Creating Community During COVID-19

2020-07-24T16:19:41+00:00July 24th, 2020|

Research shows that small, interpersonal connections matter to building a sense of belonging and organizational culture. As Grace mentioned in her post last week, a central thesis of Daniel Coyle’s The Culture Code is that successful groups are created and not innate to the organization. One of the ways organizational culture is created is through belonging cues. These cues include small actions such as profuse eye contact, questions, few interruptions, and small attentive courtesies that add up to an increased sense of belonging over time. While belonging cues are vital to creating a sense of belonging and positive work environment, many of these traditional cues are difficult to implement during COVID-19. During the past two weeks of the Virginia Sectors Leaders Program, my small group discussed the challenges of creating belonging and vulnerability virtually. Instead of opening doors for others, we let colleagues into our Zoom virtual meetings. We type questions in chat rooms rather than engaging with our colleagues face to face. For new hires, many are entering organizations completely virtually with little to no in-person interaction. In a world becoming increasingly virtual during COVID-19, how do we ensure that our employees (especially new hires) feel a sense of belonging in our organizations? How can we leverage virtual platforms to foster belonging? Similar to belonging cues in the office, creating a sense of belonging virtually requires several small, intentional, and repeated interactions over an extended period of time. Below are some action steps managers and supervisors can implement to foster belonging in a virtual environment: Strategies to Foster Belonging Virtually* Recognition—Continuing to recognize employees increases morale and can make workers feel more secure in a new teleworking environment. Being intentional with recognition, by sending a personalized note or phone call, can help further build belonging. One-On-Ones—Many of our meetings now consist of Brady Bunch style tiles with anywhere from three to 100+ people on the call. Even when working in smaller teams, it is important to still make time for regular one-on-one check ins with employees. These check-ins offer a break from meetings and make it easier for employees to discuss their concerns and [...]