Podcast: From FinTech to the frontlines

Thu, Dec 17, '20 •

Podcast: From FinTech to the frontlines

Working from home became the new normal in the last few months. For most of us, anyway. When desk employees moved to home office, it came along with some challenges, but that massive switch affected another employee segment – the frontlines. Communicating with frontline employees became more important than ever, but finding a way to do so is easier said than done.

Today Amy Jenkins from theEMPLOYEEapp and Drew Holland from GoCardless are joining our last podcast for 2020 to tell us how that went on on the two sides of the pond. 

You can listen or watch the episode, or scroll down to read the transcript – up to you. We’ll see you in 2021!

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Jonathan Davies: Alright, welcome. We're back for the last episode of the Internal Communication podcast of the year. Not permanently, just the year. Don't worry, we will be back in 2021, which will hopefully be a much better year than 2020 has been! Now, before you've heard us speak to the lovely people of scarlettabbott, Lindsay and Russell, where we had to look back at the year 2020 and kind of went through everything that had happened.

Today we're going to do the same, but we're going to bring in a completely different perspective because we have two guests for you here. First off, we've got somebody on a completely different continent, very passionate about frontline workers, amazing at what she does, benen at Chipotle for 10 years.

I'm going to stop sealing your funder because you will get the chance to introduce yourself. We've got Amy Jenkins here, and then on the other side of the pond, a person who I've been trying to get on this podcast forever. It's Drew! You see Drew Hollands from GoCardless who's here to give us his perspective from what's been happening within Internal Comms and especially kind of in the tech scene side of things. 

Welcome both of you really excited to have you before we go off and ramble on about what a crazy year it's been. Why don't you both introduce yourself first, maybe starting with Amy. 

Amy Jenkins: Sure, thanks, Jonathan. I'm really excited to be here and to talk about all that to happen in this wild and crazy year, that is 2020, specifically about impacts on frontline and desk-less employees because of it, it has been pretty dramatic and impactful for Internal Communicators as well.

As Jonathan said, I spent 10 years at Chipotle leading Internal Communications, but most recently I've spent the last two years at theEMPLOYEEapp, leading a client strategy and helping our clients get through this crisis and deliver mobile communications to their frontline workers.

Jonathan Davies: Awesome. It's really exciting. We're very happy to have you here because the perspective of what's been happening with frontline workers sometimes gets lost in the slur of knowledge workers who get locked into their office or in this case, their kitchen table. That's a very welcome addition.

We're really happy to have you here, Amy. Now we're going to move on to the other bald man with a beard in this call. Drew, who are you? We're so happy to have you here. 

Drew Holland: I'm Drew. So yeah, it’s a pleasure to be here. I'm sorry it's taken us so long to be here. I mean, as we were all busy in 2020, I can't apologize too much.

I've had some other stuff going on, but I've been working in telecoms for about fifteen years. I've worked at places like the BBC which is a mobile phone and  telecommunications business. I'm now at GoCardless, which is FinTech specializing in recurring payments. It's a pleasure to be here. I'm excited to kind of chat through some of the ups and downs that I've seen over the last few months. 

How did COVID-19 affect frontline employees?

Jonathan Davies: Alright. Well, without further ado, let's just go ahead and get started because the cool thing here is that even though Drew’s very much from the tech side of things, and Amy comes very much from the frontline employee side of things, both of you actually have complete context of what's happening in the tech world right now.

That will also be really interesting. I've always found the tech world one of the most inspiring kinds of scenes, it leads the charge in how we deal with employees, when it comes to being a good employer and all of those types of things these days, in my humble opinion, coming from a tech company myself as well. 

Drew actually, I'd like to start with you. FinTech in the UK is really big. There's a massive war for talent going on, especially in that sector. Now everybody's able to work from home, there's less of a bond between employees and their office, and companies are feeling like they're losing a little bit of their sense of identity and these types of things.

Have you gone through any of this at GoCardless? Have you noticed any of these things and what have you been doing to kind of get out on top of that? 

Drew Holland: You're right. It's certainly very competitive out there. We're in a very crowded marketplace, best benefits and perks flying around, but companies of different sizes can't necessarily compete.

