Field Report: how false memory & confirmation bias can hurt employee wellbeing.

VP of IT uses to correct a false impression and an episode of confirmation bias re: the risk of isolation for a team member.

In psychology a memory bias is a cognitive bias that either enhances or impairs the recall of a memory or that alters the content of a reported memory.

How MyMeeting info was used:
During a first review of data visualisations (in which we also calibrate our algorithm to match company norms re: meetings frequency) we flagged that the VP of IT had one team member (John*) at risk of isolation (defined as not having met with any peers or supervisors for 7 days straight).

The VP challenged the data and said he distinctly remembers John being on the virtual company happy hour 3 weeks ago.

The calendar of the event supported this notion, because it showed John had accepted the happy hour invite.

However after checking the meeting dashboard for the past 3 weeks (inc. a deep dive in meeting attendance data for that event) the VP could see that John had not joined.

How this awareness drove behaviour change:
It seems this might have been a case of an initial false memory (I remember seeing John) further being supported by a confirmation bias (See, John accepted the invite) that John wasn’t at risk being isolated from contact.

Firstly, the VP immediately pinged John’s team manager, to set up a 1:1 that day and see why John has been out of touch for 3 weeks.

Secondly, HR requested we give them with a company-wide alert that notifies HR if a person misses 2 scheduled and accepted meetings in a row.

HR can now alert all team managers to investigate this issue within 24hrs.

Meetings are scheduled, accepted, cancelled and rescheduled all the time. This can lead us to lose track if we actually met with a specific person or not (in particular if these are large group meetings).

Just because we recall something with a lot of confidence, detail and emotion, doesn’t mean it actually happened that way. Especially when dealing with the well-being of our team members.

Being able to align calendars, logged meeting data and personal assumptions increases our effectiveness as team leaders, because we have a more complete picture of what is and how to act on that reality.

*The names have been changed to protect the privacy of the people involved

The reason Video calls drain your energy

Video chat is helping us stay employed and connected. But what makes it so tiring – and how can we reduce ‘Video fatigue’?

Your screen freezes. There’s a weird echo. A dozen heads stare at you. There are the work huddles, the one-on-one meetings and then, once you’re done for the day, the hangouts with friends and family.

Since the Covid-19 pandemic hit, we’re on video calls more than ever before – and many are finding it exhausting.

But what, exactly, is tiring us out? BBC Worklife spoke to Gianpiero Petriglieri, an associate professor at Insead, who explores sustainable learning and development in the workplace, and Marissa Shuffler, an associate professor at Clemson University, who studies workplace wellbeing and teamwork effectiveness, to hear their views.

Is video chat harder? What’s different compared to face-to-face communication?

Being on a video call requires more focus than a face-to-face chat, says Petriglieri. Video chats mean we need to work harder to process non-verbal cues like facial expressions, the tone and pitch of the voice, and body language; paying more attention to these consumes a lot of energy. “Our minds are together when our bodies feel we’re not. That dissonance, which causes people to have conflicting feelings, is exhausting. You cannot relax into the conversation naturally,” he says.

Delays on phone or conferencing systems of 1.2 seconds made people perceive the responder as less friendly or focused

Silence is another challenge, he adds. “Silence creates a natural rhythm in a real-life conversation. However, when it happens in a video call, you became anxious about the technology.” It also makes people uncomfortable. One 2014 study by German academics showed that delays on phone or conferencing systems shaped our views of people negatively: even delays of 1.2 seconds made people perceive the responder as less friendly or focused.

An added factor, says Shuffler, is that if we are physically on camera, we are very aware of being watched. “When you’re on a video conference, you know everybody’s looking at you; you are on stage, so there comes the social pressure and feeling like you need to perform. Being performative is nerve-wracking and more stressful.” It’s also very hard for people not to look at their own face if they can see it on screen, or not to be conscious of how they behave in front of the camera.

How are the current circumstances contributing?

Yet if video chats come with extra stressors, our Zoom fatigue can’t be attributed solely to that. Our current circumstances – whether lockdown, quarantine, working from home or otherwise – are also feeding in.

