Fostering a Positive Work Culture During Difficult Times

Written by Jessica Ciccarello, Director of Employee Experience & Administration

Navigating the Employee Experience in the midst of a global pandemic called for creativity and intentionality. Our US team has been working remotely since the start of the pandemic and our Haiti team worked hybrid remotely until September when we reopened with COVID safety protocol in place. However, during this time, our team never stopped their hard work and dedication to our mission and core values. In order to make sure staff felt supported and connected during these unprecedented times, we made sure to be intentional in how we supported one another.

We launched a staff appreciation initiative called REACH cards. REACH stands for our core values: Resilience, Empowerment, Accountability, Collaboration, and Hope. Staff members can use these cards to recognize each other by filling out a REACH card detailing how they have seen another staff member exhibiting our core values.

We also hosted a virtual Year End celebration where we all gathered on video to celebrate accomplishments from the past year, and enjoyed food and live music by DJ Karaba. In addition to the party, some additional days off were given around the holidays. These were given to remind team members about the importance of taking time off for themselves and their families, despite outings and travel being restricted due to COVID.

Our weekly 5×15 meetings have taken on an even greater importance as they allow weekly communication between managers and staff. Whether working remotely in the US or with COVID protocols in Haiti, these meetings allow us to stay connected. Open and frequent communication has been key this past year, and we’ve done that through these meetings, leadership meetings, internal WhatsApp groups, all staff emails, and virtual staff events. 

Despite the challenging year, we never stopped working to advance our programs and operations. This year we invested in a new HRIS system that is more accessible and user friendly for all staff. Within this platform, we are able to conduct performance check-ins, professional development training, and goal setting activities. It also allows us to streamline our hiring and onboarding process, as well as celebrate employee work anniversaries and birthdays.

While the pandemic brought on many challenges, our team continued to embody resilience, empowerment, accountability, collaboration, and hope. As an organization, we saw the importance of celebrating, communicating, and growing together and will continue to keep those at the forefront of our employee experience through the pandemic and beyond.

To read Jessica’s earlier post “5 Things We Do to Build a Positive Work Culture in Haiti,” please click here.