At Sykes Cottages we pride ourselves on our Company Culture which we like to think we have perfected over our 20+ years in the biz’. Whether this is through our investment into employee engagement (see 8. our VIBE team), involvement in community volunteering programmes (see 14. Promoting Volunteering) or embodying our core company values in everything we do (see 5. Eating, Sleeping and Breathing our Values), we are go above and beyond to make sure we not only stand out but keep our team as happy as possible!
Check out our 30 reasons why we think we’re different below!
1) Our Involvement in Best Companies
In case you missed it, 2019 marked a proud year for Sykes Cottages as we were named in ‘The Sunday Times 100 Companies to Work for in 2019’. Having made it onto the same lists ‘‘Best Companies to Watch’ the previous year, this year’s title is something we are more than proud to boast about and is proof of the sheer amount of hard work and determination driven into our company employee engagement, workplace satisfaction and most importantly – keeping our team happy!
Read more on our Best Companies journey here!
2) Our Award-winning Tech Department
Not ones to be left out, our Technology Department also showed the proof was in the pudding by bagging their way into the ‘Top 50’ and later the ’Top 15 Fastest Growing Larger Tech Companies’ at the 2019 Northern Tech Awards.
This was a well overdue accolade for our Tech Department who have been crucial in putting us on the map, making our once small cottage rental company ‘ones to watch’ within the tech industry and building us into the successful company we are today! They quietly work away behind the scenes to ensure we are constantly innovating the complex tech behind our property management software, mobile and web applications and are at times the unsung heroes behind our success! Well done team (and here’s to 2020’s awards)
3) Promoting Wellbeing across the Entire Business!
With employee wellbeing becoming a necessity instead of a luxury within the workplace, we decided to get ahead of the curve, adding a dedicated onsite councilor to our team!
Our councilor is on hand to provide support to our entire workforce whenever they need – ensuring we are doing everything we can to keep our team a happy team!
4) Return of ‘Bring your Pet to Work Day’
How these aren’t compulsory in every company we don’t know, but we’re starting the trend at Sykes! Our highly anticipated ‘Bring your Pet to Work’ Day is always a firm favourite amongst the team, with past BYPTW days seeing a whole host of four legged friends (and once even a tarantula) visit our Chester office!
Productivity is usually compromised but these adorable visitors can be forgiven for one day (especially since wellbeing peaks to an all-time high).
5) Eating, Sleeping and Breathing our Company Values!
We’re proud of our Company Values and believe they play a huge role in not only setting us apart but keeping us grounded, ensuring we stay true to ourselves!
Our culture at Sykes centers on our five company values to Achieve Together, Communicate Honestly, Grow and Learn, Earn Trust and Drive Innovation and Change (and you’ll be sure to spot these dotted around our Chester HQ).
We are committed to living and breathing these values into everything we do at Sykes whether this means Earning Trust from our values customers, Communicating Honestly with colleagues or Achieving Together as a company – our values are at the heart of everything we do!
6) Recognising our Values in our Colleagues
We aren’t joking when we say we eat, sleep and breathe our Company Values and to ensure we aren’t just paying lip service, we make sure we recognise colleagues across the business and award them for embodying these wholeheartedly through our ‘Values Awards’.
Our team are big on nominating their fellow colleagues who are recognised and awarded at our monthly floor meetings, attended by the entire company! We love seeing our values committed to by our team – see below some of our recent awardees!
7) Our Annual Summer Party (if you know you know)
Notorious amongst our Sykes alum and a highly anticipated date in our company calendar, our events team go all out to pull off our infamous Summer Party!
2019’s theme saw us follow in the footsteps of Vfest, Cream fields and Woodstock with our aptly named ‘Sykes Stock’ complete with hay bales aplenty, floral head-dress making and a live band to set the tone – our team, their family and plus ones came together for a jam-packed day of festivities with everyone getting into the spirit!
Plans are already under way to top this year and we have high expectations for what our VIBE and Employee Engagement team will pull out for 2020 (keep an eye on our Social Media next Summer).
8) Our VIBE Team – taking Employee Feedback up a Notch!
In case you haven’t heard about our VIBE Team (check out our dedicated blog for a catch up) – their vision is simple – to make Sykes the best place to work!
Our team of dedicated representatives from each department meet every month to ensure our voices are heard and lead the way for our teams by communicating honestly, relaying colleague’s feedback and representing the interests and needs of each employee!
Our VIBE Team are responsible for some HUGE changes recently and are real tough cookies when it comes to getting stuff done, cracking the whip and making sure our employees voices are heard!
