As vaccination numbers grow and case numbers continue to drop across Canada and the United States, the fear of COVID is being replaced with feelings of hope along with a bit of trepidation about what post-pandemic life will bring us.
Throughout this time we have been fortunate enough to continue to grow our team, despite the ongoing challenges. Growth has been exciting but is fraught with a need for new structures, processes and — most of all — support. Because of this, one new role we knew we needed to fill was that of a dedicated HR specialist. Fortunately, Jenn Goble has stepped up with gusto! Jenn specializes in change management, organizational structure, business development and expansions. She has integrated quickly and has become a calm, experienced, steadying hand during this tumultuous and transitional time.
Everyone has had different experiences through the last 15 months, but here’s what Jenn had to say:
“We all need to recognize that we have just been through something extraordinary, and that will not be forgotten any time soon. We must expect that as excited as we are for this to be behind us and to return to normal, there will be a period of adjustment.”
So what exactly can our (and perhaps your) leadership do to help ease employee anxiety? Open and continuous communications are key. Employers can play an important role in supporting and facilitating this to enhance connection by using software like Slack or Teams, where staff can communicate on a less formal level. Reportex also has a culture club that organizes virtual events for the staff and runs Slack channels that focus on monthly initiatives like plant care, wellness and just plain old fun. We also have a dynamic COVID committee with representatives from all of our divisions who work tirelessly to study and update everyone with the latest news and rulings around COVID safety protocols, keeping us all abreast of changes in protocol and evolving timelines. Their input helped create our current COVID-19 policy.
Reportex has been fortunate in that our business model already included many remote staff, flexible work-from-home options and collaborative work. What we are finding, though, is that the main source of anxiety is about moving into the unknown while maintaining staff and client safety, especially as our clients ramp up their in-person meetings. There have clearly been fundamental shifts to entire industries and business models, including the legal sector, and many law firms have sped up their explorations of virtual and digital technology. This is exciting, and we look forward to providing support in navigating all of these new options through our developing e-solutions. This adjustment to a more virtual world also means that many law firms have taken this opportunity to downsize their offices.
The Vancouver Economic Commission found that 43 percent of workers in metro Vancouver can and are now doing their jobs from home. While many articles online are discussing what the return to work will look like, some possible considerations for employers are whether to offer working from home as an ongoing option or whether to allow employees to split their time between home and the office, while having a plan in place to keep those employees engaged and actively participating in the workplace.
In an interview with HRD magazine, Diana Nguyen, HR specialist and coordinator with Telus Employer Solutions, told them that “leaders need to keep teams informed of changes. This helps them better cope with any feelings of uncertainty. From here, it’s essential that you engage team members and listen to their feedback, in order to understand what’s important to them.”
Employers can also encourage employees who have questions or concerns to contact their human resource department or make sure they have an adequate employee assistance program through their benefits provider.
As we prepare for all of this, we are giving profound consideration of what has worked effectively as well as envisioning even more new practices to support the brave new world ahead of us. We see this as a collaborative effort between our teams, leadership, clients and community to expand our collective vision of the industry as a whole.
We will continue to share our experiences as we evolve and adapt to both our needs as a business and our clients’ needs too.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on how your teams will adapt to returning to the workplace!