Petriglieri believes that fact we feel forced into these calls may be a contributory factor. “The video call is our reminder of the people we have lost temporarily. It is the distress that every time you see someone online, such as your colleagues, that reminds you we should really be in the workplace together,” he says. “What I’m finding is, we’re all exhausted; It doesn’t matter whether they are introverts or extroverts. We are experiencing the same disruption of the familiar context during the pandemic.”

Then there’s the fact that aspects of our lives that used to be separate – work, friends, family – are all now happening in the same space. The self-complexity theory posits that individuals have multiple aspects – context-dependent social roles, relationships, activities and goals – and we find the variety healthy, says Petriglieri. When these aspects are reduced, we become more vulnerable to negative feelings.

Imagine if you go to a bar, and in the same bar you talk with your professors, meet your parents or date someone, isn’t it weird? That’s what we’re doing now – Gianpiero Petriglieri

“Most of our social roles happen in different places, but now the context has collapsed,” says Petriglieri. “Imagine if you go to a bar, and in the same bar you talk with your professors, meet your parents or date someone, isn’t it weird? That’s what we’re doing now… We are confined in our own space, in the context of a very anxiety-provoking crisis, and our only space for interaction is a computer window.”

Shuffler says a lack of downtime after we’ve fulfilled work and family commitments may be another factor in our tiredness, while some of us may be putting higher expectations on ourselves due to worries over the economy, furloughs and job losses. “There’s also that heightened sense of ‘I need to be performing at my top level in a situation’… Some of us are kind of over-performing to secure our jobs.”

But when I’m Zooming my friends, for example, shouldn’t that relax me?

Lots of us are doing big group chats for the first time, whether it’s cooking and eating a virtual Easter dinner, attending a university catch-up or holding a birthday party for a friend. If the call is meant to be fun, why might it feel tiring?

Part of it, says Shuffler, is whether you’re joining in because you want to or because you feel you ought to – like a virtual happy hour with colleagues from work. If you see it as an obligation, that means more time that you’re ‘on’ as opposed to getting a break. A proper chat with friends will feel more social and there will be less ‘Zoom fatigue’ from conversations where you’ve had a chance to be yourself.

It doesn’t matter whether you call it a virtual happy hour, it’s a meeting, because mostly we are used to using these tools for work – Gianpiero Petriglieri

Big group calls can feel particularly performative, Petriglieri warns. People like watching television because you can allow your mind to wander – but a large video call “is like you’re watching television and television is watching you”. Large group chats can also feel depersonalising, he adds, because your power as an individual is diminished. And despite the branding, it may not feel like leisure time. “It doesn’t matter whether you call it a virtual happy hour, it’s a meeting, because mostly we are used to using these tools for work.”

So how can we alleviate Zoom fatigue? 

Both experts suggest limiting video calls to those that are necessary. Turning on the camera should be optional and in general there should be more understanding that cameras do not always have to be on throughout each meeting. Having your screen off to the side, instead of straight ahead, could also help your concentration, particularly in group meetings, says Petriglieri. It makes you feel like you’re in an adjoining room, so may be less tiring.

In some cases it’s worth considering if video chats are really the most efficient option. When it comes to work, Shuffler suggests shared files with clear notes can be a better option that avoids information overload. She also suggests taking time during meetings to catch up before diving into business. “Spend some time to actually check into people’s wellbeing,” she urges. “It’s a way to reconnect us with the world, and to maintain trust and reduce fatigue and concern.”

Building transition periods in between video meetings can also help refresh us – try stretching, having a drink or doing a bit of exercise, our experts say. Boundaries and transitions are important; we need to create buffers which allow us to put one identity aside and then go to another as we move between work and private personas.

And maybe, says Petriglieri, if you want to reach out, go old-school. “Write a letter to someone instead of meeting them on Zoom. Tell them you really care about them.”

This post was originally posted on BBC.

Being late for meetings reveals more than we think

One of the metrics that tracks is attendance quality. How many people are late for meetings and how many leave early.

In this blog post we want to dive deeper into this metric, because there’s more to unpack around unpunctuality, from the point of employee wellbeing, besides our annoyance with it.

Several studies around lateness have been done over the years. And they reveal a more complex picture that managers might not be aware off.

Digging into the psychology of lateness reveals interesting possibilities about why people are late. It can indicate poor self-control, procrastination or the failure to set realistic goals. It can also be a sign of lack of focus or deeper-seated problems such as stress and anxiety.

