Season 1: Finding and keeping great people

Michael Acton Smith Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Calm

Steps towards a happier, healthier and more productive workplace

Team of 4 having discussion

As you start to implement more mental health practices into the workplace, you may be met with scepticism. I remember talking about mindfulness at parties and watching people back away from me! Thankfully, it’s a far more mainstream conversation now. So much so that you may find people asking about your company’s mental health benefits at interview.

Finding the right talent

Nothing beats finding someone who you know will help your business, maybe even transform it. But recruiting talent has never been harder. There’s a great book called WHO: The A Method for Hiring that I recommend you read. It’s for businesses of all shapes and sizes and helps them to avoid common pitfalls of recruitment, ask the right questions at interview (for example, why did you leave your last place? How might your boss describe you?) and so on. It’s important to know what you’re looking for before you begin the hiring process, and to have a structure in place so you can easily judge candidates to see if they fit the bill.

Many companies outsource recruitment to agencies but it’s so important: your people are your business. Personally, I love a bit of Sunday night LinkedIn sourcing. It’s such a fantastic resource for finding people, and you may already have colleagues in common with them. So, I’d encourage you to go down a few rabbit holes!

Buddy up

Once you’ve found your people, it’s crucial that you spend time onboarding them properly. We have a multi-step process at Calm that takes people from the offer stage, right through to their first few months at work. Once someone has accepted our offer, we send them some Calm goodies. Not only is this fun, but it gives them an opportunity to talk to their family and friends about their new job. We also provide onboarding buddies to help with those daunting first few days at work. And don’t forget to tell new joiners why you started your company in the first place. Share your story. They’re about to be an important part of it.

Unity and communication are crucial

I truly believe that if we can support our teams and be there for them, we can reduce the chances of them moving on. It’s so valuable to keep the team together, especially during challenging times.

We need to respect that everyone has struggles and we need to be prepared to talk to them about it.

michael acton smith

Otherwise, how can we expect them to show up and do their best work?

The future of leadership

And of course, we have to look after our bosses and managers. If they’re not showing up to work mentally fit and well, how can we expect that of others. So often, our team emulates the behaviour of their manager so if they’re stressed, tired, or grumpy, it’s likely that their team displays the same characteristics. Doesn’t sound like a fun or productive place to be, does it?

Calm, confident, resilient leaders who can manage their stress and support others are really valuable for the future of work.

Come together

Flexible and remote working is here to stay. So how do we build community and creative spaces in which to work? There’s a book I’d recommend called The Best Place to Work, all about the art and science of creating an extraordinary workplace. It’s full of great tips, but one is to create an environment that people want to be in! Somewhere warm, inviting, colourful. And of course, give people the flexibility they need. Allow for hybrid models of work so people have more control of when, how and where they work. Giving them that control and flexibility is incredibly valuable and a great way to retain people.

Assume Positive Intent

In our modern workplace, so much communication is carried out at speed over Slack and email. I recently heard about this acronym ‘API’ and find it super helpful to keep in mind. Instead of the traditional API, it stands for: Assume Positive Intent. Rather than read all sorts of negativity into blunt messages sent without standard greetings and sign-offs, give people the benefit of the doubt. It’s incredible how much more productive and positive your workplace can be.

In my experience, the key to business is hiring and holding onto fantastic people. Why? Because businesses are people.

I very much hope you can build a happier, healthier, and more productive workplace. It’ll benefit you and your team. And trust me, they’ll want to stick around.