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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Page 2 of 31 3 many employees preferring the internal social media platform, he says. "There are folks who want to be spoken to via chat rooms, other folks want to use WhatsApp, other folks want to see an email; there's still folks who'd rather have a phone call." Previously, the company was largely about "pushing" information out to staff, but now it's also about "pulling" through channels that people are used to using, such as Instagram and Facebook, or its internal platform "Cosmos," says Galarza. "You're actually able to upload pictures [and] comment on company articles and company news. And so that has enabled folks to feel a little bit more like How am I doing?' Now you're having to really be, for managers, very intentional about expectations and how someone's doing. You're having to do much more formalized one on one if you want to make sure that your employees are engaged." Instead of the face-to-face culture, people are working more in an asynchronous way, with a lot more collaboration around Google Docs or within the Slack forum, says Charney. "You're having a lot more transparency around what the goals are, what the outcomes are… because, in a remote culture, you have to be more transparent, visible; it's more of a written culture." But people are still missing the in-person aspect because they're social creatures, she says. "Once it's really safe, there's going to be team retreats and team get-togethers to really [satisfy] that need for continued connection and team-building and things like that." Communication and leadership help build, maintain culture Communication is also key to that continued connection, as seen in a TELUS International survey of its employees about how the company was handling the pandemic. The results were "amazingly positive," says Galarza, but there were some lessons, too. "In a call centre environment, you're used to having every support person around you, and in the remote environment, it's just you. And, so, we quickly launched campaigns to ensure that we over-communicate with our remote employees." At the same time, it was important to figure out how to communicate, with their voices are being heard, because we actually have what you would call internal moderators that… respond to some of those questions… which is exactly what we wanted, to get the dialogue going." The organizations that are more successful are being more agile and upfront with workers, says Fitzgerald. "Not telling people what's going on has been really deeply frustrating for people. So, organizations are… being more transparent and they're not making long- term commitments that they know they can't keep. They're not saying, 'Oh, we'll all be in the office by this date' when they know that they have no certainty about that. But what they are doing is being agile to keep people up to date; they're making frequent changes." Through all of this, many managers have become a lot more empathetic and intentional, building their culture by design and really thinking about how they create an experience for employees, says Charney. "If you're not checking in and you're not showing leadership as a front-line manager, that connection between the organization and your team is just growing apart very fast because you don't have this physical [proximity], you don't have the office," she says. "You really have to, as a front-line manager, be very intentional about your check-ins and really listening to employees and seeing 'What are some of the issues that we need to deal with very quickly?'" The top leadership is also critically important in terms of connecting people back to the purpose of their organization and their goals and communicating when progress is made, says Charney. 3 WAYS TO CREATE A STRONG CULTURE "In this environment, you actually have to step up your rewards and recognition to continue to drive the engagement piece." Albert Galarza, TELUS International "People need hope. People need to focus on the future because, right now, people are still focused on the past. And you really need them to focus on both the present and making it easy for them to get work done and the future and why they should be excited… It gives people a sense of control." Focus on work-life balance key to employee health Part of that control extends to the work- from-home situation, where many people are working longer hours, whether because of a heavier workload or distractions on the homefront. It's really important for an organization to create avenues for people to surface what's going on with them, says Fitzgerald, who has family and pets at home while he works. "[Employees'] needs are so dramatically different, so what's required here is for organizations to start to expose what's going on for people on that level so we all develop empathy around our situation. This is a new part of our empathetic muscle because it's never affected my 68% Virtual workshops and continued learning opportunities 66% Weekly staff meetings and one-on-ones with managers 65% Flexible schedules Source: TELUS International Once it's safe, there will be team get-togethers so coworkers can reconnect, says an expert.

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