Q&A – A Flexible Employer

We spoke to Mathew Cutts, director of award-winning Cuttsy & Cuttsy which champions flexible working for all their staff.

Flexible Working

 

Workingdads.co.uk spoke to Mathew Cutts, co-founder and director of healthcare communications firm Cuttsy &Cuttsy, which has won the Workingmums.co.uk’s Top Employer Award for SMEs twice for its standout policies and culture.

How many dads do you employ?

Very few – only two! However, we currently have quite a young workforce, so this might increase as time goes on.

Do they work flexibly?

Yes, everyone has some form of flexibility and it can manifest itself in many ways, whether that be working school hours, remote working, working from home certain days a week or being able to leave early to pick up children. This is available for both male and female colleagues, parents and non-parents.

How do you make flexible working easier to discuss from interview onwards?

We use flexible working as a way to attract the best talent we can, so it is used in recruitment adverts and is out in the open from the start. We don’t advertise the number of hours required for a role as we are always open to being flexible around this wherever possible, so nothing is set in stone. It’s also an open discussion at interview stage and working patterns are quite often tweaked within the first couple of weeks, for example, one of our team increased their hours slightly once they had mastered the school run, the traffic and its timings. The biggest challenge can be new team members adjusting to working flexibly for the first time and the building of the trust that is fundamental to its success.

How do you get the most out of individual members of staff?

I’ll try and keep this short. Build trust and a relationship of regular candid feedback and let it be both ways. Invest in their training and wellbeing and find work that challenges them and that they enjoy doing. Let them have responsibility over their development. Develop a culture of continuous improvement, something we are focusing on at the moment. Last but not least, add in a little healthy competition.

You operate regular reviews of job descriptions. How does that work and why does it matter?

We decided to look at job descriptions in a different way this year, as they only usually come out on commencement of a role and are then stuck in a drawer and only used either if there is a performance-related issue or a promotion. We engaged with individual teams through an interactive workshop where we looked at what individuals love, like and dislike in their roles. They were able to ‘trade’ tasks that they did not enjoy doing (which often complimented tasks that another person loves!). From this, we developed more personalised job roles which meant individuals would be doing more of what they loved and most importantly, more of the things where they add value to the business.

What do you offer new dads in terms of leave and return from leave?

Every dad has the same options as anyone else. Each case is looked at in a bespoke way as what works for one might not for another, so it is important to have open and honest discussions. We had a first case of shared parental leave this year. It’s also just as important that fathers have the time to see their children grow up, attend school assemblies, plays etc. However, I do think schools could think a bit more about working parents, for example, our school do a Father’s Day ‘lunch’ each year. If they ran it as a ‘breakfast’ I think more fathers could attend before heading off to work.

How important is training and development for keeping ahead of your rivals?

We are a service company and our team is our product.  If you don’t keep up to date and continue to improve, you will be left behind and your work will dry up. So we view training and development as essential, not only for the health of the business but for the professional development and sense of job satisfaction for our team.

Your appraisals focus on the positive. Do you see a positive impact on business performance as a result?

The monthly reviews have revolutionised our business. Yes, they do concentrate on the positive, but they are also a time when we can catch a team member who might not be having the best of times for whatever reason and we catch this quickly. The problem with twice yearly or once yearly appraisals is so much can change in six months and your business may need to adapt. If you are only reviewing your team twice a year, it slows you down. It also means that the objectives that are set are usually achieved more quickly and the fact they are monitored regularly means they can be changed if they are no longer applicable or need adapting.

Our monthly reviews (‘Be Proud’ meetings) only last about 30 minutes and we have a simple one-page PDF form that is filled in at the end. At the end of the year you have a 12-page comprehensive report on the year’s achievements, which is a great document to look back on. Following a survey that was carried out with the staff about our Be Proud meetings, we also introduced the opportunity for people to request 360 feedback and a 6- or 12-month review of their Be Proud meetings.

As for the impact on business performance, after our first year of the new review system, we increased our fee revenue by over 43%. I won’t claim it was just down to the reviews, but it definitely contributed.

How do you address concerns about ‘always on’ mentality given constant access to emails?

We have a ‘No Long Hours’ policy and promote this amongst our team. I would like to say it is part of our culture and we very much promote a healthy work/life balance. We do not encourage people to look at emails out of hours, but if they do and they engage with a client, they must be prepared to follow through.

How important are shared values and team fit to the business?

Vital. You can have the most talented person, but if they don’t fit it can be a disaster. This year we have changed our interview process to help with the ‘best fit’ aspect of recruiting. After our traditional two interviews process, we use an online behaviour assessment tool to cross reference our thoughts from interview. Then each potential candidate is invited to do something social with members of the team who have not been included in the interview process (such as going out for lunch or coffee) and they have final say on whether they will fit into the group and the company values.



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