Since March 2020, almost everyone has experienced a virtual meeting. Experiences from these meetings vary widely, from one with a boss who can’t get anyone to participate to another where everyone’s talking (or chatting via instant message) at once. Neither scenario is conducive to a productive meeting, and the wellbeing of employees is never taken into account.
Wellbeing is defined as the state of being comfortable, happy, and healthy.
So, how can we as leaders begin to prioritize the wellbeing of our team members?
5 Ways to Start Creating Wellbeing in Your Virtual Experiences
1. Gain valuable feedback with anonymous polls
Particularly when asking about sensitive or controversial topics, you can get much more honesty from your team when they’re able to answer the question anonymously. The anonymity puts much less psychological stress on employees to try to answer a question in a way that the boss will find pleasing.
2. Try an old fashioned conference call
If you don’t have too many team members, it might be worth trying a non-video chat if not presenting visuals at the meeting. Conference calls don’t allow the visual distraction of seeing everyone’s faces, background, homes, pets, etc., and also take away the distraction of being able to see yourself on camera.
Seeing people on screen is not the same as seeing them in person in terms of our ability to pick up social cues and body language. Try taking away the video aspect, and you may get more participation from some of your more introverted employees.
3. Use the hand raise or “green/red” feature
If you can’t use anonymous polls but need binary feedback on a question, feel free to use the simple hand raise option. Make sure to give ample time for everyone to find it. Depending on which generation your employees are from, stress can arise as they try figuring out how to make these virtual meetings work on their own. So give directions clearly regarding virtual meeting features.
4. Use break-out rooms
Smaller break-out sessions are key for companies with larger teams if you’d like everyone to feel like their voice matters. Some people will never speak up in front of the entire company, no matter how passionate they are about their idea, but they may have the courage to share it with a smaller group. Make sure that somehow the best parts of each conversation in the break-out rooms get back to you, whether via chat, email, or a person reporting back to you.
5. Utilize before and after meeting times well
If you are trying to gain input on a situation that could be conflictual or controversial, you may want to try and reach out to employees via text or a phone call to gather their individual input before hosting a meeting. Plus, reaching out to quieter employees after a virtual meeting can replace a typical “water cooler” situation and help you to connect with them.
At your next virtual meeting, I encourage you to try one of these tips to promote wellbeing. It might be a guessing game for a little while to see what works and what doesn’t with your unique team, but your time will be well-rewarded when employees stick around for the long term after seeing that wellbeing is a priority.
Wellbeing is not an easy thing to promote in some workplace industries in general, let alone when you take the experiences and make them virtual. But, if we say that our employees are important to us as a company, we must take action to implement real steps that help our employees feel happy, healthy, and comfortable.