Month: August 2023

Employee Engagement and Connection in a Virtual World

Business leaders know that when employees are happy, encouraged, and fulfilled in their work, they perform better. So how do we help people stay connected to each other and satisfied with their jobs when they are working virtually? What steps are you taking to keep employees engaged and thriving? Here are some suggestions that will help employees – and organizations – win.

1.      Use Video, Always

In the world of working virtually, have the majority (if not all) of your conversations with teammates, clients, vendors, or anyone else you work with via videoconference. Don’t just pick up the phone, turn on the webcam. Being able to see the person you are talking to not only allows for non-verbal communication, it encourages personal connection in the conversation.

2.      Encourage Micro-Learning

Professional development is known to positively influence mental health. Not only do people enjoy learning new things, but they also feel valued by their manager and company when they are empowered to invest in their personal growth. Outstanding content, such as that found in Alterity’s content library can help address technical competency as well as other topics, including professional development, manager development, and stress management. If you don’t currently have a subscription, sign up for a free demo.

3.      Schedule Virtual Hangouts

Using technology to enhance work product is a given, but workers can also utilize technology to increase engagement. A downside of working remotely is that employees miss out on those impromptu conversations at the coffee machine or in the break room. So, schedule them. Put virtual lunches, happy hours, or mid-day breaks on the calendar. Make them non-work-related, short, and un-programmed. Invite everyone and make it optional.

4.      Set Clear Expectations (Both Directions)

Your office may already have clearly set expectations regarding work hours, responding to emails within a certain time, and what communication platforms are appropriate for different situations. Clarify to what extent (if any) these expectations have changed as a result of working remotely. Allow more flexibility in work hours, as work and home spaces intersect.

5.      Establish Secure Communication

For security reasons, ensure your entire workforce knows how certain communications or decisions will be made and disseminated. Creating standards can help employees easily and quickly identify malicious attempts that threaten security.

6.      Stay Accessible

Weekly one-on-ones and team meetings are very important. Managers should make a concerted effort to check in with their team on work projects, as well as how employees are doing personally. It doesn’t stop with managers — encourage your entire team to reach out to lend a hand, check the status of a project, or simply say hello.

In his book, The Truth About Employee Engagement, Patrick Lencioni writes that employees have three basic needs: to be known and understood, to know that their work matters, and to be able to gauge their personal development and progress. Staying on top of these three matters through the actions listed above can maintain or even increase the engagement level of everyone at your firm.

Feel free to contact our team of engagement experts. We are here to assist you in any way.

Hybrid Work Brings Exciting Challenges and Opportunities

The hybrid workplace isn’t a new concept. Many employers are providing both remote and office settings as options for employees to select as their workspace. While this offers great flexibility, there are a few things to consider as employees determine when and where to work.

It’s Inclusive

Hybrid workplace flexibility gives employees with both visible and non-visible disabilities a new understanding of what it’s like to “come into” the office. Commuting to an office environment can be challenging for those with disabilities. Working remotely means reduced pain or stress. It also means reduced anxiety, mental exhaustion, and over-stimulation for those with non-visible disabilities, such as social anxiety or autism. The digital-centric aspect of a hybrid work environment organically creates a hub where those on- and off-site can share ideas, collaborate on projects, and operate in a common space available to everyone.

It’s Challenging

Despite its pros, managers should be aware that there are challenges to consider with a hybrid workplace. It can sometimes involve redefining and strengthening core office values. Technical and data privacy best practices need to be at their peak because the digital heart of the office must accommodate employees working both inside and outside the office. It’s also important to refine the office culture to make sure everyone’s work—whether they’re out of the office or on-site—is valued, validated, and considered.

A World of Opportunity

Managers face unique challenges and opportunities when it comes to a hybrid workplace. Patience and adjustments are needed. Balancing employees’ needs with the work you want them to produce requires forethought and foresight. There can be a lot of pressure to make the switch because so many employees find benefits in working from home. Focusing on developing your hybrid workforce helps retain these employees—and can even attract future employees—but you must be fully involved and proactive in nurturing your office’s corporate culture.

Keep Training on Track with Virtual

How are you leveraging virtual training within your organization? What steps are you taking to set up learners for success? What follows are some of our favorite topics to success for Virtual Training.

