12th February, 2020
it’s Practice 17, ‘I understand more about other people’s roles so together
we can help more families’, which supports of our value of Tolerance.
Does anyone want to share on this topic?”
gambit resembles the opener at every LifeSearch meeting. One for each day, the
LifeSearch 31Practices encourage discussion on topics that stem from the
company’s five values: Honesty, Openness, Excellence, Care and Tolerance. We
reflect on them daily.
consultants, freelancers or new-starts joining our meetings, it’s probably a
bit weird. It’s a culture shock, quite literally. Luckily, we have an
In the 2017
report, Thriving at Work, Lord Dennis Stevenson and Paul Farmer analysed
the impact of poor mental health on UK business. For employers, the cost is
measured in tens of millions. For the economy as a whole - tens of billions.
NHS Digital survey, Mental Health and Wellbeing in England, stated that one in six working
adults have symptoms associated with mental ill health at any given time. A few
years later and some charities put the UK figure higher - as high as one in
nearly 500 LifeSearchers comprise our business. Apply the formulae and we can
calculate that between 85 and 125 people are, as we speak, battling varying
degrees of mental poor health.
only via the Workplace Wellness movement of the last few years that most
businesses have woken up to the size of the problem - and their responsibility
in promoting health and wellbeing at work.
at Work, Stevenson and Farmer define six ‘mental health core standards’ to
guide better mental health in the workplace. At their root, these six standards
promote more openness, understanding and care. In effect, the report asked that
businesses practice some very basic values.
values are the beliefs upon which a business and its behaviour are based. Big
or small, any organisation benefits from some guiding principles that define
its internal affairs as well as customer and supplier relationships.
the course of codifying their brand, too many businesses pay the values
section only lip-service. Instead of a deep-dive into the company’s soul, and
laying the foundations to live values through every tentacle of the business,
leaders simply jot down a handful of aspirational buzzwords.
Passionate, compassionate, pioneering -
that kind of thing. With definition and some meat on the bone, any of these
are laudable values. But lofty concepts are often left at the abstract: they
aren’t communicated; broken down; put into practice. They aren’t exercised,
scrutinised or refined. They aren’t built into daily processes - they exist in
the heads of a few.
opportunities to live those values – and build a culture that knows exactly
what it stands for – go unrealised. The C-suite and the PR team may be able to
state the business’s values eloquently, but they’re practically absent on the
values aren’t communicated to the front line, they don’t live on the front
line. People don’t feel part of a bigger whole, they feel apart from it. Your
greatest assets feel rudderless. When a company lacks a unifying value system
it'll probably lack a cohesive company culture. With that, we've the perfect
breeding ground for hostility, toxicity and recklessness.
health crisis or not - none of this is conducive to workplace wellbeing. Values
+ practice = People & Culture
didn’t shore up its daily practice of our values on day one, or even day 1001.
Like most businesses we learned by doing, often the hard way. Decades in, it
still requires daily maintenance. At the abstract level, LifeSearch always knew
what it was and stood for, but converting those values into tangible practice
takes time and effort.
the most logical – and most effective – things we do are to stop dehumanising
terminology in our workplace. Many of us don’t stop to think about the ways in
which common corporate language devalues who people are and why they come to
some businesses reduce prospects to leads and customers to sales,
we don’t. LifeSearchers on the frontline are much more emotionally invested in unprotected
families (leads) and protected families (sales).
Our mission is in those two terms, they’re a simple and constant motivator. Why
do we do what we do lives in how we talk, every day.
of tweaks to language, take Human Resources. In many workplaces, this
department bears responsibility for overseeing employee wellbeing. But do
frontliners really want to be represented as ‘human’… ‘resources’?
reductive and sterile. A synonym might be tools with brains, or flesh-coloured
a People & Culture team and they’re a constant presence. Their work and
initiatives keep the fires burning under our values. We always seek new ways to
tighten and improve life at LifeSearch and there is a direct relationship
between embracing LifeSearch values and career rewards.
LifeSearch we’re yet to fully quantify our 2019 absence rates, but we already
know we’re below national averages.
Another area we buck the trend is retention. LifeSearch began in 1998 and
several people have been with us since the start. When people start at
LifeSearch they tend to stay.
era where people ask questions if we don’t move jobs every two years, our
average length of service is four years … and that figure has been newly
diluted by the scores of newbies who joined us in 2017 and 2018 recruitment
This article doesn’t mean to make LifeSearch sound like a
utopia. Values of Openness and Honesty ask that I speak in truths.
And the truth is we’re not perfect, we get it wrong. Of course we do.
In a company of 500, things get missed and mistakes are
made. But the way our culture and values are lived and represented means that
constant feedback loops, checks and balances are in play to help us live up to Excellence.
Openness, Honesty and Care inform the major responsibility we
feel to our policies, people and processes.
LifeSearchers are empowered to speak up on any issue that
affects them, colleagues or the way we do business. One team, our Listening Ears
team, is built of LifeSearchers of all ages, stages and job titles. Should
someone require a trained, sensitive, anonymous ear – to talk about financial
difficulties, family troubles or mental health, for example – they can select a
peer to confide in.
We have won scores of awards for our company culture. And
for our customer service, which is a
product of our unique culture. Last year we become the highest placing new
entrant on the Sunday Times list of Best Places to Work - straight in at number
Our business is protecting families. We want happy,
motivated, valued LifeSearchers on board to help us do that and our values help
us maintain and improve culture and standards for everyone. The results tell
the story - values matter.
<< GET THE MAD WORLD NEWSLETTER >>
Michael Badkin is veteran LifeSearcher who began his career on the shop floor, and is today Marketing and Brand Manager.
In his 13 years with the company, Michael has spearheaded several initiatives and has carved his niche by facilitating and championing cross-company innovation. He led the Dragon’s Den-inspired LifeSearch Ideas Hub, and was responsible for overseeing the implementation of several new practices, ways of working and efficiency processes born in the Hub.
Michael continues to champion storytelling by frontline LifeSearchers via brand communications, PR campaigns and on day-to-day social media.
31Practices is an award-winning approach helping organisations bring their values to life every day.