My brothers and I used to play a board game called “Pandemic”, where we each were assigned a role to play in stopping the spread of a dangerous virus before it became a pandemic. Together we had to work to protect people across countries from getting the virus, and it was a very difficult game to win. Never did we think this game was reflective of what was to come in 2020. Never did I think about what my role as a HR leader would actually need to be, if a pandemic were to actually happen.
When I look back over the past six months, working with the Executive Team at Reflektive, I am extremely proud of the role that every executive, manager and employee played to make us even more resilient and empathetic toward one another. None of us had a playbook of how to navigate this time; no one in the world does. However, we knew the most important ways to get started: keep our minds open, listen, ask for feedback and take action.
This is how we continued to build a close knit, inclusive, and open culture — even while all Reflektors were working remotely during the pandemic. During this unprecedented time, I’m proud to say that we solidified our corporate culture. Reflektive’s overall engagement score increased by eight points, and two areas that drive the most engagement at our organization increased by an average of 19 points. How did we do it during extremely difficult global conditions? I’ve included the top seven ways that helped us strengthen our corporate culture.
- Measure sentiment during onset of COVID
When we first went remote, we had to quickly figure out how to best support our employees in a newly remote environment. We ran a survey to learn how the transition went, how supported our employees felt by the company and their managers, and if they had what they needed to do their best work. We made several changes based on feedback we heard. When we ran the same survey six weeks later, we found positive improvement, and our employees were grateful to have a forum to voice their needs.
- Create regular communication forums
As COVID-19 rapidly began to spread, our Employee Success and Executive teams met to discuss how we can keep our employees connected. We decided on:
- A weekly Fireside chat with our CEO to provide company updates
- Weekly office hours with our executive team members
- Regularly scheduled team stand ups
- Frequent informal social hours
- A virtual social calendar listing activities around the world to participate in.
As time progresses, we continue to assess and adjust this frequency so that it aligns with employee needs.
- Drive productive manager-employee conversations
A huge focus has been to ensure managers and employees are having high-quality conversations on a regular basis. We created “Working Remotely” Conversation Starters that our managers and employees can use to prompt conversations that may not naturally happen in a 1:1 meeting. Some of those Conversation Starters include “How can I best support you while we continue to work remotely?” and “Are there any risks to your achieving your goals? How can I support you?” Prompting important topics is key in helping our employees to feel supported and motivated during this challenging time.
- Form an employee DEI Task Force
When the killings of George Floyd, Tony McDade, Amad Arbery, and Breonna Taylor happened, our CEO wrote a note first to our company, and then to our customers about our stance against racial injustice and our support of Black Lives Matter. We held an open conversation with the company the day after he sent the memo, and also organized donations, which we matched, to organizations to support causes against racial injustices. We were happy to receive an influx of ideas from our employees on how Reflektive could be even better in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We gladly welcome this input, and formed a DEI task force of 20 employees interested in helping the company define focus areas. We ultimately decided to focus on four areas:
- A company audit to determine where we could improve company practices
- Our product and ensuring we take a DEI lens on our product design
- DEI Conversation Starters that drive meaningful 1:1 conversations about the topic among employees and managers
- Education about Votership.
This task force has met regularly and made significant progress in a short period of time, bringing in a DEI consultant to help us, facilitating education about voting, and solidifying DEI conversation starters. I am looking forward to continuing these efforts with this talented team at Reflektive.
- Run a gratitude campaign
“Gratitude for the present moment and the fullness of life now is the true prosperity.” – Eckhart Tolle
As Michelle Wax, founder of The American Happiness Project, shared at our Virtual Sales Kick Off, gratitude is a big component of building resilience during difficult life situations. To help employees build resilience, our Employee Success team launched a gratitude campaign in June. In this campaign, we prompted employees to share gratitude for their colleagues on Reflektive’s Recognition Wall. We saw overwhelming responses to our weekly question prompts, including “Who/what has made you laugh or smile this week?” “What’s one thing someone did recently that made your job easier?” This focus on positive thinking helped strengthen bonds across our workforce.
- Create organizational clarity
COVID has caused widespread uncertainty for employees. With such uncertainty, our executive team felt it imperative to create a “Reflektive Playbook” that aligns the company around our mission and vision. We addressed five simple yet impactful questions including:
- What do we do?
- Why do we exist?
- How will we succeed?
- What’s most important right now?
- How do we behave?
With guidance from Patrick Lencioni’s organization, The Table Group, we articulated brief and clear answers to these questions, and have spent time communicating them regularly to our organization. This has kept us hyper-focused and aligned as we ride the bumpy waves of economic uncertainty.
- Build manager strength
Knowing that managers play a significant role in our daily happiness at work, Reflektive invests heavily in building manager skills. Our focus areas over the past six months included:
- Addressing employee mental wellness
- Managing remotely
- Leading productive remote check in conversations
- Building resilience.
In these workshops, not only do we teach core principles, but we also create a forum for managers to share their own best practices and learn from each other. Most importantly, we want to make sure our managers can help support one another as they play crucial roles managing our employees every day. Having a great manager during this tumultuous time is critical, and we want to know we’ve done everything within our power to support and motivate our employees.
The best way an HR leader can gauge progress of engagement efforts is through employee feedback. Our Employee Success and Executive teams are very proud to see that the hard work put into supporting our culture have proven successful from our employees’ perspectives. I’d like to end with a few great quotes that our awesome employees have shared in a recent survey:
I am very grateful to be working with kind, thoughtful, and intelligent people who support and believe in one another, which honestly means the world to me!
I’m very proud of the organization’s resilience through everything in the past year, and think our leaders are truly dedicated to the company’s success.