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Keeping people at the centre while reshaping for the future


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How can values-based organisations navigate the Covid crisis? In this VRT, our provocateur Andy Bindon, Chief Change and Values Officer, GLL, discussed how they are keeping people at the centre as they reshape for the future.

GLL’s approach aligns with our vision for organisations to humanise the workplace in a future world full of technology and increased information. Prior to the Covid-19 crisis they were growing fast, challenging private sector providers in the leisure market, and demonstrating that a charity can compete successfully at scale. However, the lockdown effectively turned off their revenues, and only in recent weeks have they been able to re-start some of their operations. They need to adapt and be agile in a way that remains true to their values.

In this roundtable HR and L&D leaders came together to share the tensions, challenges, and opportunities they are grappling with, and the lessons they’ve learnt along the way.


David North said that humanising the workplace involved being ambitious in our leadership of people and offering an engaging message about purposeful and productive work during a period of disruptive change. The discussion centred on people and leadership priorities as we move our organisations towards future success, including:

  • Creating a digital leadership development proposition that’s agile, relevant and strengthens virtual collaboration and human connection.
  • Preparing leaders to shape the future state of the organisation – offering opportunities for external insight and space to innovate.
  • Being transparent about the needs for internal talent deployment and upskilling during significant reorganisation.
  • Shifting our own focus to embrace a holistic yet complex span of priorities for upskilling our employees including wellbeing, resilience, diversity, and citizenship.

“Our biggest challenge is the tyranny of the urgent – how do we become more agile and strategic and lift our heads up to a longer-term view?”


Andy Bindon shared his rich story of the financial and human impact of the pandemic at GLL, and described his strategy for keeping a people focus through business transition and recovery strategy.

Beginning with 3 workstreams – Realization, Repair and Rehab – GLL are restarting their business and learning from the situation. They’re already achieving a lot more with less – and forging a new strategic direction while reshaping the workforce and culture.

Part of this change is anchored in their people management approach. Andy highlighted some quick wins, like removing administration to shift the manager’s focus to being more visible with their customers and teams. They’re highlighting four leadership behaviours, signifying a new start for people management at GLL and empowering managers to act on their initiative, and that of their teams:

Imagine – Inspire – Improve- Involve

Communications has been a major challenge – they’ve grappled with the tensions between confidentiality and transparency, and colleagues who are furloughed and those working. They addressed this with a helpline, an initiative to match people with community programmes and voluntary opportunities, and a policy of no redundancies in the first months. Increasing the use of the intranet and video conferencing has reduced reliance on emails.

To enhance their ability to drive change, input to financial decisions, and influence the future leadership and talent debate, the HR team is being re-engineered. They’re keeping it simple by a laser-like focus on three key daily questions:

  • What do you think?
  • What I have I done today to make GLL successful?
  • What are we doing to create better people management?

And, they won’t lose sight of the positive changes during Covid in their future plans. Andy’s personal reflection, as a change agent, is on the value of standing back to think about where things are going; and the importance of your goals and values – from a personal and business perspective.


If the aim is to humanise the workplace, as we help the organisation move forward, then the question is – how can we ensure that leadership keeps people at the centre? Some key takeaways:

  • Equip managers to deal with the present while also looking to the future.
  • Elevate our own resilience to be part of creating a healthy human system.
  • Define the capabilities we need in our HR leadership team to be part of financial and strategic decisions in our organisation.
  • Support people to answer the question ‘What does this mean for me?’ as we design and communicate solutions to transform the business.

“How do we create the kind of human organisation that can cope with wave after wave of this kind of disruption? The people on this call can be the ones to help our colleagues emerge stronger and better equipped to face the future’.”

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