Diana DeLonzer, the author of Never Be Late, conducted a study at San Francisco State University involving chronic lateness and found that of the two-hundred and twenty-five people in the study, 17% were chronically late.

The 17% chronically late, had trouble with self-control (were more prone to habits like overeating, drinking too much, gambling and impulse shopping), showed an affinity for thrill-seeking and displayed ADD-like symptoms like restlessness, trouble focusing and attention issues.

Secondly Pauline Wallin a psychologist in Camp Hill, PA, has found that people who are chronically late often wrestle with anxiety, distraction, ambivalence, or other internal psychological states.

Habitual lateness may be part of that very hard to deal with phenomenon of passive aggression where someone is resistant, often in a way that is hard to put your finger on, that undermines progress and makes people feel uncomfortable because the aggression is there but unspoken.

While sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, as a manager who cares about team wellbeing (especially during forced work from home situations), keeping track of attendance is less about being a headmaster, and more about spotting potential deeper issues based on a behavioural signal.

Employees clock in more downtime when working from home

Since stay-at-home and shutdown orders were enforced amid the coronavirus fallout, hundreds of businesses in the U.S. have turned to working from home to reduce exposure. But as the remote workforce expands, employers and employees have been faced with a new set of challenges — one of them being more downtime.

Remote employees average two hours of downtime per day, which is 20 minutes more per day than on-site employees, according to a new Paychex study, where 1,000 remote and on-site employees were surveyed about their daily downtime at work.

The transition to remote work has been beneficial to some workers, who have reported increased productivity due to fewer in-office distractions. When asked about the biggest reasons they decided to work remotely, 79% of remote workers responded with increased productivity and better focus, according to a study by Owl Labs, a video conferencing technology company.A breakthrough in mental health benefitsTelehealth substance abuse disorder treatment is a benefit your employees will value.SPONSOR CONTENT FROM

But other employees may be negatively affected due to supervisors being unable to physically monitor downtime, says Joey Morris, a project manager at Paychex.

“The two most popular reasons for downtime were that employees completed work too quickly and that the availability of work was inconsistent,” Morris says. “Interestingly, nearly one in three employees said they chose to make downtime during their workday, making this the third most popular reason.”

The study found three hours of down time a day was considered too much, leading to boredom and other negative effects. Workers are more likely to leave a job due to excessive downtime than to be terminated for it, Morris says.

“This kind of excessive downtime was related to lower rates of job satisfaction, salary satisfaction, and employee retention,” he says. “More than one in 10 employees said too much downtime was responsible for leaving or being let go from a position.”

However, downtime can have some benefits, too. Thirty one percent of employees said they chose to make downtime during the day, and 23% said their work wasn’t urgent. Thirteen percent said they could ask for more work, but chose not to.

Taking breaks at work is important to make employees feel more engaged and productive, according to a survey from Tork, as North American workers who take a lunch break every day scored higher on a wide range of engagement metrics, including job satisfaction, efficiency, and likelihood to recommend their company to others.

The top ways in which employees spend their downtime at work are browsing the internet, socializing with co-workers, texting or messaging, eating food and browsing social media, according to the Paychex study.

While employers may want to reduce downtime and increase employee efficiency, results from the study indicate it is important to maintain a balance, Morris says. Having too little downtime was nearly as bad for employee satisfaction as having too much.

“Efficient management of employee time is not only important to a business’ bottom line, but it is also important to employee satisfaction,” he says. ”Employees want to feel engaged when they come to work and there is an understanding that stagnation in any position can negatively influence one’s career trajectory.”

This article first appeared on benefitnews

Meeting Info App: what is it? what does it do? where might it go?

In the past weeks we’ve been listening to out network about the impact of woking remotely.

An issue that kept coming up was that team managers and HR felt they had reduced visibility on how this Work from Home switch impacted employees.

While many used survey tools to get some kind of a pulse, from conversations another theme started to emerge:

The default action to combat reduced visibility, was to increase meeting frequency, which, they all agreed, was well intentioned but not healthy in the long run.

So that lead us to explore a question that piqued our interest: If online meetings are increasing, how can meeting (log) data help increase visibility re: team and individual wellbeing?

