When the country shut down last March, Goodway Group was well prepared for the remote work environment. For over a decade, Goodway Group has operated with a 100% remote workforce. However, the emotional and mental strain of the pandemic created significant organizational and personal roadblocks.
In the Goodway Group spirit, employees worked together to make sure the organization’s needs were met and resources were available to help everyone through the difficult months ahead.
With major shifts in business strategy, Goodway had to make some tough decisions to adjust to this new climate. In a companywide webinar in April 2020, the leadership team announced all employees would be on a 20% wage reduction. During this call, President Jay Friedman also announced the new WIG (Wildly Important Goal) to “pay back every penny we could in 2020.”
Throughout 2020, the leadership team was very transparent in updating the employees on goals and progress. Kristy Jorgenson, director of finance, provided virtual bi-weekly updates showing progress toward company goals. In addition, CFO Mark Meade provided a monthly 10-minute finance update video that shared information on Goodway’s financial reports and explained the decision-making process for wage reductions. This transparency and honesty around finances strengthened the trust between leadership and employees as the organization worked together to figure out how to be economically smart to achieve those goals.
Goodway Group also established an “Employee Emergency Fund,” where leadership and others provided a financial safety net available to anyone at the company who needed it. The team created an email address where employees could privately share their needs. Team members worked one-on-one with employees in need to determine how much cash was required and to provide those funds on the same day.
Work/life balance support
As many struggled with work/life balance, Goodway Group created initiatives and programs to help families navigate the new work environment. To provide emotional and mental health support to employees, the communications team shared weekly video reminders to take time off, celebrate wins, share employee shout-outs and provide advice on how to navigate the “new normal” work environment.
Well-being specialist Amanda Brown hosted a weekly “Family Fun Friday” Zoom call. Led by employees and sometimes their kids, these calls would host “Show and Tells,” arts and crafts projects and even dance recitals. Goodway employees who do not have children got involved in these calls as well to show support for their co-workers. Employees also started clubs based on their interests, such as cooking, gardening and mindfulness, and a group of employees hosted companywide happy hours.
Employees also created groups to talk about more sensitive topics in a safe environment. These groups covered interests such as parenting, coping with stress, caring for elderly relatives, and budgeting. Employees could share their personal experiences and get advice from their co-workers on how to manage the impossible juggling act we were all trying to figure out.
As the Black Lives Matter Movement gained national momentum last summer, the People of Color Resource Group was established for individuals to talk about how racial inequality has affected them. In addition, the Ally Resource Group provided resources for employees who wanted to learn how they could support their teammates and those in their communities.
Goodway hit its first milestone goal in September 2020, and wage reductions were rolled back from 20% to 10%. Jay Friedman and CEO David Wolk hosted a Zoom call to celebrate this accomplishment with the entire company. During the call, the team shared a MentiMeter poll and showcased employee and team success stories. As a result of the dedication and collaborative teamwork, Goodway Group was able to fully pay back the employees their due wages ahead of schedule. Jay and Dave surprised the team with the news before the holiday break. During a Family Feud game night, the final question, “What are you most thankful for in 2020?” was staged with the No. 1 answer, “We’re getting paid back early!”
Despite the chaotic, turbulent times of the pandemic, the team was able to be there for one another. Establishing support groups, clubs and wellness initiatives provided employees with the support they needed to take care of themselves, their families and each other. Leadership remained forthright with its financial progress and business updates. This consistent transparency has increased trust and goodwill throughout the organization, which continues to help fuel everyone’s success.
Paige Evans is an internal communication specialist with the Goodway Group.