Four lessons from lockdown – Lynn’s HRD Diary

Posted / July 15, 2020

A monthly, behind-the-scenes outlook on day-to-day HR issues from Chief People & Operations Officer Lynn Smith, Assoc. CIPD 

Lynn is a Zurich, RBS Group and Capita alumna and through #HRDLife, will be sharing her perspective on current HR trends, the process of implementation and how they affect employees in real terms. Lynn’s personal insights into workplace wellbeing have previously been viewed by millions on social media.

During the lockdown, I have been inundated with offers to help and support our company during the COVID crisis. Some of the offers have been genuine – and free has really meant free – while others have been masked with fake sincerity as a thinly covered veil to sell wares.  

Now don’t get me wrong, we all need to earn a living and support each other where we can, and we need to be respectful of each other’s view points and requirements. However, it has set me thinking about true authenticity and how valuable being authentic is as an employer – and not just in these testing times.

I am proud that, through this strange time, Wealth Wizards has authentically communicated, authentically listened and authentically cared for our people. In return, we have seen truly amazing results. I am inspired and in awe of the great team we have at Wealth Wizards and grateful that I am part of this team.  

So what have I learnt these past 15 weeks?

Lesson One

📢 Communicate, communicate, communicate…

To communicate authentically means showing compassion, empathy and answering those difficult questions you’d rather gloss over and truly putting yourself in the shoes of your colleagues. One of the biggest realisations for our company has been that we have been more effective at communicating since lockdown than before lockdown. We have recognised the value of regular authentic communication with daily, weekly and monthly sessions and the introduction of a weekly town hall where any questions raised will be answered in a friendly environment has been invaluable. We haven’t skirted around any topics, nor have we skirted around coming up with solutions to make sure our teams know we are on their side.

Lesson Two

👂 Listen – REALLY listen – and demonstrate you care

We have taken time to walk in the shoes of each of our teams, to make sure that we understood their challenges, constraints and commitments; whether that was someone needing a better chair, a desk, a chat, a safe place to rant, time to sort out home schooling or an hour to think and have some peace. We haven’t avoided any conversations, we haven’t judged and we’ve worked with our teams to come up with solutions which work. For our people on furlough, we’ve talked about their worst fears. We’ve talked through how to create a daily structure and how to use the time to learn and grow. 

We have not taken for granted the support we have received from all our colleagues, especially when we asked them to take a pay cut for a while. Pulling together is inspirational. Caring has not been in terms of grand gestures, it’s been in the little things such as picking up the phone and asking “are you ok?” and waiting for an answer before carrying on. I was really touched when two of my team and my colleague’s husband came in person to hand over birthday cards and presents, for example. All within the rules of social distancing of course, but again indicative of a compassionate family culture in a fast-paced fintech can not only help us to survive, but frankly to thrive – not just in business but as human beings. Human connections are key drivers to make a business thrive after all!

Lesson Three

🤝 Productivity and work-life balance go hand in hand

Before the Covid crisis, our company would never have contemplated home-working having such a positive impact on productivity and work-life balance and morale. In fact, I would go as far to say we would have thought that productivity would decline. The absolute opposite has happened. Previously, we had a nod to home-working for a few days a week but we are now in the midst of moving to home-working as the new norm and the office used for collaboration, teamwork and one-to-ones. If someone had told me that we would achieve this in 2020, I would have laughed! Yet here we are, not only contemplating it but putting a plan together to make it happen.

Lesson Four

🌎 One size doesn’t fit all

We know that each and every one of us has our own body clock where we are at our best and also when we are at our worst. I’m an early bird and at my best in the morning; some of my colleagues are the complete opposite. In my team, I have colleagues who can think really quickly on their feet, and others who need time to reflect before responding. So, this has got us thinking about our ways of working to find a solution which harnesses the best of everyone, so everyone can contribute their best self. We are looking to roll out our new way of working by September that embraces this, ready for when we will open the office again to make sure we use this insight to embrace the ‘new normal’.

🤔 So why am I sharing this?      

I wanted to shine the light on the positives we’ve taken from these extraordinary times and I’m hoping we don’t have to wait for more extraordinary times to keep learning, to keep listening and to continue to be authentic in everything we do. I would urge every employer who can, to also do this – we will come out the other side stronger for doing so.

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