So we triaged three key issues to increase visibility for:

  • Are our remote teams collaborating enough (or too much)?
  • What is the level of connectedness within and between teams?
  • Who is showing possible signs of isolation or lower wellbeing in general?

And that is what the MVP of will do for both individual team manager and HR/C-Suite leaders.

To get started two steps are required:

  1. Sign up to receive your personalised dashboard.
  2. Ask your IT Admin (managing licences of video platforms used internally) to approve Meeting Info App.

Once that is done, you’ll get historic and new insights on how your team(s) deal with the current work-situation. Based on non-verbal meeting log data.

Want to see what the situation is like for your team? Sign up for a free trial.

Now, I’d like to share how we view the role of data.

Us humans hate uncertainty and helplessness, so it comes as no surprise that many analytics tools focus on two key features:

  • Having/creating huge data sets, to transfer onto users a sense of certainty, by (over)sharing fact after fact after fact.
  • Providing “actionable nudges or prompts” to help you do something with those massive data sets.

We see the value of data in clarification, not instruction.

However tempting it seems to look at data for answers, its superpower lies in being an aid, mirror or reality check to our thought process.

Most of us know what we need to do. Why we don’t do it, often has little to do with knowledge and more with not being able to see the issue for what it is.

And that is how Meeting Info helps.

Reflecting back what is actually happening.

Based on internal meeting behaviour.

Then we trust that you can figure out if and how to best approach the situation. Because you get the team dynamic & relationships. You know your organisation’s culture and guidelines. You don’t need outside handholding.

That is what the current version will do. Help clarify three issues:

  • Are our remote teams collaborating enough (or too much)?
  • What is the level of connectedness within and between teams?
  • Who is showing possible signs of isolation or lower wellbeing in general?

Do these issues concern you as well? See what your data reflects, by signing up for a free trial.

Look ahead: more internal meetings + adding external meetings.

Now, Meeting Info is focused on the clear and present urgency for more insight on how people are adjusting to working with their teammates remotely.

The next versions will deepen this issue and also explore new issues as companies move offline again and more business processes get re-activated.

For a sense of direction, Mary Meeker recently released a new trends report surrounding Covid-19. In it she highlights concerns that organisations have regarding large scale remote working and beyond:

  • Ensure creativity is captured and productivity is maintained (figuring out ways to better capture maker schedule vs manager schedule)
  • Determine which teams are optimized by working together in-person all the time / some of the time / rarely
  • Maintain engagement and culture(s), recruit / train / develop / retain people, and manage human resources
  • Think about recruiting if physical proximity to headquarters / office is less relevant

These are some of the themes that we aim to address in next, based on your priorities as organisations start to ramp up.

We are excited to be of service and look forward to you joining us on this journey as you use

Why Video Chats Are Wearing Us Out

In the early days of the pandemic, as shelter-in-place orders became the norm and people rushed to find ways of staying connected, it became clear that technology would save us. We wouldn’t have to be alone while staying at home, and this was good news.

While remaining grateful for the incredible way in which our screens have offered us up to each other, fast forward five weeks and many of us are finding ourselves exhausted from the never-ending video calls and virtual experiences.

It’s not that we don’t want the option of connecting in digital spaces, it’s just that we are finding them emotionally and energetically costly. We can’t quite name why, but they seem to take more energy than the face-to-face encounters we are used to. Oddly, in many cases, they actually leave us feeling lonely.

Given the novelty of our current reality, there’s no research to look to for specifically why this is the case right now, even though we know there is a precedent for this in online vs. embodied connectivity.

We can, however, consider some basic ideas in order to help us evaluate how to best care for our selves and our relationships in this time of primarily digital connection.

While humans are neurodivergent in terms of sociability and interpersonal preferences, we are all sensual beings. When we encounter each other, we take in information from many senses. Certain people and their places have specific smells. Often, physical touch in one form or another is involved in an encounter. In essence, the mere physical presence of another has the power of stirring feelings and awakening all of our senses.

When we connect via screens, much of this is lost. Limited to only audio and visual sensory data, it’s easy for us to feel a sense of being “alone together.”

