The past year has thrown up many challenges for businesses across the country, both in terms of the hard, immediately tangible effects of the pandemic, and the softer, initially more subtle changes that may take longer to play out.

Since leaving the office to work remotely, Insight have kept staff well-being a firm priority, with Operations Manager, Carrie Haywood, leading on that front. With well-being a topic close to her heart, Carrie headed up identifying 5 key steps that needed to be taken for the well-being programme to be a success:

  1. Agree key principles: Ask the questions: why are we doing this and what do we want to achieve? For us, we wanted to encourage exercise that raised the heart rate regularly, relaxation, and fun away from work.
  2. Ensure inclusive input for activities: Offering variety is key to ensuring that the well-being calendar is accessible for all. Diverse contributions promote buy-in, and by encouraging people to step forward and volunteer to run selected sessions, you might uncover skills within your team that you hadn’t realised were there!
  3. Set clear time frame: Regularity and reliability is important here; make sure everyone has reminders in their diaries. We also soon learned that less is often more – the most beneficial events can be as short as 10-15mins long.
  4. Lead from the front: Very often when leaders of an organisation take time to step away from work to focus on well-being, a culture that embraces these choices soon follows.
  5. Check in, adapt, update: Monitor attendance and keep exploring how people are responding to the activities. Create a safe space for people to answer honestly, and if some things aren’t working, be humble enough to change them – you’re not always going to get it right first time!

Finally, repeat, moderate, tweak and keep evolving…

Carrie’s well-being story for IEG…

Carrie wanted to take a holistic approach to company health and happiness, identifying activities that contributed towards this before the pandemic, and trying to recreate them in a much more challenging setting. This was supported by Directors, Richard Collins and Nick White, who were big proponents of the idea and keen to get involved themselves.

Carrie canvassed and pooled together ideas from across the company on what type of events people wanted to take part in and lead on. This ensured that everyone had their say and that buy-in could be established from the start.

She then created a spreadsheet calendar that was accessible to all, and shared it around the company. Next, Carrie plotted each event into the shared company diary, sensitive to the fact that it is easy to get wrapped up in work and miss out without these reminders.

The spreadsheet also gave Carrie an overview, helping ensure variety was maintained, in terms of who was running each event, what it involved, what day of the week and time it was being held, and how long for.

Carrie looked at different forms of well-being, and what type of event each one would need…

One big change was our physical health. At the Insight office, there is a gym on-site with staff regularly attending classes, such as rooftop yoga and spin. Staff also cycled, walked or jogged into work. With everyone at home, gyms closed and self-motivation hard to come by, Carrie led on planning in workout from home classes.

Variety was key here, with activities ranging from yoga, to HIIT classes and step-count challenges – keeping things fresh. Carrie also ensured that a roster of staff members led on these activities, again to avoid these sessions going stale, or putting too much pressure on a single staff member.

Staff were also encouraged to take care of the mental and emotional side of their well-being too. Regular screen-breaks were plotted into staff diaries and it was made clear that they were not expected to be chained to their laptop all day. With a lot of our work being phone-based, taking calls while out and about on a walk was promoted to break up the day.

Insight have always offered one-on-one coaching to staff, and this made up a huge part of Carrie’s well-being plan. Coach, Sue Sharp, was able to provide regular check-ins to ensure staff had a space to share any difficulties or anxieties they were having. The aim was to adapt working, and sometimes living, practices to overcome any issues and to help staff work from home in a healthy manner.

Undoubtedly one of the biggest changes was the loss of the social aspect of being in an office. Whether that be catching up with co-workers, heading to the Shard for a team breakfast, or going out for post-work drinks and more elaborate planned activities, it was clearly all going to be missed.

These moments are at the heart of Insight’s foundations – they cultivate genuine relationships and are an integral part of rewarding staff for their hard work. As a result, Carrie, Richard and Nick took to the task of recreating them as best as possible.

Different ‘rooms’ were created on Microsoft Teams, allowing team members to dip in and out during the day, meaning everyone could communicate more effectively. These spaces, outside of structured meetings, normalised the feeling of chatting over Teams throughout the day and was as close as one could get to an office environment, while adhering to social distancing protocol.

Regular team events were also plotted into the wellness calendar, these ranged from murder mysteries, virtual pub lunches, bingo and Would I Lie to You. After a year in and out of lockdown, variety here again was key as the whole team have had enough Zoom quizzes for a lifetime!

“As business owners during the pandemic, Nick and I immediately identified the need to be more creative in order to navigate the various challenges that being in lockdown would bring; there would not be a one-size-fits-all solution.

 

I am immensely proud of Carrie and the team at Insight. They have supported each other to stay focused when they need to and take time out before they need to – allowing us to maintain a healthy working environment.

 

Carrie in particular has been fantastic in sharing various virtual social events and celebrations. Some have taken us out of our comfort zone, but ultimately this has created an even stronger team bond as a result.

 

It’s this effort that creates the unique culture within our organisation, and I have no doubt that it is a fundamental element to our success in developing skilled, confident and reliable consultants.” – Richard Collins, Managing Director. 

At the end of each month, Carrie reviews the previous month’s well-being calendar. She looks at what has worked well, and what needs improving, and asks for input on this from all staff members. She then puts these tweaks into action for the next month.

Caring for the physical, emotional and mental health of the team is always something Insight have tried to uphold – the pandemic only brought these issues into sharper focus. There have been many lessons learnt for Carrie, Nick, Richard and the whole team at Insight, and these won’t be forgotten when we return to the office. We are now more sensitive than ever to what is needed to create a truly healthy working environment.

To find out more about working at Insight Executive Group, take a look at our Careers Page.

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Alex Kassab

Alex has been with Insight since January 2016 - initially working as part of the back office team, he now helps manage Insight's website, blog and social media output - whilst also pursuing a career as a script writer for film and television.
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