PEOPLE ARE AT THE HEART OF SONTAY
By Stacey Lucas, Commercial and Marketing Director
We have faced many challenges over the past year as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic, and have made drastic changes to the way we live and work. Whilst technology has been important in keeping businesses afloat, it is a company’s heart and soul – its people – that have ensured businesses can weather the pandemic’s storm.
Here at Sontay we have been truly humbled by the huge team effort we’ve seen during this difficult time. Our factory team has gone above and beyond during Covid-19 so we could continue selling products to our customers. It has been necessary for them to come into work every day and adapt to working under strict Covid secure procedures to keep them as safe as possible. Sontay couldn’t have continued to supply products throughout the pandemic without them – they have really been key in keeping up our excellent service levels.
All of our support teams have adapted amazingly well to working from home. They have all sacrificed space to accommodate all of the equipment they need to perform their roles at home from their kitchen, dining room, living room or bedroom and found new ways to interact with each other without actually meeting for months on end. Group chats on WhatsApp are commonplace to communicate throughout the day along with the many video meetings we are all so used to. We have learned new skills in video calling etiquette such as arriving early to have a quick catch up and ensure all glitches are ironed out and to taking it in turns to speak as it is impossible to hear anything when everybody speaks together. Also that useful mute button when the dog is barking at the postman!
The new starters who joined Sontay over the last year have had a very different experience to anybody who joined previously and picked-up their roles in the most unusual of circumstances. To protect our factory staff, we only went into Head Office if it was absolutely necessary so have had to look for other solutions to meet and introduce people to our business. When there were less restrictions last year, we managed inductions in café’s and even pubs so that we could meet face to face and discuss all that was needed. They have done so well to start a new job without meeting the team they work with or seeing customers face-to-face. As with the factory staff, the rest of the Sontay team are truly impressed by their attitude and work.
It is truly humbling to see what the people at Sontay can achieve. Everyone has pulled together to work towards a common, shared goal. There is definitely strength in numbers!
As we start the year with the additional challenges Brexit has brought with our supply into the EU, it is our people who are working tirelessly every day to do their best in offering advice and solutions to our customers who are affected by the changes. The team are working hard to understand the implications and how best to manage them whilst learning every day as more information becomes available.
Many of the decisions that we make as a business stems from empathy; of really considering what we can do for our staff and customers. Whether it is supporting staff members during this period or moving our training online for customers, we believe that putting people’s needs first is central to any healthy business.
We also think it is of worth to say every decision that has been made, every hour of work in the factory, has been performed by a person. It is people that have enabled us to overcome the year’s tribulations; it is the people who have supported each other and come together in hours of need. Technology may have been an important facilitator during the pandemic, but it is our staff that have inevitably got us through it.