By Hilda Firempong-Sefah and Victoria Grainger, Wellness Works Canada
Change is constant, and workplaces are continuously adapting and evolving. One of the most impactful changes are adjustments to the physical work environment. Employers are increasingly finding themselves supporting the needs of workers in two environments: remotely, and on site. As we continue to support employees to thrive, now more than ever, resources to maintain connections and culture in the workplace will help to build healthy, high performing work cultures that can thrive through disruption.
Here are six practical tips to support a healthy thriving, agile culture.
1. INVOLVE AND INSPIRE YOUR TEAM IN THE CHANGE
Change can be overwhelming when we feel we have no control over it. As much as possible, use two-way communication and give employees the opportunity to provide feedback so they feel a part of the change. Some ways you can do that is through focus groups, team meetings, email or surveys. Bonus, you will likely gather innovative ideas to help make the change be more effective. You can inspire people through the change by clearly connecting the why before the how. If the why resonates, the how will follow.
2. OVER COMMUNICATE
In a traditional workplace communication comes easily; information can be communicated face-to-face, and there are many opportunities for in person collaboration and social cohesion. During change, it is more important than ever to be transparent as possible because reduced knowledge sharing among hybrid teams results in lower effectiveness, and lower trust.
Try different methods of communicating, both synchronous and asynchronous methods such as online meetings, text, phone, slack, yammer, Microsoft teams or others.
Use your organization’s intranet, google drive or other places for live updates to make sure employees know where to go for the latest information and provide an opportunity for feedback.
Have regular online or phone meetings with your team (once or twice a week – they can be kept to 15 or 30 minutes). Also incorporate one-one-ones at least once per month if feasible during times of change. Keep meetings positive by starting with a win, reflection or round of gratitude.
Make sure that employees are a part of decisions, have the opportunity to contribute and feel a part of the change vs a victim of the change.
3. SUPPORT WELL-BEING REMOTELY AND ONSITE
Develop a mantra that connects purpose, values, well-being and performance, excellence, or quality and use it often so employees know their well-being is important.
Offer training to equip employees to be resilient and productive. This can be self led or done as a group.
Bring in Mental Health First Aid kits are a great addition to the resilience toolbox for those working onsite.
Encourage online physical activity breaks or on-site fitness facilities also help to reduce health risks (and sedentary tendencies from sitting at a desk for extended periods of time) and help to relieve stress by releasing endorphins. Here’s a quick stretching guide and 15-minute workout that all employees can benefit from. Or, consider making well-being devices like Fitbits available.
Make mental health a priority; encourage your employees to practice mindfulness and take opportunities to do so during their workday. Check out our Mindfulness Guide here or offer Mental Health First Aid training.
For more ideas, guidance, and support on getting started or enhancing workplace health and performance strategy check on cost-effective employer memberships here that help you assess, empower, and recognize workplace health and performance strategies.
4. REINVENT TEAM BUILDING
Team building is a great way to build trust among team members, as well as to get to know each other outside of work tasks. Team building provides relational support, and it boosts team morale. Team building activities can take place during team meetings, or through organized events outside of work hours. To accommodate remote employees, be mindful of time zones. Here are some suggestions:
Put some fun into existing meetings: have people submit pictures of their fridge, pet or garage and everyone guess who it belongs to.
Develop a coding system for people to put up emojis of their mood every morning in Microsoft Office Teams, Yammer, Slack or whatever online tool you use.
Try walking zoom meetings or phone calls where everyone is outside or walking
Try participaction.com/en-ca/content/workplace for team walking/activity challenges
5. MANAGE EXPECTATIONS, BE HONEST AND REALISTIC
It is important that employees still feel supported to be vocal about their ideas, to be innovative and make mistakes. Since it is not a traditional work environment, it is important to measure productivity by outcome rather than input (McKinsey). Achieving work life integration is important to the wellness of all employees, and it can be challenging to achieve both on site, and for employees working remotely. According to Wilkson and Jarvis (2011), there is also the possibility that some team members working remotely have the perception or the feeling of guilt of this perceived ‘freedom’ where remote workers feel that they need to ‘prove’ that they are doing their jobs. Creating a culture that is safe to assess priorities, assess workload and goals with regular 1-on-1s and check-ins will help with this.
6. IMPLEMENT A RECOGNITION AND REWARD SYSTEM
Research shows that sometimes, remote workers can experience social and professional isolation, feeling “out-of-sight” and “out-of-mind”. According to McKinsey, using a recognition and reward system that acknowledges the work and progress team members have made, makes them feel appreciated and respected, and can support psychological safety. Microsoft Teams and Slack are two platforms that have various apps to help with recognition. For example, Microsoft Teams has Praise, Hi5, Recognize are just a few. Slack also has Disco, HeyTaco, and Karma. You can also show recognition through team/departmental newsletters at whatever frequency is suitable for your organization or with a more personal touch of an email or a note. Weekly peer shout-outs are another simple way to increase recognition and reward. This investment is worth it, because, as research shows, employee satisfaction is driven by authentic recognition more than a good salary.
Want more support to help employee thrive through disruption? Connect with Victoria anytime.