What is virtual culture? To the Financeit team, a virtual culture is more than employee engagement tools and Zoom happy hours. It’s a space where each employee feels respected, heard, understood and comfortable. Everyone deserves to be treated like a valuable member of the organization and to feel included. We believe that when people feel like they belong at work, they are more productive, motivated, engaged and more likely to contribute to their fullest potential.
At Financeit, we recognized the importance of maintaining our company culture as we transitioned to a fully remote workforce in response to the pandemic. So we made it one of our top priorities. The key pillars to our success in maintaining culture include frequent communication, employee engagement and connectivity.
Our newly established Employee Engagement Committee (EEC) helped us promote remote and virtual employee engagement initiatives. Within the last year, our People Success team collaborated with EEC and set up several virtual events to encourage employee engagement and team unity. Regularly scheduled events include CEO video updates featuring members of the team, Lunch and Learns and Monthly Town Hall meetings. Other fun engagement initiatives included:
- Virtual Kitchen for employees to enjoy lunches together
- A back-to-school package for our employees with children — including items like pens, pencils, crayons, notebooks, sharpeners, highlighters, erasers and much more
- Week of Holiday Cheer including a Dress Your Pet Holiday Celebration, Holiday Lunch Trivia, Kids Holiday Fun and Virtual Employee Awards Ceremony
- A holiday party in December where all staff received a branded candle, hat and scarf from Roots
- Financeit Kids Spring Craft event that included a spring colouring book and Stepping Stone paint activity
- Many Zoom socials featuring trivia events, magic and comedy shows, as well as department focused socials with team lunches, and cooking and mixology classes.
In addition to our many engaging remote initiatives, our People Success team worked closely with the entire company to quickly adapt to the added stress of working from home while dealing with a global pandemic. We support our remote employees by providing a full range of mental and physical health benefits and resources to combat the stress of being isolated and working remotely. These resources include:
- A new Employee & Family Assistance Program (EFAP), which is a confidential benefits tool where various professionals can assist employees and their dependents with personal, family and/or work-related issues that may impact their job performance, health, mental and emotional well-being.
- Access to Consult+- a new virtual health care tool that offers 24/7 access to doctors, nurses and other health care professionals for non-urgent medical care.
- Weekly virtual yoga, meditation and fitness classes.
- Ergonomic and work from home allowance.
- Vaccine days (additional paid time off) for employees to take the Covid-19 vaccine, or to take family members for the vaccine.
- Wellness Day (additional paid time off) to assist them in taking care of their mental health and overall wellbeing during the pandemic, as well as an allowance that can be used toward the Wellness Day (like renting a car, paying for a massage, etc). We promote this initiative by encouraging everyone to share how they spend their day by posting their stories or photos in the Slack channel#wellnessdaysharing. Votes will be placed for the top 10 photos and stories and those with the 10 highest votes will get an additional day off!
Our mental and physical health initiatives have created a healthier, positive environment at Financeit. We take pride in ensuring every employee has resources at their disposal to ensure their health is cared for, even during remote working.
Of course we look forward to seeing everyone in person again in the future, but we’re happy we can keep engagement alive in this virtual world. To gain more insight into the employee engagement activities that we hosted, we interviewed Atilla Meira, our Facilities & Employee Experience Manager:
- What type of activities and events did your team create for employee engagement during COVID?
We had the pleasure of facilitating several events during COVID. We continue to emphasize the importance of activities that encourage a sense of community at Financeit. One that comes to mind is our Summer Party event held via Zoom that included a Drag Queen, DJ, and other entertaining activities. We have also held trivia nights, comedy and magic shows. These events are so delightful, and everyone seemed to have a wonderful time. We try to create an environment at Financeit where people can let loose and enjoy activities that bring us closer together. Regular virtual engagement activities have helped employees adapt to the new remote work lifestyle. It also helps minimize the negative aspects of online workplaces such as loneliness, stress and the difficulty of separating work time from personal ime.