9) Our Cultural Orientations – Spreading our Values!
You may be forgiven in thinking our inductions are strictly kept to the first few weeks on your employment, but never ones to follow the crowd, we decided to introduce ‘Cultural Orientations’ to our Learning and Development plan and to date are hugely proud of its success!
With workshops rolled out to each and every team member, our Cultural Orientations workshops are a firm-favourite amongst our team and a brilliant insight into Sykes for any budding newbie.
Run by Katie, our fantastic Employee Engagement Manager, these workshops run through our standout company culture, the story behind our core values and entire team structure in-depth and something you will hopefully experience yourself if you choose to join us!
10) Our Commitment to the Sustainable Palm Oil Project!
We’re already committed to pulling our weight when it comes to the usual sustainable practices of recycling and minimising waste, but we’re always looking for different ways to give back and help our planet.
We know our decisions and behaviours as a business have a real impact on the world (however small) and where we can, we want to make the right choices. Along with being proud corporate supporters of Chester Zoo, we are lending our voice to their Palm Oil Sustainability Project!
Working alongside Chester Zoo, we want to make Chester the first Sustainable Palm Oil city in the world. We are now stocking palm oil alternatives in our vending machines and ensure we use ethically aware companies for our corporate food and drinks. Ever a fan of treating our team, we now also only gift sustainable, palm oil-free sweets and treats to our team!
To read more on our Palm-Oil Pledge visit our company blog!
11) We’re tackling Sweat-tember (and we’ve set our sights high)
I’m sure the team will thank us in the long run for this one (fingers crossed).
This September saw the entire Sykes brand ban together in the name of MIND – our mental health charity of choice to turn September into our sweatiest (and most charitable) month to date!
Manned with a Fit-Bit each (and the promise of a prize at the finish line), our challenge was simple…move as much as you can during September and the winning team will be awarded in riches beyond their wildest dreams (or a newly achieved six pack at least).
We love not only rolling out new and exciting ways to raise awareness for such worthwhile causes, but are forever impressed with how wholeheartedly our team throw themselves into each challenge we set with this one showing now exception!
This challenge is still ongoing so stay posted via our LinkedIn page for updates!
2) Our swanky Chester digs
We’ve come a long way from our modest beginning at Clive’s kitchen table and although we’ve set up shop in our shiny new Chester HQ, there’s no doubt we will be expanding further.
We’re currently located at One City Place, right next to Chester Train Station, which we have fondly now named ‘Sykes Towers’ due to our recent invasion. Despite this recent move we have already outgrown our two spacious floors and are adding a third to our residence, turning the ground floor into our newest ‘Tech Hub’ in November 2019!
If you haven’t already visited our Chester offices, when we say we are close to Chester Train station we aren’t lying – we are located right next door with great transport links to Manchester, Liverpool and the Wirral. Another perk of our new ‘digs’ is our close proximity to the Carriage Shed – which itself has been the home to many Sykes parties in our past 2 years of occupancy!
Keep your eye out on our LinkedIn for a full unveiling on our newest ground floor – Coming Soon!
13) Our Infamous Friday Beer-Trollies
We have our VIBE team to thank for this particular bonus feature (thanks guys)!
Our Friday beer trollies are always a favourite amongst the team, with recent months seeing our very own CEO Graham Donoghue acting as our resident barman, dishing out a mobile mixture of beers, wines and delicious soft drinks.
Despite being a relatively simple perk, our Friday Beer Trollies are a sure-fire way to lift morale within our teams and well and truly get our departments into the #Friday #Feeling when 5.30pm comes around!
14) Promoting Volunteering
We know part of being a great company is about giving back to our community and we are lucky enough to have a team eager to lend their time wholeheartedly to a number of volunteering programmes to date!
We are always looking for new and existing charities to lend our time too within the Chester community and provide regular opportunities to get involved in volunteering events throughout the year. With past events seeing our team help out with litter picking and clearing walkways at Bala Lake to clearing community spaces and allotments in the local Chester community we have a huge place in our hearts for volunteer programmes and are proud to be associated with these rewarding events!
15) Tough Mudder – we’re seasoned professionals!
If you’ve taken a look at our LinkedIn recently, you’ll know just how much our teams love an outing and any excuse to get muddy is guaranteed to double the numbers in attendance! To date we have shown our faces at numerous Tough Mudder events with no doubt even more on the cards for the rest of the year.
