Recently I have been spending a lot of time talking about organisational culture and employee engagement with Wakefield-based companies. With low attraction and retention around the Wakefield District, many employers work hard at finding ways to keep their employees engaged. Culture is seen as being important for employee engagement, employee retention and keeping absence costs down.
There are a number of ways that Wakefield employers approach culture within their organisation and here are some of them.
Be comfortable with making mistakes – It’s OK
Get involved and contribute ideas – make a difference
Recognition for making a contribution
Trust and autonomy
Communication of a common purpose and vision
Promoting balance and wellbeing
These are all great and healthy contributors for building an engaging and positive organisational culture in any location. So what makes the workplace in Wakefield different to other cities such as Leeds, Sheffield and York?
The issue of culture is wider than in the workplace itself.
I frequently ask the question during presentations: “Who thinks that Wakefield could benefit from a boost?” This question is often met with ‘yes’ and a very much ‘me too’. There is a definite challenge in the cultural identity of Wakefield and enthusiasm for it to change for the better. Where do you even start? Who is responsible?
Since 2018 we have focused our business activity within the Wakefield District and in doing so, I have personally grown very fond of the quirks. The contributions being made, the flair being sparked, the good humour and the potential.
The challenges in moving in a new cultural direction lie in moving values and beliefs. This is not easy. It starts by helping individuals see they are safe to make a difference. They don’t have to wait for someone else to do it and that it is OK not to conform to the way things have always been done around here.
Working with organisations already adopting a positive approach to culture, we believe is a stepping stone to influencing the local area and making a positive imprint. Leading positive culture by example.
When we take a look at the positive aspects of organisational culture listed, we can see some wider challenges to overcome cultural challenges across Wakefield.
The challenge is when sharing of ideas can be misinterpreted. If we like the idea, we may just take it to claim the glory as there is much glory needed to make both myself and this place look good. If we are unsure of the idea then we’ll ignore you and hope you will go away. This approach can affect trust in sharing ideas in the future and reinforce a stagnant culture in sharing ideas. Ideas are necessary to move a place forward and stimulate a healthy culture and collaboration.
Intellectually speaking, making mistakes is fine. The reality of making mistakes must be accepted in the same way. A healthy culture stimulates entrepreneurship and for entrepreneurship to thrive, then it has to be OK to make mistakes. The challenge is when mistakes make influencers feel uncomfortable. We are happy for you to do it and when it succeeds, we are right behind you, but we are not making mistakes as we have our reputation to think about. A positive culture of making mistakes and learning fast is the role of leadership and influencers in the city. A reputation of making mistakes and learning fast is a positive one to inspire others.
Wakefield has historically been associated as an ex-mining community and centre for distribution. With the increase in fantastic iconic destinations such as The Yorkshire Sculpture Park, The Hepworth, The Art House and the festivals, Wakefield certainly has a future in transforming its identity. These in conjunction with collaboration between all invested parties lays down a positive prospect for a cultural transformation.
The key, we believe is in the leaders with a desire to move the city forward as with organisations leading by example. Individuals can then begin to feel more comfortable in seeing their role as a valuable piece of the jigsaw.
Making a positive shift alone seems insurmountable. It is about individuals making a choice and feeling confident they can make a difference and once again collaboration helps to build confidence in moving in the same direction. It takes more ‘yes’s’ and being open to ideas and possibility to move forward.
Bleisure Rewards works with organisations with a positive culture, because by coming together, we can contribute by bringing the best of local culture into the city and inspiring local people to step up and get involved with rewards for doing so. Rewards help to support the idea that it’s OK to step out of the norm and do something different in supporting your local area.
The start of a new decade seems like a great time to step boldly forward with exciting and challenging goals. Have you set yourself stretching and challenging goals?
We have taken on board feedback, innovation and refocused Bleisure Rewards with a grand plan and as they say approaching the next decade with ‘2020 vision’.
Our goals are:
- Raising £4m Revenue into Wakefield Dining, Leisure and Culture
We have set an ambitious goal to raise £4m in revenue into Wakefield Dining, Leisure and Culture over the next 3 years. How are we going to do it? With the help of brilliant businesses, charities and organisations in Wakefield with the spirit we have to bring a new dynamic to the city. We already have early adopters coming on board with some major players.
Find out more by joining us at Theatre Royal Wakefield for Business with Brunch in January
- Attraction and Retention of Talent in Wakefield
Attraction and retention of talent in Wakefield is a major pain for many Wakefield employers. Sometimes it is important to recongise a specific opportunity and so we decided to change tact. Bleisure Rewards is re-launching with a focus specifically on employee benefits. Join us at the Theatre Royal Wakefield Business with Brunch in January to find out how you can benefit, including early adopter advantages.
