We’ve only gone and made the flippin’ Campaign’s Best Places to Work 2021 list! Super grateful to our amazing Smylers for supporting us and believing in everything we’re doing here at Smyle to make it a happy and inclusive place to be. Get to know a bit more about what we’ve been up to over the past year with our Head of People Experience, Charlotte Key 👇🏼

What do you believe are the key ingredients of making Smyle a great place to be?

Smyle has always been about its people and culture and we’re more focused on this than ever before. We’re passionate about creating an agency where people love what they do, feel connected to each other and engaged in all that we’re doing.  

Our culture is always one of the strongest scoring areas in our team surveys, and the results from Campaign were no different! Our Culture Club strives to keep Smyle a positive and fun workplace by delivering a whole bunch of initiatives focused around well-being including fitness classes, social events, mindfulness sessions as well as capitalising on themes throughout the year such as Mental Health Awareness Week. We’re massive advocates of positive mental health and believe that by supporting our Smylers with a range of formal benefits and regular conversations with managers, my PX team, Directors and through our buddy system, we can ensure Smyle is a safe space where dialogue is open, to help break down the stigma that can sometimes surround mental health. 

Listening to, and acting on feedback has been a huge focus for us, particularly over the last 12-24 months. We hold a regular team Forum, with reps from all around the agency, who bring ideas, suggestions and challenges forward to discuss and debate with our leadership team on important topics such as career planning, well-being, agile working, change management and diversity and inclusion.

Effective management is really important to us and we ensure our managers are equipped with the skills to motivate and support their teams, through management training, regular personal development meetings and professional coaching programmes.  

Lastly, all our people are incredibly talented in the range of things they do and we are committed to doing all we can to support them in developing their skills and knowledge to help them really thrive. Our development strategy, known as MySmyleJourney, incorporates informal and formal development opportunities and allows for continuous learning, coaching, new experiences and structured progression.

This award comes after a year of huge change for society and great adaptation in the way people work, what challenges have the team at Smyle faced, and what has the agency done to overcome them?

You’re not joking…what a year! 2020 was an incredibly challenging year for everyone, but particularly the live experience industry. We had to ensure we adapted fast to change and supported each other throughout the pandemic. Whilst remote working has always been an element of the way we work, our leadership and PX team worked hard to quickly implement new structured ways of working to support our people working from home, and to make sure we did all we can to keep connected, supported and motivated with initiatives focused on both well-being and fun; such as virtual bake-offs, virtual pub quiz nights, book club, yoga, meditation sessions, regular time outs, top tips on how to adjust, Fri-YAY drinks and SO much more. 

We have really focused on ensuring everyone maintains a healthy work-life balance in our ‘new normal’ whilst working at home, creating time in the weekly schedule for people to get outside, get away from their desks, ways to get time away from Zoom, given time back through time tokens as well as early finishes and a whole heap of fun activities scattered throughout the week.

Given there were also some very real challenges throughout society, we also launched our EAP services to offer 24/7 mental health support to everyone across the agency.

We’ve held regular company meetings to keep the team engaged and in the know as well as holding pulse surveys to ensure that we remained informed, allowing us to listen to, and act on feedback. Our surveys focused around ways of working, communication, well-being and support, agile working and our approach to returning to our offices to ensure our people felt safe, secure and had a voice in what we were planning.

We rolled out initiatives including an increased focus on our buddy system, introduced drop-in sessions with our PX team as well as an employee bubble programme to encourage a sense of community, support and to mitigate feelings of isolation.

We also launched a partnership with EventWell, who are dedicated to educating, campaigning and supporting better mental health and well-being in the events industry. We have run a number of well-being initiatives over the last year to help support our Smylers.

What’s in store for the rest of 2021 for the team at Smyle?

Another big 12 months, no doubt! 

Right now, we’re working hard on developing how we begin to step towards working more from our office locations, aligned with our approach to agile working. We’re passionate about ensuring we are able to offer flexibility to our people to establish a great work-life balance post-pandemic. Over the past year we’ve loved hearing stories; from all the new dog owners to the parents who enjoy being able to pick up their little ones from school more regularly, so really want to ensure we can keep some of this magic when we go back to our “new normal”!

In 2020 we initiated significant investment in expanding our focus on diversity and inclusion. This was driven by the Smyle leadership team in partnership with a number of Smylers who are passionate about this issue and matched by our decision to work with Diversity Ally, experts in diversity in our industry. 

We are listening and learning, and want to ensure we play our part in this area. In 2021 we will; 

  • A diversity and inclusion manifesto and vision
  • Core pledges for action
  • Training and awareness programmes for all our people
  • Embedding diversity and inclusion principles throughout our supply chain, our crew, the content we create and work we produce

We aim to be a truly diverse, inclusive agency; one where everyone feels they can be who they really are, where differences are celebrated and supported, in an environment where all our people can thrive.  

Now, more than ever, it is critical to reduce any stigma that may surround mental health struggles, as often this prevents people from seeking the support they require. We have signed up to Thriving at Work (an initiative from MIND) and plan to implement a series of core standards that focus on an internal mental health plan, encouraging open dialogue, mental health support, equipping our managers with training and awareness as well as ensuring our people have great working environments to sustain positive mental health.

Career development is a HUGE priority in 2021, with a focus on internal career planning for our teams to ensure continuous development of skills across the agency.  We continue to build on our foundations of management development and plan, in the Autumn, to roll out further comprehensive training to ensure that our teams can thrive, progress, support and champion productivity across Smyle. 

We are currently reviewing our benefits and reward packages, following some great feedback, to ensure we are leading the way, offering meaningful and inclusive benefits that will have a real positive impact for Smylers and attract prospective talent. 

We aim to be the destination agency for talent by 2023.

Innovation is huge at Smyle and we are passionate about finding new, inventive thinking and approaches that deliver exciting, fresh ideas and value to both Smyle and our clients. We encourage all our people to bring their imagination and entrepreneurial spirit to Smyle each day, championing this thinking to ensure we do the best, forward-thinking work.

Finally, we are looking to grow the agency further, with a range of roles that we are investing in and are super excited about expanding our team over the coming 12 months, bringing more talent into the business, as well as providing real opportunity for internal growth. 

So yeah, a lot going on and a lot more to come, watch this space!

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