FMB London region member, Bastows is a property repair and redecoration specialist working to restore and beautify London’s most prestigious homes.
In 1919, Robert Bastow set up a Yorkshire-based French polishing company, and taught his son Derek the skills of a true craftsman. Derek moved south as a young man and established the Bastows name in London in 1963, building a strong reputation and client base with eminent organisations such as The Crown Estate, The Grosvenor Estate and The Wellcome Trust; Bastows is proud to work with these respected companies to this day. Bastows was founded and built upon Derek’s dedication and commitment to high quality work; that the principles he set down live on today in the renowned and award winning company Bastows has become are testimony to the vision, creativity and hard work of its founder. Derek’s son Frank took over as Managing Director in 1995, and has continued and developed the family traditions of quality, commitment and skill established by his forebears to drive their continued growth and success.’
Bastows believes that investment in and care for your employees should never be a secondary consideration even in challenging times. Many companies have cut back on the training, resources and support available to staff and this can lead to a loss of loyalty from both staff and clients, low morale, damage to a good (and hard-won) reputation, high staff turnover and reduced productivity. That’s why Bastows decided to do things differently.
A BETTER WAY OF THINKING
In 2007 they adopted a strategy that helped them build equity, skills and talent within the business, and prepare for market change. They planned ahead and worked hard to build cash reserves and ensured their people got the training and skills the business needed; they also worked hard to achieve the relevant qualifications and awards. Bastows figured that when the market recovered, they’d be ready to take on the projects others couldn’t.
The strategies they adopted entailed changes at every level of the business, and a fresh approach that took into account the need to work for cultural as well as commercial benefits; things like the sense of pride in a job well done as well as the required profit. They realised that what makes Bastows unique is not what they do, but how they do it. The changes were not always easy, but they worked consultatively, inviting feedback, ideas and comments from everyone in the business, implementing best practice systems and reviewing at every level of the business as they progressed. The company grew rapidly from 2007 to 2009, slowing down a little in 2010 as they focussed on expanding their client portfolio.
Bastows built on its accreditations, adding SafeContractor, CHAS and Constructionline recognition to their ISO 9001, 14001 and 18001 standards and won further awards from the Considerate Constructors’ Scheme including a coveted gold standard, as well as a National award for operating one of the UK’s top five ‘Most Considerate’ sites in 2010.
INVESTORS IN PEOPLE
In 2010 they researched the Investors in People (IiP) scheme, which recognises companies that put their resources and systems to good use for their people, and with their involvement and input. They ran the initial diagnostic on the IiP website which made them feel that they’d meet the high standards IiP expects and then arranged an initial meeting with an assessor to find out more. This helpful and informative meeting was arranged entirely without obligation or cost; and after they shared the information they’d been given, talked a lot and pondered a little they applied for a full assessment.
THE ROUTE TO IiP
Jim Illingworth of Inspiring Business Performance (accredited IiP assessors) helped Bastows prepare for the assessment days. He met with selected individuals in the company to interview them about Bastows’ approach to training, business management, and consultation with employees. Bastows was delighted to be awarded the Investors in People standard in November 2010. They were told that very few construction companies have attained the standard – with the levels of training required under CDM 2007 it’s hard to understand why more companies don’t take the extra step and get themselves assessed. Gaining IiP accreditation builds strength in a business and helps it gain fair recognition for the efforts made by everyone at every level of the organisation.
THE INVESTORS IN PEOPLE HEALTH & WELLBEING: GOOD PRACTICE AWARD
Bastows has a dedicated and hardworking team, with low staff turnover and sickness and absence rates. They recognised that nationally, stress levels were increasing often leading to sickness absence. This affects individuals and the business, and can cause irreparable damage to productivity and the working relationship. They wanted to maintain their excellent position and protect the ‘Bastows Family’ against these risks, but couldn’t see how outsourcing to a healthcare company – at great cost and with a loss of control – was the way to do it.
In 2010, Bastows worked to develop a proactive health and wellbeing promotion programme focussed on prevention of ill-health and rooted in trust and confidentiality. They wanted their programme to set down a lot of the things they already did, but build upon them too feeling it was a benefit to all, but had to be reciprocal, with responsibility, honesty, commitment and trust from both individuals and Bastows.
They recognised that they needed an external ‘eye’ to ensure fairness, compliance and impartiality, and so engaged Stephen McGrane, a qualified health, social care and wellbeing consultant and part of the ‘Bastows extended family’, to oversee the programme’s introduction and management. This kept costs to a minimum and meant they succeeded in making this a project genuinely created by Bastows’ people, rather than a bought-in solution that might have proved a poor fit.
The main aims of the programme were to protect their people from work-related ill-health and injury, maintain their position, and create a ‘benefi t’ in a bespoke and responsive health promotion system that would support their people, protect them all against risks, and meet the company’s duties under the law.
Jim (the assessor) made Bastows aware of the Health & Wellbeing Good Practice Award, a separate scheme from the IiP award which recognises programmes like this example - providing they meet the key criteria. Again, Bastows consulted with its people and gained their co-operation by talking honestly about the experiences of the program and assessing themselves to see if they felt they’d meet the standard.
Bastows applied for this award, and was assessed in May 2011. They were delighted when within just a few days, they were notified that they’d been successful and were recognised with this award for their commitment to promote health and wellbeing at work.
WORKING WITH THE STANDARD
OK, so once you have the award, what do you do? Niki Rosenbaum, Bastows Cultural Director, said: “Bastows wanted to share its story with FMB members and to encourage other construction companies to remember how valuable their people are. They truly are any company’s most valuable resource, and the success or failure of a venture depends on the commitment and efforts they make. “We’ve created a ‘buzz’ around our business through our website, social media sites (Facebook and Twitter), press releases to clients, local media and suppliers and also through our in-house newsletter SPIRIT.
“For us, it proves the power of good news, intelligent use of resources and talent, and leading the pack when you want to generate interest in your business and the construction industry as a whole.”
Niki concludes: “The construction industry continues to navigate its way through the economic storm that beset us in 2009. We believe that while we must recognise the pitfalls and problems we’ve all seen in recent years and guard against them, there is also much to celebrate in our industry. Shared projects and achievements are a great motivator and energiser – and sometimes great things can be done at relatively little expense.
“The key investments are time and enthusiasm; through consultation and involvement from all, we were able to uncover talent within our business that helped us attain our awards. Take the time to think beyond your existing systems... and who knows what your people could do for your business?”
For more information on Bastows, visit http://www.bastows.co.uk.
For more information on Investors in People visit http://www.investorsinpeople.co.uk.