The pandemic has thrown all sorts of challenges the way of most businesses across the Sheffield City Region in 2020 as we adapt and adjust to the ‘new normal’ including remote working.
To bring a sense of ‘togetherness’ Glu Recruit are taking their Office Heroes ceremony online to turn the spotlight on employees who have proved to be morale-boosters, team players and all-round super stars during this difficult year.
unLTD’s Sasha Mossman and Jill Theobald caught up with Glu MD Rob Shaw and a host of previous winners to find out why now is the time for SCR’s Office Heroes to shine
“This year more than ever we believe our Office Heroes event is needed to help boost morale and to lift the spirits of businesses and individuals in the region.”
That’s the message from Glu Recruit MD Rob Shaw as, in conjunction with our magazine, they launch their annual search for the shining stars among the Sheffield City Region business community.
The Glu team have moved their Office Heroes event online during a year that has seen the business community severely impacted by COVID-19 and lockdown.
Rob and the team are even more keen to ensure the employees that have played their part in supporting companies and colleagues across the business community during the pandemic get their time in the – virtual – spotlight.
“Glu is a people-based business,” explains Rob. “A lot of our work is about helping companies find the right people but it’s also about helping them to hold on to them – with staff motivation and retention high on businesses’ agenda, Office Heroes is a great platform to shout out about and celebrate the shining stars in business across the Sheffield City Region.
“Office Heroes has never been a business development tool for Glu. It is all about the business community and the individuals within it, keeping those people motivated and engaged and – it may sound cheesy – but it’s also about giving them that feeling of being loved and giving the office heroes community the opportunity to network with each other.
“As a region we’re great at celebrating success and growth from a business point of view and that’s fantastic. We often hear about the leaders in business, the MD or commercial director for example may be the ones quoted in the media or at other awards ceremonies – and rightly so. Often, the actual people instrumental in winning those businesses that award don’t get a shout out or the opportunity to win an award themselves or take the spotlight.
“But Office Heroes is the other side of the coin – celebrating the internal people in businesses that are supporting the management team and others in the day to day running, and helping those businesses ultimately grow. It may not be growth this year, but someone who has helped motivationally or assisted the business through a very challenging time and who has really risen to the challenge.”
The team have been really pleased with the response in previous years from employers wanting to get involved – and believe it could in part be down to SMEs making up a large part of our business community.
“Sheffield City Region has a lot of SMEs and they tend to be the companies with fewer employees that have a close-knit and family feel,” says Rob. “Because there’s fewer employees, managers are working more closely with their team and I think it perhaps stands out more when you have a real shining star. We’ve seen lots of previous nominations from this category of business.
“That’s not to discount larger corporations, the size of the business doesn’t matter. What matters is recognising those in your organisation and making time to do so. Office Heroes is as an extra way to help businesses support retention methods and help celebrate super star team members that they could just not do without.
“We always envisaged the ceremony itself to feel very ‘VIP’ like, warm and festive and we’ve traditionally held it at Leopold Hotel. It’s been a fantastic event to date which people have given great feedback on and a chance for managers to take their nominated Heroes out of the office to celebrate and recognise them.
“We loved seeing how proud people looked and felt – they may not have been to an award ceremony before so for them to be able to get dressed up and be in the spotlight and meet their fellow finalists was a really big deal. Seeing all the businesses and individuals talking to each other was amazing – the feeling of happiness and pride and it didn’t matter if people won or not, they were so pleased to be there. It created a hub – a warm community feeling.”
And against a backdrop of a year that has seen the impact of COVID-19 keeping people apart, businesses and colleagues adapting to remote working, and further restrictions for South Yorkshire, Rob and the team feel the 2020 online ceremony is needed more than ever.
“A virtual event wouldn’t have been our first choice, of course, but we will ensure the purpose of Office Heroes is delivered properly and carefully and that the same feeling is created.
“I had a conversation with an HR manager the other day who said from a business point of view on the back of the year they have had – like so many others – and morale not being where it would normally be, Office Heroes was exactly what they needed to do right now. Employees who are naturally social people are missing working together, shared lunchtimes and get-togethers and they were so happy the event was back to weave that thread of positivity through their organisation.
“This has been an incredibly tough year for many economically and there is the knock-on effect on employees’ mental health to consider, too. We know and appreciate many companies are facing difficulties, having to make redundancies or losing out on contracts. But we’d encourage them to not lose sight of the people that are continuing to help them weather the storm and have got them to this point – because they are the ones who will get them to the next stage and the stage after that.
“Plus employees are battling their own worries, and looking for reassurance and support – so as well as keeping staff appraised of the company direction and how things are going, this is a way for employers to say: ‘thank you, we value and appreciate you and everything you do for the company’.”
