Horizon Platforms – Our EO Story: Proactive engagement brings ‘quick wins’

Here at Horizon Platforms, we specialise in powered access equipment rental and training. Based in Wakefield, Yorkshire, we offer nationwide coverage and support through our network of trusted partner companies. Our 75 co-owners are extremely proud to do hire differently!

Horizon became employee-owned in February 2021 for a number of reasons, the most influential being our firm belief that EO would perfectly align with our people and culture.

In the months leading up to the transition, our internal communication planning was intensive, but well worth the effort! Our preparations as a leadership team, and our carefully written announcement script and supporting documentation, enabled us to land our messaging in a way which resonated with our people and ensured maximum clarity and understanding.

As part of our internal communication plan, we ran a democratic process to appoint two co-owner directors to the board of trustees. There was great interest in the opportunity, with an impressive 10% of our people standing for election!

It was great fun, and fantastic in terms of increasing engagement and understanding.  All candidates delivered a ‘pitch’ to their co-owners in our weekly online meeting, sharing why they believed they were the best person for the role.

We then ran an anonymous voting process, the outcome of which was the appointment of two amazing individuals who are true advocates of both employee ownership and Horizon!

Strengthening our communications

Over the last year, Helen and Todor (our Trustee Directors) have done a fantastic job of proactively gathering feedback from their co-owners and sharing this with the management and leadership in the most appropriate way.

They recently introduced physical ‘suggestion boxes’ and held a follow-up meeting to discuss the ideas and feedback with their colleagues. We have experienced several ‘quick wins’; introducing outdoor seating to the area outside our canteen, providing fruit free of charge to our co-owners (something we plan to do regularly) and even investing in a company barbeque to encourage onsite social events!

All ideas and suggestions are considered, and our People (HR & Internal Comms) team is supporting Helen and Tod in feeding back on progress through articles on our intranet and email communications.

Even ahead of the appointment of our fantastic Trustee Directors, we had already taken positive steps to strengthen our internal communications. We introduced a weekly, online team meeting at the outset of the pandemic to ensure regular communication with everyone, including those who were furloughed.

We have kept these meetings in place since then and continue to see decent attendance numbers. The sessions are recorded, and the links shared following, to allow anyone who has missed it to watch it back.

Each week we focus on a different topic and try to involve as many people as possible in the delivery, so it isn’t just a leadership-led initiative. Some weeks we cover serious subjects and provide business or departmental updates, and other weeks we run light-hearted quizzes, which always provides entertainment!

More recently, and based on co-owner feedback, we will be holding one in four of our weekly meetings in person, in our canteen. These sessions will be informal drop-ins with two or more members of the leadership team present to chat, answer questions, brew up for everyone, and even play pool or table football if anyone is up for the challenge!

Becoming a 2-star company

We are confident that our ongoing efforts on communication and engagement are providing people with a voice, but also reinforcing our EO culture and the fact that we all, as co-owners, have both a right and a duty to contribute our ideas, opinions and feedback.

With this in mind, we took the decision this year to enter the Best Companies engagement survey process, having entered in previous years and been awarded a 1-Star (‘good’) accreditation in 2018 and a ‘One to Watch’ status in 2019. We were absolutely delighted to be awarded a 2-Star accreditation this time round, which represents “outstanding workplace engagement”. We believe this achievement is in part due to the fantastic work of our Trustee Directors!

Our results saw significant improvements across all eight of the Best Companies “engagement factors”, which was brilliant to see. We have communicated the result to our co-owners, along with some context around Best Companies and what a fantastic achievement it is for all of us, particularly as an employee-owned business.

We have congratulated the team on making Horizon an “outstanding” place to work, and also outlined the business benefits of the achievement; our people engagement accreditation, along with our excellent Trustpilot customer ratings, can only raise the profile of Horizon and help to further build and strengthen our employee-owned business, for the ultimate benefit of all our co-owners.

We have since analysed the survey results and identified wellbeing as our greatest improvement area, which is already linking in nicely with many of the initiatives resulting from our Trustee Directors’ suggestion and feedback process.

We aim to build on our already “outstanding” culture, with a view to one day being awarded the Best Companies ultimate 3-Star accreditation (“world class” workplace engagement). Watch this space…!

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