How we go beyond for our people

27 April 2023

In this interview, Caroline Beardkins, HR Manager at Resource Futures, explains how Resource Futures is uniquely positioned to ‘go beyond’ for our people, to help them grow and thrive.

With the Covid-19 pandemic, and now the cost-of-living crisis, these past few years have been challenging for businesses. But being employee owned – and not solely focussed on financial profit – has meant Resource Futures could make commercial decisions with a view of the wider impact on investing in our people in the long term.

“Going beyond for our people has been a central pillar since we set up Resource Futures in 2006. Post Covid, as we start planning our next three-year strategy, it will be even more important to focus our people and our impact on making our work more sustainable ahead of financial profits. If we continue to get this balance right, we will continue to be a great place to work while delivering cutting-edge projects for our clients.”

Sam Reeve, CEO at Resource Futures.

Resource Futures is employee owned, non-profit distributing AND a B Corp; but what does this mean, why is it important, and how does it benefit our people?

Being employee owned and non-profit distributing means we always aim to do the right thing by our staff, our clients and the planet. We are ‘mission locked’ which dictates that all surplus income is reinvested to support our mission (no shareholder bonuses here!). 

In practice this means all our employees have the option to become a member of the company shortly after they join us. Their membership provides them with a role at the annual general meeting (AGM) where they have an opportunity to review the annual report and accounts for the company, ask questions about the company and its performance, and vote to appoint Directors to the Board.  

The AGM is the first of our two annual away days where staff from across the UK gather to discuss company performance and plan for the future. We also engage in team activities and finish off with food and socialising at the end of the day. To support our collaborative and inclusive culture, we have an established Consultative Group which represents our employee voice for the company. The group works with the Executive team, Board of Directors, HR, and all staff, to communicate issues, concerns, or queries (in both directions) and collaboratively explore solutions to any challenges we face.

“The Consultative Group plays an important role in encouraging a healthy work culture and has proven to be an essential communication platform between staff and management for positive organisational change and staff growth. It enables all voices at Resource Futures to be heard and respected equally, and some fantastic staff benefits and company changes have been adopted through the platform.”

Dan Everard, Community RePaint Network Coordinator and Consultative Group member

Being a certified B Corp is another important part of our identity at Resource Futures. It is an opportunity to measure ourselves against the highest verified standards of social and environmental performance and accountability and prove to our people, clients, and stakeholders that we are serious about being a better business. We gained our first B Corp Certification in 2016 with a score of 104.2 and in 2020 we were re-accredited with an increased impact score of 117.6 – one of the highest scores given to sustainability consultancies in the UK. Earlier this year we went through the accreditation process for a third time, and we are expecting to receive a further increased impact score any day now.

Our people are our greatest assets; how are we going beyond to support them and help them grow?

Our people ARE Resource Futures, and our focus is to provide a rich and rewarding work environment that balances professional development and quality with healthy work practices and culture.

We encourage engagement with our Total Reward package which is our way of demonstrating the value we hold for each member of our team. The package includes (but is not limited to): a life assurance policy for all; our buddy system to help new joiners settle in quickly and easily; a significant learning and development budget for training and professional membership investment; and access to our essential Employee Access Programme (EAP) and trained team of Mental Health First Aiders

“Our training with St John Ambulance provided us with skills to support and start conversations around mental health within the workplace. Resource Futures’ attitude towards mental health is very positive; the company has shown its commitment to supporting employees with their mental health through training employees and dedicating time to encourage these conversations. We have held a lunchtime brief to raise awareness of mental health and encourage colleagues to utilise the support and services available to them through the EAP or trained first aiders.”

Bethan Smith, Operations and Project Officer and Mental Health First Aider at Resource Futures

Hard work and successes are recognised and celebrated in our weekly whole-team calls and newsletter, as well as through awards submissions such as our recent placements in the LetsRecycle 35 Under 35 Awards.

Hybrid working has always been part of our culture at Resource Futures; why does it work so well for us?

Resource Futures had an established flexible and hybrid approach to work long before the Covid-19 pandemic knocked on our door, which meant a smooth transition to homeworking for all during that period.

We have 100 percent trust in our people that they are just as committed, productive and effective from home, as when working in the office. Since the return to office-working, we have continued to embrace and encourage this approach.

That said, our collaborative culture is important, and we maintain essential regular communication channels across our teams through our weekly staff calls, internal newsletters, one-to-ones, a dedicated Consultative Group, weekly business operations planning meetings, as well as social outings outside of work whenever possible.

When our team come into the offices, they are in green locations conveniently close to the city centre. Our Bristol HQ is housed in the Create Centre – a sustainable building where we are surrounded by like-minded environmentally-focussed organisations.

We also recognise the benefits of hybrid working to our environment, including reduced car use (lower environmental footprint) and more time for outside interests (hobbies, fitness, families), as well as the extended candidate reach it provides when searching for the next environmental superstars to join our expert crew.

How else is Resource Futures positioned to effectively respond to our changing economic climate?

Our Board of Directors and Executive team worked with HR and our Consultative Group to take input from across the company, via workshops and other means, on how the cost-of-living crisis has affected our team members and our expectations of this continued impact. In response, we have taken action to provide a cost-of-living payment to everyone and will continue to review and assess any further actions that may be helpful in supporting our team as the financial situation evolves in the coming months.

ESG (Environmental, social, governance) is a growing discussion for businesses; but how is Resource Futures ‘walking the talk’?

Resource Futures lives, eats, and sleeps environmental responsibility and our offer to our people is that we are reflective of the impact our business decisions can make. We are proud to be a CarbonZero (carbon neutral) company and through our carbon offsetting with co2balance we support permanent off-setting schemes such as the African Energy Efficiency project, providing energy efficient stoves and light bulbs to local communities.

We offer a cycle-to-work scheme, on-site secure cycle parking (as well as showers at the office) and on-site charging points for electric vehicles. We also choose an ethical pension plan which actively supports socially responsible and environmentally friendly practices, and the company matches up to seven percent employee contribution.

Our people are encouraged to continue their environmental commitments outside of work with our offer of one paid day each year to spend on a volunteering activity aligned with our company’s vision, mission and purpose.

In 2021, we were awarded Best for the World™ B Corp for Governance by B Lab. This meant we ranked in the top 5 percent of all B Corps in our size group worldwide for our sustainable business practices, in particular our mission, ethics, accountability and transparency.

We are an equal opportunities employer and take equality, diversity, and inclusion seriously at a governance level, with 60 percent female representation on our Board, 50 percent female representation at Director level and 79 percent female employees across the company. We also encourage our team to work where and how suits them best with 29 percent of our team working an effective and synergic part-time working pattern.

We understand that happy and well-trained employees will result in delivering work that has maximum impact – in our case, on the health of communities and the planet. Going forward, we want to understand how our work helps our clients to make better decisions and importantly take action to reduce their negative environmental impact. 

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