A week in the life of a Director of Happiness

When I first started in my job, just over two years ago, I wrote an article comparing The Social Chain Group to the film The Beach, only without the sour ending. We are a community all working to the same values and goal, including our seven office dogs!

The energy is contagious; buzzing from wall to wall, from the slide to the train carriage meeting pods to the magical bridge complete with a pond. The atmosphere swarms with positivity, creativity and innovation. It’s the postman’s favourite stop and, once you’re here, you’ll want to be a part of it.

When Steven Bartlett and Dominic McGregor started the company just over three years ago, they knew they wanted to create a place that people loved to come to everyday - somewhere that was more than just a job, a place where you could be passionate about the work you do, have fun and most importantly be exactly who you are. The special thing about The Social Chain Group is summed up in the final line of our company values: 'Most of all, we give a shit always'. Our culture was achieved due to the genuine care for every single person in our family ecosystem.

When I walked through the doors on my first day, met by 10 people, I knew this was the place for me. Two years later, five offices globally and over 200 initiations, my role excites me more than ever. My job is to maintain the specialness of our culture and I am constantly implementing new ways to do this. Our on-boarding programme includes a history and culture lesson which ends with a polaroid photo being taken, to be added to the huge family tree we have painted opposite our chill-out pods.

"You have unlimited holidays?"

As I said, our culture is built on mutual trust. The way we work and the policies we have only work if we trust people. Yes, we have unlimited holidays. Most companies talk about a work/life balance; we believe in a life/ life balance. We align the two - which is why we would never restrict anyone to the traditional number of holiday days.

Read: Richard Branson on unlimited leave at Virgin

Our 'see the world' policy

60 per cent of millennials leave their jobs to travel and with the team being so youthful, we recognise the desire they have to travel and see the world - at the end of the day travelling promotes creativity. So, our team have the opportunity to take extended periods away to travel with the security of knowing their role will be waiting for them when they get back.

Innovative interior design

It’s scientifically proven that the design of an environment promotes creative thinking, innovation and productivity. Our office is designed by the team; we believe that if people want to come here every day, they should have an input to ensure they get what they want from it. We also make sure that there are as many breakout areas as possible: we have table tennis, a bar, a gaming room, a chill out room to watch football or Netflix, a slide, and a basketball hoop. And we encourage everyone to utilise these areas to get away from their desks and take a break.

A week at The Social Chain Group

The happiness team has recently grown - we now have a happiness manager who helps to ensure that there is something exciting happening every day.

If it’s national smoothie day, everyone receives a smoothie delivered right to their desk, or if it’s national compliment day, we’ll add some posts to our 'Wall of Thanks' which lives in the kitchen and hosts a huge display of thank you notes from one member of a team to another. On Mondays, we have our weekly shop delivered, which anyone can add to and help themselves to.

Initiations

As we’re growing at such a quick rate, it’s not uncommon to have two or three people start each week. So, after their history and culture lesson, we hold initiations - it’s important to us that new starters feel like part of the family from the second they walk in the door! The whole company gathers on our tiered seating area to welcome them, we play games, ask questions, see if they can get onto our ‘hula hoop’ leader board, and then give them their welcome box which is full of branded gifts!

Guest editor letter: Payal Kadakia on how to make play everyday

Wellbeing

We have a huge focus on mental health and wellbeing and we regularly have speakers visiting the office for our weekly ‘lunch & learn’ to make people aware that it’s something we can be open about here. I hold regular happiness one-on-one’s and we also have a company therapist.

Social clubs

In keeping with the theme of a life/ life balance and wellbeing, we host a huge array of social clubs held by members of the team. The team have the choice to join weekly yoga, book club, film club, football club, netball club, healthy lunch club, rock climbing club, arts and crafts club and many more!

Creative review

Every Friday, a different department holds our creative review. The team can help themselves to a drink from the bar and the whole company gathers to hear about what the hosting team has been working on - they’re also challenged to hold a game which we actually have awards for at our Christmas party! We then take part in a full company celebration for any amazing work, promotions or personal achievements, and the nominated team members are awarded with a bottle of champagne and sparklers with their favourite song playing! We also have a monthly 'Values Awards' ceremony where we give out trophies for people who have gone above and beyond to demonstrate our values.

Every day here is different, exciting and inspiring, and I feel lucky to be surrounded by the people I am every day. My top tip for employers wanting to create a culture which people feel proud to be part of is: care about the people, trust them completely, and the rest will follow.

This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details.

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