East Anglia: BEER Festival provides food for thought for business leaders

The BEER Festival event at Ickworth House.

The BEER Festival event at Ickworth House. - Credit: Archant

Business leaders from across the region attended the first ever Best Employer, Eastern Region (BEER) Festival, held at Ickworth Park near Bury St Edmunds.

The event was organised by specialist recruitment agency Pure Resourcing Solutions and eras ltd, a provider of psychometric testing and people development solutions.

Chief executives and managing directors were among delegates from Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk attending the event, to find out more about how employee engagement can benefit their business and staff, and to share knowledge with their peers.

In keeping with the “BEER Festival” title was one of the keynote speakers, Andy Wood, chief executive of Adnams, who revealed some of the company’s secrets to keeping staff involved and motivated.

With 91% of the organisation’s employees feeling proud to work for the company and 94% saying they are clear on what is expected of them, delegates were lucky to learn from one of the region’s masters of employee engagement.

From building pride and passion among workers, to promise-keeping, respect and rewarding leadership values such as trust and building self-esteem in others, the head of the 400-strong business gave the audience plenty of food for thought.

Other speakers included Cathy Brown, employee engagement consultant from the Government-funded Engage for Success initiative, who talked about the national picture, and Dominic Lowe, managing Director of Kettle Foods, who spoke about the importance of leadership in inspiring the workforce.

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Lynn Walters, director of Pure, says: “Senior professionals from a diverse range of industries invested their time and ideas in a day at the BEER Festival. It was very rewarding to see senior business leaders under one roof having discussions that could lead to positive changes in our region.

“We know that businesses with an engaged workforce have 40% less staff turnover than those with lower levels of engagement and produce significantly higher profits. And based on delegates’ feedback and Twitter updates, people found the event genuinely useful and stimulating.”

Margaret Burnside, director of people development at eras, added: “Many delegates felt very inspired and left the festival with plans to make big changes to improve the level of employee engagement.

“From small but significant changes, such as remembering to say thank you, to implementing employee forums and giving more responsibility to individuals to make changes, it is clear that there are going to be shifts in the way some businesses work as a result of the event.”

A number of delegates took the opportunity to arrange visits to learn more about each other’s employee engagement activities.

All the proceeds from the event, which amounted to over £3,000, have been donated to East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices and The Adnams Charity.

The festival will take place on alternate years and is part of the wider BEER initiative, which includes the survey, awards and year-round seminars. From March 2014 businesses in the region get the chance to take part in a free, confidential Best Employer survey, which assesses employees’ views of their companies’ culture and values. The regional survey culminates in a series of seminars and awards in September 2014.