Up and Under – Why?
This is a long one, put your feet up and enjoy it ;o)
We use a lot of space here explaining what we do, both at work and at play so I thought it was about time we took some time to explain why we do what we do.
Back in 1987 it seemed pretty simple, Andy was skint and didn’t fancy the idea of going back into another contracting company as site fodder so he set up his own company.
Today the picture is very different, we have a much clearer picture of why Up and Under exists. When you get down to the nub of it, it is a simple phrase. “We want every contact with the Up and Under Group to be beneficial”.
This apparently simple phrase is, however, far reaching. It touches people both within and outside the company, and it is important for our national infrastructure and industry. A big claim for a small phrase I hear you say, but let me explain.
On a personal level we are committed to personal development of our team, well beyond the needs of their job, we want them to be the best they can be. Often this is uncomfortable, because many people are happy where they are and don’t, for example, want to take the risk of failure associated with say taking a course or an exam. The fulfilment that comes with success (and sometimes just from trying) is exciting to witness. We have seen many times that experience is like a ratchet, a one way thing, Once you have pushed yourself you are better for it and you don’t go back to where you were before. A further benefit is that growth in one area can spill over into others, so enhanced technical competence can make a person more confident, which can then improve their social situation.
We believe in pushing people because everybody can be a bit better and most of us need a little encouragement to discover just how much better.
So, it is easy to see how we can have a beneficial effect on our staff, after all we can exert a degree of control over them, can’t we? Well actually no, virtually everything people do in the workplace is consensual, they have to want to do it. In modern western economies it is simply impossible to micromanage knowledge workers. So it all comes down to trust and cooperation. So back to beneficial experiences. It is important to create an interesting and supportive work environment. Why? to make the company more productive or successful, well yes that is an outcome, but remember we are starting from the place where the reason we exist is to create an environment which is beneficial to all. While we are on the subject some simple truths, only profitable businesses survive so that is a necessity, and yes appropriate remuneration forms part of the mix.
Let’s explore “every contact” a little further and stretch your thinking a little. We want bridges, buildings, railways and the very infrastructure of the country to benefit from Up and Under existing. During every year we inspect or maintain many hundreds of structures, many of them essential for the effective operation of, the much quoted, UK PLC. We understand our place in this complex operation and understand that without roads hospitals cease to be effective, without effective pipe networks water stops arriving at our taps and small pieces of concrete falling off buildings could kill parents, friends or lovers. Our job has national importance and we undertake it with these things in mind. You would find a fascinating attention to detail and application of skill if you were to watch one of our teams, often working in difficult circumstances and in all weather, but they know why they are doing what they are doing. Ultimately it keeps people safe. This is commitment to make everybody’s lives a little bit better and one that most people will never be aware of, but night after night we are caring about your lives.
Ah, but what about our customers, the people paying the bills? Well if you have worked with Up and Under for some time you will know the answer to this one. We want to help you to get the best outcome, we roll up our sleeves, sit down with you and really try to get to the solution you need. This isn’t always straightforward and there have been many tense moments and raised voices, but we are in it together and so long as the result is a good one for all we are happy. We talk a lot about ‘fair’ here and we use that as an important measure of relationships and outcomes. It may sound a little old fashioned, but fairness is always our goal.
We don’t forget suppliers either, they provide a broad range of opportunities for mutually beneficial activities. We have created markets with suppliers by bringing several products from one market to another, always with joint input. We have also been supported by suppliers with technical input or leads. We treat these suppliers with loyalty and fairness, which creates trust which generates more business.
In a piece about having a beneficial effect we can’t exclude the work we do through the Up and Under Foundation, encouraging youngsters to get experiences in the outdoors and other activities. These experiences improve confidence, as well as imparting new skills, and for many are life changing. In 2007 we committed to use a proportion of every invoice we raise to these and other causes, not to fulfil some CSR* quota, but because we think it is the right thing to do; oh, and it is important to note that the commitment was a levy on turnover, not profit!
Every summer our office seems to be taken over by Uni students or school leavers who want to see what civil engineering is like. Admittedly they get a view through Up and Under glasses, but it is pleasing to see the successes they go on to achieve. And success is something we love to encourage, from the many people we have supported through University to the companies past employees have established – many of which are now clients or suppliers – and through the companies who have joined the Up and Under Group.
All of these things we do because we feel it is right to do them, not through some calculated process designed to improve bottom line. The great thing is that the more “Good Stuff” we do the more successful the business becomes. We’ve had people – staff, customers, students, suppliers – leave and come back and others who just seem to stay for ever and you know why? I wish I knew, but perhaps being part of the Up and Under family is a nice place to be, we certainly try to make it that way. Joins us and tell us what you think.
*Corporate social responsibility
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