Simon Burns, MD of ICHF Events, on what the transition from family-owned business to part of a global organisation means for company culture.
How has the company culture at ICHF changed?
Going from a family-owned business to part of a global organisation has certainly been exciting but with the cultures in both businesses so different, there were a few challenges. It required us to look at our practices as well as update some of our systems that were great for a family business but didn’t fit in with the systems at TI Media.
This process allowed us to streamline some areas and develop new ways of working, change can be daunting when you have an established workforce however, four years on, I couldn’t be happier with the current ICHF team who now represent the perfect balance of knowledge, experience, great ideas and enthusiasm.
What initiatives have you introduced?
We are a close-knit team and make sure that everyone is treated as an individual, we all have our personal lives, and commitments to our families, hobbies, sports and so on which is why we introduced flexible working over three years ago. This has transformed the daily commute for many of our staff, who had been sitting in traffic and often arriving at the office harassed and stressed because they had been delayed. Having an office within minutes of an award-winning beach (sorry is that showing off?) it is important to make sure we encourage a healthy work/life balance – I try and lead by example, which is why I always take a lunch break, make sure I leave the office at a reasonable hour and don’t send emails to staff out of office hours.
Following on from flexible working, we introduced a plan to pay for medical appointments (up to six per year) which could be for a variety of treatments; chiropractor, physio, reflexology, counselling or sports massage, anything that will help to keep our staff healthy and happy. It is great to be able to show our teams that we value them.
What was the feedback from employees?
100 per cent positive! It comes back to treating people like the professionals they are and not micromanaging. We have a strong senior management team who are all focussed on their own personal CPD (continued professional development) and encourage their teams to engage in learning whether that is via online courses, networking events, seminars or classroom learning. I am passionate about CPD and strongly believe it is important for everyone to continue to develop their skills and knowledge.
Is the 9-5 format realistic for businesses in the events industry?
It’s rapidly becoming outdated, with more and more pressures on us all these days, I believe a modern working environment must include flexible working to allow everyone to achieve a positive balance between their working and personal lives.
The events business is not for the faint-hearted, after more than 20 years in the industry, I am committed to ensuring that we all work hard when needed but that must be balanced with time out of the office to spend with family and friends, have a lunch break (did I mention we work minutes from an award-winning beach?) and support colleagues when they are struggling.