The Importance of checking-in with your team

Q&A with Elena Filippi, People Operations - Experience Lead

3 min read

Most of us will agree that we live in a stressful world. That’s why it’s more important than ever to check-in with employees, especially when they can be based remotely anywhere in the world. We caught up with Elena Filippi, our people operations experience lead here at Doodle, to see what advice she has.

So Elena, can you explain why checking in regularly with employees is so important to having a happy team?

As the person designing the People experience at Doodle, it’s a fundamental part of my job to keep a finger on the pulse on how people are doing. If they are feeling good about their job, feel positively challenged and have a perspective on personal growth that motivates them. 

It’s also my job to create a framework for people to accomplish this without getting burned out or feeling like their mental wellbeing has to be the price to pay. On the contrary, now more than ever, companies are responsible for providing a safe and healthy work environment. The first simple step you can take in this direction is to actually speak with the people who work in your company.  While we gather valuable data regularly through employee surveys, I find that checking in with “Stay Talks” or “Leads-People Ops chat” provides me with the granular insights I need to anticipate any issue before it becomes a problem. It allows me to stay close to the employees and understand what they need to do their job well.

What is the best way to structure employee check-ins?

It really depends on the company culture. At Doodle we value a remote first mindset so before scheduling any meeting I ask myself what I want out of this. 

Once my purpose is clear I start defining the meeting. For example we introduced earlier this year a recurring meeting with people managers every 6 months. Why? Based on the data from past surveys we noticed that this is a particularly challenging position so we designed a format for people managers to be able to chat about how things are going in their role, any of the scenarios they might encounter as a leader, the most common challenges for managers and the wins too. 

Our goal is to support them and provide clarity on any issue they bring up. Being aware of how valuable everyone’s time is, the chat is designed to last only 15 mins - but in my calendar I designed a buffer so I am not booked in the next 15 minutes - should the manager need more time.

The most important check-ins however, are the ones that you have with your direct manager. It’s no secret that happy employees usually have a good working relationship with their manager. The secret is to avoid using your check-ins only to discuss work. The revolution of the century in all things HR if you ask me is that employees are no longer considered employees, they are seen as people (hence why we use the name People Ops here at Doodle) and my job as a manager is to care for their wellbeing. 

So taking the time to ask about their wellbeing, work-life balance, stress, and general wellness is part of this transformation. For these check-ins you need to plan more than 15 minutes. The way I do it is to have 45 minutes to highlight challenges and spark deeper conversations beyond status updates (thanks to the format provided by Culture Amp). 

My team members always prepare all this in advance so we have time for the important conversations (those about happiness, growth, and yes, wellbeing) 

What does the future of People ops/employee check-ins look like? 

One of the most challenging things is to predict trends in the current global work landscape (and on top of that to identify the significant trends from the ones that aren’t). 

For instance: is quiet quitting a trend? Not really, it captures something that in People Ops is known as disengagement. 

But is remote work here to stay? Absolutely! We all saw how the pandemic changed the game for how we understand work, the value and meaning we give it. People reprioritized things for the better, but this also meant that People Ops were at the frontline of this transformation (managing fully remote transitions and talent shortages, to name just a few challenges). What I know for sure, though, is that we need a particular mindset if we want our businesses and people to thrive. 

That means, first and foremost, being able to pivot and adapt to a constantly changing environment. Being able to prepare for different scenarios by staying agile also means challenging the way you have worked so far: I sometimes wonder if 1:1s are here to stay. While there is a healthy trend to work more asynchronously with technology, people will always be people and need to feel that human connection to be able to feel engaged, motivated and happy at work. So while technology can help us automate many aspects of the people's experience, the biggest trend will still be to put people first.

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