1. Engage Your Audience Prior to Training

The reality is, that in any virtual connection, engagement is difficult. Participants may tend to multitask and not pay attention. One way to promote better engagement during the session is to develop an awareness campaign prior to the session. Utilize project sponsors (executives within the organization who have significant influence) to heighten people’s awareness of why the training is important, and their desire to lean in. People will learn, retain, and ultimately use information and skills to a greater extent when they want to learn it – that is when they are personally invested in the benefits. Many people will push back from required training because it takes them out of their normal routine and requires time, which is already in limited supply. However, if they see this time as valuable – perhaps how it will fix problems they already have or make them more productive – they will likely be more apt to participate. If done correctly, virtual training can provide better flexibility than traditional in-classroom style training, which could increase their willingness to participate.

2. Include Users in the Planning

Consider this human-behavior-related truism – “people support what they help create.” If I help create something, I will be more invested in it. As a result, my support of it will increase. Gain feedback from users on what their current pain points are. Investigate helpdesk tickets to discover common issues. Poll or survey users on what they wish they could do with greater ease. Enlist power users to take specific portions of the training to share their insights and expertise. Finally, form training around function, not features and employ a “just in time” rather than a “just in case” guide for training.

3. Use These Key Elements for Best-in-Class Virtual Training

  • Deliver with a Moderator – They can keep track of chats, troubleshoot technical issues and even step in to ensure the training carries on, should the presenter have any unexpected issues – technical or otherwise.
  • Conduct Full Rehearsals – Make sure all the elements you have planned, including interactions, work as expected. This is also a good opportunity to test equipment such as lighting, audio, and video.
  • Create a Warm Environment – Think about what you normally do to connect on a personal level with participants and double that effort when virtual. For some remote users, virtual training may provide their only chance at human interaction in this otherwise isolated environment.
  • Plan Frequent and Purposeful Interactions – Get people involved in the training as often as possible through interactions such as chats, polls, or individual and group activities. Utilize your interactions to measure the likelihood of behavior change after the training.
  • Follow Technology Best Practices – Use a headset for audio, frame your camera properly, look into the camera, eliminate background noise and use ethernet, as opposed to Wi-Fi.
  • Reinforce Learning Through Follow Up – Schedule time to follow up with participants before training even begins. Plan interactions that ask participants to indicate where they need additional assistance after the session. Then, follow through.
  • Try Not to Mix Virtual and Live Participants – Mixed participants may complicate matters as each group will have specific needs and challenges. If all participants are connecting in the same way, virtual training becomes much simpler.
  • Practice the 15-Second Rule – You might not like awkward silence but jumping in to answer the questions you pose to participants is a sure-fire way to kill engagement. If you want people to respond to questions, or participate in dialogue, wait at least 15 seconds before bailing them out. If the group is silent after about 7-8 seconds, re-frame or re-ask the question, but don’t give the answer. Do this once or twice, and people will figure out that you want them to participate. You can also encourage people to drop their answers into chat if they are hesitant to speak up in front of the group.

Let’s get creative with how you can continue to achieve your best results. Contact us today for more information on how you can utilize our content library to prepare your workforce for tomorrow.

The Perfect Password: 5 Easy Tips

What steps are you taking to protect data—both personal and work-related—more efficiently? One of the best ways to put cybersecurity first is by developing strong passwords and better security habits. Your passwords are your first and best defense against threat actors. Here are some tips you can implement today!

1. Status: It is Complicated

Think of your favorite heist movie. For this piece, we are thinking of The Italian Job. In it, Charlize Theron plays the team’s safecracker. She used several tools and skills to guess the combination to the safe, switching and turning the dial until she found the right sequence of numbers to get inside. Our passwords are like the combination on a safe. The more complicated the combination, the longer it will take Charlize Theron to get in, or in this case, a threat actor. Check out the chart below.

It looks like a lot, but we are here to break it all down for you!

A simple password may be easy to remember, but it also shortens the time it takes to guess the right “combination.” If you can use more than just numbers, such as varying letter cases and characters, it will take longer for threat actors to crack the code. So, that is your first tip: keep it complicated, not simple.