- Making an Impact
One thing is certain that the Wakefield district is on the up! With the fantastic landscape of culture, dining and leisure along with the spirit of local organisations who appreciate that you cannot solve the same old problems doing the same old things. New solutions can be found through collaboration and thinking outside of the box. Change can be positively embraced. We are keen to collaborate as far and wide across the Wakefield district as possible. Supporting businesses, charities and organisations in achieving their goals. Come along and meet our partners at the next Business and Brunch and explore opportunities to collaborate.
Join us at the next Business with Brunch in January
Wakefield-based SMEs Gain a Competitive Advantage.
A collaboration of local business leaders and experts join forces to give Wakefield SMEs a boost.
Wakefield businesses face many challenges in gaining a competitive advantage. These include
● Competing with nearby Leeds and Sheffield to attract and retain talent.
● Staying with the speed of digital progress and innovation.
● Maintaining strategies for staying in the minds of clients.
● Finding new opportunities to remain competitive and set local businesses apart
Bleisure Rewards is pleased to team up with three partners to offer a free masterclass for local SMEs.
“We are delighted to be bringing local businesses the tools they need to be streets ahead of their competition as the city takes a new direction” Ali Gordon, Founder and CEO of Bleisure Rewards.
The Free Masterclass is on Tuesday 22nd October 1-4pm and will be held in central Wakefield in a local cultural setting – The Art House:
● Nigel Greenwood, Simply Customer, is passionate about improving business procedures by building great customer experiences.
● Ali Gordon, Bleisure Rewards, will be showing how local businesses can tap into an emerging trend in business rewards.
● Rosi Newman, Leeds Beckett University, will share how a new export project for Wakefield SMEs could help your business innovate and grow.
● Beverley Hopper, Credere Solutions, will offer her insight and experience to help SMEs discover how to access much under-utilised tax rebates.
Leading by example, showing and inspiring has been well adopted over the past few decades. With the increasing pressures and stress that the digital world brings affecting the mental health of leaders, then how can we expect to continue to lead by example and improve employee mental health?
The challenge for our leaders is that many of the challenges facing employees experiencing challenges to mental health are also present for our leaders. Any human being, regardless of a position within an organisation is affected by the ever increasing speed at which the world operates due to technical advances. This is both inside and outside of the workplace.
The rise of technology and the amount of information coming in at us has increased. This has resulted in increased pressures both in terms of workload and social pressures.
The way to combat these pressures is to build tolerance by exposing ourselves to physical, mental, emotional and even spiritual well-being. The problem is that life is so busy, it can be easy to put these aside, even for leaders.
If we want to inspire balance and good mental health in organisations, then as leaders we need to show people how to behave. We can not expect employees to follow a regime to improve their mental health if we are not doing it ourselves.
We have started yoga sessions to allow business leaders the space to understand how they can be authentic in their leadership, improve their own mental-health and support their employees to reduce stress and increase satisfaction at work, for increased productivity. We believe by focusing on your well-being, the technology can work harder in the background to help you reach your business goals, rather than adding to your stress levels.
Want to make a difference to leadership in your city? Send us a request.
Mental health in the workplace is a hot topic. With a rising trend of stress related sickness, there is a need for further intervention in the workplace.
During a well-being in the workplace talk in relation to Kundalini yoga and meditation recently, the benefits were clear.
There was a clear message that the rise of technology, social media and messages coming in at us that we have to adapt to strategies that enable us to cope with stress.
The next part was even more frightening. The rate of speed of the digital revolution, we must put measures in place to be able to cope with even more stress that was coming our way.
This was a key moment as I saw those around me agreeing. The digital revolution is moving at a pace irrespective of the impact on the mental health of people and the experience and perceptions of people.
It was then that I realised a groundbreaking movement in our approach. We are taking the human experience first and challenging technology to help us become more effective from the things that give us most enjoyment.
Recognising that other businesses are feeling frustrated about being invisible online, feeling stressed online we started to gain the excitement of local businesses behind the idea and start some meetups. The meetups focus on the mental health and well-being of people first and are making the Bleisure Rewards app works in conjunction with the meetup to faciliate their experience and help local businesses achieve their goals.
I hear with intrigue about the perception of the high street. What are local councils doing about the death of the high street? The BIDs have been setup in many cities to help with the revival of the high street, but is that enough?
Having spent many years now working with local businesses in city centres, there seems to be an overriding trend that is affecting footfall into the high street. The trend is ‘digital’. We are all engrossed with messages around ‘are you at the forefront of digital marketing?’, ‘you need to get ahead of the curve online’.
