The changing IT workforce

Q&A: Allstate HR exec on the rise of remote work: 'The world is changing….'

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Allstate sent 40,000 workers home. Even now, it hasn't required them to return to the office. In fact, it took a new tack to creating company culture and workforce efficiency.

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“We’re doing a lot around that when it comes to onboarding. We’re going to put in place some new programs this year to help bring folks together, same time as early career workers. And this is not just with Allstate. This is the first time in history most people will take their first job and it’s remote. Very different than when you could walk the halls, talk to people, get coached, know how things are going with them and meet people at coffee.

“How do I create that same environment so that people get the sponsorship, the mentorship and coaching and guidance from leaders. So, we’re going to invest heavily in developing and training our leaders to really understand to work in this new environment to facilitate that, because that’s really where you can harness both the culture and concern to make sure that works.

“It was easy to see how people were doing before the pandemic. You often hear the term ‘wellbeing,’ but when someone comes on a video screen and then leaves a minute later, [you] hope they’re OK, you assume they’re OK, but how do we make sure we’re connected and care for our employees the way we always did? ...This adds a layer of complexity we didn’t have when we were all in offices.

“There are surveys you can use to ask how people are doing; there’s training for managers to alert them to cues around people’s wellbeing. I mentioned before about work. Just because you're home doesn’t mean you don’t turn off. And we don’t do that. We have a great culture around flexibility, but it is something you have to think about. It’s a different environment now. You’re not packing up your things and leaving the office at 6 p.m. So, we want to make sure people are balancing their work-life.”

"We’re working on doing things with health coaches. Think about it. When you were in the office you might have some fun activity, like a bike ride at the end of the day or a 5k run. So, why did we stop that? We could have everybody meet at 7 a.m. and do a bike ride or whatever you used to do and then just go home. You don’t go back in the office. Still create that connection.

“Just because work is done somewhere else, it doesn’t mean you have to lose the engagement part.”

I recently wrote about how bad onboarding increases employee quits. How do you create a good onboarding experience? “That’s interesting because we’re revamping our whole onboarding program now. To me, onboarding is about three phases: One, get you up and running, make sure you have all your equipment and that you're doing well. And make it really easy.

"Onboarding should be like buying an iPhone. You get it and it just works. I want the onboarding experience to be just like that. Your package is delivered, your computer is there, you turn it on, it talks to you and sets things up. It tells you what to do to set up your family with company benefits. Take care of you and your personal side.

“Then in your first couple days on the job, we have you set up on the systems. We give you live interactions with leadership. We’re doing to have video clips to help you understand our history and what our business is, what it does and where you fit in that. And the third piece is your job, and how does that connect back to what we told you. Onboarding isn’t just day one. It’s day one, first week, 30 and 60 days. We’re going to keep touching those new hires as we go through this.”

Copyright © 2023 IDG Communications, Inc.

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