Article by Charlotte Turner, Group People Director at Area
After a couple of years like no other, we wanted to give something back to our employees.
In particular, offering learning and development courses felt like an investment in what makes Area and the wider Fourfront Group great in the first place: our people.
But it wasn’t just important that our courses supported the team in being the best they could be; this bespoke program had to complement the fast pace of our business as well. Not an easy balance to find.
So that’s why the foundation of this L&D program was underpinned by time; carefully designed to allow all employees the room and headspace to focus on their personal development. Consequently, this would benefit our ‘Fourfronters’ across the entire group.
On top of that, it was just a great excuse to reconnect with one another and get those internal conversations going again. Because for all the benefits of a hybrid model, there’s no denying a good office space can help employees bounce ideas off one another, collaborate and find new ways to innovate. But a great workplace is even more than that; it's a place where staff feel like they belong.
There’s been plenty of research on the importance of belonging at work. Recent studies from this year show that when employees experience a sense of belonging in the workplace, they are:
- 9 times more likely to believe people are treated fairly - regardless of their race.
- 3 times more likely to look forward to coming to work.
- 3 times more likely to say their workplace is fun.
So, what was in our learning and development courses?
From work-life balance to creating a culture of belonging and respect
The four courses we rolled out included 90-minute sessions on:
- Wellbeing - encouraging a healthy work-life balance
- Manager Toolkit - helping leaders progress and shine
- Individual Personal Skill Development
- ED&I Training - building upon a culture of belonging and respect
We'll go into more detail about these over the coming months but each session was underpinned by our values - or five truths as we call them:
- Being stronger together
- Working with trust
- Doing the right thing
- Favouring attitude alongside aptitude
- and, most importantly, not being an arse!
You can find a little more detail about our ethos here.
Sure, living by these values is something we all have in common here. But beyond these pillars, we believe it’s important to celebrate our differences and do everything we can to make our people feel comfortable.
Why? Because doing so isn’t just ticking a box; it's the right thing to do. And it also helps everyone produce their best work in the process. What’s more, championing our differences doesn’t just make work a more interesting place to be. Research shows that there are multiple, proven benefits to being diverse and inclusive. Not only are diverse teams 87% better at making decisions, but the corporations in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to outperform competitors.
So why wouldn’t you prioritise diversity and inclusion?
Giving our people the time and space to be themselves
To ensure every ‘Fourfronter’ got the most out of each session, we teamed up with learning and development expert, Sarah Helm. Holding a key role in the success of our People Strategy, Sarah took the time to really understand the foundations of Fourfront and learn exactly what each member of the team wanted to get out of the training.
“It’s important that people felt comfortable that they could be themselves in the sessions. After all, who you are outside of work impacts who you are during office hours too,” says Sarah.
But the truth is, it's so easy to get sidelined by other things in an office environment. And those hours are precious when you're juggling multiple tasks at once, aren't they?
That’s why these sessions equipped staff with actual tools and coping mechanisms so that everyone in the business could have more time. Whether that's for their own personal well-being, personal growth or prioritising what’s most important in their day-to-days. Crucially, the leadership team got involved too - and they weren’t just open to experiencing the sessions, they made sure they signed up first.
“It was refreshing to see that there was a business that wanted to invest in everyone - not just the managers,” said Sarah.
Too right. Because investing in everyone empowers every member of the team to own their own development. That way we can all push up together and foster that sense of belonging we’ve all been missing out on. And there’s no better investment than that.
Interested to find out more about career opportunities? Learn more about life at Area.