Why you should value your values if you are considering entering an award | Synergy Vision’s story

‘Fresh. Smart. Open. Real. That’s Synergy Vision’s commitment to delivering the difference’ – this set of values is what has helped the medical communications agency claim industry recognition and numerous awards over the years, according to founder and Global CEO Ffyona Dawber.

Synergy Vision has achieved Investors in People (IIP) Platinum accreditation – something less than 2% of organisations in the UK achieve – and been named the 3rd Best Small Workplace by Great Place to Work.

“I do believe it was our values and sticking to those values that helped us go from gold to platinum accreditation, the IIP fits with the values that we live in Synergy Vision,” says Ffyona.

The agency, which was set up in 2007 and works primarily for pharmaceutical companies from its offices in London, Dublin and Sydney, implemented a four-day working week in 2019 to “improve staff happiness, which has led the company to numerous awards”.

The first of its numerous accolades was a Chamber of Commerce most promising new business award in 2009, but Ffyona believes “winning awards doesn’t make a happy team – having a happy team wins you awards”.

“Over the years we have submitted to awards that reflect our company culture,” she adds. “The reason we want this culture, put simply, is we want Synergy Vision to be a nice place to work. By creating a flexible, inclusive workplace with focused wellbeing initiatives people are able to thrive.”

Synergy Vision’s top tips for those wanting to enter awards

  • Set your company vision and purpose
  • Agree and embed values with the team
  • Talk to the team about how the awards fit into the vision
  • Decide which awards are right for you
  • Plan ahead
  • Explain what you do simply and concisely with examples

Mission, vision and values key to maintaining right culture

Ffyona, who started as a nurse and moved into the pharmaceutical industry before setting up the agency, believes that in order to get and maintain the right culture there “needs to be a clear mission or purpose, vision, and most importantly values that the team have brought into and feel part of”.

She says all three need to be clear and transparent and developed and updated with representation from all departments. Synergy Vision sets its mission, vision and values as:

  • Mission: Deliver the difference, by distilling what matters
  • Vision: To lead the way, strategically and creatively, be industry and globally renowned, be seen as proven and unsurpassed
  • Values: Fresh, open, smart, real

Synergy Vision’s values ‘apply to businesses in all industries’

Ffyona admits a mission and vision can often be more specific to a sector, but is adamant the values which are “very much embedded in the company” can be applied and adapted to all industries.

Synergy Vision lives these values day to day within the business and they “overarch and underpin everything else, they are who we are and what we want our culture to be”.

The agency re-iterates them “almost relentlessly” and has them in mind when it is recruiting staff as they are embedded in the interview questions. The values are also reflected in its appraisals, performance development plans and throughout company and individual objectives.

They are communicated at all meetings, while it has peer-to-peer recognition with monthly awards for employees who have demonstrated one of these values.

“It is key that company values become part of the team culture and are not just a list to pin up somewhere,” she explains.

“We also having calling-out practices; hopefully with an open, real company people feel comfortable discussing with people when they feel they are not living the values.”

Some of the words Synergy Vision’s employees associate with its values

  • Fresh: Fresh ideas and approaches, not being afraid to try new things, being bold, thinking outside the box.
  • Real: Being yourself, honest, authentic and genuine, bring the real you to the office.
  • Open: Free to express ideas and thoughts in an inclusive and safe environment, being transparent, in it together.
  • Smart: Knowledge, being curious, working together and more efficiently, effective and productive.

Employee ownership ‘helps safeguard values’

In March 2020, Synergy Vision became an employee-owned (EO) company after Ffyona had thought about succession and future planning. She had been contacted by bigger firms to sell up, but realised this may result in the business being broken up and its values lost.

When Ffyona found out about employee ownership, “it was like a wow moment”. She got tickets at the last minute to the 2019 EOA Annual Conference and says networking with like-minded people “helped make up my mind”.

“Employee ownership felt like it fitted with our values. We are people focussed and employee ownership is people focussed. The values we live are very much reflected in employee ownership,” she says.

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