Long-Term Change Beckons Post-COVID

17th July 2020

H&H Group returns with new ways of working following results of employee survey.  Like many other firms during the COVID-19 pandemic, H&H had to significantly adapt its operations in order to continue trading.  To find out how their employees coped with the challenges during the lockdown, the company conducted an internal survey reaching over 300 staff across their diverse range of businesses, including H&H Land & Estates, H&H Insurance Brokers, Harrison & Hetherington Farmstock Auctioneers and H&H Reeds. Here, Richard Rankin CEO reflects on the results, contemplating the lessons learnt and how the businesses will look to adapt into the future.

“We always knew we wanted to prioritise people’s mental well-being during the crisis, and it was really important to us to hear more about how our staff dealt with the circumstances. It is so easy to feel alone even in normal times, so we wanted to make talking and keeping in touch with colleagues a priority, and as easy as possible. With teams scheduling virtual coffee mornings, weekly catchups and encouraging daily contact with colleagues, we managed to foster a community and team spirit that meant even while working apart staff reported feeling connected.  Outside of the survey we also asked for pictures of how everyone was coping with daily life in lockdown, sharing these across the group helped normalise the very different lives we were all now living.

“In terms of lessons learnt, there were some common responses and key takeaways for the future. One thing that stood out was how much our employees responded positively to home working. The survey showed that as a result of their experience, staff across the majority of our companies felt a strong desire for more flexibility in the future which would mean more options for working from home, adjustable hours, and a better work-life balance to spend more time with family.

“H&H Group will listen to our colleagues and think about how to integrate these new preferences going forward. Obviously, a long-term switch to digital tools like Teams and Zoom is a great way to reduce time commuting or travelling for meetings, and many shared a preference for these alternatives as business resumes.

“Out of office working looks to be the way of the future, and I think how businesses adapt to this new landscape that will impact their post-pandemic recovery. Also, something that came out of the survey was a strong appreciation for the positive interactions we encouraged through these times of hardship.

“Early on it became clear that cooperation and kindness would get us through the pandemic. Many staff commented on a wish to keep up these positive communications, to focus on praise between colleagues and elevate quality outcomes rather than quantity. This feedback showed that feeling valued was a key buffer against negativity in lockdown and is definitely something we can take forward as a group in terms of management practices.

“During Mental Health Awareness week, we asked staff across the whole Group to nominate colleagues who had gone above and beyond during lockdown. We received so many amazing stories about people actively supporting each other, doing work in the community, checking in with one another and providing for colleagues’ safety. It was really inspiring to spotlight these examples in my daily emails, and I think it was a great way for us to concentrate on the good news rather than the bad.”

“H&H Group is dedicating efforts to analysing our people’s feedback and assessing how it can be integrated into the company’s future business plans. The resilience and capacity for adaptation was a welcome surprise to all and proved that the future, although uncertain, will provide many opportunities for operational renewal and rejuvenation.”

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