What started out as the job of HR in the form of employee perks has now shifted to becoming everyone’s responsibility and encompassing well-being and work/life balance.
At Etch, this isn’t particularly new to us. We’ve constantly strived to be a People-First organisation, with remote now being an enabler. Being able to work where you choose and flipping the responsibility of delivering results for our partners on to each of our practitioners encourages autonomy and self-belief in each others abilities. It encourages opportunities for personal growth, with a support structure in the form of our ‘team of teams’ approach. The Zulu phrase ‘Ubuntu’ is significant here (our founders are South African) and means "I am, because you are" and more accurately that “a person is a person through other people.”
So what practical actions have worked for us that you could try and apply to your own business?
Pre-pandemic, we would have company all-hands to share company news and partner updates sporadically across the year. For us, an all-hands is a chance for everyone to hear how the company is performing, what changes are being made and to answer any questions from the room.
With the pandemic and lockdown prompting us to retreat to our homes, the right thing to do was increase the number of all-hands and create a rhythm that everyone could manage. We now have a virtual company all-hands every 2 weeks with a set agenda, time for questions and a time in the calendar where we get to see everyone. It’s incredibly important and works far better than an email. Updates became conversations almost instantly.
End of Week Updates
The speed of decision making within the leadership team increased, as well as the national and international situation around the pandemic. The idea of having a weekly update was introduced early on in the form of a recorded video, sharing sales updates, culture highlights and people news.
When we wanted to include recognition of achievements, we used our company values of Selfless, Audacious, Restless and Liberated and invited anyone to nominate a colleague to be celebrated under those categories.
We’ve talked previously about our company-wide feedback loop using Friday Pulse. Over time, Friday Pulse starts to share recommendations on areas that, if worked on, would create the biggest impact and ultimately improve the happiness of our 40-person business. I don’t believe we would’ve been able to objectively identify that without this regular feedback loop, inviting colleagues to rate their happiness, share an idea and commend a colleague. Our Culture Champions take those impact recommendations and work on them within our teams, ensuring that we action insights.
Having a more random channels!
Finally, and learning from our partners at Mural, we realised that we required more non-work activities and conversations. As well as our Team Tea Times (a time to not talk about work in the calendar), we introduced SKREE, which is our Teams channel for, and roughly translated, "an exclamation to express a negative mood.” Now and then, people need to vent! Only caps allowed and we’ve had comments from “A CAT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE AN EASY PET” to “WHO THE HECK STILL HAS A FACSIMILE?”
As the saying goes “if you can’t laugh, you’ll cry!”
There is always more to do, but we have setup the rhythms to enable frequent, expected communication, feedback loops and non-work areas which aim to improve well-being and ultimately care for our future-focused firm.
If this article sparked your interest and you would like to learn more about how we’ve help our employees thrive in an ever-uncertain world, please get in touch.