Now that we are working as a 100% remote team, being away from each other daily has been the hardest adjustment for us.
As Leadership at Career Contacts, Andrea and I love planning impromptu ways to ensure the teams know we care. Under normal circumstances, that might mean team lunches or afternoon bubble tea runs (we clearly show our love through our stomachs).
Now that we can’t do these things, we’ve come up with new ways to show our team some love. We also took inspiration from what other organizations are doing and are offering and wanted to share!
Before we begin, we must recognize and acknowledge that this is a really hard time for companies financially so big expensive gestures are not ideal.
Here are some modest ways to show appreciation, while still maintaining a sense of fiscal responsibility.
1. Don’t stop celebrating birthdays
Let your remote teams know you’ve remembered by planning a surprise virtual birthday party. Everyone can show up whatever video platform you’re using with a sign telling them why they are appreciated.
The cost is low, the time to plan is light and most importantly, the impact is high.
2. Remind them that you care
Once a week, I try to make sure that I text my external remote team that I don’t see everyday with a message reminding them that I am thinking of them, missing them, and appreciating them.
It’s a small gesture to let them know that while I know things are hard, they are our number one priority within the Career Contacts family.
3. Put a twist on old ways of showing appreciation
For those with a little bit of a budget constraint, we have planned a team lunch. Each member will order their favorite lunch and Andrea and I will have it delivered to their homes (no contact, social distancing protocols intact). This way, we can all have lunch together as a team and bring back the “pre-COVID” feeling.
NO BUDGET? NO PROBLEM!
To modify this idea, simply ask your remote teams to grab their own lunches from home and join you for lunch together online. Spend the time asking everyone how they are doing, chat about new shows and podcasts; anything but work!
4. Have fun
We know there are a lot of end of week happy hours and so many creative ways to bond. One thing we love doing is hopping onto video chatting apps (like Houseparty) and having some fun. It’s a really fun app that allows you to play games, and get creative with how you connect. Everyone brings their favorite 5pm drink, and it’s a blast seeing everyone’s personalities through a drink. Martinis, Cokes, hot water and lemon – we’ve seen it all!
5. Don’t forget to add real value
With most teams working 100% virtually, do you know what your remote teams’ current work scenario looks like?
Our teams were able to take home technology and supplies from the office to ensure that they had the tools they required, and each already had ideal work setups.
it’s easy to forget that home offices may not be designed for comfort and safety over a full work day.
Noisy kids and many distractions aside, many employees are now using makeshift workstations that could produce a host of physical problems ranging from muscle strains to nerve impairments.
Career Contacts has secured discount pricing with Community Therapists, a MetroVancouver provider of telehealth occupational therapy, physiotherapy and kinesiology.
Click here for details about their Workplace Health services or here to get in touch with their office to learn more.
Mention Career Contacts preferred pricing available now during the Covid-19 pandemic.
NOTE: Career Contacts does not benefit from this partnership, and is simply providing our network with a really great option to ensure their teams are feeling supported.
As always, our Human Resource Consulting team are here to support you and your teams in any way we can! Feel free to contact us today!
Now that I’ve been working from home, I’ve been taking advantage of the extra downtime by doing things I normally wouldn’t have time to do. One of the things I’ve been enjoying is listening to podcasts – it’s something I’ve always wanted to get into but never get around to.
Whether it’s educational podcasts, crime/mystery podcasts (my personal favourite category!), or lifestyle podcasts, there’s something for every mood I’m in. Below are the five podcasts that are currently on my Spotify rotation:
Optimal Finance Daily
I’ve always felt finance was a daunting subject, so I kept putting off learning about. But now that I’m stuck at home 24 hours a day, there’s no excuse for me to procrastinate. This podcast is great because each episode is about 10 minutes long and gives very digestible and accessible information. Topics range from “Should I buy or rent my home” to “Preparing for financial emergencies or unexpected expenses.” They put out a new episode daily, so there is always something new to learn about!
The Savvy Psychologist’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Mental Health (@quickdirtytips)
This is an all-time favourite podcast of mine because it applies psychology to all areas of life and covers a diverse range of topics. I am a bit of a psychology nerd (I majored in it in university, after all!) so I love listening to how psychology affects daily life. The episodes are highly accessible, and topics range from “How to stay calm during the coronavirus crisis” to “How to overcome your fear of driving.”
Girls Gotta Eat (@girlsgottaeatpodcast)
This is the type of podcast that is equivalent to trashy reality shows. If you like “Love is Blind” or “The Bachelor,” this is the podcast for you. This is a great podcast to have on if you are feeling lonely or isolated because the hosts make it seem like you are a part of one big slumber party. The podcast is mainly focused on love and relationships, but they tackle the topic in a very comical and relatable manner.
