How Leaders Can Support Teams Digitally

May 28, 2020

Here are some things we’re doing at GetApp to support the mental health of our teams through the ongoing crisis.

Thibaut de LatailladeGlobal Vice President and GM at GetApp
How Leaders Can Support Teams Digitally

Wellbeing initiatives designed to help people feel engaged, appreciated, and equipped to do their work have always been a part of GetApp’s company culture. Our current remote environment, however, makes it more challenging to foster meaningful connections and gauge how employees are doing. 

The new realities introduced by the COVID-19 outbreak make it more important than ever for executive leaders and managers to support their teams digitally. We can do this by focusing on what’s within our control instead of fixating on what’s outside of our control. 

Take a look at the ways we’re supporting our newly remote teams to inspire your strategy for positive mental health in the workplace. 

Communicate proactively and listen intently to foster strong connections 

In GetApp’s recent digital transformation survey, we found that 79% of small businesses have consistently communicated COVID-19-related updates to employees. 

79% of small businesses communicate covid 19 updates to employees

While the resiliency of these small businesses doesn't surprise me, it is concerning that some small business leaders are overlooking the importance of ongoing communication during crises. 

Ignoring employee emotions around COVID-19 could foster negative feelings about your company (e.g., resentment, anger, frustration, and mistrust); 45% of employees are more likely to vent about their employers on social media than they were three years ago, which could damage your company’s reputation and lead to public criticism (full research available to Gartner clients). 

Other companies, however, have been more proactive. GetApp’s digital transformation survey also found that 35% of small businesses created a COVID-19 resource hub for employees using intranet software or other platforms that support internal communication. 

Resource hubs, weekly emails, or regular meetings are great examples of how businesses can compile and deliver updates to workers. But sharing information is only one aspect of communication. 

To communicate effectively, leaders must also listen

Even before the COVID-19 outbreak, I held informal chats and “skip-levels,” where I met with people at all levels in the company, outside of my direct reports. I’ve continued holding these virtually since our teams went remote, and find them valuable. They help me get face-to-face time with people, gauge how they’re doing on an individual level, and get feedback on the support they need. 

We’ve also used polls to anonymously gather feedback and insights into the challenges team members are facing, what they're worried about, and what questions they have. 

Listening to your teams provides the insight you need to address their concerns before they manifest as anxieties. For example, if your employees say things that suggest they’re worried about returning to the office, communicate a “back to the office” plan to ease worries about their health and sharing an office space. 

These informal chats and polls help us keep a pulse on how our teams are doing and understand the challenges they're facing. We then know what we need to communicate and do differently to better support our teams. 

Reset performance expectations to prevent burnout 

Everyone is dealing with challenges while working from home. Some employees are working at home with children and competing for a quiet workspace, while others are quarantined in small spaces and dealing with feelings of isolation. 

As a leader, it’s important to be empathetic and aware of the challenges that might hinder employees' ability to meet the expectations set for them at the beginning of the year.

At GetApp, we’re measuring employee performance by focusing on outcomes, recognizing that people might need to adjust their usual work-related routines under the current circumstances. It was refreshing to hear that other companies are also doing this. 

In a recent interview, Matt Satell from venture capital firm Mechanism said that it is challenging balancing work with small children at home. To address this, CEO Breanden Beneschott sent out an empathetic message to employees saying it's OK to reschedule a meeting and focus on family needs. 

“His message provided much-needed comfort during a challenging time,” Satell said. 

Beneschott’s message was simple but helped ease his employees’ anxieties. He communicated his empathy by resetting expectations to account for the demands of their new working environments. 

Consider tech a strategic partner to support employees

Technology is a great tool to communicate business updates and collaborate on projects, but it can also be used to connect with employees. 

At GetApp, we use the technology we already have to connect teams for casual meetings and mental wellness outlets. 

  • We use video conferencing software for virtual coffee chats and happy hours (aka "beer o’clock"), masterclasses where colleagues share unique skills and knowledge ( such as how to make soap), and play games. 

  • We've leveraged our communication software to launch a “GetApp unplugged” channel where colleagues can coordinate these casual virtual hangouts. 

  • We streamlined our project management software to ensure teams who were previously using distinct systems are now more fully integrated on the same platform.  

  • We use form applications to survey our teams and give them a chance to voice feedback anonymously. 

  • We use polling software for brainstorming and sharing ideas. 

  • We share write-ups through email to reinforce verbal communications following team meetings and provide more details or directions if necessary. 

As we continue to work remotely, I foresee teams getting more creative in how they apply the technology they already used for work. 

Prioritize your employees’ mental wellbeing 

It has always been important for businesses to support employee mental health, but COVID-19 has presented more specific needs and unprecedented stressors. 

Company leaders and managers can help support their employees through this crisis and beyond by providing ongoing communication, listening empathetically to worker challenges, resetting expectations as needed, and leveraging technology to connect with teams for more casual chats. 

To learn more about how GetApp can connect you with the resources you need to support your teams digitally, check out our coronavirus business resources hub or reach out to me directly on LinkedIn. I’d love to help and hear how you’re getting creative to support your teams. 

Methodology and Disclaimer

The digital transformation survey referenced in this article was conducted by GetApp in April 2020 and included 503 respondents who reported executive leadership roles at small businesses with 250 or fewer employees.

This document, while intended to inform our clients about the impact of technology on business, is in no way intended to provide legal advice or to endorse a specific course of action. 

Note: The applications selected in this article are examples to show a feature in context and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations. They have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.

About the author

Thibaut de Lataillade

Global Vice President and GM at GetApp
Thibaut De Lataillade, GetApp GVP, has more than 25 years of experience in business management, sales, and marketing under his belt. He has a proven track record in cloud, mobility, digital marketing, CRM, marketing, sales, and growth strategies. Thibaut has held managerial and executive positions at large tech companies such as Cegedim and SAP.
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