AN INTERVIEW WITH ANDY FISHER, CO-FOUNDER OF THE HAPPY LEARNING CO. LTD WITH OUR AMAZING, RAPIDLY GROWING CLIENT PUMA ENERGY.
(Content taken with permission from 'Puma Connect' Magazine, May 2017)
1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself, your background and your role now?
I’m the Co-Founder and Chief Happiness Officer of The Happy Learning Co.
Having travelled the world and attended the ‘University of Life’, I went on to enjoy 17 years with British Airways in a variety of operational and learning roles. It’s here where I first fell in love with the world of learning and I was lucky enough to create many innovative learning programmes for every area of the business – frontline customer service, overseas operations, corporate leadership and head office functions.
I moved on to head up the learning team for a rapidly growing learning agency in central London where I worked on the world’s largest employee engagement programme for over 100,000 employees across the globe - that was a real highlight, earning many globally recognized awards!
With over 25 years’ experience under my belt, I was more than ready for the next challenge in my life and career to create an amazing new learning business, and have been happily co-directing The Happy Learning Co. with my partner-in-crime Helen, for the past two years.
2. Can you tell us a bit about The Happy Learning Company?
We're a creative, fun loving and thriving learning and engagement company who are big fans of the science of happiness and positive psychology. Happiness in the workplace is fast becoming a serious business, with the potential to transform the performance and results people can achieve.
Unlike any other learning agency we’ve experienced, we approach and underpin all our solutions with some the latest research and thinking around these hot topics - helping people and organisations re-think what they can do to unlock their limitless potential. We align all our solutions to some of the top drivers of happiness at work, creating programmes and events that make a real difference to the performance of people.
Our purpose is to help companies of all shapes and sizes create great places to work – places where people can be happy, productive, deliver great service experiences and achieve awesome business results. We do this by enabling people to become the very best versions of themselves, helping them fall back in love with their companies, jobs, customers and self. It’s at the heart of everything we do and at the end of the day it’s what we get out of bed for!
We specialise in developing solutions for all sorts of people challenges and opportunities and over the years have innovative engagement and learning solutions in areas such as:
• Customer Experience
• Leadership Development
• Induction & On-boarding
• Operational Skills / Health, Safety & Compliance Training
• Broadcasting Happiness / Internal Comms
• Facilitation Skills
• EVP & Employer Branding
• Culture change and learning proposition creation
3. What inspired you to create this company and service?
The Happy Learning Co. was born out of our personal journey to fulfil a burning desire to do something truly meaningful in our lives and careers. We realised that to achieve our dreams, we had to proactively do something about it, so Helen and I combined our experience, expertise and passion for what we do to create something really special - both for ourselves and for our clients.
We wanted to push the boundaries by using contemporary and exciting approaches to learning design that are very different from the old-fashioned training of yester-year, which is unfortunately still so common within our industry. A learning revolution is taking off around the world and we want to be at the forefront of this exciting change.
4. What do you hope to achieve for your clients via your service and involvement?
For us, learning is not just about sharing knowledge and developing new skills – it’s about inspiring positive action. Inspired actions, big or small, is what drives continuous profitable growth and we want to enable our clients to achieve amazing success through their greatest asset - their people.
It’s no secret that well trained and highly motivated employees are the lifeblood of any successful company. How they choose to behave with colleagues and customers, and the discretionary effort they are prepared to invest today, will ultimately determine your business results tomorrow.
We know through experience and research that it really does pay to engage; if you capture the hearts and minds of your people so they are happy at work, they will become the walking talking adverts for your company.
We want our clients to become the employer of choice in their industry, so our job is to set them up for success by equipping them with all the right tools and opportunities to bring out the very best in their people.
5. What do you consider to be a High-Performance Culture?
Culture is often defined as “the way things get done around here”, the DNA of a company, the unique values, beliefs and behaviours that fuel the workplace.
For me, a high-performance culture is an environment with a unique personality and soul, a place where there is a real shared passion for performance and excellence. It is an organisation that inspires their people to be their very best at work, to go above and beyond to deliver great service, build customer loyalty and as a result, deliver excellent results.
6. How do you think a company can create such a culture?
Ultimately, to build a high-performance culture, you need to set clear and aligned values to create an organisation where employees feel they are members of a meaningful community. They need to be actively engaged with common interests and goals to feel like co-creators and contributors to the success of the business, and have a high level of positive feelings and pride towards it.
Leaders have a vital role to play in setting the tone and creating the right conditions for a high-performance culture to exist. Leading a high-performance culture means getting the right balance of driving results and gaining the respect of their teams. If leaders don’t visibly role model, live and breathe the company values and behaviours, and set high standards for performance, employees do not have an inspiring culture to follow.
Developing the leaders of a business so they are equipped to walk-the-talk when it comes to leading and maintaining a positive, high-performance working culture, is an important part of the process in our experience.
7. How can a company maintain such a culture?
If culture is “the way things get done around here”; maintaining the culture is all about staying true to who you are, what you’re striving to achieve and not losing sight of what makes you unique and special. This means constantly reinforcing your purpose, strategy and why the values and goals are so important to the success of the business.
Recognising, rewarding and celebrating achievements is a great way of reinforcing and maintaining a high-performance culture as this will help inspire even more great performance and results.
