This week’s blog is by Jane Whitton, Director of Culture Strategy at Kudos. Jane and her team leverage their expertise in organizational culture, change management, and employee engagement to provide practical, results-oriented strategies for businesses around the world.
When the pandemic took hold in mid-March, we heard one urgent question: how do we engage our employees through this?
Amongst the logistics of ensuring physical distancing, enabling work-from-home technology, and re-evaluating operating budgets and annual goals, came a question about people – not their achievements, which is a common theme in recognition conversations – this question was about supporting people’s mental health.
A time for focusing on employee engagement
Of course, our clients are concerned about a loss of productivity. And we all know that a mentally healthy individual is more productive. In some cases, our busy HR clients who are typically asked to prioritize everything, are now being urgently required to focus exclusively on employee engagement, freeing up more time to develop exciting engagement programs that work for their businesses.
But as we dove into discussions, we found that most of our clients were looking for ways to support their staff through this uncertainty. To create happiness. To help people transition to a work-from-home routine. To support them while they balance their work and parental duties. To remain connected – however different that feels now. It was less about achievements and points, and more about in-the-moment appreciation. And hope.
Connection and mental wellness programs
Our most popular programs since COVID-19 took hold, have been around connection and mental wellness.
Many clients have introduced a gratitude practice across their organization that encourages people to take a few minutes to focus on a positive interaction between colleagues. And anything goes! From checking in on each other, to making a child laugh during a meeting or helping them solve a work problem – our Kudos users are a grateful bunch!
Some have kicked off this gratitude practice by having their president or CEO send recognition to all staff to show their personal gratitude for the team’s resiliency during this time. These leaders will provide examples like those noted above to illustrate that everyone feels seen and supported through this change.
Other organizations use the new Spaces feature in Kudos to collect work-from-home tips, ways to connect with loved ones, or suggestions on local businesses to support.
Some encourage their employees to share a picture of their workspace, the new “colleagues” they now work/teach alongside (2- or 4-legged versions!), or a screenshot of the co-workers they are virtually connecting with.
In all cases, we recommend that businesses recognize team members who participate in supporting each other and building a culture of resilience in a way that was never required of them before.
We encourage them to highlight – through their leaders or existing communication practices – messages that articulate the types of behaviours they want to encourage across their business, now, and after the pandemic has passed.
Over time, the above-mentioned practices will evolve into “normal” program planning that combines appreciation with performance management, and includes values and behaviours, and contests and prizes. We want to make sure our clients and their employees are ready for the “new normal.”
We will also be offering additional programs to help our clients transition back to office work – whenever that may be, or whatever that will look like – so they can continue to build and maintain their culture of resilience, appreciation, and performance.
The world, and how we work within it, may be different after COVID-19 has passed, but for businesses who encourage activities like the ones mentioned above, the change will be worth recognizing and celebrating.