‘We’re a people business, not a property business’
A phrase used a lot at Umega HQ. We understand we’re here to take extra special care of the properties we’ve been trusted with and that in order to do this successfully we need to take care of people; our landlords, our tenants and our team. For our team; if they feel valued, rewarded and fulfilled then they’ll take good care of our tenants, our landlords and their properties.
One initiative connected to this is our monthly ‘Meaningful Conversations’ breakfast hosted in the office kitchen and breakout area. Our very own writer extraordinaire Storm Lomax (what? Storm Lomax the published writer and author? Yes, THAT Storm Lomax) recently blogged on our internal employee newsletter about these breakfasts and we liked it so much we thought it was worth sharing.
What are our Meaningful Conversations’ breakfasts? (…according to Storm)
A popular perk in our office is Friday Breakfast Rolls; you pop your roll order on our internal messenger and an hour later it’s delivered to your desk – Magic! Once a month this is replaced with a breakfast buffet, with bagels, cereals, fruit, pancakes (and nutella…shhh) as part of our Meaningful Conversations breakfast.
We spend a really valuable thirty minutes getting to know one another; connecting with each other and doing our best to really take notice; something that in our busy working lives we really don’t do enough. There’s normally a couple of ice-breaker questions to prompt discussion, encouraging us to move past the ‘office small talk’ and really interact with the people we share an office with 5 days a week.
This month our ice breakers were; ‘One moment in life we are grateful for’ and ‘if you were stuck in a lift with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?’. Observing the room it was amazing to see memories and smiles coming to life as we connected with that deep part of our inner self and our sense of gratitude.
Why do we do these breakfasts?
Our Meaningful Conversations breakfasts encourage a working environment where we’re comfortable with each other and where we know our wellbeing is worth taking care of. Our purpose statement refers to Umega being a place where ‘We really show what we’re about’. A place where we’re ‘open in the way we work, communicate and show our vulnerabilities’. Somewhere we should not be scared to ‘give over our true selves in bucket loads’. These Meaningful Conversations breakfasts provide a small exercise in opening up, showing our vulnerabilities and giving our true selves, allowing us to get used to using those ‘muscles’ so that this way of ‘being’ with each other at Umega becomes the norm.
Connecting and taking notice
Our Meaningful Conversations breakfasts form part of a range of initiatives we have at Umega relating to the ‘5 ways to wellbeing’ inspired by our charity partnership with the Scottish Association of Mental Health (SAMH). The breakfasts allow us to really connect with each other and to take notice of one another to help our own and each other’s mental wellbeing.
We’ve had loads of positive feedback from the team; most notably, people responding well to being given a chance to socialise with their colleagues in a relaxed environment. Personally, this is something that I’ve never seen put into action in a workplace before. Instead of a generic work perk, the Meaningful Conversations breakfasts are done out of love and it goes to show that when it comes to the wellbeing of its employees, Umega is more than just talk. Umega is a company led by two friends who believe in a better way of doing business and our Meaningful Conversations breakfasts are totally consistent with this; encouraging a deeper level of working relationship, friendship and trust between each member of the team.