Here is a stark reality. Local businesses are increasingly becoming invisible in the online space, unless there is lots of money to spend.
The next fact is that there is so much coming in at us in the digital world, many people now describe social networking platforms as ‘doing my head in’ and although good to stay connected are craving social aspects of their life that are missing as we speed up the rate of progress of technology.
The other challenge with digital platforms is that it makes it so easy not to have to go out these days. It’s easier to seem sociable in an online bubble and order a takeaway delivery via an app.
Whilst we see many benefits of social media in reaching and connecting with a wider audience and we believe it should be in the mix, we anticipate a move towards a new way of being socially connected. Using technology to support our human experience.
The digital world is having a social impact on us. A negative impact on mental health. A negative impact on local businesses thriving unless they have big budgets to spend. Social media is having an impact on people going out and enjoying their city.
Although many businesses are aware of this and want to do something. They are not quite sure how to change it.
The Death of The High Street (we don’t think so)
We see two core factors that will safeguard the high street:
- Adapting to a new kind of high street. Working together with local councils and BIDs on the transformation. They need local businesses to collaborate and employees to start to turn their attention to what is available to them locally, with a compelling reason to change habits.
- Create a way for local businesses to make a small contribution that makes a compelling business case for getting involved.
We don’t believe in the death of the high street. Simply a transformation of the high street. If we all sit back and watch, it will take some time and not necessarily benefit our local businesses. If we are aware of our habits, how they make an impact and gain a level of control as businesses, then we can make a transformation much sooner and pave the way for a much more exciting future.
Imagine a high street where you don’t have any restaurants, bars, coffee shops or leisure. Would you feel inspired to do business in that city? Would your employees feel compelled to go out and socialise towards creating a sense of balance? Unless we address our habits along with local council investment and transformation into cities, then they are working against the tide and we won’t have a thriving environment for employees and to connect with local businesses.
A compelling reason to support local in your business meetings
Let us take one example of holding a meeting in a coffee shop. The challenge for local businesses is that for every £1 spent for a business meeting in a coffee shop outside of a local business, the impact to the local economy is estimated at 36p.
For every £1 spent with a local business, in this example, on your high street, it is worth £1.76 to the local economy through the creation of jobs and how that money is re-invested.
That means it’s almost a 400% more of a positive impact to have your business meetings supporting a local independent coffee shop.
Authentic Leadership – If you want to attract local customers, then you can show your support of local businesses.
If you are in business, then it is a good practice to be aware of the impact of £1 you spend. After all, if you want other local businesses to spend with you, then it is important to understand why this is so significant and be authentic in leading the way in supporting local business.
An Easy Way for Local Businesses to Challenge Their Habits and Make an Impact
To start to get the ball rolling, we have negotiated free hot drink perks in Wakefield City Centre. These are available for free on the Bleisure Rewards app. The free perks are an easy and readily available way to start making a difference for the high street in Wakefield.
Based on the economics of local v’s non-local then 1000 perks redeemed in Wakefield city centre, that is approx £5,000 investment into the local economy. That’s a significant contribution.
This is an easy way to start making a difference immediately and how we can start helping towards the goals of local council and local BID to make a difference.
The business case is that instead of buying two cups of coffee for your meeting, you are buying just one, so it reduces the cost. You also build a much stronger connection when you meet face to face.
From a high street business perspective, the fact that you came through the door and another person had an experience, you are driving footfall and may like to go back. You are also not spending money with their competitors.
On top of all this, the Bleisure Rewards app will ping you handy notifications to help you grow your business whilst at the venue.
It is a case of using technology to support your experience and bring a positive boost to the local economy.
Just one compelling reason to drive doing business back to the high street.
Working together, we see a positive transformation to a new economy of the high street. It’s an exciting time to influence it.
There are some really important reasons why the meeting perks available with your free membership are more valuable and significant that you realise.
- Research to suggests that for every £1 spent in your local economy that £1 becomes worth around £3.70. For example, £1 spent in your local coffee shop is then likely to be reinvested locally either as staff wages and are more likely to be spent with local businesses.
- When you don’t spend money a local independent business you are actively supporting their competition. Let’s say you spend £5 on a cup of coffee at a chain coffee shop out of town. That is £5 can go actively towards the competitions sales and marketing investment to attract further customers away from the local independent coffee shop.
- Many businesses will object to parking and walking to a meeting because of inconvenience. If you do have to park and walk, this adds approximately 5 minutes onto a journey. 5 minutes of being mindful of the positive impact you are making. 5 minutes of being mindful of using the time to come up with creative ideas. How might you otherwise of used 5 minutes in your day?
