Nurturing a strong company culture during COVID-19
What exactly is company culture?
Why is it so important , especially now?
How can we nurture a strong company culture?
1. Flexibility, trust and care
2. Creative thought and connection
3. A focus on wellbeing
- Create a ‘culture team’; responsible for planning virtual events so there’s always something to look forward to (especially during the winter months). This can help shape company culture, rather than people feeling they have to adapt to it.
- Don't neglect training; now could be the perfect time to encourage upskilling and capability-building and to offer training on managing mental health at work, such as via Mind.
- Remind people of the support mechanisms available to them, such as HR, mental health first aiders and employee assistance programmes.
- Celebrate successes and great work with virtual reward and recognition; asking colleagues to vote for each other also gives a much needed boost and could improve employee engagement
More from Nicola Greenbrook
More from the Harris Hill blog
We’re always open to adding new faces to our friendly and diverse team – find out more about what it’s like to work for us, the opportunities available and the kind of people we’re looking for.
Recently expanded into our new South West office, our executive team offer bespoke recruitment solutions for CEO, chair, senior management and trustee positions, with an exceptional track record of success.
Our hugely popular series of inter-charity competitions includes bowling, quiz nights and lead sponsorship of the London Charity Softball League! Get the lowdown on those and more events here.
Temping is a great way to gain skills and experience fast, and with high demand throughout the sector, it’s a great time to give it a try. Harris Hill’s senior temps specialists Sekai Lindsay and Ryan Elmer have the lowdown on what you need to know... For most of this century, temps have made up around 5% of the UK workforce, but considerably more of the voluntary sector (around 9%, say NCVO), making temporary work a familiar experience for many. If you’re considering it for the first time however, here’s a summary of the basics. What’s the difference between permanent, temporary and contract roles? Obviously the duration of the job, but there are some other key differences: Permanent roles You're employed directly by the organisation, on their payroll and, once you pass any probation period, entitled to all their staff benefits. Temporary roles You're employed by the agency through which you found the role, on the agency’s payroll and entitled to the agency’s benefits. However you're under the care and command of the organisation the agency has placed you in, normally for an agreed length of time, but this may be extended (with your consent) if the requirement is ongoing. Fixed term contracts You're employed directly by the organisation and on their payroll, just like a permanent role, but for a specific, limited amount of time, such as 6 or 12 months. Why temp? According to ONS figures, for around 30% of temporary workers it’s purely the lack of a permanent job, but the larger proportion have a variety of reasons, including: • The chance to work for multiple charities in a short space of time, rapidly expanding your insight and experience of the sector. • The opportunity to sample different roles in different places, helping to identify what you want (and what you don’t) from your career if you’re unsure. • Gaining more skills, confidence and adaptability, improving your prospects of landing (and succeeding in) the perfect permanent position when you find it. • To continue earning, including holiday pay and pension contributions, even if future plans mean you can’t commit to the role permanently. Don’t expect it every time, but there’s also the chance it may develop into something longer-term or even permanent. Getting into an organisation is often the hard part, but if you’re there as a temp and known to be personable, reliable, hard-working and a quick learner, they may be keen to keep you on board, even if you don’t have the specific experience that would normally be required. What are the drawbacks? It’s not all kittens and rainbows of course, even (we assume) at the Rainbow Centre for Kittens, so be aware that: • You’ll be paid weekly, for exactly the hours you work, as marked on a timesheet signed by your manager. So when you’re not working (if you’re off sick or for any other reason) you’re not earning. However you’re still entitled to Statutory Sick Pay. • Requirements for temps tend to arise at short notice and can end just as quickly too, so you won’t always know how long your role will continue, or what you’ll be doing (and therefore earning) next week/month. Planning ahead for anything can be a challenge. • Under Agency Workers Regulations (AWR) you’re entitled to the same salary and benefits as permanent staff after 12 weeks in the same role, but until then you may sometimes be on less favourable terms. How to temp through an agency Most temp vacancies go through agencies because the employer needs someone immediately. Yesterday, preferably. For these last-minute requests, there's no time to advertise and wait for applications; employers count on agencies to know good people already, so you need to be registered with one to be in the running. • Choose a reputable agency with plenty of jobs in the sector you’re keen to work in. Let’s say Harris Hill, for example. (Other agencies are available). Then just get in touch to register as