There’s no I in Team: Xero’s Craig Hudson talks small business wellbeing

Recently launched, Xero’s wellbeing check-in system allows small business leaders to better connect with their team and ensure they are being looked after. Here, we talk to Xero country manager Craig Hudson about the endless benefits of addressing workplace mental health.

Accessible and in-expensive, the downloadable check-in has already received positive feedback and will continue to be implemented into small businesses around the country.

Q&A with Craig Hudson

Do you think wellness in the workplace could be improved in New Zealand? Why is that?

Yes absolutely it can be. If you look at the wellbeing 2019 report that Xero did, 40 percent of small business owners thought the wellbeing of their people wasn’t their responsibility. Even the 60 percent of small business owners that do think it’s their responsibility have said that wellbeing in the workplace can still be improved.

What is Xero’s wellbeing check in service?

So, the check in is the next step of our journey into wellbeing to support small businesses. It’s a simple PDF downloadable guide that we’ve created with external wellbeing experts, it is made up of simple step by step instructions, is quick and doesn’t cost a lot of money. It’s about building human connections and understanding your people, which ultimately drives a sense of belonging and connection to the business itself. We sent it out directly to small businesses about three weeks ago, those are the businesses that are on Xero already. The media we are currently working on will also be pushed out to small businesses who are not on Xero.  

How has it been received so far? Have you had any feedback?

Yeah, a little bit of feedback, which is fantastic! One piece of feedback that I received, was from businesses who were downloading the check in series just to tick a box, but have now realised how meaningful it is. They found out quite a bit of information about the members of their teams that they didn’t know before, which ultimately is what we’re trying to do. When you understand those around you, you’re more aware of the decisions you make within your business and the impact the decisions has on them.

Do you think the wellbeing check-in is more important now following Covid-19 and the stress it has caused for small businesses?

Yes, 2020 has been a year like no other, there are so many things coming at us from a personal perspective like living in our bubbles and living under the Lockdown conditions that we were. The wellbeing of our people is more important than ever before and the mental impact of what the world is going through is going to be long lasting. Wellbeing should be a very high priority, if it wasn’t before.  

Do you think that this initiative will work among the typical ‘she’ll be right’ Kiwi?

I really hope so. So there’s two elements to it, there’s a wellbeing angle that actually is just the right thing to do to be able to look after your people. And then there’s the ‘I don’t believe it’, ‘she’ll be right’ people. I am in the camp that wellbeing in the workplace is the key to a sustainable business. The check in has been designed for leaders that are ready to invest in their team, especially after the effects of the first Lockdown, but weren’t sure how to go about it. We are trying to make it as easy as possible for small businesses to start implementing wellbeing checks.

Do you have any further initiatives or future plans for wellbeing in small businesses?

I’ve got grand visions for wellbeing for small business owners, but it’s definitely one step at a time process. Having the Xero’s Assistance Programme was the first step, which is almost seen as the bottom of the cliff scenario, where people definitely need help and there’s somewhere where they can go and get it for free. But I think the next step is around people and leadership. How do we increase the capability of leaders to be able to look after people and run a successful business? Because they’re not exclusive. You can have amazing leadership that looks after people and drives results at the same time.

Leaders who don’t check in on their team only have short term success. They get to a peak and then everybody falls off the cliff, crashes, and burns and the people turn is really high. Whereas what we’re trying to create is a sustainable long term business where people can grow with their leaders, and that’s where wellbeing really comes into play.

Do you think the wellbeing check-in could be used elsewhere?

It’s kind of relevant for any people leaders. The more I think about it, it’s around human connection. If you’ve got a team of five to ten you can definitely be using the basic steps of the wellbeing check-in as well. It’s ultimately there for anybody that looks after people, this is a great tool for them to use.  

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