In March 2020 Saltgate was in the enviable position that our robust IT infrastructure enabled all 200 staff to switch to remote working almost overnight, even before government and regulatory mandates were in place. This was phenomenal from an employee health and safety perspective, but quite daunting for a new group HR leader tasked with understanding the business from within.
The reality hasn’t been further from those day-one fears. I soon realised that all of Saltgate’s decisions and planning start and end with consideration of our people. This has been no different as we have navigated the pandemic. Our employees’ individual circumstances and their health were at the forefront of all activity; an approach that enabled us to plan appropriately and continue to provide our clients with the high level of service they expect, while not compromising on the health and wellbeing of our people or their families.
In March all employees were given complimentary access to the mindfulness app, Headspace, and membership to an online fitness provider, One Element. This was taken up by a huge number of staff and has had a positive impact on safeguarding our team members’ physical and mental health. Both initiatives are still in place for all staff and new joiners. In recognition that taking downtime had become harder, we gifted all team members a subscription to Netflix, Disney TV or an online magazine, or an Amazon voucher, so that entertainment and diversion was also firmly on the ‘at home’ agenda.
In April we recognised that a number of staff had postponed or cancelled leave and were reluctant to use holiday allowances when leaving the Island was not a possibility. Acknowledging their concerns, and strongly believing that taking time out from work is vital for employee wellbeing and long-term business productivity, we awarded each employee three additional days’ paid leave to take over the summer. These Balance Days have enabled staff to take some guilt-free time out at this unprecedented time – a concept that has been key to our team wellbeing.
In the virtual office we increased our internal communications with daily intranet posts, team and individual video calls, virtual coffee breaks, weekly manager momentum seminars and regular vlogs form the leadership team; engaging throughout the group to ensure that our colleagues felt connected, without exception.
And our commitment to our team has not stopped with the existing employees. We have continued to fill vacancies and on-board staff throughout the pandemic, having welcomed 44 new joiners across the group since March, all of whom have been able to commence work as planned and to immediately engage with our business. Our Summer Intern programme is in full swing, with 29 students working with us between June and September, gaining valuable work experience and contributing to our teams.
I can’t say that my role has not been impacted by the Covid-19 crisis, but I am very pleased to have joined a firm that has turned its focus to solutions and innovation, putting people first and committing to building upon the many positive outcomes that we have learned as we navigate this historical moment in time. I am excited for what is to come.