Real business story

A great culture doesn’t mean blowing the budget

The average full-time British employee will spend over 3,500 days at work during their lifetime, so it’s vital that business leaders promote and encourage a healthy and happy working culture to keep staff motivated during working hours.
Hannah Dawson - Futrli

Futrli's Hannah Dawson keeps the door open for staff to grow into other roles they might be passionate about

By creating a workplace culture that’s right for your company you could see huge changes, from an increase in productivity to a decrease in resignations.

It’ll also make your company a fun and fulfilling place to be – perfect when you consider that you’re likely to spend more time with your colleagues than your family.

You don’t need a big budget

Creating the right culture isn’t about how much money you’re able to throw at the situation – it’s about being creative and listening to your staff.

At Headforwards, employee-run lunch clubs were introduced to encourage people away from their desks. “The ideas come from our employees,” said Marie Ashton, who looks after people and talent at the business, “who then use Skype to form a group for each club.” This low-cost method has seen employees engage in a range of different pastimes, from traditional physical activities to more unusual subjects such as Japanese lessons. Although a lunchtime activity, Marie was keen to point out that there was no strict time restriction on the lunch clubs as the main focus was to help people get to know each other, collaborate successfully on projects and be happier in their working life.

Hannah Dawson, founder of tech firm Futrli, agrees that you don’t have to blow your budget to promote a great work culture. Unable to compete with big tech companies in terms of salaries and social events, Hannah created a culture of development to rival the international giants.

Futrli put a structured training and development programme in place, ensuring that training for all employees was regular and consistent instead of sporadic. Hannah was keen to make sure that the management team were well equipped to oversee and aid the progression of other employees, so the company introduced dedicated management training sessions to ensure they had the tools necessary. Futrli also made it a priority that all staff had access to mentorship opportunities, both internal and external. The results speak for themselves: there has been an exponential growth in employees and a 46 per cent revenue growth in 2019 alone.

“We want our staff to achieve more,” she said, “whether it’s training and development opportunities or mentorship, we’ll provide it. And we want to keep the door open for our staff to grow into other roles they might be passionate about. It’s so important to keep staff happy, engaged, and constantly learning and progressing.”

“We want our staff to achieve more. Whether it’s training and development opportunities or mentorship, we’ll provide it.”

Hannah Dawson, founder, Futrli

Prioritise mental wellbeing

It’s well known that employees at architectural firms often work long hours to deal with large workloads, resulting in burnout, disillusionment and high rates of turnover – hardly a positive working culture. But Katrina Parson, HR manager at LSI Architects, was determined that it would be different for her team.

Reaching out to the mental health charity Mind, the company was able to set in motion a series of training programmes that helped staff recognise changes in their mental health and how to deal with the stresses of the workplace. “We provided every member of our team with mental health and wellbeing training. The sessions included strategies and mechanisms to keep is all well and resilient,” Katrina said, adding that “attendance was optional, but 98 per cent of our team took part.”

The results have been undeniably positive with 95 per cent of staff reporting that they felt LSI supported their mental health – this was up from the 53 per cent that felt that way prior to the training. “By building a business that’s values-led, we buck the industry trend,” she added, “feedback we get from job applicants is that they want to work for us because of our focus on employee wellbeing.”

It wasn’t just external feedback that helped LSI build a wellbeing culture, but internal processes as well. In the office, breakout spaces were increased to encourage people away from their desks, while weekly yoga sessions aimed to get staff up and moving and create a relaxed, fun atmosphere for all.

What to do next?

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  • website:
  • location: South East (England)
  • business size: 50-99 People
  • business type: Digital, technology & computer services

Top three takeaways

A positive culture means positive results

No budget? No worries! Getting creative with in-house resources is a good place to get started

Make wellbeing and mental health a focus for your business