Two Future 50 companies have been named as finalists at the Suffolk Business Awards 2022, which takes place on Thursday, September 29 at Kesgrave Hall in Ipswich.

MAD-HR, an HR consultancy with offices in Suffolk, Norfolk and Essex, has been shortlisted for both Small Business of the Year, sponsored by JM Finn, and the Customer Excellence Award, sponsored by Greater Anglia.

“It’s a really exciting time for us as a business,” said director Charlotte Bate. “We've got a strong and ambitious growth plan, and we have grown our team significantly over the last 12 months, so to be recognised as a finalist is a real testament to everybody's hard work.

“We work with a number of Suffolk businesses, and we know how good they are, so we know the quality of competition will be very high. It would be great to win, but just to be recognised is absolutely amazing.”

The Comet: Charlotte Bate, director at MAD-HRCharlotte Bate, director at MAD-HR (Image: Big Fish Photography)
Founded in 2014, MAD-HR provides outsourced HR services to clients across the East of England – aiming to “make a difference” to every business it works with.

“Whilst we're an outsourced HR provider, we consider ourselves more of an in-house outsourced HR resource because we do become part of a client’s team – and it's a real privilege because we get to see the ins and outs of every business,” said Charlotte.

“All of our clients have their own specific goals, cultures and idiosyncrasies, and we pride ourselves on delivering exactly what they need to achieve those goals. They get a lot more than traditional HR advice; they get a partner that's as passionate about their business as they are.”

Chestnut, a hospitality group with 16 pubs, inns and restaurants across East Anglia, has also been recognised at the Suffolk Business Awards. The company is a finalist in the Employer of the Year category, sponsored by Birketts and Pure Executive.

“We are delighted to be shortlisted,” said Charley O’Toole, head of people at Chestnut. “We have invested a lot in our people over the last few years, and while we have been rewarded with the loyalty and retention of our team, the recognition of such a prestigious award would definitely be something we can all be proud of.”

The Comet: Charley O'Toole, head of people at ChestnutCharley O'Toole, head of people at Chestnut (Image: Chestnut)
The company recently introduced a four-day working week for its kitchen team at a number of its properties. “Our team’s well-being is very important, and on returning to work from Covid, it became even more important to ensure we had a sustainable work-life balance,” said Charley.

“Our teams that work in a four-day kitchen will split their working patterns between seven days – they may work two days on and one day off, then two days on and two days off. Flexibility is key to making this work and is of great importance to our team.”

Chestnut will close all of its properties on Christmas Day, allowing its teams to spend the day with friends and family. Earlier this year, it gave employees a day off for ‘Chestnut Live’, an all-day team party.

“Chestnut Live was a celebration of all of our people, and a big thank you for all of their hard work over a very difficult few years,” said Charley.

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