• Published on June 17, 2016

People are the cornerstone of Summertown’s business. From humble beginnings we are now proud to have a strong workforce of over 120 highly skilled professionals. Our main belief is that we will do better as an organization through a strong and sustainable partnership with our employees. 20% of our office staff members have been with our organization for over 10 years, and 24% between 5 and 10 years, which is way above the national average figures according to Zurich International Life. Our strength lies in our focus on teamwork, sharing strategies, knowledge and ideas throughout all departments; creating an open flow of communication and team spirit.

“It is important to continually invest time and effort in your employees – not only must companies offer a great space to work in, and create clearly defined roles and responsibilities for their employees, but we must also invest time in nurturing relationships between staff members” says Summertown’s HR manager, Esra Kayhan.

At Summertown we run many initiatives that help us to promote the importance of a fantastic working culture. Our Health and Wellbeing program engages our office staff members, labour workforce and wider family members as we see all as important stakeholders for our company. Monthly newsletters raise awareness on common health issues such as importance of regular exercise, stress management and the promotion of a healthy work/life balance.

We also run several events each year to encourage our employees to undertake regular health screening – offering free blood pressure checks, cholesterol testing, and workshops on stress management and importance of office ergonomics. Our sports program promotes the importance of regular exercise and offers sessions for all including zumba, pilates, team sport fun days, and each year a number of our employees and family members run for ‘team Summertown’ in the Dubai Standard Chartered run raising money for our supported charity at the same time.

Our employee volunteering scheme also helps us to nurture relationships between employees. Staff members are brought together from different seniority levels and departments to work together to support a community initiative, and this is a great way to boost team morale. Our volunteering program has seen team members offer their industry skills to fit out a nursery school in Ajman, as class room reading assistants for the ‘Reading to Room’ project for Elite English school, and teach sailing skills to local children with special needs.

Openness and transparency is also important to staff members. Employees want to feel a part of an organisation’s success and to share in those moments. The best ideas often come from your workforce, and it is the responsibility of the senior team members to facilitate the opportunity for staff members to do so. Continuous business improvement is one of our core values and we encourage our team members to put forward their ideas to improve our business processes through our ISO quality management system. In addition we host regular ‘Team Talk’ meetings which bring all office staff members together to celebrate our successes, discuss the challenges ahead, and creates a platform to share our ideas on how we will achieve success in the delivery of our business goals and objectives.

“In order for employees to be at their most productive, they need to be motivated. They need to feel that they can trust the employer and their co-workers to deliver, and it’s important that they feel that they can be trusted in return” says Esra. Summertown’s recent Team Talk event introduced an exercise that clearly demonstrates this point. Four team members were asked to sit in a circle on chairs, and to lie down on their team members’ lap. Once everyone was in place, the chairs were removed and hey presto! – the group remained upright as they were supporting each other.

“This was a great exercise that was not only fun, but helped us to demonstrate that successful collaboration is all about trust!”