This term, coined by Sherry Turkle, deftly describes the odd sense of anti-presence that we are talking about right now. Whether this is related to the limited context that each party sees of the other, or the simple lack of full sensory data, we cannot know.

Another dynamic that plagues video-based connection is the constant presence of one’s own image as they interact with others. Spontaneous and authentic communication is benefitted by the ability to be fully in the moment without the kind of acute self-awareness that comes with watching oneself during a conversation. For anyone with even a mild version of an inner critic, this can have a massive impact on how one is, or is not, in the present moment of a conversation in an authentic and available way. There’s a certain kind of cognitive dissonance here. We are on the call to connect with another but our ambient awareness of ourself redirects our attention.

Finally, the odd new way in which time moves is likely a contributor to our feelings of exhaustion and overwhelm in regards to interpersonal interaction. When we were moving about in the world, every request for a get together was made with an awareness that peoples’ calendars were full. Very likely we felt as though we had greater agency and options in responding to peoples’ requests of us.

Now that all of our connections are done from home, I find people responding in primarily one of two ways to interpersonal offerings. One response is fearguilt, exhaustion, or resentment which comes from feeling as though there is no “excuse” for saying no to a gathering or event since everyone knows we’re all home and “available.” The second is an automatic “yes” to as many offerings as possible to distract from the realities of our present situation.

It’s crucial for us to pace ourselves in this time of physical distancing. To be healthy in our relationships with our selves and with others, we must consider what is and isn’t working in this new economy. The following suggestions offer ways to enhance our digital connections and strengthen our intentionality in how we relate to self and others in this time of physical isolation.

1. Tend to your self. 

Just as it’s important to don our own oxygen mask before helping others with theirs, it’s important to ask ourselves, “Will my emotional and energetic cup be filled or depleted by video conversations today?”

To stay healthy, we must take our own internal-well-being “temperature” before we simply say “yes” to every opportunity to connect. We must also realize that our needs and desires for connection in digital spaces may change from day to day or, even, from hour to hour.

If we are feeling overwhelmed, emotionally dysregulated, or exhausted, it may be best to decline an online connection or two in order to preference some intentional connection with our own selves. We can only pour out to others from a full cup and filling our emotional reserves takes intentional effort.

2. Consider covering the image of your self on the screen.

There is a certain level of hyper-attuned self-awareness that happens when we observe physical images of ourselves. When we are experiencing this in real time during conversations, we are taken out of the moment and a part of our brain gets active evaluating how we are presenting our selves. This makes for costly conversations.

My son suggested I cover the square containing my image with a sticky note when I commented on this dynamic recently. This single action has saved me in the past week. I encourage you to give this a whirl in platforms where you can’t hide your image. In platforms that you can, give that a try.

3. Make intentional choices about what platforms you use to communicate within and who you choose to engage in them.

As we all know, the rise in subscriptions to services like Zoom and apps like Marco Polo have been staggering of late. It is incredible that we have these tools to help us stay connected. It is also important to think intentionally about which platforms are least taxing with each conversation we hope to have.

Be sensitive to dynamics like lag or pixelated images as these make our conversations more draining. Ask others which platforms they prefer and respect their wishes if and when you can. If you are coordinating with people with less technological savvy than you, provide plenty of time to help orient them before the time of contact.

4. Consider the phone some of the time.

In this time of so many video connections, the limited focus of a phone call may actually enhance authenticity and felt/lived connection. Setting the stage for a call can enhance this even more. Brew a fragrant cup of tea and find a window to gaze out of. Resist the urge to multi-task while on the phone and bring yourself fully to the call. Notice how this feels in relation to video calls and connections.

5. Get creative about ways of increasing the authenticity and spontaneity of digital encounters.

Privilege experiences where you are sharing space with others but possibly not just sitting statically and looking at each other. I participate in a weekly movement experience with 50 other people.

We all move in our own physical spaces, however we’d like, to the same music. While we can see the grid containing all the images of others, no one is focused there. It is surprisingly connecting and powerful. Similar spaces exist for art-making and meditation and, I’m sure, a million other activities. Seek these out or create these for your community.

Let’s all keep connecting as we can, tending to the ways in which we do so. We’re in this together and we’ll get through this together. Let’s do so with care.

