Arts & Business Cymru Awards 2020

LGIM & Hijinx win award for ‘vulnerable employee’ training

Legal and General Investment Management, in partnership with Hijinx, have been awarded the 2020 Arts, Business and Employees award from Arts & Business Cymru for their communication training programme for managers of vulnerable employees.

Cardiff-based Hijinx, who cast learning disabled and/or neurodivergent people in all of its productions, offer role-play-based workshops to empower managers with the confidence to communicate with a range of vulnerable employees, face to face, over the phone, or via other virtual channels. The innovative programme sees learning disabled and/or neurodivergent actors play out scenarios that depict a range of communication challenges, encouraging managers to develop greater understanding and empathy for their employees.

The actors have all been professionally trained in Hijinx Academies, of which there are five across Wales. The workshops provide them with both paid work and an opportunity to shape a better working environment for Legal and General Investment Management, their managers, colleagues and ultimately their customers.

Richard Newnham, an actor from Caerphilly, has Asperger Syndrome. He has trained with Hijinx since 2012 and now also works as their associate artist, travelling the world with award-winning show Meet Fred. He regularly takes part in communication training workshops.

A supportive workplace is inclusive, accessible, and understanding of others, whether they’re employees or customers. Sometimes something as simple as avoiding jargon and rephrasing a question or sentence can make a whole world of difference.

The main way the workshops help is by emphasising the importance of communication and acceptance through relaxed, interactive role play, which in turn means learnings can be taken on board more easily. It is a perfect example of learning by doing.

Richard Newnham, Associate Artist, Hijinx

Hijinx’s CEO, Sarah Horner, hopes companies will see the programme as a vital element of staff development.

Our business communication training has progressed in leaps and bounds since its conception. We started out with our award-winning vulnerable customer training, which has proven invaluable to clients, and now we can offer companies the ability to improve communication with employees who are vulnerable in some way.

The current pandemic has given us all a sense of what it is to be vulnerable and how easily this can affect your working life. This course, which can be delivered virtually, or in person, is another step in our mission to ensure the workplace can be a safe, supportive environment for people who need additional support either in the short or long term.”

Sarah Horner, CEO, Hijinx

The training from Hijinx has proven incredibly useful for us. We know all of our colleagues that work for Legal and General are individuals, and no two are the same, so we wanted to provide support and train our managers to be equipped to lead and manage their teams made up of varying personalities, complexities and capabilities. The role play exercises were very engaging and challenging, and they really made us think about how to best support our colleagues, from situations where we’d have to hold difficult conversations and provide tricky feedback to offering advice and encouragement when a colleague is going through a tough time.

What we learnt really challenged how we communicate and manage our teams and it’s been incredibly useful with this year’s challenges as a result of Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdowns, our managers are managing in very different ways but also managing an increasing number of vulnerabilities.  We’re looking forward to incorporating the learning further to create a more inclusive, open and supportive environment and culture for our colleagues.”

Paul Durkin, Head of People Experience, Development and Quality, Legal and General Investment Management Operations

The partnership between Legal & General and Hijinx has been supported through funding from Arts & Business Cymru's Culture Step programme.

“We were delighted to invest in this important and innovative project, which has enabled Hijinx and Legal & General to pioneer a new standard of inclusivity within HR practice.

The CultureStep panel consistently praises the high quality of Hijinx’s work and the creative ways in which it meets the needs of diverse organisations. We are thrilled to see the impact of this initial investment, and we trust the course will continue to benefit employees and businesses in tangible, long-lasting ways.”

Rachel Jones, Chief Executive, Arts & Business Cymru

Any business seeking communication training from Hijinx should contact Susan Kingman.  More information is available on the Business Training page.