Inspirational entrepreneurial venture that fosters people wellness and mental health at work place.
Meet Zoe Sinclair from London, Founder of Employees Matter. Zoe is going the extra mile to create a happy, healthy and fulfilling work life for the corporate workforce in UK. She was awarded with Red Magazine’s Red Hot Women award in 2010. She has implemented innovative business ideas few years ago, which has fostered her business growth even during tough Covid times.
Zoe is a visionary, a new age leader and is on a mission to create a difference into people’s lives in a true sense. She has passionately built a new age organisation which fosters work life balance to corporate employees, through their uniquely designed programs which guides the employees through issues of physical, mental and emotional health. Every corporate employee thrives for a great work life balance, but amidst the corporate race it is either slipped, missed or sometimes unknowingly neglected. Zoe’s organisation Employees Matter is bridging that gap by delivering seminars, webinars, 1-2-1 training and innovative work-life schemes. Employees Matters has on board 100+experts in 200+ different topics and deliver various seminars, webinars, events etc in areas such as health and well-being, mental health, elder care, diversity and many more to various corporate organisations.
She carries a rich experience of over a decade in the television industry and has previously worked with the BBC. She enjoyed her work and travelled around the world curating great television programmes, when she started a family and that came as a turning point in her life. As she returned to work in 2002 after 6 months of maternity leave, she felt alone and unsupported, not because people didn’t care but it just wasn’t on people’s radar and was not thought of before. That was the moment her entrepreneurship journey began in true sense.
“I became part of a new unspoken club of parents at work, talking about things that I had never been part of - mainly sleepless nights, childcare and weaning babies! I felt that there had to be more support than this for parents returning to work – in fact ALL working parents - and slowly started working on an idea”, she says.
Finding Her Way
Zoe began her entrepreneurship journey with an idea that wasn’t thought of any time before, and the driving force was her own experience. She began with a unique idea to provide HR with the tools to support their working families, mainly by persuading them to establish working parent networks within their organisations, and that gave birth to “Parents Matter” in 2004 . Parents Matter would then curate and conduct events for those parents’ networks with leading experts, as a way of supporting the company’s working parents.
Zoe’s initial days into her entrepreneurship journey was all about finding her way. Being a young mother, she juggled between many things and had her own struggles, but that didn’t stop her from working on the unique idea she had in her mind and she chased her dream passionately.
“The initial days of the business were spent working for about 3 hours a day whilst I had childcare to look after my 2 children downstairs. I snatched an hour or two here and there if I was lucky to get them both sleeping at the same time! So, it took time to develop”, she says.
Discovering what it means to be an entrepreneur
As Zoe started her entrepreneurship journey, she made positive shifts regularly. Very soon Zoe got her basics of business such as bank account and logo etc sorted. The main aspect she later started focusing on was finding facilitators and speakers. She was determined to find high class speakers before going to clients. After few months she organised about 4 events on 4 different parenting subjects, and they ended up having about 40 people at each session with 20 of them being friends and family. Sharing her experience on how they secured their first client,
“One new father in the audience came up to me at the end of one of the sessions and said to me ‘ I just wanted to let you know that my wife dragged me here this evening as I really didn’t want to come. We have just had twins and I am exhausted. But I want you to know it’s the best thing I have done and thank you so much. Have you ever thought about taking this concept into the workplace?’ That was the first business card I was given and within a few months, they became our first client,” she says.
Zoe and Nadiya Hussain
Every Success Story is a tale of constant adaption, revision and change
Zoe’s entrepreneurship journey is a great example which showcases that “Growth does not happen overnight and luck favours those who dare to dream big and work hard towards turning their dreams into reality”. Talking about expanding and diversifying her business, Zoe says , “Many business owners talk about how ‘lucky’ they were and I really believe this was applicable to me and Parents Matter. When I decided to set up the business, I didn’t realise that UK was waking up to the concept of working parents, part-time work, maternity coaching and the government were even thinking about extending maternity leave to 52 weeks. There were also some conversations about tax deductions for childcare”. She identified the gaps and plugged into the right opportunities, and gradually started approaching companies with her unique idea and parent support programs. She received great response and feedback, and realised that the demand for her program was growing. Companies were looking for solutions and what Parents Matter was offering seemed to suit them well. Back-to-back, companies were setting up internal events for their working parents with hundreds of parents attending.
