People Director, giffgaff
With a hybrid team of 200 to look after, it’s rarely a quiet day for Jo North, People Director at giffgaff. Below she gives us a snapshot into her work life at the mobile network. From breakout sessions to catching up with colleagues, Jo takes us through her day at giffgaff's summer party...
Today’s alarm goes off earlier than usual because we’re off to our long-awaited summer get-together. I hadn’t slept much as I was excited to get the whole team back together in person for the first time since pre-pandemic days.
I get up and pack my overnight bag – and I’m not doing it by half. With such nice weather and a festival-themed event (giffgastonbury), I pack water bottles, sun cream, flip flops, and lots of outfit changes, in true festival style.
Whilst packing, I think back to the last time the whole company got together back in 2020 and smile at the fact that today there’ll be no screens, no Zoom or poor Wi-Fi connections, as we’re reuniting for a real-life celebration. Today is all about our people, and how we can create the best culture for them, as well as our role in helping to build a more sustainable future together.
Once my bags are packed, I have a quick scan of my emails and shout goodbye to my husband, kids and dog. It’s time to start my commute.
I arrive at the venue just before lunch. Where we’re staying has it all – we’ve got tents, chill-out areas and a dining area, all set alongside a tree-lined lake.
I arrive at the same time as the coaches, and it’s so good to see everyone all arriving together, and in such high spirits, excited for the day ahead. I regroup with the team, and we receive our festival essentials: a reusable water bottle, lanyard and wristband.
My first port of call is to host breakout session number one with a member of my team
We head through to get some lunch and catch up with lots of familiar faces we’ve missed chatting to in-person over the last couple of years, before heading into our first session of the day.
My standout moment was the keynote from the inspirational Dr. Sally Uren OBE on systemic change and inclusion for the future
After a warm welcome from our CEO, Ash Schofield, our CMO, Sophie Wheater, sets the scene and takes us through the plans for the day. We then split into small breakout groups and rotate around various spaces to learn about the different business initiatives.
My first port of call is to host breakout session number one with a member of my team, Nikki, who looks after learning and development at giffgaff. It’s all about what we do at giffgaff to support our people. I go through our employee perks and benefits – all 32 of them – from daily breakfasts, and volunteer days, to swapping public holidays so they align with everyone’s individual beliefs. We explain how the team can make the best use of what we have to offer.
Transparency is key, and I’m excited to share our employee value proposition with the team, focussing on growth, inclusion and flexibility. We believe in people being able to bring their whole selves to work, and really embrace having a diverse team who define and make up our culture.
Next up we shift from our focus from people to the planet, and our purpose team tells us all about the strategy for creating a more sustainable future. As part of this, we hear from a panel of experts from other businesses. It’s always great to hear about what other organisations are doing in the space, and kickstarts interesting conversations about behaviours, strategies and programmes we might want to replicate.
My standout moment was the keynote from the inspirational Dr. Sally Uren OBE on systemic change and inclusion for the future. The whole talk was extremely thought-provoking, and it makes us all think about what we can do as a business, but also the part we play as individuals in shaping a greener future.
Our brilliant panel sessions have come to a close, and now we’re onto arguably one of the most important parts of the day, team-building. We head down to the lake where there are activities like paddle boarding, kayaking, all while having a good chat. The big topic is last night’s football match, not what’s on the agenda for next week. It’s so nice to have this face-to-face time with the team – opportunities to spend time with colleagues should never be taken for granted.
Today’s alarm goes off earlier than usual because we’re off to our long-awaited summer get-together
We head back to our tents to dry off before we meet up for dinner. We spend more time together eating and watching some exciting acts. And to top off the evening, we’re treated to a set from three of our resident DJs (well, teammates) – they’re all very impressive nonetheless and get people onto the dance floor.
I take the time to reflect on what an amazing time we’re having together. Whilst we’re all very grateful for our flexible hybrid working, nothing compares to the feeling of having the whole company come together face-to-face. Catching up and sharing stories just isn’t the same when you’re behind a monitor.
It’s back to the tent and bedtime. Goodnight giffgastonbury.
End of the day