Innovation Week: celebrating our most important value

In this guest post, Aaron Rickard-Smith, Chief People Officer, and Pandora Vignaud, Executive Assistant, report on James and James’s recent Innovation Week – a time for the whole company to come together and develop new skills.

Innovation drives change, it drives improvement, and it drives staff engagement, which is why it’s our most important value. We live and breathe innovation, and we’re pretty damn good at it – even the Queen thinks so.

To help reinforce innovation as a key part of our culture, we’ve developed a series of employee benefits. These empower our people, help them learn new things, and give them the freedom to make the changes they want to see in the business.

One of these benefits is called “Innovation Week” – five days of educational activities, some focused on personal development, some on business needs, and others on encouraging people to try something new.

Learning hard, soft and unusual skills

James and James's staff learn hard, soft and unusual skills as part of Innovation Week
People could develop everything from personal development to bushcraft to kayaking skills during Innovation Week.

The hard skills classes included fire marshaling, first aid and dangerous goods training, which are all essential to our business. We run first aid and fire marshal courses throughout the year, but there are only limited spaces and someone always misses out. Innovation Week provided a great opportunity for people to learn a new skill that they might not have had the chance to do before.

In an agile business like James and James, progression and development must be at the forefront of culture, so we also ran four soft skills classes during the week. These focused on leadership for new and aspiring leaders, time management, personal development and collaboration. All are really great skills to learn, helping our people improve themselves further and boosting our overall performance.

Alongside these classes, we scheduled several other activities to encourage our team to think creatively, bond as a team, and try something new and fun. Some of the highlights included white water tube rafting, kayaking and bushcraft.

We’ve had some brilliant feedback from the team:

Zoe: “A great opportunity to learn new skills away from the office environment, to meet other staff and to have fun.”

Ilko: “It was a good way to spend quality time with my colleagues.”

Kasia: “A great initiative. A brilliant idea to provide in-house training, as well as fun activities, which I really enjoyed.”

Tomas: “It was a very good teambonding activity. The mix of people from the office and the fulfillment center allowed us to get to know each other a bit more, working together in a different environment. Even now people recognize and remember each other from Innovation Week.”

Bringing the whole company together

James and James's staff - and their loved ones - come together at the annual summer party
James and James’s annual summer party brought the whole team and their loved ones together for fun and frolics.

At the start of Innovation Week, we also had our annual summer party. This time we went to Sedgebrook Hall in Northamptonshire, UK.

Our summer party brings together all of our people, their families and loved ones, and it went off with a bang. From bouncy castle frolics to sumo wrestling action (not to mention those very welcome and refreshing water balloons), there was plenty of fun to be had.

It was lovely to see everyone getting involved in a water fight, especially watching the kids gang up on the adults. And as the afternoon drew to a close, Sedgebrook’s very own Japanese Garden and peaceful country walks were enjoyed by all.

Fancy joining us for Innovation Week 2019? Check out our jobs board for all of our current openings.