Timpson | How this firm is tackling COVID-19 woes

How this firm is tackling COVID-19 woes

2020 has been a challenging year for many people and businesses in light of the coronavirus crisis.

From job security worries, financial instability and the temporary closure of businesses due to Government-imposed lockdown restrictions, for many there has been little positive news to share this year.

In a recent Twitter post, James Timpson, Chief Executive at retailer Timpson, explained that as an organisation, it has had “little good news to celebrate this year”.

To help spread a bit of cheer in the run up to Christmas, Timpson has unveiled a new initiative where all colleagues have been asked to send in their good news – whether this is relative to personal or professional achievements.

Timpson’s tweet garnered a wealth of responses from other users, some of whom hailed it a good idea. This prompted others on the social media platform to share their own positive news which included sponsored cycles for charity and engagements among other things.

The post even attracted responses from some claiming to work for part of the group.

Twitter user @IFishLikeaGil1 wrote: “I work in your bangor max and cover llandudno & rhyl, me and my newly engaged fiancé moved out his mums and started our own home. Might be renting but it’s a start! So lucky to be working for you, best job I’ve ever had (sic).”

The HR thinking behind Timpson’s ‘good news’ initiative

To find out the HR thinking behind this initiative, HR Grapevine exclusively spoke to Janet Leighton, Director of Happiness at Timpson Group Limited.

Given that everyone has had a “long run of pretty depressing news so far this year” – both in their personal and professional lives – Leighton said that the business wanted to find good reasons for people to be happy again.

She said: “We are a family. We look out for one another and between us we want to find good reasons to be happy again.

“We can’t have our usual parties and celebrations this year, but we can share good news. Those times will return again, but until they do we want to celebrate Good News December,” she added.

In terms of how this will work, Leighton said that each day until Christmas Eve (December 24, 2020) the Director of Happiness will produce a short WhatsApp video highlighting some of the good news stories which will be shared with employees around the business.

“A one-minute video can have a very positive impact on a colleague’s day,” she added.

When asked how the ‘Good News December’ initiative aligns with the company culture, Leighton said that Timpson’s culture is based on “trust and kindness” – traits that allow colleagues to be open, honest and willing to share with one another.

“Our colleagues have the freedom to do as they wish to give excellent customer service just by being themselves. In our business it is people first, people second and people third. If you get the culture right the finances will follow naturally,” she explained.

Is this the right way to go?

Encouraging staff to share positive news may be the morale-booster that people need in what has been a particularly difficult year, yet for others, they might find this more difficult.

In a previous interview, Jamie Woodcock, a Researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford spoke to HR Grapevine about ‘affective labour’.

He explained that this regards influencing feelings in workers, and looking at how they perform – the emotions themselves, and then how this performance links to how the work they do is perceived.

He said that this can include, but is not limited to, the emotions that people are expected to display on the job and the emotions we are meant to inspire in those around us – such as customers and colleagues.

He previously told HR Grapevine: “Now, for workers, there is an expectation that emotion will be part of your role.”

Woodcock went onto explain that having to be happy all the time can lead to “emotional dissonance”.

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