The Grand Forks-based healthcare company has extended hybrid work schedules to departments across the company. Jennifer Berg, director of Total Rewards at Altru, said that now that employees know they can be just as productive from home, businesses are adapting.
“People had so much to do,” Berg said of work schedules during the height of the pandemic. “Some had children at home, so it was a way for them to work while looking after their needs at home.”
In the past, Altru exclusively employed people living nearby, particularly in North Dakota and Minnesota. Today, it remotely employs around 250 workers in 11 states who work in various departments, such as IT, human resources, and finance.
Berg said the flexibility of hybrid work weeks has made hiring efforts easier at a time when qualified candidates are hard to come by. It “really opens up the job market,” she said.
“We now know we can do that with virtual work and remote work, and we have processes in place that would support it,” Berg said. “So we’re able to hire certain positions where it makes sense in other states or anywhere.”
This is an emerging trend nationwide. A recent Gallup study – and a subsequent article published on the Gallup website – states that “remote work persists and tends to become permanent.”
A September Gallup poll showed that 45% of full-time U.S. employees worked from home some or all of the time. The data remained unchanged from previous months.
Revealed in the Gallup Study:
- About nine in 10 U.S. workers who are at least partially distant hope they can continue working from home for a few hours after the pandemic is over.
- “Hybrid work is most preferred,” the study says. Overall, about half of those who work remotely at least part of the time say they would ideally like to split their time between work from home and the office.
- “The hybrid looks like the way of the distant future.” Three-quarters of remote workers say they will likely be allowed to work remotely at least some part in the future.
- And telling, “employers risk losing talent if they don’t allow remote working,” according to the study. “Three in 10 remote workers say they are extremely likely to seek alternative employment if their company eliminates remote working.”
Grand Forks businesses faced hiring challenges before the pandemic began, but the pandemic has left a lasting effect on how businesses attract new employees.
When employees of many companies were sent home during the height of the coronavirus pandemic, working from home – or hybrid work weeks – became an accepted practice for many employers. And as the labor shortage continues in the region, some companies are choosing to stick with various perks that weren’t there before, including work-from-home opportunities, signing bonuses, and more.
In the Grand Forks area, some businesses are using login bonuses as an eye-catching recruiting tool. Marvin, a regional window and door manufacturer, was offering $ 2,500 to $ 5,000 in sign-up bonuses for production associates. Altru Health System offered a $ 5,000 registration bonus for a sports trainer, as well as relocation fees; it’s the same amount he offered to a speech-language pathologist. Earlier this year, Valley Senior Living was offering a sign-up bonus of $ 10,000 for certain technical positions.
However, for companies that can, allowing employees to work from home costs less than signing bonuses.
Dustin Hillebrand, director of the Grand Forks Workforce Center at North Dakota Job Service, said sign-up bonuses have become popular with many companies, but he doubts Grand Forks companies are universally eligible. okay with that.
After recent discussions with local businesses, “the majority I spoke to weren’t doing login bonuses, but a few were thinking about it.”
“There are companies that are and have been successful with (bonuses),” Hillebrand said. “But really, I think it’s going to come back even more to the balance they’re looking for.”
Part of that balance will likely be finding the right ratio of in-person and remote work.
“For example, some companies are considering switching to different types of shifts for people,” Hillebrand said. “You have people who work from home for some companies, you have companies that do hybrids (hourly), where it’s three days in the office and two days at home, or some variation of that. Some companies do a four-day work week with 10-hour days.
Hillebrand said companies in Grand Forks could start by simply letting employees manage their own hybrid schedules.
“It could give employees the ability to change their hours during the day,” he said. “For example, with COVID it could mean that you have parents who may be at home with students right now and let them work later in the day while their student is in school. “
At Altru, Berg said it is important to listen to employees in the future and continue to adapt to their needs.
“I think the most important thing is that we will have to continue to evolve,” said Berg. “I guess I don’t think we’re going to see the work go back to what it was.
“But I think that’s a good thing too.”