- A local coffee shop is often manned by the owner of the coffee shop. This gives you depth of conversation when you visit. You have something in common. You are in business. If you get to know a coffee shop owner, they meet Bleisure Rewards members who come to their coffee shop. By understanding and supporting them, they are more likely to understand and support you. We show local owners how they can both grow their business and support Bleisure Rewards members to connect with other members when they come to their coffee shop.
- Thinking outside of the box. Most businesses are following previous behaviour patterns without thought. Being mindful of changing behaviour patters now and again can help you think differently and solve other problems in your business.
- Your Bleisure Rewards app links in with local business support and funding. When visiting the city centre, your app notifies you of business support available to you that is relevant to your profile of business and who to contact. Why not grab yourself your free perk and discover opportunities for your business.
- Free perks reduce your out of pocket cost of business meetings. It’s like your client footing their part of the bill.
- Your client will appreciate you for it. Taking them out and footing the bill. That helps to foster relationships. The app also acts as a point of conversation. Not only are you adding to them buy getting them a coffee, but they could be using the Bleisure Rewards app and accessing the benefits for their own business. It’s always important to think of ways to stick in the mind of your customers. They’ll thank you for it!
- When you have a social experience together face to face, the brain releases endorphins that make people feel good. Interaction face to face is at a deeper level than online. Digital marketing can only take a business relationship so far. When you meet with clients you want them to feel good.
- As a local business points 1-9 all relate to customers spending in your business. Wouldn’t you like local businesses to be more proactive about doing business with you locally? By leading the way, you are doing your bit towards shaping positive habits.
Have you enjoyed your free perks yet? They are easy to access from the perks section on the app. The closest location to you appears at the top and you can select the perk and redeem it. It’s simple.
The path of innovation is a brave new world. Are you on a path of innovating? New ideas, new products, new concepts? We have found on our journey of bringing an innovative idea to market there are some telltale signs that your idea is innovative. If you identify with these, then congratulations. The path can be challenging at times, but worth it!
1 People tell you “that will never happen”
A real tell tale sign that you are on the right path as an entrepreneur and innovator is that people tell you ‘that will never happen’. In the early days, I would take this comment on board and allow it to impact my belief. Then I realised this was a sign that actually you are on the right path. If people say it will never happen it is just a reflection of their own internal belief system. Not yours. They can not see what you can see and the fact they feel uncomfortable with your ideas means that it is challenging them internally. The fact that it is impacting them internally means there is some sort of fear or caution. Their way to deal with it is to verbalise an opinion based on their own belief system on something they can not see. If you are experiencing this with your idea, then do not allow it to dampen your idea. Use it. It is a sign you are innovating.
2 Not everyone gets it
This can feel frustrating at times. A big clue here is if you have those confident in marketing ideas telling you they don’t get it. The challenge is that if others don’t get it, then how can you convey your innovative idea. The point to recongise is that if you deal with people who don’t get it, they are more likely to shape your idea it into something they do get and make it average. To get you through this, then turn the word in your mind ‘frustrating’ into ‘fascinating’. See it as a fascinating study of what others do and don’t get about your idea. Take on board those who see your idea and want to expand on it. What made them see it? Work with their words to refine your pitch and become better at communicating. What words do they use? My experience is that you can end up trying to justify yourself to people who don’t get your idea when you could be spending time with people who can help move your ideas forward. If people are opinionated, then you are innovating.
3 Other innovative ideas appear that support your idea
When you start finding other technologies and innovations that support and move your idea forward, you know you are on a path of an innovative idea and you also know you are on a path that has legs.
4 You automatically see the masses behaving in a certain way
Once your brain has become wired to seeing how unconsciously most people avoid fear and the unknown, you wake up and see the world differently. Innovation is all about being OK with the unknown, recongising and channelling internal fear in a positive direction. Once you have this in check, you will soon start to see most people doing the same things that most people do, as they fear stepping away. If you see the world working in a certain way and it could be improved with your idea, then your idea is more than likely innovative.
5 You start to see seeds of your idea emerge in different places
This doesn’t necessarily mean copy cats, but if you see elements of your idea appearing in different places this indicates that there is a trend towards your idea and a market need has been identified. The fact that nothing is the same as your idea, means that your idea is innovative.
6 You identify with others who are treading new paths
Going through the pains and challenges of bringing an innovative idea to market naturally opens up conversations. If others are going through the same pains, they will immediately identify with what you are saying and experiencing. Even if you have never met, you could say exactly the same pain points about their journey of bringing an innovative idea to market and you will have experienced something very similar. These pain points are quite unique and specific as not everyone experiences them. Remember the pain points are a process. Don’t let them knock you off stride.
