Managing director Richard Beaumont says: 'We conducted a large piece of work in May last year on how we needed to improve the business; the credit crunch came when we were concluding that piece of work.
So between November to January, we implemented the restructuring and we lost around 60 people.'
In February, another round of restructuring was undertaken 'as it became clear that even our worst case assumptions on sub-prime mortgages were optimistic'.
The company now has around 200 staff and the challenge for Beaumont
managers is to stop a defeatist attitude settling over the workforce.
At Freedom, Beaumont
has drawn on his
14 years as a major in the Royal Engineers to ramp up staff enthusiasm and the importance of taking on responsibilities. 'In the army there is a success or fail approach.
If something doesn't work, then you have to just fix it.
There's no grey area and that's the kind of culture you want to instil,' he
has taken staff to the military training school at Sandhurst, where they have been inducted into the 'mission command' style of leadership adopted by the army. 'Mission command is about setting out the environment you work in and looking at the options available.
It's not simply about following orders, but making choices and having the confidence to act on them.'
The trips to Sandhurst, in conjunction with other training, has led to marked improvements, says Beaumont
arrived at the company in March 2007 and admits that he
does 'get a kick out of seeing the results'.
For him, the real secret to any training or motivational course is to ensure staff are putting what they've learnt into practice. 'The only way you make what you've been taught useful is by doing it.'
While empowering staff is important, he
notes there needs to be team and operational meetings 'so things don't run away from themselves'.
adds: 'There won't be another restructuring, but if people feel worried and they don't feel like they have ownership about what they're doing - if they just do their job and go home - that's a very difficult environment to be in. People want to go to work and believe they can make a difference, not only to themselves, but the company as a whole.'