Keeping office traditions alive helps employees stay engaged in a remote work environment.
- Carly Burnham
- July 2020
As we head into yet another month of life in the times of a pandemic, many insurance professionals are still working from home and limiting their business travel. Many of us have found systems that work for being productive and have learned how we can manage our time to keep on track and stay sane.
One thing that leaders in insurance organizations may be wondering is: How can we keep our employees engaged when they are remote? I want to share three ideas that may work for your team.
First, acknowledge the day-to-day wins publicly and the challenges privately. As your teams adjust and get into the groove of remote work, you will find that individuals have different high points and low points. Check in on them. Ask how they're holding up. Find out whether they're struggling. Also take note of the victories, even the small ones. Speaking with employees individually about the challenges, and then sharing wins as they are comfortable, will allow the team to learn from positive findings.
Second, connect on a personal level. Your employees need to hear from you regularly to keep engaged with the team. If you are a manager, set up something weekly or bi-weekly at least. If you are a senior level leader, consider hosting virtual town halls or more events than you normally would, so that you can answer questions and guide the company's response to the challenges of the current environment. In these uncertain and changing times, your employees are bound to have concerns and questions. Giving them an open forum to discuss such things with senior leadership is paramount to keeping a feeling of connection.
Third, reinforce your company's culture and values from a distance. Being apart doesn't mean your office traditions cannot continue. Any celebrations you would normally have in person, such as birthdays or work anniversaries, should now be adjusted to be held virtually. If you would buy lunch for the team or leave a piece of company swag at their desks, consider sending employees gift cards for a local lunch spot in their neighborhood and/or to your company store. It's more important than ever to recognize milestones and make employees feel valued. Remind them that being out of sight doesn't mean they're out of mind.
These are three small pieces of advice that you have likely read in other places since this all began. We need not reinvent the wheel to maintain connections with our employees, but we must do so with intent and focus over the next few months. As we gain experience, we will find new things that work and some suggestions will fall by the wayside.
Though many of our organizations have moved to remote work because of the pandemic, insurance organizations are full of professionals who have been doing their jobs without ever having had their offices at the headquarters.
Particularly within your claims and distribution organizations, there are people within the company who have been doing this for years. Reach out to them if your team is struggling with the transition. Find out how they stay connected to the company and what kind of touch points they've liked in the past. Their experience will help guide you.
And for those of us who are new to remote work, share your feedback with your leaders and ask for what you need or want. Leaders, be open to the options that your employees suggest and keep open lines of communication; including when you have to say no to a request. Transparency and radical candor will go a long way in managing the challenges that will come up as we adjust.
Carly Burnham, CPCU, MBA, has been in the insurance industry since 2004. She blogs at InsNerds.com and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.