One of the things that we've really focused on and harnessed is the culture at GoCardless. For me personally, when I joined, that was one of the big selling points. It was the culture and the people. Actually, if I think back to March, when we obviously switched to remote working and left behind some of the culture that exists in an office space or an office environment where you're all bumping into each other, you can interact, I was pretty worried.

I wasn't exactly sure, there was so much going on. We had to deal with the technology side to get everybody set up to work. I was a bit apprehensive around the culture side and what the challenges were going to be, how is everyone going to react? How is everyone going to interact, and feel different when they're at home?

Because it is very different. It sounds obvious, but when you're not interacting with people, day-to-day when we can't do a town hall together in person, it has a massive impact. For me, that was aside from the very reactive stuff to get everyone set up and communicate all the things people needed to know is that reassurance that people were looking for.

I think the focus on culture and engagement was one of the biggest reflections. If I think about it now, that is probably the most important thing that we did, we made a conscious decision to really double down on the efforts that we would do in the office. Think about how we could, I guess, not rapping because there's no point in trying to retrofit something you did in the office to a remote environment, because nine times out of ten, it's not going to work or it relies on physical interactions and activity, and all that sort of stuff. But we really refined what we did well and could translate into a remote environment. We added some new things and we were really lifted to the fore. We've always been boastful.

I believe that go-call has been fantastic in the past, looking after our employees and thinking about physical and mental health, but we knew we needed to do more in a kind of unprecedented situation like this. But the people team and the office team, and all the brilliant people that I get to work with – our employees too, we were being impacted at the same time.

I really have to think, “Okay, let's set that aside and then think about the wider business. What are we going to do that 's going to maintain some of this fantastic culture that we really want to build on over the coming months with an end date that at the time was known and is sort of still unknown?”

Jonathan Davies: I think that's a really interesting point because some people forget about the fact that Internal Communicators are also people and they're also very much affected by all of this. 

How have you been in fruit out of this personally? How has this entire ordeal treated you?

Drew Holland: Personally, I've actually found it okay. I'm lucky that I've got a room that I can call an office and like everyone I’ve had ups and down days, particularly in March, April, May, June time when it was pretty much nonstop all day into the evening.

The way I approach until one comes to GC is that we need to think on a global basis. Actually we had all colleagues in Melbourne and Australia and New Zealand, and our colleagues in North America, all in different time zones and all that with we're all going through the same thing, but with local variations and how are we dealing and responding to all of these different iterations of the same thing, if that makes sense.

But I've actually been fine broadly. I think during that busy time, I had the rough days, but it was, and I can say now that we're kind of in November getting into December, it was a really satisfying time. I think secretly, I love the buzz of that. The activity that busy-ness, that value that you're able to add, I felt really proud actually.

I don't often stop and think about the impact that I and my colleagues, and the Internal Comms function is able to make. Sometimes you get into the habit of just moving from one thing to the next. Now when I think about that, I'm really proud of that time.

It was a whirlwind while I was in it, but now it's really great to see that it actually worked. We pretty much did alright. We've fallen into as much normality now it's possible, where that’s possible I guess, as a result of all the stuff that's gone on. 

Jonathan Davies: That's awesome and really good to hear. I think that's a very deserved point. I think Internal Communicators everywhere stepped up massively this year. It's really awesome to hear that you were also definitely one of them. Of course, it’s not surprising. That's really, really cool. Amy, how about from your perspective, because you're looking at this from a completely different angle, right?

First off you work at theEMPLOYEEapp, which means that you must have an overview of what's happening at multiple companies instead of just one. Then you've also got your own 10 years of experience before working a lot with frontline employees. What happened there? How has that dynamic changed?

How have they been affected by COVID-19? 

Amy Jenkins: I think as we try to come back, and obviously there've been a lot of negative impacts, but it's about the positives that come out of this. I think one of the positives that come out of this for a lot of organizations is that they finally got leadership to recognize the fact that these frontline desk-less employees did not have access to communication. If they were not in a physical building or not standing shoulder and shoulder next to their manager, they had nothing.

