The COVID-19 Pandemic transformed many things, including the modern workplace. Offices went fully remote, hiring and managing teams and projects entirely remotely.
Some companies navigated these turbulent waters with more grace than others. Edmonton’s Jobber is a great example.
Prior to the pandemic, Jobber was an entirely in-office work environment. Indeed, every employee lived within commuting distance of either Edmonton or Toronto, where the company’s two offices are established.
And yet during the pandemic, Jobber switched gears and hired nearly 400 fully remote people. Despite this being effectively a Human Resources experiment, it was reported that more than 90% of this cohort were positively engaged with their job.
Techtalent.ca spoke with Sara Cooper, Jobber’s Chief People Officer, to understand how the Canadian company handled this major shift in office culture and workflow.
Adapt Your Onboarding Process
“To help standardize our onboarding process for employees, we developed an industry-leading training program called ‘Welcome Mat’ a few years ago that focuses on helping new hires understand our product, customer journey, culture, and values,” said Cooper. “At the onset of the pandemic, we were able to transition Welcome Mat into an entirely virtual program and have continuously tweaked and evolved it based on feedback from each new cohort that joins us.”
Cooper says that within their first month at Jobber, new employees participate in a workshop called Own Your Impact.
“This workshop focuses on the ingredients that make up our culture, each employee’s role in building and maintaining our culture, and ways to support employees and our culture through the skills of building meaningful relationships and feedback,” explains Cooper.
Getting remote hiring and culture right is critical, because as Cooper points out, “remote and hybrid work is here to stay.”
Keep Staff Consistently Connected
While remote hiring provides access to a wider and deeper pool of talent—a positive not lost on Cooper—the exclusively virtual environment can make it harder for people to form connections to their colleagues and leaders.
“Companies need to be concerned about connection because it directly impacts engagement, performance, retention, and culture,” Cooper said. “As a result, the creation of employee experience and engagement roles will rapidly grow in popularity, even among companies that have so far been resistant to the idea.”
Jobber created what it calls an “Employee Experience team” early on in the pandemic to drive connection and engagement amongst staff.
“The team coordinates events, activities, and engagement initiatives that further build upon Jobber’s unique and distinct culture,” Cooper explained. Event examples include a monthly Lunch & Learn session, as well as wellness sessions, which “are so popular that we highlight it monthly through our Wise & Well Series,” Cooper says. There are also quarterly events focused on networking and fun.
And because Jobber recognizes that leaders must be role models of workplace culture, Cooper says the company created a “Connectivity Playbook” for managers to reference when looking to encourage connection between their team members.
Offer Dynamic Opportunity
Whether remote, hybrid, or all-office, every worker is benefited by motivation as they advance through their career. Jobber aims to avoid the hamster-wheel effect of soul-sucking corporate ladders. Instead, Cooper says the company constructs a corporate “jungle gym” of potential career trajectories for employees.
Cooper combined Learning, Development, and Coaching disciplines into one team with a single, important function: “Provide a dynamic framework that helps guide employees throughout their careers at Jobber including career paths for all departments, coaching, and growth-focused development plans.”
Cooper says the jungle gym metaphor “highlights the diverse growth opportunities available for all employees—whether that’s taking on more responsibility, shifting into an entirely different role, or simply focusing on doing the best job possible in a current position.”
Since October 2020, 154 employees have made career changes at Jobber, thanks to the company’s flexible career development structure.
“[We] are committed to growing the skill sets of every single employee while they’re with the company,” Cooper affirmed.
Invest in People
Overall, Jobber provides us with a great example of how hiring of people and cultivating of culture is done right, even in the face of chaos, adversity, and abrupt change.
“At Jobber, we recognize the importance of investing in employees,” Cooper told Techtalent.ca.
And that is always a great place to start.