It is our job to keep our clients safe and protected. We do this by ensuring our employees can be the best versions of themselves.
Self-Determination Theory is one of the most widely respected theories of human motivation. It lists three key motivators:
In the workplace, these all speak for themselves. You want to have a strong bond with your colleagues and managers. You want to be good at what you do. And you want to have control over what you do. There are biological reasons for all of these. It all stems from the need to be able to accurately predict and move towards a desirable future.
Relatedness is the big driver that is most affected by the recent COVID-19 health crisis. As most of us who are privileged to work from home do so, we are starting to learn that the office wasn’t so bad after all.
Admittedly, I was one of those who much preferred to work from home, especially when I was trying to focus. But when I was at the office, I could take a break, walk over to a colleague’s desk, and shoot the breeze about anything. Or maybe head over the road and grab a coffee with one of my workmates.
When that stopped, it took about a week for the strange disconnect to take effect. And believe me—as an introvert who is very comfortable in silence and alone with his own thoughts—it started to become a little unbearable at times. I suddenly longed for the office again. The place I had always found distracting.
Many studies have shown that a lack of human contact can have dire consequences. In 2012, the American Psychological Association studied prisoners in solitary confinement. The study found forms of anxiety, panic, insomnia, paranoia, aggression, and depression as mental effects of social deprivation.
When people feel isolated they look for escapism and this can come in many dangerous forms.
The mental well-being of the modern workforce is now facing its biggest threat in the digital age.
Speaking of insomnia—a good friend of mine in the UK, a high-school teacher, recently admitted that his body clock has reverted to its natural night-owl state. As a result, he is getting up later and starting to feel less motivated.
He is trapped in his office all day without any real human contact simply because he cannot afford to be distracted by his three children. This situation is a slippery slope for all of us.
In order to counter this, at JMARK Business Solutions we have put a number of key measures in place to mitigate this brave new world we have suddenly found ourselves in.
It is our job to keep our clients safe and protected, so in these times, especially, we have to ensure our employees can be the best versions of themselves.
Firstly, we took advantage of Workplace by Facebook. We had already been using the tool for a few years. It is a game-changer in terms of helping a company culture anneal. It helps us stay connected.
We did not have a 100% adoption rate prior to the pandemic. So, one thing we did was make sure everyone was using it. Our CEO posts regular updates there to keep us informed of the situation—it has become our primary contact hub. We have a wellness group so people can motivate each other to keep on track with fitness, and a “culture crew” who take aim at any problems before they fully develop.
I attended Medalia’s Experience conference in 2019 and listened to PetCo’s CEO, Ron Coughlin, tell everyone how Workplace had been “the most transformative digital tool” he had ever used.
The ability to create groups where like-minded employees can post and share about topics they care about helps give them a voice and a stronger identity; this is key for those who may not necessarily have a visible role in an organization.
The second thing we did was move our Zoom meetings to Workplace. This means company rallies now take place on Workplace so everyone can tune in from their machine. One thing I really like about Zoom is it gives you the ability to set a custom background without a green screen.
This feature is actually a brilliant innovation in terms of behavioral change. If you are one of those folks who does not switch on your webcam or maybe actively places black tape over it… well, suddenly you now have an incentive to use video and express your identity.
Even introverts like me love it. And the video is especially important in times like these. Psychologically, it really helped me a lot to see everyone’s faces.
The final thing we did was utilize our Culture Crew. This is a cross-functional group designed to reflect the voices of all employees throughout JMARK. We meet once a month to chat about the biggest cultural challenges in the business and then take action to eliminate them.
We want JMARK to be the best company in the world to work for, so we take this very seriously.
In our most recent culture crew meeting I raised the disconnect I was feeling and asked a co-worker if we could have a check-in every other day. In the pre-COVID-19 world, we’d get together for a coffee when he flew in from North Carolina.
So we have now started having these little chats through Workplace Video. Sometimes they are about work. Sometimes they are not. But the most important thing is that we are reinforcing our social bonds with one another.
We also ran a work-from-home survey to keep a pulse on how everyone is feeling and then discussed the results in the culture crew meeting. Some really fantastic ideas emerged from the survey:
- Some teams were using continuous video meetings that they could jump in and out of to help them stay connected better.
- Some folks were using time-boxing to help them keep focused on tasks. I recommend the Pomodoro Technique if you are interested to learn more.
- The importance of a dedicated workspace was underlined. I did not have one but have subsequently assembled a small desk and chair in my spare bedroom and it is already paying dividends in terms of my concentration.
- It is important to set boundaries with the family. Don’t feel bad. Everyone benefits from strong boundaries.
I hope these tools and techniques will be useful to you.
If you are interested in learning more about how JMARK can help you integrate Workplace in your organization, please email [email protected] or call 844-44-JMARK.