Maintain Strong Social Connections While Physically Distancing

How are you?  How are your employees?  And/or your co-workers?

We’re finding that social connections within organizations remain difficult to bridge, and more importantly, empathic human connections are often missing.

During meetings we’ve attended there is a cursory ‘How is everyone’ stated, not really asked since there is not so much as a second pause for a response. Employees tell us that they know better than say anything anyhow other than the cursory ‘Fine’ if the second pause allows.  This doesn’t just erode relationships, and emotional and social well-being but also trust and psychological safety. At some companies, we can feel the negativity. Employees aren’t proudly recognizing their work commitment as ‘essential’, but instead are using the terms like, ‘expendable,’ not essential.

The struggles are real and overwhelming for many. None of us imagined that 6 months later we would still be isolated, worried, and trying to deal with career, financial, health, safety, family, social, and relationship issues to name a few.  But here we are.  

There is much that organizations can do to make a difference. Below are a few suggestions based on the issues we have observed.

  • Communicate often not just when there is a change, ‘news’, or an incident to report.  It is essential to keep employees informed, even to say hello or to acknowledge that all the answers aren’t known but that management cares.
  • Make time to pause during zoom/team/gotomeetings to listen.  Encourage sharing and acceptance.  Leaders should share their difficulties and vulnerabilities first. Let employees know you understand, and that help is available.
  • Recognize and acknowledge the worry, isolation, and difficulties experienced. Let employees know the resources available for assistance.
  • Create discussion support groups for topics from parenting, to gardening, to well-being, to crises interventions.
  • Schedule social hours with games, socializing, and even family activities.
  • Demonstrate – authentically – appreciation and valuing of contributions.
  • Increase safety and health initiatives and emphasize all dimensions of safety and well-being.

These are trying times for all, which makes it more imperative that the human faces – your internal stakeholders –  remain front and center rather than focusing solely on the physical safety aspects of COVID and productivity concerns. In fact, stakeholders are the key to the latter two.  We must work together to ensure businesses and stakeholders survive, thrive and flourish.

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