"We may be apart, but as a result of the regular communication, we remain a united team."
As we find ourselves in the thrust of Mental Health Awareness Week, I have been musing about what we have done at Twenty7Tec to ensure the mental wellbeing of the workforce.
We are home to around 50 high-performers. The vast majority are based at our headquarters, but some work further afield, and did so even before Covid-19. As a company, our mission is to iron out the creases from the mortgage market. In essence, we remove inefficiencies to make our clients’ lives easier.
Culturally, that’s also what we do for our own people. Consistent high performance is, in part, about removing any obstacles and putting in place systems and practices that encourage it. We pride ourselves in removing these obstacles and putting fun and wellbeing at the heart of what we do.
This mantra was going well until lockdown and then it went, well... possibly even better. We’re not complacent, but we think that we are now reaping the rewards for our prior investments as a values-driven organisation.
One of the reasons that it has gone well is that we aren’t afraid of a feedback loop. We listen and improve and we tweak and move forward. It’s too important to us to leave it to guesswork. We poll our people every two weeks. We also involve our culture committee in the formulation of our questions and how we communicate about changes. During lockdown, that has proven to be essential. We may be apart, but as a result of the regular communication, we remain a united team.
Having values that people exhibit every day, that they helped to shape and develop makes a profound difference to our business. We are a values-driven organisation, so we’re keen to make sure that these continue to be demonstrated whether we are working from home, or the office. One of our values is 'integrity is everything' so it would be odd if we didn’t, to be honest.
During lockdown, we have had the obligatory Zoom team drinks. The feeling is that, although we already do this in the office on a regular basis, there’s more to retain about the spirit of these drinks post-lockdown. This is something we are looking at carrying forward. At our 'Lockdown Pub', we have had quiz nights and bingo, dressing up and dressing down.
We also check in with our people, we gather the information we need. We try new things and we’re not afraid to retire those that don’t work. We’ve upped the amount of internal communication in terms of frequency and we tried lunchtime chats with the leadership but found that people needed to get out for a breath of fresh air instead. Some things work and others don’t. We have a dedicated Wellbeing channel on Slack which contains news, stories, and things to try in order to retain and augment our wellbeing.
Over recent weeks we have launched the Positivity Project. Our people share something every day that has made them feel positive. It could be a picture of your coffee, your lunch, some cakes you’ve baked, some pictures or crafts that your kids have done. We post them on our social channels as well as sharing them internally. There’s also been an outpouring of creative writing and even poetry, which have emerged organically over recent weeks. It’s lovely to see. One moment we’ll never forget is seeing Stuart’s freshly shaved head which he did for charity. This week, as part of our Positivity Project, we’re taking on some kindness challenges which give people practical ideas that they can use to make their own days (and the days of others) better.
Finally, it would be easy to lose sight of the need for recognition during lockdown, so we also put both spoken and written systems in place to make that happen. No matter your personality type, we’ll find a way to highlight your great work.
It’s too soon to report on the long-term impact on the mental health and wellbeing of our people, but the feedback is that our approach has definitely made this initial phase easier than it would otherwise have been. We’ve been able to support those who were supposed to get married during these weeks, as well as those whose families and loved ones work for the NHS.
We’re still open to fresh ideas and we’re not going to lose sight of the fact that the weeks ahead are still going to be tough. But, hopefully, with a strong culture, being open to change, and by using new methods, means and technologies, as well as a small amount of hard work, we’ll get to our ‘new normal’ healthily and together.