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Culture Club: Five ways to make advice workplaces better

Big companies like Google have led the way in improving the working environment for staff but advice firms can get involved too. Here are five steps London-based EQ Investors has taken to improve office life

Company culture’ has become something of a buzz phrase. Thanks to progressive leaders such as Amazon, Facebook and Google, people have started to think about company culture differently. It is something we have focused on at EQ Investors.

We have four very different generations at EQ, each with a different set of priorities. Understanding this and developing a healthy, productive work culture benefits everyone that works here.

Here are five ways we have improved our office culture.

Company culture’ has become something of a buzz phrase. Thanks to progressive leaders such as Amazon, Facebook and Google, people have started to think about company culture differently. It is something we have focused on at EQ Investors.

We have four very different generations at EQ, each with a different set of priorities. Understanding this and developing a healthy, productive work culture benefits everyone that works here.

Here are five ways we have improved our office culture.

1. Open up the office


We moved into new offices in early 2015. Working in a clean, attractive office has had a tremendous effect. Not only for existing employees, but also in terms of attracting new team members.

Not many workplaces have a cow (pictured above) and a mock beach in the middle of the office, with kitsch deck chairs and parasols for informal meetings and social events. We have also made sure the office is open plan. Even the chief executive sits with everyone else.

We have twice weekly fruit deliveries but it does not seem to stop the cakes and doughnuts turning up every time there is a birthday.

2. Seek feedback


EQ has a great team of talented, committed professionals who care about the work they do. We encourage honest and open dialogue, and the management team are open to input from employees.

The EQ Forum was created as a space in which ideas, suggestions and recommendations can surface and receive some airtime. The good ones are then put into place.

Rather than add another regular meeting to busy calendars, the Forum meets when there is a problem to solve or a new goal to tackle.

3. Be flexible


The benefits of flexible working are often centred on improving employees’ work-life balance, as well as looking after their health and wellbeing. However, these arrangements also have a positive effect on productivity and enhance loyalty towards EQ.

Allowing employees the freedom to choose their working hours, or to work from home, saving the commute time in their day, can give them more time with their children or time to support an elder parent.

4. Support a cause


At EQ we have a strong sense of being a member of a wider community. Just over three years have passed since EQ was recognised as one of the first UK companies to be awarded B Corporation status. This is an internationally recognised standard for companies that believe in business as a force for good. Today, there are more than 2,100 Certified B Corps from 50 countries and more than 130 industries working together to redefine success in business. We are proud to be one of them.

We operate a Matched Giving programme to help our clients and staff raise extra funds for their favourite causes. We have also set up the EQ Foundation as a registered charity with a particular focus on improving social mobility.
The EQ Foundation has supported the Spear programme operated by Resurgo. It provides pre-employment training for young unemployed people, mainly in London, initially via a six-week intensive course. We have employed a number of Spear graduates and would encourage other employers to do the same.

All EQ staff are given two volunteering days, and we organise a programme of events so staff can participate as a team. Staff have cooked breakfast at a shelter for the homeless, cleaned up a river bank and assisted at a sports day for disabled children.

5. Give staff control


EQ chief executive John Spiers (pictured) is a long-term advocate of employee ownership.

From this May, staff at EQ will be given the opportunity to acquire majority control of the company in a new employee share scheme, through which Spiers will also transfer his shares to the EQ Foundation.

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