Striving to create the best working environment we can

Striving to create the best working environment we can
posted 28 July 2021 in category B Corp Social Impact

Our ambition is that the time people spend working at PPL is the most enriching time of their career. Not necessarily because they will work on the best projects ever, or with the best colleagues ever (although we hope they will!) but because PPL will give them the space to grow and learn about themselves, and to understand how they work and learn. These skills will last a lifetime and enrich every aspect of their working life.

We are a social enterprise and B Corp that exists to promote better health, wellbeing and economic outcomes across the UK working with individuals, communities and the organisations that support them. We do this through applying the best of current and emerging thinking in the fields of management science, analytics, organisational development and consultancy to help people achieve better outcomes in life and to deliver social value. In 2021, our first year as a B Corp, we have been recognised as being Best for the World in the Workplace category. This means that PPL is one of the top 5% of all B Corps globally as a workplace environment for our team. We were delighted to be recognised by the award and have put together this blog to share the top three steps we take to ensure that PPL is always improving as a place to work. We hope you find them useful!

1. We see professional development as core to our social impact mission

Our clients deliver life-changing work in the public sector, including reorganising hospitals to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic, resetting public services to tackle the climate emergency, and much more. We recognise our responsibility to our clients to find, nurture and develop a team that can support them effectively. We also recognise our responsibility to our team to support them to develop their skills and experience and be the best that they can be.

Our professional development is built around our in-house consultancy training programme, How We Learn, which is now CMI-accredited. This training helps us develop and progress people within the organisation. Over the past year we have worked through the challenge of continuing to deliver this training remotely. After some experimentation, we have settled into a format that translates the learning experience online (we’ve created a free resource from our learning here). We also run a 360 feedback process twice a year, where everyone in the organisation receives feedback from those they work with on their strengths and development areas. At the core of our approach to training is the ‘growth mindset’, meaning we frame challenges and gaps in our skills or understanding as exciting opportunities to grow.

2. We take a continuous improvement approach to our workforce policies and procedures

As an organisation, we are continually looking to improve our policies and procedures. The PPL Management Team are committed to the development and implementation of our policies and our whole system is frequently reviewed and monitored at board level, including external annual audit by the British Assessment Bureau to ensure conformance to ISO standards. Designated Senior Management Representatives ensure staff are aware of the importance of our policies, and we run an anonymous annual staff survey which highlights areas for development.

3. We co-produce changes with our team

For example, the events of 2020 motivated members of the team to set up an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion working group. Working closely with the management team, the group has brought in improvements to our parental leave and recruitment policies (you can read more about the working group’s first year in action here). We also recently set up a Mental Health First Aid team, training up members of the team to provide wellbeing support. The team members were then able to support colleagues’ wellbeing during lockdowns (they have shared their top suggestions here for organisations and for individuals to consider). Additionally, after recognising an opportunity to develop our organisational development expertise, colleagues established a community of practice where PPL-ers of all level of experience can learn from each other (you can read more about how we did this here).

We are so proud to be recognised in the Best for the World Awards, both because the Awards are designed to recognise innovation in the corporate model, and because they are awarded based on the scores companies achieve as they accredit themselves as a B Corp and as they continually re-evaluate themselves. These awards are the opposite of a “moment in time” assessment – they are the “average speed camera” of awards! Becoming a B Corp has given us a powerful frame within which to situate the choices we try to make every day as part of our ongoing ambition to keep challenging ourselves to do more. The recognition in the Best for the World Awards is a reassuring reflection that we are on the right track. In the future, we aim to continue to improve the way we support our people, as this has helped us translate a well-established commercial consulting model into something with social impact at its heart. We also aim to do more to champion social entrepreneurship and share learnings from our experience to help other organisations. If you’re interested in a conversation, our door is always open.