COVID-19 has spurred Utah corporations to supply flexibility, different assist to staff, report says

COVID-19 has spurred companies in Utah to offer flexibility and other support to workers, a report said

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Kat Judd, Vice President, People and Culture at Lucid Software, Tuesday, December 8, 2020. Lucid offers its employees a variety of flexibility and family-friendly policies, including an extra day of paid time each month free for Employees with children under 2 years of age.

The employees on the 97th floor do not have strict working hours. As long as they’re finished, they can take a break on a weekday to go to their child’s soccer game or doctor’s appointment.

“Of course they have to do their job,” said Paxton Gray, CEO of the Lehi-based marketing agency. “But as long as that happens and the job is done, why does it matter when or where you do it?”

Flexibility is key to helping women – who often hold most of the unpaid responsibility for caring – stay in their careers and assume leadership roles, according to researcher Robbyn Scribner, especially during the coronavirus pandemic as hundreds of thousands Women Leaving the US In a new report, Scribner and researchers from Utah State University’s Utah Women and Leadership Project examined the flexibility and family-friendly policies of 100 Beehive State companies that consistently create “best jobs.” Lists.

By highlighting the “best of the best,” Scribner said, the aim of companies across the state is to show what can be done to better serve their employees, especially women.

“Even [for] For smaller businesses, there are many ways to incorporate flexibility and family-friendly policies into your business that don’t cost a lot of money, ”said Scribner. “You just need a little courage. You need a bit of creativity and innovation to listen to your employees and figure out what they need most. “

Even the top-rated Utah companies can still do better, as outlined in the report. Susan Madsen, founder and director of the Utah Women and Leadership Project, says leaders should find ways to incentivize businesses in Utah’s growing economy, such as through tax credits, childcare, paid family vacations, and flexible work arrangements.

Such guidelines “will benefit Utah and families during COVID, but if implemented they will really make a difference even after the pandemic ends,” Madsen said.

Most of the top Utah companies (92%) allow employees to work remotely, and 86% offered employees flexibility in their working hours, according to the report. This is not surprising, researchers wrote, given that many companies made this switch during the coronavirus pandemic. Scribner said she doesn’t think those numbers would have been this high a year ago if COVID-19 hadn’t accelerated the need.

“We had a number of companies that said, ‘This wasn’t what we’d ever planned. It wasn’t on our roadmap, but that’s how we will move, ”she said.

Lucid Software, based in South Jordan, had flexibility before the pandemic, but COVID-19 public health and remote learning guidelines accelerated the move to remote working, said Kat Judd, vice president of people and culture. The company also gave employees the option to set up their office space.

“We recognized early on what emotional and mental consequences the pandemic has for families,” said Judd. Therefore, the company began to offer employees, their spouses and children appropriate psychological care and therapy. Lucid pays the first 12 sessions for each person, she said.

(Christopher Cherrington | The Salt Lake Tribune)

Most companies offered paid maternity leave (75%), paternity leave (64%) and general family leave (59%). “Almost half of the companies also report some kind of transition support for young mothers when they return to work,” according to the study. However, less than a fifth of the companies provided some kind of childcare.

“This relatively low percentage underscores the fact that childcare is one of the most complex challenges facing working parents in Utah – and one that requires the commitment of numerous stakeholders to be successful,” the researchers wrote.

At Lucid, Judd says employees with children under the age of 2 get an extra day of paid time off each month, and the company also offers a dependent care reimbursement account to cover childcare costs and up to 20 weeks of family vacation for primary carers .

Most companies (72%) offered entry-level part-time positions, “but such roles are much less common at higher levels (44%),” the report shows. Researchers note that this is a problem because Utah women are much more likely to work part-time than women nationally. “When part-time positions are not available at higher levels, women can forego promotions or leave their company instead of switching to full-time roles. “

“Having a part-time professional role for women is a huge step in keeping women moving to higher levels of leadership later in their careers,” said Scribner.

According to company managers, the benefits of these guidelines include higher employee satisfaction (94.4%), higher employee retention (79.8%), higher employee engagement (71.9%) and higher productivity (65.2%), according to a survey %) Report.

About five years ago, executives on the 97th floor made the transition from switching their employees on and off for their eight-hour shifts in the office to a so-called “results-only work environment”.

“It was a great payoff for COVID because the transition to remote work for everyone was easy,” said CEO Gray.

Ashton Stanworth, a 97th floor content marketer, worked from home while raising three children under the age of 2. As a newborn, she mostly worked at night and called customers during the day.

“I don’t have to pay for day care. I’m with them … getting the best of both worlds, ”said Stanworth.

After Annalee Jarrett, who works on the internal marketing team, joined the company in 2014, she left the company for a while for medical reasons. She chose to return to the 97th floor, she said, because it gave her the flexibility she needed to see the doctor. Years later, she now finds it helpful during her pregnancy.

Men at the company can go to ultrasound appointments with their spouse or take their children to the doctor, she said. One person on Jarrett’s team “had a dream about homesteading,” she said, and since he can work from home, he now takes care of sheep on his property.

“When you can find an office that supports your needs as a person, you can take care of your life, make a career, and support your family,” said Jarrett.

According to the companies interviewed for the report, there may be some issues associated with these policies, such as: B. A loss of culture and the feeling of separation between employees (60.3%), logistical challenges (59%) and communication problems (51.3%).

However, the researchers noted that “this study was conducted during COVID-19 and that these deficiencies may be related to pandemic-specific stressors rather than challenges related solely to flexible workplace arrangements.”

(Photo courtesy 97th Floor) Annalee Jarrett, left, said the flexibility to set her own working hours on 97th Floor, where she works on the internal marketing team, helped her during her pregnancy.

Companies plan to continue many of the measures set out in the report, which “will provide welcome relief to tens of thousands of working mothers who will face tremendous pressures in the coming year and who may otherwise be forced to leave their jobs,” the researchers wrote.

While this may not be feasible for every role, executives at all levels of an organization should offer flexibility, the report says. And while childcare assistance was one of the least prominent benefits in the survey, “likely due to its complexity and high cost,” researchers say it is “consistently recognized as the most significant barrier to professional advancement for working mothers”.

“The pandemic has exacerbated this challenge and the need for good childcare will remain long after the crisis ends,” the report said. Companies can reach out to organizations like Care About Childcare and Utah Child Care Cooperative to learn more.

“Backup support and providing emergency childcare, or even giving references and recommendations to good childcare providers or small subsidies, are things that many companies could find. You don’t have to be a big, rich company to do that, ”Scribner said.

Becky Jacobs is a member of the Report for America Corps and writes on the status of women in Utah for The Salt Lake Tribune. Your donation, which matches our RFA scholarship, will help her write stories like this one. Please consider giving any tax deductible gift today by clicking here.

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