Suffolk Business Awards 2021: Meet the Employer of the Year finalists

A smiling staff member at work at Cory Brothers Shipping Agency

Cory Brothers stood out to the judges due to its commitment to encouraging all staff to get involved with the business, regardless of level - Credit: Cory Brothers Shipping Agency

The Employer of the Year Award at this year's Suffolk Business Awards seeks to showcase organisations that have developed a culture and ethos that places its people at its very core, recognising the evolution of employee engagement and the impact it has on the workplace. Here are the finalists for this year’s Employer of the Year Award, which is sponsored by Pure Executive and Birketts.

Cory Brothers Shipping Agency 

A global logistics and maritime service provider, Cory Brothers is passionate about lifting up its employees as well as the Suffolk community - regularly sponsoring sporting individuals and teams, welcoming and developing Kickstart Scheme participants working closely with Suffolk Business Women. 

When the first lockdown came into force, Cory Brothers acted quickly to reassure its team of 200 staff that they would be looked after. It was able to successfully navigate the first 18 months of the pandemic and now all four divisions of the company are trading above expectations as it prepares to celebrate its 180th anniversary next year. 

Cory Brothers stood out to the judges due to its commitment to encouraging all staff to get involved with the business, regardless of level, along with the opportunities it provides for employees to grow both as colleagues and individuals. The judges noted that the structure of Cory Brothers’ development programme equips staff with “both technical and transferable skills”.

Members of the supported accommodation team at Access Community Trust

Members of the supported accommodation team at Access Community Trust, which is a finalist in the Employer of the Year category - Credit: Access Community Trust

Access Community Trust 

Access Community Trust is a regional charity which supports individuals and communities that are socially isolated across Suffolk and beyond from its headquarters in Lowestoft and more than 20 satellite locations throughout East Anglia.  

Since being established in 1975 as a homeless shelter, the non-profit has seen tremendous growth and now employs more than 170 people across four core specialisms: supported accommodation, health and wellbeing, education and community social enterprise. In the last year alone, Access Community Trust has assisted over 30,000 people through its service offering. 

The judges praised the charity’s “transparent and inclusive employee culture”, which has allowed it to rapidly adapt, create and innovate its wide variety of services. They added that Access Community Trust celebrates and encourages its diverse workforce, “ensuring it offers an inspiring, rewarding and fair working environment where all employee contributions are recognised and valued”. 

Staff at Concertus Design & Property Consultants' Health and Wellbeing Day

Staff at Concertus Design & Property Consultants' Health and Wellbeing Day - Credit: Concertus Design & Property Consultants

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Concertus Design & Property Consultants 

Since the business’s launch in 2013, Concertus Design & Property Consultants has gone from strength to strength, building a collaborative team of over 180 people that brings clients' visions to life through innovative and sustainable solutions. 

Covid-19 certainly didn’t dampen the company’s spirits, as it not only won the coveted Investors People Gold accreditation and Investors in Wellbeing Silver accreditation in 2020, but also raised £2210 for East Anglia’s Children’s Hospices and East Anglian Air Ambulance through its 364 Mile Challenge, when its employees competed in virtual teams to walk, run or cycle the distance from its Ipswich to Matlock office and back again. 

The judges were impressed by Concertus’ long-term investment in its staff, particularly its training ethos, which encourages each employee to strengthen their professional development through seminars, conferences, training and qualifications. Its “robust and accessible” 360-degree feedback platform enables staff to set objectives and identify training requirements through regular positive and constructive feedback. 

Smiling ground maintenance workers from the Vertas group

The judges felt that Vertas “demonstrated a compassionate and agile response to leading the business through the pandemic” - Credit: Pagepix Ltd

Vertas Group

Vertas Group is a fast-growing, commercially-focused facilities management business headquartered in Ipswich, with over 4000 colleagues in employment across Suffolk and the rest of the UK. It delivers services in a number of areas, including cleaning, catering, security, education management, grounds and landscapes, reception and concierge, courier and postal and property management. 

The judges felt that Vertas “demonstrated a compassionate and agile response to leading the business through the pandemic” - prioritising the livelihoods and wellbeing of its people and their families. Throughout 2021, the business has continued to develop its “progressive, inclusive and people-centric" culture and elevate its strong employer brand to ensure it fulfils its commitment to ‘Making a Difference’. 

Vertas also demonstrated a “rich blend” of life-long learning opportunities, enhanced reward and recognition strategies, generous health and well-being provisions, hybrid working model, commitment to CSR activities and inspiring, visible leadership throughout the business to the judges.