2. Case by Case

If you find it hard to keep track of numbers for your passwords, consider using upper- and lowercase letters. This is not a foolproof plan, but it can make the threat actors’ efforts more challenging. Regardless, you should update your passwords regularly. Just a heads up: relying on upper- and lowercase letters alone may require you to do so more often.

3. The Numbers do not Lie

If you have started adding upper- and lowercase letters to your passwords, rethink how you can use numbers, too. Try to avoid any numbers that are important to you, like adding your birthday or an anniversary at the end of your password.

4. A Character’s Good Reputation

Now that you have a few security boosters in your passwords, consider using more characters, such as @, #, $, %, !, and more. They are all waiting at the top of your keyboard to add an extra layer of defense to your passwords. Special characters are powerhouses when it comes to building strong passwords.

5. Phrasing!

Finally, bring all these strategies together. You can use any combination of letter cases, numbers, and special characters to spell out one word, or you can get really creative and create a “passphrase.” A passphrase is a short sentence comprised of all the elements covered above. Phrases such as 13@kEm0re8reaD or j0G1m!le are examples of passphrases. They can be reminders, goals, or items from your to-do list. While passphrases stand above the rest, make sure they are not too obvious or relevant to your personal life, such as specific hobbies, favorite movies, or loved ones.


By creating strong passwords, you are going the extra mile to put cybersecurity best practices first. The more complicated the better—just make sure you leave no physical reminders behind, and that you update your passwords regularly. Multi-factor authentication (or MFA) is another excellent feature you can apply to your devices. When you start implementing safe and modern password best practices into your day-to-day life, you protect your organization, your data, and yourself!

You can learn more about cybersecurity practices and management by checking out our cybersecurity awareness program! 

Tips to Protect Data When You Travel

Getting ready to take a trip? As you prepare your packing list, take a minute to add one more crucial item that you simply can’t leave home without data security.

According to experts, holidays and long weekends are prime times for threat actors to execute all kinds of malware attacks—everything from ransomware to social engineering, phishing, and beyond. That’s because long weekends and holidays give hackers more time to corrupt files and devices before anyone can respond, or even notice.  Here are some tips to help keep your personal and professional data safe as you plan your next getaway.

1. “Password Protected”

Be sure your mobile devices are safe and secure. Disable lock screen notifications and enable multi-factor authentication so that you—and only you!—have access to your data. You can also apply these authentication measures to your more sensitive accounts like banking and travel booking websites. If you must bring work on the road, consider asking your organization to provide a loaner device for travel, especially if you’re concerned about data security. Don’t leave home without outfitting your devices with remote-wipe features. That way, if you do bring your personal device, you’ll have a backup plan in case it’s stolen or compromised.

2. “You Are an Island”

It may take a few extra steps, but bringing backup power supplies for your batteries and devices means you can depend on yourself, not your surroundings, to keep your devices going. This also means your belongings are always close to you, instead of plugged into a wall at the airport or the quirky coffee shop you found. If you don’t have backup power supplies, research where you’re going and find secure spots along the way. Make sure all your devices are charged before you leave and only use them when necessary. Don’t connect your devices to other unknown devices, such as that free USB drive you picked up at the airport kiosk—this is an easy way for threat actors to send malware to you.

3. “The Public Eye”

While you’re traveling, you may be tempted to visit the business center of your hotel to check your emails or log in to the Wi-Fi connection at the bookstore you found. Most of these connections are generally secure but watch out for the word “public” when it comes to Wi-Fi channels. A public connection is always a security red flag because everyone can access it, which means the wrong person in the business center at the right time could really sabotage your trip. Try to avoid these kinds of connections altogether or take the necessary steps and use extreme caution if you decide to use them.

4. “Home Sweet Home”

Traveling is great, but it also can be a rush to come home. You want to share your adventures and relive the journey you just experienced. Naturally, you want to get online and start posting pictures and seeing friends. But wait—now that you are home, take a few minutes to change those PINs and passwords. Even if you took good care of your data and devices while you were away, there’s a chance someone picked up your login information. It never hurts to give yourself that extra layer of protection.

Everyone deserves time away to relax and rejuvenate. Let’s use it as a launching pad for a day at the beach, not a data breach!