At about the 5-year stage, Zoe saw a turning point, clients wanted more. It was a different awakening which took her business to a new level altogether. Corporate organisations realised that they had a large staff pool, many of whom were not working parents, and they needed support too. Many organisations liked her business model but wanted to expand it to more than just parenting issues. That’s when Zoe decided to expand her business and started supporting staff with their well-being, putting on diversity events, supporting staff with their finances. The list goes on. Parents Matter morphed into Employees Matter. Today Employees Matter continue to grow and run events internationally. Alongside they now have a larger (but still small) staff base and continue to expand their topic offerings, and their client base grows constantly, usually by word of mouth.
“When I was awarded with Red Magazine’s Red Hot Women award in 2010 for Employees Matter, I couldn’t believe it. The fact that this esteemed panel of judges had chosen me from all the entries to join 10 other fabulous business women was amazing. This really gave me confidence that I could expand the company”, she says.
Red Magazine’s Red Hot Women award in 2010
Zoe's article in Red Magazine
We don’t grow when things are easy, we grow when we face challenges
Talking about the challenges she says, “Initially, the biggest challenge was to find the right person in a company to reach out to. Rightly or wrongly, I decided our initial target audience would be big business. On the one hand, these were the companies who had the budgets but equally so, within a big company you can have a team of 25 HR people and who is the best person to approach? So that was definitely a challenge. In fact, this is an ongoing challenge. The other challenge was that I didn’t really have a network to fall back on, I had no experience of business and a husband who was doing a lot of travelling. So if I am totally honest I was making it up as I went along. This was certainly a challenge but one that I enjoyed”.
Zoe and Tony Adams
Covid and Innovative Ideas by Zoe which helped Employees Matter going and growing
Zoe has always been a visionary all along. Much before covid hit our world, Employees Matter were already delivering programs in a similar way what we now call the “new normal”. About 7 years ago, Employees Matter started offering webinars, realising that not all staff were based in one building. It wasn’t cost effective for companies to run an employee seminar 5 or 6 times in all their different offices. Therefore, when the pandemic started, they already had the technology in place to offer online support to those companies that had not taken up this service from them already. They were ready to support staff from day one which made a huge difference.
Talking about way forward Zoe shares, “Employees Matter is my baby and I hope that it continues to grow further. We can’t stand still and expect it to happen, so its about hard work every day. Supporting staff’s mental health has become a very large part of the business and in 2018 I established (together with others) “This Can Happen”, a global workplace mental health conference. Together with Employees Matter, we hope to be able to become the go-to place to support staff whilst they are at work”, she says.
Know more about Zoe
What is your business philosophy- When I face a big challenge. I often don’t sleep. I keep a book and pencil next to my bed and this really helps to deal with thoughts and process them.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs? Go with your gut. If you think something isn’t right, then it probably isn’t.
How do you keep yourself motivated through difficult times This is a really difficult one. I don’t think anyone can honestly say they can keep high levels of motivation all the time. There are some days when it is very hard to get motivated, especially during these Covid times. You just have to get through that day and start afresh the following day.
My greatest fear is- Failure.
The most courageous thing I’ve ever done is- Leave the BBC and set up my own business.
If I could go back in time to when I was 20 I would tell myself- That not doing as well in exams as you would have liked doesn’t mean the end of the world.
I believe in- Making mistakes. Although none of us like making them, and I am no exception, I know I learn so much more from making mistakes.
The biggest lesson I have ever learned is- Never rest on your laurels, when you think you know how to do something well, you can always do it better.
My favourite business tool or resource is- LinkedIn.
My favourite quote is- Under promise, Over deliver.
If you wish to reach out to Employees Matter to avail their services or know more about them please visit www.employeesmatter.co.uk