When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, people around the globe felt the repercussions in all aspects of their lives. Between social distancing, isolation, and mask-wearing, everyone was thrown into a new and uncertain reality.
One group of people that found themselves in an especially difficult position was working parents. As schools closed, parents were forced to adapt to working from home while also balancing the educational needs of their children. While some companies struggled to accommodate the needs of their staff, others rose magnificently to the occasion. I consider myself to be in the fortunate position of working for one such company.
Even before COVID significantly changed the landscape of work, Planet Pharma was already ahead of the curve. In my four years here, I’ve been able to hold a flexible schedule that has helped me balance childcare and family needs—all while hitting my quarterly and annual targets. Despite the reputation that many recruitment firms have earned of being less than family-friendly, Planet Pharma has long been leading the way as a model to follow in terms of affording a work-life balance for its employees.
Accommodating the Needs of Employees
One of the best things employers can do for their people is to realize that a one-size-fits-all approach rarely pays off in the workplace. Not only can this make the company seem inflexible to working parents currently on staff, but it can also put off potential new hires. Since the pandemic started, something we’ve heard repeatedly from potential new candidates is that one of their top priorities in new jobs is the flexibility to work from home when needed—especially now that COVID is coming to an end.
Planet Pharma takes an individualized approach to each person. This entails building a foundation of trust with each employee and then finding what works for their life and needs.
By establishing a trusting relationship between the company and each employee, Planet Pharma can ensure that the work is getting done and that the employee is getting what they need. Whether it’s the ability to work from home when needed (as I was able to do for many years even before COVID started) or allowing flexible work hours to accommodate for family responsibilities, Planet Pharma has gone above and beyond to work with its employees to the best of its ability.
Although workplace accommodations may seem at first glance like roadblocks to productivity, in reality they’re just the opposite. During the first lockdown, I worked full-time from home but was afforded a flexible work schedule to accommodate my daughter’s school schedule. Essentially, I was acting as both a full-time employee and a full-time teacher. Thanks to my ability to work a non-traditional schedule, I was able to not only meet all my targets but exceed them. Beyond my personal experience with remote productivity, there is plenty of research to back this claim up as well.
According to a study from Mercer, 94% of employers surveyed said that productivity was the same as or higher than it had been prior to the start of the pandemic—with the majority of their workforces working remotely. It’s clear that providing flexibility and accommodations not only benefits working parents but also produces greater levels of productivity for employers.
Committing to an Ongoing Conversation
Other companies, especially recruitment agencies, that wish to follow Planet Pharma’s lead when it comes to implementing flexible work policies must commit to an ongoing conversation with their employees. The key to this is the ability to listen to the needs of employees, set clear expectations, and then trusting employees to achieve the necessary outputs. Once a worker has proven they can be trustworthy and capable of handling a flexible work program, companies would do well to continue to foster that sense of freedom that they’ve earned.
Just as needs and priorities changed throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, they will continue to evolve now that our world is returning to normal. Companies have a real opportunity right now to attract and retain top talent by continuing to be supportive and accommodating. However, there must be open communication between managers and their direct reports in order for this to happen. When employees feel that they can ask for what they need and will be taken care of, they’re likely to become more dedicated and loyal to the company.
The companies that commit to fine-tuning their remote work and flexible schedule policies will be best able to position themselves as pioneers in the new professional landscape that is sure to continue to evolve.
Photo credit: Maryna Andriichenko for 123rf
by Treasa Alterskye, Recruiter, Planet Pharma