If you have people’s best interests at heart, and you are as transparent as possible, that’s what matters #HRtogether

Emma Alcock is Global Head of Engagement and Communications for Mayborn Group.

The impact of the pandemic on our organisation has varied globally from our people working in our factory in China, who were impacted very early on, alongside those in Shanghai and Hong Kong to our Australian team who have had a form of lockdown which has not been as strict as some countries, with a bit of everything in between! Our biggest team is in the UK, based at our HQ here in Newcastle, who have been working from home. But our factories have still been producing important baby products such as sterilisers and thermometers, with lots of safety measures in place.

Staying one step ahead of government guidelines to support remote working and home-schooling

As restrictions started to come into practice, we moved ahead of government requirements to home working and introduced daily bulletins initially to reassure and explain what, if any, impact the latest government announcements had on our business.  We also created home working support areas on our Intranet covering all the usual things such as home DSE and remote working guides to the different technology tools. But perhaps the key thing that set it apart was that we created a home schooling area with lots of tips, materials and links to great content to help all of our parents who had suddenly become teachers.

Putting people first and championing wellbeing

I’m fortunate to be able to say that we already have a people-first culture at Mayborn and we are currently undertaking a survey on how people feel about a potential return to office-based working and who would prefer to remain remote whilst also identifying specific needs such as those shielding the vulnerable and those home educating etc. 

We took a three-strand approach to championing wellbeing. We started by ensuring everyone was reminded about their EAP services which are there should the worst happen. Then, we created a mental and physical health and wellbeing zone on our intranet with a lot of materials that people could access, from mindfulness to yoga and 'Couch to 5k', to support health in a proactive way. Since that initial work we have now also launched online resilience training across the whole organisation ahead of Mental Health Awareness week, and we are about to launch a new online wellbeing health checker.  This third strand is all about self-evaluation and taking action.

Keeping people's best interests at heart

All managers are encouraged to do daily check-ins and share best practice. We’ve had teams doing a daily coffee catch up, parenting blogs emerging, team online quizzes and lots of recognition.  Alongside that the drumbeat of comms has been critical to keeping people informed.

I was once told many years ago by a very senior member of the management team in the business I worked in that he didn’t always know what he was doing, in fact he often was making it up as he went along.  He went on to say that as long as you have people’s best interests at heart, and you are as transparent as possible then that’s what matters.  I come back to this any time I find myself being stretched by a situation outside my comfort zone!

I think the valuing people piece has been huge, initially some thought the home education zone wasn’t a priority but to me, as a mum to two young children, I knew just how valuable it would be. Knowing your audience is critical and as a parenting company I knew it was instinctively right.  In fact, we replicated it to an extent on tommeetippee.com to support our consumers going through the same experience.

I’m glad to say there are lots of great examples of employer responses to the crisis, but I think Salesforce is demonstrating great thought-leadership in their planning and communications around Life after Covid and a potential return to partial office-based working being very upfront in addressing employee fears.  

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