As many organizations continue to navigate COVID-19 and operate in a virtual or hybrid environment, it’s important that leaders focus on employee morale and the company culture that may be hindered with a lack of in-person events and proximity between workspaces.
So how do we maintain that feeling of connectedness going into 2021? Read on…
Tip #1) Up Your Virtual Meeting Game
It’s important that regular company-wide meetings and events continue in a remote environment. Tools like Zoom allow organizations to unite the workforce and deliver key messages in virtual meeting settings.
When planning company-wide virtual meetings, get creative:
Consider a variety of formats. Use the event’s message to help guide the format of the virtual meeting. Fireside chats can help break down complex topics in a conversational way. Panels can deliver a range of information in a digestible way. Lightning-round fast fact sessions can disseminate a lot of updates quickly.
Use breakout rooms. Small groups allow colleagues to reflect and brainstorm in a manageable way. Even better, randomized, cross-departmental rooms can lead to new connections that may have formerly been built in the workplace lunchroom or around a dinner table. Provide conversation starters or leading questions, but always leave room for casual conversation in the agenda.
- Keep the chat function open. Avoid the feeling of a pre-recorded webinar and unite colleagues through conversation. Commentary, questions and even jokes within the chat feature of platforms like Zoom will remind employees of the human side of your organization and further promote an open-door policy—virtually.
Tip #2) Activate Internal Campaigns
An internal campaign goes beyond your mission and your vision. This is a “campaignable” word or phrase that’s relevant to the current environment and unites colleagues through the message. Consider this campaign your theme for the quarter or the year ahead.
Once you’ve established that theme, amplify it:
Invite colleagues to tell stories. In a time where there are minimal face-to-face interactions between employees, use stories to connect colleagues on a more personal level. Allow the company and your employees to show empathy, vulnerability and, of course, authenticity. Video can be a very powerful tactic to deliver these types of messages, even when it’s captured on a mobile phone from a colleague’s home set-up.
- Use social media. Social media doesn’t need to be just a prospecting or employee recruitment tool. It can be used to kickstart conversation among colleagues and boost morale. Encourage employees to comment on company posts or pose questions or polls to colleagues to ignite engagement. And, if employees are proud of what the company is doing and saying, they’ll amplify your efforts on social media by resharing, bringing even more visibility to your brand.
Tip #3) Surprise and Delight Colleagues
In the absence of physical events, it’s important that organizations continue to celebrate milestones, both big and small, to keep employees connected to the larger purpose they serve.
Find new ways to make colleagues feel special:
Delight colleagues with packages. Go beyond announcing a promotion or award through an email or presentation slide and consider sending a congratulatory package in the mail. Companies like Golden Hello curate packages for you. Better yet, support your local businesses to curate a box including things like local beer, wine, cheese or chocolate.
- Surprise colleagues with celebration. To replace our large awards show this year, First American hosted the event virtually over Zoom. However, it didn’t stop there. To make it extra special for the award recipients, managers “dropped and dashed” balloons and trophies at colleagues’ homes during the event. Managers then live-streamed colleagues discovering the celebratory packages on their doorsteps from a safe distance, so the entire company could join in on the fun.
Tip #4) Have Fun!
Gone are many of the interoffice contests, lunch outings and happy hours. It’s important to find ways to replace these fun times virtually. And while some of this fun will occur naturally between friendly coworkers, it’s important for your company to provide organized options for colleagues to further build those connections.
Think beyond team happy hours…
Host a company game night. Take advantage of online packages like Jackbox Games, or make physical games such as Wits & Wagers trivia work virtually. Even better, dedicate certain colleagues as game show hosts and recruit a DJ. Use virtual backgrounds to represent a real game show. Consider random breakout rooms to spur new conversations among colleagues and change things up. And of course, have fun prizes.
Structure safe get-togethers. When it is safe to do so, consider offering outdoor and socially distanced get-togethers like food truck rodeos or small group happy hours based on zip code. It can be a breath of fresh air to see colleagues in person.
- Make it family-friendly. In this environment, roommates, pets and family members are now our “co-workers.” Invite them to join the fun at company-wide events. Activities like scavenger hunts and virtual cooking classes offer family-friendly opportunities for these “co-workers” to get on camera.
Your organization may be a source of stability for colleagues during an unprecedented year. Consider strategies like the above to keep company culture intact and colleague connections strong.
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