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Like many companies AX has a set of company values that define how we work. In many cases these values are derived by management or the Board and may or may not come alive in the company.

Here at AX the Values were created following a wider reaching brand research project. All stakeholders (including all colleagues) were consulted and we learned what our values appeared to be. Building on that we adopted four key values:

  • Inspired to innovate
  • Always respectful 
  • Fully Accountable 
  • Delivering Delight  

The sub text of these values contains lovely commitments to welcome the unknown, treat others as we like to be treated, pre-empt issues and proactively seek to solve them, have the courage to change and remember that a personal touch always makes a difference.

When a crisis such as this pandemic arrives it would have been easy to forget all that and ruthlessly focus on process giving well-meaning instructions with command and control fully in place.

At AX we took a different approach. We wanted to treat our colleagues the way we wanted to be treated, we wanted them to feel safe and that they could trust us to protect them whilst working for us. So as the COVID-19 pandemic began to unfold, we embarked on an ambitious project to ensure that we went above and beyond to protect our teams by keeping them safe, healthy and central to every decision we made during the crisis. It would also fundamentally reshape the way we work forever. Read on to find out how we did this and how it led to us winning the “Employee Experience in the Crisis” award at the prestigious 2020 CXA Awards.

Well before lockdown began, as early as January, our management team had already identified the potential threats posed by COVID-19 in terms of its impact on the physical and mental wellbeing of our colleague, so we began to implement an ambitious colleague-centric project.

Before Lockdown was enforced on 23rd March 2020, we had already created bespoke technology solutions, sourced, set up and deployed almost 250 additional laptops, providing the capability for over 400 office-based colleagues to work from home a week ahead of the announcement. Our depot colleagues were by now fully equipped with PPE and counsellors had been hired to provide emotional support for all of our colleagues and their families.

Our commitment to keeping our teams safe and healthy has won AX a Gold award for ‘Employee Experience in a Crisis’ at the UK Customer Experience Awards, an achievement that we are incredibly proud of. Here’s how we adapted to the work from home environment:

Enabling over 400 colleagues to work from home safely 

The transition from working in the office to working at home presented a different experience for every business. For AX, it meant finding a way to keep our advisors in contact with customers, either by phone or live chat, at all times. In order to enable of our call handlers to work remotely without affecting business continuity, our remote working capability using soft-phone technology was deployed, enabling our contact centre to be fully operational whilst our physical call centre was closed.

Putting our colleagues first remained our core objective throughout. Flexible working was introduced and annual leave encouraged to ease individual pressures for our colleagues. This meant those who needed to where able to factor childcare and home-schooling into their daily routine.

Understanding the challenges that our colleagues were facing in adapting to home working was paramount so regular surveys were conducted to gauge opinions. This enabled us to continually improve our remote working practices, adapt our policies, address challenges and provide wellbeing support that was relevant and addressed highlighted concerns.

Keen to overcome the barriers of losing personal communication and to ensure that every single colleague felt connected and their opinions heard, our CEO introduced virtual ‘Coffee and Chats’ in small groups. In total she carried out over 50 sessions over 3 months with every single colleague invited.

Regular companywide updates from the CEO and COO were introduced to ensure that all colleagues were kept up to date with wider business decisions. Importantly these updates were delivered ‘from the heart’, providing a very personal insight into their own individual experience of the pandemic, their thoughts and emotions openly shared with colleagues.

All of these initiatives were in keeping with the AX company values that are at our core: Always respectful, inspired to innovate, fully accountable and delivering delight.

Providing free counselling sessions to help our colleagues adapt

During this time of crisis, it’s natural to experience stress and anxiety.

Vitally important to us was the wellbeing of our colleagues, we knew that many would be experiencing stress and anxiety during this unprecedented time.

To help our colleagues and their families adapt we partnered with three external therapists providing for free and without limits confidential counselling sessions for all of our colleagues and their children.

Launching the AX Wellbeing Hub for advice and updates  

One of the biggest problems faced by many of our colleagues during lockdown was uncertainty. With that in mind, we launched a new online wellbeing portal specifically covering mental health and wellbeing advice. The hub provides a wide range of informative articles and support and is now a permanent resource for our colleagues to visit whenever they need.

We also introduced wide-ranging social activities across the business including; competitions, exercise ideas, quizzes and a Kids Club to help keep the little ones entertained!

Our team is our priority   

By keeping people safe and helping them work we have received loyalty, support and hard work from everyone, whether they were still in an office, at home or out on the road.

AX continues to respond to government advice as the situation changes, but we recognise that our talented and enthusiastic team is with us and together we will get through this time in history and keep the company strong.