"It’s good to give colleagues a sense of belonging.” A chat with the Swish Social Committee
A happy workplace and a good work/life balance can be difficult to achieve. Finding parity between ensuring work is carried out to a high level and to completion while ensuring staff aren’t burning themselves out or becoming unhappy is essential in any successful organisation. So, what’s the answer?
Naturally, there isn’t an easy one. We celebrate our individuality and are each on our own Swish Journey. There is no ‘one size fits all’ but to mark National Work Life Week we want to celebrate one thing that helps Swish get the balance right – our wonderful Swish Social Committee.
Brigita, Jenney, Kamran, Sarah, and Zoe make up the Swish Social Committee alongside their usual jobs within Swish. It’s no small task, particularly as Swish is a rapidly growing company with hundreds of staff, both office and field based.
We chatted with Zoe and Jenney to see how they manage to do it.
The first thing they were desperate to talk about was, unsurprisingly, our recent company offsite event. Every single Swish employee was invited to Windsor for three days to participate in some games and activities... along with some drinking and eating, of course.
“We hadn’t held this kind of thing since the pandemic,” Jenney explained. “Brice, our CEO, wanted to bring the whole company together, giving staff a chance to get the know people in other departments and areas of the business.”
In a company like Swish there’s always a possibility that people can feel separated from the rest of the organisation due to working in the field and not having a chance to interact with many colleagues. Zoe says this is what the offsite event was trying to combat.
She said: “As well as being a fun social event, we hope it had a positive impact on the mental health and wellbeing of all staff. It’s good to be reminded that you are part of something bigger, to give you a sense of belonging.
“Seeing that many people together made you feel like part of a large machine working at full capacity. It’s great as well for staff to meet each other and gain an appreciation for what we all do and empower our BeTogether value.”
Origins of the social committee
While the Swish Social Committee has existed for a while, there has never been an official mission statement or any hard lines for them to follow. Instead, it works in a more organic way, with its members listening to what staff want and considered what works logistically.
Jenney said: “We do what we can to make work a bit nicer for everyone. Anything that brings people together, makes them feel included, and generally makes them happier at work.”
The committee are aware that not everyone in one workplace can have the same interests or hobbies, so a wide range of groups and activities ensures there’s something for everyone. That’s why they’ve organised everything from book reading clubs and foreign language lessons, to group bike rides and charity football matches.
“The charity football match was a great success,” says Zoe. “One colleague even bought his wife and children down to watch. Plus we raised a lot of money for the charities Swish supports.”
The work of the Swish Social Committee never ends, and in fact is growing in intensity as the business continues to expand. The next big initiative will be Swish Steps as many staff have expressed an interest in a walking challenge like this.
“It’s good to get some group activities that everyone can take part in, no matter where they work,” explains Zoe. “We are setting up a group challenge that will see us collectively log a certain number of steps in a single month. Obviously this will be easier for our field workers who are out and about all day, but that’s why we’ll be setting a high target!”
It’s important to remember that sometimes a constant effort to push a work/life balance on staff can become exhausting, ironically. Of course, at Swish every single social activity is entirely voluntary, and no one is made to feel pressured to take part if they don’t want to.
Zoe said: “We leave it up to the individual to set their own boundaries. No one is going to want to participate in everything, which is why we have such a wide range of social activities.
“Nothing is mandated, and colleagues can dip in and out of what works for them. As long as at least one activity or group speaks to each employee and makes them feel valued and that they haven’t been forgotten about, then we’ve done our job.”