CUBE creates a vibrant values-driven people culture and builds a foundation for growth.
Award-winning agency CUBE VIDEO needs a highly engaged and motivated team and a brilliant employer brand to attract talent – it asked Gemma Hood to help.
CUBE delivers insight-led video, animation, 3D video, and photography for clients. Since 2015 it has built a full-time team of 12 including videographers, editors, producers, and account managers plus a large, trusted bank of freelancers so it can scale to meet any project need.
Founders James Hakesley and Roy Kimani established a vibrant startup culture and learned how to manage individuals as they went along. They realised that more would soon be needed.
James explained: “We got to a point of needing an outside perspective and more experience. Agency teams are close-knit, and people really care about their future. We needed to implement stepping-stones to support and evolve our culture and motivate a larger team.”
They wanted CUBE to be a great place to work, so in mid-2021 engaged Gemma Hood from Culturehood to help build a true people strategy and develop future-proof professional practices.
He recalled that “We made this investment earlier than most, but employees are the heart of our business. By bringing Gemma in, instead of doing half a job, we gained expert external wisdom.”
Investing in values
The company’s values are now integrated deeply into its people practices, but this wasn’t always so. Gemma's first task was to help CUBE discover and articulate who they are and describe what a CUBE person looked like and how they behaved. James stated, “We worked with Gemma to reimagine our values and involved the whole team in tailoring them to who we were now.”
The values now power many processes, including finding people that will fit and thrive in the CUBE culture. “Gemma put all her experience into the process, so we can now do things properly to hire based on shared values, not just on synergy” explained James.
Gemma implemented a recruitment and selection strategy that has supported CUBE with 7 hires in the past year. Bringing rigour into the recruitment process has enabled CUBE to manage much of the process directly – 85% of recent hires have been made directly, not via agencies, saving more than £30k in fees.
When it comes to aligning recruitment, onboarding and engagement around these values, James is now confident that CUBE’s freelancers and full timers are treated the same way. He said, “Our freelancers have to fit the ethos of the business, and the client should not be able to tell the difference.”
Building essential HR processes was an important step. James recalled that “We had no HR system at all. Gemma helped us implement one so that everyone had a central place for things like holiday forms and company documents.”
The new HR information system (HRIS) also supports a new performance management strategy, acting as a repository for employee performance information such as KPIs and priorities for the year and supporting line managers. James pointed out that “Better line management helps retain good people. Gemma has helped two newly promoted line managers this year and provided frameworks to help them manage their new reports.”
Gemma also rolled out new employment contracts, an employee handbook and key policies. This formed a better foundation for a growing team, James agreed: “Working with Gemma has helped us create a process backbone behind the business – so when people join us our onboarding process brings them into our culture and our values-based system.”
“We made this investment earlier than most, but employees are the heart of our business. By bringing Gemma in, instead of doing half a job, we gained expert external wisdom.”
Building essential HR processes was an important step. James recalled that
“We had no HR system at all. Gemma helped us implement one so that everyone had a central place for things like holiday forms and company documents.”
One of Gemma’s aims was to improve CUBE’s employer value proposition, retain current team members and attract new ones. She worked with them to create a peer-to-peer reward and recognition strategy with which James is particularly pleased. He said: “The kudos system was one of the best things we developed. It allows people to be recognised by their peers, is based on our values, and drives our annual awards.”
Gemma invests time to work directly with the team to support and motivate them every day. She is part of the daily Slack conversations and in the office often. James said: “Gemma really integrates herself with the team. When she comes into the office, she brings a real energy and buzz.”
He noted that she works closely with many of the team, including project managers, account managers and marketing: “Her guidance has been invaluable. People really value her time and input. She individually mentors some younger team members – that’s really helped whenever they have had slight changes of role or taken on more responsibility.”
Surveying employees to understand how they are feeling has revealed positive trends, including 100% of employees stating that they would recommend a friend to join CUBE.
Bringing rigour into the recruitment process has enabled CUBE to manage much of the process directly – 85% of recent hires have been made directly, not via agencies, saving more than £30k in fees.
An exciting and engaging employer brand
Motivating and keeping CUBE’s carefully chosen team is a priority, but to grow it will need yet more talent – which is in high demand. Gemma devised an employer branding strategy, which included hiring a marketing manager, creating a new Careers website area, and shaping a social media strategy.
She initiated CUBE UP, a work placement and talent pipeline model that allows young talent in the local community to learn about agency life. With a goal of 12 students per year, the programme has attracted those ranging from 14-year-old students to university leavers. James said: “We are not only giving back but are creating a pipeline of talent for the future. We have already hired three of our former students and provided valuable experience for future careers.”
Trust and confidence
James knows these results could not be achieved without a high level of trust. He has invited Gemma to join an informal board, because “Gemma is effectively my Chief People Officer – it is how I introduce her and that is the level of respect I have. She is always there to help me with any questions, and knowing I have that support is invaluable.”
He continued: “Trust is everything, and we really respect Gemma’s opinions. She provides fresh insight and is always asking questions and digging into our plans. She brings accountability to make sure things are implemented and pushes back when necessary.”
The relationship seems to be an enduring one. CUBE has recently launched a new dedicated 7500 square foot virtual production Studio in Maidenhead and, looking ahead, James finished: “We know that The Studio brand will end up with its own values and team in time. Having done all this hard work with Gemma, we know where to start, and she will help us with that too.”
Find out more about CUBE VIDEO's company culture here.
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