Our people should always be at the heart of our business continuity plans

Julie Chell, Chief People Officer, outlines how we're prioritising our people during COVID-19

Like everyone else, here at Civica, we’ve spent the last couple of weeks testing out our business continuity plans - plans that we hoped we’d never need, and certainly not for something like COVID-19. In many ways we’re lucky. We’re used to operating across numerous global facilities, with many of us regularly or permanently working from home. So, reducing our facilities and transitioning to remote working for the foreseeable future is something that we can absolutely adapt to and manage effectively. Over recent weeks, our teams have done an amazing job in providing us with the technology and resources we need to maintain a sense of business as usual. But, alongside all of this, we’re acutely aware that our services, products, processes and locations are only part of the equation and first and foremost, it’s our people - our differentiator and foundation - that really count and who should be at the very heart of our approach to business continuity.

Here are just six of the simple and practical things that we’re currently doing at Civica to live our values and ensure that our people come first in these challenging and unprecedented times. 

Communication

We all recognise the importance of communication during times of change and uncertainty. So, we’ve increased the frequency of, and way in which we communicate with our colleagues, to include open and transparent daily updates. This ensures our people have confidence that we’re offering them the most up-to-date information and responding to the latest government advice. We also have lots of local team communications going on too. 

Development

Our leaders and managers want to inspire, support and help their teams in any way they can during these challenging times.  We’re therefore providing an ongoing series of webinars, coaching and on-line resources to help them adapt their leadership and management style to better support their teams.

Empowerment

Speed of decision making is key to effective agile working. Our people know that they’re empowered to make decisions as and when they need to because we trust that their intentions are always positive - even on the odd occasion when they get it wrong. This empowerment has helped our leaders to adapt job roles, to provide additional support to people who have underlying health conditions and to find new ways of doing things that can work well across a remote team.

Support

Many people are understandably feeling very anxious as they continue to watch this pandemic unfold. At Civica, we remain committed to encouraging positive mental health and wellbeing and that’s especially important right now. Our mental health champions are being proactive in reaching out and providing support to colleagues across the Group. We’re also helping people who are new to home-working by sharing regular hints and tips on how they can make it work for them.

Community

In challenging times, people take great comfort from supporting and helping their colleagues and their wider community. We actively encourage our colleagues to give back to their local communities through our annual Donate-a-Day scheme, which allows our people to volunteer for a cause close to their heart. Right now, that may include acts of kindness such as taking food parcels to the elderly who are self-isolating.

Social interaction and fun

We pride ourselves on being a friendly and fun place to work - and that matters now more than ever before! We use Yammer, a space for social chat and collaboration and we’re also doing a range of ‘drop in’ sessions where people can join colleagues at an agreed time for a virtual work-out, mindfulness session, virtual coffee, book club discussion, or any number of other activities to keep their spirits up.

We’ve also already got one eye on the future… we all know that future working needs to be more agile and that’s how we’re all having to work right now. In this global crisis we’re being more innovative and creative than ever as we look for solutions to the everyday challenges of social isolation, uncertainty and supporting each other and extended families through sickness and personal challenges. We’re sure that some of these solutions will be brilliant and will change the way we work together for many years to come. 

As you read this, it could be helpful to ask yourself:

  • Are people confident that they have access to up-to-date information?
  • Are we giving leaders and managers the skills they need to really help their teams through this?
  • Are we giving people enough empowerment so they can respond quickly?
  • Are people feeling supported and cared for?
  • Are we enabling people to give back to the community?
  • Are we finding new ways to connect, relax and feel normal? 

If the answer to these questions is “yes”, then please share with others how you’re doing it. Let’s all learn from each other. And, if the answer is “no”, then we hope that some of our approaches can help you over the coming weeks and months.