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Why our first job needs to be helping our teams find their inner strength

Around the world, our industry is taking strain. Retainers have been cancelled and campaigns have been pushed out. Stay at home restrictions have amplified our collective fears and anxiety, even while these same boundaries have worked to keep us safe.

While South Africa is not yet feeling the full brunt of Covid-19 from a health perspective, as a sector and businesses, we are all feeling the strain – particularly if, like Grid Worldwide, many of your clients are international.

The natural reaction for many a teams is to button down and focus on the numbers: where do we cut costs, how do we support our clients and ensure campaigns remain on track, and above all, how do we keep cash flow healthy and the lights on.

At Grid, we took a different approach. Yes, all of those things are important. After all, we still want to have a business that can add value when this is all over and we enter our new normal. But for us, that’s all meaningless if we can’t bring our team with us. Which means we need to get through this together.

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Brands, employees and the world at large

90% of South Africans believe that brands could play an even greater role in providing stability to the world at large, according to insights and data firm, Kantar’s most recent report, Navigating Growth in a post-Covid-19 World.

A further 88% of South Africans say that brands should talk about how they can be helpful in everyday life, and trust in brands exceeds that of government institutions by 11%.

That’s a lot of responsibility for brands to carry. As a company whose business is brands, we need to take this responsibility seriously for our clients, but we also need to acknowledge that we’re a brand in our own right, with a strong role to play in our sector and our economy.

In short, it’s the people behind the brand that deliver that trust. Which means we need to protect our people.

There are three ways to support employees during a global crisis. The most obvious is by supporting your team financially by continuing to pay salaries for as long as possible. Unfortunately, this is largely dependent on how heavily your customers have been impacted, how long this pandemic lasts and the extent of lockdown restrictions.

The second is through physical work policies. Work from home guidelines and the right technology can either support your teams or make it impossible for them to properly do their jobs. We started building a virtual team before South Africa’s lockdown to test our systems and processes, which has supported the overall efficiency and productivity of our team and made the transition almost seamless.

We believe the third element is the most important – and one that many businesses are not putting front and centre: we need to support the mental wellbeing of our employees.

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Find your inner strength

Great businesses are built on people. The world (and our industries and businesses) may be facing an unprecedented crisis, but so are our people. We all understand that business needs to continue, salaries need to be earned and life has to largely carry on, but this is all happening under immense pressure, and so we wanted to use the skills we’ve built to support our clients and the brands we work with, and channel them into supporting our people.

To achieve this, we launched an internal campaign called Find Your Inner Strength. We had two core goals:

  • We wanted to get to know our people better, so that we could support them during this crazy period in all of our lives
  • We were interested to see how our team would make the most of this time at home to discover their inner characters. We’ve encouraged them to find out who they are with the messaging: what makes you, you?

To bring the campaign alive, we repurposed photographs that Liezl Swartz did for us a few years ago and asked staff to put their feelings, fears, mantras and perspectives into words. The idea of introspection and this initiative grew organically.

At Grid Worldwide, we’ve always found creative solutions for business problems, whatever the challenges are.  By channelling this into our people, we’ve helped our teams refocus their energies away from fear and anxiety and into positive personal reflections.

Our ‘Make It Mean Something’ philosophy is all about creativity-inspiring real insightful connections with people that drives results. It’s about finding ways to connect with our people and clients on many levels.

We know that together, we can get through this stronger.

Adam Byars, CEO & partner, Grid Worldwide

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