We are always impressed with the amount of employee’s signings themselves up with a healthy number of attendee’s always leaping at the chance to get involved! This may have something to do with our cause as what’s more, our teams do all this in the name of MIND – the mental health charity, raising and donating all proceeds to this amazing cause!
Check out our guys in action below for full appreciation!
16) MIND – Our Chosen Charity of the Year
Each year, we take a company wide vote for our ‘Charity of the Year’ and this year it was Teenage Cancer Trusts turn to take the spotlight!
Our pledge has seen us take on numerous Tough Mudders (see above), host cocktail classes, become a barbers for the day, conquer countless Rough Runner events, host casino nights and run marathons in a bid to raise awareness and much needed funds for this worthwhile charity.
We have also raised the stakes, aiming for the ambitious goal to raise £20k for Teenage Cancer Trust – which so far thanks to our team, we are on track for!
17) Our Internal Progression Opportunities!
We pour a huge amount of investment, time and effort into our employee engagement, extra curricular activities and company perks, with new (and more adventurous) ideas being devised every year.
There is one area of our business however, we are proud to say has remained unchanged since the very beginning and that’s our high number of internal promotions throughout the business! Our stats speak for themselves and we will always promote from within when we can – a crucial point in our company ethos we are glad to have!
Read more of our teams testimonials on our LinkedIn page – see below!
18) Our Links with Chester University
Did you know Sykes Cottages are soon to be official Career Partners of Chester University?
This blossoming relationship is something we are proud to boast about as it has been a long standing goal of ours to lend our skills and expertise to the next round of fresh faced Graduates – especially in the Chester community!
We are big on harnessing the best local talent into our teams and for the chance to develop Chester Uni graduates skill sets across our Marketing, Graphic Design, Finance, Technology and Operations teams is a chance we leapt at! We have already moved quickly with this new partnership and are due to show our faces at their Chester Uni’s annual Careers Fairs, share our industry wisdom through various ‘Q&A Panels’ (coming soon) and give their 19k Chester based students support and industry insight in any way we can!
19) Our Family Friendly Policy
We are a company who stay true to their roots!
We know just how important harboring a family-friendly environment is and we go the whole-hog to make sure we are doing everything we can to spread inclusion across our company! Whether this is through our extended paternity/maternity leave, adoption leave or our flexible working arrangements to support childcare, we are continuously looking for ways to improve our family-friendly policy to support our employees!
Due to this years ‘Sykes Baby Boom’ we have even introduced goodie bags complete with every new parents must-have starter pack ready to be sent out (a perk our Front of House ladies leapt at the chance to plan).
20) Reflexology – Taking Employee Perks to the Next Level!
With the waiting list for this particular perk getting longer with every session, our reflexology appointments are one guaranteed way to up morale across our Company. With our very own reflexologist, Sue, booked in periodically throughout the month, we make sure to roll out these 30 minute slots frequently to our team. We have to admit, this is one of our favourite wellbeing perks!
21) Our Perks Continued – Circuits and Pilates
Ever dedicated to upping health and wellbeing across Sykes, our after-hours Circuits and Pilates sessions are one of our most popular perks. With employees from across our various departments donning their sports kits and joining us for our weekly classes, we transform our Rec Room as often as we can into our very own Sykes gym.
We’re extremely fortunate to have a company dedicated towards rolling out fun, inclusive activities such as this one, which over the months, is now complete with a loyal following of our Sykes fitness bunnies. What better way to blow off some steam after a hard days work?!
22) Our dedication to helping you Grow and Learn!
We are practicing what we preach and proving we are dedicated to embodying our Core Values, with one value in particular (Grow and Learn) taking form in our Innovation Programme!
We pay particular attention to ‘Growing and Learning’ as a team and are proud to offer our employees dedicated time to pursue their own development. Whether this be a webinar they are dying to watch, a Tedx talk on an area of interest or a course to progress their creative, professional or soft skills – our team are allocated specific, uninterrupted time per month to grow their own skills.
This is another way we are ensuring we are doing everything we can to support our employees development!
23) Employee Engagement through our Soft-Skills Workshops!
Alongside designated ‘Innovation’ time (see above), we are proud to host a number of soft skill workshops for our employees frequently throughout the year.
Covering masterclasses on Delegation, Project Management and Utilizing Strengths as well as lifestyle workshops on Buying your First House, being Financially Savvy and Planning for the Future, slots for these events are always well sought after amongst our team as well as being a fantastic employee engagement feature in our monthly calendar!
24) Sykes Chocolate Factory of Dreams
If you hadn’t guessed already, we jump at any excuse to pull out all the stops whatever the occasion and no expense was spared when we heard Roald Dahl day and World Chocolate Day fell on the same Friday!!
