Possibilities Beyond Expectations
Unite People’s culture empowers employees to want to deliver on its strategy
Leeds-based Unite People was launched in December 2016 with one purpose in mind: “To offer possibilities beyond expectation.” And that’s exactly what they’ve done, not only for the clients and candidates that they work with, but for their internal employees as well.
Founder and owner Ross Bayston understands the value being a “best to work for company” brings and is proud that Unite People doesn’t just say it is a great place to work, but that its employees feel the same way. “It’s easy to pitch something as a business and as your vision, but it’s another thing to actually be recognized as a business that they want to work for. I think it’s hugely important,” Bayston shares.
Bayston isn’t shy about the fact that one of the best things about Unite People, and what distinguishes it from other companies, is the people that work there. “Our company is our people and that brings a uniqueness to our business,” he says. “They say ‘culture eats strategy for breakfast.’ You can have the best strategy in the world, but you won’t get anywhere if you fail to recognize the importance of creating a culture that empowers the team to deliver on it.”
Alex Veil, head of permanent recruitment, has been with Unite People for about a year and half and agrees that the employees are what sets Unite People apart. “I’ve worked in some toxic places in the past and one thing I’ve promised myself is that I’ll never work in a toxic environment again.”
Veil shares that knowing he has a support system around him has been a huge reason why he’s been successful at Unite People. “You’re going to win and you’re going to lose some days, but knowing you have a support system around you and people you can actually rely on is really important.
Taking care of their employees isn’t just something that Unite People says that they do, it’s something they actually live out. Take, for example, Ben Karnezos, who started with the company in a recruitment role in November 2020, but didn’t feel like that was a good fit for him. He wanted to do something more creative, so he sat down with Bayston and had an open conversation. “I’m so happy I had that conversation because now I’m in a role that fits better,” Karnezos says of his current role as marketing and events manager. “They were so happy to help in any and every single way they could.”
It’s with actions like welcoming such open dialog that leadership at Unite People prove they value their employees’ happiness and health. “It makes a big difference when the people who are in charge take a genuine interest in you and your family,” Karnezos shares. Veil seconds that sentiment, stating, “The company always puts you first. They care about your mental wellbeing.”
Shifting during Covid lockdowns posed challenges, like it did for all companies, but Bayston says that they were already set up to be completely remote prior to Covid, so shifting was less of a challenge than it could have been. “We made sure that every single employee had access to a mobile phone, a laptop, and a good workspace to be comfortable.” In addition to making sure that all employees had a safe and comfortable place to work, Unite People paid out all salaries and bonuses during Covid lockdowns to ensure that their employees were able to take care of themselves and their families.
In fact, Covid didn’t slow business down for Unite People; it actually picked up. “We operate in the civil engineering sector and our market grew exponentially during this period,” Bayston says. “Contractors saw it as an opportunity to increase workload on site, which meant our workload kind of increased as well.”
To help keep engagement with their employees during lockdowns, Unite People made sure to have daily huddles so that employees were still able to talk to and connect with their colleagues.
Veil says that one of the big things that stood out to him during the lockdowns was how the leadership at Unite People realized that the pressures of the pandemic seeped into every aspect of life, including pressures at work and at home. “I was able to take time off to be with my family and put them first when I needed to, and that was a really fantastic thing for me during the lockdowns.”
Culture by Strategy
Bayston is taking steps to ensure that the culture at Unite People is purposeful and strategic. “A geat culture can happen by accident, and I think what we need to be really conscious of is understanding why our culture is great. So we’ve recently adopted a culture strategy to build purpose in why our culture is great and build something that we can measure against, as well.”
Knowing what makes the company special and trying to build upon that and purposely strive towards a specific culture is one of the things that makes Unite People a great company to work for. “If you aren’t aware of your culture and you bring in the wrong person, everything can change, so I think it’s really intuitive that we’re aware of that.”
While the people who work at Unite People set the company apart, Bayston also attributes a large amount of its success to the fact that as a company they have absolute clarity in terms of vision for where they want to go.
And where do they want to go? Bayston says they want to scale the company to 100 million in revenue and to own the mindshare of civil engineer recruitment. “Whenever our clients think of civil engineer recruitment, we want them to think of Unite People.” They are also looking to continue their growth into Europe and hopefully transition into the United States at some point in the future.
To be recognized as a “best to work for company” starts with something as simple as “treating people on a human level” according to Bayston, and that translates into being recognized as a best business to work for, not only by his employees, but on a world stage and can ultimately help Unite People scale up into a wider audience.
Source: Best Firms Staffing Industry