Creating Culture and Supporting our Talent – Reflections on a Year in the Pandemic
Everyone has just lived through an unprecedented year, and from an HR standpoint, it’s been a year of listening and learning. We’ve had a front seat to the many issues that come to play when dealing with a global pandemic, and have had to adjust on the fly while keeping firmly focused on the best way to support our talent.
Just the facts
When Covid-19 first hit we all experienced tremendous uncertainty due to the novelty of the virus and lack of reliable knowledge available. From a company standpoint, we knew that it was critical to communicate often and transparently in order to provide as much trusted information as we could in a fast-moving environment.
Starting in late January 2020 we began sending out regular communications to our global workforce, providing verifiable information from trusted sources. We shared what we knew, what we anticipated, and what we didn’t know through regular updates on travel restrictions, health protocols, working arrangements and more as the entire globe began restricting in-person activity.
How are you doing, really?
By mid-March, the vast majority of us were working from home. With much of the world’s activities having moved online, our work was more important than ever, and we were impressed and gratified by the team’s dedication and commitment.
While we continued to provide regular updates, we knew that after a few months in the new normal it was time to turn the tables. Our people were doing a great job but we wanted to better assess how they were faring. We launched a survey to take the pulse of the organization in key areas, including the impact of Covid-19 and working from home, managerial support during the first few months of the pandemic, executive communications and overall morale.
The survey was very useful. We had a very high participation rate, which highlighted the team’s desire to share their experience. Overall, everyone was working harder than ever under challenging circumstances.
We can help
We wanted to help employees manage this increased stress and avoid the burnout that comes from blurred lines between work and personal time. Our #RibbonBetterTogether program was a month-long wellness initiative which covered body and mind. This interactive program helped promote mental and physical wellbeing while enabling employees from around the world to get to know each other while having fun. Again, we had a very high participation rate, making the program a success.
In addition to physical activity reminders and challenges, the program offered a number of webinars on stress reduction and other forms of self-care, offering different ways to participate.
We received very positive feedback from employees around the world.
Everyone has had to make tremendous sacrifices during this pandemic, ranging from “just” giving up their day-to-day outings and get-togethers to dealing with extraordinary disruptions across the board. We felt that it was important to recognize that and help make our employees’ lives just a little bit easier. From a couple of extra days off to an enhanced vacation carryover policy and reimbursements for some WFH expenses, we’ve wanted to show our appreciation and recognition for everyone’s hard work.
While the pandemic isn’t over yet, the promise of large-scale vaccination does offer a new perspective and we’re taking that into consideration as well. Spring is here and it’s a time of growth, so we recently unveiled a new series of learning opportunities for employees and managers as a way to provide new development opportunities to our very talented team. We couldn’t have gotten through this past year without them and look forward to returning to an easier environment together.