The Circle Line

Cutover

"We need a platform for supporting our team, like Netflix but for therapy.”

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At the start of UK lockdown 1.0, Cutover’s CEO, Ky Nichol, and VP People, Alex Duell, got their heads together and tried to answer the question “How do we get ahead of this thing?”. 

The “thing” in question was the looming emotional and psychological impact of a working world turned upside down by something as unexpected as COVID-19. Almost overnight, employees had to adapt to a new world: of work becoming fully virtual, boundaries between work and home life becoming blurrier than ever before, and new stresses on their home and social life. Giving the option of customisable remote support to the full company would’ve seemed like a mountain to climb for most in this scenario, but luckily Alex already had The Circle Line on his radar and gave us a call. 

There began a fantastic relationship where we’ve helped grow Cutover’s stellar team as they rapidly grow their business…

Growing Gold

Cutover is a special type of progressive company that truly leads with a people-first attitude. 

They understand the varying mind-states required of their talent to do the work they ask of them – from the calm required for detailed organisation, the creativity for problem solving, to allowing employees space to get into a psychological “flow” state. 

They also understand the toll the work can take. As Alex says, “The start-up and scale-up world is tough. Great stuff can happen but there’s a dark side; long hours and tremendous pressure.”

Fundamentally, the leadership team at Cutover understand the power of psychology to help their teams towards optimum performance. 

They know that staff turnover is the single largest expense to employers. They understand that our personal psychology and team harmony underpins employee retention and KPIs (source: People Management). They saw both the obvious need for individual wellbeing, and the business opportunity in supporting our journeys to self-actualisation. So they were ready to embrace the concept of self-development, normalise mental health at work, and make it part of daily life at Cutover. Alex describes how “there was buy in from all of our executive team. The Circle Line really feels like something that fits very well for us from, from top to bottom of the business.”  

So Cutover took a proactive approach and signed up to our “gold” service. This means we:- 

Read that last line again. Free therapy for all, whenever anyone wants it. No limits.

And it’s paying dividends…

Alex described how The Circle Line was “really giving people a safe space and a thoughtfully created experience rather than a random phone line with an anonymous person at the end of it.”:

“We’ve performed tremendously well as a business throughout the pandemic, successfully raising our Series B funding round and keeping pace with ambitious revenue targets. More importantly, we’ve seen employee engagement stay consistently high (we measure engagement using a wonderful tool named Culture Amp) and have gladly not encountered any significant staff attrition. While we can’t attribute all of this to our People Programs and approach to safeguarding our team’s mental health, I’m certain that the strong foundations we’ve put in place have helped massively.”

One of their employees, Jack, valued our service so much he wrote about us (twice, unprompted!), reflecting on how glad he was he took up the offer of therapy from his employer:

“My work life was interrupting my other life. It was to the detriment of my mental health, and I kinda needed to solve this. If you read my last blog you’d have heard me grass myself up for having a therapist at work. I do. And, so what, you should too. Get one.”

It goes deeper, as Jack realised… keep reading…

Embracing new ideas 

Everything we do at The Circle Line, from our digital self-development programme, our workshops and training, to our therapy, is underpinned by a solid foundation of empirically-proven practice. We particularly like one of the cornerstones of modern psychology called “Transactional Analysis” (TA), mainly for its transferability to the workplace, the accessibility of its ideas and language, and its focus on interpersonal transactions, given they ultimately underpin individual and group harmony.

Jack does too: he writes about applying psychology to his software development work, describing how 

“Once I had been made aware that ‘TA’ (Transactional Analysis) existed it was one of those lightbulb moments you have in the shower and then some… life, if you distill it down, is just a series of transactions.”

We brought in TA concepts during a mental health 101 webinar we were running online for their whole workforce … personality types, conflict, communication styles… and found employees lapped it up…  

In this same session the idea of group therapy came up. Someone put their hand up saying they’d be “up for it”, and voila, it’s happening, such is the open mind at Cutover. These group sessions (for willing employees – no obligation) can either be akin to personal therapy sessions – an incredibly bonding experience for teams – and/or be more structured with a “work focus” coaching on a particular work-relevant TA topic such as communication or management style. Cutover left it to their people to decide; they “didn’t want to choreograph”.

It was when Lockdown #3 came that Cutover’s generosity really shone through; Cutover extended the use of our platform to their employees’ families – and covered the cost of their sessions.

Alex explains how the staff were incredibly grateful that now their loved ones could also access support freely, easily and discreetly. If home is working well, work is more likely to work well too.

“We know that sometimes the greatest negative impact on an individual’s work performance and engagement can be their home life. The stress of worrying about or caring for a loved one during times of need can be intense. This was exacerbated hugely during the pandemic, with families going through tremendous levels of change, stress and uncertainty – from juggling homeschooling with two parents’ full-time remote workloads, to family illness and job worries. There’s a big comfort for our team knowing that if one of their loved ones needs to talk to a professional, that avenue of support is there with The Circle Line. Even if team members aren’t making use of this, the knowledge that it’s there as added ‘safety net’ if needed, is what we wanted to provide.”

Oh, and we’re opening a New York hub… for Cutover, and ready for other such progressive tech scale-ups operating both sides of the pond.

And the cost…?

Doesn’t this all cost an arm and a leg, you might be thinking? 

Well, not really. Our Gold service is not the cheapest; you’ll spend more than your EAP but less than BUPA. But nor do we believe in hiking prices at the cost of wellbeing and education for all. More important to us is to partner with the right people and make a real difference.

In the grand scheme of a Venture Capital backed scale-up company’s budget, Alex describes The Circle Line as “a small drop in the ocean, but one with a huge impact.”

***

Cutover is one of our favourite examples of a company that has both the intelligence and the humanity to see how the power of applied psychology really can drive success.

As Jack writes, discussing the psychological states he learnt about through therapy, “If you accidentally invoke your parent state, or child state, in the wrong setting this can lead to internal or external conflict… These seem to be happening with more regularity now the lines between work and play dilute and formally hierarchical power structures at work dissolve into more inclusive arenas. But I may just be reading into things too deeply.”

No Jack, you’re not. You and the rest of the pioneers at Cutover are ahead of the curve, and boy are we enjoying the ride with you. Here’s a closing line just for you. 

If anyone else is curious about what this means… give us a shout.

What we did

  1. Step 1

    Mental wellbeing for all

    From access to content, DM sessions and online therapy, our service was introduced to the whole company as free-for-all, please use all you want.

  2. Step 2

    Family support

    Cutover extended our service to members of employee's family.

  3. Step 3

    Workshop

    Mental wellbeing 101 an integral part of the company away-day.

  4. Step 4

    Group sessions

    Inclusive, cohesive, educational.

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