We believe that being a good boss means seeing your team as not just employees, but as people.
We’re all familiar with the idea that we need to provide safe and healthy physical workplaces, and there are clear guidelines available to make that happen. But recently, the national conversation has shifted to include mental health as an equally important part of workplace wellbeing.
We’re always blown away by Xero’s commitment to mental health in small businesses, and we’re keen to provide our team with an environment that helps them stay well in every way. So we were super excited to hear about The Check In, Xero’s practical and powerful guide for employers to care for their teams more comprehensively. Here are some ideas from The Check In that we’ve recently added, as well as a few that we were already working on!
1Getting to know each other
We’ve always welcomed open dialogue in our workplace, but lockdown really highlighted the need to build in regular times and spaces to catch up and stay connected. As we’ve grown fast in the last year or two, we’ve realised that our team isn’t as effortlessly tight-knit as it used to be and that we need to build in consistent processes for regular communication.
That’s why we’re big fans of The Check In prompts for informal conversation at work, to help our team share openly and get the most value out of catch-ups. We’ve been using these “icebreakers” in a bunch of different ways - some of our team prefer to fill in a quick daily report, briefly summarizing what they’ve been working on, how they’re feeling and what support they need. Some of us are real face-to-face communicators and prefer a traditional sit-down meeting. Some of us like to take a walk to get the blood pumping. Some of us have developed little rituals like popping to the corner cafe for a scone while we talk through what’s going on. We accommodate this stuff wherever possible - whatever helps our people think clearly and speak freely.
Enjoying the wins seems more essential than ever with all the doom-and-gloom of 2020, so celebrating success is one of our favourite concepts from The Check In. In the last few months we’ve added an Employee of the Month award and introduced two new annual awards - our customer champion and our PayForce champion.
We think it’s amazing how much our team cares about our customers, and we know that when our customers are happy, it’s a testament to the hard work of our people. So we’ve started sharing our most enthusiastic customer feedback with everybody in our company-wide digital channels, plus displaying it physically in the office to celebrate the fact that we’re making people really happy! This really helps our people feel valued and united, and reminds us to appreciate one another.
We’re also keen to enjoy each other’s company. We’ve always done the conventional stuff - morning teas for birthdays, Friday drinks - and we also occasionally share something a bit festive and quirky together. This year we rented out a theatre at the local cinema and had a film screening together, and last year we went to a spooky interactive theatre event. But lately we’ve become a much more remote workforce, and we don’t want to lose the casual, incidental team bonding that comes from being in the same place. So we’re keeping our team close by bringing in all-hands Thursdays, getting everybody into the office once a week to make sure we don’t lose touch and keep intra-team bonds strong.
3Supporting others to look after themselves
Lockdown pushed us to take a broader view of our team’s wellbeing, knowing that mental and physical health are often hard to separate. We’ve always tried to enable our people to be kind to their bodies, with standing desks, walking meetings and company health insurance. As we’ve made a permanent post-lockdown transition to a mostly remote workforce, we’ve needed to find new ways to support our team to remain active and eat well, especially with the added pressure and anxiety of lockdown. We’ve been asking our team to share their best advice on making healthy choices around exercise and nutrition, and they blew us away with their responses, contributing online workout programs, recipes and suggestions for incorporating activity into at-home work habits.
Post-lockdown, we’re using The Check In guidelines to keep the momentum going with a team entry to the Wellington Half-Marathon (sadly COVID-cancelled), fresh fruit in the office and sticking carefully to COVID-19 health guidelines to protect our team - and our community - from illness.
4Helping our people ask for help
Our belief is that empathy is one of the essential qualities of a good employer, and we don’t want to hear our team apologising if they have a sick child, a family member in crisis, or if they just feel wiped out. Our executive team will openly acknowledge if they’re tired, distracted or under pressure for work reasons or personal reasons. This kind of transparent, honest leadership gives us all space to be human and acknowledge that we can’t always separate our personal and professional lives.
We trust our people, and we support them to arrange work around important responsibilities like childcare, study or other commitments. We’re working to strike a careful balance between structure and consistency vs. flexibility and freedom. When somebody needs to take time, we don’t ask questions. We gave an additional 40 hours of leave to our whole workforce as a Christmas present at the end of 2019 and we also offer our whole team 20 hours annually to spend working with the charity of their choice.
We’re directly connected with mental health advocacy groups via Payroll Giving and we’re partnered with I Am Hope coffee, raising funds for mental health services and advocacy. These visible commitments reinforce to our team that PaySauce is a safe environment to raise matters of mental health. Going forward, we’re keen to be even more proactive in terms of connecting our team with services and support where needed, including the resources provided via The Check In.
5Making a longer-term commitment to wellbeing
We know that we can always do more to keep our team happy and healthy and that we need to constantly review our practices, seek feedback and look for even better ways to support and protect our people. We’re setting actionable long-term goals for our business to improve our approach to mental health, even if it’s just maintaining our current level of communication and transparency as we become a bigger company. Stay tuned!
Keen to keep your team healthy inside and out?
Have a read of the entire Check In guide - and hopefully you have a few extra ideas from seeing how we put it into action!
Get more tips for taking care of your people from a business perspective here, and check out practical methods for encouraging better mental health here.