June 11th, 2020 | Ken Schnee, General Manager - Technology, Media, Entertainment, and Hospitality

Top 6 Tech Industry Tips: Creating a Culture of Online Safety and Trust

Girl on Zoom onboarding

The COVID-19 pandemic has quickly changed how companies operate. Businesses had to rapidly make strategic decisions and mobilize their workforce, all while clearly communicating these changes to employees. Currently, we are in a time of unprecedented, sweeping spikes in anxiety, uncertainty, and doubt. As a result, business leaders like you need to quickly establish a culture of trust and safety within their workforce, while operating virtually.

During this crisis, humanizing connections can build long-term trust, resilience, and loyalty with your employees. With powerful online human connections, companies can begin to lay a strong foundation of trust. In fact, according to the 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer, employees trust communications from their employer over communications from the government and media.

In a recent webinar, we invited Alysia Eve, Director of Product Marketing at Citrix, to share insights on helping create a virtual culture of trust and safety in the time of COVID-19. The tips below are inspired from my engaging conversation with Alysia. For the full conversation, watch the webinar on-demand.

1. Keep Communications Open and Honest

In a world lacking in-person connections, companies can make their communications as personable and honest as possible. Throughout this global crisis, we all are grappling with different physical, mental, or financial struggles. According to a study by Qualtrics, 52% of newly remote workers feel more anxious working from home. Leaders and managers can acknowledge these difficulties on a more personable level and relate them to their own life. Doing so can make you more approachable and trustworthy. Showing the reality of what is happening – with children, pets, and spouses making an appearance in video meetings – can show your employees that they are not alone in this situation. These humanized connections can help your team feel comfortable with the current remote working situation and approach managers with openness and honestly.

2. Maintain Strong Team Bonds

Without daily social interactions with co-workers, employees may forget what drives them to work in the first place. Managers should make time for virtual social activities and team building. During these tough times, employees need to be reminded of the teamwork and impact of their work that motivate them to fulfill their roles every day. In difficult times, it is important to make time for laughter and lightness. Weekly team meetings to check in with one another are a great way to share moments of happiness and joy.

In times of hardship, people respond to uplifting updates. Consider sharing company “wins” or good news with your team. In an anxiety-ridden world, a little positivity can go a long way. This news could be as small as announcing an employee’s birthday, or that your employee is celebrating five years at your company. Highlighting these “wins” will keep your employees connected to your business.

3. Express Your Gratitude

Without social interactions, people can easily fall into a pessimistic rhythm and only focus on the negative. In a recent article by the Psychiatric Times, the writer highlights the benefits of gratitude during COVID-19, and shares that “optimism may also help us stay grounded.” Consider making it a point to encourage your team and take time to express gratitude. Teams can come together on a regular basis to highlight the positive moments of the week. Taking time to express gratitude can help put everything, including negativity, in perspective. Even recognizing simple gestures can help calm anxiety.

Additionally, team members can express gratitude for one another. Teammates can recognize each other’s hard work in a more formal way by giving a shout-out via LinkedIn or other social platforms. These uplifting connections can help foster a spirit of teamwork among your employees.

4. Forming Interest Groups

You should encourage your employees to use this time of isolation to get to know their coworkers. People are eager for social interactions, especially in these long periods of social isolation. Since so many companies are global or have massive offices throughout the country, even pre-existing virtual touch points feel more distant. To engage with one another, people can form interest groups to discuss books, arts and crafts, cooking, and so on. By joining groups that already have topics of discussion, employees can get to know one another on a more personal level. Your employees can also use these interactions to learn more about their company. These newfound interactions are a great opportunity to ask questions about a co-worker’s job, team, and skills. These interest groups can provide workers with ideas for activities to do in quarantine. For example, people can share recipes, binge-worthy TV shows, and page-turning books. Sharing these ideas can foster team spirit and motivate people to fill lonely quarantine time with fun activities.

5. Keeping Employees Informed on Available Resources

Many people are struggling with some levels of anxiety, fear, stress, and even depression amid COVID-19. With stay-at-home orders and social distancing in place, people are in isolation and often away from loved ones, friends, and family. According a poll conducted by KFF, 45% of adults in the US reported their mental health has been negatively impacted due to COVID-19 related stress. If possible, companies can offer resources to help mental health and overall wellbeing. Knowing that there is someone to talk to can ease anxiety.

Businesses should encourage employees to use these resources and support systems. HR leaders can also send out tips to manage overall well-being during quarantine and social distancing. There are many free digital mental health resources that can help people that are struggling during this time. You can take the lead by sharing daily tips, activities, and physical activities that benefit employees.

6. Create Trust with New Hires

Similar to employees, candidates and new hires also want to trust their new employer to feel safe. Hiring managers can make interactions as personal as possible through video chat tools. You should be as approachable and honest as you are with current employees. Given the current situation, adding a human touch with children, pets, or spouses popping into video interviews at any time helps them understand that you are experiencing similar challenges of adjusting to a new normal.

During the COVID-19 crisis, companies can make a new hire’s onboarding efficient as well as stay up to date with the changing compliance rule and regulations. A professional background check provider should provide regular updates on changing global, national, and local protocols.

After onboarding, you can set a warm welcome for employees as they start their new job. Typically, when a new employee would start, they would be welcomed by the team. In this virtual world, teams can still hold a virtual welcome lunch or a social hour.

During this time of uncertainty, people are looking to their company leaders to make them feel safe. Creating a virtual environment of support and honesty can help employees feel a little less anxious – genuinely showing that we are all in this together.

Working from home

To learn more about building virtual connections, please tune in to our on-demand webinar here.

This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.