Covid-19: Employee Wellbeing and Remote Working – One Year On
Chief Human Resources Officer
Thursday 11 March 2021
2020 was a year that nobody predicted in the business world, but the green shoots of brighter days are now visible and the hope for what lies ahead is palpable. As we reflect on a year that brought so much turmoil, change, and uncertainty, we should be proud as a business community for the resilience, determination, and collaboration shown.
In February 2020 FinTrU’s Executive Team attended a leadership development session on managing change in a VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous) world. We did not know then just how quickly we would become immersed in dealing with such a high degree of organisational volatility and uncertainty and how apt the timing of this session was.
At this stage, we had already begun to communicate with our employees on the emerging situation around the Covid-19 virus and established a response team to inform all decisions made. The situation changed daily, sometimes several times throughout the day, but we could see that this represented a potentially significant shift in our working practices and one we wanted to be well ahead of. On the 28th of February, we put a restriction on all business travel into and out of our offices and our broader Covid response gained pace.
At all stages of our response, we had two priorities – the health and wellbeing of our employees and the commitment to continued delivery excellence to our clients. We initiated a plan to transition our employees to home working. This was a mammoth task as all employees were office-based before the pandemic. We made a significant investment in digital infrastructure that would allow our employees to work at home in the same way they could in the office. We prioritised groups to transition to home working based on their perceived risk factors and with each day our offices emptied and by the 16th of March, all FinTrU employees were fully transitioned to home working, ahead of the imposed Government lockdown. The achievement of such a swift response represented a cross-organisational collaboration that had never happened at that scale before. Everyone was committed to one clear objective and worked tirelessly to ensure it was a smooth and successful transition.
In some respects, this is when the real work began as we looked to establish our new normal. Never had home and work become so entwined and every employee had their challenges to adjust to.
Out of necessity, we accelerated our digital modernisation journey to enable employees to connect, collaborate, and contribute in a meaningful way. We delivered enablement sessions and training on working remotely as well as wellbeing sessions that acknowledged the many challenges we all faced individually. Wellbeing then and now is a top priority as we recognise the huge impact these times present to our employees. During the last 12 months, we pushed the rules, policies, and procedures to one side to support employees through the many personal challenges they have faced, and in return, they have been committed, engaged, and hugely productive.
As a leadership team, we quickly determined that our ambitious growth plans for 2020 could and should continue and we are very fortunate to work in a resilient industry where demand for our services had never been greater. Our business development, client engagement, hiring, and delivery all transitioned to this remote environment seamlessly.
FinTrU’s unique and thriving culture was a key consideration during the transition to home working and continued to be a key focus throughout the last year. Maintaining our special culture and employee experience was exceptionally important and we designed new and creative ways to bring this to life remotely. Our contribution to charity, diversity and inclusion, learning and development, and social initiatives all continued to flourish, and this can be attributed to the ingenuity and commitment of our employees. From our TrU Networking sessions to our Bounce TrU Winter wellbeing programme, we immersed ourselves in opportunities to engage, focus on positive initiatives and keep connected.
As we approach the first anniversary of working from our homes, we, like other businesses, are actively planning for what the future looks like in terms of post-pandemic working practices and some of the key considerations such as:
• phasing employees back to office working
• the role of Covid-19 testing in facilitating a safe return
• considerations around vaccinated and non-vaccinated employees
• future flexible working practices
Almost daily there are articles and surveys published around what employees want in terms of the future of work and the concept of hybrid working is the most favoured in all data that emerges. Employees want to retain some of the many personal benefits of home working whilst still having time in the office to collaborate and connect with colleagues. The pandemic has unlocked a lot in terms of forward-thinking and digital acceleration, and it would be a missed opportunity not to consider how we could embed this to drive employee experience and business performance.
A report from Microsoft Surface and YouGov entitled Work Smarter to Live Better has found that almost nine out of ten (87%) employees reported their businesses have adapted to hybrid working. This new way of working has allowed employees to live life differently. 55% now use their lunch break to focus on their personal life and 56% reported an increase in their levels of happiness working from home.
So, as we start to enjoy those green shoots of brighter and better days ahead, let us not forget how resilient as a business community we have been but most importantly how resilient our employees have been. At FinTrU we are both grateful and proud of our employees who have risen to the challenge and adapted so well at every stage. They will continue to be central to our approach as we embark on the further change that lies ahead.
Chief Human Resources Officer
A Chartered Member of CIPD, Sinead has over 15 years' experience in operational and senior HR leadership roles within retail, technology and financial services organisations.
Prior to joining FinTrU, Sinead held the role of Regional HR Business Partner within Citi, supporting the Markets and Security Services Technology business across the EMEA region and the Production Services business globally.
At FinTrU, Sinead holds the role of Chief Human Resources Officer and is a member of the Executive Committee. She is responsible for leading all aspects of the human resources function and crafting the people strategy to support the ever-evolving business needs.
Sinead holds an MSc in Human Resource Management, awarded by Ulster University. She is also a qualified trainer with vast experience in traditional and digital training design and delivery.
Founded in December 2013, FinTrU is a multi‐award winning RegTech company in the Financial Services sector that is committed to giving local talent the opportunity to work on the global stage with the largest International Investment Banks. FinTrU works with clients to design solutions to help them meet their regulatory obligations in areas such as Legal, Risk, Compliance, KYC, Operations, Consultancy and Technology. FinTrU’s clients are all global Investment Banks, based in North America, Europe and Asia and the company’s business model is to provide technology enabled solutions to clients to augment and support their existing internal functions.