Creating Community During Times of Uncertainty and Beyond
Updated: Apr 23
By Caitlin Ackerman
There is no escaping the harsh reality that our world is experiencing. We are very much facing scary, dangerous, and uncertain times, as we all endure the daily battle to fight the invisible enemy COVID-19. However, even in the darkest of times where people are physically separated – we can find the beauty in human connection. We observe our world leaders continuously navigating the macro economy, state governors and municipalities working diligently for their local residents, and everyday people coming together to share resources and ideas to support one another.
Over the course of the past month I have been invited to dozens of Webinars sharing tools and resources from a variety of industries and professionals. Some have been strictly on in the wellness industry, others on employee engagement, mental health, diversity and inclusion, learning and development, community resources, etc. Each webinar I was on was hosted by a group of professionals and business leaders sharing best practices and strategies for getting through this period and staying productive and motivated. Similarly, like many of you, my personal time has involved Zoom happy hours, family calls, game nights, etc. Different groups coming together to share and talk about challenges and extending support and virtual hugs. After reflecting on these different events regularly scheduled on my calendar, I thought about my role as Wellbeing Manager and what FitPros could do to play our part in bringing people together. As connectors in the wellness space, FitPros is consistently seeking to connect companies with our wellness experts, employees with wellbeing solutions, and business leaders with tools and resources to keep employees happy, healthy, and productive. We did not want to reproduce what others were doing but had been brainstorming how to unify our community for a while. FitPros has a brilliant community composed of HR Directors and Managers, People Operations, Benefits Personal, Broker Partners, and Wellness Specialists. Our team knows how much hard work they are putting in to ensure their employees’ needs are met. Everyone is experiencing challenges, trying new things, and finding solutions that work for them. We invited these thought leaders to come together in an intentional space to be vulnerable and collaborative.
FitPros organized our first Mindfulness Happy Hour centered on the topic of Supporting Employee Total Wellbeing While Working Remotely. This topic was chosen because we recognize the disruptions that persist and how this new way of living/working has changed our daily routines and plans. Organizing an employee wellness strategy and getting people to engage is no small feat. Add working from home, caretaking for others, and managing your own personal state to the mix – it’s a perfect blend of blurred boundaries for everyone. Employee operation teams are navigating new waters, but they are not being asked to boil the ocean alone! FitPros’ thought leadership webinars are where participants are our leaders – and every good leader has a support system that helps them succeed. That is exactly what we are curating with our new community!
We kicked off the event with a meditation led by FitPros Founder and CEO Lindsay Johnson who helped us set an intention for this community and direct our energy inward. After dividing into two breakout rooms, we invited all of the participants to “check in” to the conversation as a way to welcome each individual and create a space to share challenges they are currently faced with. By checking in, the individual was able to reflect on their current state, while the community gained insight into another person’s world and potentially connect on shared experiences and emotions. After everyone checked in and was present in the conversation, we flowed right into the discussion focused on useful tools and resources discovered to help engage employees and support wellbeing during this time. As people shared what they have tried and found successful and our wellness specialists encouraged them with additional tools, we all reflected on the power of human connection and collaboration. With so many takeaways (listed below!), one key theme is that we are all in this together. Whether you have laid off more than 50% of your workforce, are struggling with budget cuts, or simply seeking new, creative ways to maintain engagement and productivity – you are not alone. People’s battles may look different, but our passion for our companies and employees are the same.
We are so appreciative of everyone that joined us, and we look forward to having many of our readers join us in the future! If you are interested in joining us for our next Mindfulness Happy Hour – please fill out the attached form. We would love to hear who you are, where you are from, what topics you are looking to explore, and how our community can help!
Resources and Strategies from Our Community Discussion:
1. Send out a survey with key questions to gauge pulse on how your employees are doing/feeling. Create your own or Lattice can help!
2. Build connection between executive team and employees -either have your CEO engage employees at an all hands meeting or make it fun by organizing an “Ask me anything” forum. This is a great way to pulse what employees are worried about, where their spirits lay, and a fun way to learn more about your company leaders.
3. Create a COVID-19 Resource Page with specific resources that would be useful for your employees: EAP, Benefits, Free Apps, Wellness Tools. FitPros recently put this together for our community and encourage you to share it with yours! COVID Resources Guide
4. Weekly Team Building Games via Slack (or communication channel): Selfie Photo Shoot, Show and Tell, Virtual Coffee Breaks, Netflix Party
5. Creating support groups for your employees is a not only great way to connect people who may not traditionally talk in the office or are states apart but experiencing similar challenges now. Diversity and Inclusion strategy: Parents, Caretakers, physical fitness gurus, nutrition lovers, minorities, experiencing anxiety, Fertility, pet parents, movie lovers, etc.
6. Giving Employees choices and opportunity to customize solutions that work for them
Stay at Home Wellbeing Stipends to use on whatever they want and need. I.E – Ergonomic keyboard, virtual gyms, healthy snacks, food for the family, therapy or life coaching, etc. Twic.ai was a recommended resource.
Flexible time & Book ending your day – people are working, parenting, teaching, homemaking, and surviving all under the same roof. Empower your employees to get their work done and encourage them to do it on a schedule that works for them. If this is not any option due to job responsibilities, suggest bookending the day as a company. We don’t work past 6pm – and encourage leadership to abide too!
7. Organizing Virtual Events to keep structure and routine for your employees. FitPros can help you set up Virtual Fitness Classes, Meditations, Health Talks, and 1:1 Wellness Coaching for your teams. Many employees are craving social and developmental outlets, expert resources (rather than fishing through fact/fiction on the internet), and something to look forward to weekly.
8. Create a safe space for vulnerability and sharing amongst your teams – organize check ins and check outs from team calls, check in with employees about how they are feeling outside of work, and make your presence and support known.
9. Look through a Positive Lens. This period of time is what we make of it. The situation may not be ideal, however when we choose to see this as a time we can grow and learn from, the days might seem a little brighter.
Kids are stuck at home vs. extra time with my family
I cannot travel vs. opportunity to see all the museums around the world for free
Complete the project you’ve pushed down your to-do list repeatedly
Take the space to relax… nap, read a book, take a bath, just be.
10. Appreciate not only what your employees do, but who they are. Simple things like “how are you” go a long way. While we often focus on senior leaders, research (Gallup, ADP), shows that culture is largely experienced team by team, and curated by managers.
Our next Thought Leadership Session will take place Wednesday May 13th at 11:00am PST.
Topic: Compassion Fatigue and SeIf Care for Business Leaders - supporting your mental health while tending to employees. If you would like to join us – please fill out this form or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to have you! Additionally, if you are looking to elevate your virtual communities with a remote worker care package and/or virtual solutions reach out to your wellbeing manager or email us!
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