Dana Barzilay, CHRO at Cyberbit, shared with us her insights on effectively managing people as the new normal of a COVID-19 world sets in. The key, according to Barzilay, is to listen and be sensitive: to meet employees where they are; communicate in new, creative ways, and highlight elements of people’s lives outside of work.
Hibob: How do you handle sensitive discussions at work, like differing opinions about COVID and mask-wearing?
Dana Barzilay: When it comes to COVID-19 and mask-wearing, we are following local regulations for each of our sites. In Israel, for example, it’s mandatory to use masks, although some of the employees prefer not to, so we really need to make sure everyone follows the instructions. It’s unpleasant, but we find ourselves asking people to wear masks. We changed our shared spaces to help people feel safe because if even one employee feels unsafe, we have to give them the opportunity to feel comfortable. I can tell you that it paid off because, when unfortunately one of our team members got sick, none of our team members were infected.
Hibob: How do you avoid a fatigued and emotionally exhausted workforce during these trying times?
DB: If I had to give a slogan to these times, it would be “Listen and be flexible and sensitive.” You have to be sensitive toward your employees and to understand their different needs. As an HR team, we speak with our employees on a regular basis. You’d be surprised what comes up when you pick up the phone and just listen without a specific target. Listening to what your employees are going through, and being a sounding board for them, are huge right now.
Together with our employees, we set expectations and highlight the fact that each one of them can contribute differently. We need to look at the long term and understand that this is a challenge, that it is affecting every employee differently, and that eventually, it
will be behind us. Until then, we’re trying our best.
In addition to that, we decided to take a few days off as a company to relax and spend uninterrupted time with our loved ones. And, like everyone, we are tired too, so we really hope that things improve soon.
Hibob: How do you keep communication consistent across all of your global sites?
DB: We’ve created new and different communication tools. In a Nutshell is a weekly update from a different department each week, to keep everyone aware of what is going on in the company. To engage employees, we created Spotlight, which gives one employee each month a chance to share a bit about why they chose to join the company, what makes them unique, etc. Get To Know is a platform that empowers employees to learn more about themselves, their vision, dreams, personal
life, and more.
We’ve learned that these times require more communication from us, and we’ve created a messaging team to help us fine-tune our internal communications. In those communications, we’ve started speaking more about employees’ personal lives—from sharing links to good yoga sessions, things to do with kids, and museum tours—we even opened a Spotify group so employees can share their favorite music. We’re trying many things, but in general, we are communicating as much as we can.
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Hibob: We’ve now been living in this new normal for three months. What are your priorities for your team in the three months to come?
DB: In this new normal, the greatest challenge for all of us is to improve the business situation. We are trying—within the limitations that each of us has—to push as much as we can to focus on the targets we want to achieve. They should be realistic. We are, of course, attentive to what our employees can or can’t do, but we also have to understand that this is the situation and we don’t know when it will change. People are saying that “busy is the new happy,” so I wish for our people to be as busy as they can, and focused on the mission we want to achieve.