7 You feel like you don’t fit
If you feel like you don’t fit in then the chances are you are running with an innovative idea. Most people won’t get you and as you are so obsessed with the idea that’s probably all you want to talk about. Innovators can talk together forever as they will want to expand ideas, gain inspiration and seek connection. You won’t usually get this kind of stimulation from those who are not innovating and so having a feeling that you don’t fit in is quite natural.
8 The grass seed analogy
If you are comfortable with the idea that you have already made it because the vision is so clear in your mind and yet outside people can not see your creation, then the chances are you are innovating. Innovators understand the grass seed analogy. You sew seeds and some will grow and others won’t. With an innovative idea you may have a seed, a seedling, young plant or full blown tree. My experience is that innovators are ideas focused and are more concerned with the process of sewing more seeds, rather than concerning themselves with those that haven’t grown. Non-innovators see the trees. The innovators can connect and see the seeds, seedlings and want to help water other seeds too.
9 People are asking challenging questions
When you meet with people, they are asking you questions to help get to grips with your idea. This means they are internally challenged and so your idea is challenging their patterns and processes.
10 You feel humble
Most innovators I have met go through tremendous pains and challenges as their ideas are not always clear to those around them and they do not fit ‘the norm’. The journey of pushing forward, getting setbacks, dusting yourself down and getting up again can be very humbling. Whilst from the outside, innovators might be seen as ‘stubborn’ (it may appear from some that you are not taking their suggestions on board), the reality is that you are staying focused on your vision. If things feel very tough at times, then see you are breaking new ground with your innovative idea. Feeling humble and appreciating how difficult things can be is a sign that you are keeping pace with an innovative idea.
11 You are not competing in the same space
You are breaking new ground, taking a different path and not competing in the same space.
What is your experience of bringing innovative ideas to market?
Social media has created tremendous advances for businesses and created an amazing platform for businesses of all shapes and size. There are some things that social media just can not do in the same way. Be aware as you wouldn’t wan these treasures to be forgotten!
1. Trust is built through eye contact and non-verbal cues. 55% of communication happens through body language. Another 38% is through voice and tone. Most social media posts limit the ability to read body language and tone. Face to face is a great way to develop relationships and build trust much faster and build depth in relationships.
2. Social media does a great job in providing a platform to reach out and connect, but it doesn’t buy you free coffee. Connecting over food and drink are a great way to release endorphins and connect at a deeper level.
3. You can’t handshake to seal the deal on social media. Physical contact with a handshake in many cultures is regarded as a welcome and a representation of sealing the deal. A powerful cue to help you close business that can not be achieved online.
4. There is no body to hug you when times get tough. I frequently give a hug to huggers in business when they are having a hard time. It just makes for a better day in empathy when things get tough over words and you can’t do this online.
5. Social media doesn’t care about the context in which your business operates. It knows locations and places, but it doesn’t know about the economic conditions and how to improve them to help your business. Connecting with people help brings a great sense of context to places and helps us to see the bigger picture in a way that social media can not.
How do you see social media? What ways do you see that social media has improved the way we do business? How do you see social media changing the way that people do business?
Local Businesses Are Coming Together to Open Opportunities and Bring a Boost to Wakefield Restaurants, Leisure and Entertainment
When local businesswoman Ali Gordon was filling up restaurants around the UK and Europe, she came home to discover that Wakefield city centre restaurants, bars and cafes were much quieter than they used to be. There was a need to apply her skills closer to home.
“We are aiming to bring a boost to dining, entertainment, leisure and hospitality in Wakefield City Centre, build up footfall and extra spend by people at those venues,” said Ali Gordon, Managing Director of Bleisure Rewards. The idea is set to expand city to city.
Bleisure Rewards hosted its first Entertaining Networking Meet-up at Marmalade on The Square last week to bring local business owners together. Local venues attend the event including The Hepworth Cafe and Wakefield Theatre Royal as well as other local businesses. A range of local cafes, bars and restaurants are participating in the Bleisure Local programme on the Bleisure Rewards app as a way to drive additional revenue and footfall into Wakefield.
“We need to do something to attract people back into Wakefield City Centre. We need to work together” said Rache Sage, Owner of local cafe Marmalade on The Square.
Alongside working with local venues, Ali is also connecting the Wakefield Business Community to open new business opportunities in Wakefield. Entertaining Networking will return again on 10th July at Deli Central on the Bull Ring to showcase our talented local chefs, services offered, share industry experience and showcase some more local entertainment.