Five ways to engage employees in meaningful conversations while living in a virtual world

If Zoom happy hours have grown stale, traditional Zoom meetings are past rotten. You and your team have likely felt the fatigue of endless video conferencing and phone calls. While encouraging employees to attend another meeting may be challenging, it’s also vital to have a dialogue about significant events in our world and how they impact each of us.

Between the ongoing pandemic and widespread fight for social and racial justice, many Americans are feeling more long-term stress. It’s never been more important for us to have thoughtful, productive conversations across our organizations. 

Here are five ways to engage employees in meaningful conversations while living in a virtual world:

  1. Make it human. Let’s face it – there’s a lot going on in the world. The pandemic and social unrest has affected each of us and our families. We must move beyond ‘hard topics,’ any fear of being ‘political,’ or we may miss out on an opportunity to empathize with employees and recognize what they are dealing with. 
  2. Bring in the experts. Enlist the help of those experienced in the field of social justice, mental health, and stress management to speak with employees on an individual or group basis. Whether it’s providing 1:1 virtual counseling sessions for employees through an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provider, or hiring a skilled mental health expert to speak for your next town hall event, employees will be grateful for the opportunity to engage and learn something new.
  3. Keep the conversation going. Use break out rooms to divide employees into small working teams and encourage free-form dialogue. It can be as easy as having employees discuss common stressors and ways they’ve found success. You can also provide online conversation platforms with prompts and moderators to keep the discussion topical and engaging. 
  4. Don’t make it mandatory. Controversial? Maybe, but making discussions regarding mental health and social unrest a requirement can quickly dissolve a safe place to discuss. Encourage employees to attend conversations without forcing them to do so. Provide any speeches or messages from experts as linked recordings later on; that way, employees can watch when they are comfortable or watch again for more information.
  5. Check in with employees. These conversations should not be one-and-done. Beyond making wellbeing check-ins a regular occurrence, be sure to remind employees of any mental health benefits available through your Employee Assistance Program. You can also help employees address feelings of worry, stress, anxiety, loneliness and more by sharing free online resources like and Well-being In The Workplace.

How are you creating and engaging employees in meaningful conversations at your credit union? Share tips below!

Molly Lehrsch

Molly Lehrsch

As Co-Owner & Partner at Cultivate, Molly is dedicated to helping credit union leaders drive measurable results through innovate people strategies. Leveraging her diverse background in corporate communications, public relations and ... Web: Details