Camilla Britton, EGM PX Partnering – Product & Tech at Xero, discusses the importance of prioritisation of self care, care for career and care for family over the past two chaotic years.
How have the past two years played out for you?
I started the new job at Xero which has been amazing but being onboarded virtually and remotely whilst in lockdown was difficult. Thankfully I have an amazingly supportive husband who could step in saying “you’ve got a new job, I’ll help out. I’ve got flexibility.” He’s not a teacher but he probably felt like he was over the last 12 months with our two young boys. Home schooling was a real challenge for us as a family, but being back at school has bought some normalcy back to our lives.
How did you meet the challenges of balancing working from home and supporting the family unit?
You’ve got to be in the right frame of mind to be able to support your family unit, to support your team members, to support people in the business. I always tell my kids and my team to just focus on the things that you can control. There’s so much uncertainty in the world right now, there’s stuff that we just can’t control. One of the really simple things that I have always said to the kids is we can control little things, like daily exercise. Just build those little habits as a family unit to keep our minds and bodies healthy.
How do you prioritise self care and what’s in your personal toolkit?
I go back to this really simple little book called “How full is your bucket?”. It makes me think of how I show up; what am I doing in my interactions with people? What are the things that are going to help me show up and still be really vulnerable in who I am? I think my team would say that I’m really authentic and honest, and we talk openly about challenges that go on in the business.
One of the things that I have in my personal toolkit is that I’m ruthless around exercising for myself every day. It doesn’t matter whether it’s leaf-crunching late at night with the dog, going for a walk before Mark and I have dinner, whether it’s on my own or with friends. Swimming, walking, tennis, surfing. I love swimming, it’s an amazing form of mindfulness. I absolutely have that in my toolkit to help me be in the best frame of mind and be ready for whatever is thrown at me.
We can all get really busy on so many zoom meetings and one of the other things that I’m committed to this year is being ruthless around my calendar. Can I delegate that meeting? Do I really need to be at that or can another team member do it? Working out ways to be more efficient around some of our meetings because we can get consumed by meetings working in a global organisation that’s got a distributed workforce.
How have you stayed connected and engaged with your team over the past few years?
One of the things that we talk a lot about at work is having empathy for each other. Especially when things are busy and people have been running on really empty tanks or going through personal challenges. That’s something we can control because it’s how you choose to respond when you’re having a disagreement with someone or there’s a challenging project you’re working on. Trying to understand where someone is coming from as you might not know what they’re going through.
Alongside other initiatives to help individuals and teams manage their well-being, I consistently remind people to have that empathy for each other. We have a value share in our team meeting every week. We open it up to the team and people just do little pieces of gratitude for each other, they just want to celebrate someone on the team. It’s actually a really beautiful way to start the meeting, especially with whatever might be going on in your life.
What else have you done at Xero to help people from a well-being and rhythm perspective?
We have done some really cool stuff over the last 12 months. I’m really, really proud of the amazing support that we put in place for our people during COVID. That’s just part of our culture. We’ve been putting well-being programs into place and sharing a lot more stories of what different people are doing, what it means to be at Xero, and what helps them thrive every day.
Steve, our CEO, set the tone from the top on the importance of well-being. He said, “it’s okay, just try and do the best you can do in your circumstances”. Steve has continued that thread, and that’s represented through all the other leaders on his leadership team.
We’ve also amped up our flexibility policy to bring more choice to it, and what that looks like for our people who launch in remote roles, which has been a huge success globally. This has been fantastic at both attracting and retaining talent.
We’re currently trialling an initiative called Flow Time for our product and tech people, where we have meeting-free time dedicated to doing deep-thinking, meaningful work. That has been a really successful pilot that we have put some measurements around to see the impact of it around wellbeing and productivity. To not have meetings in the calendar and give time to solve a complex problem or think about something strategically has been fabulous for our people
The four-day working week is a live conversation at the moment. It’s just been amazing to see our leaders leaning into a lot of really phenomenal support for our people, knowing that it’s so critical to support our people in the best way so they can thrive in this crazy environment we’re in.
Do you have any words of advice or comfort for anyone struggling with burnout or when they feel they are languishing?
It is complex. When there’s so much going on around you I think first and foremost: be kind to yourself.
Starting a new job, I kept on saying to my husband “Oh, God, I feel like my training wheels are on a lot longer than they should be” because I was working remotely and I hadn’t connected with my stakeholders yet. We all have those moments of self-doubt, where you feel like you know you’re failing at things, but I think the more you talk about it with people the more they are able to help.
At work, if people are really vulnerable and they do share where they’re at, I know from experience we are able to help. If we know what the challenges are, we can try and actually take steps to help. And if we don’t have all the answers, we can leverage external experts like our EAP or external psychologists who are experts at burnout.
Clearly, to do this there has to be psychological safety at work, where you feel comfortable talking about your struggles. So if it’s not at work where else do you feel that psychological safety? Is that a close friend, a family member? Start this conversation so you can get the right support in place.
If you actually start that conversation and are vulnerable sharing where you’re at, then it will open that door to at least starting some help on getting you back to a place where you do have that confidence. Then you can be in a better place to be kind to yourself, thrive more at work and be invested.