Bonus with a difference as bosses takes all staff on holiday

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A forward-thinking firm which advises other businesses on good HR practices has “walked the walk” – by taking all its staff on a sun-kissed holiday to reward excellent performance.

The Solve. Directors paid £5000 to take the seven-strong team on a four-day trip to the Algarve in Portugal after they helped steer the firm to its £300,000 turnover target.

Mum of one and founding director Stephanie Robinson, launched Solve. in 2011 to help clients unlock the benefits of good HR and employment law advice – including happier and more productive staff.

But she revealed how it was an anecdote from her dad which inspired her to use the promise of a sunshine holiday to help bond and motivate her own team.

Stephanie said: “My dad catered for major functions and used to tell me about a huge event he was involved with for a big American company in the 1980s. The company brought all of its sales staff and their wives to Scotland.

“The idea was they would reward their top performing people by taking them around all of Scotland’s most prestigious venues and give them a money can’t buy experience. That would reinforce that their company was a fabulous place to work and to drive growth.

“As they all wanted to be on the trip the following year, it allowed them to retain their best talent.

“With my own business I was determined to reach £300,000 turnover, not least because lots of people in the world of SMEs told me that getting past £250,000 could be a real challenge and I didn’t want to get stuck there.

“So that story from my dad inspired me and I decided to go for it. I told the team that if we could all work together to break £300k, then we’d  go away on holiday. It seemed to work because towards year end there was a real team effort  to drive sales and more and more projects started to come off.

“What was most important to me was that it did not happen in a pushy sales way, because that is definitely not we are about. It was more about everyone pulling together and supporting each other toward a shared goal.”

Stephanie revealed how, at the time, as all of her colleagues are women with young children – the lure of a short break without husbands or children was another important motivator for the trip, which saw the team relaxing in a luxury villa with its own swimming pool, near Vale do Lobo.

She said: “As a mum myself I knew that a few days away for peace and quiet and being able to properly relax and unwind would be really special. The result was that we had a fab time and really enjoyed ourselves.”

Solve. has deliberately positioned as different from others in the HR advice sector by offering a hands-on approach to understand businesses thoroughly  to establish their HR needs – as opposed to call centres and templated solutions. From there it aims to bring new ideas, problem-solving techniques and a unique and ethical HR consultancy style to any organisation which can make it better, leaner and more effective.

Solve. already has 20 retained clients and another 100 businesses which use its services on a regular, ad-hoc basis. However the firm has an ambitious blueprint for growth to reach 50 retained clients, £1m turnover and 50 staff by 2020.

The business is built on allowing the team to work flexibly, which invariably means working from home.

While each member of the team will have individual bonus opportunities, en route to realising the firm’s growth plans, Stephanie has already promised them another holiday if they reach the next target – breaking through the £400,000 turnover mark.

She added: “For me this is about the big picture of encouraging high performance work. To do that you have to engage your people. Part of that is about having individual targets and bonuses, but more important is having a shared goal to strive for.”

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