New Directions creates safe spaces for open communication for its employees

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Wales’s Business Insider Douglas Friedli has been asking leading businesses how they’ve adapted over the last year when it comes to motivating staff.

Take a look to see what our Group Chief Operating Officer, Sophie Cecil had to say:

Please sum up the most effective way you’ve encouraged staff to help the business (in six words or less).

Created safe spaces for open communication. 

What steps have you taken recently to change your organisation’s culture?

Like every business, Covid forced us to change the way we worked.  We’ve always enjoyed group social events bringing employees from all over the UK together, so to encourage continuous social engagement we introduced a wellness committee called The Voice, which has developed initiatives such as ‘Happy Hour’ to remind people to take a break from work, a monthly virtual pay day drinks and quiz, Wellness Wednesdays to ensure people think about their health and mind through various competitions, and more.

What have you achieved, or what do you hope to achieve, with these changes?

Through consistent engagement and feedback from all employees, we believe we have achieved a much happier and healthy workforce, who understand the objectives of our business, and are more engaged to contribute to their own and the company’s overall success. 

How do you ensure that cultural changes are implemented and have the desired outcomes?

At New Directionswe have an open door policy and believe two-way communication is essential. Through weekly ‘Wrap Up’ emails, regular Voice meetings and our new ‘cuppa with the SMT’ (Senior Management Team) gatherings, all employees are updated regularly on what’s happening across the business. We also encourage employees to tell us their ideas and share best practice through our annual employee survey, regular ‘hot topic’ surveys for quick wins, and through our ‘tell us@’ email address – everyone has a voice and we listen, and act, on feedback accordingly.

How have you changed the balance of salary, pensions and benefits (if at all) for staff? 

We have recently gone through a complete employee restructure, and are also reviewing our reward and recognition strategy across the Group to help recognise support staff, as well as our sales teams. With the extreme pressure everyone has been under professionally and personally this last year, employee wellbeing has been at the forefront of every conversation. We now offer mindfulness support through our Mental Health First Aider alongside an existing portfolio of benefits including continuous training and development, Christmas savings scheme, competitive maternity and IVF leave policies, birthdays off, and much more.  

Are you considering any other relevant changes?

Alongside the new initiatives already mentioned, we also plan to introduce a Wellbeing Committee and Wellbeing Champions within the company offering essential support to everyone we work with, both internally and externally. Our Wellbeing Champions will be trained to signpost people to the relevant support groups within their industries or areas and we’ll continue to run wellbeing webinars with industry experts throughout the year.  The launch of our ‘Cuppa with the SMT’ has also proved particularly successful, so we’ll be hosting these as coffee mornings in future so all employees can continue to talk to the senior management team in an informal setting on a regular basis.

New Directions is a great place to work – take a look at our latest vacancies here.