In response to the Covid-19 Health and Developing Economic Crisis FWB Park Brown (FWB PB) is working closely with the Scottish HR Leadership Group to provide constructive support which also includes discussion forums and Q & As.
On Friday 22nd and 28th May, Alix Meekison facilitated two specialist HR forums, hosted alongside Danielle Macleod, Co-Founder of Remarkable Women. Launched in 2018, Remarkable Women is a community for women, offering development programmes and life coaching to help women unlock their exceptional potential.
As an entirely virtual business, Danielle was able to share her experience and insights into engaging and communicating with people remotely and some helpful practical tips to consider. The forum encouraged an open discussion with sharing of experiences across a number of cross-sector HR professionals.
Key points included:
New cultural norms are forming as a result of the situation we are in, and creating virtual engagement and cohesion is, for the majority of people, an entirely new aspect of their day job. The use of flat content is a step away from the human element that many are missing in their day to day working life and therefore, true engagement with employees can be more challenging.
To combat some of this, leaders need to become more ‘human’ in their interactions with employees than perhaps ever before. Showing people that they are not alone in how they are feeling, or the things they are finding challenging, is key. Demonstrating the variations in how your workforce is feeling may also be useful. Checking in with people to understand how they feel (perhaps using a scale or categories) and presenting this scale anonymously, may help others feel more comfortable that there are people in the business who feel the same way they do.
Think about what you can leverage easily in a transformation world. Make a distinction between your regular communications (e.g. bulletin, newsletter) and your new spaces for engagement. With respect to your usual communications, honour the ‘beat’ – i.e., if these usually come out on a particular day and specific time, continue to retain this. Employees will be hooked on anchors such as these because it’s routine and people value the rhythm of the things that are consistent in their day.
When engaging with employees via flat formats, it’s important to try to activate emotion in people. Think outside the box when it comes to presenting information for example. People are used to seeing data-rich PowerPoint presentations however, you are less likely to retain their attention when these are shared over virtual mediums.
Don’t be afraid to ‘break the rules’ when it comes to communication platforms and don’t over-complicate this with new portals and systems if you don’t need to. Use the tools that are easily accessible and available to you and your employees. Facebook for example, is often frowned upon in the corporate world. A high percentage of your employees may already be utilising this platform for social purposes however. It may therefore be easier to capture their attention on a platform they are already using, as opposed to asking them to join something new or go to a specific place for workplace updates. Social media platforms are often free to use and can be very effective if used well.
Be persistent. There is a craft in helping people to engage and often you need to be persistent in order to create traction within your communication channels. Create space for everyone to get involved, and don’t be afraid to appoint people across the organisation to facilitate conversation by adding comments and questions to the channel you may be using.
We may only now be seeing the skills of the individuals in your organisation who are successful at engaging people. Play to the strengths of your leaders and allow them to use the mediums they are talented at using. For example, if you are using video communication to engage with staff, use leaders who are natural in front of the camera. If they are more comfortable with another person, perhaps consider doing videos with more than one person, using an ‘in conversation’ style. There may be others who enjoy writing, and these skills could be used for blogs or other written communications.
Presenting via video communication may be a new skill for leaders to develop – consider video training for those who may need to use this frequently.
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The Scottish HR Leadership Group
Primarily the Scottish HR Leadership Group will focus on the advancement of the profession in Scotland plus have a development and mentoring framework. Our aim is to ensure an interesting, diverse and experienced group of senior practitioners across all sectors who can develop talent and as business leaders contribute and influence the broader societal agenda.
The purpose of this forum is to allow Senior HR Leaders to share their own experiences and gain further insight, thoughts and ideas and to allow more connectivity within the HR community given the evolving global Covid-19 pandemic.
Summaries of the discussions will be posted on our news section and also on LinkedIn.
For further information about any of these forums please contact us via:
Director, FWB Park Brown & Secretary, The Scottish HR Leadership Group
t. +44 (0)131 539 7087