a CP Talks event, a series we’ve created to help entrepreneurs and business owners from across the Midlands connect, network and be inspired. If you’d like to be invited to the next one, please let us know.

Also, we’re hosting a Culture Summit in 2019. So, if you fancy more ideas and inspiration on all things culture, please get in touch and we’ll add you to the invite list.




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