a candidate. • We’ll need your CV, and will take you through the necessary checks and references first, to save you any unexpected roadblocks later. • We’ll then discuss your experience, the type of roles you’re looking for and aim to match your skills with suitable roles. • If there’s nothing immediately, don’t worry. Just keep an eye on the site, check back often, and apply for roles that match your skills and experience. Apply for the right roles, not just any roles This is really important as a temp. Meet 80% of the criteria for a permanent role and you can probably be trained on the rest, but this doesn’t work for temps as there’s no time for training. Clients need someone with all the right skills from day one, and with roles often attracting 100+ applications, they’ll probably find them. So there’s no benefit in applying for anything and everything; better to focus your very best efforts on a small number of roles where you closely match the requirements. Nonetheless, there are ways of improving your prospects… How to stand out • Remember that temp placements happen at speed, so make sure your CV is sufficiently clear and well-structured to see the key points at a glance. • A short opening profile summarising key skills will help this, as will bullet points to pick out skills and experience. • Include any transferable skills, explaining how they’re relevant for the role. • Tailor your CV to the role in question. Don’t make the reader piece together clues as to why you’re right for it – spell it out clearly from the start. • List any relevant systems, CRMs or packages you’ve worked with, and be specific, even if they’re a little obscure. You never know when one of them might be the deciding factor. Finally, one of the most effective things you can do is also one of the easiest, yet it’s often overlooked: let us know when you’re available. Why it pays to keep us posted When a last-minute temp vacancy comes in, we need to know two things fast: who do we know with the right skills, and who’s free to do it? Our database can answer the first question, but because we don’t track your every move (trust us: we can barely plant a plant, never mind a microchip), not necessarily the second. Unless you're already working for us elsewhere, we can only be certain of your availability if you've recently told us. This needn’t mean calling in every week – a one-line email will do, or even just a text. But simply by confirming you’re available, you’ll have dramatically improved your prospects of a great placement coming up soon. We hope that’s answered a few questions, but if you’d like to know more, please get in touch via the details below, or you can register as a candidate here. Sekai Lindsay Business Support roles 020 7820 7307 Email Sekai Ryan Elmer Marcomms, Events and Fundraising 020 7820 7313 • Email Ryan More from the Harris Hill Blog Good news: your CV's in demand! Jobs in the charity sector are bouncing back in a very big way, so recruiters and charities alike are jostling for a glimpse of your CV. Read more ► A brand new office in Paris! (Garden) We've recently relocated our central London office to a continentally-named corner of SE1 with a rather colourful history. Read more ► Back to the blog homepage ►
What’s the going rate for your charity sector role? Whether you’re a head of fundraising for a small charity, digital manager for a household name, or in any of almost 200 other positions in the sector, you’ll find answers in the brand new 2022 Harris Hill Salary Survey. The new report arrives with our thanks first of all to the several hundred superb organisations who’ve entrusted us in the past year and more with the diverse range of roles that form the basis of the survey. From there, we add the insight and expertise of our experienced specialists in each field, working role by role to identify misleading or unrepresentative cases that might distort the picture – for example, roles that are far more senior/junior than the title suggests – and applying their up-to-the-minute knowledge from handling similar roles every day to ensure we reflect what’s actually being paid (not just what’s advertised) for each role throughout the sector. Our thanks too, for the many (many!) requests and enquiries we've had from people patiently awaiting the next edition: we’re delighted to say that it’s now here and available to download from the link below, and we hope you find it a valuable reference for the year ahead. With salaries for everything from entry-level roles to director positions, the survey covers each of our specialist areas: Chief Executives & Directors • Data Management • Finance • Fundraising • Human Resources Marketing, PR & Digital • Operations, Admin & Support • Policy, Advocacy & Campaigns • Temporary & Interim Market trends We’ve also examined some of the key issues currently affecting the market, not least the widespread and seemingly ever-more-acute shortage of candidates: why have numbers fallen and where to find new talent now? And after two years of turbulence and quite radical change in the working landscape, what impact has the pandemic and the rise of flexible working had on salaries? A (very) recent history of the survey It's our 15th annual guide to salaries in the UK charity sector, but in this case, the first since the outbreak of a global pandemic, whose many crimes (though admittedly among the more benign) include putting paid to the last two editions. Work was just underway in 2020 when much of the world shut down, closing off key fundraising