HR responds to COVID-19: The London Stock Exchange Group
Beau Jackson, June 26, 2020
The London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) has a name and headquarters that can lead some to consider the company as London-centric.
Yet surprisingly, LSEG employs more than 5,000 people worldwide in offices in Europe, Asia and North America. In light of COVID-19, the internationality of the LSEG workforce has become an integral part of supporting staff.
“I think it's fair to say we've really looked at how we communicate and engage with our colleagues with even greater care, because instead of being in circa 20 offices around the globe, we are in 5,000,” LSEG group head of HR Tim Jones told HR magazine.
All of LSEG employees moved to working from home at the start of lockdown and this has meant, in some cases, allocating funding for people to buy equipment for their home offices. Where possible, the group has also continued what would be in-person events on a virtual platform.
ExCo breakfasts, in which a member of the executive committee meets other colleagues they wouldn’t usually work with, have continued online.
Keeping with the international thread of communications, the group has also introduced a social exchange in which an employee is partnered with another colleague from a different country, irrespective of job title and department.
A new partner is matched each month, and every two weeks they have a 15 minute conversation to understand their operations and learn from each other.
Leaders have also been encouraged to have more 1-to-1s with people they don’t often speak with.
Jones added: “The colleagues that have spoken to me have actually said they felt more connected to the organisation because of how we've approached the response to the pandemic, and how we've communicated and engaged with them.
“I think that's a fantastic testament to our colleagues and our managers in the work that they're doing. Despite everyone being in their own home office as it were, it is for us a very positive output of obviously very trying circumstances.”
LSEG runs a regular employee engagement survey called Have Your Say. To gauge sentiment about its coronavirus response, and gather input for return to work plans, the company introduced a new ‘Ways of Working survey.
In the pre-COVID-19 survey, 70% of LSEG colleagues typically said that they ‘Strongly agree’ or ‘Agree’ with the sentiment of their senior leaders’ ability to lead.
By contrast, in Ways of Working, the number of colleagues agreeing or strongly agreeing with the sentiment of leaders’ ability to lead rose to 92%.
Similarly, in Have Your Say 65% of colleagues said they would agree with the sentiment that senior leaders are visible and accessible to them. In Ways of Working, that increased to 84%.
Though general employee sentiment surrounding LSEG’s handling is positive, Jones realises that there are still areas of improvement when it comes to the steps ahead.
As an example, the majority of employees at LSEG (84%) said they felt capable of working effectively on a more permanent remote basis.
However, Jones admitted that leaders had found working remotely harder when compared to their colleagues.
He added: “It can be harder to manage and lead people when you're not in similar locations. And so a big learning for us is how we continue to support our managers and our leaders with the tools, tactics and best practice to get the best out of their people when everyone is in a different location.”
Balancing work and home life will also be a critical consideration going forward. Jones said: “A colleague used an interesting phrase - Am I working from home or sleeping in the office? and I think for me that encapsulates it really well.
“It's really important that we still create working environments and spaces for our colleagues to partner, to co-create, to come up with innovations and new ideas and build things together.”
A long-awaited review of trading hours is also currently underway at LSEG and in the wider financial sector. It is hoped that by amending hours and market structure the industry will appeal to a much more diverse pool of talent and alleviate the toll it can have on employee wellbeing.
LSEG began gathering responses to this consultation last summer pre-pandemic, and European exchanges have begun to follow suit.
However LSEG will not be able to take action until the market in Europe has reached a decision.