They didn't have an email address. They don't have access to the posters that are printed up, maybe even to their schedule. It really opened the door for Internal Communicators who had recognized the scalp for a number of years to walk into the boardroom or the Zoom room and say, “Hey, we got a group of people out here probably, upwards of 65 to 70% of our company that isn't hearing what I'm hearing and isn't hearing what all of our courses for employees who are sitting in front of a computer every day, and can log into our intranet and can get into our email can see.”

It opened the eyes of this leadership team to say “We have to open up a channel. We have to find ways to get information out to these employees – to not only help them do their jobs better when they're either back in or understand what's happening with their furloughs.” But for that culture connection that Drew was just talking about, that is so, so impactful. It is especially hard for that group to see how they fit into the bigger picture when they don't have somebody helping them, then see that on the plant floor.

It was really great to see leaders embrace this, recognize this gap in communication and really put forth plans to try to fix it. We saw that not just through clients of ours and other people within my network all over the country in the world saying, “How do I get this information out there?” But also leaders saying, “How do I communicate more often, more directly? How do I get this appreciation message out to my employees when it matters more than it ever has before?” 

How organizations learned to listen to their employees

Jonathan Davies: I'm really curious about one thing here, because there are companies that have a massive disconnect in communication between people that work in the office and their frontline workers.

If we take the companies that you've been speaking of 70%, 75% of your people are frontline workers. Have you noticed that when people in the office kind of got this withdrawal went into their shell, there was less connection? Or, if a company has spilled out into the way that the company communicated with their frontline workers in some cases, or was that quite the disconnect so large that it really was just two different worlds?

Amy Jenkins: I think that the people that tried to bring the experience together for everyone, and some cases missed the mark, because you can't say to a frontline employee who in most instances at across all of these lockdowns was still deemed essential. They were in some cases still going into the facilities and still doing their regular job. 

Whereas the corporate employees are then the employees that were sitting behind a desk, were just transferred to home, which not saying that isn't a huge impact. It obviously was a big deal, as Drew just stated. But, to try to communicate the same message to those two audiences when they're impacted so completely differently, it missed the mark in a lot of cases.

I actually heard this from a lot of people who are in those essential worker positions, where they said, when all the communication that was going on was about “Oh, we're now remote. What do we do? How do we change the way our style is?” They felt like “Woo, I'm still here to talk to me!”.

I think it's important to make sure that while the messages are consistent and everybody understands the impact on each other, there are ways to communicate directly to the teams and talk about their individual experience first, to help each employee group see that they are seen and they are heard and they are listening to you.

Then you can bring that message back to holistically – “How do we all get through this together?” But I think if you don't take that time to really direct the message and show people that the way that they're impacted is different, and acknowledge that difference, it's going to be really hard to bounce back.

Jonathan Davies: I think that makes complete sense. It's always been the case that if you want to unite people, give them a common enemy or common goal. It sounds like that common goal is very much there, but the way that you communicate it to both groups is just a different kind of story. It is apples and oranges. May still be fruit, but it's apples and oranges. 

Amy Jenkins: Exactly! 

Jonathan Davies: Drew, in your case, you work in a FinTech company, GoCardless is one of the leading FinTech companies in the UK certainly and elsewhere in the world as well. How were your people impacted by the transition to remote work? Also, going forward, is GoCardless going to be 100% remote, 50% remote, 20% remote. How do you see that happening?

Drew Holland: On the second point, I can tell you watch this space because that's one of the big projects that we're working through now. That requires input, not just from our leaders, but actually our employees as well, because one of the things we've done a lot over the course of this year was listening.

We did it anyway. It's certainly nothing new, but in terms of broadcast columns – we upped those. We did way more than we'd ever done before, but listening as well, we really went above and beyond, I think. We’re huge, we have around 400 employees. If you think about what that's like for a culprit with thousands of employees, it's probably the same in that we have very polarizing news – some people are very comfortable being at home. Some people find it extremely difficult for various reasons, whether it's space in the house or whether it's mental health. We did a lot of listening, to really try and get an understanding of what was working for people and what wasn't, and where we could do a better job of helping essentially, and making them feel that GoCardless was looking after them.

That's where we wanted to get to. I think that listening is something that isn't going to go away. Now, when I think about your point, are we going to be completely remote, are we going to be somewhere in between? It's a big piece of work because we, it feels like not just for us, but many other businesses, we've opened the door to something a bit unknown.