avenues for charities (while demand for their services often increased), and triggering widespread fear of redundancies, job losses and for some, even the prospect of having to cease operations entirely. In which context, reporting on the previous year's salaries seemed rather like reviewing the Titanic’s restaurants for passengers clinging to the lifeboats: information that may have been welcome yesterday, now eclipsed by some rather more pressing concerns. Uncertainty still prevailed by the spring of 2021, but we're delighted that the last year has been characterised by a strong and consistent recovery, each month surpassing the last, creating the clear picture needed to bring you this brand new report. For more information... Throughout the report you'll find details of the relevant specialists together with the salaries in their respective fields, and they're by far the best people to call with queries relating to those areas. Meanwhile for more general enquiries, feedback or requests relating to the survey, please call us on 020 7820 7300 or get in touch by email. View or download the 2022 Harris Hill Salary Survey ► Check out our latest jobs ► More from the Harris Hill Blog What to expect as a charity sector temp Temping is a great way to gain skills and experience fast, and with high demand throughout the sector, it’s a great time to give it a try. Harris Hill’s senior temps specialists Sekai Lindsay and Ryan Elmer have the lowdown on what you need to know...Read more ► Previous salary guides Good news: your CV's in demand! Jobs in the charity sector are bouncing back in a very big way, so recruiters and charities alike are jostling for a glimpse of your CV. Read more ► A brand new office in Paris! (Garden) We've recently relocated our central London office to a continentally-named corner of SE1 with a rather colourful history. Read more ► Back to the blog homepage ►
Not your actual French capital, to be clear, but the (rather colourfully) historic street of Paris Garden on the South Bank, where we’ve recently relocated from our former home in Vauxhall. You'll find us on the 4th floor at 1-2 Paris Garden, London SE1 8ND. Why the move? Like most organisations who just needed the absence of all other alternatives in order to fully embrace flexible working, we’ve been working from home since the early part of the pandemic. And having taken to it like the proverbial ducks to water – they also benefit immeasurably from not doing battle with South West Trains – we decided to make flexibility a permanent feature, enabling people to work as they work best, be that in the office, at home, or in most cases, a bit of both. As a result, we joined the long list of companies who No Longer Need All That Office Space, but as a people business, we don't underestimate the value of in-person, face to face communication. Sometimes there’s simply no substitute, so we were determined to make sure it's a conveniently-located option for you, too. Enter Paris Garden, a street which owes its name to over-optimism in the planning department, and where you’ll now find our shiny new modestly-sized office at number one! Paris Garden: noted bearpit, spy den, and popular 16th century dogging spot. Where to find us Paris Garden - not to be confused with a Paris garden (unlikely) or Paris Hilton, the luxury hotel and minor celebrity - is just a short walk from Southwark station on the Jubilee line, Waterloo, or Blackfriars if you exit on the South Bank. Although if you know how to do that, there's nothing we can teach you here, and you may be in line for some kind of certificate. Behold the map: Other transport options include the 381 bus along Stamford Street, the 40 and 63 on Blackfriars Road, and in the surrounding area you’ll be delighted to find neighbourhood essentials like the Oxo Tower, a saxophone shop, the Tate Modern, and those flats they built too close to the Tate Modern so everyone peers into their living rooms. Meanwhile fans of overbearing architecture will enjoy a clear view of the One Blackfriars tower, currently rivalling the City’s ‘Walkie Talkie’ for London’s least favourite skyscraper, albeit yet to set fire to anyone’s car. L-R: Paris Garden today, One Blackfriars fails at hide-and-seek again, and the Oxo Tower, surprisingly resilient stock cube construction. How to get in touch By the magic of technology you can reach us on the same telephone numbers wherever we're working, which you'll find in our consultant directory here. Alternatively, send us an email, call us on 020 7820 7300, check out our latest jobs to see if your dream role is there (or to find out who specialises in your field), and hopefully we’ll have an opportunity to welcome you to our new home soon! Team HH More from the Harris Hill Blog Good news: your CV's in demand! Jobs in the charity sector are bouncing back in a very big way this autumn, so recruiters and charities alike are jostling for a glimpse of your CV. Read more ► Back to the blog homepage ►
