Not dreading Monday morning is the stuff of dreams. Ask people what they want from work and most will tell you they want fulfillment, but this is a harder ambition to achieve than it sounds. The workplace environment is integral to this. To find out what characteristics make the optimum workplace we reached out to the shortlisted companies for the Best Place to Work in Tech. First on the list is Ghyston – and since they took home the award, we’re excited to learn about what makes them stand out from the crowd.

Ghyston is a bespoke software development company based in Bristol – the team of experts build highly functional websites, mobile apps, and complex ERP systems for their range of diverse clients.

We caught up with Emily Hill, CEO and co-founder of Ghyston to find out more, “We recruit incredibly bright and adaptable people who are able to pick up new technologies very quickly and who are passionate about solving complex software problems. We take great pride in being a reliable development partner, who does what we say we’ll do!”

What do people really want? Free food

Ghyston has a range of varied dynamic policies in place to ensure that people are getting the most of out of their time at work. This comes in the form of flexible hours, free food and monetary rewards.

Emily explains more: “We have core hours, but people can set their own work hours beyond that, so as long as it works for their project or team. People can work from home and people can work from abroad. Part time work is fine too – we try to be as flexible as possible to make work fit with life.”

Ghyston also recognises that food is the way to most people’s hearts. Emily tells us there is, “free breakfast, drinks and snacks in a nice chillout area with a fully fitted kitchen.

“The office also has a drumkit, keyboard and Wii room so there’s lots to do if you need to take a break and relax in the office. It’s particularly great when someone decides to bake a cake in their lunch break!”

And the financial pluses have creative twists too. Emily says, “Each year we have a very generous morale budget, which is managed by employee appointed morale officers, who arrange all sorts of activities to keep work fun. This includes an annual weekend away, usually in Europe – this year we’re going to Bordeaux.”

Ghyston also has personalised ‘boost awards.’ Every fortnight a £25 cash award is given during a whole team tea & cake catch up. Emily explains, “Awards are employee nominated across five different categories of extra contribution, rewarding employees for going above and beyond to make Ghyston great.”

And Ghyston cares outside of its own people too: “We also have a charity budget and charity officers who help facilitate charitable giving and manage a budget of charity days that can be spent by employees doing charitable work of their choice.”

A united team

Ghyston maintains the belief that great benefits don’t substitute for great culture; and whilst the former shouldn’t be neglected, the latter has a much greater impact on how your workforce view their workplace.

Emily says, “We’ve always tried really hard to create a welcoming and fun place to work where people want to contribute and have room to grow.”

Crucially, Ghyston takes the view, “that benefits can help us attract a diverse workforce but the culture at Ghyston is what keeps people working with us for a long time.”

The time and commitment the team puts into ensuring this belief system is put into actions rewards everyone involved. Emily tells us, “Everyone pulls together when there’s a tight deadline, we help each other, problem solve and learn together. We work hard to overcome boundaries between different parts of the business and we socialise as one team.”

Emily underscores the importance of the working environment and that this is, “not just the physical space, although it’s important not to be too sterile and to have an area to relax in, but also a friendly welcoming and open atmosphere where everyone feels valued.”

Whilst this is not always as easy as it sounds, there are more subtle ways to begin catalysing a renewed culture. Emily advises, “Small perks can mean a lot – tea, nice coffee, fruit, biscuits and treats go a long way to improving people’s working day.”

Running social events is also a great way to connect a team and swiftly boost the workplace morale: “It’s amazing how quickly team members will bond when outside of the working environment and this has a huge positive effect when back at work.

It’s essential to make time for pub trips and activities that everyone can get involved in such as a boat trip, summer barbecue, trip to the climbing wall, an afternoon tea – whatever your team is into.”

Finally, we asked Emily what she believes is the number one integral practice to making your company the best place to work. She says, “Flexible working.

Everyone has a boiler that needs servicing occasionally, a home delivery to wait in for, or a school sports day to attend. Being as flexible as possible with these things engenders trust, which leads to a better commitment and productivity, as well as happier employees.”

Thanks to Emily for taking the time to talk to us about working at Ghyston – and congratulations on winning the Best Place to Work in Tech Award at The SPARKies 2019!

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