The Glu team want Office Heroes to create a real legacy when it comes to company culture, too.
“This is a really good way to help employers supplement their efforts to support their teams – or even to kickstart a stronger company culture. A positive, supportive and nurturing culture is absolutely key to running a successful business and attracting and retaining the right staff. If businesses don’t have that in place, use Office Heroes as a starting point, and then work with senior managers to keep that momentum going throughout the year and regularly review and renew.
“Office Heroes has had such a positive impact on previous finalists and winners – it brought them together as a team and closer to their employer and their company. It creates something really special.
“This is still a very uncertain time and we must come together as a collective and celebrate success. That doesn’t have to be winning a new account or doubling profits. It can be as pure and simple as saying: ‘We’ve got to where we are now as a company – and we couldn’t have done it without these people, our Office Heroes’.”
Matt Sheridan, Bluebell Wood – Office Hero Winner 2019
“At the time of my nomination, my role in Bluebell Wood was corporate fundraiser, however I’m now the regional fundraiser. I was told by my colleagues the reason I was nominated is down to the fact that I try to be as upbeat as possible each day. It’s who I am as a person, as I like to see people laughing and having fun. I can admit to being a bit of a class clown – I just love being around people. That’s made lockdown quite hard over the past six months – working from home hasn’t really been the same as being around my team.
“Without sounding too clichéd, it was brilliant to win the Office Heroes award! For me, as an individual, I’m not the sort of person who would want fame and fortune or anything like that – that’s why I work for a charity. Just to get that sort of recognition from my colleagues, without really expecting it, was an unbelievable feeling. It was great just to know they appreciated me and what I do.
“Another side of it is that Bluebell Wood as an organisation means a lot to me. I love the fact that, before lockdown, we could go down into the hospice and engage with the kids. Making the kids smile and laugh is the biggest part of the job for me. We had an event last year where we all dressed up as Baby Shark to do the dance for the kids, which they loved! I’m so happy to get stuck in and lift people up in my work.
“I think the biggest part of the awards, for me, was the gratification of it and it was lovely that people were commenting saying things like I made them feel great every day and I contribute massively to the running of the organisation. As a winner, I just felt this amazing feeling of gratitude.
“The Office Heroes awards are so important, especially during the past few months when we’ve all been working from home and a lot of us have found things quite difficult – it’s fantastic to celebrate the people who’ve been able to support their colleagues through tough times.
“Just receiving recognition is so important – it’s easy to underestimate how amazing that can make a person feel.”
Jo Reid, South Yorkshire Community Foundation – Office Hero Winner 2018
“Becoming the first ever Office Hero was a lovely surprise!
“My former colleague nominated me and I got into work to find all of these Post-it notes with these little messages from my team about all the things they appreciated about me and what I did in the office for them and the charity.
“But to be the first ever winner was lovely – you feel like you’re a special part of the team.
“We’re quite a small charity and I’d not been there that long when I won. You feel appreciated and it’s a lovely acknowledgement to know people think so highly of you – my unofficial job title is ‘director of happiness!’
“I am an optimistic person, and I was always baking and bringing treats in for the team. With us working from home since March we haven’t been able to do things like that but we have Zoom meetings and a weekly Zoom quiz and a catch-up and are always thinking of fun ways to be together even though we’re apart!
“It’s a lovely little family I work with and it’s so important to keep that sense of team spirit and togetherness going and to adapt during this situation – now more than ever.
“Lockdown has proved that businesses can work remotely, and events can be moved online and I’m so pleased the Office Heroes ceremony will be going ahead as a virtual event, I think it’s a great idea.
“We’re all now very used to sitting at our laptops and seeing all those faces and that will help keep that sense of community going. I imagine the Office Heroes ceremony will be very successful and most importantly make people feel a real part of something which is really needed right now.”
Tamaris Roberts, Born + Raised – Highly Commended 2019
“When I found out I was nominated I was a bit in shock! But honoured to be nominated by one of my team. At the time I was office manager at Born and Raised, and have since been promoted to operations manager.
“What was really sweet was that my colleague Claire (Harper, company accountant) went round the office and asked everyone to write something about me on a Post-It note and what I bring to the company and I have still got all of them as it made me quite emotional, it was lovely!
“It’s really nice to feel appreciated and to get that feedback. A colleague said: ‘everyone needs a Tamaris in their life!’ and others said things like ‘she’s a wonder woman’. It was just lovely to know that people feel I’m approachable and they can come to me and I get the job done. It was such a surprise and I wasn’t expecting it, but it was so rewarding.
“People had been nominated for all sorts of reasons, so I was honoured to be among them and to be Joint Highly Commended.
“It’s more important now than ever to look after my staff – people’s wellbeing has been a big part of my job and I did a mental health first aid course last year. The role has developed since then so while I am still the go-to person for HR I also look after other areas including IT, communications, facilities, and operating systems and processes.
