by Alan Davies, FUW Managing Director
Around this time last year, we held the first staff conference for a few years. It was a success but I’m pleased to say that it wasn’t as successful as the one held this year at the end of January.
over the course of two days in Aberystwyth, we had all our staff – well over a 100 – together in one room being briefed on the entire union, and sharing in problem-solving as we seek to continue to improve.
There were excellent presentations from all parts of the business: from the big external influences on the way we work, the plans for business development, the new member services, through to briefings on finance, marketing, press relations, how to get stories into this paper and of course even a bit about Brexit.
At times we all worked together, with some specialist sessions where we split into smaller groups to focus on issues that were only relevant to those attending. But overall one of the key objectives was to get everyone working “as one”. This was part of the group vision set out last year, a vision to be: “The union, united, As one” and I’m pleased to say that I truly think that it is working.
It’s really important that we recognise that all our staff are working here in order to play a part in delivering the overall vision of the union: “Sustainable, Thriving Family Farms”. Whether that is delivered by a union member of staff helping with SAF, or by an insurance Account Executive ensuring that life insurance is in place, it’s all about sustainable, thriving members.
And by working together we can deliver better results. The collective knowledge of over 100 people in a room is huge and tapping into that is critical for any business. It’s
also vital that every member of staff knows that they are supported not just by their friends, and their line managers, but also by an internal network of knowledge and
experience that is worth its weight in gold.
Inevitably some of that knowledge and some of those relationships are built up in
a social context, and I will never underestimate the value of people eating and drinking together. over a meal or a pint, much valuable knowledge is exchanged and professional relationships established. And, of course, older ones refreshed!
We were fortunate to have the President and deputy President with us, as well as the Chairman of FuWIS and one of their non-Executive directors. I think it was really important for them to see and hear much of the great work that was done
over the two days, and also to see that this is a business that is running as a business, where ideas are generated at all levels, where thoughts and opinions are encouraged and valued and that work – whilst hard and demanding – can also be fun.
Was it worth it? of course, it was: our survey of staff at the end told us a number of things: less than 6 per cent of those present reported that they had not gained a better understanding of the group as a whole. And well over 90 per cent thought that we had moved forward as an organisation and are stronger
That’s both pleasing and also it’s a challenge.
We are definitely on a good course, but the feedback we got and the flood of ideas we released in some of our sessions show that there is still much to do. But I know it’s achievable because we are doing it: united,