We recently chatted with MCC's Head of Human Resources Amanda Forsey about her role and the challenges an HR Department faces during a national lockdown.
As Head of HR for MCC, what’s a usual day like at work?
One of the things I enjoy about working in HR is that there is no usual day, every day is different. HR is about people and so it reaches across all departments and every aspect of our business.
We have very experienced leaders and managers, who are focused on supporting their teams and that makes our job easier in many ways. So in the morning I could be supporting the recruitment of new employees and in the afternoon I could be discussing major match day operations – with other meetings in-between.
Lord’s relies on a varied workforce of many different areas of expertise with flexible, permanent and casual staff. How have you and your team supported staff’s health and well-being during this period?
It was a challenge initially because our working environment and support systems changed overnight. Fortunately, because the wellbeing of our staff was already a priority, we were able to quickly mobilise a remote wellbeing programme. This is not purely a HR run programme – this is driven and supported Club-wide! Also we listened to what staff wanted and needed, which has changed over the lockdown period.
We did immediately ensured that a Mental Health First Aider was available outside of normal working hours, in case an employee needed someone to speak to confidentially.
We have a lot of very talented employees who put themselves forward to support the programme. For example, one of our employees is a yoga instructor, who volunteered to run sessions, there is a cycling group, bingo, quiz events and much more. The programme has evolved over time, but continues on the premise that anyone can join in as much or as little as they wish.
In the first instance, this was for employees and then we launched a similar programme for our casual workforce to join.
In addition, we have encouraged people to flex their working day to fit around their home needs. Plus Heads of Department have stayed in regular contact with their teams whether working or on furlough leave.
What are your top tips for maintaining staff morale?
- Engage others across the business as you can’t do it all on your own. Again, a lot of our employees volunteer their time, ideas and expertise to help keep morale as high as possible.
- Help people find ways to stay connected to the Club and other members of staff. Whether that’s encouraging them to share TV or film suggestions, sharing something funny via WhatApp or picking up the phone instead of emailing, these little things have an impact.
- Over communicate. Let staff know what is happening and share information. For example, our Chief Executive, Guy Lavender, has kept staff updated through frequent staff webinars, emails and inclusion in our weekly internal newsletter ‘Out and Around the Ground’, aptly renamed from ‘Around the Ground’ now that staff are remote working. Hearing a message directly from the CEO is very powerful and reassuring, especially as we have staff furloughed and still working.
How do you think the role of the HR department will change as we adapt to the new normal?
Because our role is to support our staff and help drive the delivery of the Club’s operations, HR is always changing. This is just another part of that evolution.
That said, I do believe that flexibility will become the new norm. Obviously, the way we work has certainly changed since lockdown began in March, but not only that, the way we connect with our teams and each other has already started to evolve.
We were always great at communication and working together, but people are definitely picking up the phone again and using video facilities to actually see each other. Work feels like it has become more personal again and not just about sending an email.
We already have a diverse workforce and the HR team and the Club will to continue to work to ensure we attract, retain and support an even more diverse workforce and adapt to what is a very quickly changing world and work environment.
What life lesson have you learnt from this experience?
People will pull together in a crisis and rise to the challenge. You can really see this at Lord’s on a major match day or during a big event.
It can be easy to doubt that at times, especially with some recent events. But fundamentally there is more that brings us together than separates us. Especially if we are working towards a common goal. We shouldn’t shy away from the difficult conversations, because those are the ones that can lead to lasting change.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given, and by who?
“If life gives you lemons make lemonade”.
For me this means, make the best of what you have in front of you and find a way to turn a problem into something positive.
I believe this advice is definitely appropriate now. This is such a difficult and challenging time for everyone and our experiences will be very different. Whether that is balancing work with home commitments, caring for someone else, being separated from loved ones/friends, home schooling, not working, feeling isolated – it affects us all. Our employees have risen to these challenges in ways we could never have imagined and they are an absolute credit to the Club.
However, we have all also discovered ways to find the joy in these difficult times. Personally speaking, I’ve had a number of wonderful conversations with members of staff that would never have happened in a normal working day, and I’m not the only one. I am also spending more time with my family and enjoying my home.