6 December 2015
Its been another incredible year at UKFast with the business continuing to grow and most noticably people within the business developing personally. Its very easy to assume you need to get new talent from outside as you grow to coordinate future growth and whilst its good to get some variety in and on your board, nothing beats home grown talent.
When I set UKFast up in 1999 with Gail in our spare bedroom, I could never have imagined in my wildest dreams to be where we are now. Yes, I have always had big ambitions, but just the manner in which UKFast and Gail and I are developing alongside all these amazing people, its not something I visualised. This is something that is just evolving from the processes and tactics we put into place.
So stood on the stage on the Christmas Party last night doing our annual award ceremony, in front of the whole company, there were a number of moments where it was tough not to show my emotion.
It doesn’t take a genius to work out how much we value our team and all their handwork when you see the office, work and recreational environments we are creating for them, all the events and benefits, but sometimes nothing beats a simple “thank you.”
And that was what last night was about. Its a celebration of the talent and achievements of every single person and its the perfect opportunity to highlight the superstars.
There were more than 15 awards for various accolades, some humorous, like the LochNess Award for the person you can never find, other more serious ones, like our Legend Awards, but nothing is quite like the final part of the ceremony, where we get to welcome people in to the 5 and 10 year club.
Last night 7 people made it past their 5 year anniversary. The result, they all get £1000 each with all the tax paid, so they come out with every penny of it. The energy is brilliant and it builds as we get nearer the 10 year announcements.
The ones who make the 10 year club get £10,000 and again we pay the tax.
It sounds like a lot and it is for the ones opening up the envelope. It’s not easy to save £10,000. But as a business I want to keep my top talent and I want them to know how valued they are. It sends a clear message out to everyone there that we mean business and it also gives the newer ones something to aim at.
This year there were 2 joining, David and June.
Can you imagine how much experience someone has after 10 years working with you? They are literally invaluable.
The stories you have and the memories are incredible. 10 years ago, David was building the servers we sold in the basement at UKFast, literally soldering the LED lights and power switches on them. Even the metal was pressed in Manchester! Its incredible to see how he has grown during that time. Its much easier to measure when you look back over such a long period and reminisce.
Retaining your top talent from the early day’s is essential if you want to genuinely build a lasting culture. I don’t want a business full of new people who don’t have any idea of the early day struggles we went through together. It is only by struggling together that the super strong relationships and unbreakable bonds are created.
The other cheque went to June my mother-in-law. You might say, “You are brave hiring your mother-in-law!” But actually we get on famously and she is someone who always believes in me and that alone fills me full of courage when venturing into the unknown. June has worked tirelessly at UKFast in a variety of roles; accounts, reception, PA and we could not do what we do without her. People have no idea just how hard Gail works, and she couldn’t balance work and family and our home life without June and her efforts.
Over the past 6 years we have had around 20 or so people join the 10 year club and probably around 70 who have done more than 5 years. It’s a significant part of why we are the way we are.
We are all focussed on keeping clients, so why not put the same effort into keeping your team, this in turn helps to keep your clients too. And if you are struggling to justify it financially, imagine how much you’d pay in recruitment fees and training if you kept trying to fill these places? It would be more expensive, plus you wouldn’t have the atmosphere and the culture.
The roar from the crowd alone is worth every penny, I look forward to it all year for that one moment and where I see the looks on their faces, the emotion and the connection is priceless.
Have a great Christmas and make a difference however small.