What to do with employees who disengage on Zoom


Digitally-enabled corporate meetings (think Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet) have exploded in recent years, primarily due to COVID-19 restrictions that have forced millions of career professionals to work remotely. residence.

Zoom alone saves, on average3.3 trillion meetings per year, with 300 million daily meeting participants.

Still, not everyone is OK with showing their face in workplace video meetings — and some managers don’t like staff members hitting the “video off” button.

According to a study of 200 US executives by Vyopta, a collaborative intelligence company, 92% said that employees who often mute themselves or their cameras during video calls “probably don’t have a problem.” ‘long-term future’ with their business.

According to the study, managers who host video calls say turning off the camera shows employees a lack of engagement as well as a “sign of poor performance to come.” Forty-three percent of executives think staff members who cut video during meetings “scan websites or social media,” and another 40 percent think these employees “text or chat.”

Temperamental employees may take a different approach. Some may be camera shy, may feel awkward or distracted showing their face on video, or may feel like they are getting the most out of a video meeting by listening and taking grades.

What should a manager do in the event of a video no-show? There is no definitive answer, say management experts.

“While the workforce is built in favor of extroverts, nearly half of workers are introverts, which means many are likely to feel camera shy,” said expert Ashley Stahl. career at SoFi, a personal finance company in New York. “Also, a lot of us have been pretty isolated over the past couple of years…communicating primarily via email.”

Stahl thinks video conferencing is inherently unnatural, and each worker likely has different levels of comfort with it. But persistent video blockers can erect barriers to career advancement.

While camera shyness is understandable, she says, “it’s no excuse to block your [career] the evolution towards today’s video age.”

Get staff members to face up

Managers who want to see the faces of team members in virtual meetings need to be creative and persuasive. Follow the steps below to get workers to switch from “camera off” to “camera on”.

Show carrot and stick. Managers should encourage their employees to turn on their camera. If the employee resists, take the time to explore their concerns.

“Listen with the intent to understand their perspective and see if you can meet in the middle,” said Courtney Altamirano, senior director of human resources at the University of Phoenix in Mesa, Arizona. “Often there’s a reasonable compromise that everyone can live with, like using different filters and backgrounds or offering camera-free Fridays.”

Compromise can also take different forms. At ApprovedCourse, a professional education company in Fort Worth, Texas, company founder Jorden Fabel will provide compensation to staff members who choose to turn off the camera, as well as certain warrants.

“Our protocol is that employees don’t have to show their faces on Zoom calls if they don’t want to,” Fabel said. “However, there is the caveat that you should have your camera when you say hello, goodbye and whenever you talk.”

Recognize the workers who flip the switch. Managers should always help employees understand the value of being “face to face” virtually. “When they turn on their cameras, celebrate their choice,” Altamirano said. “Send them a note thanking them for getting on board with the change. Let them know that you understand this was difficult for them and that you truly appreciate them turning on their cameras.”

Take a phased approach. Stahl said she hated video conferencing, but over time she learned to live with the camera experience. Now she uses that experience as a manager to make staff members more comfortable with video dating.

“I learned that the more you do it, the easier it gets,” she said. “One key is exploring by clicking ‘hide self-view’ on Zoom, which keeps your camera on, but hides your own screen.” Stahl said she started doing it recently and hiding her image made her a better listener.

“One of the main reasons a lot of people feel uncomfortable while video conferencing is because they can’t stop looking at themselves,” she said. “In fact, 30% of us spend more than half of our video call time looking at our own face. »

Make the case of “camera on”. Managers can win over camera-shy staff members by persuading them that it’s the right thing to do, for themselves and for the team.

“Let team members know that having your camera on helps the whole team interact with each other and make eye contact so people can see each other,” said Lauren Stempel, Vice President of Recruitment at Betts, a Los Angeles-based recruiting firm. “Let them know it helps with social cues and employers can often tell when someone is engaged, confused, or ready to ask questions.”

Managers should also lead by example and always have their camera on. “Use your facial expressions and enthusiasm on camera to motivate people as well,” Stempel said. “If a manager is happy to be in front of the camera, it will positively influence the attitude of his employees towards the camera as well.”

If an employee refuses to turn on the camera, Altamirano advises managers to remind team members of the impact “going dark” during meetings can have on their career brand.

“Remember, when we were all in person, if you didn’t show up for a meeting, you might miss out on career opportunities. [or] chances of exposure or networking, Altamirano said. “Whether it’s fair or not is irrelevant. If people can’t see your face, your intentions, your commitment, you’re less likely to be top of mind for that next special project or promotion.”

Set terms and be candid with reluctant staff members. If you’re a manager who strongly believes that employees should be videotaped for virtual meetings, be direct and set some conditions.

“If you work with people, especially in public areas like recruiting, sales or customer service, having your camera on is essential as it builds engagement and helps attendees put a face to the name,” Stempel said. “If they don’t want to meet expectations, swing the conversation [by] reminding them why it’s an expectation, what they’ll get out of it, and that you need them to live up to it.”

Also, be crystal clear about the need to film if the company makes it mandatory. “If you can do your job in person, you can do it on camera,” she said. “If an employee does not consistently use their camera without providing justification, warnings should be given in accordance with company policy.”

Brian O’Connell is a freelance writer based in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. A former Wall Street trader, he is the author of the books CNBC Build Wealth (John Wiley & Son, 2001) and The Career Survival Guide (McGraw-Hill, 2004).


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