A collaborative approach to leadership lies at the heart of Clear Review’s cultural success, with open and honest communication encouraged at all levels of the business. By empowering employees to speak out and react quickly to change, the company ensured it was agile enough to adapt to the Covid-19 crisis.
When your specialism is performance management, it puts the pressure on when it comes to keeping a handle on your own performance, even during a crisis as unforeseen as a global pandemic. Nonetheless, Clear Review appears to have come through this year with an even stronger sense of its culture and values, thanks to the hard work of Chief Consciousness Officer Natasha Wallace and the company’s Guardians and Wellness Wednesday Advisor Natasha Bowman.
“Before the pandemic, our people were close, supportive and had fun. Although the crisis has been tough for many of us, we've worked hard to maintain the camaraderie and engagement in the team,” explained Natasha.
A keen focus on wellbeing was key to the company’s success, as was its unwavering commitment to leadership development, evidenced by its appointment of a ‘Chief Consciousness Officer’ and company-wide coaching offering that continued during the crisis.
Employee wellbeing was already high on the agenda for the business, but when Covid-19 arrived, this took on a new significance…
The organisation describes its culture as being ‘open and honest’, with a focus on providing opportunities for people to speak about how they’re feeling. The bi-monthly Wellness Wednesday sessions are an open forum attended by almost the entire company where employees share how they’re taking care of themselves, in addition to a weekly Friday wind-down session to share highlights and challenges of the week.
Towards the end of 2019, the team collaborated to build a manifesto, agreeing how they wanted to work together to maintain the company’s culture and laying out a set of commitments to each other. These are:
We deliver on our objectives: we want everyone to be clear on what they're doing, so they feel able to focus on what matters most for them and for the business
We take our wellbeing seriously: we want everyone to feel supported and safe at work
We look out for each other: we want to feel free and supported in our working lives
We allow people the time to talk about their worries: or not, if that's what they really need – but we don’t let things fester
We celebrate the good stuff: we want to be inspired by our successes and proud about what we do
We spend time together: we want everyone to feel balance and supported at work.
Introducing the Guardians
In early 2020, the Guardians group was set up, a working group from within the organisation designed to uphold the manifesto and support the company’s wellbeing efforts.
Emma Foote – Head of Advocacy
Hejab Azam – Marketing
Eddie Bragg – Development
Tom Lee – Sales
Tom Leader – Customer Success
Sarah Hughes – PA / Finance
Early on in lockdown it was unclear how the business was going to be affected and there was an initial drop off in new customer enquiries, which meant some of the team had to be put on furlough.
“This was a tough time and understandably created some anxiety for those affected,” explained Natasha.
“We didn't want anyone to be financially impacted which meant topping up their salaries and we stayed in regular contact with them to make sure they were OK. The Guardians played an important role in this with each of them making sure that they were regularly connected to at least one person on furlough”.
The company also put in place a virtual GP service for those who needed support from a doctor but perhaps found it difficult to get an appointment. In addition, everyone was given a £500 learning and wellbeing allowance to spend on whatever they felt would best support them.
The leadership team was also offered support during the crisis, with regular leadership development sessions.
“The focus of this work has been on helping the team get to know each other better and developing trust and a safe space to have challenging conversations,” said Natasha.
“This has led the leadership team to work more closely together and to build better relationships. As part of this work we developed a Team Trust Assessment using recent research into building trust in virtual teams”.
Another particularly unique benefit the company offers is coaching sessions for the team. Natasha is there to support everyone with personal development, but also acts as a confidante when people are handling personal or team challenges.
In times of crisis, the Clear Review team discovered that it’s not just the big things that count…
During lockdown, the Guardians started a company newsletter to keep everyone connected, as well as helping to curate content for Wellness Wednesday sessions on mental health, inclusion, strengths-based development, and giving effective feedback. The group also came up with a ‘Practical Survival Guide’ in May with advice on sustaining energy for the coming months.
During a survey to find out how the team wanted to work moving forward, employees emphasised the importance of fun and social time for the team. In response, the Guardians organised a team day in November, where all employees had the day off to participate in wellness activities (shared online via Slack), and received a self care package containing chocolate, tea and gratitude exercises, with the aim of bringing some light relief during a challenging time for many.
How have these efforts positively impacted Clear Review's employees?
In terms of employee turnover, the numbers speak for themselves: only two people have resigned from the team in the last 12 months. The company’s My Mindspace tool recorded high levels of engagement throughout the year, which have been affected only slightly during the pandemic.
In addition, employee feedback has been overwhelmingly positive...
The environment is very open and you can tell that all colleagues really care about the health and wellbeing of others. I've never been at an organisation where you are encouraged to have such an open dialogue at all levels and really feel comfortable taking part," – Cheryl Reed, Customer Success Manager.
Our culture has been tested during these Covid times and I truly believe the Guardians have helped to keep morale high, and our amazing culture intact,” – Tom Lee, Sales Executive.
Natasha is an exceptional coach who doesn’t follow a standard formula. She quickly gains insights that enable great breakthroughs and we have really strengthened our team with Natasha’s support. She creates the space and sparks the conversations that remove the barriers getting in the way of us being better and she has made a significant difference to our culture – and our wellbeing,” – Stuart Hearn, CEO.
Looking to the future
The team has been actively engaged in setting wellbeing priorities for the next three to six months, which include activities to better manage their energy levels such as meditation, music, splitting working days, leaning on others for help and support and changing scenery.
Employees will also be encouraged to take their allocated time off, since during the Covid-19 pandemic many have been reluctant to take holiday – but the business recognises that a break from work is essential for everyone’s personal wellbeing.
The company plans to continue its Wellness Wednesdays, having increased these from 60 to 90 minute sessions to allow more time for breakout discussions, as these seem to make a big difference to the team. There are also plans to hold more virtual social events over the coming months, working within the limitations of the lockdown restrictions.
As part of its commitment to diversity and inclusion, the company has formulated a new D&I plan which includes a target to increase the number of BAME employees in the business.
Finally, the team will come together to focus on OKRs to help them better understand where they want to focus their attention – and make time to celebrate successes along the way.
What did our Culture Pioneers ambassadors think?
This submission offered a clear picture of the company’s values-driven ethos, our ambassadors agreed.
“Clear Review is a good example of a culture driven organisation. Their manifesto is focused on their shared values, and it was great to see their people being championed by the Guardians initiative,” said Shakil Butt, founder of HR Hero for Hire.
“This company has clear values and has obviously taken steps to maintain their culture during the Covid-19 pandemic. The use of initiatives such as Wellness Wednesdays, self-care packs and the employment of Natasha for coaching and support means that this company has a positive culture that the employees seem to benefit from,” added Professor Emma Parry, Head of The Changing World of Work Group at Cranfield School of Management.
“It was good to see Clear Review taking initiative and involving the organisation in the design of its programme, and we must commend them for their use of data to continually track this – we’d expect no less from an organisation that provides this platform for clients! It was also great to see the business’ leaders backing a commitment to wellbeing with investment and offering time out and so on,” commented Laura Overton, Partner of Industry Insights at Tulser.