As a 2020 UK’s Best Workplace™ in Tech and recipient of Excellence in Wellbeing recognition, Acquiais an outstanding example of a company that cares.
Below, Ana Kershaw, HR Business Partner EMEA at Acquia, shares how their award-winning culture has empowered employees to achieve work-life balance and support their wellbeing during their toughest year yet.
1) Put Flexibility Into Practice
Early on, during the first lockdown, all Acquians were encouraged to have an open and honest conversation with their manager about what flexibility they may need, and share how they felt their manager and team could support them.
Flexible work arrangements such as increased remote working, adjusted schedules, flexible meeting times, and other forms of versatility were soon developed. This collaborative approach gave employees at Acquia a level of control and comfort during a period of uncertainty. It also boosted trust between employees, their managers and teammates since everyone had a platform to share their voice and any concerns.
The teams and employees who preferred and needed the office environment were still able to use it (following the government’s guidelines), with health and safety measures put in place to ensure everyone is safe and protected.
“We also encouraged teams to practice “scrum” type meetings. In these 15-minute stand-ups, everyone can connect and establish the day’s priorities whilst reflecting on the previous day, to ensure a smooth workflow and steady, ongoing communication,” says Ana.
2) Stay Connected
Keeping employees informed and engaged is a no-brainer for sustaining trust and engagement during a crisis. Acquia’s HR team created additional digital spaces for their own messaging, but also developed ways for employees to be involved and lead on certain communication channels.
“We posted daily ‘Beyond the Screentime’ tips and ideas to help all our employees manage their work-life balance and stress brought by the lockdown,” says Ana. “Our dedicated Wellness Slack channel is used for everyone to share ideas about self-care and coping strategies and to provide support to each other.
“We looked for ways to engage with our wider remote working community and this came in the form of a monthly photo contest. This has allowed our Acquians a chance to step away from the screen and explore their creative side. We have seen gorgeous landscapes from Germany, Sweden and the UK; goofy and adorable pets ranging from cats and dogs to cows! This contest has given us a chance to learn more about our colleagues outside of their work roles and been shown a small part of their worlds.”
Above: Winning submissions in Acquia’s EMEA Photo Contest
Acquia also developed a series of webinars covering topics like How to Cope with Anxiety, Stress Management, and Tips for Parents – all in relation to COVID-19. One recent online session featured expert psychologists covering the topic ‘Staying Grounded, Balanced, and Healthy in a Time of Crisis and Uncertainty’. During the session, attendees were given guidance based on best psychological practices to help people successfully adapt to the demands of the ongoing pandemic, as well as the other serious disruptions impacting personal, family, and work lives.
3) Put Employees in the Driver Seat
“In our search for a new, informal communication channel with our customers, prospects, partners and wider community, two of our very own Acquians designed and provided a series of ‘Open Sauce’ podcasts,” Ana explains. “These easygoing 15-minute episodes (which could be watched or listened to) showcased our employees discussing selected topics from technology to business, allowing everyone to have a laugh along the way.”
Another way in which Acquians were put in the driver seat of their employee experience was with the launch of Acquia’s first Employee Resource Groups (or ERGs). The network of ERGs helped to build community and culture within the company.
“We recognised that within our organisation there are already several groups of Acquians who have organically formed, either meeting or conversing via Slack, and that this type of connection and collaboration was now needed more than ever.”
These ERGs came with multiple benefits for Acquians:
- They create a safe space for employees who share a common identity to meet and support one another in building their community and sense of belonging at Acquia;
- They provided a forum for communication regarding employee/community issues, needs and practices; and
- They led to greater employee satisfaction, engagement and retention rates.
4) Obtain Feedback, Then Follow-Through
Finally, in practical terms, work-life balance is about being able to carve out appropriate time for one’s professional and personal life, and this can be different for every individual.
“In order to understand employees’ needs, aside from our quarterly engagement surveys, we run additional employee surveys for feedback on how they feel working remotely is going. Taking that into consideration has enabled us to take a targeted approach and respond better to challenges.”
The HR team have been particularly active in a “welfare” type role, checking in on employees who were especially struggling with life and work under the new circumstances. This group of employees included early career employees that may be living in shared housing, those with elderly parents and those with challenging childcare issues or who were shielding.
“We were able help them navigate this new reality and to direct them to the help and resources available in our comprehensive benefits programme. For example, we know that juggling childcare, home-schooling and erratic lockdowns has made 2020 a rough year for remote working parents – whether that meant continuing to go to work or working from home, often losing the valuable resource of grandparents due to those lockdown rules. We organised several focus groups with parents globally to understand what type of support would be most meaningful at the time,” explains Ana.
“The lockdown seemed to have the strongest impact on parents of small children as well as caregivers who faced the challenge of balancing work responsibilities with new (and continued) demands at home as a result of Covid-19. Although we were considering additional resources, it turns out that flexible working and supportive line managers has remained the most valuable type of help and support we could provide.”