“It’s great that Glu run this ceremony and it has grown year on year. But it’s even more important now that a lot of people are working remotely and we feel so separate, because it’s a way to show that staff are still integral to the business and are important and needed.
“It’s a chance to reward somebody publicly but also within your own company as a way of saying thank you and that they are appreciated. They might be the glue that binds that company because they are the person who always motivates and encourages the team and Office Heroes is a way to recognise that.”
Sue Ball, Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber of Commerce – Highly Commended 2019
“I was absolutely stunned when I found out I’d been nominated as an Office Hero and thought it was wonderful!
“I was then amazed looking at the rest of the nominees, they were such a good group of people so to be on the shortlist with them was lovely. To get Highly Commended – I just felt so proud and honoured.
“I’ve been in an office environment all my working life but had never experienced anything like this.
“I’m membership support officer for the Chamber and have a very office-based role. You do your job and I really enjoy my work, but you don’t know how people see and view you in your role until something like Office Heroes comes along.
“Some of the comments from the team were that I was very approachable, and very caring and that I was a mother figure which was just so lovely to hear because you don’t think of yourself in those terms – to hear that’s how you’re seen makes you feel valued and appreciated.
“People like myself in administration roles are often just happy to be beavering away in the background and we don’t tend to be the focus so to have an award like this was just wonderful.
“Rob and the Glu team did a brilliant job with the ceremony – you could see all the hard work they’d put into it and am so glad the ceremony will be going ahead online this year.
“With many of us working from home, you miss all the camaraderie of office life and that spirit of togetherness, so the awards are a great way for companies to recognise their team members who work hard and go above and beyond. Office Heroes is a fantastic initiative and needed now more than ever.”
‘Beautiful, caring – loved by everyone who met her’
Very sadly, Office Heroes 2019 Finalist Maria Howarth of Castle Square Corporate Finance passed away earlier this year.
Director Steve Bell remembers how important Maria was to the team at Castle Square and their clients.
“Maria was a beautiful, caring and larger than life individual known and loved by everyone who met her.
“Maria has been an integral member of the Castle Square team since 2016. Her dedication to the firm and enthusiasm, energy and commitment made her an important factor in the firm’s continued success.
“On a personal level, we all remember Maria’s joy for life, her kindness and generosity, her support for the Blades, her willingness to go that extra step for anyone and most importantly her love and devotion to her 10-year-old daughter, Chloe.
“The office will be a much quieter place without you, Maria.
“So many of you who knew Maria through her role at Castle Square have already contacted us to ask about making donations and also if we were planning anything to remember Maria by.
“Having discussed the matter with Maria’s family, we have established a JustGiving page so that anyone who wishes can make a donation to a fund for Chloe, which will be given to her when she is older, or used if she needs anything before then.
“Rest in peace, Maria.”
Anyone who wishes to donate themselves, or on behalf of their business, can visit: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/maria-howarth-fundraising.
Please welcome – the judges…
Glu MD Rob Shaw said: “In previous events, I was on the judging panel and hosted the ceremony. It was a lovely heart-warming experience reading the nominations from the employers about all the fantastic things their nominees had done for their business and their teams.
“But then standing up at the event to hand out the award, looking out at all these faces –
I wanted them all to win, it was so difficult!
“I definitely prefer just having the host role, now! And am thrilled to announce an amazing line-up of judges from across the Sheffield City Region this year. We have leading business representatives from across different sectors and areas in South Yorkshire and I can think of no better group of industry figures and businesspeople to help us choose and crown our Office Hero 2020.”
Harry Gration – Look North presenter / Patron of Paces
Dame Julie Kenny – Wentworth Woodhouse
Jay Bhayani – Bhayani Law
Joada Allen – Visualised It Video Production
Toby Pochron – Freeths
Dr Simon Biltcliffe – Webmart
Get involved – nominate your Office Hero now!
So, who has gone the extra mile for your business in this most difficult year – the hard workers, morale boosters, the all-round team players?
In 2020, this could be the person that has helped your teams tackle remote working, the person behind those Zoom meetings, or quite simply the person who has been at the other end of the phone offering emotional support.
There will be ten finalists, selected by the judges from the nominations, who will also choose the overall winner, highly commended finalists and special mentions. As ever, some fantastic prizes are also up for grabs!
So, if you think it’s about time that someone in your office deserves a little recognition, fill in the online form at www.glurecruit.co.uk/office-heroes-2020, or email the Glu team firstname.lastname@example.org.
Key dates for your diary:
- Friday 13 November, 4pm – deadline for entries
- Friday 20 November – shortlist announced
- Friday 4 December – virtual awards ceremony