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Proper. Fast. Company.

By August 3, 2016 No Comments

It’s official. 9toLife train the fastest advertising agency in the world. THE WORLD.

Last Thursday 50 proud iris employees journeyed en masse to the Olympic Stadium and ran 240km in two hours. In that two hours they also managed to drink a lot of beer, sing along to a God awful band, and generally be the loudest rowdiest bunch in the stadium since 2012.

Ok, so there is an exaggeration there…

Each person ran 5km as part of the Great Relay Race – a brilliant initiative from The Great Run which gets company’s and organisations to put forward relay teams to take part.

What I didn’t exaggerate is the amount of noise we made… and the sense of pride shared after. Both were not just palpable, they were overwhelming.

It was a great night out as far as office jolly’s go; we got to finish an hour early, we got to have some beers after, and we go to go on a school trip and run on the same track as Bolt and Farah.

But it was so much more than just a jolly. It was this kind of thing that makes our work with iris truly special. The kind of thing that helps them dominate the talent war and keep staff turnover low. And most importantly – it shows how investing in interesting health and wellbeing experiences, not just a gym membership, can transform morale, camaraderie and pride within a company.  For business owners and leaders – it should be business critical to do. From the starters gun, iris have always understood the importance of this, they have always given the work we do with them priority, not just a nice extra.

Surprising to some, most people have goals outside of work. Other than eating a whole pack of biscuits in one.  Weird, right?  You know things they want to achieve. It’s not all work hard, get promoted, buy a house, start a pension, get married, bang out some kids. People want more than just that from life. And if they are able to achieve success and pride at things outside of work the chances are they will be more satisfied and achieve all those things within work too.

Take the Great Relay Race.  Four months prior, everyone was encouraged to sign up. Even people who didn’t run at all. In return they were promised a training plan, regular catch ups and weekly training sessions with myself as the onsite Personal Trainer to keep them on the straight and narrow.

Whether their goal was to be able to run the distance, or to run it in a super fast time, everyone was guided so that they felt confident on he day. Without the investment in health and wellbeing iris has made, from a board level and across every part of the business, that wouldn’t have been possible.  And now, people who previously weren’t physically active AT ALL, have signed up to marathons, joined run clubs and probably, added a couple of years on their lives.

Health and wellbeing is so important to business. The agency CEO wasn’t just there, he was running. He was cheering. He was emphatically declaring ‘get the fuck in’ when runners excelled. He lay in pain on the track after his run, he fist pumped, he looked like he was going to throw up, he got the beers in. Sport is a leveller. There’s no hierarchy. Everyone experiences the same pride, the same pain, the same disappointment, the same determination.

People who previously hadn’t ever spoken to the CEO were sharing jelly babies and swapping war stories. A personal relationship was built. And in reverse… The CEO saw the people who work for the company – tenacity, team work, organisation, determination, passion.

This sort of experience is invaluable – it’s not just about getting your employees fit so that they don’t pass out at an all nighter pre-pitch.

You think your staff share the same vision for the company as you? They don’t.

Varying levels of the board or senior management might – they want the glory of increased profile, awards, shareholders of course want profits….

But it’s unlikely everyone at every level share those goals and so won’t have the same passion and enthusiasm for the business.  Most people want to do a good job, feel proud of what they do, earn more money, get a promotion and recognition and generally enjoy what they do. And importantly – have a life.  Health and wellbeing – actually CARING about your employees lives, is as important as chasing awards and profits.

It’s not just individuals, departments have differed goals (the battle between suits and creatives in agencies is well documented). Very rarely do anyone’s goals match. Very rarely are people working towards a particular milestone for the same motivations. But at sports event they do.

Everyone had as much desire to win as everyone else. Everyone had the desire for iris to win as a team. Everyone worked together to try and make this happen. People who had never met were now giving each other pep talks, sharing lucozade, sharing sweaty hugs.  Bit gross, but brilliant at the same time.

It’s about a shared sense of care, and a shared sense of pride. And even though 9toLife we’re brought in as a supplier for iris, you wouldn’t know. We share that pride. We are one of the team. A member of staff.

I’ve talked about pride a lot already. It’s a given when it comes to sport.  But it was the sense of pride in the company that was overwhelming. Staff being vocal about the pride they have working for a company is the holy grail of winning the talent war. iris was there en masse. One big glorious group. And as the evening went on the pride in the company escalated and got louder and impossible to ignore, both within the group and to onlookers.

50 people chanting the company name. Making a noise that made people stop and wonder who the hell were these people having so much fun and looking so pleased with themselves. We were tweeting, posting photos with questionable hashtags. Basically iris looked like an awesome place to work. And it had nothing to do with awards or profits (which iris also has, thankfully, you can’t survive as a business on fit people alone) – it all came down to being part of the team, and a part of a company that gives a shit about its people’s health. CEO’s that don’t get that – or aren’t doing that – are failing already.

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