A Spoonful of HR Magic: Prioritising Wellbeing & Engagement

I have always loved musicals.

In fact, if I hadn't taken a path into HR, I may well have worked in the arts.

One of my favourites is Mary Poppins, and I often think of myself as a bit like her when flying into a new role with a magical bag (my HR toolkit) and assessing the needs of those I will be looking after, whether that's a business or an individual.

So when a letter blew in through my window (OK - an email from a recruiter), I started to read and knew this was the role for me.

HR at a Remote-First Reinsurtech Company

Wanted: an HR manager for a small startup with a distributed team, must have a cheery disposition and help encourage positivity.

I was aware that some of our team were in Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia, and just 3 days before joining… Well, sadly we all know what happened.

I knew then that any priorities I may have had in my mind were going to be very different, both from the business perspective and the duty of care for our team.

Usually, I would take a few weeks and get to know the business needs and how HR can add value.

Sometimes compliance is the priority, protecting a business and ensuring everyone knows the policies and processes so that things are fair and consistent.

Sometimes it may be that engagement is poor, and engagement tools such as pulse surveys and strategies are needed to improve engagement.

It may be that the priority is to automate systems to ensure scalability as the organisation grows. Whatever it is, there is usually something in the toolkit to support that.

My Bottomless HR Toolkit

I don't usually dive into my bottomless HR toolkit to find solutions until after that period of assessment has happened, but with the turn of events, it required some Mary magic and most certainly a spoonful of sugar!

Wellbeing was going to be key from day one, so into the bag, I went and out came Spill, which in my opinion is pretty magical.

The founders at Supercede were incredibly responsive and agreed on my first day that we could implement this immediately.

Spill offers some great features.

It has the option to ask a therapist a quick question or to book a course of therapy sessions online. It offers this in a variety of languages.

It offers practical advice, like an EAP, and also has some fantastic features such as the Wall of Praise, where each week someone is selected and will receive comments from all their colleagues about how wonderful they are.

It also has a pulse check-in that you can set up before meetings to see how people are feeling, and this can be tracked over time to look for signs of burnout, lack of engagement, and general wellbeing.

They also do great seminars on wellbeing, such as sleep and anxiety.

Spill ran sessions on anxiety and how to reduce it, and also on burnout, which were very well received by the team.

We also implemented BambooHR very quickly, to ensure we had accurate records, next of kin, location data all stored and updated.

This is a self-service platform, so it meant that our team could update their locations and addresses as some of those in Ukraine had relocated.

BambooHR also has some great survey features, so we were able to track the impact of the initiatives we were implementing when it came to the wellbeing of our team.

ENPS Scores and Llamas

Alongside all this, we knew that many of our team felt scared, remote, alone, and that work was very important to them as a point of focus.

We also had colleagues who were worried and concerned, so we made sure that we took time to have regular catch-ups, with a weekly all-hands meeting, and also running events like online racing, bingo, quizzes, escape rooms, and we even had a real llama join us on one of our meetings!

Even Mary couldn't magic a llama out of her bag!

The results are fantastic.

Spill recently told us that from all the survey data, we have been awarded with two badges:

One is Enthusiasm; we are in the top 25 workplaces (out of just over 600) for Enthusiasm and in the bottom 25 workplaces for anxiousness.

Our ENPS score (would you recommend Supercede as a place to work) is 77, up from 31 in a year.

31 is still a very good score, as -10 to +20 are a normal score, with anything over 40 an excellent score.

Mary would need a very big measuring stick for that number!

Running alongside all of this are all the usual HR and Operations tasks, and while we have a lot of fun and engagement, we are all totally focused on the development of our product. 

Happy people work more effectively and with more passion and will deliver great products and, in turn, be a big win for the business.

Improving employee engagement is not simply about improving productivity — although organisations with a high level of engagement do report 22% higher productivity. In addition, strong employee engagement promotes a variety of outcomes that are good for employees and customers.

It's a win-win.

It also helps that my colleagues are the most incredible, dedicated, resilient, and kind team of people and totally committed to our values and goals.

I am so glad that letter found its way to me a year ago, and that no one so far has put toads in my bed or pepper in my tea!

I hope the wind doesn't change, as I don't want to leave!


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Jerad Leigh
Ben Rose
Jess McCausland
Tom Spier
Livvie Sandells