Let’s face it, there's been rather a shortage of non-alarming news lately, so it’s a real joy to bring you something that won’t make you want to hide under the duvet and cry. Specifically, that jobs in the charity sector are bouncing back in a very big way, so recruiters and charities alike are jostling for a glimpse of your CV. In fact, after climbing consistently all year, the number of fantastic charity opportunities here at Harris Hill is now within touching distance – if that’s allowed - of where it was before the pandemic. Which is a pretty big number. (Exhibit A: check out our jobs pages). However, the number of people seeking those opportunities is yet to rebound to anything like the same extent, which means that if you’ve got charity experience, you’re very much in demand! But aren't the big candidate shortages elsewhere? Shortages in other sectors might be making the headlines, but as charities seek to recover the millions lost to the pandemic, recruitment is high on the agenda, while application numbers are unusually low. Not just at Harris Hill, but our charity clients are coming to us with the very same issue across the board. So while you might imagine there's little point looking right now, we’re here to say you could well be a highly sought-after candidate, even if you don’t have an HGV licence or dream of being underpaid for your strawberry-picking skills. Although we can’t imagine either would hurt. But to cut to the point, it's this: if you’re a charity professional in just about any area at the moment, you’re already in considerable demand. OK, so what's available? We’ve got permanent and contract opportunities across all specialist areas, and demand for temporary staff is even higher, with an abundance of assignments in all kinds of roles right now. If you're looking for new opportunities of any kind, please do get in touch to discuss how we can help you move forward, and if you’ve temped for us in the past, please drop us a line with your latest CV and availability for work. ►► A side note here: why do we ask you to update us, if you're already on our system and nothing's changed? Let's discuss this in a blue box. Why update us if you've already registered? That's a great question. If you’ve registered with us, or any other recruiter, you might (understandably) see no need to keep us posted unless there's any significant change. But here’s why it’s well worth doing, especially for temps. In an ideal world, we’d have weeks to advertise temp positions and scour the kingdom and/or database for every suitable candidate in advance. In this world however, it's more likely we're looking to fill a role we’ve known about for five minutes, starting yesterday. *pause while you break out tiny violin* Contacting every potential candidate would take days, but we need to know who’s free as soon as possible, so it's logical to start with those we already know about. Naturally they tend to be the people we’ve spoken with or heard from most recently: the more time has passed, the more likely things have changed. That's why it’s always worth a quick call or email to keep us up to speed, particularly for temps, but also for permanent roles if you’re open to a move and we haven’t spoken for a while. So, whether it's for a temporary, permanent or contract role, if you’re currently looking, in two minds or just waiting for the right moment, we’d love to hear from you: it’s a much better time than you might think. Not only are there plenty of great jobs available, but with fewer people competing for them, your prospects may be better than expected too. And with recruiters and charities clamouring for CVs like over-excitable fans at an autograph signing, it’s the perfect time to send us yours or register here on the site. Which – in a line we didn’t expect to write today, much less finish a blog with – we recommend doing very soon, before the knicker-throwing starts. Thanks! Team HH Back to the Harris Hill Blog homepage ►
High employee engagement and a workforce full of happy, motivated people is often viewed as a top business strategy, with tangible benefits for both the organisation and the individual. But what happens when engagement morphs into something far less positive — burnout? To coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week, Freelance Writer and HR Specialist Nicola Greenbrook has been exploring the reasons why working at home during the Covid-19 pandemic could be making us engaged-exhausted. What is employee engagement - and why is it good? If people at work have good quality roles and are managed well, it’s likely that they will be happy, healthy and fulfilled. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) explains that employee engagement ‘relates to the level of an employee's commitment and connection to an organisation’ and provides examples of recognised engaged behaviours, such as being optimistic, solution-orientated and going above and beyond. The CIPD recommends a narrower, more specific view from the Utrecht University group of occupational psychologists. This defines work engagement as a state of mind in which, rather than being burnt out, employees show vigour, dedication and absorption. From a business perspective, high levels of engagement can lead to better productivity, improved products or services and innovation. Evidence by voluntary movement Engage for Success shows that there are positive relationships between aspects of employee engagement and other business metrics, such as customer satisfaction and retention. It can also be seen as a way to gain competitive advantage. So far, so good… What is burnout - and why is it bad? Yet, there can be too much of a good thing. Whilst the benefits of high employee engagement have been established, we are perhaps less familiar with what happens when it becomes something much less positive — burnout. So why does a once highly productive, enthusiastic and engaged employee become stressed, irritated and unproductive? Let’s first take a look at what burnout is. The World Health Organisation classifies burnout as ‘…a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed’. The definition goes on to say that burnout (in a workplace context) is characterised by three dimensions: feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job; and a sense of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment. When engaged becomes exhausted So, what causes this transition from engaged to exhausted? Can we really have these simultaneous experiences? You can become too engaged which can, unwittingly, contribute towards feeling stressed. The three opposing behaviours of burnout — vigour, dedication and absorption — can become something more damaging. Over a year since we first went into lockdown and with the majority of us still working predominantly from home, some of us are working too much — and we don’t know how to stop. Employees have faced increased workloads, uncertainty and general pressures due to the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus and so in some cases they are showing a bit too much vigour. In the article ‘Why Your Passion for Work Could Ruin Your Career', the Harvard Business Review refers to Robert J. Vallerand’s Dualistic Model of Passion, The model suggests that people can have a passion for their work which can be both harmonious (they retain a sense of control and keep work in harmony with the other facets of their life) and obsessive (they find it tricky not to work, even if it conflicts with their home life). The differences between harmonious and obsessive passion can have implications for burnout. Dedication can be unhealthy, too. In the aftermath of full lockdown, with homeschooling and other caring responsibilities there to disrupt our regular schedules, some people may feel they need to prove to their employer just how hard they are working, especially if this is coupled with a fear about redundancies in the current climate. They willingly take on more projects despite being overloaded and juggling other commitments. This level of engagement can lead to an unhealthy approach to work — where they attempt to be ‘everything to everyone’ in their lives. It’s a slippery slope; maybe they feel they haven’t done enough today, so they do just a little bit more. Or they log in again in the evening to ‘keep up’. Finally, highly engaged people often show too much absorption. When working from home, it can be difficult to stop boundaries from becoming blurred, or being obliterated altogether, and to unplug. It’s easy to fall prey to the ‘one more email’ phenomenon in the absence of a commute, or to sacrifice a lunchtime walk for the satisfaction of ticking one more thing off of the list. What was once an enjoyable absorption in work; that pleasant sensation of being fully engrossed without distraction, can creep into an inability to tear yourself away — even if it is after hours and you haven’t thought about what to eat for dinner. As a result, we become what’s known as engaged-exhausted. What is this doing to our health? According to The CIPD. (2021) Health and wellbeing at work survey 2021. London: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, Covid-19 is among the most common causes of stress at work in the top three causes; with 31% of respondents stating stress caused by new work-related demands or challenges due to homeworking as a result of Covid-19. The survey reports that (70%) of respondents have observed some form of ‘leavism’ (the use of allocated time off, such as annual leave for sickness or to catch up on work), such as working outside of contracted hours or using holiday entitlement to work over the past 12 months. For many who have taken on caring or parenting responsibilities during the ongoing pandemic, work and caring needs go to the top of the list — and looking after own needs? These get pushed down to the bottom of the list. According to the CIPD, employees can become disillusioned, unproductive and, potentially, seek employment elsewhere. Signs of burnout include headaches and migraines, fatigue and lack of energy and anxiety, sadness and depression. How to preserve high-engagement and prevent burn out It is important for individuals to recognise the signs of burnout — and the responsibility of employers to help their teams stay on the positive side of employee engagement. Employers should keep an eye on their high performers and recognise that while engagement is a good thing, it needs to be managed too. Driving positive behaviours is a good start; such as taking breaks and making time for physical activity, rather than being sat behind a desk all day. It is especially important to provide sufficient resources for staff and line managers who remain at home or work a hybrid pattern as Covid-19 restrictions ease. This could include regular catch ups, providing feedback and setting clear expectations to avoid any confusion or overcompensation. Monitor the levels of demands you place on your teams and rebalance workloads, especially those with multiple responsibilities or who may be particularly feeling the impact of a year’s lockdown. Avoid late-night emails or encouraging a sense of ‘always on’. Individuals should try to assess their level of risk when it comes to burnout and ask themselves a few questions. Is your identity with work so strong that your work-life balance is hazy? Are you taking on too much? Here are other ways to keep yourself from the darker side of high engagement: Book a mini-break (at home). As obvious as it may sound, book in annual leave and a day off at home to relax and step off the wheel for a bit. Create work-life