SOFTCAT FOUNDER PETER Kelly says he is not interested in how much money his firm makes. "I just care that people are happy," he says. Kelly's utopian ideals were scoffed at when he set up his IT sales company in 1993, but going by Softcat's ascendant bottom line despite today's market, the last laugh belongs to him and his team.
The "me, me, me" mentality that traditionally typifies sales jobs is conspicuously absent at Softcat. Here it is all about the team. "There's a massive sense of pulling together," says account manager Michael Watson. David Francis, a services partner specialist, agrees: "Everyone wants to do well for the company."
Kelly — by his own admission a "weird and eccentric entrepreneur" — entrenched a democratic ethic at the outset. While running the 17th mile of a marathon he had a light bulb moment: let them decide which team to join, rather than tell them where to go. It worked. Ever since, staff have had a vote on company-wide decisions.
Managing director Martin Hellawell might have had to tweak this process but the staff voice is certainly heard. Managers doing a lot of listening scored 92% positive in the employee survey — just one of Softcat's raft of top scores throughout all factors.
Team bonding does not finish at the end of the working day. Many of the young workforce — whose average age is 29 — socialise together and top performers win trips to far-flung locations across the world as well as lunches at über-fancy restaurants such as Le Manoir Aux Quat Saisons. Making work an enjoyable place to be and the consequent loyalty it imbues in staff is where the company pulls ahead of its rivals, as Hellawell explains: "What Softcat has to offer to the market is not unique. So the only way we can differentiate ourselves is with customer service. It's as simple as that. It's why we're successful. And we do that because we have staff who love Softcat."
Learn more about the 8 factors of workplace engagement here
Companies where employees are offered share options
Companies offering a minimum of 25 days annual leave
On-site gym or subsidised gym memberships
10% of staff undertake charitable activities during business hours
On-site nursery or vouchers
At least 10 weeks' leave on full pay
Full family cover
Number of Staff:
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