Driving Engagement in a High Growth, Mission-Driven Business

By Katherine FitzGerald, People Director, Spektrix

Katherine FitzGerald, People Director, Spektrix

A Mission to Keep Talent

Competition for talent across the tech industry is huge. The best way to attract and retain talented people, and have them do their best work, is for them to learn, develop their skill set, and build their careers. Aligning this growth with the needs of the organization builds huge efficiencies as your organization achieves more by people becoming more skilled. Team members enjoy their roles and are more productive because they are engaged and learning and you do not lose time to recruitment and onboarding because you are holding onto the great people you already have.

Spektrix was established 12 years ago but still has a startup feel to it. We are a mission-driven business focused on supporting the arts sector in the U.K., Ireland, and North America. From the early days, our people have had a love for the arts and a belief that the arts can have a positive impact on the societies where we live. As we have grown—we are now 125 people and counting—the sense of ‘family’ may have diminished somewhat, but the sense of purpose remains strong. The key here has been linking everything we do back to our mission and articulating the impact we have on the wider arts sector as often as possible.

Diversifying and Globalising

We have had to think about how to engage a larger, more diverse group of people, across three locations and multiple time zones. A key contributor to this has been our approach to flexible working—we have used technology to make this work, and maintained a huge spirit of trust across the business. Everyone has the ability to work from home or work part-time or compressed hours without being disadvantaged. We have core hours that people are required to work, but they can plan their days around these.

All the tech in the world does not make up for in-person meetings. And so we invest in helping our teams spend time together in the same place, to complement the remote working. We have travel budgets for teams to spend going to and from other offices. We also have a ‘secondment’ process where team members can spend a week or two in New York or London or Manchester (depending on where they are based), to build relationships with co-workers, understand the challenges and opportunities other team members encounter, share learnings and foster collaboration. Investing in this pays dividends in terms of productivity and efficiencies as the company grows.

A Focus on People

We have also focused on recruitment— ensuring that we continue to hire great people, and never hiring in a hurry. This means we have a group of smart, motivated team members who are all keen to learn and to share their knowledge with each other. This is at the heart of employee engagement— when you want to be around the people you work with, and you have a collective responsibility to work together towards a common goal.

We use Culture Amp to track our engagement scores and see how the changes we make impact the way our people feel. We shifted our scores from a low point in March 2018 to the best engagement levels we had seen six months later through a focus on line management and career development and creating a sense of stability across the business. Because, in the end, individuals and teams want regular feedback and to feel like they are learning and contributing to a bigger goal, and line management is the key to making that happen.

There is no one quick fix, but we have found remaining focused on our mission and inspiring our teams to collaborate and learn through doing is a great way to keep people engaged and achieve the ambitious growth targets we have set for ourselves.

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