A Day in the life of...

Ian Woodward


Group HR Director,
Metropolitan Gaming

For Ian Woodward, Group HR Director at Metropolitan Gaming, most weekday mornings begin with a run and making packed lunches in time for the school drop off. Below, Ian shares what a typical day for him looks like, which can include a commute to the office, discussions about the firm’s hiring strategy, and catch-ups with the CEO…


Morning - 5:50am

I’m an early bird so [my] alarm goes off and I am up. Most weekday mornings I then go for a run, normally around five miles. I find it sets me up for the day but also helps clear the fog and get the brain in a good place. I also [ran a] half marathon in April for charity so [needed] to get the training in.



[I] wake the family [up] and its breakfast time and packed lunches for school. [At around 7:30am], I check the emails that have come in overnight and clear down any that are simple to deal with or what I call a “one and done”. The business is 24/7 so it's not unusual for the operational managers to send emails throughout the night for advice or follow up.



[I do] the school drop off then drive to the station and get the train into work. My stop is the second on the line so [I] always get a seat and with Wi-Fi means I can start the day’s work remotely. I tend to work three days a week in the office or visiting venues and then two days a week from home. The pandemic did a fantastic job of forcing companies to be more agile with the way their corporate and office functions work. So now having the flexibility to travel in off peak means easier journeys, less stress at start of the day and greater availability for the internal customers as I tend to shift my working day. I like the mix of office and home. Office work brings normality after two years of on/off homeworking. It structures the week and stops the home being turned into a permanent place of work. But I like the ability to work from home as it provides opportunity for work-life balance.


I like the mix of office and home



[Once I’ve] settled into the office, [I] start the formal days’ work. First, [I] fill up on coffee and snacks. [I] try to stick with the complimentary fruit but, if its Friday, then maybe the odd choc biscuit or two.



[It’s time for a] team catch-up. We do this as a whole team every week. Some are in the office and some may be remote or working from home so we use Teams. It’s a quick round table to see what hangovers (as in unfinished tasks) from the previous week people still have or need help with, and then a quick discussion about what objectives we all have that we need to complete this current week. [It] helps people keep informed but also [gives] the opportunity to understand and support each other if required.



[It’s] time to catch up with my HR Business Partner and discuss the ongoing cases he is managing or new issues he is spotting on the horizon. Today we spent a good hour talking about the challenges of trying to hire entry-level workers and the current workplace absence issues we face. Since both Brexit and the pandemic, there is a real shortage of candidates, and many hospitality companies are fighting over the same pool. We agree we need to change where we source candidates from and how we can attract them. Our other challenge is our 24/7 shift pattern but standard pay rates. We tackle this through the non-pay elements promoting the benefits of working for us, what we can do for candidates and the additional support with health and wellbeing we provide, which is such a priority nowadays.



Another catch-up Teams call, this time with my Egyptian HR Director. [I’m] excited to hear the progress she has made introducing both performance and team coaching. Plus, big congratulations as she has now become a certified coach herself, so good for her and our company. Also feels like we are influencing the culture over there which can sometime be a little traditional in terms of roles, gender, and the acceptance of such initiatives.


Lunch - 2:00pm

[It’s time for a] quick leg-stretch and sandwich for lunch. [At around 2:30pm, I have a] session with my Learning and Development Manager. We replaced the learning system at the start of the year so we are now at the point of launching online reviews and performance check-ins. The system is so flexible it’s a challenge to keep focused and remember what employees and managers need as opposed to what HR would like to see. We weave our new company values into the reviews which will help focus us on further learning and culture training initiatives.


Afternoon - 3:30pm

I’m fortunate that the local gym is five minutes from the office, and as we get discount through work, it makes sense to make use of it. I take an hour out to go there and do some strength training and weights. This, and my running, helps keeps me mentally well while also keeping the middle age spread in check.


I’m fortunate that the local gym is five minutes from the office, and as we get discount through work, it makes sense to make use of it



Now that I’m refreshed, I turn my attention to compliance. We are a highly regulated industry, and our new Group Compliance Director wants to talk through what options we have for further embedding policy and procedure requirements. [It’s] a good conversation as it’s a challenge to make such an important requirement interactive and interesting for employees. We agree on the need to balance information sharing with evidencing learning and behaviour change. Now [we’ve] just got to work out the how we deliver this with my team.

Today we spent a good hour talking about the challenges of trying to hire entry-level workers and the current work place absence issues we face



[I have a] weekly catch-up with the CEO. [It’s a] similar format to my team catch-up at start of day. His interest is always in how our HR initiatives are driving a return on investment. ‘Think like a business owner’ is his starting point. As it’s the end of the day, and if catch-up has gone well, I always chance my arm and see if I can slip another request in.


Evening - 6:45pm

[I] reply to a couple of emails and one voicemail and then get ready to leave the office and get the train home.



On that train, [I] can finish any outstanding requirements as I go but, generally, [I] am able to just spend the time reading a book or listening to a podcast. [It] means that by the time I get home to [my] family, I am switched off fully from work and relaxed.


End of the day

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