boundaries. Set yourself strict start and finish times most days, with breaks built in that you won’t budge on. Consider setting an alarm to signify the end of the working day — and resist the urge to snooze. Move! The theme of 2021’s Mental Health Awareness Week is nature and the environment; there are lots of top tips about how to find, connect with and get out and about in nature. Leaving your desk for even 20 minutes can make a difference. Speak up - Recognise the symptoms of burnout and speak to your manager, employee assistance programme or GP if you start to experience them. Mind provides some useful tips on how to talk to your employer about your mental health. High employee engagement is great, but can come with unpleasant side effects if employers — and individuals — don’t take important preventative measures. It can be all too easy for engagement to creep into burnout, with damaging effects on our physical and mental health. Whether taking a bit of time out, talking to your manager about making small but impactful changes to the working day or vowing to send your last email at 5.30pm — proactively managing burnout risks can ensure you stay productive, happy and, most importantly, healthy. Contact Nicola, check out her website, or follow her on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. More from Nicola Greenbrook Nurturing a strong company culture during COVID-19 ► How to work well from home ► Podcast your way to workplace wellbeing ► More from the Harris Hill blog 12 tips for video interview success ► How to write a great supporting statement ► Recruiting your next CEO: asking the right questions ►
If you're looking for interview tips, you've come to the right place. With decades of experience in guiding our candidates through interviews successfully, and helping them secure their dream job, we've compiled The Ultimate Interview Guide. By combining our collective experience, we've crafted the one guide you'll need to get ahead and stand out amongst the other candidates rallying for the role you're after. The Ultimate Interview Guide looks at every type of interview, each and every interview stage, what to expect, what questions to ask and more. Download the guide by clicking below today! The Ultimate Interview Guide.pdf Size: 74.5 MB 12 tips for video interview success These days there's a good chance your next interview will be conducted via the magic of Zoom*, introducing a whole new world of things to worry about beforehand. Fortunately executive recruitment expert Jenny Hills is here with practical tips to get the best from the process. Read more >> *other videoconferencing solutions are, of course, terrifyingly available.
It's fair to say that 2020 has been a year like no other. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has forced organisations to make urgent and substantial changes to how they operate, sometimes overnight. The majority of the workforce are based from home and productivity, motivation and wellbeing have taken a hit. So how can charities support their biggest asset — their people — during the pandemic and nurture a company culture that’s stronger than ever? Freelance Writer Nicola Greenbrook finds out. Nurturing a strong company culture during COVID-19 The coronavirus pandemic is having a devastating impact on many charities and volunteers. In November 2020, the NCVO’s monthly COVID-19 voluntary sector impact barometer reported that 39% of the organisations reported their financial position had deteriorated in the last month. The pandemic has also altered people’s working lives dramatically. For the VCSE sector it can feel particularly challenging due to the nature of work people are involved in. Being away from face-to-face services and juggling remote work and childcare with an increased demand for services can also lead to anxiety, stress and fatigue. Company culture has always been important — but now, it's critical. What exactly is company culture? Quite honestly, it’s multifaceted and there are several definitions. Can you describe your company culture in a few words? It can be difficult to characterise, but many people remember exactly how good or bad culture feels. The CIPD explains that, 'the way an organisation operates drives its employer brand, helping to attract and retain talented people who want to be part of a great place to work, and who will in turn thrive in the business’. Company culture is the backdrop for everything. It embodies the way people behave and think at work, their mindsets and even their emotions. For a charity, it could be the key practices that reflect its mission and values, directly linked to a broader social purpose — and not just the perks, free fruit or fun stuff. Cultivating a strong company culture can also mean encouraging a strong work ethic and healthy behaviours and attitudes. Why is it so important , especially now? Glassdoor believes that 2020 has heralded ‘a culture-first decade for employers’ that puts employees at the forefront of the modern corporation. Having a strong workplace culture has been verifiably linked to better financial performance, increased talent attraction and improved service-user satisfaction. In times of adversity like the current pandemic, and when foundations are unstable, it can shine the spotlight on bad practices such as poor communication, a lack of empathy and poor leadership. This can lead to low productivity, a disengaged workforce and high turnover; creating extra work — and costs — for charities. One in five (21%) Brits quit their jobs due