'A strong digital process framework is key to maintaining trust and assuredness'
Like most things, inclusion is much easier to practice in the good times, according to Sarah Liu, founder and MD of The Dream Collective.
In periods of uncertainty - like what we are currently witnessing with COVID-19 - employees will look to employers for leadership, certainty, empathy and compassion, added Liu.
“As companies around Australia increasingly turn to implementing WFH policies, there are a few approaches employers can take to ensure they stay inclusive when operating their team remotely,” said Liu.
“While working from home, everyone is going to become familiar with virtual calls.”
When leading a meeting on a VC, employers must remember to acknowledge everyone who is in attendance and lay the new ground rules for these calls moving forward, according to Liu.
Moreover, employers need to encourage inclusion by inviting dissent - “who doesn’t agree” during calls, wait 10 seconds for people to respond after asking a question, and consciously engage more quiet or reserved people by asking them for input in meetings.
It’s fundamental when you are operating a team remotely to also have daily check-out syncs- what was accomplished and what’s outstanding?
“Employers can’t assume that if something is not an issue for them, it’s not going to be an issue for their report or colleagues-they must role model empathy, certainty, decisiveness and unity,” said Liu.
“Employers need to provide their team with accurate, fact-based information, with links to reputable sources for them to explore independently. We need to remember that the media frenzy provides a wealth of useful information, as well as plenty of misinformation.”
Liu added that it’s important to empower teams to make responsible, informed decisions based on these sources. It’s likely that in your team you will have at least one of the following:
-Caregivers who are forced to alter their schedule and need flexibility.
-Those whose relatives are vulnerable and require more care.
-Colleagues who own another business who are starting to feel anxious about their financial stability.
-Those who have life events planned in the near future that are now uncertain about what the evolving situation means for them and possibly demotivated.
-Part-time workers whose hours are drastically reduced and feeling the financial pressure.
Liu added that leaders must check-in frequently with their team and ask themselves- Is this situation affecting them? Does your business provide the in-person support and infrastructure they may need to do their job well?
“In addition, send your team resources to mindfulness practices to regulate anxiety, respond vs react: regulate your own emotions by taking three deep breaths, and cross-reference your point of view with one other person before acting,” said Liu.
Andrew White, ANZ Country Manager at Signavio, added that disruption and change can filter through as chaos when businesses are ill-prepared - and employees notice. It creates a culture of insecurity, and panic ensues.
“A strong digital process framework is key to maintaining trust and assuredness,” said White.
It helps overcome issues by supporting staff to decide on, and implement a clear definition of ‘the right way to do things’ - or a single source of truth to disseminate information - helping to identify and respond to change with confidence, added White.
“Creating a solid business process foundation for employees to follow enables trust in their ability to make informed decisions, and empowers workers to embrace disruption,” he said.
“Trust goes both ways, and in order to achieve buy-in from all parties, employers must implement and distil their digital process frameworks to ensure everyone is on the same page.”