TED Talks Daily (@ted)
I love this podcast for when I’m not sure what to listen to, because they cover such a wide range of topics. Every episode is presented by a different speaker who specializes in a specific field. Topics can range from discussing artificial intelligence to healthy eating habits to racial tensions in America – there is truly an episode for every topic out there.
My Favorite Murder (@myfavoritemurder)
I’ve also been fascinated with crime and mystery and this podcast presents criminal cases in a light-hearted way (in fact, the podcast is under the “comedy” section on Spotify!). Each episode is about 40 minutes long, so I love having this play in the background while I am cleaning or organizing.
I’m curious to know what podcasts you are currently into right now! Please share in the comments below 😊
Anxiety is essentially our brain’s response to imminent danger; for someone with an anxiety disorder that signal functions less like a motion light and more like a lighthouse. But in a time like this where that signal is firing for so many people all around the planet, knowing how to support your team members and loved ones with already present anxiety issues is more important than ever.
Here are a few key things to keep in mind when speaking to someone struggling with anxiety:
Don’t downplay their feelings…
Everyone is entitled to how they are feeling. Saying things like “don’t get worked up,” “everyone feels like this,” and “it really isn’t a big deal,” while coming from a place of helpfulness can have the opposite effect. In this global climate, suggesting that being fearful is overreacting can cause their anxiety to shift to worrying that you may not be taking the appropriate precautions which just adds more things to the list of worries on their mind. Also, it may be second nature to suggest that it is not a unique feeling and attempt to offer perspective with “at least…” statements but that can make it seem like their anxiety is not as valid as someone else’s, which can cause feelings of guilt.
…but don’t feed into them
Sometimes talking about their feelings is the only way for someone to process them but put effort into not letting the entire conversation be driven by anxiety. Offer your compassion and interest with statements like, “what could I do to help you right now” or “would you like me to offer advice or do you just need someone to listen.” Once the conversation is settling, change the subject to something more lighthearted by asking a simple question like, “I am running out of things to watch, have you watched any great shows lately that I should check out?”, something that will shift the thought process away from stress. It is important to try to end the call on a lighter topic so that they are not hanging up only to sit with their anxiety again, especially in a time where there is not much else going on to distract us.
If this person is a team member and you have only been connecting during work hours about work-related things, remember that everyone in some way or another is struggling right now and probably feeling lonely. So, showing that you care about them as a person separate from work can be impactful. Touch base by simply sending a text just to check in, share a funny Instagram post that made you think of them, or even give them a casual call to chat and show you care.
If you have a friend that you maybe haven’t connected with in a while use this time as an opportunity. How many times do we say, “I need to call this person” and then get busy with life or can never connect with them because of opposite schedules? This is the perfect time to reconnect and let someone know you are thinking about them and there for them during this challenging time.
If you are busy juggling kids, family, and work during this time and are not available for a phone check in often, still keep in touch and offer something to keep them busy like a show recommendation, a Spotify playlist you made for them, or a great eBook they could download. Small gestures and small distractions will be very helpful.
Keep your routine
Nearly everyone is functioning on a new routine right now, try to maintain elements of your old routine as much as possible. If you have a team that always eats lunch together on Monday, do a Zoom lunch. If you always go to brunch with your friend on Saturday, turn on FaceTime and chat with each other while you make brunch from home. Keeping as much normalcy as possible while also doing your part to keep yourself and everyone else safe will be beneficial for the mental health of everyone involved.
Make a new routine
If you have something in your routine that really cannot be replicated virtually, like a weekly hockey game or bar trivia, get creative and stay connected during that time anyway. The less time we have idle to feel alone, the less time we will have to ruminate on our anxieties. Have an online board game night with those old Yahoo! Games everyone used to play before iPhones, watch a YouTube drawing tutorial and find out who is the better artist, just do something new and fun together until you can actually be together again.
You may try to maintain your routines, say all the right things, and it might not feel like it is helping. You may suggest virtual activities in lieu of the physical ones and you may get turned down. Be patient and be flexible. This is a new journey for everyone, and everyone is going to approach it differently. Don’t get angry or stop reaching out to your friends who pull away. Continue to check in and be okay with no response, just continue to make it clear that you care and are here for them. If one of your team members would rather skip the virtual lunch to take a nap, let them. This whole process is exhausting for everyone, especially those with anxiety disorders.
Everyone is going to approach this differently. If they are being responsible, social distancing, and protecting themselves and others, everything else is their own prerogative. Just be understanding and judgement free.
The most important thing is to remember that everyone is struggling right now, and to pay extra care to the people we know were struggling before. The most valuable thing that any of us can do right now, aside from staying home, is to continue to foster our connections and stay united even in our physical isolation.
If you have any questions about team building and employee support, please reach out to
We are officially on week 3 of a 100% virtual Recruitment and HR team and although we miss being in the same physical space, we are also really proud to be doing our part and staying home.
As a newly formed remote team, we have been feeling really connected after creating our own process and thought we would share some of our favorite “social” events.
