Keeping culture real in times of crisis.


As we navigate this our brave new reality (don’t say the C-word…) and in the moments between writing new policies for working from home, flexible hours, remote offices and health and safety in your “home office”, our Talent team has been reflecting on the last few months.

Keen to extract some learnings and not to dwell on the economic stresses and regurgitations that everyone is saying, the actual team – a collective of good, honest, real people - are weathering the storm. We have flexed, adapted, dug in and hustled to survive and possibly even thrive. This is the unwritten headline that we don’t get to read and for ourselves, our clients and hopefully our peers it needs celebrating before the storm passes.

How did we become so resilient? Where did this power to reorganise come from? How were we able to flex so quickly and adapt and evolve so completely?

For us at Sagittarius our culture was well embedded – that’s something we already knew. Our teams have long been committed and diligent. At the start, HR was acting as the cement whilst specialists raced to lock in their position. But that has changed now. Line managers are checking in with teams more regularly, employees are genuinely looking out for each other and raising concerns if colleagues are struggling. People stepping up and changing their roles to suit the needs of the business and teams.

My favourite example of this is our own Talent Acquisition Manager. As a talent specialist, he practically developed a rash if traditional ‘HR’ responsibilities were mentioned as part of his daily activities. However, the demands of an unprecedented situation have rapidly evolved him into an intuitive and selective HR ambassador. He not only waves the flag of our employee feedback weekly survey but positively coordinates the tactical offensive to ensure we are hearing the true voice of our agency, our people. Supporting a leadership team that are mixing things up to keep people engaged, interested and willing to go beyond.

Understanding how people feel in real-time and with transparency is powerful. How this can shift day to day as emotions are impacted by global news and the pressures of life locked down. For us, we chose a dedicated employee feedback platform (Employee Voice 24/7 from The Happiness index) not just for corporate feedback but also so people could vent. Really express themselves and their challenges in total anonymity.

Its a fascinating and liberating experience, both taking part and hearing our people’s voice. We asked for honest feedback, and wow do we get it. From complaints about too-tight shorts on zoom calls to homeschooling chaos and the weather’s effect on mood – but we are also learning what our people truly love and what they admire about their colleagues and agency as a whole.

Listening to ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’ allows us to make rapid changes, large and small. From supplying quality office chairs and desks for people at home to pivoting our virtual social events programme overnight, I believe demonstrates our commitment to supporting them and showing how much we value their wellbeing.

Like most businesses we’ve had to make some tough decisions, and some have suffered more than others. – Redundancies, furloughing and pay cuts all became a reality, but we have implemented swift change whilst learning the true meaning of “in it together”.

When you hold others in high esteem not only do you want to learn from them, to do as they do, but most importantly feel inspired by them to forge onwards. If you’re lucky they may value you in return.

Mutual respect creates value and people act accordingly – with admiration and determination. This, I believe is the most powerful force in our favour. The esteem and willingness to all pull together. The mutual respect and admiration we have for each other – across the global locations, up and down the teams continue to be truly impressive and it feels like a lesson for everyone, everywhere.

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Claire Battle Thumbnail
Claire Battle
Head of Talent
Claire is the agency's Head of Talent and is responsible for employee recruitment. Claire has a long history of working in recruitment and IT and enjoys working in a dynamic agency environment!
Claire Battle Thumbnail

Claire Battle

20 Jul 2020 - 5 minute read
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