The critics agree. Staying Connected with Abby and Amy is a hit!
The brainchild of Family & Children’s Services Employee Engagement Manager Abby Helman and Director of Clinical Training Amy Lepper, Staying Connected with Abby and Amy was initially offered in late March 2020 when F&CS employees were engaging in remote work due to the coronavirus pandemic. As remote teams may feel disconnected, frequent check-ins are a great way to help them overcome challenges that come with remote work. Waiting for an employee to speak up may be too late. The web-series launched on Microsoft Teams for employees to check-in three times a week for 30 minutes a time.
Today, as the majority of F&CS employees remain remote, the importance of connecting with employees remains and Staying Connected with Abby and Amy has evolvied into weekly collaborations with program guests.
“As mental health workers, we are accustomed to be able to debrief and check in on each other throughout our days when we need to staff difficult cases due to the difficult nature of the stories we hear and working from home,” said Abby. “We wanted to build in layers to engagement and protection. So, Staying Connected was part of our response to those needs.”
“Each week, the topics were chosen in response to trends we were seeing in staff and culture,” Abby said. “Amy and I also attended the weekly program directors’ meetings, so we were hearing trends there about what management was hearing and the challenges they were experiencing. We tried to keep our fingers on the pulse of the agency and staff that way.”
According to a recent blog post by Microsoft, a commonly discussed pain point of remote work is that it can feel more challenging or tiring than in-person collaboration. Also, balancing household demands while working from home can be a challenge. This burden was felt most heavily by millennials as well as new entrants to the workforce, Generation Z. This may be because this group is more likely tasked with caring for younger children or sharing workspaces with roommates while managing a full-time job.
Abby and Amy said they had obtained quite a few emails and comments from clinical and non-clinical staff weekly about how the content covered was timely with where people were feeling each week, and Staying Connected with Abby and Amy helped address feelings or experiences that they were having.
Amy said that there are plans in the works to continue such conversations for staff working remotely and essential when it is safe to do so, in person.
“We plan to continue to provide the Staying Connected series once a month to ensure staff connectedness as we many of us are still working remotely,” said Amy. “We will continue to promote connection, even when we all resume in office work, via other ways such as bi-monthly lunch-and-learns topics about quarterly wellness topics, sponsored by our internal wellness committee.”