“We do this for our people, that’s the number one driver,” says Brian Clohessy. He reveals what sets BVN apart from other workplaces.
June 6th, 2022
BVN, the Australian-based global architecture and design practice with a strong focus on workplace culture, has been named on the 2022 AFR BOSS Best Places to Work Awards list.
An annual event, the awards are intended to shine a light on organisations, from all industries, that push the boundaries when it comes to meeting the needs of their employees. BVN’s listing was in the ‘Property, Construction and Transport’ category.
“Making the list confirms we are on the right path with our journey to create the best place to work for our people,” says Brian Clohessy, BVN’s head of People And Culture.
“But it’s important to understand that we didn’t set out on this journey to win prizes or for external recognition – we do this for our people, that’s the number one driver. We’re a place that invests in employee wellbeing ahead of everything else – ultimately, we are about being 100 per cent human.”
Supporting a mentally healthy workplace
According to Clohessy, while BVN’s culture continues to evolve according to an ever-changing context, there are some constants. The practice has always valued its people as part of its “beating heart”.
Asked what sets BVN apart from other workplaces, he points to its goal of creating an environment that enables everyone to do their best work.
“We are committed to creating a diverse collective where all our people feel they belong and can be themselves. Our people are united in delivering on our daily challenge to be smarter, more creative and better for the planet,” he says.
“We empower our people with continuous learning, regular one-on-ones, mentoring and career opportunities, underpinned by the support and flexibility of a hybrid workplace.”
More than an abstract concept or a box-ticking exercise, supporting a mentally healthy workplace is a central goal for BVN.
“We categorise our initiatives under the three pillars of physical, social and mental wellbeing, all of which will ultimately impact a mentally healthy workplace… We have just launched a 12-month program to help people on their journey with tools and hacks to navigate life’s challenges,” says Clohessy.
Cultural Working Groups
On top of that, BVN has identified areas of its culture that require frameworks to ensure their success. Known across the organisation as ‘Cultural Working Groups’, these include Mental Wellbeing, Champions of Change (gender equity), Diversity and Inclusion to Connect (social), Be Active and Be Creative.
“We currently have 48 people involved across all Cultural Working Groups. Initially people were invited to participate through an expression of interest, and in subsequent years people [choose to] stay involved, take a break, and new people join,” says Clohessy.
“The average group size is six to eight people but some are bigger. We do have others who participate for specific events depending on the scale of it and this year we have nominated a member of the senior leadership team to champion each event so we get buy-in at that level and an understanding of what’s involved.”
Concluding, Clohessy makes no attempt to claim that any of this has been easy to achieve. “It’s about prioritising internal cultural events as much as ‘paid’ work. It’s a big shift in mindset that requires buy-in from the leadership team to ensure they support it.”
Having achieved this buy-in, BVN is now reaping its rewards.
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