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Employee ownership is reaping rich rewards, says award winner

IT SWITCHED to become an Employee Owned Trust a year ago. Now an independent architecture, engineering, planning and surveying specialist has been named Bedfordshire’s SME Employer of the Year.

Staff at Woods Hardwick’s Bedford office are still celebrating after their success at the SME Bedfordshire Business Awards. The practice has transformed the way it operates over the past 12 months, working with its 80-plus staff to create the best employee experience and company culture.

“We have achieved so much in such a short space of time since moving over to our EOT model,” says Woods Hardwick director and EOT trustee John Freeman. “The staff have fully embraced the shift in direction and turned the company into the best ever version of itself in our long successful history.”

The SME awards judges were impressed by the practice’s new five-year business strategy, a new internal communications and staff engagement programme, improved employee benefits and the training and development of its future leaders. The new approach has contributed to an increase in revenue, made a positive impact with staff and supported with delivering for its clients across the residential and commercial property sectors, they said.

“This award reflects who we are as a business,” says Woods Hardwick director Jason Leonard. “It is the people within it and not just about the name above the door. By looking after our staff, it allows to provide a first-class experience for each and every one of our clients.

“This really is a team effort and everyone at Woods Hardwick has contributed.”

The SME Business Awards are now in their seventh year with 20 awards categories celebrating the UK’s best small and medium businesses. Woods Hardwick now goes through to the national SME Business Awards, which take place at Wembley Stadium in December.

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