Originally posted in HR.com
In an exclusive interview with HR.Com, Lyle shares key insights and tips on keeping remote teams together, proactive wellness initiatives and campaigns to ensure employee wellness and health, and more.
Excerpts from the interview:
Q: Do you think working from home has made people feel more distant from their team members or has it brought people closer together?
Lyle: The impact of the past quarantine year varies from company to company. The culture and values of the organization, and the degree to which each employee buys into those values and culture serve as primary influencing factors. In instances where teams leveraged heavy collaboration to execute the company’s mission together, I’d expect those employees remained close. Conversely, in situations where employees made their individual contributions without insight into overall outcomes, I’d expect those individuals felt more distant.
Another interesting factor to be considered is the tenure of each employee. New hires brought on during the pandemic faced the unique challenge of cultivating relationships and garnering support in a remote environment. While conferencing tools like Zoom helped to bridge a portion of that interpersonal gap, I think the pandemic helped to shine a spotlight on the value of in-person interaction and collaboration.
Q: What do you believe are the keys to successful remote team relationships?
Lyle: Trust, clearly defined objectives, and open lines of communication. Warren Buffet’s well-known tenet of “hire well, manage little” highlights the importance of having the right employees in the right positions to succeed. Throughout the pandemic, successful organizations found ways to foster trust and drive productivity by allowing individuals and teams to collaborate and perform their duties. While management certainly serves a purpose to communicate objectives and expectations clearly, trust afforded to employees can be transformational and lead to higher levels of engagement and productivity.
Q: What tools/apps/methods do you use for effective internal communication with your remote workforce?
Lyle: At Selerix, we utilize Selerix Engage, a communication platform that we also offer to our clients. Engage allows us to deliver year-round communications via text, e-mail, and mobile alerts to our employees. The platform incorporates the ability to conduct surveys and collect employee feedback in real-time. We leveraged the platform extensively throughout the pandemic to gauge employee sentiment and stay connected as an organization. The multi-directional exchange of information, feedback, and suggestions are all critical elements of our approach to keep our workforce engaged.
Q: What are some of the most important communication challenges in today’s scenario?
Lyle: Cutting through the “noise”. The sheer volume of messages (social media, news media, text messages, e-mails, etc.) bombarding employees makes separating critical information from junk an ongoing challenge. Employers are challenged to provide mission-critical information in a well-written manner, via a preferred medium, and at a time their employees can see and act on it appropriately. Tools and technology that allow employers to reach employees across all devices have become a staple of modern workforce communication. Organizations looking to overcome these challenges must allow employees to drive and tailor their own communication experience.
Q: Paying attention to your employees’ well-being has never been more important. Is monitoring employee health a vital part of your internal communications?
Lyle: Yes, monitoring employee health is critical. It is best accomplished on a personal basis among all colleagues – not just the management team. The outreach itself is often more valuable than the words exchanged.
Monitoring employee health is a bit like walking a tightrope. Gentle inquiries that are infrequent are generally well tolerated; however, when the inquiry is perceived as intrusive or heavy-handed, the reaction can be to push back. Proactive wellness initiatives and campaigns can serve as a tremendous tool to educate and incentivize employees to stay healthy. At Selerix, we leverage a combination of educational messaging and quizzes to actively engage our workforce.
Q: As organizations are planning their reopening strategies, there may be a shift back to conventional communication methods. What advice do you offer to manage change when priorities shift?
Lyle: The pandemic taught us a number of valuable lessons surrounding the critical importance of communication. Today’s workforce is a blend of multiple generations that process information differently. Regardless of reopening strategies, basic communication principles like ensuring messaging is relevant and relatable to an intended audience are crucial. Consistency and cadence are also factors that can influence the success or failure of any communication. Organizations must be consistent and avoid assuming that a single message has accomplished the outcome they desired. Don’t be afraid to communicate the same message in different words via multiple channels. Change is hard for most humans. Don’t assume what worked before the quarantine period will work now. The employee population is not the same as it was over a year ago.
Q: How do you think workforce communication will evolve over the next few years?
Lyle: The work from home phenomenon has driven a higher degree of autonomy for employees at all levels of the organization. Most have proven to be productive employees capable of working independently. Employee trust and independence will continue to grow while simultaneously experiencing growth in employee collaboration via in-person and remote meetings. Advances in scalable engagement technology will also play a significant role within organizations looking to build trust and connect with their workforce.
Optimistically, I hope the level of two-way communications increases exponentially. As trust is built between leadership and employees, the ability to effectively engage all levels of the organization should lead to greater levels of collaboration among employees and clients as well.
Lyle Griffin, President of Selerix
Lyle is the President and co-founder of Selerix, an industry-leading provider of benefits administration and employee engagement software. With more than 25 years of experience in software product development, Lyle has held leadership positions in a variety of early-stage technology ventures. As lead developer and later Vice President of Software Development for Micrografx, Lyle was instrumental in developing several of the first retail software products for Microsoft Windows and was recognized in 1994 by Microsoft founder Bill Gates as a Windows Pioneer. As co-founder of Selerix, Mr. Griffin has overseen development of one of the most comprehensive solutions for benefit enrollment and worksite marketing.