Using Empathy, Fun to Fight Burnout, Fatigue

Dave Moore, Staff Writer

Six months into COVID-19 work life, Zoom fatigue and burnout are cropping up in the workforce, according to a panel of HR experts assembled Sept. 15 by the Dallas Regional Chamber.

The DRC’s Future of Work and Business panelists – represented by BGSF, Corgan, the Match Group, and Omnitracs – offered advice on combating those pitfalls, including valuing humanity over productivity, seeking progress rather than perfection, and… injecting as much fun as possible.

“We used Chuy’s to send margaritas and nachos to their houses,” said panelist Forrest Roman Tylutki, Talent Acquisition Leader with Omnitracs. “Man, it was a surprise. They sent it to everyone. I saw it on a Thursday night, and I was like, ‘YES!'”

Like his fellow panelists, Tylukti said his company has been much more hands-off and results-oriented since COVID-19 hit, while still employing productivity tools such as Workhuman, a platform that creates a social network-style encouragement for the workplace.

One example Tylutki cited was that his company, logistics firm Omnitracs, was opening a new office in Mexico City right when the pandemic hit North America.

“Aside from working from a remote workforce, we’ve also been ramping hiring on a global scale,” he said. “We just opened the COE (Center of Expertise) in Mexico City. We started ramping (up) here in Dallas, and it was kind of a question of, ‘Oh, man we just invested and hired, you know, over 350 people in this remote location! How do we… when they’re working from home, connect with them, and ensure that everyone globally is feeling like part of our Omnitracs family?’”

To maintain that sense of connectedness (aside from home-delivered margaritas), Omnitracs encourages its employees to take a daily one-hour mental health break, daily stand-up meetings, and employees have frequent contacts from Omnitracs CEO Ray Greer, Tylutki said.

Panelists cited several examples of how their companies worked hard to establish workplace cultures that place employee mental health and wellness above the immediate bottom line, knowing that happier employees translate to better productivity and customer/client satisfaction.

Corgan’s People Operations and Culture Leader Halima K. McWilliams said the company took special efforts to continue the sense of community, including its newly launched diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy, “Belong.”

“The intent of Belong is really to foster that sense of belonging across a culture, so that it brings about a sense of inclusion, a sense of welcoming, a sense of bringing your whole self to work.”

The program includes listening sessions with employees across 12 different offices, where employees help to define how place of belonging looks, feels, and sounds. The information collected will be shared with all employees and key themes will be put into action throughout Corgan’s offices.

From an empathy perspective, Corgan hired individuals portraying Disney characters to tell stories for the children of employees, so the guardians – who in March suddenly became teachers, cafeteria workers, and even recess supervisors – could get a break.

“It was really an opportunity for parents or grandparents… to really just take a break and do something that wasn’t related to work,” McWilliams said. “It was really an opportunity for them to just decompress.”

Beth Garvey of the BGSF staffing firm said managers keep an eye on employee key performance indicators, but pay less attention employee schedules.

“We recognize that lines between work and home blur,” she said.

Match Group’s Rachel Blanton said Match doesn’t use performance measuring software to monitor employee productivity.

“We feel the empathetic approach really works well for us,” she said.

Blanton said Match surveys employees to gauge their feelings, give them a voice, and allow the company to react to that data.

“Based on years of analyzing those surveys, we know that employee engagement has a direct impact on productivity,” she said.

When asked how recruiting, onboarding, and training in a remote environment has changed for Match, Blanton shared that the company rolled out a new applicant tracking system (ATS), Lever, to have better reporting and metrics.

“We’re hiring people we’ve never met in person before, and it’s incredibly daunting for new hires.” She noted that Match sets up its new employees for success by sending welcome swag bags, hosting virtual happy hours, and having all employees participate in the coffee and donut roulette that is a slack integration to connect colleagues virtually.

The virtual discussion of the DRC’s Future of Work: Culture and Productivity was presented by BGSF and Goldman Sachs & Co, LLC.