Employee Benefits Insights 2021: Astrid Sundberg, chief HR officer and mobile app developer at Shortcut AS, discussed ‘How to connect with employees during difficult times’ during her presentation at the virtual event.
In her address yesterday (17 March), Sundberg spoke about the importance of written communication, messenger tools, people analytics software and continuous listening in helping employees feel heard in uncertain times.
The HR professional reiterated the need for good written information, which can help employees feel “calm and safe”.
“Communicate clearly, simply, frequently,” she said. “People’s capacity to absorb all the information in one go might be a bit limited in the early stages of a crisis.”
She also urged employers to choose candour over charisma: “There’s really no place for rose-tinted optimism in the tone of written communications. That’s not to say that you need to write with doom and gloom pessimism either, but just be direct and honest.”
Attendees heard how channel-based messaging programmes such as Slack, which is used at Shortcut AS, can be utilised to help boost human connection. Unlike in emails, HR teams can amend posts that may need updating, while employees can also respond to the messages.
Sundberg said: “It has this community feel to it and what many refer to as a playful edge. This means that people can bring humour in where relevant, as we all know humour connects people.”
She added: “On Slack employees can post their questions in the comments which may help soothe others who are uncertain about the meaning of written communication. This invites participation from other employees and encourages a feeling of transparency both of which are good for company communication.”
Sundberg also revealed that she was able to navigate the “perils of the pandemic” thanks to heavy reliance on people analytics that helped her company make important and informed decisions around communication because it enabled them to listen to what people think and hear directly “from the horse’s mouth”.
“We use something called Officevibe, which is great because it works on a weekly pulse survey rotation for all employees and it feeds into a dashboard score which shows an overall engagement as a real-time statistic,” she said. “We can see the results of this data broken down into different groups such as team, age, gender and title.”
In addition, Sundberg undertook tailored surveys to collect intelligence on what Shortcut AS employees thought about the quality of the business’s communications and workers were able to respond with a series of emojis.
Delegates also heard how the company launched a flexible monthly wellness allowance, an idea they had been “toying with for some time before the pandemic” in response to the high levels of stress the survey results revealed after Coronavirus hit.
The move did not incur additional spend. It simply reanimated the cost savings from the free travelcard allowance that employees were no longer claiming for.
According to Sundberg, the response has been great with people using it for “all sorts” from training equipment and music courses, to plants for their home office and anything that falls under helping their wellbeing.
The full agenda for the week-long Employee Benefits Insights Series can be found here. All sessions will be made available on-demand once the series has finished for those who cannot attend the real-time slots.
Participants can register right up until the event starts and can attend as many sessions as they desire.