Employee engagement and Isosceles life: a conversation with our CEO

Employee engagement and Isosceles life: a conversation with our CEO

Our feature series continues this week with Mike meditating on Isosceles’ recent WeThrive employee engagement survey and outlining a range of other exciting projects in the pipeline.

Mike, the floor is yours.

On Isosceles’ recent employee engagement survey…

Isosceles recently conducted an employee engagement survey to determine the wellbeing of its people.

Referring to how Isosceles utilised WeThrive to complete this task, Mike explains: “The WeThrive engagement survey is an easy-to-use tool and is something that we are now offering to our clients.”

“We have generated significant value with relatively low costs in terms of time, which is perhaps why our engagement rate was high”.

Running the WeThrive survey at this time was particularly important for Isosceles because, as Mike explains, it came at the 12-month mark of the country being in some form of lockdown.

“Internally, we are at our half-year point, and we decided to undertake an engagement survey to assess the wellbeing of our people,” Mike continues. “We believed this was an appropriate time to take the temperature of the company because the background environment post-Christmas has been remarkably difficult”.

“Even though there is light at the end of the tunnel, the UK has passed through a miserable period,” Mike laments. “So due to these reasons, we wanted to gain a granular understanding about what the information provided in the engagement survey indicates is going on across the business”.

“Firstly, this was to support our team”, Mike emphasises. “Our people have a range of experience, from experienced finance directors and junior graduate accountants to support staff and accounting staff, so we didn’t want to miss anyone and find areas of the business that were falling off the radar.”

“You must not generalise; you have specific issues amongst specific groups and specific things you need to improve on, so we needed to gain a comprehensive understanding of that specificity before moving forwards”.

“By analysing the WeThrive results over the next few weeks, we will have enough time to implement our plans,” Mike adds. “When we do have the opportunity to come back to the office post-lockdown, we will have implemented a firm foundation to launch forward once the worst of COVID is behind us and hit the ground running to make a seamless transition back into office-based work”.

“Our employees have trusted us enough to tell us exactly how they feel and offered the unvarnished truth and constructive feedback”.

Speaking about the positive engagement figure, Mike applauds the efforts to complete the survey: “We had strong engagement levels across the company,” he describes. “Over 90% of people completed the survey and provided constructive feedback”.

“Although we discovered a few surprises, overall engagement is reasonably strong and, in some areas, very strong, but there are some challenges for us and areas that we need to focus on as we move forwards.”

Noting the importance of employees having time to step back and evaluate their work, Mike adds: “Headspace is a particular area requiring attention; with ever more things to do, people need to feel like they have a bit more control over their activity”.

“Our people have offered constructive feedback with candour on a range of areas, including career development, and provided us with several ideas about how to improve these areas.”

In parallel with the initial WeThrive survey, Mike explains how Isosceles has been reviewing the organisational structure and planning to implement the necessary changes highlighted by the results of the survey: “Our organisational restructure addresses many of these issues and concerns,” Mike begins. “Perhaps the biggest change is how our structure will be focused on client-based squads where our teams are extremely focused on client service and client excellence in terms of service delivery and supportive of each other through these teams”.

“The results of the initial survey were positive, but we believe there are areas for improvement which is why we will be taking the temperature of the business periodically over the next 12 months”.

“Sometimes you may think you understand the issue,” Mike pensively admits, “but you may not be as aware of the effect of the issue, and that’s where the engagement survey is a really good barometer of how our staff are feeling”.

On the Budget 2021…

Turning to this year’s much-anticipated Budget which Mike commented on briefly during our previous conversation, he shares his thoughts on the chancellor’s second annual budget: “I’m generally positive on the Budget,” Mike outlines. “Some of the worst-case scenario-type policies and nuclear options have not been included.”

“I would always couch caution when looking at a Budget until all the details have been published because we have been stung before with nasty details omitted from the headline-grabbing elements of the annual Budget”.

“Sunak’s speech provided the comfort of ongoing support in those areas most affected by COVID and much-needed clarity for a crucial period,” Mike continues.

“I believe the crisis may feel a lot better by June,” Mike adds hopefully, “and by the time we reach September when a lot of these packages of support start to phase out, business leaders should have a better idea of their operations, so I think the chancellor has achieved the right timescale.”

Related | Budget 2021: Optimistic budget for tech companies  

On Isosceles life…

Isosceles is currently running a range of company-wide activities to encourage cooperation, team building, and a bit of healthy competition.

“Internally, we have got some exciting things going on at the moment”, Mike explains. “We are running a company-wide ‘Spring into Easter’ challenge, which has several physical, mental and mindfulness challenges where teams can earn points for completing various health and fitness and wellbeing tasks”.

“I must say a special thank you to Kai Smith who runs Operations at our client Ceramex who came in and launched the event for us.”

“Kai is an ex-commando and launched our challenge with gusto, and we are tremendously grateful for his time.”

Related | Employee wellbeing in the world of remote working 

On the third iFD Community event…

Isosceles’ new division, iFD, is hosting its popular virtual iFD Community event on Thursday 25 March.

“The third iFD Community event is going to be interesting”, Mike comments. “The theme around this event is going to be the tech-enabled finance director.”

“The modern FD needs to be on top of today’s business whilst also understanding what tomorrow’s business may look like.”

Mike goes further: “An FD with poor financial information is going to be a poor FD. In today’s modern business world an FD just reporting and providing an analytical review on yesterday’s numbers is insufficient. Instead, the modern FD needs to be dynamic and on top of today’s business and have a good understanding of what tomorrow’s business may look like. To achieve this, they need to be data-driven and capable of articulating the pictures emerging from the data to management teams”.

“To achieve this, FDs increasingly must rely on reporting, analytics and data visualisation tools and combine these in a meaningful way which delivers new insights to the client.”

“Technology, people skills and access to data are crucial weapons in the arsenal of the modern finance director”.

“At the third iFD Community event, we are going to showcase how Isosceles has utilised Microsoft Power BI with our clients and internally.”

“I also hope the FD community will be prepared to explain how they have applied and implemented these systems in other companies.”

Here are the details of the event iFD Community event – the tech-enabled FD.

On the next few weeks…

Mike outlines what the next few weeks hold for Isosceles: “I think post-Budget, we will be looking to see what the direction of travel is like; corporation tax is going to increase, but what else might happen” asks Mike.

“Are we signposting other changes that may facilitate more M&A work? Will companies look to get an exit whilst CGT rates are good? On the investment side, will people be investing more in EIS or SEIS? These are all relevant questions that we need to track for our clients and future clients.”

“We will also be tracking R&D tax credits and those sort of staple parts of tax planning for tech businesses,” Mike adds.

“Spring is a good time to review and look forward to seeing how aggressively to approach May and June,” Mike opines. “I think our clients will be making more concrete plans now about what they are going to do post-covid, whilst still maintaining an element of caution.”

“We will probably observe a lot of bad economic news,” Mike cautions. “The furlough scheme was extended until the end of September, but it will eventually come to an end and we will see a lot more unemployment, at least for a short period”.

“It is interesting to note the number of inbound enquiries we have received from overseas companies coming to the UK, so we will be monitoring those trends to truly understand the effects of Brexit and day-to-day trading.”

“Finally, we are currently undertaking another graduate recruitment process, so I’m looking forward to welcoming more excellent people to Isosceles.”

We will be catching up with Mike again soon to find out a bit more about his thoughts on Budget 2021 announcements and plans for Isosceles.

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