toxic workplace culture and no matter how big or small the charity, if your company culture is brittle it will dictate how your people behave and perform — regardless of the economic climate. How can we nurture a strong company culture? A difficult year may be drawing to a close, but it could still be months before working life returns to the way it was, if at all. So, what lessons can we learn from the pandemic about company culture, and what can we take with us into next year? 1. Flexibility, trust and care The work-home divide is blurred right now; so it’s crucial that charities support their people to work flexibly and balance their other commitments, and continue to show and build trust. In a survey for the CIPD conducted by YouGov in April 2020, 3 in 10 surveyed found it hard to fulfil commitments outside of work due to time spent on their job. This increases to 4 in 10 for those also juggling increased caring responsibilities. Line managers should work to understand individual needs and, crucially, keep the emphasis on work outcomes, rather than hours put in. While managers should empower people to work a pattern that suits their individual circumstances for now, they should keep an eye on overall working hours or if emails are being sent late at night. Check in, and gently challenge when necessary, if the signs of burn out are starting to show. Now, more than ever, is the time for companies to show empathetic leadership, despite very challenging circumstances. Many people have contracted the virus, lost their loved ones, or have children at home from school isolating. Some may be missing their office and colleagues or even to be ‘grieving' for life before COVID-19. Managers should be encouraged to have open and honest check-ins with their teams during the pandemic (‘how are you, really?’), without being intrusive. Thirtyone:eight, a Christian charity based in Kent, was awarded first place in the Best Charities to Work for 2020 inaugural list by Third Sector. Its joint-CEO, Steve Ball, stated that key to its success has been "creating a culture of care and compassion for all", likening the charity to an extended family who "genuinely care for each other and look after each other”. 2. Creative thought and connection A survey by Resilience First showed that more than half of remote workers are now suffering from working from home fatigue. With the novelty of Zoom meetings wearing thin, the risk of some employees fading into the background in larger charities and the absence of face to face contact leading to feelings of isolation, communication is vital to keep a strong company culture intact. In a huge time of uncertainty around the future of organisations and roles, it can help people to cope. Consider creative ways to maintain a connection with your staff and volunteers and involve them in potential decisions, making them feel they’re being ‘seen’. Take it beyond company updates; like employee-written guides on surviving homeworking, book clubs, and internal channels for people to share what they're listening to/watching. Rather than a distraction, these can provide a way to connect and engage, maintain a sense of community and encourage creativity. Good quality communication could reduce anxiety or uncertainty and tackle loneliness. 3. A focus on wellbeing In a recent ONS survey it was found that around a third of men and women were concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on their work. However, health — both mental and physical — and wellbeing must also be a key focus during the pandemic. As well as practical steps, like reminding staff to take breaks and use annual leave, charities should encourage line managers to include wellbeing as a core part of any 1:1s or work-based conversations. This could help to spot early signs of low motivation, or fatigue before it becomes an issue. In Mind's Mental Health at Work Commitment Guide for Employers During Coronavirus, the charity offers practical examples of what employers can do to support their teams and effectively respond to the current pandemic, including the promotion of an open culture around mental health. Here are some other ways to support staff and strengthen company culture during the ongoing pandemic: Create a ‘culture team’; responsible for planning virtual events so there’s always something to look forward to (especially during the winter months). This can help shape company culture, rather than people feeling they have to adapt to it. Don't neglect training; now could be the perfect time to encourage upskilling and capability-building and to offer training on managing mental health at work, such as via Mind. Remind people of the support mechanisms available to them, such as HR, mental health first aiders and employee assistance programmes. Celebrate successes and great work with virtual reward and recognition; asking colleagues to vote for each other also gives a much needed boost and could improve employee engagement Coronavirus will have a long-lasting impact on our working lives and nurturing a strong company culture will be critical to ensure your people remain well, engaged and productive — and on board. Steering teams through uncertain territory can be hard work; but creating an environment where staff feel valued, where you refine and stay true to your core values and where people feel their wellbeing is looked after, will enable charities to not only survive, but to thrive. To come back even stronger than ever. More from Nicola Greenbrook How to work well from home ► Podcast your way to workplace wellbeing ► How to be assertive at work ► More from the Harris Hill blog 12 tips for video interview success► 20 FOR 20► Should you be working for a large or small charity? ►
