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How other businesses are building cultures that count

Innovation, pride, attitude. We ask three organisations what their people bring that’s putting their business ahead.


Innovation from within

For Kim Pederson, Executive Vice President (divisional office) of award-winning international freight company Geodis Wilson, championing innovation has helped build an employer brand that really walks the talk.

“To stand out from the competition we have two key drivers. One is around aligning our internal vision and common values. The other is our motto “to be the most innovative freight management company in the world”. And to achieve that we need innovative people.

Having an innovative culture comes from ensuring we have an innovative image, so we provide encouragement through learning and development to drive our people towards that."


Real values in terms

“Our Innovative Masters Award (IMA) is one of the ways in which we foster and motivate innovation. It’s a simple ideas box but with tangible rewards. Every single member of staff can take part, simply by dropping an innovative idea in.. Their idea could be geared towards clients, staff, profit etc. But the key is that the best ideas are rewarded and recognised. When all the suggestions are gathered, the management decides on three to five ideas to take forward, which we’ll then invest in and make happen. Examples of these ideas include an app for customers to track their shipments and a 24-hour customer help desk, which improves the support we give to our clients around the world.

The person that brings the idea forward will then be invited to the award show, which has been put on everywhere from Dubai to Bangkok. So they might be working on the factory floor in Singapore, perhaps never travelled before – and suddenly they get a ticket to a completely different country for an award ceremony.

Instead of having an ‘innovation team’ of five people in the boardroom who come up with all the ideas, we rolled out the IMA to 900 employees instead. By encouraging everyone to get involved we drive the notion that wherever you are in the world, if you have an innovative idea, it really can matter.”


Instilling pride

Judith Owens, director of operations at Titanic Belfast knows the value of employee pride and how building a strong internal team message will bring more to the visitor experience.

“One of the core objectives within Titanic Belfast’s senior management team mission statement is to help make the organisation a great place to work. From before we opened, the team that set up Titanic Belfast realised that its people would make the difference.

We had an incredible building, an engaging story, a state-of-the-art exhibition – but we needed to bring it to life, to create an infectious energy, which would build a sense of real excitement to both visit and work at Titanic Belfast."


Power through people

“So together we’ve worked on the T-Factor; this is a list of the values that we work by, they’re what we assess against at recruitment and consider throughout the appraisal process. We’ve also appointed an Innovations Team, which was introduced to formalise the staff suggestions scheme and take ideas forward. This has all helped to cement a team that can be real advocates for Titanic Belfast and Northern Ireland. 

We’re one of the most positive tourism stories to come out of Northern Ireland in the last 30 years, and one of the contributing factors for this has to be the sense of staff pride that is displayed on a daily basis to the two million visitors that we have had to date.”


A collective "can do" attitude

For Julie Kenny, chairman of the world’s leading provider of security products Pyronix, it’s developing a shared attitude together that can change the game.

“Our business’s internal values originally came from the leadership, which was essentially me and the way I do things. We've always engaged staff in discussions with management about any issues they have. But as we grew bigger, we wanted to involve our staff in helping shape our values and core messages.

It’s about a ‘can do’ attitude and working as a team. A ‘Pyronix person’ would naturally express those values, so when we have new staff we talk to them about where we are, where we've been, where we're going and how they’ll fit into that picture. Each person is as important as the next; the cleaners are just important as higher management, because we all have our own special roles to play in the business."


Weathering the storm

“The strength of your people really comes out in times of difficulty. For example, in the first four months of the recession we lost a significant amount of sales, which meant we had to take some very quick action to reduce our overheads. I was adamant that we weren’t going to make people redundant, so we decided with the staff that we'd all go on a four-day week. It meant that when we started to get orders back, we could bring employees back sooner – and we managed it.

Subsequently we've grown every year since the recession. We worked together, found a solution and sorted it out. And everyone in the team was right behind us. Instead of feeling like things are being done ‘to’ them, staff should feel that they’re being done ‘with’ them – it’s when you have the support and relationship with your team, that they’ll stick with you through the hard times.”