Our sixth Modern Day Wisdom event took place on the 13th June 2018 in partnership with General Assembly, and we were hosted by the wonderful Mindspace in their chic and inspiring venue.  

We were very fortunate to have four amazing panellists join us – Alex Birtles from TalkTalk, Claire Townson from The Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Katie Leggett from innocent and Rachael Bennett from Grant Thornton. They shared fresh insights on how companies can survive and thrive in uncertain times, drawing a brilliant crowd from companies including John Lewis, Barclays, Ella’s Kitchen, Wagamama and many more.

To top it all off, we ushered in beer from fellow B Corp Toast Ale, as well as some delicious pizza that kept attendees mingling and sharing ideas with each other until the very end.

People nowadays care more about working in a role that makes a difference to the world than one that simply appeases their bank balance. Our panellists addressed how vital it is to keep employees engaged so that they feel listened to and that their work fulfils them – on both a personal and professional level.

For those of you that missed the event, here are our top five key takeaways:

1 – Recognise the challenges your staff are facing, and be creative in how you support them to keep them engaged.
Instead of enforcing generic company schemes that employees can’t identify with, empower them to create grassroots wellbeing initiatives that can flourish across the organisation and boost morale. Meditation sessions, stretches, morning coffee raves; the possibilities are truly endless when you unlock the hive mind of your team. Rachael Bennett talked specifically about proactively encouraging conversations where people feel OK to not have all the answers, inviting people at all levels to work together to solve challenges.

2 – Make sure your teams don’t only know what your company’s values are, but also how to live them.
This is an important part of rejuvenating workplace culture from the bottom-up. Claire Townson had a great suggestion to which was to empower ambassadors in different teams across all levels who can influence others to be purpose-led in their daily work. Diffusing this responsibility across the team helps to ensure that values aren’t left with one department.

3 – It is essential that your values are set in stone from the beginning and are transparent to stakeholders and future employees.
This is a way for you to show your employees that you really walk the talk. For example, this could include only working with suppliers who pay the Living Wage and are committed to the Modern Slavery Act. That way you can manage expectations, collaborating only with people and suppliers who are a good culture and values fit, building strong, long-term relationships in the process. This will build trust in your team as they can see the company values are truly lived. 

4 – Involve absolutely everyone.
All these grassroots, employee-led initiatives are great, but as Katie Leggett pointed out, senior management must be engaged as well. Role modelling plays a crucial part in how particular behaviours transcend levels of an organisation. If those at the top are invested and clearly prioritise initiatives that benefit your company culture, this incentivises those on the ground to do the same.

5 – Last but by no means least, use every crisis as a real opportunity for positive change.
TalkTalk was hit with a major cyber attack which compromised customer loyalty. But according to Alex Birtles, this crisis completely reset the business. Reviewing situations allows you to come up with the improvements necessary to be more resilient, and better at handling similar challenges in the future.

Onwards and upwards
Amidst adversity, it’s natural to feel uneasy or stressed. But that’s why it’s even more important to gather solutions from across the business and make sure everyone feels a shared sense of responsibility to drive the business forward.

Having a purpose and values that are fully embedded in your business through periods of uncertainty will keep you grounded during the storm and keep your employees motivated to find solutions. Crucially, this means everyone in your core team and wider networks will have a reason to stay on board with you for the long run.

Gutted you missed this one? We missed you too! Join our GDPR-friendly mailing list to hear about future Modern Day Wisdom events.