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A masterclass in positioning employees at the heart of the business

You would expect a business with a heritage stretching back 70 years to know a thing or two about people and CamLab certainly doesn’t disappoint. All the way back in 1984, founder Robert Hirsch decided to leave the company in trust to the employees, demonstrating just how much genuine regard Robert had for his staff and this ethos still lives within the company today. Business Systems Director, Rachel Farr talks openly about the great culture within the business, the almost unheard-of staff retention rate “20 years is nothing here” and the genuine team spirit experienced across the business.

With its headquarters based where it was originally founded in Cambridge, CamLab has been supplying water testing and laboratory equipment globally for nearly 70 years. Employees are issued with free shares and are able to buy further shares in CamLab over time. All employees can enjoy an annual tax-free profit share. This could go some way to explaining why there is a feeling that “everyone is in it for the greater good”. But it’s simply not as transactional as that. CamLab was founded by someone who understood people, who looked for skills and solutions, he was described as a “paternalistic employer” and it is in this spirit that the company continues to thrive.

The importance of well being

Prior to the covid pandemic, staff were working in an office environment which allowed, very easily, the mood of the team, collectively or individually to be identified through good old fashioned facial expressions and body language. CamLab takes mental well-being extremely seriously and will go to great lengths to preserve the excellent culture of the business. They have two Well Being Coordinators, whose role and responsibility is to look out for and raise any issues relating to the moral of the company or the mental health of its employees.

Working from home restrictions due to covid meant this approach to employee well-being almost overnight became obsolete. You simply cannot tell how someone’s day is going based on an online meeting forum. That telling sigh after a difficult call, the slumping shoulders of exhaustion or frantic tapping of a keyboard in frustration are no longer seen by the remote working world. CamLab wanted to introduce an extra frequent check to ensure they were doing all they could to support staff and to understand how they were feeling and if they required someone to touch base for a supportive chat. Emotie provides an invaluable layer of emotional visibility.

As luck would have it, the MD came across Emotie. CamLab spends time to try and understand their employees, they have a fantastic, open relationship with them, but nobody saw this covid related challenge coming. The workplace app that changes everything! Now, with the addition of Emotie, CamLab is able to have a much faster checking system to quickly flag up anything that might not be picked up due to the employees now working from home. CamLab knows that 100% engagement is aspirational, however they strive to have more tools in the box at their disposal in order to maintain the team culture and high levels of employee engagement they have enjoyed for so long.

“In the office, you learn to get a feel for how someone’s day is going simply by looking at their face or their body language. Immediately you know if someone needs a chat. Working remotely eliminates that, but Emotie has given us that visibility once again"

Rachel Farr - Business Systems Director

Just checking in

The wellbeing module of Emotie is essentially a check-in system, which organisations can use as frequently as they deem fit for their team's needs. CamLab asks the team to check in biweekly. The employee receives an email prompt to do this, which takes them to a few open questions (written by CamLab) related to how the team member is feeling. The questions are answered in the form of selecting one of four possible emoji’s (or Emotie’s) to represent how they are feeling. A red Emotie signals the employee is really unhappy and is in danger of becoming completely disengaged. A purple could mean the person is feeling more negative than positive, potentially unsupported or disengaged. A green selection signifies the person is happy, content and engaged. Finally, a yellow Emotie represents the person jumping for joy, they’ve had a great couple of weeks and are feeling pumped.

This simple check-in tool not only allows CamLab to have a heads up on any potential issue with an individual, but moreover, it allows them to identify trends of engagement, opinions and attitude on any number of situations which affect the entire business. For example, in December 2021, check-in’s across the company were on an upward trend of yellow “Happy Emotie” which is understood to be as a consequence of the profit payment being made that month.

The future of Emotie for CamLab

Using Emotie for the end of year performance appraisal process is currently being implemented. Having used the system solely for employee well-being to date, Rachel feels she has an excellent appreciation for the potential of using Emotie for many more aspects of HR support and believes the benefits of implementing it for the performance check-in process will be: A significantly faster experience due to this being an electronic system rather than paper based. Streamline a more holistic approach as opposed to an annual “file away until next year” system. Reduction in the amount of time managers have to spend preparing for annual performance discussion as all of the information will be readily available to review. A change of attitude from a “box ticking exercise” to a valuable use of time with evidence and outcomes. Emotie are proud to be working with an organisation where employees' well-being and happiness is such an integral part of the business. We look forward to continuing this exciting journey with them and being part of their incredible story.

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