HubGem Marketing: “We Recognise That Wellbeing Isn’t One Project Alone”
An interview with the winner of the Great Place to Work award
HubGem Marketing Ltd received the Great Place to Work award at our Engage Awards ceremony on the 28th of November. The organisation earned this award by implementing a plethora of wellbeing and culture initiatives to support their people. Taking a case in point, they turned away from the old 9-5 culture, introducing remote and flexible working alongside various wellbeing policies. In an interview, HubGem’s HR and Culture Manager Kayleigh Lowe revealed the initiatives they introduced and how they contributed to their win.
CONGRATULATIONS ON WINNING THE 2023 GREAT PLACE TO WORK AWARD! COULD YOU PLEASE INTRODUCE HUBGEM MARKETING LTD TO OUR READERS?
Thank you! This is a huge deal to all of us here at HubGem and a real honour to have been recognised alongside some huge names in business!
So, a little about us, we are a multi-award-winning specialist agency, passionate about providing HubSpot CRM implementation, digital marketing, and growth consultancy services to the education sector, from Universities and Colleges to Training Providers and Schools. HubGem is a Diamond HubSpot Solutions Partner (which puts us in the top 3% globally); we currently have clients all around the world and are growing rapidly! At HubGem, we believe in empowering the people we work with by up-skilling and enabling growth. We love helping our clients by simplifying the complex and giving them the confidence and skills they need to succeed.
Our CEO, Gemma Price launched HubGem back in 2019 as a solo HubSpot consultant. By January 2021, she was hiring her first employee and it was at this point she knew that we needed to prioritise company culture to build something special – a place with supportive management and a focus on wellbeing where employees could thrive. Fast forward 4 years and a period of incredible growth, we now have a brilliant team of 19 and counting!
HUBGEM ADOPTED REMOTE AND FLEXIBLE WORK, TURNING AWAY FROM THE TRADITIONAL 9-5 CULTURE. HOW AND WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO MAKE THIS MOVE?
Back in 2019 when HubGem was founded, our CEO, as a new mother herself recognised the importance of flexibility, wellbeing, and work-life balance, knowing that this had to remain a priority. As the HubGem team expanded, this led to the implementation of a fully remote and flexible working model whereby employees can work from anywhere they choose and flex their hours when life gets busy! We recognise that innovation and collaboration aren’t limited to a 9-5 office; instead, this approach allows our team to work in an environment and at a time that works best for them.
We have only been able to achieve a successful remote environment through the prioritisation of company culture, where trust, communication and support are at the heart. We ensure that communication and support are as readily available as they would be in an office space, supported through daily use of Slack, Zoom and HubSpot CRM for all internal communication and joint-working. We have daily calls and various Slack channels for ongoing work and non-work-related conversations to keep in constant communication with others, despite the remote nature. These technologies are designed to replicate conversations which would normally take place in an office space and make it super easy to do so (it’s the equivalent to calling over a colleague in an office)!
Remote companies can face challenges in maintaining employee wellbeing and culture. At HubGem, we didn’t want this to be the norm and remained dedicated to finding a sustainable way to overcome these challenges for the wellness and success of our team. This has required us to think outside of the box with our strategy, catering for a digital working environment rather than a physical one. We have needed to adopt a dynamic approach, gaining ongoing employee feedback at different intervals, piloting initiatives and conducting industry research to determine the needs of employees in a fully remote landscape. We feel that this tailored approach has built an environment that enables our team to bring their whole self to work, regardless of how they choose to work.
WHAT ARE THE WELLBEING INITIATIVES YOU HAVE PUT IN PLACE, AND WHAT DIFFERENCE HAVE THEY MADE TO YOUR COMPANY CULTURE?
We believe that employee wellbeing needs to start with supportive leaders who align strongly with the company values and a nurturing culture. This is why we offer a comprehensive 4-month HubGem Leadership Programme for any aspiring leaders/people managers, covering a wide range of development topics including employee wellbeing, mental-health awareness, diversity, equality, inclusion and positive leadership qualities. To align with this vision, we offer all team members a range of wellbeing initiatives including Wellness Wednesdays (an afternoon off to focus on wellbeing), Headspace subscriptions, ‘HubCubs’ Parental Support Group, Bump to Baby packs, MediGold Health advice and workshops (including access to the NHS approved Thrive app), weekly and quarterly wellbeing check-ins (inspired by Mind’s Wellness Action Plan), Fitness Challenges and a designated wellbeing channel where the team share wellbeing recommendations, articles, podcasts, nutrition and healthy habits. To further support a positive culture in addition to our flexible remote working model, we create internal newsletters to promote connectedness, hold remote monthly coffee catchups, and Friday Roundups where team members celebrate each other’s accomplishments and provide thanks to one-another across the company.
The impact of our wellbeing and culture focus has been significant and something that we are incredibly proud of, seeing the biggest impact on employee engagement and experience, retention, sickness absence, recruitment and ultimately happy clients and employees! Whilst focussing on culture and employee experience, we increased our turnover by 415% in just two years, enabling us to reinvest in the wellbeing and culture of our team.
IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT MAKES AN ORGANISATION A TRULY GREAT PLACE TO WORK?
HubGem was built with a vision of creating an environment where our employees could thrive, doing what they truly love. Our employee experience and company culture are therefore everything to us and building an environment where our team can grow both personally and professionally is paramount. We recognise that wellbeing isn’t one project alone, but an ongoing investment and commitment to our employees in every decision we make, and the daily practices in which we operate. We believe that a healthy work-life balance and wellbeing should be available to everybody, and not sacrificed in order to have a successful professional career – we truly believe they can go hand-in-hand! We have created an environment where everybody has an equal voice in decision-making regardless of their role, where people celebrate one another and where our values are aligned to the bigger picture!
Most importantly, we asked our team for their opinion:
"The culture, for me, is undoubtedly the best aspect of working at HubGem. Never have I felt so embedded and valued within a company, and this alone drives me to deliver the best possible work I can.”
“Thank you for creating such a safe and happy place for everyone. I love that our culture is not just a 'tick box' of wellbeing, you're constantly coming up with new ways and ideas to support this and that's really special.”
“The culture at HubGem is nothing I have seen or experienced at a company before. The support, care and consideration has been like nothing I've experienced in a job.”
FINALLY, WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR COMPANIES THAT WANT TO OFFER THEIR PEOPLE A BETTER WORK ENVIRONMENT IN 2024?
It may seem simple – but employee voice is everything! Listening and acting on feedback, working in partnership and including employees in decisions that affect them are some of the most important things a company can do. Taking accountability for the actions that you will commit to, with clear timelines is essential in maintaining employee confidence in your commitment to their culture and wellbeing.
Peter Drucker sums it up best when he says, “culture eats strategy for breakfast”, meaning that no matter how great a business strategy is, it is likely to fail without a culture which encourages, empowers, and motivates its workforce to implement it. We believe that culture is not a sole duty, but a collaborative responsibility of the whole workforce, created by aligned company values and leading in a way that is supportive and inclusive for everybody.
We hope that our award has inspired other remote SMEs, organisations considering flexible working or those who wish to improve their company culture, to see what can be achieved!