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Engaging Employees in a Work From Home Reality

 

On November 18th I was pleased to be part of a panel discussion with communications leaders that tackled the issue of engaging employees in a new work from home reality. Leveraging the results of a national survey, the panel dug into the challenges being faced, learnings from the past year, and tools, technologies and best practices for keeping employees engaged as we move into 2021. As panelist Lena Knight, VP at Agnostic said,

Working remotely is here to stay for the foreseeable future and for all organizations, the key will be to develop a strategy and internal communications plan that solves for challenges we’ve not had to consider before.”

This robust discussion covered several key topics and themes, so we encourage you to tune in and take notes. Here are some of the key takeaways from the discussion and we hope you find it useful as you consider your plans looking ahead. A link to the recording of the event is below.

  • A host of new challenges need to be considered. Employee communication plans need to account for work and home life balance, mental health strain, a variety of different home office set ups and feelings of disconnect from team members to name just a few.
  • Happy healthy workforce = happier and healthier business. Employees are the number one stakeholder and if there isn’t a strategy and plan to keep them engaged, then there isn’t a plan for success going forward.
  • Two-way communication is a must. Surveys, one-on-ones, small group discussions etc. Integrate it often, listen and act to the information being received.
  • Try new initiatives! Mentorship programs, coffee pair ups, quiet hours, revised benefits programs, self-care programming, virtual events and more!
  • Leverage virtual events. Virtual events can foster and sustain connections, facilitate networking, give ongoing access to senior leadership, create highlight moments for employees to look forward to and remember afterwards.
  • Digital acceleration. Evaluate your technologies as a channel of communication and engagement. Audit what tools you have in house, retire ones that don’t serve your organization anymore, expand, test and try new technologies.
  • Be transparent, be authentic and when appropriate have some fun!

Panelist Nina Abdelmessih, Chief of Operations and External Relations at Boston Consulting group agreed when she said,

Everything has changed and the key has been making our communications plan a two-way dialogue with a menu of options and formats for employees to engage with us.”

Thank you to all who joined us, but we know some of you may have missed the event. You can access the full recording of the session below in addition to answers to questions we could not get to during the live event.

 

 

Your Questions Answered:

 We had over 150 people tune in for the live event. With so much interest in this hot topic, there were more questions than we could answer in the time allotted. Below are answers to the most requested questions through our Q&A feature:

Q: What kind of virtual holiday celebrations are you planning this year? Looking to not just try and replicate a Christmas lunch online.

A: From Daria Hill, AVP Corporate Communications & Sponsorships, Interac Corp:

  • Holiday Gift Catalogue with presents from small biz in Toronto people can choose from
  • Virtual musical bingo
  • Team led R&R – budget per person allocated per team; they decide on activities
  • Comms team will partner up with MKG and likely do food/bevies delivered with games (karaoke / Pictionary or cooking class) – with break out rooms virtually.

Q: Will you be sharing the study results?

A: From Lena Knight, VP at Agnostic:

Yes! We will be developing content shortly that goes into further details on our poll and the panel discussion. We will be sure to share across our social channels so please do follow both Agnostic (@thinkagnostic) and Proof Experiences (@proofexperiences) on LinkedIn and Instagram for more details.

Q: Do any companies have mandatory check in requirements for their managers? Or do you leave it as a “best practice.” How do you monitor the manager engagement?

A: From Nina Abdelmessih, Chief of Operations and External Relations, Boston Consulting Group (BCG)

Our approach to this has evolved.  At the beginning of the pandemic crisis, it was all hands-on deck—a fairly structured approach that included multiple check ins/meetings per week, both one and one and in group settings. As the situation has evolved, each Manager/Team has determined the cadence that works best for them, utilizing a combination of technologies: 1:1 and group video calls coupled with electronic engagement tools. We have definitely all adopted new ways of working, and interestingly, many teams have commented that in some ways, they have felt even more engaged and connected to their teams and Managers as they feel they are invited more fully into each other’s lives

Q: “Over-communication” was mentioned earlier. Can you speak further on how to balance information sharing/engagement with screen fatigue/too many emails?

A: From Lena Knight, VP at Agnostic:

Every company is different when it comes to communication. The best way to ensure the right level of communication is to do a regular pulse check with employees to see if they are feeling overwhelmed with what’s being shared or, conversely, if they would like more information.

It’s also important to consider the channels – an employee intranet, group chat or even simply email all can be used for different types of communication but don’t feel the need to use all of them all of the time.

Lastly, I love what one of our panelists, Daria Hill, mentioned they do at Interac. Instituting quiet hours where no meetings are booked and where employees can feel empowered to disconnect if needed gives your team permission to not be on. It’s a great way to let employees know that you understand how challenging this situation can be and that it is ok to take time for themselves.

 

We can help your organization design, plan, and execute its internal communications strategies and experiences, including the shift from in-person to virtual.

For information on our end-to-end solutions, contact:

Lorne Cooperberg, lcooperberg@proofexperiences.com

Sarah Crabbe, scrabbe@thinkagnostic.com

 

Senior Vice President, Client Service|November 24, 2020

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