Our team went over the top (and then further) to pull off a surprise, chocolate filled afternoon! Turning our Rec Room into a chocolate factory to rival Willy Wonka’s, Sykes was kitted out in sweets galore – complete with human-sized chocolate fountain anyone would be jealous of!
Check out the fun below (and check out that fountain!?)
25) Sharing our Values from the Top Down!
It isn’t just our passionate departments we have to praise for sharing our values…our management team share the love just as much and even bagged themselves their own award for their efforts – bringing home the North West Management Team Award for ‘Large Company Team of the Year’ at this years BVCA Management Team Awards 2019!
We are always grateful to have a passionate management team who push us to succeed, embody our Sykes core values and keep us dreaming big and is one of the reasons our core values remain cemented in our companies daily running’s!
Read more on our latest management award here
26) Time to Talk – Our Mental Health Support!
We like to think of ourselves as one big family at Sykes – an ethos that applies to all aspects of our team mentality! So when it comes to our approach to our teams mental heath and wellbeing, we go out of our way to offer any and all support we can!
We have made distinct and significant changes to the support we offer our team, one of which was to welcome our onsite Counselor to our team! Discussing everything and anything our team needs from workplace stresses, mental health issues, struggles in our personal life or stress management, Sue, our dedicated Councillor is here for us to with whatever support we need!
27) Learning and Development – Welcoming you to the Sykes family (and beyond)
We understand just how important your first few days, weeks, months in a new job are and are constantly reviewing how we can improve our on-boarding process.
So far we have been successful in implementing insightful workshops (see 9. Cultural Orientations – Spreading our Values) to make people feel as welcome and informed as possible throughout their induction and beyond!
Our investment in Learning and Development doesn’t end there, we even rolled out a brand new Learning and Development platform dedicated to providing communication between teams to share skills, articles and learning materials, as well as additional facility for our team to give thanks to employees for promoting L&D and lending a hand!
28) Our Wider-Sykes Family – Have you met our Sister Brands?
For those who know our origins, Sykes started off as a family-run business which, despite our growth, we have kept much of the same ethos, non-the-less when this comes to our sister brands!
2019 saw our number of acquisitions climb to ten, a number we are hugely proud of not just because of the business growth this represents, but because each one of our sister brands share in our values, business goals and family ethos!
From Menai to the Lake District, Cornwall to the Cotswolds – each of our sister brands are an accolade to us and we are lucky enough to have each add to our portfolio and spread our company culture!
Read more on each of our brands here: Lakes Cottages Holidays, Coast and Country Cottages, Menai Cottages, Dream Cottages, Manor Cottages, Hogans Cottages, Helpful Cottages, Bachcare, Cornish Cottage Holidays, Yorkshire Coastal Cottages.
29) Welcoming Bachcare – Sykes Goes International!
2019 has been our most exciting year to date not least because we took our first steps in growing our business internationally, welcoming our newest acquisition to our family – Bachcare!
Based in sunny New Zealand, welcoming Bachcare to the Sykes Family was a huge achievement for us as it marked not only our tenth acquisition but our first international addition of hopefully many! Welcoming Bachcare has given us a foothold in the Southern Hemisphere and has got us started in opening up our market to endless possibilities for the future!
Sykes has come a long way since our Yorkshire origins as a quaint, family run business into one of the fastest growing businesses in the North West and largest independent holiday rental agencies in the UK. With our sister companies and Bachcare in our portfolio, we look forward to showing you what we have in store for 2020 on wards (watch this space)
To read our full blog on welcoming Bachcare to our ranks below!
30) Last but certainly not least – Our infamous Christmas Conference
Notorious amongst our Sykes alum (with whispers of last years antics still circulating around our Chester HQ) our Christmas Conference is nothing less than a spectacle in its own right.
Backed by an ever-rising budget and with its own recruitment drive for volunteers to get involved, our end of year Christmas Conference is a date in everyone’s diaries and is set to be even more spectacular than last years (which if you saw our social media you’ll know why were excited).
Last years event saw us transform a chosen few at Sykes into the cast of The Greatest Showman – complete with vocal performance, dancing and circus tricks to boot, delivering what is to date, the most extravagant Christmas party Chester has ever seen (we challenge you to top us).
We have been looking forward to 2019’s Christmas Conference since last year with the bar being set high to top it. So far the theme is under wraps, shrouded in secrecy but keep your eye on our social media for Decembers event!