Media Release: How small firms can reap rich rewards by thinking like big firms

THERE is an assumption – and it is quite comprehensively wrong – that only big firms can afford to treat their employees in a considerate and thoughtful manner, and provide rewards for outstanding service which motivate and encourage.

Small firms can do this too. All they need to do is think like big firms.

This may be a difficult concept to grasp for small employers who are perhaps not working out of the most salubrious premises and who are hard pressed by the day-to-day demands of keeping the business afloat. In such circumstances, the wellbeing of their team is likely to be hanging off the bottom of their list of priorities.

However, they may be missing one very important fact which is that, if they bring employees on board and makes them feel that they, too, are part of the business, they are likely to create an office full of allies rather than adversaries. Incentives can overcome, at a stroke, the “nothing to do with me, I just work here” attitude which is so prevalent in many Scottish companies.

This is certainly the case in Hello Scotland, a thriving destination management company based in Drumchapel, Glasgow, which specialises in introducing its clients to the very best that Scotland can offer – including breathtaking scenery, ancient castles, whisky distilleries, golf courses, stately homes and international class restaurants.

Hello Scotland creates professionally organised corporate incentive packages for groups of between 15 and 300 people which still retain a handcrafted feel. The team of seven includes the boss, or ‘ambassador’, Bill Thomson, who has been in the incentive travel business for more than a decade, and general manager Isla Buchanan.

Isla said: “It has always been our aim to instil the big company corporate culture and loyalty into Hello Scotland even though we are, by any standards, a small firm. There is no reason why people can’t be treated with respect and consideration.

“This is not simple altruism, however. The quid pro quo is that the team’s interests are aligned with the management’s and they have a vested interest in seeing the company become successful and profitable. Everybody wins.”

Because Hello Scotland is in the incentive travel business, some of the rewards are bordering on the exotic – such as annual incentive trips, with partners, to destinations such as Nice, Barcelona, Lanzarote and Las Vegas.

This is on top of five weeks holiday and time off over Christmas and New Year. Time in lieu is also available for the travel that is an integral part of making arrangements for corporate parties and accompanying them to events. All travel expenses are met for incentive trips.

Each member of the team is given a laptop and a mobile phone and company cars are provided for senior project managers and above. Private health cover for all employees can be extended to cover partners. This is at the employee’s expense, but includes substantial discounts. Participation in a pension scheme is available after two years’ service.

But the main similarity with bigger companies is the way Hello Scotland structures its salary review process. Team members set key performance indicators for themselves in agreement with the management. Ten areas are identified for each employee – five related to the business plan (to which, by the way, employees have input); and five additional ‘stretch’ goals for both personal and business development.

A five per cent salary rise is awarded on completion of the tasks in the business plan and a further one per cent for each of the ‘stretch’ goals achieved, giving a potential ten per cent pay rise each year. All rises are dependent on the company meeting turnover targets.

Isla Buchanan, who has a background in sales and marketing in newspapers and major retailers, said: “The great thing is to encourage two-way communication. We can do this in a formal way through regular appraisals, but it also important for the team to know that they can have impromptu one-to-one discussions if there are any issues arising.”

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Contact: Sally Matheson
Phone: 0141 353 1515