We had flexibility before, as I said, many people love being in the office. We did actually open the office as a result of feedback two days a week. Throughout the summer, we did a trial Tuesdays and Thursdays, and that was a direct result of feedback from employees. There was no pressure on anybody, that the narrative and the messaging that was around choice.

We want to support you in whichever way that you feel most comfortable to work. As I said, some people live fairly close to the office, but others need to get on public transport, because that was one of the big things that came up for us – “I might want to come into the office, but actually I don't want to get the train or I don't want to get the bus.”

We found that there was a pocket of employees who lived relatively closely in London. It's a split into zones. If London like zone one and two is fairly central, so it was walkable or they could cycle in. What we wanted to do was provide choice. I think that in a really simplistic way, forms are a really important part of people's wellbeing because the other people who didn't want to come in and felt okay to not come in, we weren't going to say that the rest of the team came in and maybe they should too.

There was never anything like that. I'm really actually proud of it. I've heard opposite sorts of stories from some people that I know in other places where actually the nudges have been to make employees feel a bit compelled to come in, maybe when they didn't want to.

I think for us going forward, that input from employees is going to continue to play a really important part of the story that we're going to tell around how we change and adapt to the, and I hate this term, the new normal, which is inevitable because we have to adapt and we can't really go back to how we were before.

That's exciting as well. I'm excited to see where that goes. That's a piece of work that we're beginning to understand and unravel a little bit now to see what are the impacts on certain teams. Because there are individuals, but also teams who love to do things in person and look at me:

“Oh, another suit on”, and I think a lot of it requires a change of mindset because I've heard a few times around, during the days when we had the office open, for example, some of our team maybe sat in the office. It's a little bit back to how it was before, where they can interact over a table or the members of the team or on the screen.

I think there's a bit of work there to do, whether that's with, in conjunction with all L&D teams, for example, to think about all behavior going forward and how we can start changing the way that meetings work is one really simple example. If you've got people who've dialed in versus sat in the room – how do we stop the room?

People taking over and the people on the screen never got to look at it and that's okay. That's behavior change that needs to happen over a period of time. I think there's a job there through comms and with other colleagues in HR and development to help change a bit of that thinking, because I've seen in some of the feedback that we've had the comments around what are we going to do

You still work when there's people on the screen and some in the office, all this stuff that I think can work and can change, but it requires us to leave behind how we used to do things. I think there's still a tendency and I'm guilty of this as well. Thinking about how we used to do something and trying to apply it to the now – it doesn't really work that way.

I think there's some interesting challenges to work through and to get the best results it's going to require, not just the working groups or whether that's HR and the leadership team, and whoever else is involved. Also, I want to keep hearing from the wide employee base as much as we can.

It's true, you can't please everyone all of the time. What we come up with may not be what everybody loves, but I want to get somewhere that feels very us, feels very GoCardless, and it's the best fit for us to allow us to continue to do our best work. I’ve seen that big shift to employees listening to which is really exciting.

Amy Jenkins: I’ve seen that big shift to employee listening too, which is really exciting. Companies have always spent so much money on listening to customers and putting things out through marketing channels, to get a sense of how people are feeling, what actions they're taking. I've seen a shift over the course in the last year of organizations going, “What are employees thinking, feeling, doing, and how do I apply that to what we're doing internally and especially to Internal Comms?”

How do I see what's working? What's generating results that I'm after and how do I make more of an effort, maybe even get more budget or put forward more people. Towards getting us to continue to achieve that same result. I think that's awesome. Drew, I love that employee listening shift.

Jonathan Davies: I actually think that's really interesting because at the start of the whole pandemic thing, if you saw how this evolves, what Internal Communicators are mainly busy with is at the start was mainly busy with what they communicate. What kind of information did we get out there to whom all of that stuff. Now we're very much focused on how we communicate.

I think it's a really healthy development that we're now starting to get on top of. Look, the way we communicate has changed, I can't just walk up to somebody's desk, interrupt them and ask them something. I have to send them a message through Google Chat or Slack, or Teams or whatever application that you use. Then there are a host of other channels. How does that play into our mix? When do we use what? Drew you're right on the money. It's a massive behavior change for a lot of people because you have to help them and kind of help them feel empowered. 

