5 ways to build a company people love to work for

Wrexham-based PA telephone service Moneypenny frequently tops national lists of desirable places to work. How?

by Rebecca Burn-Callander
Last Updated: 02 Feb 2018

Do your staff love coming to work? Do they tell their friends to apply for jobs at your company? Do you trust each employee to be an ambassador for the firm? Creating an environment that empowers and engages workers is no mean feat but, at Moneypenny, the UK’s largest PA answering service, they appear to have it sussed.

The Wrexham firm has been named one of the Sunday Times’ 100 Best Companies in the UK to work for five times, placing fourth in the country last year. Co-founder Rachel Clacher shares how she and Ed Reeves created their company culture.

1. Autonomy

Moneypenny operates a flat management structure. Company news is shared with everyone – from the PAs to operations staff – at once, leaving no one out of the loop. Each PA is also trusted to manage their own breaks and rota. It all comes down to trust, says Clacher, which means there are no targets.

‘We have a dashboard which shows the number of calls, and hours logged on, and which lets staff compare their performance to their team mates,’ says Clacher. ‘They are self-regulating.’ This does mean that changes can take a bit longer to take effect. ‘Our leaders have to adapt to a very different management style,’ Clacher admits. ‘We don't force changes through, we have a conversation.’

2. A little financial help goes a long way

Moneypenny offers each of its staff an interest-free loan of up to £2,000 in case they run into financial trouble. The initiative was inspired by Clacher and Reeves’ experience as hard-up students. ‘We were penniless and needed somewhere to live but couldn’t afford the deposit on a flat,’ she explains. ‘A friend came to the rescue and lent us £2,000.’ This can be a life-changing amount of money, Clacher explains. ‘We treat our people the way we wanted to be treated.’

3. The dream office

When Clacher and Reeves decided to build a new headquarters, they asked Moneypenny’s 600 staff to come up with the design. ‘They came up with the brief we gave to the architect,’ says Clacher. They requested: natural ventilation, plenty of natural light, an open plan office, and no hot-desking – everyone wanted their own space. ‘They also wanted a tree house meeting room, and an English pub!’ says Clacher. ‘It’s called the Dog and Bone and we’ve now become licence-holders. It is open Thursday and Friday evenings, manned by volunteers from the company.’

4. Flower power

Whenever a member of staff goes the extra mile, or wins extra business for the firm, Moneypenny gives them a flower. This is no ordinary bloom: it can be exchanged for £10 to spend on their team. ‘The desks are bursting with these flowers around the office,’ says Clacher. ‘Then they get spent on anything the team wants to do and people start growing their bunches again.’

5. Wellness

Moneypenny offers its staff breakfast, fresh fruit and regular exercise classes, all for free. Zumba and hula hooping were among the popular classes held at the office. But Moneypenny goes a step further, offering bonuses to staff that don’t take a sick day in a six-month period. ‘It’s a culture of carrot not stick,’ says Clacher. ‘We see a real return on investment too. We have no recruitment costs because we never have to advertise for staff. We’ve had 4,000 unsolicited CVs sent to us in the last six months.’

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