This article first appeared on Psychology Today

Infographic: HR suffers people data gap during coronavirus crisis

As the world grapples with the threat of coronavirus, organisations are looking to their HR function to support business critical decisions around jobs and continuity planning. HR directors and managers in particular are being asked critical questions by their leadership teams, but do they actually have the data and tools to answer them?

Industry analysts Fosway Group recently conducted a study of HR professionals that has revealed that many are relying on outdated technology and data sets to support crucial strategic decisions at this time.

“As the Covid-19 crisis has unfolded, the pressure on HR teams has intensified dramatically. Suddenly they have been asked for all sorts of answers and data to support strategic decisions that for many organisations is frankly about keeping the lights on, ” explained David Wilson, CEO of Fosway Group.

“What is not helping is that, for the majority, their HR systems are not actually designed to record or analyse the data necessary to provide business critical answers.

There is enormous reliance on managers and spreadsheets to support new daily reporting, and only a minority have the tools to model the future impact of Covid-19 on their workforce and ongoing business operations,” he added.

Some of the key findings include:

  • Only one in four HR professionals said it was easy to report on key statistics including how many people are self-isolating, working remotely or are hospitalised.
  • Only 30% of HR leaders believe their team has the skills to analyse and predict the impact of COVID-19 on their organisation.
  • Just 13% have found it easy to do the analysis.

The full results of the research can be seen in the infographic below.

Fosway Group infographic

This article first appeared on HRzone

What does enforced home working mean for employee wellbeing?

As coronavirus sweeps the UK we will continue to see increasing numbers of people choosing or being forced to leave their usual office environment and work at home. We have already seen some major companies, such as Google, tell their staff to work from home.

While some employees might be pleased at such a turn of events, what does this really mean for wellbeing and morale? 

Much of the evidence about home working points to positive benefits, including improved work-life balance and increases in job satisfaction and productivity. However, it is important to note that such evidence is based primarily on studies of individuals who have chosen to work at home. And in many cases they will have collaborated with their employer to ensure this arrangement is effective for both parties.

Imagine now the situation where many thousands of individuals are forced to work from home, with little time to consider any adjustments that might be necessary to make this work. There are a number of potential pitfalls of this situation in relation to an employee’s morale. 

The most obvious aspect is that of social support or interaction. While some employees might welcome the increased solitude, we know that some home workers suffer from feelings of isolation or loneliness that can negatively affect their mental health.

The sudden removal of individuals from their work-based (and indeed other) social circles could have a significantly negative effect on the welfare of some. 

So maintaining communication networks while working remotely is important for the management of work tasks, but let’s also not forget that interpersonal interaction and sense of community is also important.

Employers need to think about how they can maintain levels of social support while their workforce is home-based – through using collaboration technologies perhaps, enterprise social media, regular online meetings or even just the occasional phone call.

Line managers should be encouraged to ensure employees continue to receive the same level of support and recognition they would in the workplace. 

Second, let us not presume working at home will necessarily improve work-life balance. In fact, a failure to properly segment work and family or home life can increase feelings of work-life conflict and actually lead to reduced work satisfaction.

Home-based employees need to feel they can still switch off at the end of the day and take breaks – this can be more difficult when the lines between home and work become blurred.  This might be complicated further if other family are also at home, which is likely in the upcoming few weeks.

Those who have tried to work at home with young children – or indeed with any caring responsibility – will appreciate how stressful this can be. It is the job of HR to advise and support individuals in developing an approach that works for them, such as allocating particular physical spaces (an office) as work and switching off once the door of that room is closed, or by sticking to strict working hours. 

Employers need to set expectations of what is expected for employees working at home including working hours and what employees are expected to deliver.

However, it is also important that businesses realise some homeworkers might not only be under considerable stress because of this change in environment, but might also be unable to work as productively during this period depending on their home circumstances. 

Third, the move to home working under usual circumstances should include a series of checks that a suitable working environment is available and all required equipment, including technology, is available.  This is more difficult when the move is sudden.

Employers should be taking steps now to make sure their workforce has the necessary tools to work at home effectively, is trained in how to use this and can access technical support if needed.

In addition, while businesses typically spend a lot of effort on ergonomic assessment in the workplace, this is rarely carried out for home workers. It is impractical to undertake such an endeavour at short notice for the whole workforce, but clear advice about working at home safely and healthily should be available. 