- How did you ensure a positive onboarding experience for new hires in this virtual environment?
Continuing to support the company’s growth strategy by effectively recruiting, hiring, onboarding and training new employees has been a large area of focus for our People Success team during the pandemic. Hiring and onboarding virtually is a new process and the most effective way we try to provide a positive onboarding experience is through one-on-one video chats to bolster communication with new employees. Melodie (our Office Administrator & Executive Assistant) and I individually connect with new hires and provide them with a similar onboarding experience as if they were in the office. We make sure each new hire is equipped with a virtual onboarding experience that is informative, dynamic, and fun. Since October, Melodie has done virtual office visits for new hires, so they can see what Financeit looks like. This is another tool we use to connect new employees to the company through an interactive session. I also do check-ins and address any gaps in the onboarding experience. Working for a new job remotely can be incredibly isolating, so it’s crucial that we gain their feedback and can adjust their experience if necessary. We also pair each new hire with a ‘buddy’ to answer any questions related to the company or work. This is an attempt to make sure new hires feel included, valued and understood.
Company culture can be difficult to learn online, but here at Financeit, we try to provide virtual spaces for new hires to learn the social norms of the company. This includes regularly scheduled one-on-ones with managers, video chats, social events and instant messaging tools such as Slack. This helps new employees feel included and comfortable in their positions.
- Can you speak to some of the feedback you received for employee engagement initiatives?
I have had so many employees reach out and say they have enjoyed the events hosted by People Success. They did not expect them to be so engaging, and as a result, we have seen high participation rates. We also host fitness classes twice a week and Zumba classes periodically, which our employees have loved. These workouts are essential to helping employees stay connected with colleagues and increase physical mobility that we have lacked during the pandemic.
- In your opinion, what are the top 3 things that leaders can do to engage their teams remotely?
- Host virtual meetings and casual events. Many remote teams maintain regular communication through video calls, instant messaging, emails and web conferencing platforms; however, you must be engaging your teams in small subgroups so everyone gets a chance to share, connect and listen. Interacting with your teams on a personal level will make them feel valued and seen.
- Encourage health and wellness. Your employees’ health should be a top priority. If they are fatigued and sick, they will be unable to provide quality work. Creating an incentive for your team to go outside, exercise, or cook a delicious meal are vital for success. The People Success team participated in a walking challenge. The person who walked the most received a prize. This challenge becomes a team bonding experience and also shows that we care about others’ overall well-being.
- Create personal connections. We have to remember that we are all still humans and working remotely can be isolating at times for us all. As a leader, you need to recognize each member’s strengths, weaknesses and interests to better connect with them. Keeping tabs on what your employees enjoy provides community and connectivity, which enhances an organization’s culture. It also makes employees more committed to the company, intrinsically motivated and valued for their individuality.
- Did you experience any challenges with employee engagement while transitioning to remote work?
In the first few months of remote work, it was difficult to gauge employee satisfaction and engagement. It was a new environment for us, and we were learning the tools needed to engage our staff in a meaningful way. Like most organizations, we were trying to promote work-life balance while being remote which included providing resources and events that kept employees motivated and engaged on a professional and personal level. The response was positive once we started organizing events. Also, the townhalls we host every month have high engagement with more interactions and communication than ever before.
We want to send out a big thank you to the Employment Engagement Committee for their hard work and a special thank you to Atila with the People Success team for participating in this interview. We’re very proud of the initiatives we rolled out this year and have heard so much positive feedback from the broader organization.
At Financeit, engaging with employees is central to retaining valuable talent and a secret weapon for keeping employees satisfied professionally. Employee engagement initiatives create a strong emotional connection for team members with their environment, the work they do and the teams they build. All of our employee engagement events were truly valued by our team, and we continue to live true to our company values of drive, service, personality, fairness, trust and excellence as we continue to operate as the People Success team.
Come see how we make virtual work fun and fulfilling. Visit and apply on our careers page here.