Calling all Concordia employees! Make positive ties to other university community members with this HR initiative
Several weeks into the COVID-19 crisis, Lyne Bouret, director of financial operations and information system services, felt there was a growing need to support faculty and staff. Bouret, who is also the finance and procurement lead for Project UNITY, thought an employee call tree might help and approached Concordia’s Human Resources (HR) with the idea.
Anna Michetti, executive director of employment and organizational effectiveness in HR, agreed and saw the university’s CU Cares initiative as the perfect program to house the service. She proposed a partnership with the LIVE Centre and the University Advancement teams, who were placing wellness calls to older alumni, to offer a similar service to benefit Concordia employees.
“The current COVID-19 situation has affected our ability to connect with peers and can leave people feeling somewhat disconnected from colleagues,” says Émilie Fortin, advisor of organizational development in HR. “This initiative offers a new way to connect among employees of the Concordia community.”
Launched at the end of April, the HR service offers faculty and staff the opportunity to receive a call from a colleague. The conversations can help employees deal with feelings of isolation or provide them with a sense of community or togetherness.
In the absence of face-to-face contact, Fortin says hearing someone on the other end of the phone can be heartwarming. She also points out that the peer-to-peer calls encourage Concordians to meet new people and create positive connections.
“These calls are meant to be a warm and friendly voice during this period,” she says. “We hope volunteers and employees who sign up for the service have fun getting to know new peers.”
Training and pairing
Before they pick up the phone, volunteers go through a short preparation session that equips them with resources they may need during a call. In addition, HR provides a guide to help volunteers feel more at ease and better prepared for their conversations with colleagues.
“For example, we want them to be able to answer some of the common questions that may arise during the calls,” explains Natalie Camirand, manager of organizational development in HR. “We also go over some tips and tricks, mainly core components of verbal communication and a quick active listening refresher.”
Once completed, HR pairs a volunteer with a faculty or staff member who has registered for the service. Camirand notes that the most important criterion for the pairing is that both employees come from different departments.
From there, volunteers make their call within a week of someone signing up.
“We figured that everyone has access to a phone, but the pair could very well choose to connect via any platform when they set up their call,” Camirand adds.
‘The power and generosity of Concordians’
For Michetti, the new HR initiative is exhilarating because it extends peer-support opportunities to employees during a difficult period. She also notes that the service will be open for registrations for as long as HR sees a need for it during the pandemic.
“I’m really excited to see Concordia’s community coming together in this challenging time,” she says. “I’m also proud that this initiative falls under the broader CU Cares initiative, which is a great representation of the power and generosity of Concordians!”
Are you feeling disconnected because of the COVID-19 situation? Register now to be paired up with a colleague who will check in with you by phone.