Change, like most things in life, is constant. In the work environment, one of the biggest changes has been the move to remote working, and when this happened few organisations were fully prepared for the challenges that it would bring. Along with the lack of in-person communication, the threat of deterioration in the culture of many companies meant a shift in how culture had to be cultivated, observed, and allowed to sprout became necessary. The importance of culture is often understated, yet affects how employees both relate to and feel part of an organisation, functionally and emotionally.

Prior to the pandemic, Sprout Performance Partners had always cultivated a culture within the office space of constructive dialogue, idea-sharing, wellness, and training of staff. Initiatives like ‘Think@Sprout Sessions’ provided a platform for and broadened the dialogue that occurred in informal interactions including more peer-to-peer learning and watercooler conversations around the industry. Employees were also continuously encouraged to improve their skills in the digital space so as to benefit their growth, and also provide more value in their day-to-day work lives.

When the pandemic affected the ability of teams to work in the office, there was a quick realisation internally from Sprout Performance Partner’s management that culture could be greatly affected by the lack of in-person contact. With this in mind, employees were engaged to find out what was important to them to adjust to this new reality and remain part of a connected, well-functioning team. Through this process, various initiatives were formed that catered to employee wellness and continued efforts to bridge any culture or communication gaps that normally occur when working remotely and with a diverse team.

Sprout Performance Partners’ management team initiated an employee wellness program that provides support channels for employees, touching on emotional, physical and financial wellness as broad examples. In addition, a program was put together to enable employees to work from home – with assistance in the form of connectivity, work essentials and the small things like blankets to keep out the winter cold, laptop stands and desk pads to build a workspace and a few UberEats vouchers too. Mental health days provided employees with days off, specifically for self-care and relaxation. A ‘Culture Council’ was also created to manage and improve the cultural aspects of the organisation. This team was formed through various members of the different departments to facilitate and manage internal and external activities.

The initiatives and platforms created to manage and grow culture within Sprout Performance Partners were and are important in ensuring employee wellness remained paramount in the midst of constant change and limited human contact” concludes Zuko Qusheka, Digital Strategist

The online nature of work also meant that activities like quiz nights also had to be reimagined for the online environment leading to monthly quiz nights that involved and engaged the employees.

Training and development also remained an important part of Sprout culture and a challenging part of the remote environment. With this in mind, Think@Sprout Sessions became an important vehicle in transferring knowledge, understanding new trends, and delving deeper into topics of interest in the industry. Employees were also supported and encouraged to partake in educational pursuits, this has led to various educational milestones from various team members, from platform certifications to Coursera courses and some diplomas from tertiary institutions.

The response to the pandemic was quick, we learned, we failed, we improved. Overall we have succeeded in prioritising employee wellness while improving culture and productivity within the company. We look forward to more lessons and learnings in 2022!