Virtual Happy Hour
Every Friday, we get our entire extended remote team together for a virtual happy hour. We all catch up on how we are doing, our wins, our struggles and just support one another. This isn’t about productivity, it’s about genuine connection.
We care about each other and want to make sure we are all ok. We are in this together so it’s important that we all know we can lean on one another.
It’s also a fun time to brainstorm new ideas and get our whole team together!
In smaller remote groups, we connect by video or phone, with a coffee in hand. These are generally shorter connections with only a few people, to connect on a deeper level. This might be to solve a work problem, come up with some new ways of supporting client, or simply be a way to download the day on to someone that cares.
Online Work Outs
Our team loves to snack – we might be some of the best snackers out there! We also like to stay in touch and keep active. When we were all together, we’d challenge each other to take the long walk back after lunch or encourage someone to get to the evening workout class.
Now, with so many amazing gyms and trainers putting on online class, we can log in together, and do similar works outs. We have not let go of our roots though, and always share the best snack finds; and have a new list of office snacks ready to go when we can all be together again!
In keeping with the healthy lifestyle goals, we can hold each other accountable remotely for our own personal goals. We are more than just what we do for a living, and at Career Contacts, we want everyone’s personal goals to matter just as much as their work goals. We are all about bringing your whole self to the job – fitness goals and all! Whether this means challenging each other with our health, fitness, education, side hustles or big dreams, we push each other to be the best versions of ourselves when we need it most!
Virtual Spa Days
The week that things got serious for us (about a month ago now), we had an employee spa day planned. We, as owners of the business, wanted to celebrate our teams and ensure that they never forgot how much we appreciate the work that they do, and the trust that they put in us.
Now that we are working from home, as a remote team, we are finding new ways to ensure that our teams are still focused on self care and making sure we still get to treat our teams in a small way.
Overall, what we have seen is that our teams care about staying connected more than anything else. The work continues (albeit at a slower pace) and clients trust that we are doing whatever it takes to get them what they need. We are also ensuring that our teams are taking advantage of this time to spend time on themselves, with their loved ones, and have a team of champions in their corner to do it!
This is day 11 of total social isolation for our team due to COVID-19.
That means in some of our cases, the kids or pets are home, are significant others are around, and as Recruiters, that means interviewing from home.
At Career Contacts, we have a really robust screening process, and an important piece of that is the phone interview.
Some of the perks of a strong phone interview are:
- Reducing unconscious bias
- Saving time (and therefore, money)
- Improved candidate experience (when done correctly)
- Increased quality of the hire by adding a step in the process
Now that our hiring managers are also conducting phone interviews, we’ve received a lot of questions on the do’s and don’t’s of phone interviews and thought we’d share our list!
Talk about salary
When possible, we encourage companies to be transparent with this process. If you are paying fairly, there should never be a worry of “leaving money on the table”. I also personally am a big fan giving candidates a range, and encourage them to share theirs.
Talk about culture fit / add
Instead of expecting them to know what you’re all about, take the time to share a bit about your values and what your company stands for. Tell them about your social events, your training programs, anything that highlights your company as a employer of choice.
PRO TIP: This might not be the right candidate for the role, but they might be for the next role, or be able to introduce you to your next dream candidate – it’s worth giving them a good feeling about the company.
Invite them to ask their questions
Candidates want to feel comfortable asking about what matters to them. It’s a great way to gauge what they value, and also allows them to screen themselves out early in the process if needed be. The more transparent you can be, the better!
Ask what they make now
It’s really none of your business. They are applying for a new position, likely with new roles and responsibilities, and potentially with greater expectations. Ask them what they are expecting to make in the role they are applying for instead.
Be afraid to dig deeper
If they don’t ask, it’s ok to find out what they value from companies – vacation, work from home, benefits. The offer package has a lot of room and if you know what they value, you have more to offer them when it comes time.
This also applies to things like their computer skills, communication skills or previous experience with a specific tool or program. Take the time to ask them the non negotiables up front. If you need someone with SAGE software experience, get that out there in the first round and reduce your work on the back end.
Disorganization in the hiring process reflects heavily on the company as a whole. Respect that the candidates time is equally as valuable as your own, and remember that they are interviewing you, as much as you are interviewing them.
If you are going to be late, you’re going to know an hour before hand, maybe even half an hour before – make sure you give them a heads up.
If you are cancelling all together, ensure that you are sincerely apologetic, and work with their availability to reschedule. Don’t normally work past 5 but that’s all they have available? Make it work!
The most important thing during a phone screen is to listen to your candidate, have a genuine interest in what they have to share, and be mindful of their time. Interviews are not easy for most, so walk into any interview with compassion and you’ll be pleasantly surprised what you get back in return!
Want some more tips?
Stay tuned for our next blog: Behind the Scenes of a Great Phone Interview