Deb LaMere, VP of Human Resources at Datasite, affirms that humans are at the centre of every organisation, as she shares six strategies to keep people and an organisation's long-term value at the centre of plans to return to work.

Human Resources is more than just managing the employee life cycle. Today, HR plays a crucial role in driving a company’s long-term value. That’s why HR must help lead a company’s response to the COVID-19 crisis by enhancing people engagement and productivity through ensuring a nimble workforce and flexible rewards that include not only financial compensation, but also benefits that promote financial, physical, social and emotional well-being.

As many organisations begin to physically return to work or contemplate a physical return to work, the following are some strategies that will keep people and an organisation’s long-term value at the centre of its plans.

Support employee well-being and mental health

Anxiety and burnout are at an all-time high right now. Since the outbreak, 75% of people say they feel more socially isolated, 67% of people report higher stress, 57% are feeling greater anxiety, and 53% say they feel more emotionally exhausted, according to research from Qualtrics and SAP. That’s why many companies, including Datasite, are showing up for their people and providing time off for mental wellness. After weeks in crisis, employees need a chance to reset and renew and we’re glad to offer all our employees an extra two days off this summer to do just that. We have also been partnering closely with our health plans globally to provide additional resources for physical and mental wellness, such as access to virtual workouts.

Empower managers with additional training

At this unprecedented time when there may be no new hiring taking place and workloads have become heavier, ensure your managers are well-equipped to address employee concerns. Provide additional training on how managers can work with their direct reports to ensure time off is being taken, and that employees have the time and space away from work to deal with family, health, homeschooling, or any other issues that they may be facing. Managers will also need best practices and consistent information on how their teams will transition back to the office.

Build trust by overcommunicating with transparency

To overcome the absence of in-person meetings, as well as ensure regular communications with employees, companies need a strong communications strategy and plan. Employees should be able to turn to a central hub for announcements and resources on how the company is responding to COVID-19, and what might be coming up next. Additionally, explore new communication channels, including video conferencing and other multimedia platforms, to drive more frequent employee touchpoints and bottom-up feedback. At Datasite, we are distributing frequent emails to employees to update them on our reopening plans, as well as video calls and messages from our leadership team. We’ve also had employees participate in a short engagement survey to understand how they are managing through the new normal and from the feedback we are implementing programs to support employees including providing additional time off or recharge days this summer. We might not have all the answers immediately but we want to acknowledge any address any worries. Our leadership is also holding monthly town halls to provide all employees with an update on the business.

Reward and recognise employees

HR can help shine a light on and acknowledge employees for the commitment they've shown working during this crisis. Some companies may already have formal programs in place; others may make it part of their leadership communications activities. As part of an effort to recognise our employees, we’ll be sending bi-weekly video messages from our leaders to all employees on key topics such as serving our clients and teamwork, which will include shout outs to specific individuals and teams. We’re also encouraging employees to send in photos of themselves working - at home or in the office after some locations reopen - to further create community at this unprecedented time. We’re also in the process of establishing a global recognition program that will connect and provide employees with the opportunity to recognise colleagues.

Keep teams motivated

Most companies are using video conferencing to hold meetings with customers and teams for business – but what about using it for fun activities, such as virtual trivia happy hours or workouts? How else can your customers and internal teams still enjoy each other’s company as many continue to social distance? Our sales teams, for example, have taken advantage of popular platforms to provide customers with special messages from celebrities or playlists for working out. We’ve also organised and led virtual online trainings on increasing one’s own happiness and self-awareness to support more productive habits. To connect our global teams, we have also hosted pub trivia nights in both Europe and Asia. Employees loved the connection with their colleagues in other countries and have often gotten to know them even better than in the office

Help your employees support the communities in which they live and work

As this crisis continues to unfold, it’s critical that employers and employees support each other and work together to keep themselves and their communities healthy. At Datasite, we believe in giving back to the communities in which we live, our sales teams in New York and London have joined together in a friendly volunteer challenge to see which team can raise the most funds to support meals for frontline healthcare workers at local hospitals. We are also investigating providing paid time off to volunteer.

Humans are at the centre of every organisation and in these extraordinary times, companies that keep that top of mind will come through this crisis more resilient than when they went into it.

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