Wheels has three pillars: Client Success, Integrity and Wheels Community.
Since our inception, we’ve worked hard on creating a motivating and supportive work environment for our employees. This dedication was recognized many times in Chicago’s 101 Best and Brightest Companies to Work For.
In March 2020, Wheels was presented a challenge that companies across the world faced — supporting employees through a global pandemic. As an organization, we were determined to provide an even higher level of support to our employee base, adding additional benefits and resources such as back-up childcare and eldercare, enhanced sick pay, telehealth services, bi-weekly virtual meditation sessions led by our on-site nurse, and mental health toolkits just to name a few. Others took notice too, as we were awarded a bronze Stevie® in the Most Exemplary Employer category.
Here’s some insight into our path to providing exemplary service to our employees during the COVID-19 era.
Wheels has always made employee health and safety a top priority. The HR department, in partnership with the executive team, sent regular communications updating employees on the most current health and safety guidance from the CDC, on-site safety precautions and social distancing measures, general COVID-19 updates, benefits information, Frequently Asked Questions documents, wellness activities and other events.
In March 2020, prior to state mandated shutdowns, Wheels pivoted to a remote working environment for 90% of the workforce, and with that prioritized a company-wide deployment of Microsoft Teams technology for ease of collaboration and communications in a virtual environment. Further, the company provided training to all employees and management on how to work remotely and effectively.
For the 10% of employees who had to remain inside the office due to the nature of their role, we put enhanced social distancing guidelines and safety measures into place, performed deep cleaning and disinfecting of the facilities daily, and provided PPE equipment on a continuous basis to all workers. We also expanded the on-site cleaning process to include a special disinfection service with a pre-identified third-party cleaning company to ensure a safe return for all on-site employees after a positive case onsite. In December 2020, we awarded on-site employees with a $1,500 bonus for their dedication and flexibility during these unprecedented times.
Several clients were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Wheels made a point not to let the challenges of the pandemic impact employees. Instead of laying off or furloughing employees, the company shifted them to other projects. Additionally, Wheels continued to invest in technology projects to continue our path toward innovation for both clients’ and employees’ benefit.
Wheels also took special attention to keep up with traditional events and activities in a virtual format. We had numerous celebrations and activities including, but not limited to Thanksgiving e-gift cards sent to all workers, a Halloween costume contest, virtual awards ceremony and holiday trivia, and a company-wide virtual scavenger hunt to take place in lieu of our annual Family Day company event.
For health and wellness, Wheels continued with our annual flu-shots in a safe and effective drive-thru format and held multiple virtual information sessions with nurses and physicians to educate employees about the COVID-19 vaccine. We continued bi-weekly guided meditation sessions, health newsletters and our Summer Step Challenge with plenty of fun prizes.
Wheels also expanded employee benefits, including but not limited to:
- Additional sick pay benefits (up to 10 days) above and beyond their normal sick days for illnesses related to COVID-19.
- This sick time could also be used to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and for any recovery time needed.
- COVID-19 health insurance testing coverage for employees and their dependents.
- Enhanced telehealth and telemedicine benefits for employees and their dependents.
- Additional “crisis care” childcare and elder care benefits, beyond our normal program.
- Mental Health and Back to School Toolkits with a variety of tools and resources.
Have another way we can provide continuous support to our employees? Let me know at HRcommunications@Wheels.com.