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Balancing staff wellbeing with rapid growth


DAZN’s SVP of Employee Experience on the firm’s progressive policies

Words by Liam Soutar

 

Paul Bennun

Senior VP of Employee Experience

Life moves pretty fast at DAZN. The global sports streaming platform - pronounced 'DA ZONE', for the unfamiliar - has moved into 200 countries and territories around the world in its seven-year existence.

Providing coverage of everything from football and baseball to basketball and boxing, it’s no surprise that DAZN is often colloquially referred to as “the Netflix of sport”. But with this comes a certain reputation for high quality to maintain.

Upholding that reputation requires two things - a “relentless pursuit” of scaling up, and a dedicated workforce. But for any firm to get the buy-in from their staff, there must be a clear commitment to ensuring employees have the tools to get the best out of themselves, whether it’s flexible working arrangements or rewarding benefits packages, such as DAZN’s recently introduced enhanced parental leave policy.

We’ve got the opportunity to draw our focus a little more narrowly... and say ‘okay, what are the foundational things we want to build within the business, from a people perspective?

In this exclusive interview with myGrapevine, Paul Bennun, DAZN’s Senior VP of Employee Experience, explains how the company balances its ambitious growth plans with maintaining a positive employee experience.

“When you're in a startup, there's always going to be constant evolution and revolution, but your business is going to constantly change what it's scaling up, scaling down, refocusing and pivoting,” Paul explains.

“You've got to be relentless in your pursuit of a sustainable business model, that you can prove is going to be able to operate. And that does mean being fast paced. It does mean changing priorities. It does mean taking your opportunities.”

 
 

It’s change that you wouldn't get in a mature business, Paul admits, but while there are challenges arising from such constant change, there also comes with a whole bunch of opportunities to focus on the employee experience.

Paul explains: “From a people perspective, we've got the opportunity to draw our focus a little more narrowly than we have previously and say ‘okay, what are the foundational things we want to build within the business, from a people perspective?

“What are the moments that really matter across the employee journey? Are we focusing our efforts on the right ones? For an employee, there are these key moments. It might be their first day. It might be that process around onboarding. It might be the moment they get promoted; it might be when they first take on a team as a new line manager. You know we we're trying to zero in on some of those moments and see where we can get the most results for the for the resource we spend. It's a very lean mindset, around getting the most results out of the resources we have.”

 
 
 

Arguably one of DAZN’s most precious resources, and one of the most important for any business, for that matter, is the office.

The past three years have definitively changed the working landscape for the majority of companies, whether they’ve moved to a hybrid model, full remote or returned to a full office set up.

DAZN has embraced the hybrid structure, but still encourages employees to come into the office as frequently as possible, As Paul explains, this is primarily for the benefit of the workers themselves, rather than to drive business needs.

“I think one of the things that people often talk about when they talk about the office space, as opposed to home working, is around collaboration. That's not necessarily a view that I agree with,” says Paul.

There's a massive wellbeing point of view around providing a good working environment for people who might suffer from isolation or from loneliness, or people who need that stimulation of other people around them

“I think a lot of people over the past two or three years have proven that we can collaborate really well, remotely. I think the value (of office working) really lies in connectivity. It’s a great environment for connecting with other people... outside your team. I go in, three days a week at the moment. I get a good amount of flexibility out of that, but there's a real importance around meeting back up with people. I know this sounds quite twee and cliche, but it is about walking around the building and bumping into people that you don't see normally, and that's a great thing in terms maintaining those networks outside of your immediate team.

“We've heard a lot about how remote working has massive benefits from a D&I perspective, for example, and it absolutely does. But there's a lot of stuff about working in an office, or at least providing that great office environment, that helps your inclusivity efforts as well. There's a massive wellbeing point of view around providing a good working environment for people who might suffer from isolation or from loneliness, or you know from people who you know need that stimulation of other people around them. But what we absolutely don't want to do is create this in group and out group where you've got people that are doing. One of these having more opportunity or more involvement than those who don't.”

DAZN Fact File


  • Founded: 2015
  • Parent company: DAZN Group
  • HQ: London
  • CEO: Kevin A. Mayer
  • Headcount: Over 2000
 
 

But it’s not just balancing office time with remote working that can improve an employee’s flexibility options. Another recent example from DAZN is their enhanced parental leave plan.

Paul says: “We've made enhancements, from improving the amount of pay we give people, and also increasing the length of time for all parents. We've put in place a model whereby people can choose, within parameters, how many days they want to come back at first, and we will top that up to be fully paid.

Parental leave policies


DAZN’s parental leave policy stands in contrast to a 2022 study which indicated the UK has the 6th worst parental leave scheme in the world. According to Confused.com’s findings, the average parental leave package stands at 32.73 weeks of full pay equivalent for mothers, and 4.73 for fathers. In the UK, mothers receive 11.60 weeks of fully paid parental leave, whilst fathers receive just 0.40 weeks.

“So for the first several months of coming back, you could say ‘okay, I want to come back for three days a week, and for a certain period we'll top that up to five days’ pay. So you get that ability to for people to scale up their return to work and scale down their home commitments, while not suffering any financial penalty as a result.”

The firm has also taken into consideration the more upsetting circumstances that parental leave covers, such as miscarriages or the loss of a child.

I think one of the things that people often talk about when they talk about the office space, as opposed to home working, is around collaboration. That's not necessarily a view that I I agree with... I think the value really lies in connectivity

“We’re making sure that we cover those things and try and do it in a sensitive way as possible; and importantly, that those sadder instances around loss of a child also apply to both parents - if there are two parents.

“So when we're trying to be progressive with our policies, we're not just looking at it from a perspective of ‘How do we improve stuff for a particular audience?’ We're also looking at how we can increase flexibility at the same time.”

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