I'm really curious how this also reflects on the kind of frontline employee side of things, because Amy, you've essentially been working a large part of your career to help them get their voices heard. A lot of people struggled with getting their voices heard remotely. They had to get used to channels. They had to adapt and it's not natural for everyone. How did that happen within the frontline employee side of things?

The survey fatigue: How to overcome it?

Amy Jenkins: I've seen a lot of organizations shift to more surveys. Trying to find better access points to get those out to people, and surveys have always been around. But I think one of the things is we get the information and we maybe don't communicate the results of that for like six months.

It’s “We've given our voice, we've given our feedback, but we don't see anything happen. We don't see anything change. You see people do that less and less, and less. They stopped sharing and I've seen a lot of companies take really proactive approaches, as they're writing the survey, they're thinking about, “Okay. What are the responses we're likely going to get back and what are we going to do with that? Because we're not going to be able to ignore it. If people are really unhappy about this certain aspect of our new normal, how are we going to change and how are we going to shift and let them know that we're listening and we heard it?”

I’ve seen a lot more people reaching out to different line workers directly getting their feedback and having a plan before they even get the results back. Having multiple scenarios of how they're going to interpret those results and then make changes within the organization to tell their employees.

We did listen to you and we're going to do something about that to make it better for you. One really strong example of that: I saw the frontline workers within the organization as the frontline workers coming back and off the furlough. A lot of schools were still shut down. Daycares were still shut down.

There was a lot of concern about “How I still take care of my family?” and or “The paycheck that I so desperately need”, and contributing to the success of our company. As that feedback was coming back to this particular organization, they started setting up hotlines for daycares.

They identified different places and facilities that were open across the community and put people in contact. They did the research, the company did the research for the employees. They could just hand over a list and say, “Here's some options for you” or even try to come up with ways of doing that on site if possible.

I think that there was a big shift to, “I'm going to get your feedback when I'm going to do something with it right now”, versus “We'll put that in our 2022 strategic plan and then we'll make a change.

Drew Holland: I cried actually. I think the reason that there were short surveys that I referenced earlier were maybe four or five questions, but we did them far more frequently than all kinds of usual timetables would allow.

I think the reason they worked is because as a result of each, we actually took action, and you could see and feel. Action as a result of what employees told us. That survey fatigue that you've talked about, which happens all too often, where you come away with a huge list of actions and actually there's so many that nothing really gets done.

We really focused down, and kept things really concise. We could take the action that made a difference rather than make a list of 20 things and we don't really do them, or we do them with minimal effort, and people don't feel a difference. I think that needs to be maintained.

We're in the middle of actually doing a full engagement survey now, which is like 50 questions, which compared to what we did before is much bigger. What we need to do is continue to take action and communicate that really clearly, so we don't fall back into that trap of fatigue building in. One of the questions in the surveys I have seen or been told about is action as a result of the survey.

If you look at the results of that, it's usually quite low. I think they may see that grow up. Cool. I should say it would be fantastic. That means that these are working, this feedback mechanism is working, and the listening is actually happening. It's not just paying lip service to listening. It's actually doing it. 

Jonathan Davies: I think that that's a really interesting point because I've always said I hate long surveys. I think I need to stop. I need them to be buried and left alone forever. It sounds like both of you are sensitive, agreeing? I'm saying both because I could see Amy just nod along and be like, “YES!!! Finally, just like me!”

I'm okay with a big survey at the end of the year, because it gives you a chance to have one time to reflect and everybody naturally gets in a little bit more of a reflective mode towards the end of the year. That helps you put things into context, so that's okay. It sounds like, Drew going forward, you are going to focus more on those poll survey stuff.

Five smaller questions, one problem. One solution. Give him that they were moving forward. That's a wonderful development that I hope everybody that's listening to this – please take that to heart because long employee engagement surveys with questions that say, “Do you have a best friend at work that Internal Comms has no effect on?”

Please bury it in the chest. Six feet, maybe twelve. I'll leave it behind in 2020 forever. Now that we've said that about leaving bad things behind, we know 2020 has been a bit of a challenge, but there've also been some positive things that have happened. We're talking about listening. We're talking about owning our digital channels a lot more.

