Paul Rhodes is the founder of the health and wellbeing platform, as well as Technical Director of software firm, Green Gorilla Software.
After his extensive experience with developing bespoke software solutions for businesses, Paul Rhodes wanted to create a product that would help to connect remote and hybrid teams and help businesses reach their CSR goals amidst the pandemic. The WellGiving platform was born to encourage and improve the mental and physical health of employees, offering teams fun, accessible fitness challenges and enabling them to raise money for the charities that mean the most to them.
I’ve spent much of my life working in the tech sector, starting in 1997 as a software engineer. I knew I wanted to start my own product business and I wanted this new venture to be based on a genuine passion I had. The pivotal point for me was an ultimatum set by my own team. We had already tried numerous times to develop products with limited success. I was given 100 days to find my own passion project – one that could be a viable, commercial opportunity.
Given that music was such a huge part of my life, I always thought it would be related to that, but my experience of running half marathons – with and without fundraising – made me explore the link between charity as a powerful motivator for fitness and health, and how it can turn ordinary people into superheroes. That was how the idea for WellGiving was born, and since then, we’ve collaborated with our target market extensively, talking to them and getting as much feedback as possible so we can continue to refine and improve the platform.
Starting a business is hugely exciting and motivating, but also comes with the stress of exposing yourself to the risk of trying something new. I’ve learnt that a lot of this is self-imposed pressure, and it’s ultimately best to realise that this is a journey that comes with ups and downs, and I don’t need to have all the answers.
When it comes to my family, I’ve found the best coping strategy has been to be as open and transparent as possible with the people you care about the most. I tell my wife when things are going well and when they’re not, as she is on this journey with me. I feel that it’s important to nurture family relationships in the same way as business relationships, just think of all the effort that goes into winning a client – the same effort should go into your family, too. No matter how stressful things get, I make sure I find time to just switch off and be a dad to my kids, spend quality time with them, and do the things they enjoy doing.
I wanted to create a business that worked for me around being a dad. I have never missed one of my kid’s sports days or big events, and I wanted to build a company that extends those exact same benefits to my staff.
We are structured around being family-friendly. We not only offer a four-day week, but we offer true flexibility. Ultimately, as long as people can find those quiet, focused hours to produce quality work, I am not interested in when those hours take place. We have staff that are parents or carers, and our structure allows people to take care of these responsibilities and then find the times when they are able to do their best work.
One of our core values is that family comes first, and because we do not have mandated working hours, we can offer total flexibility and promote staff choice and empowerment in when, where and how they work.
I think we’ve genuinely hit the sweet spot when it comes to the culture, flexibility and balance in our company, and for our employees who are parents, it’s promoted a sense of loyalty and helped us retain staff.
From an employer perspective, it’s really important to identify where these policies have the greatest impact and benefit, and take a truly personalised approach depending on the circumstances of employees. It’s not enough to simply have blanket policies, as there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to the individual needs and circumstances of staff. I think the key is to constantly evaluate and reflect on the positive benefits of these policies and adjust accordingly.