Workforce Transformation

The Silver Lining To Our New Reality? More Empathetic Workplaces

Editor’s note: This blog originally appeared on the Dell Technologies Perspectives blog and can be found here.

By Anna Codrea-Rado, Contributor

Kelli Hodges doesn’t want her employees to talk to her about their work. Since the shelter-in-place order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Dell Technologies’ director of commercial product marketing has been holding open video calls for her team at the end of each day. These meetings, however, aren’t status updates, they’re well-being check-ins.

“Those 30 minutes are designed to make us laugh,” Hodges says after a recent call that included the game “Never Have I Ever,” pictured above. On the calls, team members tell each other what they’re cooking for dinner that night, share tips for homeschooling kids, and generally voice what’s going on for them during the pandemic. “It’s a time to pause and share and, most importantly, listen to each other.”

These moments of compassion are vital in the face of the uncertainty the pandemic has caused in workplaces. Health concerns and financial worries have left employees feeling emotionally vulnerable. Writing in the medical journal The Lancet, a group of psychiatrists and psychologists said that COVID-19 is having a profound effect on mental health and physical health. According to the paper, “It is already evident that the direct and indirect psychological and social effects of the coronavirus disease pandemic are pervasive and could affect mental health now and in the future.” Furthermore, according to a recent poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly half of Americans feel that the pandemic is harming their mental health.

In response, business leaders are finding that one of the best ways to look after their employees’ well-being is by bringing empathy into their workplaces. As countries around the world start to look ahead at relaxing shelter-in-place orders and allowing people to go back to the office, company executives are already thinking about ways they can continue to infuse compassion into their company cultures once the pandemic passes.

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