Real business story

A finger on the pulse

Wonder Vision is a CGI production studio in Henley-on-Thames set up by James Elderton and Joe Thomas. They brought in a new HR system to help them engage with employees and build the culture they wanted to create

We asked James and Joe to share the story of their new HR system , if you'd like to hear more you can listen to a podcast or watch a longer video below

Setting your objective

Technology is right at the centre of what Wonder Vision do, playing a critical role in helping them deliver for their customers, but they have also turned to technology to help them a better working environment.

After the unexpected departure of a senior employee, James and Joe realised they needed a mechanism which could give them 'a finger on the pulse', a way to understand how people were feeling and ensure they were creating as good a place to work as possible for their employees. They wanted something which would help them get a deeper understanding than what they were hearing through their one to ones, a way to see potential issues coming and act on them before they became a problem. This would then help them take concrete steps to build a better culture.

In the past we probably said, "How are you today", and the answer is "I'm fine", but it doesn't really answer the question or get down to how you are actually feeling. So that was when we turned to technology

Joe Thomas - Wondervision

Justifying your budget

The introduction of HR software has been part of a change for Wonder Vision in the metrics they really track and focus on. Staff engagement and satisfaction have become very important to them, meaning software which allows them to understand how their staff are feeling and what actions they need to take has become absolutely critical.

While the system has brought clear financial benefits, helping them take cost effective measures to create a better environment, increase staff engagement, and increase retention, James and Joe have also adopted a broader definition of business success. This software has helped them to make Wonder Vision the kind of business which they want to be, with a strong culture they believe in.

It allows us to see problems coming, people can raise stuff with us sooner, and ultimately it's been for the best. We've put all sorts of changes in place which has put in place a truly better culture

Joe Thomas - Wondervision

Creating your shopping list

James and Joe have a lot of experience using different kinds of technology in their business, so they know what works for them. As a creative organisation they knew their staff would only accept something which was intuitive and which looked great. Ease of use was crucial to make sure that it could become a seamless part of their operations, and in order for them to get the kind of insights about their staff that they wanted, they needed it to offer users complete anonymity

Finally they knew that they wanted the system to drive deep understanding of their staff and help them make better decisions. They wanted built in tools to help them reach new insights

I think a lot of it comes from the gut feeling of really using the software. Is it easy to use? Does it solve my problem? Does it give us more free time? That's the ultimate job of any tech tool we use, to free us up

Joe Thomas - Wondervision

Buying with confidence

Wonder Vision chose their system based on a recommended from someone in a similar industry. This "stamp of approval" from someone they trusted, who does what they do, gave them confidence that they were going in the right direction.

They also took a test and learn approach, using short trials to make sure they were picking the right option. They put a lot of emphasis on the fact that this tool was meant to make their lives easier, and took the view that if they had to go around reminding people to use something then it probably wasn't the right tool

If it doesn't free up more time, or if it's a pain to use, we're very quick to move onto the next one, to do the next trial

Joe Thomas - Wondervision

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Making it work for the team

In the past Wonder Vision had used a scheduling software which was undermined by the fact it wasn't easy enough to use. Staff just didn't adopt it as it was too clunky to become a seamless part of their day to day. This time they focused on ease of use to help their people adopt the tool.

They were also conscious of the amount of mutual trust involved in rolling out an HR system. They needed to trust their employees to use the tool properly, to share the kind of information which would help them build a better organisation, and their employees needed to trust them to act on that information, and to keep it anonymous. Maintaining that trust was a key feature of the implementation process.

The thing that really stood out was the ease of use, it's one question into everyone's inbox every few days and one click from them. And it's fully anonymous so you capture unbiased data

Joe Thomas - Wondervision

Getting your money's worth

James and Joe have taken a number of steps based on their new HR software, acting on the information which is gives them. Some have been simple, such as introducing fresh fruit, a very cheap measure suggested by someone on the platform which drives improved satisfaction but which hadn't crossed their minds in the preceding nine years.

Some have been larger. After seeing that staff felt they weren't getting enough recognition for their work, Wonder Vision introduced a benefits platform which gave every employee a small bonus pot which they could give to colleagues who they felt had done a good job. The sums of money involved were very small, but the platform has really helped drive the kind of cultural transformation which James and Joe were looking for

The tools have helped to create the culture which we are really proud of today. Without that we would have a company, but we wouldn't have the conversations and the dialogue that we've got going. It's been really informative to improve the business

James Elderton - Wondervision

Watch the full video

Listen to the full discussion

We carried on our discussion with James and Joe once the cameras stopped rolling. You can listen to it here

James and Joe's top takeaways

Wonder Vision have embraced all different sorts of technology right across their business. Their approach is to trial lots of things to see if they work, understanding whether its right for them before they commit to anything

If something doesn't work for you then get rid of it. James and Joe talk about the need for agility to find the thing that works. Look for something that fits seamlessly into the way you work

Products which are hard for your staff to use won't end up being properly adopted. If you have to keep reminding you staff to use it then it probably isn't the right tool. Trust your gut