Why do you think inclusivity and belonging are essential right now?
Many businesses have sadly found themselves in ‘survival mode’ and doing everything they can to weather the coronavirus storm. For those people who are now working from home, particularly those who are classed as vulnerable, there is a growing risk that their self-isolation will lead to feelings of separation and loneliness as they feel disconnected from society.
Therefore, as businesses take the necessary steps to stay afloat, I believe it’s vital they also keep their gaze on looking after their people – the lifeblood of an organisation and continue to deliver their employee engagement strategies – even in this uncertain period.
How has Virgin managed the pandemic?
Despite this uncertain period, Virgin Media has continued to deliver its people strategy. Its aim is to ensure our company reflects the diverse communities we serve, and that all of our employees – no matter their background – can be themselves at work and realise their potential. As part of this, we’re making sure our 11,000 strong workforce can access support and advice to look after their health and wellbeing. This includes running virtual panel discussions on topics such as how people can take solace from faith and religion, and tips for looking after personal finances, as well as providing access to a free mental health support phone line.
I’ve been heartened to see the care our line managers have shown to ensure their team members have everything they need to do their jobs and are adapting workloads and annual leave so people can work flexibly around childcare or home schooling. We also want to give our people the confidence to share their lived experience and express their diversity of thought. Together, this is creating authenticity, trust and greater relationships, helping our people perform at their best, even in these turbulent times.
What are your top tips for HR practitioners currently facing challenging times?
Offer the right support. Ensure your leaders are fully supporting their teams by checking they have everything they need – whether that’s the right tools to do their job or by signposting to health and wellbeing services. It’s [also] crucial that leaders have psychological safety in mind and continue to check-in with all members of their team, and share how they’re feeling too, in order to build trust and authenticity. With five generations in the workplace, people will use technology in different ways, so it’s important to ask your teams how they prefer to communicate. Show you care and recognise their contributions and successes and finally, inclusion and belonging matters; keep engaging with your people and celebrate diversity. I’m challenging all leaders to hold a virtual discussion on a diversity topic to keep conversations going, and to give people a set moment to come together and connect, which can bring positivity during these uncertain times.