Canadian HR Reporter

October 2020 CAN

Canadian HR Reporter is the national journal of human resource management. It features the latest workplace news, HR best practices, employment law commentary and tools and tips for employers to get the most out of their workforce.

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2 www.hrreporter.com N E W S Back in May, employee sentiment about workplace culture plummeted 71.5 per cent, while engagement fell by 20 per cent and employee trust in their leaders dropped by 12 per cent. A full 77 per cent of all employees surveyed said their workplace culture would never return to what it was before COVID-19, according to the O.C. Tanner survey. "Companies are patting themselves on the back because they got everyone up and running and saying, 'We're good,' not realizing how that sense of belonging is leaching away from people over time because they're not as connected as they should be," says Steven Fitzgerald, president of Habanero Consulting in Vancouver. "This is different than having a few people telecommuting, working a few days a week from home. It's the lack of ability for people to really connect on a human level and in organizations not finding other ways. It's one thing for a few people in your organization to have a virtual beers or a trivia night, but it's [about] the organization doing the deeper work to really keep people connected at a human level." This period right now is quite brand defining, he says, "so the decisions and the actions companies have taken will have an impact on how their employees, partners and customers react to them in not just the months ahead but the years ahead. It's like any relationship: When things are really tough, it really matters what you do, and it matters for the rest of your relationship. Organizations that haven't done a great job right now, they're going to have a tough time ever emeritus of industrial relations and HR management at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management. "In a real-life situation, there's always some side conversation or exchange going on… before the meeting and after the meeting, but these Zoom meetings are pretty much you dial in at a certain time, you transact business and then... that's it." Bigger tech companies such as Google, Microsoft and Apple design their workplaces based on the premise that innovations take place when people are randomly interacting with each other. That's why there's the emphasis on huge auditoriums and huge cafeterias in their buildings, he says. "This is how you fuel innovation. And that would be sorely lacking, this view of the world where we are all locked away in our own home offices and we are working by remote. So, it's a piece of the organizational culture, but it's important enough that it deserves its own mention." TELUS International — a subsidiary of the telecom company TELUS — has found its internal social media platform has been important in keeping people connected, says Galarza. "In the call centre environment... you are next to a lot of people, but everybody's focused on the monitor, everybody has a headset. However, at breaktime, at lunchtime, after office, before office, that's where a lot of the interaction would go on. And so that's what we have tried to maintain even though we're in the remote environment." For example, since employees no longer have access to the on-site gym, the company set up weekly fitness challenges where recovering from that because this is such a defining moment in our culture." Personal interactions missed by many So, what are workers missing the most as they work remotely? Small talk and interacting with colleagues (57 per cent), followed by collaborating in person with a team (53 per cent) and the separation between work and home (50 per cent), found the TELUS survey of 1,000 Americans. Personal interactions or group interactions are not always easy online, with participation in video group calls a challenge, says Anil Verma, professor people were encouraged to share their best routines, along with their best meal for keeping fit and best sleeping habits. "We would then select the best of the best and recognize those as well," he says. TELUS also deployed an "awesome teammate" challenge where people could submit a picture of a colleague and describe what made them awesome, competing for prizes. "In this environment, you actually have to step up your rewards and recognition to continue to drive the engagement piece," says Galarza. What's made remote work hard is people don't have those normal social interactions, and employers can't really provide those right now. As a result, many employers are moving away from the face-to-face, "tribal" culture to more of a written, explicit culture, which is much more inclusive, says Daneal Charney, an executive in residence at MaRS Discovery District in Toronto. "It's less about if you're in a physical environment in your headquarters, you have a lot more access to the network, you're probably more likely to be promoted, you're going to bump into that top executive and maybe share your ideas. This remote culture has been a more inclusive culture, location-agnostic, no matter where you are. So that's been a positive." Several companies have said that their non-headquarters employees are now participating more and recognized more "because these online mediums are more of an equalizer," she says. "[They're] getting more of an equal access to information and visibility, which is always something that people complain about. Like: What are the expectations? WORKERS FEELING DISCONNECTED AT HOME Source: TELUS International "Organizations that haven't done a great job are going to have a tough time ever recovering because this is such a defining moment in our culture." Steven Fitzgerald, Habanero Consulting 51% Percentage of U.S. workers feeling less connected to their company culture while at home. 57% Percentage of workers missing the small talk and interactions with colleagues. 53% Percentage of workers who miss collaborating in person with a team. 50% Percentage of workers who miss the separation between work and home. Strong culture> pg. 1

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