Amy, if you'd have to say “Well, when it comes to my perspective of things that such wonderful things have happened, one, two, three, and four”, or however many you want to name, this is not a clickbait title. Tell me what are the things that you hope every company will take into 2021 when it comes to frontline employees and Drew, I'd love to hear your perspective very much from the tech scene/office worker employees.

Amy Jenkins: There's a few, which is a good thing. That we can come out with a lot of positives from a really tough year. First and foremost, I led things off with understanding if you have communication gaps in your company and doing something to fix it. Don't wait, identify the problem.

It's not just one solution either. Coming from a company that offers solutions, I am eyes wide open to the fact that some people are not going to use Slack ever. Some people are never going to use a mobile app. Some people are not going to like email, so you have to give people options, and you have to give them the ability to receive that communication and the way that is going to help you make the biggest impact.

Because at the end of the day, it's not about just getting information out, it's about helping employees think, feel, or do something that contributes to the results of our organization or helps them better their life. We have to be open to all of those different options, and we have to continually understand what's working and what's not, and make adjustments to that to help improve the situation for our employees.

Second side of that is to empower your frontline managers to be stronger communicators. When you are going through a crisis, like we have been throughout this entire year, there is so much dependency on that frontline manager to help deliver the message. If they're not confident in doing so, if they don't have the right tools and resources to deliver the message and the tone that corporate intends it to be coming through, if they don't have the means of getting that out to all of their employees at the same time, and it's not the terrible cascade of the past, your organization is going to struggle.

Not just from an employee engagement perspective, that impacts safety, that impacts productivity, that impacts efficiency. There's so many different ways that if that frontline manager can't be a strong communicator to their employees, you're going to have challenges in your organization. One of the mistakes that I think we make as Internal Communicators, and there's a lot of corporate employees, is that if you have a manager title, you are a good communicator.

Especially when you're looking on the front lines, frontline managers are typically promoted into a position because they were best at the job. They know how to do it better than anybody else. They are the fastest added. They are the safest at it. They didn't necessarily get promoted there because of their leadership and communication skills.

As organizations, we have to take that opportunity to teach them. We have to bring that to their overarching training curriculum and its Internal Communicators. I think we play a big role in that because we know best practices for communications that even HR might not in a lot of cases. We should be part of that development of curriculum and helping to bring them those skills so that they can be that conduit to those frontline employees. 

The third thing I would say is I love the fact that executive leaders are communicating more frequently and more informally with employees today than I have ever seen them do before. Even back in my days at Chipotle, we would reserve the executive leadership team for the really important message. We wanted to make sure that if we put them out there, it was because something really critical was happening. I never liked that we did that because we didn't give that person a personality.

We didn't make them real. We only put them up there to say something really positive or really negative. An employee saw that there was going to be a town hall with that person. It was like, “Uh-oh, here we go. Something's happening.” Now leaders are saying, “Hi, have a great week! I appreciate what you do.” in a selfie style video that's accessible to everybody. I think that's just such a powerful change to say “I'm the executive title at this company, but I am an employee just like you. This is impacting me. Maybe not exactly the same way, but it's impacting me too. I'm here for you and I have your best interest in mind.” I hope that organizations do not change that when we come out on brighter days from this, that they continue to embrace that. 

Jonathan Davies: Now I'm very curious to hear if leaders have started to humanize themselves more in the office as well. I'm saying the office, but the kitchen table was the office these days. Drew, what about you? 

Drew Holland: Some synergy that I had with what you've said, Amy, I think back to where we started the air in January, we had a very strong message. You typically come back, you kick off with strategy, and what we’re all working together towards. For us, that was around the next level. It was on the next stage of growth, was a bar on performance and stepping up and doing our best work.

I think what COVID did was throw off the comms vehicle. The idea was to continue that story across the course of the air. Obviously when you have to react to something of the magnitude that we have, you lose sight of that little bit, but what I love is the fact that actual performance has been really strong.

I think we've abled that performance from employees via some of the communications that we've done. I can't take all the credit, but I'll take some. I think what we've been able to do in a really confusing situation for people is to offer clarity, and to build a real sense of togetherness, which I love.

