Woods Hardwick won Employer of the Year at the Bedfordshire SME Business Awards at the Auction House in Luton.
The independent architecture, engineering, planning and surveying practice has operated from Bedford since starting in 1987 and took home the Gold Award for how it has worked with its 80+ staff to provide the best employee experience and company culture.
Woods Hardwick moved over to an employee ownership trust [EOT] model in June 2022 and over the past 12 months has transformed how it operates.
Judges acknowledged the company as a leading employer in the region with examples such as staff involvement in its new five-year business strategy, a new internal communications and staff engagement programme, improved employee benefits and the training and development of its future leaders.
This approach from Woods Hardwick has contributed to an increase in revenue, made a positive impact with staff and supported with delivering for its clients across the residential and commercial property sectors.
The SME Business Awards are now in their seventh year with 20 awards categories celebrating the UK’s best small and medium businesses.
Having won the regional award for Bedfordshire Woods Hardwick will now go through the national finals taking place in London in December 2023.
John Freeman, EOT trustee and director for Woods Hardwick, said: “It’s fantastic to be recognised as the leading employer of the year for Bedfordshire.
“We’ve achieved so much in such a short space of time since moving over to our EOT model and the staff have fully embraced the shift in direction and turned the company into the best ever version of itself in our long successful history.”
Jason Leonard, director for Woods Hardwick, added: “This award reflects who we as a business – it’s the people within it and not just about the name above the door – by looking after our staff it allows to provide a first-class experience for each and every one of our clients.
“This really is a team effort and everyone at Woods Hardwick has contributed to winning employer of the year – roll on the national competition later this year.”