Written by: Amor Traceski
“To win in the marketplace, you must first win in the workplace” is a quote by Douglas Conant, a former CEO who led Fortune 500 companies to success by reversing their decline in market value, improving their financial profiles and enhancing their diversity and inclusion practices. Mr. Conant’s leadership style is reflected in his strong belief in employee engagement and how it ties directly to business success.
With COVID restrictions forcing most companies to make drastic changes to their work arrangements and requiring employees to work from home, the notion of “winning in the workplace” does not seem realistic. According to business culture and remote work expert Jane Sparrow, “This new remote working environment can also affect focus, a sense of team and creativity … If we are to help our teams stay healthy, happy and, ultimately, productive, we have to recognize and manage the high-stress environment that remote working can create for many people.” So, what’s the solution?
Helping your remote workers prevent burnout, adapt to telecommuting and balancing work and family obligations is just part of the answer. You need to also help them experience social connection, build strong social ties and prevent loneliness, which has been proven to lead to poor health.
Based on their 30+ years of studying employee experience, the Great Place to Work Institute — a global authority on workplace culture — identified the below-listed key aspects of workplace culture that influence how socially connected and supported employees feel and contribute to greater employee well-being and mental health. As you go through this list, think of which aspects are reflected in your own company’s culture:
|1. Work relationships are meaningful |
2. Management is approachable
3. People cooperate
4. Interactions between colleagues are caring
|5. People feel they “belong” to a group|
6. People believe they have each other’s backs
7. There is a sense of fun
8. Special events are celebrated
Fortunately, there are many practical ideas and creative ways to achieve them all.
- Foster Acts Of Kindness:
- Join or organize online charity events, like a talent show, photography content, costume contest, art contest, essay contest, etc.
- Start a Gratitude Activity – Have employees send appreciation or thank you e-cards to colleagues
- Encourage Employee Resources Group (ERG)s to create a sense of group belonging:
- The “FUN” Committee – organizes fun group activities, like Halloween costume contest, end-of-the-week Happy Hour
- Yoga or Mindfulness Group – helps with physical and mental well-being
- The Food Alliance – group of foodies to share recipes, techniques, etc. for cooking and eating!
- Music Lovers, Inc. – gathering of those who enjoy music (singers, musicians or simply listeners/admirers)
- Celebrate Special Events In Creative Ways
- Major goal reached? Shout out successes on video calls. Celebrate with a toast to all involved o Employee birthdays – Ship a cake, ice cream, balloons, team-signed birthday card and/or gift card to celebrant and toast him/her during an online meeting
- Mail a handwritten thank you note to the employees’ family telling them just how much the employee is appreciated
- Employee Recognition Gifts – Arrange to have gifts delivered directly to remote workers with a note from you
- Employee Anniversaries – Create videos featuring each employee, with fun pictures of them at work or at play and descriptions of their character, dedication to work, etc.
- Create Opportunities for Spontaneous “Water Cooler” Conversations. These spontaneous, casual exchanges, which those who share physical workspaces enjoy at the “water cooler” are an important part of what brings teams together. Try these ideas for virtual interactions:
- Keep a chat room open and give it a name, like “fun zone”, “breakroom” or “water cooler” and invite remote workers to just pop in and chat while having coffee, tea, snacks, etc. Create a space for non-work chat only and initiate a bunch of new discussion topics, like “What are you binge-watching this week?” This will help teammates think outside of work.
- At the end of a virtual meeting, have team members stay awhile to chat about anything non-work-related.
- Plan for the “awkward” topics by creating a “digital suggestion box”. This will both enable your team to express what steps or processes are not working as well as allow them to contribute new ideas, initiatives, etc. Click on this link to the Suggestion Ox for more information: The Anonymous Online Suggestion Box | Suggestion Ox
- Create Space Before Meetings Actually Start. Instead of jumping into the agenda at the start of a meeting, allow attendees to share personal, non-work-related conversation. For example:
- Announcements: New baby, pets, grandchildren, new car, new haircut
- Activities: travel, sports, hiking, beach, gardening, stamp-collecting
- Weather-related: welcomed the rain, shoveled snow, sunbathed in the backyard
- Make Time for Fun.
- Encourage workers to wear zany socks and show them off before meetings start
- Have a Scavenger Hunt! The winner receives a popular gift card.
- There are many online multiplayer games your remote workers can join. For example:
- Best Online Words Game: Words with Friends2 Words With Friends 2 – Zynga – Zynga
- Multiplayer Jigsaw Puzzle Games Multiplayer Jigsaw Puzzle Games (jigsawexplorer.com)
- Virtual Team Building Activities 29 Free Online Team Building Games for Remote Teams (+1 Bonus)
- Conduct “Stand-Up” Meetings At The Beginning Of Each Workday Or Shift. This brief meeting format (thus “stand up”), which covers general stats, quick overviews or summaries only is much like those conducted when everyone worked on-site; only this time, it’s online.
- Have One-on-One Meetings with Remote Workers. Make it casual, like over “a cup of coffee” or “glass of wine.” Video chats are already cold and impersonal, as they are. This arrangement will make the workers feel more valuable and comfortable in meeting with you.
When you focus on maintaining a healthy and engaged workplace for your remote workers; when you demonstrate to your employees that you care for them, you WIN in the workplace. You win, because your workers (remote and on-site) will also care for you and the company’s success, in return. You can then expect to see higher productivity rates, an increase in market value and improvement in your company’s bottom line. Aside from reaping the rewards of seeing your employees benefit from the vibrant workplace culture that your leadership championed, you can also enjoy your much deserved WIN in the marketplace!
About the author:
Amor Traceski is a Human Resources Consultant with over 20 years of experience in human resources management in various fields of industry. She is also a motivational speaker, life coach and author of Been There, Done That: Practical Tips & Wisdom from Cancer Survivors for Cancer Patients.
Learn more about Amor online at https://www.amortraceski.com/