This year may have only just started, but it already feels like the year we start leaving things behind. The European Union, Trump, the waistline; all done with (at the time of writing at least). So, when 2020 was the year some of my colleagues reached the milestone of 10, 15 or even 20 years’ service, I began to wonder what has made them stay at the same company, for such a huge part of their careers.
Chris Arlott has been at Cognito iQ for more than 15 years. He explained that he attended an interview for an Application Support role but was pipped to the post by a more experienced candidate. However, the interviewing manager saw his potential and offered him a role in the QA & Test department. There Chris learned, in depth, how our application worked and was soon out on the road with customers, diagnosing issues in the solutions.
As a result of that extensive knowledge, proven ability in a customer facing role and analytical thinking, Chris was offered a position with the 2nd Line Support Team. With continual training and support on offer, his leadership skills won him a place as Team Leader on the 1.5 Support line. Demonstrating a flair for creating and introducing processes, Chris went on to take the following roles of Change Manager, Business Systems Manager and is today our Compliance Manager.
Throughout his 15-year career journey, Chris reports that it is the people that give him a reason to stay. He said:
“My role could easily be very isolating, but the size of the company means I speak with most people and they know who I am. I know what everybody does, who to go to if I need something, and who I can rely on. Nobody ever says ‘no’ if you ask a question. They might need to go and find something out, but everyone (without exception) is willing to help and that’s a very important part of the culture”.
His story is not uncommon. Many of my colleagues have held multiple positions within Cognito iQ, myself included. There is opportunity and potential in a culture that encourages people to constantly train and grow, meaning there is fluidity in roles and the ability to find where you best fit.
Georgina Barker, Head of Content who has worked at Cognito iQ for 9 years, (also in a variety of roles), was recently nominated for the annual Employee of the Year award. She says:
“Working at Cognito iQ is like being part of a big family. We really pull together and everyone, regardless of role or department, will try to help each other out. To be nominated by your colleagues for an award, when everyone around you is also doing a great job, really does means a lot”.
This is good news for Cognito iQ. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) states “…where skills are relatively scarce, where recruitment is costly or where it takes several weeks to fill a vacancy, turnover is likely to be problematic. The more valuable the employees in question - for instance where individuals have specialist skills or where they have developed strong relationships with customers - the more damaging the resignation, particularly when they move on to work for competitors.”
With staff staying in at Cognito iQ for many years, the relationship with our customers also grows stronger. Customers can deal with people who understand the products and services, but also know their business needs. Mutual trust and loyalty are built that drives innovation, to achieve strategic goals in both organisations, bringing benefits to all.
Jess Weaver, Head of HR is passionate about continually evolving the HR approach at Cognito iQ to make it a place people want to work.
In two short years her team has introduced a new appraisal system that focusses on the individual’s development, by identifying training opportunities and potential career paths that the employee would like to take, rather than solely looking at performance.
The physical office space has been transformed to offer multiple breakout spaces with sofas, gaming areas, drinks fridges etc. There is a quarterly activity fund that allows teams to go off for a team activity of their choosing. Flexible start and end times to the day allow individuals to take up to 2hr breaks for their own well-being and the company values have been completely reimagined to reflect the very heart of the culture at Cognito iQ. Even the type of beans in the coffee machine were changed, following consultation with the more discerning coffee drinkers!
However, key to all of this is communication. Actively listening AND hearing what employees are looking for from Cognito iQ.
Chris Arlott commented:
‘HR initiatives like the suggestions box and employee surveys mean our voices really do get heard, but more importantly acted upon’.
Jess points to our newly adopted company values as the perfect example of the benefits of engaging in extensive employee consultation. As a result of open communication, the CxO were able to determine what employees think Cognito iQ is good at and would like to see more of, blending the ideas with Cognito iQ’s strategic goals. The result is a set of values that are far more than just words on a wall, but statements that capture what drives Cognito iQ, defining its flourishing culture, driving employee behaviour and how we treat each other, our customers, and suppliers. Jess went on to say:
“Cultural shift in an organisation does not happen overnight, it is an organic, growing thing that has to be nurtured. The initiatives need to be valuable and work for the individual. It’s not about being prescriptive, the key is communication and respect. If we can all make it work, everyone’s a winner.”
And the CIPD agrees, stating in their staff retention fact sheet the key areas for employee satisfaction are:
Career development and progression
Pay attention to employee well-being
Treat people fairly
These are all things Cognito iQ are actively engaged in achieving and I’m certainly proud to talk about some of the initiatives with my friends, whilst watching their jaw drop and asking if I can get them a job. And I would happily recommend working at Cognito iQ to any of my peers, but for now I am going to make use of an extended lunchbreak to go for a bit of a hike along the canal in search of that missing waistline!