With Covid-19 raging on, many charities have seen the demand for their services increase while funding, due to cancelled events and financial uncertainty, has decreased. MDS UK, a charity supporting patients of Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS) - a rare blood cancer - is participating in the 20:20 campaign to replace some lost income, but urgently needs more participants! What is MDS? MDS is a group of malignant blood disorders in which the bone marrow fails to produce healthy blood cells. All types of blood cells can be affected, causing a range of symptoms: Red cells (erythrocytes) – which carry oxygen to organs and tissues in the body. Anaemia occurs due to a lack of red cells (also referred to as low haemoglobin), which may lead to fatigue and shortness of breath even on light exertion. White cells – which collectively fight against infection. Recurrent and persistent infections are a common symptom of MDS due to low white cell counts. Platelets (thrombocytes) – which prevent us from bruising and bleeding. A low platelet count can cause bruising, rashes and nose or gum bleeds. In some patients, MDS can progress to Acute Myeloid Leukaemia (AML). In AML, abnormal cells grow very rapidly, building up in the bone marrow and blood. While some patients live with their MDS diagnosis others will unfortunately pass away. A stem cell transplant is the only cure, but this carries inherent risks and can only be performed on younger, fitter patients. What does MDS UK provide? MDS UK aims to raise awareness of MDS, offers support and information to patients and families, and campaigns to increase the quality of life and make treatments available to those affected by the disease. The charity provides patients with access to a list of UK consultants specialising in MDS at specialist centres, a helpline for support and advice and national patient information meetings with specialist speakers. Patients can meet each other through MDS UK’s regional support group meetings (where they meet informally and hear from local consultants and nurses) and an online forum to share their experiences with others. MDS UK also recently funded its first research project aiming to improve treatment options for patients. Further research like this is essential due to the lack of MDS awareness among the public and medical profession and the lack of treatment options. Case Study MDS UK’s Chairman and MDS patient, Ted Peel, was diagnosed in 2015 following extreme fatigue, coughing up and passing of blood and several uncomfortable bone marrow biopsies. “Following an unsuccessful period of medication to remedy low a white blood cell count, I was hospitalised three times with sepsis where my temperature plummeted to 32C”, says Ted. “I was soon told that I needed a transplant.” Ted’s transplant treatment scheduled for this spring was sadly postponed as it was deemed too unsafe to be admitted to the hospital which was making provisions for Covid-19 patients. He was delighted and relieved when told at a more recent consultation that he would be admitted promptly for the treatment as Covid-19 cases in London have decreased. “It’s great to be given another chance at life”, says Ted. “I want to thank MDS UK for their continued support. They’ve been amazing, giving me advice and a helping hand when I’ve needed it most. However, our small charity needs more support.” 20:20 Campaign Due to Covid-19, MDS UK is facing financial hardship as the events it relies heavily on for income have been postponed or cancelled and demand for services has increased. Therefore, they were delighted when contacted about the 20:20 campaign which was set up to replace some of the funds lost by rare cancer charities. Participants will simply complete one challenge a day for 20 consecutive days between September 20th and November 20th and encourage friends and family to support them via the campaign JustGiving page. The challenges DO NOT have to be fitness / exercise based and can be as imaginative as the participants please, e.g. “bake 20 cupcakes” or “20 minutes of knitting.” There is no minimum financial target and the campaign may receive celebrity endorsement and media coverage! All funds raised by MDS UK’s participants will go directly to the charity. Appeal MDS UK urgently needs more participants to help it continue providing life-changing support for MDS patients like Ted and their loved ones, ensuring that, as the campaign strapline reads: “Cancer doesn’t stop for Covid!” If you would like to participate or for more information, contact Jan Edwards (MDS UK’s Fundraising Officer)and visit the event page. For more information about MDS and MDS UK visit their website. You can read Ted’s full story here. Thank you! For a copy of the event poster click here. Blog post written by Jan Edwards (MDS UK's Fundraising Officer). More from the Harris Hill blog 12 tips for video interview success Interviewing via video is the new normal for now, and if it's also new to you, here are some practical tips on the process from our executive recruitment experts, courtesy of director Jenny Hills. Read more ► How to work well from home Millions of us are doing it, but is working from home really working for you? Nicola Greenbrook has the lowdown on the lockdown and advice to help you turn the new arrangements to your advantage. Read more ►