We’re Work.Life, the workplace wellbeing experts. Over the last 5 years, we’ve been finding out the secrets to what makes people happy at work, creating our very own Work Happy podcast, and trying to measure happiness in our workspaces. In light of Covid-19, we wanted to take it one step further, and find out how people leaders at some of our favourite businesses have been navigating the pandemic and keeping their teams (you guessed it…) happy and engaged at work.
Next up, we speak to Jane Bright, Director of People and Talent at Bloom & Wild. Having grown their team by over 30% this year, we wanted to find out how they’ve been hiring & onboarding virtually through these testing times…
First of all, we’d love to hear a bit about you personally – where you were before Bloom & Wild, when you joined the company, and your role!
I joined Bloom & Wild nearly 4 years ago as our first Head of People and Talent. At that time more than anything I wanted to find a company that supported me as a mum and also allowed me a career where I learnt loads.
My role now is Director of People and Talent and I spend my time looking at all things talent development, talent acquisition and employer branding, reward and benefits and anything HR infrastructure related. It’s pretty busy and I’m still learning loads every day so I love it!
Say I knew nothing about Bloom & Wild, what can you tell us about the company values & culture?
We have five core values that we co-created very early on (before my time in fact). They’re care, delight, innovation, customer first and pride. We live and breathe these values and hire people that share them. This means that the culture that we’ve built is one of caring for each other and the small things, taking pride in the work that we do and the way that we do it.
Working at Bloom & Wild is fast paced, demanding (in a good way) and there is so much opportunity. Our leadership team is deliberate about communicating our mission, vision and objectives and our team are aligned around those and super motivated to make it happen. There’s a lot of trust and space to innovate, grow and learn as well as pride in the considered and caring way we’re achieving our vision.
The thing that always gets called out most about working here is our people, and how lucky and fortunate we all feel to work with such a talented and smart team. I definitely feel that too.
Pre-pandemic, what was it like starting a job at Bloom & Wild? What onboarding processes did you have in place?
The Bloom & Wild office is really quite a special place both physically and culturally. When you walk in the first thing that hits you is the fragrance of flowers and then the office from there is pretty impressive. It’s on the top floor at Vox Studios in Vauxhall so not only does it have great views but it’s also very light. It’s filled with bouquets, new products and beautiful artwork and packaging courtesy of our brilliant brand team. In the waiting area there is a glass panel allowing you to see our flower studio where florists design new bouquets and as you tour the floor there are huge desks, a massive open plan kitchen and plenty of collaboration space.
Our onboarding processes were designed to support this experience both before people start and give our new joiners all the tools and information they need to feel confident and succeed once they start.
Some examples are receiving a letterbox bouquet a few days before you start so that you can experience our product as well as spending plenty of time with our Customer Delight team in the first week to better understand our customer and the sorts of challenges a perishable product like ours has. We think taking the time to do that early on means we’ll all be able to be more customer centric in all the work that we do.
What are the key things you want to achieve when you onboard a new member of staff?
I get so excited when we make an offer to a new team member, we love growing our team and feel like new starters are part of the family as soon as they’ve accepted so we try to show them a little bit of Bloom & Wild culture throughout their onboarding. We invite all our new joiners to our monthly meetings, any team events we’ve got going on (at the moment that’s our remote Christmas party), and send them all the equipment needed for their first day. We’ve been sending out a letterbox bouquet before people start since early on and I remember being so delighted when I received my bouquet nearly 4 years ago.
The onboarding experience is such a great opportunity for us to share a little of what living and breathing our values is all about, setting our new team members up for success whilst caring for and delighting them at the same time.
Are your team still working remotely?
Yes as a business we can do all of our roles from home so at the moment our entire office is working from home following government guidelines. During the first lockdown we actually went fully remote before the government mandated we needed to (in fact just before Mothers day which is one of our biggest peaks of the year). It’s a scary and unusual time for so many reasons and I’m glad we’re able to operate fully remotely at a time like this.
“One of the big things with remote onboarding is we can’t see if new team members are struggling once they’ve started so you’re relying on them building relationships, finding the confidence to ask all the questions they need, and share what they’re struggling with too.”
How has hiring and onboarding changed as a result of this year? What have been the major challenges?
This year has been a huge challenge for hiring and onboarding. We’re definitely still iterating and improving all the time.
When we’re in the office people feel and can physically see our culture; the energy and the way we work and interact. Before March I think the leading expectation when interviewing was that most roles would be fully office based with perhaps one or two days working from home. In the last 8 months we’ve found people’s motivations and expectations have changed, so during our remote interviews we’re deliberately asking lots more questions around personal motivations as well as proactively sharing our plans for returning to the office and post-Covid working patterns.
It’s much harder to take a new role when you haven’t met your manager and team members face to face or really seen the office. Some of our managers have been creative to get around this with socially distanced final interviews in parks to give that comfort and I think that’s helped. It helps to pick up on body language and other non verbal communication styles that are hard to fully read via video call.
This year the other big focus in hiring has been D&I. We’re pretty passionate about it as a team and we’ve made lots of changes both in the hiring process and elsewhere in our people lifecycle. For example we’ve been trialling advertising our roles on the likes of YSYS, Black Young Professionals network and Adas List. In the last month we’ve also introduced flexible public holidays to mean our team feels fully supported to celebrate the holidays that best fit their beliefs and celebration calendar.
One of the big things with remote onboarding is we can’t see if new team members are struggling once they’ve started so you’re relying on them building relationships, finding the confidence to ask all the questions they need, and share what they’re struggling with too.
We’ve increased internal mentoring and the number of meetings we pre-book for new starters in the first few weeks to provide much more upfront structure. At the same time our team, as normal, have been so welcoming and really helped.
What would your advice be to businesses hiring & onboarding remotely?
The main thing is to keep things as human and personal as possible. You can put in as much process and documentation in place as you like but taking the time to establish a good personal relationship with someone and setting up strong feedback loops early will mean someone has the confidence to ask what they need when they need it. The thing you’re really trying to optimise against is someone struggling by themselves remotely and not wanting to ask for help.
And finally, what makes you happy at work?
New challenges and learning and the people I get to work with everyday!