How one MCA member is leading the way for excellence in the work place

MCA member firm, The Berkeley Partnership, has secured eighth position in this year’s ‘The Sunday Times 100 Best Small Companies to Work For’ list of 2014. This is the third consecutive year that the firm has been ranked in the Best Companies list and has retained its three star accreditation which acknowledges excellence in the workplace.
The Best Companies list gauges workplace engagement and satisfaction through a comprehensive employee survey. It examines views on company leadership, team dynamics, the strength of an employee’s affiliation to their firm, personal growth prospects, reward and recognition, overall wellbeing and pressure levels at work, and approach to CSR.
More than 400 small companies took part across the UK with over 2,500 employees surveyed. Berkeley was the only management consultancy to feature in the top ten this year scoring highly across the board.
We interviewed Berkeley People Manager, Helen Cretten and Consultant Alison Curry on what they feel this year’s result means for Berkeley.
Why did Berkeley enter this year?
Helen: It’s actually a decision we made back in 2010 when we first subscribed to The Times Top 100 survey. As a firm we made the decision that if we entered once then, regardless of where we came on the list, we should enter again to benchmark our progress year on year. Having now entered for three successive years, we have some fantastic data on employee engagement and coming within the Top 25 for three years has had a really positive impact on recruitment.
Eighth position is your highest ranking so far – how did you manage to get such a good result this year?
Helen: Listening to what our employees had to say was key. In 2013 we were placed at number 22 on the list. Looking into the results more deeply we saw that levels of engagement within our support team was not as strong as we would like so we made some active changes in response to that. As a result, engagement within our support function has increased across all factors tested in the survey. 2013 was also a fantastic year for growth for the firm, both in terms of new clients and new recruits, and we were all feeling really positive.
What does Berkeley being a ‘Best Company’ mean for you?
Helen: It means that we have a stronger voice in the recruitment market. We know that making a move from a large, well established consultancy can be daunting and so we want to make sure that the transition feels like a really positive move to a credible organisation. Being accredited with three stars by Best Companies and achieving number 8 in the Times Top 100 both go a really long way to reinforcing that message.
Alison: Before joining Berkeley about 18 months ago, I spent seven years with a large consulting firm.  When I looked to the Best Companies list for inspiration I was surprised to see a small consultancy ranking so highly, so I read on. The description sounded refreshingly different and therefore, really appealed to me.
Helen: Internally, it gives us something to be really proud of. Everyone at Berkeley works really hard to support our clients and ensure that the consultancy services we provide to them are exceptional, so knowing that we are striving to be the best we can be internally as well is a strong statement.
Can you tell us about the atmosphere and team collaboration?
Alison: It's incredible how welcoming everybody is at Berkeley. Within weeks I felt completely at home having met all the partners, consultants and support teams informally for lunch or coffee. It's not luck or magic that I had this experience – the welcoming and friendly vibe is carefully thought out and woven into the structures of the firm. No matter how busy we are, Berkeley gives us opportunities to connect way above and beyond most firms. So for example spending time getting to know new joiners is valued just as highly as networking with new clients. And it pays dividends as retention is so high. 
Helen: We work hard to ensure that everyone that joins feels instantly included in the fabric of the firm. As a smaller consultancy we have the luxury of being able to really get to know each other and so we make sure that we never waste an opportunity to do that by holding monthly firm wide meetings, holding away weekends and away days and hosting regional dinners.
Which areas of Berkeley’s ranking particularity rang true with you?    
Alison: All of it rings true for me. Company leadership is one I feel strongly about. The partners are highly respected by the staff and there’s a strong sense that they’ve earned their place by making the step internally from consultant to partner at the right time.  Partners rotate internal leadership roles and don't compete with each other. This creates an open, collaborative culture which sets the tone for the rest of the firm.
Helen ‘My Company’ was one of our highest scoring factors. We are a highly collegiate organisation so everyone has a say and impact on how the firm operates. To know that the work you do makes a direct contribution to the success of the firm and to see that play out in new initiatives or programmes makes Berkeley an exciting place to work.
Are there any unexpected revelations from the results?
Alison: Not totally unexpected but it is interesting that affiliation has increased since last year especially as we have grown so have quite a lot of new joiners. It's a testament to our way of welcoming new people and keeping everyone connected. 
Helen:  I am really pleased that we have improved across all factors and in particular ‘Personal Growth’ as we have recently implemented a new career offer and so it was pleasing to see that it has been well received!
Berkeley is the only management consultancy featured in the top 10 of the Sunday Times Best Companies lists – why do you think management consultancies do not feature more often?
Alison: It's unusual to see a consultancy in the top 10 given consulting has a reputation for higher pressure and it can be challenging to achieve a work/life balance than some other industries. At Berkeley we do have highly challenging projects but not the unnecessary added pressures of sales targets and internal work piling up on top of client commitments. Add that to a supportive, friendly culture, and that's what differentiates us.
Are you an experienced consultant who feels they could be the right fit for The Berkeley Partnership? Please click here to find out about the firm’s career opportunities.