Employers need to create a balance between maintaining business as usual in relation to those factors that typically drive wellbeing, while also recognising that the fact things are actually far from normal might have a negative impact on employees’ productivity and mental health.

HR has a key role to play in developing advice and guidance and also working with line managers to ensure they are providing sufficient support to their team members. 

Emma Parry is professor of HR management and head of the Changing World of Work Group at Cranfield School of Management

This article first appeared on

Going 100% online increases odds of Meeting Recovery Syndrome

Admittedly a weird label for an issue most of us have experienced first hand.

Every week, employees spend about six hours in meetings, while the average manager meets for a staggering 23 hours.

The result is not only hundreds of billions of wasted dollars, but an exacerbation of what organisational psychologists call:

“meeting recovery syndrome”

This is the time we spent cooling off and regaining focus after a (useless) meeting.

When we sit through an ineffective meeting our focus is essentially being drained away, taking on average 45 mins to recover after a poor meeting.

Meetings sap stamina, productivity and employee wellbeing if they last too long, fail to engage or turn into one-sided lectures.

So besides being a nice pub quiz fact, why is this important?

Because since going full online due to the Virus crisis, many people are seeing an increase in communication.

From to chat, email and yes, from online meetings.

So as managers, team leader, HR it is important to know how well or poorly this increased communication is being conducted and handled.

So you have a roadmap to better serve your teams and organisations as they get used to 100% online working and meeting.

Interested in learning how to track markers that can trigger MRS and its adverse impact?

Sign up here to trial to Analyse meeting experiences, so you can to uncover how they impact team productivity and wellbeing.

Managing Employee Experience in a Pandemic

Focusing on employee experience is key to a quick recovery post-COVID-19.

By Dr. Anna Tavis

What a difference a week can make in the midst of a pandemic. In a matter of days, companies went from response planning to shutting down facilities and sending employees to work from home. Targeting to “lower the curve” of the highly contagious disease, companies, cities, states, and even nations went into near complete shutdown.

By some estimates, the overall loss of productivity in the U.S. in just the first month of the pandemic amounted to about 64 percent. It is becoming increasingly clear that the overall personal and economic toll of the pandemic on the working people around the world will be unprecedented and will by far exceed the financial crisis of 2008.

Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs has been invoked amply since the epidemic has begun to spread. For many companies, ensuring the safety of their employees came first, followed by making technology tools available.

Technology turned out to be the easier part. In the next step, managers’ attention needs to be directed to a different set of moments that matter: employee experience (EX) at the time of a pandemic.

For many, the required change of behavior to “social distancing” became a euphemism for “physical and social isolation,” representing the true psychological stress test to the collaborative cultures companies worked so hard to build.

The compounded threat of the contagious disease, the impact on employees’ families, job security, and the disruption to the invisible social fabric of life in general may leave lasting scars and impede eventual recovery after the crisis.

The focus on EX requires paying attention to all levels of employee needs up and down the Maslow hierarchy. It requires addressing the basic needs for safety and retaining jobs as much as encouraging professional growth through the time of the crisis, whether working from home or in the office.

Empathy, transparency and trust rise up on the priority list for every manager. With most teams and organizations working remotely, here are a few proven principles for successfully managing people through the crises:

  • Empathy comes first. Make time to listen. Know employees’ concerns and leave time for an informal connection.

  • Be transparent on performance goals and outcomes. Set up time for check ins. Provide feedback.

  • Trust that projects would be done. Gauge when to step in and help and when to get out of the way.

  • Communicate, communicate, communicate. Set up a schedule of communication with your team that is consistent, regular, and inclusive.

It is easy to dismiss the importance of focusing on EX in a time of national crisis. But hard lessons learned from the earlier natural disasters and recessions of national magnitude show that investment in employees provides the highest returns when recovery is around the corner.

It is the loyalty, commitment, and dedication of the employees that will bring your businesses back and ensure ongoing success. Chart your recovery strategy now, invest in EX.

Dr. Anna Tavis is academic director of the human capital management program and a clinical associate professor at the NYU School of Professional Studies Division of Programs in Business.

This article first appeared on HRO Today