How Northern California HR leaders are tackling remote workers over office workers, mental health support and recruiting in a tight job market


Lynn Ichinaga: Team members embraced Friedman’s discretionary personal leave program which was extended during the early stages of the pandemic to provide flexibility and relief to various personal circumstances. These leave requests enabled our customer-facing and business team members to take care of their health and that of their families and were freely granted with minimal information required.

Our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) continues to be beneficial, helping team members access guidance, as well as resources to manage a variety of stressors inside and outside of work. These include financial advice, child and elder care resources, legal resources, stress management techniques, and detailed information on physical and mental health and well-being.

To continue to provide a safety net for our team members, we have extended supplemental sick pay and maintained our employee emergency fund, which is still available for those in need.

Linda Lang: I wouldn’t say that HR has directly received more requests for mental health support, but we assess needs based on the amount of contact employees and their families have with our Employee Assistance Program. Although EAP never discloses employee names and other details, we do receive digital usage reports regularly. As a result, we have asked our EAP to hold on-site development sessions to inform employees of the services available to them. In addition, we have increased the number of chaplaincy hours provided in our spiritual care service to meet the needs of patients, family members and our staff. We have seen a tremendous increase in staff awareness of our non-denominational chaplains.

Beverly Murray: Providence provides many mental health services/resources to our caregivers (all employees are referred to as caregivers whether or not they provide bedside care) in-person at select facilities, same-day virtual services, programs/apps wellness and traditional mental health provider services. We have also increased training opportunities on managing stress and burnout.

Stephanie Reynolds: Yes, we have been receiving more and more inquiries about our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and new employees have become interested in our insurance plan’s mental health options. Previously, questions about new insurance plans focused on co-pays and emergency room visits.

Tiffany Veille: Yes. We have invested in a robust Employee Assistance Program that provides comprehensive mental health services and provides our staff with fully employer-paid medical insurance.

Melanie Wise: Absolutely. Over the past two years, we have seen an increase in burnout, exhaustion and stress factors, mostly related to influences outside of work, such as the political environment, family, illness and/or inflation. We’ve seen more and more employees request time off, change careers, or quit their jobs altogether.

We already had an Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) in place that provides up to six sessions with a mental health professional at no cost to the employee. We have also changed some of our leave policies to provide more flexibility. We have included floating holidays and reiterated that staff can use sick leave for their mental health needs. We constantly follow what is happening in the market because our goal is to stay at the forefront on this issue.

Lori Zaret: Our company policies have always included access to mental health support. However, we recognize the impact the pandemic has had on our employees and their family members, and our collective mindset has changed; we are now even more aware and empathetic towards everyday mental health needs.

After the North Bay fires, we recognized the need for more time off during times of stress and implemented ongoing wellness programs. Due to the pandemic, we have further expanded these programs and continue to explore new ways to help our employees and their families.

Are your department or company’s recruiting and hiring efforts more or less difficult now? Please tell us why and how you and your business have had to adapt.

Ashley Baker: Recruitment and hiring are much more difficult. We had to increase starting pay rates, work harder to find passive candidates, promote work-from-home options to candidates, bring in temporary staff, reassign duties from open jobs to existing staff members and increase employee referral bonuses for candidate referrals. who are hired.

Kristina Derkos: Luckily, due to RCU’s reputation as a great place to work, I think it made it easier for us. We haven’t had the “big quit” yet and our retention rates continue to be high. However, we have certainly seen the number of candidates applying decrease, as many job seekers choose to take sabbaticals to take care of themselves before re-entering the workforce.


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