Engaging staff during the pandemic
Engaging staff during the pandemic
The past year has been challenging for everybody, no matter their circumstances.
We wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on how Crisis staff have been supported since the pandemic began and chat to some of our corporate partners about how they have engaged their staff and what they’ve learnt in this past year of remote working and uncertainty.
Crisis launched into action early in the pandemic, quickly adapting and creating our own wellbeing programme to support staff. This included yoga, meditation, quizzes, 'tea & talks' sessions, creative classes and online courses on wellbeing, resilience, and more.
For all the downsides of the last year, including amplified feelings of anxiety, loneliness and disconnection, we have also seen some positive changes.
Senior staff prioritising wellbeing, sending out updates and gathering feedback on a regular basis helped to make staff feel valued and create a sense of community, as frontline staff galvanised around how best Crisis could support our members more than ever during the emergency.
Remote working removed some of the barriers to connecting with senior staff and broke down location-based or siloed working, forcing us to work in a more ‘agile’ way. Many of us also collaborated with colleagues we would not previously have met. Crisis fully supported flexible working, put measures in place against meeting overload and showed tolerance around having videos on and off in a Zoom meeting, giving space to individual needs and showing trust in staff to manage their work according to their capacity.
We reached out to our internal and external contacts on an informal level, sharing our experiences and new-found expertise on adapting our working styles and supporting staff, with some partners even extending invitations to their wellbeing sessions to Crisis staff. In many ways, these new found methods of communications and collaboration have strengthened our bridges with our corporate partners, with both sides showing understanding whilst we worked to adapt to these new ways of working.
Many of the partners we spoke to adapted to remote working by focusing on new ways to keep staff feeling connected and motivated, especially as the lines between work and home life became more blurred. Successful initiatives included hosting regular wellbeing sessions like fitness or cooking, as well as webinars on mental health. Others ran film clubs, provided staff with takeaway vouchers and offered a mixture of online activities that staff could enjoy in groups or on their own.
Delivering the same level of in-person staff engagement with Crisis’ work has been a common challenge. Physical volunteering opportunities at most charities have become more limited due to social distancing restrictions and with many services now being delivered online. Remote volunteering roles are being offered on an increasing basis across the charity sector; however, this is a gradual process.
Many companies have found it more difficult to fundraise without large-scale mass participation events taking place, seeing a decline in donations for virtual fundraising activities. Meanwhile, others have reported that the lack of geographical barriers with virtual events has given rise to more staff engaging in fundraising than before the pandemic.
More broadly, lockdown has also made people want to spend more time outdoors, resulting in higher levels of staff engagement in physical fundraising activities such as running, cycling, walking and swimming. Even in the coldest depths of winter, a group of wild swimmers took a daily plunge in icy waters as part of the Crisis Icebreaker challenge, raising more than £45,000.
Going forwards, corporate partners would like to see charities offering a hybrid model of fundraising events, where staff are given the choice to either secure a place at a physical event or host their own virtual event. So far in 2021, more than 3 million steps have been walked for Crisis’ Step Forward to End Homelessness challenge, and later this year Crisis will also be hosting a new virtual fundraising challenge, 'Stay Awake'. Alongside an exciting calendar of new virtual events, Crisis will also be offering corporate partners places on events such as the Royal Parks Half Marathon and the London Marathon.
Throughout the past year, both Crisis and our corporate partners have shown adaptability and prioritised what is truly important: connection, wellbeing, a sense of common experience, and the ability to put ourselves in others’ shoes.
These are the Crisis values that have always and continue to be at the heart of everything we do, and our resolve stands firmer than ever in our mission to end homelessness for good.
Anna De Simoni and Dan Isitt are Partnerships Account Managers at Crisis. To get in touch and explore how you can play a part in making homelessness a thing of the past, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.