Offices were different back then when you could just go to the desk of an employee for small talk, indulge in endless coffee conversations, and create strategies not just during meetings but outside the conference halls on a pool table. Things, as we all know, have changed drastically over the past two years and today, meetings mean scheduling them in advance and fatigue due to long hours of discussions on a computer screen and probably an aspirin. How do we talk to employees during these times?
Conversations as we have said countless times before are important to build an empathetic work culture that recognizes and respects opinions thus increasing positivity and eventually productivity. Conversations during these confusing Covid times when we don’t have an idea if it’s going to be work from home, hybrid work, or back to the office is even more important.
Everybody is facing major changes in the way they work and the whole work-life balance seems to be altered if nothing more. Being locked inside our homes for the maximum part of our day amounts to loneliness and the need to have conversations and communications and as HR professionals we must provide them every opportunity to share their issues and create necessary protocols that minimize meetings and maximize inputs.
Here are a few ways in which conversations during these times will gain more value and help in understanding employee sentiment.
Every Problem Does Not Need A Video Call
Ever since the COvid19 has started, the use of video conferencing tools such as zoom, teams, Webex, etc has increased tremendously. According to Microsoft, The digital intensity of workers’ days has increased substantially, with the average number of meetings and chats steadily increasing since last year. Time spent in Microsoft Teams meetings has more than doubled (2.5X) globally and, aside from a holiday dip in December, continues to climb and The average meeting is 10 minutes longer, increasing from 35 to 45 minutes.
This creates an additional pressure of micro-level accountability as an employee is being constantly asked to report or discuss that eventually becomes endless. While meetings or virtual meetings are important during remote working, it is even more important to prioritize meetings and eliminate a few of them that are not necessary.
Talk to managers and draft schedules of meetings in advance and while you do so, ensure that the opinions of your employees are also taken into account. Some organizations have also started having No Meeting Fridays and it might work for you too.
Listening & Acting On Feedback
Since many are not physically present, it becomes difficult to raise issues and monitor the progress on the concerns raised. Employees will be able to speak better if they see that their voice is heard. For that, while we fully trust and believe the power of actual human conversations, we also must recognize the bias that comes with it especially now when it is possible that you might not have met many of them.
Let technology talk to your employees. Berryworks, a deep learning employee voice platform enables you to conduct surveys and initiate conversations with your employees and offer insights based on those conversations. Well, we respect privacy, and hence our entire system is designed to be completely anonymous and yet our machine learning-based software recognizes sentiments like never before. See for yourself by booking a demo now.
Work Should Be Fun
Of cause, we cannot replace those crazy office parties but we can sure do our bit in making work from home fun for everybody. From indulging in online games to organizing stand-up shows, movie screenings and the list could be endless.
Conversations begin when we give an opportunity to our employees to talk to other than work-related conversations. Conversations build when people get to know each other and the regular morning calls cannot offer the chance to do so. Hence start building ideas around creating conversations other than work and see the difference in your employee happiness.
Mental Health Matters
We are no experts on mental health. Its a job for which people are trained and no amount of conversations can help an individual if they need medical attention. According to a survey conducted by Forbes on mental health, half of the respondents cite that their sleep patterns have been interrupted due to COVID-19, and 45% say they feel less healthy mentally while working from home.
Mental health issues are real and we should let professionals take care of them. Here are some important numbers that you can share with your employees.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19: Managing Stress and Anxiety
- American Psychiatric Association (APA)’s COVID-19/Coronavirus Resources and Information Hub
- World Health Organization (WHO)’s COVID-19/Coronavirus: Mental Health Considerations
- Substance Abused and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)’s Tips for Social Distancing, Quarantine and Isolation
- National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI)’s COVID-19 and Mental Illness Guide
- Call Centers and Hotlines: If you are experiencing high levels of stress, anxiety or depression, reach out to the following for support:
- Crisis Text Line: Text 741741
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Good conversations can start with Berry.
Berry is a digital personality that can be an HR leader’s strongest ally and every employee’s biggest confidant. Berry can help measure and improve employee happiness. Berry uses deep learning to interact, interpret and drive accountability using actionable patterns that it learns. Berry is available to answer simple questions and is capable of having complex conversations with employees. HR Leaders use Berry to run campaigns that help them to understand the pulse of the organization around various topics. Conversations are then analyzed and actionable insights are drawn out instantaneously.