3 Tips for Companies to Drive Community & Connection Amid COVID-19
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3 Tips for Companies to Drive Community & Connection Amid COVID-19

reacHIRE LLC employees interacting on a virtual water cooler via Google Hangouts while working from home during COVID-19 crisis

While ‘social distancing’ is necessary, it shouldn’t mean losing human connection. How can company leaders keep the momentum and engagement going in a virtual work world? What initiatives can you take to maintain social solidarity during the current reality of social distancing?

With the unfolding events related to COVID-19, companies and their HR leaders are having to take action to keep employees safe and engaged. One of the biggest steps companies are taking to flatten the curve is by asking employees to work from home. This is a radical departure and can be challenging for employees and employers who are not attuned to working in a remote set-up.

Decades of evidence demonstrate that human connection protects individuals against anxiety and uncertainty. Hence, while social distancing is indispensable right now, so is social connection.

Here are 3 key measures every employer should consider to keep their employees engaged and involved, while creating a sense of belonging during this global pandemic:

Create Connection in Innovative Ways

If your employees are not used to working at home, particularly early career professionals, it can take some time getting used to a new work-from-home routine and staying connected to coworkers. Isolation can quickly become a downer for those used to socializing at work.

In the spirit of adapting to going 100% remote, we introduced a virtual water cooler at reacHIRE. The purpose of our cooler is to replicate, in a virtual setting, all the wonderful impromptu communication we have in the office. To encourage open dialogue and participation, the link to the virtual cooler is always open via its own google hangout. This allows us to come together to have conversations over lunch or coffee, meet each others’ pets and even get a free Reiki session from one of our colleagues, who is a master!

Encourage your employees to embrace virtual face time with colleagues to stay more connected. With the work landscape evolving, it’s necessary that companies leverage the latest technology to boost face-to-face communication across their organizations. For instance, Zoom - a remote video conferencing services company, is giving its employees the ability to collaborate using the devices they already have while delivering a comprehensive resource for anyone working from home.

Amplify Communication

Communicate openly and often. This is particularly important when employees are working remotely and receive limited information compared to if they were in an office with their manager and peers. For instance, Everbridge, a critical event management solutions company, is providing up-to-date information on the Coronavirus to its employees from their intelligence center.

At reacHIRE building community and connections is core to our mission. Our Aurora platform has a virtual gratitude space where participants can share, support and help lift each other up as they navigate their career challenges.

Now more than ever, employees need groups of people they can lean on. There is a wide disparity between being able to walk over to a colleague's desk for a quick chat versus scheduling time for a call. Companies should encourage managers to communicate with their direct reports more often even if they’re using technology like Slack. This will foster an opportunity for employees to feel stronger ties to not only their managers, but also to the company. Keeping the lines of communication open will make people feel more connected to the organization.

Invest in Your People Virtually

Lastly, in this new virtual work world, it is critical for companies to invest in their people now more than ever.

As HR leaders find themselves practicing social-distancing and remote work, now is the time to cultivate creative ways to keep everyone motivated so there is room for them to thrive and rise even in these uncertain times. By putting your employees first, focusing on their development and driving engagement, your company can become a talent powerhouse!

reacHIRE’s Aurora platform answers the need for continuous learning and leadership development by providing a virtual, interactive, environment focused on the skills most important to enabling early-career women to thrive and succeed.

With the Aurora platform from reacHIRE, we are able to create peer-to-peer connections across multiple locations to foster belonging and increase engagement. Aurora is a game-changer for Everbridge in the way we empower our early-career women and grow the amazing talent we work so hard to attract and retain.
Cara Antonacci, VP Human Resources at Everbridge

Establishing community and connection gives employees the safety and opportunity to speak openly in such trying times, to share advice and build a close-knit circle of trust. It shows them that they are supported by their employer, rather than left to adjust to uncertainties, especially in such challenging times. Most importantly, it reflects to all that their employer is serious about their wellbeing, belonging and providing support.

What are you as a company doing to drive social connection in this new virtual work world? Share with us in the comments section below!

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