Regardless of industry, most companies have been grappling with one question since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic; how do we keep employees engaged virtually?
Talcott Resolution was no exception. We serve as a strategic risk partner for the insurance industry and oversee over $90 billion in assets for approximately 900,000 customers. In February 2020, we successfully completed the 21-month separation from our prior owner and became an independent company. During this time, we established our new cloud-based platform, which played a key role in the seamless transition of our 450+ employees when we implemented our work from home (WFH) strategy in March.
Our first step was activating our Crisis Management Team (CMT), who had the primary responsibility of keeping employees informed about developments related to COVID-19 and potential impacts to our company, or to our employees, their families, and communities.
In close partnership with the CMT, we launched a dedicated page on our intranet site, Talcott Today, which housed all of our WFH policies, technology tips (including Zoom best practices), FAQs, links to government guidelines, and a button to contact our CMT with questions. Launching this page right when our WFH journey began was crucial for setting the tone for our employees, which was, “No one has all the answers, but we will provide what we know, do our best to keep you safe, and get through this together.”
The sense of calm that our approach created gave the communications team an opportunity to transform our positive in-office culture into a virtual workspace that felt engaging and inclusive.
The virtual events we hosted during 2020 were impactful and meaningful to employees. We hosted regular all-employee Talcott Talks to give material business updates and sprinkled in casual coffee chats with executives to consistently provide high levels of visibility between our leadership team and employees. We quickly noticed that getting together to talk was more important to people than what we were talking about, a.k.a., if you set up a topical Zoom meeting, they will come. Promoting and reinforcing these events with featured articles on Talcott Today, and reminder emails, also helped boost attendance.
Zoom was essential
Our three biggest events in 2020 were the company anniversary celebration, success fair, and racial injustice open forums. Even though we used Zoom for all these events, they looked different.
Our company anniversary celebration was held in May. The challenge? How do we get excited about attending a Zoom meeting? A cross-functional collaboration with our employee action committee was the answer. We designed a “we’re all in this together” T-shirt to celebrate our anniversary, shipped it to all employees, and encouraged everyone to gear up to celebrate with us, and they did!
When we got onto the Zoom meeting, we saw a sea of blue shirts and tons of excitement. We watched an anniversary video together that highlighted the milestones of the past year and took some time to recognize the challenges we’re facing.
One challenge we’re all facing together is racial injustice. After the social unrest that ignited this summer, the communications team immediately began discussing what types of support we could offer employees.
We started with a powerful message from our CEO, reaffirming Talcott’s commitment diversity and inclusion and began preparing to host a racial injustice forum. Because of the sensitivity of the topic, we used the Zoom webinar format and moderated the discussion to ensure everyone could feel safe to share their experiences uninterrupted.
We opened the event with community guidelines and the executive sponsor of our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council expressed why having this discussion was so important. Over half of the company attended this event, and the overwhelmingly positive feedback we received in our follow-up survey led to the creation of an ongoing, monthly series of discussions called Diversity and Inclusion: Growing and Inspiring Together (DIG IT) .
We wrapped up our year with a virtual “success fair.” When we were in the office, we set up a booth for each functional business area. Then employees could visit and learn about their accomplishments throughout the year. The best way to recreate this experience was to use break out rooms in Zoom. Employees could jump from room to room as they pleased, and we received great feedback on the high level of engagement from using this method.
Leveraging different types of Zoom meetings and exploring all our virtual world could offer was the key to unlocking our WFH office culture and reinforcing to employees that, even though we’re physically apart, our colleagues are only one click away.
Tori Grieser is a communications specialist at Talcott Resolution.