* In this chapter, Connect&GO employees are referred to as GOers (a genderless term that includes all team members).
2020. OUFFF! OUR CHALLENGES
The list of challenges we have faced at Connect and GO this year is long, as are many other companies.
- Pause 1/2 of our business sectors (events);
- Highest summer season lost, significant drop in sales;
- Several waves of temporary layoffs, which unfortunately for a high percentage have had to turn into permanent ones;
- Uncertainty and concern about the resumption of gathering activities;
- Lack of social contact;
- Shaken financial well-being;
- Overall, mental health negatively impacted: 40% experience more difficulties than usual and 20% feel more anxious, depressed or alone because of isolation.
2020. OK! OUR SOLUTIONS
These challenges have forced us to reflect on the related solutions to be implemented. GOers were in a great position to guide us on the solutions. Thus, on two occasions rather than one since last March, we surveyed our team members on the impacts of working from home and COVID in order to know their needs in this reality that was unfamiliar to all. Looking back since last March, we can now see one of the key learnings will have been to create a safe space (and continue to improve to do so) to the humans behind the GOers.
Create space and provoke informal interactions, consider them important and welcome them as an integral part of our work;
Equip team members for openness, empathy, recognition and acceptance of differences and support for others (resources to read, to view, to bring in someone who would testify, ‘one pagers’ on how to express themselves to demonstrate understanding, ceding moments of sharing that require vulnerability are all examples expressed by team members in order for them to be able to support more effectively);
Continue the monthly moments for Mental Health, because the moment itself, even if nothing came out of them after (which is not the case), are necessary.
In this chapter, you will find three concrete ways in which we have looked at these facets.
Each of the difficult decisions made during this period was communicated transparently to the team members, and since we made sure to talk to each other all together each week (a wish mentioned by the team), it allowed us to experience the ‘wins’ as well as the disappointments together. This communication channel is one of the things we absolutely want to keep, even after COVID, because we learned that it was a valuable team moment (and that we used to only do once a month before). Another weekly habit that we have implemented are the weekly one-on-one meetings with the manager for the whole organization. Proactive listening is encouraged in this meeting where not only tasks are discussed, but most importantly the person behind the GOer, how he·she is doing, what support he·she needs, how the familiy is adapting at home, etc.
Since this had been identified as a concern of our team members (60% were experiencing stress in relation to their financial reality), a comprehensive initiative on Financial Health was developed by our Director, Finance. It included more than 4 meetings on the calendar of all team members, including a presence from CPA Canada, as well as concrete tools and experts available to support them. Being able to discuss such a sensitive subject has increasingly given space to the ‘outside’ facets of work at C&GO, but which definitively resides in each person’s life and therefore cannot simply be set aside.
In the same vein, ultimately, because mental health has been and remains a key initiative at Connect&GO, in addition to the monthly discussion sessions with the team that we are continuously hosting, we looked at different ways of satisfying the psychological needs of our team members. Using the science of motivation to ensure that we think not only about the performance of our company, but at the same time the well-being of the team members. And yes, we can confirm that it is feasible to do both, all at once. They don’t need to be dissociated!
This situation has taught us that there is no longer such a clear line between our personal and professional lives. That we will need to continue to improve as an organization so that all team members can ‘bring your whole self to work’ as the name of the movement explains it so well, as well as with its emotions, dreams and fears. The future of work is precious when we think that COVID may allow us, in its own way, to bring us closer to each other, not just to distance ourselves physically! You have read in this chapter 3 concrete ways how we have given importance to humans behind the GOers:
- One-on-one weekly meetings with the manager;
- Exchange on financial health;
- Discussions on our personal reality and the subject of mental health.
The end of this pandemic is near, let’s stay brave!But above all, let’s remember what we have learned together to continue working more efficiently and in healthier environments!
Sophie Gadoury – Connect&GO Director, Culture & Engagement