This article was first published in Sunday Times: Business Times

Deloitte 2013

THE Unlimited, an unlisted Durban-based financial services provider, won the Deloitte Best Company to Work For top ranking for 2013 in the small company category, for businesses with fewer than 300 employees.

Says Steph Bester, Group CEO of The Unlimited: "This ranking gives us independent confirmation that what we spend our time on daily to create a working environment and culture that brings the best out of people, is on track.

"There is no greater accolade that a company and its leadership team can get than a vote of confidence from its employees and staff on a confidential and independent basis."

So what is the secret of The Unlimited's success?

"As a business we agreed many years ago that our culture drives sustainable and long-term results and that our culture should become the centrepiece of our business strategy, as opposed to looking at business strategy and then seeing where culture fitted into that.

"We also place an enormous amount of emphasis on purpose and meaning. At the heart of our business is a real philosophy of making a difference in communities and investing in areas in which to do business that we term ‘creating shared value'," Bester says.

"This is about business taking the best it has — its assets, strategic ability, leadership and resources — and aiming it at a marketplace where there is a big need for far more than just product, all while making a real difference in communities."

According to Bester, doing this on a full-profit basis creates a win-win relationship between customers, communities and the business, and becomes a self-sustaining model.

"We also believe that every person has incredible potential, and we create an environment where people can realise their potential in a far more meaningful way than they do in a normal working environment."

With regard to wellness goals, The Unlimited has a gym on site. Every member of the business has a physical wellness goal for the year.

There is an innovative initiative in the company in which every staff member pens at least two handwritten compliments a week to their peers and colleagues.

"As a result, peoples' confidence levels are much higher because they are being celebrated and acknowledged by their peers," says Bester.

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