Overall Winners: 1-99 Employees

Gold winner: Xref
Silver winner: Workplace Law
Bronze winner: Halcyon Knights

HRD chats to Gold winner (1–99 employees) Xref ’s CEO and co-founder, Lee-Martin Seymour

HRD: Congratulations on your Gold award in the 1–99 employee category. How does it feel to win?
It feels fantastic. As co-founders of Xref, Tim Griffiths and I love what we do and the benefits we offer clients, but having a staff that is also motivated, driven and enjoys coming to work is so much more important. We’ve had remarkable success since launching in 2011, and there have been some standout milestones along the way, but I get more joy from seeing the team grow, watching people come on board the Xref journey, and witnessing the achievement and satisfaction they get from the work we do.

HRD: What do you put your success in these awards down to? Is there anything you can highlight that you believe might have connected particularly well with employees?
We recognise all our employees as individual people. We appreciate that the value some might see in one form of reward will not be reflected across the board. So we are careful to ensure that we know the personal preferences as well as the individual professional journey of each staff member. With that in mind, we
can encourage them to progress at the rate and trajectory that suits them. We know that employees will be more productive if they feel happy and motivated as individuals, rather than just another member of the team.

HRD: How would you describe the corporate culture at Xref?
Open, honest, hard-working and fun. Our team is made up of 50 very like-minded individuals that each want to work hard but enjoy the satisfaction that comes from making clients happy, as well as the reward of helping to grow our business. We may be geographically dispersed across five countries in three continents
but, in terms of the level of communication and support we offer each other, we are very close. We also utilise technology wherever possible to make our working lives efficient and consistent across each of the markets we operate in.

HRD: What would you classify as your biggest people-related challenge, and how are you navigating that challenge?
We are scaling globally, and with this rapid growth comes new people-related challenges. Time is not on our side, and to grab market share quickly and efficiently we need the right staff. The danger, when time is tight, is that the level of focus on new hires falters, but we’ve been careful to make sure this is not the case at Xref, applying the same level of due diligence every time we bring on someone new. However, the reality is that no organisation is going to get it right every time, when it comes to recruitment. As a fast-growth company it’s reasonable to expect 10–15% of hires to fail. At Xref we embrace this. We have an open door to those that feel they simply cannot add value, and proactively help those that wish to move out of the business. When it comes to performance issues, it’s crucial that the business does not hold on to people that cannot find a way to add value or align with our organisational culture.

“We already know how talented and successful our team is, but this award validates our belief that they are also very happy with what they do” - Lee-Martin Seymour