The judges were interested to hear “how the company establishes credibility in terms of vision, communication and co-ordinating activities, how employees are treated with respect and equality, how the company encourages employees to take pride in their work, and how the atmosphere created is conducive to a successful team environment and employee’s wellbeing and safety.”
For our agency, this is the icing on the cake as it recognises all the hard work and focuses we’ve had on making a difference to our colleagues, clients, and consumers.
To explain how we got here, let us take you on a journey…
In 2018, Bigwave underwent a transformation that involved all staff through workshops to determine the agency’s Mission, Vision, and Values. Through collaboration and consultation, we set a mission to ‘Make a difference – to colleagues, clients and consumers’.
Setting a purpose for our agency changed the entire approach to how and why we work. Since then, our mission has become core to our growth and mindsets.
A range of staff initiatives, benefits, flexible solutions, and career support have been implemented since our mission was determined with support, input, and guidance from our staff.
We are proud of our team (internally called ‘Bigwavers’) and the work that we do. We want to inspire our staff to be the best they can be and to support them to grow and make a difference. The ‘Best Place to Work’ award is a great acknowledgement of all the hard work that’s gone into doing this.
Living Our Mission
Since introducing our guiding mission, several initiatives have been developed focused on Bigwave colleagues. Most of them revolve around communication or perks.
Our regular Town Hall meetings orientate through monthly updates, enabling management to share insight, client updates and staff news.
Many initiatives we’ve introduced have been developed by staff, with many decisions undertaken by vote or feedback.
Staff input has determined a range of initiatives and changes, including a hybrid office/home-working policy, allowing all staff to work remotely up to three days a week and a four-day workweek trial with a subsequent flexi-hours approach.
Since the recovery from the pandemic, Bigwave has introduced a range of other benefits guided by staff input to increase the benefits available to staff which include:
- 25 days leave – plus bank holidays
- Sick pay
- Pension scheme
- Free Flu jabs
- Cycle to work scheme
- Christmas shutdown
- Annual work-abroad opportunities
- Free Paignton Zoo passes
- Free LastPass accounts for friends & family
- Free goodies (like easter eggs and advent calendars)
- Monthly staff social & wellbeing budget
Bigwave has a staff social and wellbeing team called the Happiness Board. It consists of an elected board of individuals that represents each team across the agency. The board operates like a business, with an elected chairperson and treasurer. It has a monthly budget, which it can spend as it chooses to organise social events, activities, giveaways, or initiatives, that aim to improve staff wellbeing and ‘Make a difference’.
The Happiness Board has run several activities and events, from health check-ups to CPR training, bake-off competitions, BBQs, Christmas parties and even a volleyball tournament in Barcelona! They have introduced a monthly doggy wellbeing day, which sees a K9 friend spend the day in our Exeter office once a month.
The most adventurous project undertaken was our 6-month four-day workweek trial, where we gained staff input throughout. The trial was well received, and at the end of it, we introduced an extended trial with a complete flexi policy that enables staff to choose how they work their hours. Some opt for four-day weeks but most self-manage how they work their 37.5 hours (full-time) across each week so they can fit in their work duties with their personal and social commitments.
To bring the whole agency together, Bigwave announced a working abroad initiative through a Town Hall meeting which saw staff work from Barcelona for a week in 2021. The group event helped to bring staff together and cement relationships. It also saw the culmination of a strategic project called the ‘Champion Projects’. From a set of twenty business objectives set out in 2020, all staff chose what they felt was the top priority and worked in teams to review and influence the objectives.
As with the surveys and polls, a vast range of ideas and initiatives came through these projects, from online training, staff rewards, new starter welcome packs, volunteer schemes, and career ladders.
The latter, career ladders, saw Bigwave implement its most ambitious staff programme in late 2022. A career ladder was produced for each department in the business, with all roles aligned to a specific ladder. This gives staff clear insight into the skills and developmental needs to progress in their careers at Bigwave and creates an equal and transparent salary banding for each role.
Following the implementation, all staff received an appraisal and performance review, which included a 365 review. This set staff annual goals and objectives and identified training requirements. A partnership with ETS training in Exeter enabled Bigwave to offer dozens of courses that staff could enrol on. By January 2023, over 90 individual training sessions will have been delivered to staff.
Looking towards 2023, Bigwave still has ambitious plans and will be hosting a staff working week in Nicé, as well as supporting career ladders and growing the number of training sessions completed across the agency – all to ‘Make a difference’ to our Bigwavers.