When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, a lot of its staff shifted to working from their houses, which has confirmed to indicate each advantages and disadvantages for the group. To assist Oxford perceive how working from dwelling has affected firm tradition, productiveness, and morale, it checked in with HR Enterprise Companion Sara Slusarski for her ideas and insights.
Slusarski joined the CREW in 2018, and previous to then she labored in numerous Human Assets roles in greater training and well being look after over ten years. Slusarski sees her function in HR as certainly one of an worker advocate and creator of an setting that produces an emotional connection to the group (and its objectives).
Her predominant areas of experience are in coaching, strategic planning, management growth and security. She not too long ago facilitated Oxford’s nomination and eventual win for the Greatest and Brightest, a nationwide award given for firms with nice tradition, coaching, and retention.
See Oxford’s Q&A with Slusarski beneath:
Sara, how would you describe the Oxford tradition pre-COVID? What’s Oxford’s historic view on worker tradition and engagement?
An attractive tradition has at all times been a excessive precedence for Oxford. I’d say our tradition is admittedly wealthy in engagement – though that’s been more durable to take care of for the reason that pandemic started within the spring. We measure engagement by annual surveys and we regularly ask the CREW what sorts of engagement occasions and tasks they’d wish to take part in.
Till COVID, we supplied month-to-month after-work actions in our Ann Arbor workplace like Paint & Pour, completely happy hours, and athletic groups and occasions. We additionally had facilities like profession path counseling, free private coaching, and on-site yoga instruction and a health heart.
We discovered that these, and our give attention to our values, helped staff to interact with each other and construct relationships all through their work day – within the kitchen over lunch, on the shared printer, or in conferences. We’re nonetheless actively engaged on sustaining engagement, though it does look in a different way now that we’re avoiding in-person actions.
What adjustments have you ever seen within the Oxford tradition since many staff members began working from dwelling? Have you ever been in a position to preserve engagement, or has it turn out to be more durable for the workers to remain linked?
In March when about half of the staff began working from dwelling, we assumed we’d be again within the workplace shortly, so we put loads of engagement initiatives on maintain till it was secure to reoccupy our workplace. I want we hadn’t waited – a number of months after we closed the workplace, we did a survey and located that the CREW felt extra disconnected from one another and from the group.
So, we created a brand new committee to give attention to reconnecting with one another and have invested in new programming. Our CEO, Jeff Hauptman, additionally took the time to name each member of our 100+ CREW to test in with them throughout this time, which made a giant distinction in morale and engagement. Given the “Zoom fatigue” that many individuals are experiencing now (9 months into the pandemic!), we’re working to remain constant and unique with our engagement efforts and preserve evaluating what’s working and what’s not throughout these unprecedented occasions.
It’s additionally useful to keep in mind that the pandemic has induced every kind of stressors for our CREW and our society as a complete, so a few of our workers is simply merely in survival mode. We’re doing our greatest to repeatedly and transparently talk stability, safety, and connectivity, which we hope has saved among the emotional stressors at bay for our staff.
What do you suppose that the CREW as a complete misses most about being collectively within the workplace? What do you personally miss probably the most?
I feel all of us simply actually miss being collectively in our workplace in Ann Arbor’s Southside. I hear from our CREW on a regular basis that what they love most about working for Oxford is their coworkers. Working at dwelling can really feel such as you’re working alone. I personally actually miss the fast, private conversations with staff members that I don’t usually work with straight – listening to about their households, their weekends, and so on.
I additionally suppose that having our workplace people collectively on daily basis helped us to take care of a shared reference to our discipline CREW. The workers members which can be out within the discipline sustaining buildings, engaged on HVAC programs, and taking good care of our tenants are a significant a part of our staff – and having the workplace people working from dwelling makes it more durable for all of us to attach.
What relationship do you see between firm tradition & engagement and productiveness? Do you suppose that an awesome tradition means a extra productive workers?
I feel the larger correlation is with tradition and loyalty. We’ve labored actually arduous for a few years to construct an engaged workforce that feels a way of worth and belonging in our group, and that’s helped us retain workers throughout this pandemic and it’ll preserve our CREW robust sooner or later. For firms that haven’t prioritized tradition and engagement previously – I feel having their workers working remotely can be extra detrimental than they might even notice. I’d count on them to see implications on coaching, teamwork and turnover.
Do you’ve got any suggestions for retaining staff engaged when some are working from dwelling and others usually are not?
Talk, talk, talk. We’re nonetheless engaged on this, after all, however I’ve undoubtedly discovered this yr that partaking with every CREW member in conferences and carving out time to achieve out to people individually will make an enormous distinction.
Creating committees has been useful for us as nicely – this yr we added a Variety & Inclusion Council and a CREW Connection Committee, bringing numerous workers members collectively from all through the group to resolve issues and focus on points. It’s been an effective way to remain linked and work towards widespread objectives.
Is there anything you’d wish to share about worker engagement and workplace life and tradition?
At Oxford, we’re proud to be a company that actually values our CREW and works actively to maintain them engaged. It’s actually gotten extra complicated in 2020 with many workers members working from dwelling, however we’re nonetheless striving to enhance and exceed our CREW’s expectations.
Getting again to the workplace subsequent yr will definitely make some elements of this a lot simpler. 2020 has been a studying expertise and I actually do suppose that we’re popping out stronger because of this.
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