The Covid-19 pandemic have pushed leaders to learn lessons about what their employees need, specially in times of crisis. At the World Gaming Executive Summit (WGES), our lead reporter Becky Liggero Fontana hosted a panel on “Assessing internal corporate communications under these unprecedented times,” and was joined by a panel of three talented women to see what they had to say about those lessons.
Yevgeniya Golovina, PR and Communications Officer JKR Investment Group, expressed how her company saw what was really valuable when times got tough. “When the pandemic happened, we understood that we have to communicate with our people, because as an investment company, people are our most important asset,” she said. “If you invest in people, you actually get a great return.”
The core lesson she has taken away from the pandemic is that people easily get lost when communication is cut off, and they fill the void with whatever information they can, even if it’s unreliable. JKR took measures to stop that from happening:
“What we did, is we set up an initiative called an Inspiration Breakfast, and we actually invited everybody to have breakfast together on Mondays. Just chatting together, catching up, and sharing their experiences through the week. We didn’t talk a lot about work related stuff, because by that point our CEO had a lot of trust with us, so nobody was really concerned about if we’re really doing our job. But what we wanted to do is actually support people and make sure that they feel good about themselves, that they’re positive about the situation, regardless of the negative outcomes, that they’re clear about the division of the company and that they have this assurance that everything is going to be fine and that we have their back.”
At Parimatch, Senior Project Lead Daria Isakova noted that Zoom was an important part of the early days of the pandemic, but that has evolved into something of a TV show. “Now it’s the kind of format where every manager of the main streams of the company present their results, answer questions, show their plans for the future.”
Emily Haruko Leeb, Corporate Coach and Consultant, commended both of these approaches. “They’ve created a platform for transparency,” she said. “Even when transparency is challenging, we can navigate it when everyone is involved with the same commitment. If there’s an aligned vision for the business, and all of the staff is enrolled and aligned with what that commitment is, then we all get to show up in light of what that commitment is.”
Each company took further steps to increase transparency, and help employees deal with their issues. At JKR, they allowed employees to submit anonymous questions to the CEO, removing fear of embarrassment or repercussions for those who wouldn’t feel comfortable putting a name to the question. Parimatch offered therapy sessions for those who might want it, so they could fully express their thoughts. Haruko Leeb commented that for leaders wanting to embrace these ideas, getting used to tough conversations is important:
“If you can show up, you can be resilient in the face of that discomfort, and you can cultivate the ability to have an uncomfortable conversation, that will take you so far in life, both personally and professionally.”
The group also discussed the shift to working from home. Isakova commented on the situation before the pandemic hit for Parimatch. “Before the pandemic, our people were divided into two camps,” she said. “The first one was ok with working at the office, and the other camp always asked questions, ‘Can we work from home, can we work from Bali, another country, are we permitted to have such an opportunity?’ Of course, the answer was mostly no.”
Understanding that different people have different needs, Parimatch seems to have hit a happy middle-ground. “So right now, Parimatch has no office with places for each employee. We have working places, collaboration hubs. People book a table there and come to a place where some employees can go and work not from home.”
“We’ve discovered that this new format is also working for us, and working even better,” she concluded.
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