“Over the past year, our people priorities have shifted to support the new realities of our employees and their families,” Vanessa told HRD. “However, there was certainly no textbook for responding to a global pandemic, and we are still experimenting and learning as we go. Putting the challenges aside for one moment, it has been an excellent opportunity to test our business agility, especially when you consider that 90% of RBC’s 86,000 employees across the world transitioned to a remote working environment in a matter of weeks. Our technology has proved to be extremely resilient, and so have our people.
“Despite this resilience, each of us has been affected by this prolonged environment in some way, so we’ve put even greater focus on protecting and caring for mental and physical health by expanding benefits, and offering access to support, training, live events and membership to the Headspace app. We also encouraged teams to have much more frequent ‘check-ins’ to make sure colleagues weren’t struggling or feeling isolated. For example, in the British Isles, we invited all employees to attend small, informal ‘How are you doing?’ discussion groups to share their highs, lows and learnings. Providing a platform for colleagues to open up, be vulnerable and learn from others was an eye-opening experience for many and helped reassure people that they were not alone in the way they were feeling.
“For those working with young children at home, it has been a particularly challenging time and we’ve offered a wide range of support to families, such as emergency childcare leave, more flexible working arrangements, virtual learning camps for kids, and events with external partners to discuss themes around resilience and mental health.”
By acknowledging the struggles employees have gone through over the past year, leaders give them permission to be open – to bring their authentic selves to work. Mental health has seen a massive decline over the past few months, as teams report feeling overworked, underappreciated, and totally burned out. As Vanessa explained, taking the time to check in with your employees, asking them if they’re genuinely okay, makes all the difference.