For the past six months, we’ve been focused on surviving the pandemic, juggling a remote office, educating our children and staying on top of our responsibilities. But many of us have not taken the necessary step of making sure we are okay. Having these responsibilities piled on top of each other can be an overwhelming and stressful experience, one that is understandable and sometimes expected.
Having a workplace culture that supports its employees through times like these is necessary for the long-term success of an organization. In order to do that, organizations have to be approachable, understanding and go out of their way to check in with employees.
“It’s really important that you show that you’re investing in your employees, not just with time, energy, and training,” startup advisor and head of legal at Human Interest Bärí Williams said during an interview with Sidecar. “What are they interested in? Do you even know? Do you know what’s going on at home with them?”
Getting personal with employees is all but expected in a supportive work environment. I, myself, feel less comfortable coming to a supervisor with an issue if I do not have a preexisting relationship with them. And as evident by the interviews I’ve conducted since COVID-19 began spreading, many others feel the same.
“People do not do regular check-ins with their employees … so there’s kind of a human touch missing from it,” Williams continued. “Check on your employees. Have an actual open dialogue and talk to them. What do they need? How can you help them? Those are the things that people need to really focus on.”
Not only does checking in with your employees help to strengthen your working relationships, it benefits your organization as a whole. Employees who feel comfortable going to leadership with problems and when potential resulting failures are okay have a higher tendency for innovation and experimentation leading to organizational growth.
“This is very important for industry and the business world because I think a lot of people go around or go into meetings at work thinking, ‘I’ve got to act like I know everything. I have to be right all the time. I have to know what anybody asks me,’” said Stanford University professor and author of “Limitless Mind: Learn, Lead & Live Without Barriers,” Dr. Jo Boaler during a SURGE Connect 2020 session. “That's a damaging mindset, and it’s much better to model for people that you can not have knowledge and you can say, ‘You know, I don’t know the answer to that, but I’d love to find out.”’
“We grow up thinking that mistakes are bad,” Dr. Boaler added. “Struggle is bad. When actually that’s probably the best time for our brains and something we really want to embrace."
Changing your organization’s mindset around struggle and failure to better support the needs of your employees could mean the difference between surviving this pandemic and thriving.
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Ashley Neal joined the Sidecar team as Community Coordinator in March of 2020, right as the COVID-19 pandemic began to shut down life as we knew it. Having to adapt, overcome and predict the changes needed to survive in the new normal, Ashley now has the skills needed to juggle any obstacle thrown her way. A soon-to-be graduate from Southeastern Louisiana University in the field of Strategic Communications, Ashley spends her days balancing her work and education with her love of dogs. Taking her three dogs — Scooby, Pipsqueak and Moose — to restaurants, hiking trails, vacations and even participating in dog shows and sports is the highlight of her weekends.