Enhancing the employee journey through Learning & Development
by Zen Family Member, Katie Metzelaar
At Zenergi, we are a collection of innovators, excited by knowledge and learning something new. Part of the Zen Family ethos is encouraging this, we want our team to learn and develop throughout their time with us, so they can be the best they can during their Zenergi journey and beyond. There is always room to grow, and we strive to accommodate learning opportunities and provide suitable resources to facilitate them.
Learning & Development
Continued learning and development is about making a commitment to yourself to never stop trying to improve. It is a journey which will always take you to new places as you progress through your career and seek to keep your skills and knowledge up to date as well as learning new ones. In order to continue to learn, you must first be able to reflect on your role and where you want to be, you are then able to identify where the learning opportunities are, so you can achieve these. Being able to evaluate yourself in an honest and critical way is difficult but evaluating areas that need improvement will enable you to progress and develop.
Keeping your learning up to date and relevant is a personal responsibility and, by taking ownership, you can achieve the goals set for yourself. There are many different mediums of learning that are available, whether that be e-learning, internal courses, external courses, books, videos, mentoring or website membership. Just reading books, even if you are an avid reader, is not always the best delivery of a process or message. We encourage everyone to think about expanding their skills and knowledge.
Inspiring the next generation
Zenergi believe in actively developing the next generation, we are doing this by investing in our graduate scheme and taking part in the government’s Kickstart scheme. We understand that learning and development comes in different forms, so we aim to provide open and flexible opportunities to suit everyone’s progression.
Our Kickstart scheme offers jobs for young people for a period of six months, helping them to develop transferable skills that can be taken forward into future employment. Zenergi’s Kickstart programme allows the opportunity to gain experience in different areas of the business, allowing them to flourish and discover where their interests lie.
Our graduate programme first started in September 2020, recruiting university leavers into a year-long programme which enabled them to rotate around different departments within the business. A new programme started in November 2021 which saw a number of graduates join the Operations division and the Technical Division, Briar, focused on developing engineering skills to raise a new generation into the skills gap for a two-year placement.
Over the past 10 years, we have worked alongside Brian Edwards at Mindflex Leadership, to create our bespoke world-class Zen Academy. The Academy consists of seven segments, taking the team through insightful workshops to encourage self-reflection and to perfect key skills, in order to prosper in the workplace. The programme has developed over time to keep pace with the business. Originally provided for customer-facing roles, today the academy invites participation from all roles within the business. We recognise our colleagues are our strongest asset and we believe in investing time and effort to make their Zen journey a positive one and to enable them to develop essential transferrable skills.
“Learning is all about creating the right environment, the right level of challenge, and the self-awareness of the participants. The Zen Academy has been built around the precise needs of Zenergi’s people by Zenergi’s people. It is reviewed and renewed with thought-leaders in Zenergi’s organisation regularly. Learning about business requires a balance between academic learning and practical application. The programme is heavily weighted towards applying the learning, with skills-practice demanding high levels of commitment from the participants. Mindflex leadership (my organisation) brings an external objectivity and benchmarking against other top performing organisations. This compliments Zenergi’s high standards and aspirations.” –Brian Edwards, Managing Director, Mindflex Leadership
Enabling development outside the workplace
Sometimes learning and developing means more than just taking on a new skill, it can be learning more about ourselves and how we look after one another. Our mental health has an unprecedented influence on our everyday lives, inside and outside of work, highlighting the importance of ensuring it remains healthy and balanced. At Zenergi, we nurture our team’s wellness by supporting their physical and mental wellbeing, providing benefits and resources to support them.
We believe everyone should have someone to talk to, whether it’s regarding stress, financial concerns, or anything that may hinder mental wellbeing. This is why we have provided accessible councillors for our team, offering professional support during difficult periods of time. Our internal Zen Wellness Buddies are specially trained by the organisations MIND and the Red Cross to provide comfort and a shoulder to lean on when members of the team are in need. Additionally, all of our managers have undergone training with MIND to further support teams and help recognise the signs of when someone is in need. We have this in place to create a safe space with an accepting and compassionate attitude towards mental wellbeing.
These internal support systems are in addition to our Employee Assistance Programme, a 24-hour helpline answered by trained professionals, that offers immediate access to telephone counselling and legal information services, provided by an independent health and wellbeing provider. These experienced and qualified telephone counsellors provide around the clock support to help with a wide range of personal and work-related problems in areas such as relationship difficulties, bereavement, anxiety, stress, family worries, alcohol/drug abuse and financial concerns.
Additionally, for many, physical and mental health go hand in hand. Playing sports or going to the gym can play a vital part in a good work-life balance and gives us an opportunity to let off steam. For this reason, we offer the option to support physical wellbeing by offering a year’s fitness membership up to the value of £500.
As an organisation it is important that we don’t stay still and become complacent. From graduates to C-Level executives, the opportunities to learn and develop are endless and we are here to cater to that. We are proud of our ‘Zen Family’ ethos, ensuring all our team are equipped with the physical and mental resources to grow. This is one of the values that we were recognised for when we were awarded ‘We invest in People, Silver’, emphasising our commitment to developing our people.
But we know we are not perfect. We are listening to our people, adapting, and striving to continue providing a workplace that enables our team to learn and develop.
Bio: Katie worked for British Gas domestic for 11 years after leaving Bath Spa University, as a Customer Relations Manager dealing with complaints through Ombudsman. Katie joined Zenergi in 2012 as an Relationship Manager, looking after Councils and schools until 2018 when she became part of the Leadership Team and started looking after the team instead of customers. Katie is now part of every employees journey through the business. Her aim is to help source, train, develop and support all team members so they have the tools they need to be able to delight our customers. Katie’s favourite saying is ‘a happy team means happy customers’.