News: BC Bridges the Generation Gap

Posted on 25th October 2016

Bennett Christmas bridges the generation gap

 

Young staff at Burgess Hill Insurance Brokers Bennett Christmas are changing the way management thinks.

 

They’ve been given their own ‘junior board’ to hothouse ideas for taking the company forward.

 

Known as the Futures Group, it comprises 8 Bennett Christmas employees under the age of 25, who make up almost a third of the total workforce across the firm’s retail and wholesale divisions.

 

And from sorting out the inequality of car parking spaces to developing groundbreaking mobile apps, the young execs are proving wisdom doesn’t just come with age.

 

CEO Mark Bennett said the aim was to give younger staff ‘a voice at the top table’ and help senior management better understand what motivates and engages the next generation, both inside the company and out.

 

“We need to understand what drives these younger people because they are the future business leaders, maybe even the future leaders of our own business,” he said. “It’s important they are given a voice at the top table in a structured way and for them to know they are heard by management.”

 

Twenty-four-year-old property underwriter Matthew Fisher said the Futures Group gave junior staff licence to suggest that things could be done differently.

 

“It’s not just about starting, but also stopping things,” he said.

 

“The younger staff have a different view on life – a bit more energised perhaps. We’re all keen to get our ideas across, but we probably would never have put them forward if there hadn’t been a specific agenda and channel for it.”

 

Meeting for an hour and a half once a month, responsibility for chairing the group and minute taking rotates among members. Minutes are uploaded onto the company’s networking platform for feedback from all members of staff and the best ideas are worked up into a formal presentation to the full board.

 

Ideas to have already tumbled out of the group include a car parking buddy system so that no spaces go unused while staff are on holiday; pairing staff across generations and departments to share top working tips, including IT shortcuts; and less reliance on phone calls between the retail and wholesale divisions to encourage people to use the stairs that separate them, burning calories and improving rapport.

 

“There were a number of silly suggestions as well,” said Matthew. “Two company-sanctioned ‘duvet days’ on top of your annual holiday – I think that was mainly for hangovers; a company goldfish that everyone took turns feeding; and Terrible Tie Tuesday, which wasn’t such a bad idea because it could be used for charity fundraising.”

 

While duvet days might not make it to board level, work has already begun on a Bennett Christmas app for clients and a company Instagram account has been introduced.

 

“I didn’t need to persuade my fellow directors of the advantages of having such a group. Everybody saw the benefits,” added Mark. ”It’s an opportunity to engage younger staff in the business management process as much as anything. Being part of a family business 25 years ago, I was lucky enough to be mentored in a similar way.

 

“Some ideas might sound a little daft initially but with a bit of guidance and tweaking they could just turn out to be the best we’ve ever had.”

 

Back to News ›

Testimonials

"The BHBPA is the most effective and dynamic business organisation I have ever worked with in over 30 years in Local Government. It has a very active and large membership whose points of view are taken seriously by all government structures. Peter Liddell does an excellent job in providing unique and enjoyable networking opportunities where members interact and discuss points of mutual interest. It provides a forum for businesses to discuss common issues, to share experiences and to play a powerful and meaningful role in the Burgess Hill community. The BHBPA provides important and credible support for all its members and ensures that their best interests are represented where necessary. "

Steve Cridland, CEO
(Burgess Hill Town Council)

""BHBPA is a really well organised and run group, great for networking and benefitting from knowledgeable local speakers with real business insight. Peter brings enthusiasm and humour which helps drive the association forward. I am glad to be part of it.""

Dave Farmer, German Translator
(Dave Farmer & Co)

"The BHBPA is an energetic and vocal organisation that connects and empowers and informs the local business community acting as an effective conduit to local authority and other organisations. We are proud to be part of that community and the association."

Nick Broom, Managing Director
(PVL UK Ltd)

"This association was started with a lot of effort from a few local businessmen and has proved to be a very powerful and useful tool for our business. The BHBPA has influence at the top level; when action is needed, the BHBPA gets it done. We are kept in touch with all that is happening on our doorstep and will often act because of what is published in the weekly emails / newsletters."

Steve Mooney
(Steven Mooney Machinery)