I've used this quite a lot. For our last employee day, which we did remotely actually in September, which we would have done in person, it was all around GoCardless. That was the kind of underlying theme for that. That's all about how we come together to keep delivering on the things that we need to do to get those results, to keep the business performing strongly, despite all of the stuff that's gone on.

I think because of the communications, which we were doing anyway. I started at GoCardless last October. I was getting into my stride and COVID almost forced me, in our hand a little bit – we switched up doing things a bit differently and they've ended up being better than they were before, which is fantastic.

If I take all hands sessions as is probably the prime example, it's almost a flagship comms channel because it's the only time when we all get together as a company, albeit remotely, which is different, but we can deliver messaging to everybody on the same page, offer that clarity and drive that alignment, which is so important particularly during a pandemic. None of us had dealt with before, but then if I link it back to the culture that I talked about, it's a really strong cultural piece. 

It's us coming together as one GoCardless, we've got an opportunity now for our  leader to deliver top level messages, the important stuff we need to hear about, and we find some difficult things we've had to deliver over the course of the year, because we started in this pandemic a little bit cautious around what our performance might be and all of that stuff.

We've had some difficult measures across the course. I think the biggest one, we all had to take a pay reduction. Which was to help us reduce our costs to get through this pandemic, which again, we didn't know when it was going to end or how it was going to impact our customers, which ultimately drives our revenue and performance.

That's not an easy message to deliver, but we're lucky that I have a fantastic leader and leadership team in the hierarchy. We've always been incredibly transparent and open around, not just the good times, but also the difficult times. If I think about that sense of togetherness again, actually everyone in the end was happy to go along with this plan or certainly was willing to go along with this plan because we knew that it was for the greater good.

I think that was part of the story that we told. Despite it being difficult, we were actually able to get some positive results and performance has been really great. That's done to the work that everyone does, because I think offering that clarity and taking away some of that stress from the situation through communication has allowed everyone just to get on with the job and the reason they're there and to keep performing.

I think that's really fantastic that we've reversed the pay cut that we were supposed to have for a bit longer because of the performance. It's a really nice end result in a way, because we've got some fantastic new ways of doing some of those things that we didn't do quite so well before.

But we've equally been able to get through some of that very difficult early stage when everyone was scared and confused, and didn't know what was going to happen and come out the other side with some strong performance, and a team that feels very together despite the fact that we're apart, which for me is fantastic.

I'd love to be back in the office, but for now I'm really impressed with the way that everyone's reacted and sort of responded to everything that's been thrown at them. I've really enjoyed sort of helping everybody navigate through that in the business.

What do we hope to see more of in 2021?

Jonathan Davies: Fantastic. I'm going to put both of you on the spot for the last minute that we've got left in this podcast. I'm going to ask you to name three words. We'll keep it to three a magic number. We're going to say, “Okay, these are the things that I hope to see more of in 2021.”

For me, that's going to be clarity, remote leadership and transparency. Amy, what's it for you? 

Amy Jenkins: Oh Gosh! I'm going to stick to transparency as well. I think that's important. Getting back to strategy and other tactics again. And empathy. 

Jonathan Davies: Lovely. Nice. Drew, what about you? 

Drew Holland: That definitely is on the spot. I think for me, it's definitely that openness and transparency to continue that, and actually build on this strong foundation we've got in place now. I want to see more of that. I think clarity of strategy and the awareness of where we need to get to. 

As I kind of touched on that, that can get a little bit lost amongst everything that’s gone on, but we can really get back to focusing on the future rather than being stuck in what's happened in the past. I definitely want to do that. I really want to ensure that we continue to have some fun as well because everyone's working incredibly hard. They're on Zoom all day, putting in the hours, getting that performance that I've just talked about. I think to be able to continue to have a laugh together and have fun is incredibly important.

Jonathan Davies: Awesome. Okay. You've heard it here first. We're going to make 2021 just a lot better, which is not very hard, but still; In 2020, we’re also going to make it less boring. Fantastic. Amy and Drew, thank you both so much for joining in. It was a pleasure having you here and on our honorary last episode of the year, I hope to see you both back somewhere in 2021.

Drew Holland: Thank you very much. 

Amy Jenkins: Thank you so much. 

Author:

Elena Nikolova

Date:

Thu, Dec 17, '20

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