As a psychologist and a People & Talent officer, I’ve spent many hours trying to figure out ways in which I can make the life of the employees within IT Labs easier, more fun, and get them to be the best version of themselves – learning, creating, and becoming better every day. There are all kinds of scenarios in my head that I prepared for, but a global pandemic was definitely not one.  

This last month, we had our second health month at IT Labs, and it provided the People & Talent Department with much needed insight into what works and what doesn’t in these extraordinary circumstances – which is why I felt compelled to write this piece.  

Activities, Activities, Activities 

How do you develop an activity that will be beneficial to your employees – but through a screen? How do you even approach that?  

Rethinking activities is the first thing that comes to mind, and why not? Contrasting times, different approaches, right? Well, the truth is, drastic changes are not needed, but moving on from some of the events and activities developed in the 90s – some of which are still present today – is one of them. When an activity doesn’t produce any engagement, and interest in your employees, scrap it, ASAP, otherwise you risk undermining all your efforts – once bad or bland things starts rolling out of the People & Talent departments, employees will lose interest in anything you have to offer them, and this will lead to alienation, distancing, and sooner rather than later people will not want to stay with your company anymore.  

The solution? Don’t complicate things – in these times of isolation, do the things that will get people to feel connected with the world. Organize activities that will engage them with the world, and show them that they’re doing something worthy. Something that will make a change. At IT Labs, for example, we’re focused on projects and charities that make a difference in communities.  

The reason why this kind of activities works is because it unites the whole bunch under one common cause – and a sense of unity creates a sense of belonging which goes a long way in countering the devastating effect the pandemic has on the everyday lives of your employees. No need for crazy, out-of-the-box ideas that might work – stick to the ones that will show your workers that their efforts inside the company can have a strong, positive effect on the world outside.  

Old School Does The Trick Sometimes  

Working remote comes with its own set of benefits, but also drawbacks – and as more people choose to work out of office, HR departments around the world will need to adjust their strategies. Does this mean throwing old plans in the bin and starting all over? Of course not, but a slight tweak and going back to basics might do the trick.  

The core of the issue lies in the drawbacks that come with working remote: lack of community and team spirit, more distractions, lack of motivation, risk of burnout.  

So how can we help ease these and ensure employees are at their best? By giving them the main thing that’s missing in their work – a human moment. Yes, as leaders of People & Talent departments it’s our duty to stay in touch with everyone and check in on them every now and then, but how do we make it in a way that makes a difference? By having an open, heart to heart conversation with every single person. Poke and prod, spend 15-20 minutes to talk about all matters work and life related, show interest in their life, and of course, provide support and assure them that you are here for them to talk about any subject and matter that bothers them – a pure human moment can do a world of good for anyone struggling with alienation, isolation, and the ‘new normal’. 

The point is, we have an obligation to keep things professional, but that doesn’t mean we can’t lend a hand to anyone in need, especially in our work environment – it’s not our job, it’s our duty.  

The Future of Employee Care & Satisfaction  

About the future, there seem to be two opinions that circle – some say that the future is extremely near, and we would do well to prepare for it now, while others say that the future is now, and that what we do right now is the thing that matters.  

Both are true, but in their own, unique way – yes, today is the tomorrow we didn’t expect for another 5 or 10 years, but at the same time it’s as if there’s more to what can be done, so we look ahead. Hybrid models of working will become the new normal, and with that, leaders of people departments will need to find a way to keep employees happy, fulfilled, satisfied, and secure. And in the end, whichever system you have deployed and available to your employees, keep the following in mind – you can invent new activities and ways to satisfy your employees, you can try the craziest, adrenaline-fueled stunts, but nothing will have the same long-lasting, deep effect as a pure human connection.  


Circumstances can and will change, environments will change, people will change – but the one thing that shouldn’t change is our desire to be the best versions of ourselves, by enabling and motivating others to be the best themselves. 

Frosina Zafirovska

Chief People and Talent Officer