It’s also important to recognise that the world of work is constantly changing, so you need to continuously look to improve, innovate and drive new levels of performance. Providing meaningful opportunities for employees to improve and develop themselves through an irresistible learning and development proposition is also essential for sustained success.
Once again, leaders have a vital role to play in sustaining a high-performance culture, making sure their teams are engaged, enabled and energised to deliver their A-game and being prepared to take positive, proactive action if something needs to change.
8. Do you think each company attracts a certain type of person?
I think the employer brand and the way in which a company promotes and markets itself has a big impact on the type of person it attracts. Also, the reputation a company has as an employer in the industry is hugely influential. A recent employee survey by UK-based consulting company Towers Watson suggested that an employer’s brand and reputation was one of the top five drivers for both attracting and engaging employees. If you’re looking to attract a certain type of person, it’s really important to carefully consider the messages you’re sending out.
Increasingly people are attracted to companies who offer more than just a job - companies who offer a meaningful community with a strong sense of purpose and belonging, who empower their people to make a difference, provide opportunities to develop and grow and value the importance of happiness at work.
Puma Energy has a great opportunity to attract the right type of talent through its engaging brand and by communicating itself as being more than just an energy company. Fuelling Journeys is about showing potential new talent, as well as customers, your pioneering, passionate and performance-driven spirit. This purpose is much more likely to appeal to and resonate with a type of person who connects with these values and wants to make a difference through the work they do. This is the power your brand can have...
9. Tell us a bit about your Company Culture
Well, it goes without saying that happiness is a very big part of our company culture. We have a strong belief that a happy environment is one where people do their very best work and love doing it in the process.
We also value the importance of authenticity - being your true self. When you know who you are and have the confidence and courage to let that shine through, you’ll light up every room you walk into, and that’s exactly what we want to do with all our colleagues and clients!
Kindness, laughter and ‘aiming high’ are also on our list of values.
The ‘way we do things around here’ is very much based and build upon these beliefs and values. We have a great relationship with each other, we support, empower and challenge ourselves, our teams and our clients all with one aim: to inspire positive action.
The way we are, the way we work, is inspired, guided and measured by a simple philosophy…‘Let no one come to you without leaving better and happier.’
10. What is your relationship with Puma Energy and how do you hope to benefit the company?
We’ve build a really positive relationship with Puma Energy over the past year which has become a great partnership built on trust, mutual respect and passion for what we do. I think from the moment we met, we found that we had quite a lot in common and we saw a lot of ourselves in the Puma Energy Spirit.
Our shared passion for creating something that can really make a difference and fuel the success of Puma Energy people, coupled with the courage to do it, has really inspired us to push the boundaries and do everything we can now and in the future to enable you to become a global employer of choice in the industry.
As our partnership strengthens and grows, we would love to help Puma Energy continue to connect as a meaningful community and come together with a common purpose and a strong brand that sets you apart from the competition. We hope to benefit the company by helping you develop world-class tools and inspiring solutions that enable you to get the very best from your people.
11. How would you describe your first impressions of the Puma Energy spirit and culture?
As mentioned earlier, we really connected with the Puma Energy spirit, as we completely resonated with the values of being passionate, pioneering and performance-driven. We have been really impressed with the integrity of those values as they really reflect the epic journey that Puma Energy has been on to achieve the success it has. It was clear from the outset that Puma Energy has a very results-focused, fast-paced working culture - but also that the company is increasingly recognising the need to balance this with a positive focus on the needs of employees and customers.
This is critical to the success of any business, so it’s really exciting to be part of the amazing work Puma Energy is doing to create a positive, high-performing culture. We’ve met so many passionate and loyal ambassadors within the company, we’re really proud to have Puma Energy as one of our precious clients.
12. What is the future for the Happy Learning Company and you and how do you hope to retain your high-performance culture as you grow and/or diversify?
The future of The Happy Learning Company is to continue on our journey to create happiness for ourselves, our teams and our clients. We’re working hard internally to build a meaningful community of great talent through our rapidly growing ‘happy alliance’, partnering our expertise with a network of the best talent in the creative and technology industries, to innovate and develop ground-breaking learning solutions that make a difference.
With an amazing team in place and raring to go, we’ll continue to attract, build and grow great partnerships, just like we have with Puma Energy, who’ll challenge us in new and exciting ways.
We never want to lose sight of who we are and what inspired us to set up the company, and so we’re currently working on developing a number of tools to help strengthen our high-performing culture and ways of working, so that we retain our unique spirit as we continue to grow in the years ahead.
13. What are your golden rules in life for work and home?
Well that’s an easy question: Don’t look for happiness, create it.
About our amazing client Puma Energy...
Puma Energy is an integrated global energy company like no other. When we say we fuel journeys, we are not just talking about putting gasoline or diesel in your tank, or providing high quality fuel to some of the world’s largest airlines, shipping companies and power suppliers. It goes further than that. For us, Fuelling Journeys is about making a real difference to all of our customers and the life in the communities we serve.
For more information about how the Happy Learning Co. can help you and your people create happiness through a high performance culture and an irresistible learning proposition, please email email@example.com and check out our website: www.thehappylearningco.uk.