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Truly investing in people - why I’ve chosen to take my team to St Lucia to say thank you

Traditionally there’s always been a ‘them and us’ culture in SMEs between directors and employees. To me, breaking down those barriers to work as a unified team was so important when I founded KVA. I firmly believe in treating every person in the way that I would want to be treated if I were an employee of the company. I also believe in treating people equally as part of a flat hierarchy, allowing ideas from all levels of experience to be vocalised and heard. In my opinion, that is what makes a diverse and forward thinking team.

Being in a position to employ people comes with a huge responsibility for many reasons, but most importantly is having the opportunity to provide a positive working environment and atmosphere to enhance someone’s daily well-being. As an employer, you are paying for an employee’s time and expertise and in return they are helping to build your business, but on a deeper level you can make a difference to those individuals growing as people and reaching their full potential. Directors are often positioned in the limelight with company achievements and growth, however without a solid team of brand ambassador employees pushing forward with boundless energy, even the best company owner is never going to go far.

Celebrating KVAs 5th anniversary made me stop and think about how this incredible team have been behind me every step of the way. These people give up more than their time, they care and they form friendships with our clients, genuinely caring as much about their businesses as they do about KVA. What clients never see is the team working from sick beds, starting work at 5am to meet a deadline, waking at 3am with a server downtime alert and cancelling numerous evening plans to work on their projects instead. This kind of dedication is usually only seen at the top with a company owner and I feel privileged that my team value KVA's vision to be the best as much as I do.

Every KVA employee contract states that ‘overtime is not expected’ and this was important to me when I founded the company. I’d often worked long hours in the past with little recognition or reward and I wouldn’t expect my team to do so either. What makes the difference is that when the team do, they do because they want to. They often don’t even tell me as they know I’ll pay them for it! They want to because they support our clients’ needs before their own and they take such pride in our delivery and results.

It’s simply incredible what #TeamKVA have gone through to deliver the extraordinary and I’m so proud of every single one of them. It’s impossible to put a monetary figure on the individuals that make this happen and I was thinking about how I could give back in a way that was a bit different. Whilst on a family holiday in St Lucia last month, it dawned on me that my amazing team had just as much right to be sat on that beach as I did. And there it was. Cue creation of a 3am impromptu keynote that same evening.

Being as fully transparent with my team as we are when working with our clients, I came back from my holiday with a plan and a presentation. It started by thanking the team and congratulating them by showing the achievements the company has had over the past 6 months and ended with a slide saying 'SURPRISE! I’m taking the whole team to St Lucia as a thank you!'

On a day-to-day basis, it’s easy to have your heads immersed in campaign strategy and product development, however just sitting for 10 minutes as a team to recognise your achievements is priceless.

We’ve had numerous recruiters try to headhunt members of our amazing team, but I truly believe what makes someone perform to their best is being immersed in a happy company culture. If they know that they’ll always be heard, valued and rewarded, as a company owner, that’s as much as you can ever truly offer.

#TeamKVA, you are absolute super stars of the digital world!