In Healx's latest blog, Co-Founder and CEO, Tim Guilliams shares his top tips for not just growing but retaining an all-star team this year.
Five tips for growing your business and retaining an all-star team in 2021
With the New Year, many businesses will be reflecting on the challenges they faced in 2020 and looking ahead to what the next few months hold. While the situation remains turbulent, and a third national lockdown in the UK comes with inevitable strains on businesses, advances with COVID-19 vaccines offer reason for companies to remain optimistic when planning their 2021 trajectory. As business requirements pivot and workforces expand across multiple – and increasingly virtual – locations, processes (such as onboarding) and ways of working will need to be re-evaluated, re-imagined or eradicated entirely.
As a company expands, there is often a stigma that employees feel unseen or like cogs in a machine. But I know from personal experience that stellar growth stems from teams who feel supported and fulfilled by their work. Without this, a strong company simply cannot be built. Therefore, it is more important than ever for businesses to remain focused on culture and employee wellbeing as they scale, ensuring that this is factored into every step of the organisation. Below are my top tips for how businesses can grow and achieve company goals in 2021, while retaining a strong workforce and culture.
Solidify your goals
Whether you are a team of 5 or 500, creating solid values and goals is crucial to bolster business growth and unify employees. Without a common mission, teams will be out of sync, and unable to move at pace – unsure of where their endpoint is. To avoid this, spend time mapping out realistic strategic priorities for the year as a collective and ensure everyone has the chance to share their input. Once these are solidified, communicate the messaging widely so that all employees are focused on the same end goal for success and can develop more manageable, quarterly objectives to aim for,
Creating key objectives in this way avoids disparity and helps to attract new joiners with similar goals and values in mind – a crucial attribute for a business looking to grow. Interestingly, a perk of the move towards distributed working has been the agility it provides, especially in the recruitment process. Organisations have been able to widen the net across the globe, meaning that like-minded people can be accurately matched up to the right company, regardless of their location.
Encourage feedback to instil transparency
Sharing feedback used to be saved exclusively for performance reviews, but this approach is fast becoming outdated. Rather than saving such discussions for an annual basis, regular, rapid feedback alleviates pressure and opens up a level of transparency within teams.
Help and encourage staff to get used to a system of regular feedback, positive praise or simple observations after tasks have been completed. At Healx we use a tool called Peakon, an employee engagement platform that converts fortnightly feedback into insights, enabling us to convert employee thoughts into tangible action. This will also help in the long run, as managers can refer back to feedback over a period of months, rather than the pressure of reviews every 12 months.
As businesses shift from startup to scaleup and beyond, true creativity and innovative thinking stems from people at all levels feeling encouraged to feedback on projects and ideas. Ultimately, a fluid and open feedback culture instills a growth-mindset across the business. By getting regular and actionable feedback, employees can feel stretched, motivated and want to challenge themselves. Without this, certain development skills will be neglected and the overall business growth will suffer.
Iterate your processes
2020 brought about drastic changes in the world of work, forcing businesses to review their processes, tools, and how they currently facilitate work, to remain ahead of the curve and continue expansion in these dynamic times. But businesses shouldn’t just be doing this in the light of a global pandemic. Regularly reviewing your processes, and utilising employee feedback tools like Peakon, will mean that you are always optimising for the best solution.
This year at Healx, we experienced firsthand the need for change in our processes and our philosophy of iteration meant we were able to respond quickly and with agility. Since March, we successfully integrated 22 new joiners into the company – a feat that wouldn’t have been possible if our People and Culture team did not identify early the importance of shifting our onboarding process to become fully remote. We have also increased our use of digital technologies and employee engagement software to keep operations streamlined and teams connected, ensuring maximum efficiency on the work that matters. Slack integrations like Donut, for example, have meant that ‘water-cooler’ conversations that are critical to a cross-functional company like Healx have been able to be replicated digitally, helping maintain our culture even when remote.
Put wellbeing first
The World Health Organisation has recognised burnout as a serious occupational phenomenon affecting workers and a study from 2019 also found that 80% of the workers surveyed reported feeling close to or in the middle of burnout. It goes without saying that burnout is extremely damaging to business success and talent retention, especially at a start-up level with smaller teams. Before a business can grow, the right procedures for combating burnout must be put in place. Employees struggling with their workload or mental wellbeing will not be able to develop, or contribute to company growth, without receiving help to tackle these issues. Therefore, businesses seeking success must invest in their people, and ensure that they are provided with the resources they need to curb burnout before it develops.
Internally, Healx runs a number of initiatives to get our teams talking about issues they are experiencing and maintain the flow of communication so that no one feels alone. We host several virtual classes during the working week, including yoga, mindfulness, and exercise bootcamps. For those coping with personal or professional problems, we have implemented a free and confidential helpline through the Employee Assistance Programme. Initiatives like this can be tailored and adapted as businesses grow, but making the workforce feel valued and supported should be front of mind whatever the organisational size.
Celebrating success has never been so important, particularly when employees can feel more isolated than ever and the strains of work all the more pressing. Taking the time to recognise business and employee achievements and milestones – both big and small – should be a ritual instilled in any business from the outset and is something that is easily implemented in some form, whatever the company size.
At Healx, calling out both work-based and personal wins during our ‘All Hands’ meetings is an important tradition that brings us together and highlights the different projects currently being undertaken by the team. Depending on what stage of growth it is in, every business will be different, but encourage your senior team to praise employees during meetings or one-to-one. Sticking to celebrations like this means that each employee will feel proud of their achievements, helping them to feel seen and truly valued for their contributions. Slack has many Team Culture integrations that can help with this remotely too, and will help encourage teams to celebrate the small wins.
Despite the uncertainty that lies ahead, a key objective many businesses will strive for will be to retain stellar talent, and continue building back better. The hardships which global companies faced in 2020 have been next to none but by taking onboard some of the above tips, organisations can future proof their chances of success and employee satisfaction, even in the face of adversity.
Healx is an AI-powered and patient-inspired technology company, accelerating the discovery and development of rare disease treatments.