It’s been a long, difficult year for us all – from celebrating birthdays over Zoom to not getting a delivery slot with Tesco for weeks. And the same rings true from an HR perspective. Covid-19 definitely had an impact on all things people-related, both in positive and challenging ways. Keeping up social engagement, recruitment and onboarding were all adjusted and I’m here to highlight what we’ve initiated and how we’re wrapping up 2020.
Our new addition, Jess!
One of the best things to come out of 2020 (although I may be biased) is the new addition to our People team, Jess. Jess joined us in September to support HR and Marketing with talent attraction and internal engagement initiatives. She’s implemented so much in the few months she’s been with us and I can’t wait to see what she does in 2021.
Ampersand has grown again this year and with new clients, comes new people. With remote working in play, and our long term plan to go hybrid, we decided it was time to refresh the selection process. We needed to focus on behavioral skills. Now, more than ever, we needed people who would engage and collaborate. So, we added a step in the selection process: an initial chat with me so that we could introduce Ampersand, the candidate could share their experience and I could answer any initial questions. This has been extremely beneficial in ensuring we move forward with people who fit with Ampersand and vice versa.
With our updated selection process, we’ve onboarded seven new starters, including QA Testers, Front End Developers, and Grad Developers. I was a bit nervous to remotely onboard new team members but it’s been pretty smooth sailing. We built extra structure, additional support and get-to-know-ya socials in their first three months.
Pre-covid, we did lunch and learns and team nights out. To ensure we kept it social working from home, we had to get creative! A few of my favourites have been:
- Monthly quizzes. Since June we’ve implemented monthly quizzes with different hosts and prizes.
- Halloween. We did competitions including a costume contest, bake-off, chocolate count and scary movie recreation. It was awesome to see everyone in our virtual meetings decked out in their costumes.
- Edale. We want to give everyone an opportunity to see each other (socially distanced of course) so we’ve partnered with Freshwalks for a team walk through Edale on 17th December. It may be chilly, but I can’t wait to get away from the computer and see some of the team.
- Hoodies. Who doesn’t love company swag?! We thought now was a great time to bring the team together and get matching hoodies.
- And stay tuned on our Instagram (@AmpersandHQ) for our #AmpersandChristmasSpecial2020 on 16th December. It’s going to be oh-so-merry and bright!
A key focus point for the People team when we began remote working was communication. It was imperative we remained transparent and available. We focused on three main areas; company stand ups, weekly department meetings, and implementing Sococo, which has been crucial in keeping the ‘office’ vibe without being in the actual office. We are quickly able to have face-to-face chats whilst seeing what other members of the team are doing.
All of this has worked rather successfully. So much so, we made a business decision to move towards hybrid working permanently. We will be renovating the office in January 2021 to better fit a hybrid model, including new rooms, pods, 121 spaces, and break out areas so we are ready to go in the new year.
Check out my blog about our switch to hybrid working here for more detail.
Although we’ve implemented some really great things, I think it’s important to call out that it hasn’t all been rainbows and butterflies. Here are some things we’re currently working on understanding:
- How do we help the team unplug after they finish work?
- How do we get even more team members involved with socials?
- What’s the best way to support the team without creating unnecessary noise?
Our challenges will be addressed in our Best Companies focus groups in the new year, followed by new initiatives to ensure we are evolving and listening to what the team wants.
Reflecting on this past year brings to light that positive things have happened. We’ve grown as a business and as a team, we’ve creatively engaged with our people, and we’ve been able to uphold our transparent, fun, and technically excellent nature we are known for in a remote capacity. It hasn’t been a perfect year, but I’m proud of how the HR team and the wider agency has handled what’s been thrown at us. We’re excited to see what 2021 brings!
If you want to be part of the Ampersand team, head to our careers page here to check out our current opportunities.
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