When we heard about the possible level of disruption the U.S. might experience as a result of COVID-19, our reaction as a management team was likely similar to many other teams around the country, regardless of industry. Our top priority was ensuring our employees’ safety, followed by continuing to provide excellent service to our advisors.
After addressing those top-level concerns and mandating our employees work from home, we then took an inventory of other ways we might be able to support our communities: the geographical communities we operate in, the community of staff we employ, and the community of advisors we serve. While we don’t work in an industry where we can retool existing operations to manufacture materials to support essential workers, we are qualified to make other positive impacts on the lives of those affected during this crisis.
We’re always looking for meaningful ways to contribute, but I wanted to share some of our experiences thus far, as they might inspire you to give back in your communities, too.
Finding ways to support local businesses in the communities where Redtail employees operate was a no-brainer, as it’s something we were doing pre-COVID-19; the ability to do so now feels almost like a privilege, though not one we are taking for granted.
As an initial means of supporting local communities, we’ve participated in #TakeoutTuesday, encouraging our employees to support locally owned, non-chain restaurants by covering the expense of a curbside meal for them and their families. It’s a small way to make a difference in your community, but the more individuals and companies who participate, the more small businesses will be able to weather the storm.
Working remotely poses its own set of challenges. After quickly meeting the logistical ones, we pivoted our focus to maintaining the culture we so highly value.
We’re approaching this in many different ways. For instance, with the #TakeoutTuesday effort aimed at supporting local communities, we also encourage staff to share images of their meals (and families) via chat and social media; it’s been a nice way to break bread together, even if only virtually.
We are also having regular trivia nights, accomplished using Kahoot! software and Zoom. These are a great way to unwind and spend time with each other outside of regular work hours.
We’re also focused on addressing the stress and anxiety we know many of our employees may be experiencing as a result of the pandemic. We’ve waived the need for employees to use PTO as they adjust to this new way of life: homeschooling, grocery shopping during off-hours, etc. Additionally, I provide weekly company updates (more if needed) to put their minds at ease as it relates to their job security; we don’t want personal finance concerns as an added stressor in their lives right now. We depend on them, and we want them to know they can depend on us.
Supporting the Industry and Our Advisors
Like others in our industry, many Redtail employees are used to a lot of travel and conferences. With conferences canceled for the foreseeable future, we now have more resources available to brainstorm and provide additional support for the industry and our clients.
One example of this is a series of CEO Roundtable webinars in which I participated with several other CEOs in our industry, focused largely on team management, technology and culture as they relate to remote working. Those have been a lot of fun; they have also been valuable to me in terms of learning how some of my colleagues are dealing with today’s challenges, and, from the reactions I’ve seen, many others have gained valuable insight, too.
Another way we’re looking to support Redtail users is through a new initiative we’re calling the Training from Home Summer Series. This will be an in-depth online training, provided by our Redtail Trainers free of charge, over multiple two-day, four-course sessions throughout the summer. We’re very excited about this, and the fact we received nearly 6,000 registrations within one day indicate Redtail users are excited as well!
Looking to the Future
As we try to navigate this together, we are continually moved by the generous and brave nature of those all across our country. I’m particularly proud of my management team and staff for how they’ve responded and banded together, as well as humbled by the efforts I see in our industry. I recognize we are potentially a long way from putting COVID-19 in the rearview, but I am hopeful the lessons we are learning now will carry over into a future where mutual support is ingrained in each of us.
Brian McLaughlin is the CEO of Redtail Technology, a provider of client relationship management (CRM) solutions for financial services firms.