As an early-stage startup experiencing rapid growth — Matchable counts big names like Ella's Kitchen and British Red Cross among its list of clients, despite being an HQ team of just nine people — the risk of burnout is always present.
Having left a stressful career in the corporate world, Foong had first-hand experience of how fast-paced jobs take a toll on employees' mental health. “I spent years leading teams and doing deals with multinational companies, and my wellbeing suffered. By the time I left my role as a Director in my last company, I was completely burnt out. I had been experiencing massive anxiety, exhaustion and the impact on my personal life was huge. I vowed when I started my own company that no-one in my team would have to go through what I did.”
However, the long months of Covid restrictions and limited travelling and socialising opportunities put extra pressure on staff. “I noticed we were working a lot — too much — and had hardly taken any holiday because of the lockdown so we were feeling exhausted. I could see the team looking frazzled and so it was a reminder to take stock.”
While many founders are concerned about appearing weak, Foong says she leans into vulnerability as a leader. “I am very open with the team. I share with them when I’m not feeling 100% and need a break. As founders, we need to promote the fact that it’s okay not to be okay all of the time and actually sharing where you need support should be considered a strength.”
She explained, “my theory is that your team is your biggest asset. Anything that happens at home also impacts your work, and your emotional and psychological wellbeing transcends both these areas. Therefore in order to ensure that your team perform at their best, they need to have the support and tools to deal with anything that may impact this.”
I noticed that we were working too hard and had hardly taken any holiday
“People nowadays are less likely to take on ‘jobs for life’, so the best thing you can do for them is to allow them to thrive as much as possible in the time they are with your company — both personally and professionally.”
Some of the Matchable team together in person after being remote for most of 2020.
Where Spill comes in
Foong’s commitment to the mental wellbeing of her team is what led her to find Spill. “I had a session with a Spill therapist during a particularly turbulent time during Covid and just knew that if my team had access to the therapy and support Spill was offering, it would give me the peace of mind that I was doing everything I could to make Matchable a psychologically safe place to work." Foong launched Spill for the team at this moment.
The pandemic brought to light what worked well about remote working versus what didn't work so well, and several of Spill's features helped to hardwire mentally healthy practices into Matchable's culture, aside from the core ability for employees to easily book therapy sessions.
“We already had unlimited holiday days in place, but initiatives like the Spill Holiday Pledge helped us set targets and goals around holiday and aimed to encourage and celebrate taking time off”, Foong explains.
The lack of face-to-face time also reduced opportunities for chance interpersonal interactions where new team members could learn about each other, and made it easier for misunderstandings and miscommunication to happen. Spill's User Manuals helped the team to understand each other's quirks, preferences and ways of working — whether that's knowing how someone likes to receive feedback or knowing if they prefer to be messaged or called with work questions.
The move to working remotely also reminded Foong of the importance of a steady stream of praise for keeping up morale. “Spill's Wall of Praise feature has been amazing for that. Every Friday someone in the office gets comments from the rest of the team on why they’re valued. I just had mine and it was such a great boost!”