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  • Writer's pictureEmily@giraffe

What we learned from assisting clients through COVID 19

It’s unlike anything we’ve seen before - a black swan event - and for those in Victoria, the second wave has only just begun.

During initial lockdowns in March, Giraffe was appointed a role in developing a transformational culture program for one of our clients. Mirroring the pace of change of the virus itself, the program had to be delivered in a short timeframe, with unprecedented urgency.

Working closely with senior leaders, it was our mission to create a culture strategy that not only responded to the rapidly evolving situation of COVID-19 but sought positive benefits as a result of the disruption.

We asked ourselves:

  • How could we leverage ‘working from home’ as an opportunity for greater team agility?

  • How could staff break down silos despite the physical distance?

  • Is it possible to build an even stronger culture during a crisis?

We began by assessing what we knew. A pulse check with our client’s staff quickly revealed that the challenge of COVID-19 was very real, with initial results showing a high degree of concern around how this event would impact the business.

What could we do to help? There was certainly no rule book that covered ‘communications through a pandemic’!

So, we turned to our fundamentals. At the heart of communication is human-to-human connection. Connection that is open, honest and delivered in a way that resonates.

From this base, we built our objectives, and from these objectives, we formed an action plan – one that brought together meaningful communications and related activities that were outside-the-box of standard internal messaging.

The plan set out:

  • Virtual fitness sessions with the Managing Director

  • Virtual lunches, safety huddles and weekly competitions that encouraged all staff to participate.

  • Every week, all staff were provided with a check-in and check-out activity to keep teams close and engaged despite the physical distance.

  • Scheduling phone calls between colleagues from different departments

  • Delivery of kids activities for those tackling home-schooling and provision of a repository of fitness and mental health resources for all.

Supporting these activities were weekly wellness communications as well as sharing the latest health advice from the Department of Health and Human Services.

Each week, we tracked messaging performance and used this data to tailor future weeks’ content to ensure it hit the mark.

Within ten weeks, a significant jump in staff sentiment was recorded, with 71% of respondents to the survey optimistic about what their future held at the company.

Sometimes all it takes is a good morning ‘hello’ from our manager to transform our state of mind from locked-down to unlocked.

As we enter this next phase of Stage 3 restrictions in Melbourne, it’s important to remind ourselves of the value of frequent and meaningful communications within the workplace.

1. During this unforeseen and challenging time, we all want to feel connected to something bigger than ourselves – part of the conversation or team.

2. Amidst the doubt and uncertainty of the world around us, most seek a sense of security from our organisation, role or task in front of us.

3. We all want to know that there is a kind ear waiting to listen when times are tough.

4. Despite the physical distance, when we work together to open the channels of communication, we, in fact, become closer than ever before.

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