The SCF Strong Learning Circle: Strengthening Connections in the Workforce

Relationships are important to maintain, especially when practicing social distancing. In these days of uncertainty, it is important to support and strengthen one another through connection. Support groups, called “learning circles” at SCF, provide effective opportunities for personal growth and wellness on topics such as grief and loss, substance recovery support, anxiety, and other life support.

One way that Southcentral Foundation is fostering connection for employees is through regular offerings of a new virtual learning circle opportunity called SCF Strong. SCF Strong is a virtual learning circle that utilizes video conferencing to support employees and strengthen the Southcentral Foundation community. It is a chance to connect and discuss ways to stay grounded and emotionally strong during these days of uncertainty. These learning circles are offered on a first come, first served basis to ten employees at a time. Two different varying times are offered each day to allow for inclusion of those with schedule conflicts.

At the beginning of the learning circle, employees are reminded of SCF’s Learning Circle Agreement, which lays the foundation for a healthy learning circle. The agreement is designed to hold members mutually accountable to the learning circle’s purpose and values and to help the learning circle stay on track. Additionally, SCF provides the following tips for participating virtually:

  • Be mindful of what others can see in the background.
  • Create a background with minimal disruptions. Avoid sitting next to a window or bright light due to lighting issues.
  • Please dress in appropriate casual clothes and minimize background noise.
  • To protect the privacy of other participants, make sure others in your immediate area cannot hear the discussion.
  • Be fully present. No cell phone or email use during the learning circle.
  • All levels of participation are okay, if you want to just listen, that is ok. When it comes to your time to share, you can just say ‘pass.’
  • Do not eat while participating in the learning circle.

By agreeing to the Learning Circle Agreement and the tips for participating virtually, participants help create a safe environment where people are free to share their stories, their challenges, and their triumphs.

Each participant is offered a chance to share how they are coping and dealing with the stress of change related to the pandemic. The topic or discussion of each learning circle is open to the interpretation of the group and is unique to its attendees. There is not a particular list of talking points or learning objectives; the learning circle is simply a place to connect and enjoy the familiar faces and voices of other SCF employees as you journey together towards wellness. In closing, participants share take-aways, their appreciation, or lessons learned from the circle.

Participants receive a survey after participating in the learning circle and, of the employees who completed the survey, 100 percent said they would recommend SCF Strong to a co-worker. Participants indicated that the learning circle helped them feel connected, become more grounded / centered, manage stress, and more. One respondent said, “[It was] very helpful to just connect with others to know you’re not alone.”

Let us know how your organization is keeping employees connected and supported in the comments! To learn more about SCF’s learning circles, check out our free webinar.