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“There is such power in connection and community. It unleashes more than you can ever imagine or measure”

Meet Chloe Hayward, Culture Lead at Play’n GO, one of the largest gaming entertainment suppliers in the world.  

Chloe’s career has spanned business management, digital transformation, employee engagement and people and culture roles at industry leaders such as DLG and BT. She’s passionate about making work feel good and her inherent understanding of people and their needs means she’s hit her stride as a leader in the culture and change space.  

You may have recently spotted her on our Work Remastered panel, where attendees benefitted from her expertise. If you didn’t make it, she’s about to share some more of her wisdom in this edition of UC Voices.  

So, let’s start with the Work Remastered event. How did you find being part of the panel and what was your biggest take away from the day?

I loved it. It was the first time I’d ever been part of a panel, and it was a joy to be together with like-minded people talking about the topics that we care about. It was great to be able to share my own experience but also an amazing opportunity to learn about other industries, countries, and cultures.  

I found the conversation we had around representation particularly fascinating. We talk so much about diversity and inclusion but less about representation and it was enlightening to explore the real impact that diverse representation in senior positions can have.  

It prompted me to challenge myself on how we dial up representation at Play’n GO. Because we work 100% remotely it feels like there are fewer natural opportunities to meaningfully explore all the ways in which we’re different from each other. Without those opportunities to learn about and embrace one another’s experiences, there’s a risk we miss the chance to build a sense of identity and community between colleagues.  

What about the research stood out for you? Are there any challenges we’ve highlighted about the world of work today that really resonate?

The commentary around line managers really stood out. It’s bothers me how organisations expect people will be good line managers because they’re good at the technical aspects of their job when, in most cases, the two skill sets required are very different.  

Typically, when organisations are recruiting, they ask plenty of questions about a person’s ability to do the job at hand but few, if any, about their capability or track record as a line manager. There’s often the expectation that because someone is a line manager, they know how to do it, that’s circular logic that doesn’t serve anyone.  

At Play’n GO, we’re very conscious that anyone who is a line manager is automatically expected to play two very different roles, so we’re going back to basics in articulating leadership expectations and providing supporting tools and initiatives to help them be the best they can be.    

You’ve got a spare half hour in the day- how’re you spending it?

Anyone that knows me will be able to predict my answer to this question.  I’ll either be walking the dog or on the Peloton. I could probably do both in half an hour!

Play’ n GO is one of a handful of organisations bucking what seems like the current trend by deciding to go 100% remote. What opportunities is that presenting and how are you making it work?

It interesting to reflect on that notion of bucking the trend, because it’s not a decision that was driven by a desire to be different. When we considered what our people were telling us, office occupancy data and our sustainability ambitions, continuing to have fixed offices just didn’t add up. We’re still in the early stages of figuring out how to make it work, which is very exciting.  

We’re working on a connectivity strategy that will inform how our people stay connected to each other and the organisation. We’re being very deliberate about innovating and experimenting to determine how learning, socialising, line management, onboarding, all those kinds of things work for a global, dispersed team. We’re not expecting our remote working approach to just work without proactive thought and effort.

We’re analysing and developing the digital tools we use. I think lots of organisations have assumed that the tools they were using when they were co-located will continue to do the job. We know we need to be a bit more innovative and respond to the genuine needs of our people.  

We’re also developing a very simple Digital First charter. It will lay out our guiding principles around things like communicating, wellbeing and travel and will align everyone around what we mean when we say Digital First.

In addition to all of that we’re always encouraging people to think outside the box. There aren’t many activities where a direct translation from in person to virtual will deliver the same result. We’re aiming to be on the front foot in analysing what needs to be different.  

What’s the most important quality a person can have?

Easy, authenticity. So much about work would be different if everyone could find a way to turn up as their authentic selves. For me, that’s about knowing who you are, being as confident in yourself as you can and not being afraid to show vulnerability.  

I have a lot of respect for people who are comfortable enough to acknowledge that they don’t know everything and I especially love working around people who make others feel safe and accept people for who they are.    

You’ve delivered a lot of employee engagement interventions in your time, what are you most proud of and why?

You’re right, I’ve delivered a whole range of employee engagement interventions, big and small, some that would be considered more strategic than others, some that have required months of planning and some that have just needed me to hit the order button on Amazon.  

Regardless of the scale, the thing that gives me the most joy is those small, in between moments in which people feel like work is a part of them, and a part of their lives, not something they turn up for and then disconnect from at the end of the day.  

In most instances these moments have occurred when I’ve delivered something like a sports day, a table tennis tournament, or an office Olympics (all very sports themed on reflection!). They might not sound like the weightiest of interventions, but I genuinely see such power in the buzz they create and the connection and conversation that grows from them that wouldn’t otherwise exist.  

It’s right that we have targets for things like engagement and retention but sometimes, the interventions that we deliver in pursuit of those targets lack authenticity and can feel a bit awkward or obligatory.  

Admittedly, it’s unlikely that someone will ever tell you that the table tennis table in the kitchen is why they stay at their company, but they probably will say things like ‘it’s the people’ or ‘the community’ or ‘the sense of belonging’ much of which is likely to have been built in those in between moments.  

And finally, who do you look to for inspiration?

There’s not really one person I look to for inspiration, but I do love to read about or watch documentaries that focus on professional football teams and the techniques they use to create high performance cultures.  

As you might have picked up on, I’m a big sports fan and I find it fascinating to try to draw parallels between the sporting and corporate worlds.  

Having someone whose sole job is to maximise the efficacy of a team is definitely an idea I think could use more in corporate settings. It’s inspiring to see football club’s commitment to laser focused roles, they don’t expect someone to be the top goal scorer and head coach all at once!