Health, happiness and general all-round wellbeing

Ernest Hunter Green discuss the importance of Health, happiness and general all-round wellbeing in the workplace:

We set out to create what we thought was the optimum working environment for recruiters like us – people who have created a successful career for themselves but who wanted to be part of a grown-up business that lets them work in the most productive way in an autonomous but supportive set up.

Our thoughts were; we don’t really need the hands-on management type set up for ourselves and we’re not planning on hiring anyone unlike ourselves so why would we need an office with controlled hours, strict rigid KPI’s and a micromanagement style?

We’d been frustrated working in environments that insist on set working hours, set locations and set objectives that were sometimes preventing us from doing the best possible job.  So, when we were setting up Ernest Hunter Green we looked to create a business that provided an environment and a benefits scheme that we would want, with the theory that similar people would want to come and work here too!

Things have evolved over the two and a half years we’ve been in business and we realised that the optimum working environment wasn’t just about the physical space that we conducted business in, it was also about making ourselves happy and healthy mentally. We quickly saw that by removing the pressure of the dated, KPI led ‘sales floor’ dynamic we were generally more productive which meant we were more successful and ultimately we were generally happier people, so we decided to incorporate the importance of happiness and wellbeing into our culture.

We integrate as many perks, tips and initiatives that drive, encourage and promote wellbeing as possible.  We’ve seen the positive impact it has on our consultants and as a direct result, the benefit to the business. We’ve learned that happy, healthy employees mean happy clients, happy candidates and healthy billings.

How we do it:

We have a completely flexible working model, you can work from anywhere you want – create your ideal working space at home, spend the day in a hotel, a café, on your sofa, or at one of our co-working membership hubs.  We offer a benefits scheme that includes unlimited holiday so our consultants can take as much time off as they want, simply send a diary invitation so your team know not to disturb you.  Everyone gets private healthcare which comes with an annual health check so consultants can ensure they are generally ok physically and they have the peace of mind that they have insurance if anything serious ever happens.

As we are a remote business we created a ‘Virtual Fitness Club’ (it’s a WhatsApp group…) for everyone to share their healthy activities and to motivate others to do the same. We encourage each other to share tips and ideas on various things that we have found that help us feel happy, energised and productive.  These range from topics such as sleep, meditation and exercise to more formalised organised activities such as charity ‘team’ running events. The most recent addition to our scheme has been the Grokker.com health and wellbeing service which allows employees to access a realm of wellbeing videos from healthy recipes to yoga classes to meditation sessions.

Due to the reduction in commuting time consultants have had more time to look after themselves so we encourage as much activity as possible. The general rule of thumb is to simply ensure that you use some of the extra time you now have to do something that makes you happy!

We encourage mental health days for when you need a day away from the desk. We trust each other’s work ethic, we know that to get to where we are in our recruitment careers you should be hard working and care about what you do so our consultants are never going to abandon their desks, phones, emails at a critical time – they are trusted to manage their business responsibly and if they want/feel like they need a day off then they take it.

Challenges

While the remote set up is great in many ways it is a double edged sword in others.  Our internal recruitment process is rigorous as we need to feel confident that people joining our business are capable of operating in this environment as we appreciate that this way of working is perhaps not for everyone. It is easy to isolate yourself when you work the way we do so it is important to us that everyone we hire feels confident and comfortable to reach out to us if they aren’t feeling as well as they should be and if they feel they need some support. They may need a couple of days in the company of other consultants – all they need to do is pick up the phone and suggest it, there is always someone that is feeling the same way or knows what it is like so is happy to meet up and spend the day working together. It is all about finding the right balance that works for you.

We use Skype all the time to talk face to face and to interact, we meet regularly in various locations to ensure we have the real face time that recruiters so often need.  Ultimately, a remote working environment will always be more isolated than an office based role. So, every quarter we carry out a feedback exercise with the team to see how they are feeling about the business, any improvements that can be made and any ideas that they would like to see implemented that they feel could add value to our set up.  The scores so far have been high in regards to employee happiness so we think we’re getting it right somewhere.

We’ve seen productivity go up in comparison to individual consultant performance in their previous roles and everyone has more of that ‘work-life balance’ that generally is something you accept isn’t available to you as a recruiter.  One person in particular was commuting for around 4 hours a day in their past role so having that time back has made a huge difference to their personal life.  Although that’s an extreme example, everyone is able to do more whilst not working less. Sometimes recruiters work very long hours, as everyone knows, but it really takes the edge off if it’s only a short walk to the TV or the kitchen once you’re done. You could set yourself up for the day to work in the area you need to be in that evening for whatever social event you have going on later that night.

Only time will tell how well our model really works but we’re proud of the team we’ve attracted because of it. Our clients and candidates are happy with Ernest Hunter Green as we have empowered consultants who deliver a service with a smile on their face!

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