October is National Depression and Mental Health Screening Month. As a company, mental health is very close to our heart. It’s important to make sure each employee and their mental health is well cared for. Two of our employees, Jen and Rebecca have taken time to write on how we aim to care for our people and their mental health.
“Weird, just weird.” I’ve heard that, and said that, more in this season than in any other. We’ve all felt it, in varying degrees, in ebbs and flows, in the surprises related to COVID, and in the continuation of COVID protocols and news reports after all these months. Being fairly introverted, the effect of shutdown didn’t hit me right away, but then it did – too much aloneness, too much time with just my own thoughts. Our more social folks must have felt an immediate jolt, and might have even anticipated the shock of shutdown. Right away the owners of E-gineering took steps to keep us all connected.
- Our monthly company update meeting and lunch, was replaced with weekly company Zoom meetings – we call them AHZ (All Hands Zoom). As time moved on, and we all settled into the new routine, these updates are now every other week. The state of the business is shared at each meeting, including financial results at the end of each month. So people don’t have to worry about the unknown.
- A Slack channel was created to post links of new COVID updates, stats, lots of articles, and share questions and opinions. Another channel was created to raise COVID needs so others could respond to that need.
- A Confluence page captured in one convenient spot, a wide variety of resources from central Indiana counties. Another Confluence page was created to share best practices of working remotely.
- Teammates check in on each other regularly. As shutdown lifted and the weather warmed some folks met outside, for work discussions or just to check in on each other.
- The HR team cleared their mid-day schedules for “open door hours” to be available for people to talk, to talk about anything. We looked out for each other.
As we shifted to working from home, E-gineering wanted to make sure we all had what we needed to do that well. Nearly everyone took home a monitor. Some took home their desk chairs. Others borrowed folding tables to make a home work station. When restrictions lifted, E-gineering assured everyone that there were no requirement to come back into the office if they were not comfortable with that. Our clients saw that E-gineers still provided the same high quality while working remotely.
In consulting, we’re used to carrying a certain number of people “on the bench”, those that are not assigned to a current project, or have just rolled off of a project. After all, when Business Development lands a new project we need consultants available to work on these new projects. But to be on the bench in March when the state shutdown… anxiety must have heightened! E-g assured our folks on the bench that we wouldn’t let them go.
Way early, when the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) was first made public, E-gineering leadership got busy. Many long days and late nights of hard work enabled E-g’s application to go in as soon as the window opened. Yes, there’s no doubt that the PPP helped financially, but even without it, E-g would have kept our bench as long as they possibly could have. Leadership dialogued daily as events unfolded.
In time, some projects were scaled back by our clients, and some were closed quickly and indefinitely, but overall, we’ve been greatly blessed. New clients – seemingly “out of nowhere” – have engaged with us, some additional work has come about, and a couple of new clients found us based on referrals from former clients. All told, we’ve actually hired several people and brought in additional contractors during this season. As I said, we’ve been greatly blessed.
I have to admit that this has gone on longer than I first thought. I don’t know what I thought back then. And while, because of the continuation, I’ve adjusted and adapted, some effects have only accumulated. I think we’ve all learned a little more about self-care, and more about caring for others in our rushed world, about extending grace and receiving grace. These, I hope, continue.
COVID-19 has created opportunities for us to innovate and get creative with a lot of things, especially the way we communicate. Whether you’re an introvert, an extrovert, or somewhere in the middle, human connection is essential to everyone’s mental health. Thankfully, we have access to technology that enables us to connect with one another while staying safely apart.
Sometime after we closed our office in March, we introduced “Virtual Donut” into our company Slack workspace. Donut is a tool that connects people in a specific channel at the start of each week and makes social connections fun and even slightly competitive through selfie contests — which is great for us! If you know E-gineering, then you know that friendly competition is a great way to motivate us.
One of the things we miss the most about how things were pre-COVID is how easy and carefree it was to connect with co-workers. That’s why these “virtual coffee” meetings are so important to our company culture. They provide a prompt to connect with someone and carve thirty minutes out of your week to check in with someone or even meet someone new! Our interns this summer utilized the virtual coffee channel to network and connect with E-gineers they almost definitely wouldn’t have interacted with otherwise.
Being intentional about connecting with one another is more important now than it has ever been before, since most of us can’t simply swing by someone’s desk and start up a conversation. At E-gineering, we place a high value on relationships with people. One of our top priorities is to care for and serve people well, clients and employees alike. Virtual coffee meetings are a simple way for us to connect with one another and maintain relationships while we wait for the day we can gather safely and responsibly again.
Whether you do it on your own or through a tool such as Donut, intentionally connecting with others is especially important now. We have access to so many modes of communication; meeting up with someone for virtual coffee is just an invitation away.
What a gift it is that Rebecca and Jen shoulder our HR efforts here at E-g. They are the centerpiece to all the ways that E-g cares for our folks and their families.
What are some ways that your company has worked to care for your business’ mental health?