EXCLUSIVE: Stephens Scown charts successful employee engagement journey

Employee Benefits Live 2018: Law firm Stephens Scown has implemented an employee engagement strategy that has seen it ranked for the last four years in the Sunday Times Best 100 companies to work for.

In a session titled ‘Engaging multi-generational workplaces’, Lucy Palmer, director of HR at Stephens Scown, described the organisation’s successful employment engagement journey.

Based in the South West, with three offices across Devon and Cornwall, the organisation has 310 employees of various age ranges. “We have entry-level staff and some employees who have been with the company for 20, 30 or even 40 years,” said Palmer. “So when we look at engaging our workforce, we examine how we can address the need of that spectrum of ages.”

The first of several key aspects of Stephens Scown’s engagement strategy was to listen.

“We made sure our senior management were constantly out and about and moving between our offices,” Palmer explained. “We introduced a ‘women in law’ group, which was important in terms of diversity and inclusivity. We wanted to know how women felt about being part of the organisation. Following on from that, we introduced such initiatives as flexible working and coaching, and produced a maternity handbook.”

Focus groups in each of the organisation’s three offices also formed a key part of its listening strategy. The groups featured employees from different levels and ages, who met regularly throughout the year, Palmer explained. This resulted in various ideas that were implemented, such as paid leave for birthdays, time off to give blood and appraisal training.

Communication was another important aspect of the Stephens Scown engagement strategy. “We made sure we talked about the ‘why’ and not the ‘what’,” said Palmer. “Our managing partner delivers a roadshow at least two or three times a year, and he will talk about everything that’s happened in the last six months, everything that’s happening now and everything that will happen in the next six months. So people are kept up to date constantly.”

The organisation’s reward strategy features a regular review of benefits. “[This involves] consulting with all staff, taking into account our multi-generational workplace and addressing the needs of everybody,” said Palmer.

Palmer went on to note that, of all of the initiatives brought in during this process, the ‘Scownership’ programme is the one that the organisation is most proud of.

“It’s a profit-based share initiative that’s a bit like a bonus scheme, whereby at the end of the financial year, part of our profits are split out evenly across all of our members of staff,” she explained. “So it doesn’t matter where you are in the organisation, irrespective of the salary you are on, at the end of the financial year, depending on how successful the organisation has been, you will get exactly the same amount of profit share, which can be quite a significant amount of money.”

The principle, Palmer said, is that salary is dictated by the level of a member of staff, but profit is dictated by how much effort everyone has put in. “So our view is, if everyone has put in the same amount of effort, they should all get the same amount of profit share,” she said.