To kick off Mental Health Awareness Week, Jason Matthews from agetech firm birdie talks about how the company delivers on its promises of supporting employees’ well being.
Jason Matthews is a Senior Technical Talent Partner at agetech firm birdie and his experience of working in recruitment makes him very aware of the gap that often exists between what a company says about itself and what it is actually like to work there.
He joined birdie, which won this years WM People Best for SMEs Award, in January and says he has been very impressed to find that what it says on its website and its policies have matched what it offers.
birdie’s flexible and remote first approach has been a real boon for Jason. It means he can be around when his son, now three and a half, needs him and he doesn’t need to worry about it impacting how the company views him. Indeed he puts the school run on his work calendar for the two days a week that his son is at school. And he knows of other colleagues who do the same. Moreover, while several people he knows at other tech companies are being told they have to go back to the office, he has a choice about whether to go in and how often.
He has a fully remote contract, but chooses to go into the office about once every two weeks because he likes the social side of meeting face to face. “I have the ability to work from home and be around for my son to take him to football and pick him up,” he says. “birdie’s approach to flexible working is very mature and allows individuals to take ownership of how they work and to manage their own time.” He says that if his manager checks in with him about his hours it is because she wants to stop him overworking rather than to micro-manage him.
Jason was attracted to birdie because of its potential for social impact, given the ageing population in the UK and elsewhere, and because of the possibility for professional advancement in tech and product recruitment. Previously he had worked for a talent acquisition company where he had been working with two large employers. birdie was a chance to do something different. “It’s a fun, energetic scale-up with a diverse culture,” he says.
Jason says the company’s well being provision has given him and his family much needed peace of mind. Recently, he was worried his son might need an operation, which he could have got through the company’s private healthcare policy with Vitality.
His son suffers from an allergy to a protein in cow’s milk which has necessitated several hospital visits. Jason recalls several months spent going to the hospital with his son when he was very young and having allergic reactions to milk. Eventually the family had to pay 600 pounds to go private to have tests and get a prescription for a specialised formula milk.
Jason says it is a relief knowing that he can now access healthcare when he needs it and that he doesn’t have to pay for it.
He also knows that he can use the additional wellbeing leave birdie provides if his son needs to go to hospital or his wife is ill and he has to look after his son. In addition he has access to birdie’s quarterly wellbeing budget for his family.
All of these have been day one rights with no restrictions put on Jason for being in a probationary period. All in all, he is enjoying his time with birdie. “Being in recruitment I know a lot of companies sound good on their website,” says Jason. “Then you get there and you realise it was more of a sales pitch than them living what they say. That’s not the case with birdie though. I’ve been thoroughly impressed by how they have delivered on their promise.”
*Read more about the WM People Top Employer Awards here. birdie features in our Best Practice Report, alongside other winners, which will be out later this month.