Some organisations were better prepared for the Covid-19 pandemic because they had already established a culture that strengthened resilience among their employees, including Time Etc, a Birmingham-based virtual assistant service that employs around 40 people in its head office.
Barnaby Lashbrooke, chief executive officer (CEO), says: “Resilience has little to do with being tough or brave, it’s about learning how to react when faced with the unexpected, and adapt to new scenarios we all encounter in life and in work. A few years ago I noticed some individuals struggling to deal with situations their peers were handling quite easily, such as meeting tight deadlines and handling customer issues. I knew they were capable people, and I wanted to do something to help, and our early conversations kick-started a journey to improve mental wellbeing in our business.
“We’ve hired a professor of positive psychology to host workshops on mindfulness, an improvisation coach to boost confidence, and training on how to stay calm when dealing with tricky people and situations. We really encourage peer support: every day everyone gets the chance to thank someone publicly, and instead of managers we have coaches whose only job is to support and get the best out of our people. As a result, the transition to being a fully remote workforce was quite straightforward.”
Other benefits have been introduced to build on this culture of support, including a monthly allowance to spend on Udemy online courses and business or self-growth books, and a £75 School of Life voucher on work anniversaries. Every member of the team has their own executive assistant.
The organisation also uses the Gallup StrengthsFinder coaching system to measure workforce resilience, which tests 34 different strengths, including adaptability.
“We don’t try to ‘fix’ people who don’t score well for adaptability, but it does mean we can better emotionally support them by offering more targeted coaching and mentoring,” says Lashbrooke. “We also measure our employee engagement using the Gallup Q12 survey.”