New paradigm, company is made up of remote employees
Like most companies, remote employees our the new paradigm. In the midst of Covid-19, who is to say how long we will be working like this. As an HR ProAm, the HR department is looked upon to keep our remote employees engaged regardless of the conditions. Of course, we are conducting our usual updates which used to happen in the office:
- Weekly Exec meeting (now via Microsoft Teams):
- This is a weekly meeting for the exec team. In this meeting we discuss strategy for upcoming initiatives and share updates from across the departments.
Weekly Leads meeting (now via Microsoft Teams):
- This meeting is for our managers. The goal of this meeting is to communicate important information, and anticipated answers to questions their teams may present. We also give leads a heads up on any announcements that we are going to make at the weekly all-company Town Hall. This group is the tip of the spear when it comes to maintaining the culture and we want this group to understand the business logic behind company decisions.
Weekly, all company Town Hall (now via GoToWebinar):
- I am not usually a rah-rah guy, but I like these weekly Town Halls for a number of reasons. If your company isn’t doing something similar, I highly recommend it. For many employees, work is an anchor in our lives.
Work gives employees purpose, gives employees a social outlet, and allows them to feel connected. When everyone is working from home, we lose the social outlet and the opportunity to feel connected. But without a weekly update about the company, the employee might not have confidence their job has a purpose.
- Our Town Halls follow a similar format each week and I believe this provides some structure for the meeting and for the employees. We always reinforce the announcement that we don’t want anyone traveling for work.
- We don’t want them to enter the building and we don’t want them running errands for the business unless they have specific permission to do so. (Our building had a confirmed Covid-19 case)
- We give a state of the union on our industry, talk about layoffs and successes within our industry. This gives our remote employees perspective on what and why events may have happened. Not all companies are being affected in the same way. When the only thing that remote employees hear and see in the media is bad news, it is easy for the mind to wander.
- We share updates from the various departments.
- We give shout outs to employees who have done extraordinary work.
In addition to this, we have been holding Friday at 5 socials and other miscellaneous events to keep folks engaged. All the usual stuff. Recently, one member of our HR department came up with what I think is a great idea and wanted to share it with other companies.
Engagement leveled up, storytime for kids
Our newest engagement lever is going to be a storytime reading hour once a week for our employee’s children. We are going to have three employees read for 20 minutes each. The readings will be from a children’s picture book via GoToWebinar and will include the sharing of the reader’s screen. I think the parents are as excited about this event as the children. We are sending out a link to the webinar and the children will be able to log in and follow along with the reader.
The original intent was to give our employees with children a short break from their child care duties, but there are other benefits:
- We are showing our employees we care not just about the employees but their families.
- We are engaging not just the employee but the significant other and children.
- Turns out, the employees are just as excited about hearing their colleagues read.
- The employees who are reading are looking forward to this. They feel good that they are helping their fellow workers.
Our newest remote employee is engaged
The announcement for this event was made over Microsoft Teams chat and the response was immediate and positive. One of our newest salespeople replied:
I couldn’t help but crack up internally when I read the above response. Not only was this funny to me personally, but this came from an individual who was hired only a month ago. It was really great to see a new hire engaged.
We are looking forward to StoryTime, and are working on a way to pass out some virtual Graham Crackers. If you have other ways you are keeping your remote employees engaged, please share them in the comments below.
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