COVID-19 Update From Mark Douglass
More than a year into this pandemic, we’re all experiencing a strong desire to move forward and return to some sense of normalcy. Many of our staff have dealt with personal health challenges, loss of a loved one, added responsibilities in the home and changes in their work environment. All of us have felt the emotional impact of being isolated from many of our friends, families, coworkers, normal routines and stress-reducing activities. Additionally, we’ve all had to learn how to perform human-focused work remotely or at a distance when what fuels most of us is connecting personally with people face-to-face.
Despite all the challenges and personal impacts, our teams have continued to serve others in a competent, caring and compassionate manner. I am in awe of the resilience of our Equus family and grateful to our staff, partners and funders for working with us to do the best we can to support one another as human beings and to deliver on our common purpose as workforce professionals to bring hope and success to those we serve.
Presently at Equus, we are focused on maintaining vigilance in keeping one another safe and planning for the return to our regular activities. In doing so, we recognize and acknowledge that we will never be completely the same, and our industry is forever altered. Some of the initiatives we’re engaging in to support our teams and their work include the following:
- Health, Safety and Well-being – We’re continuously updating and communicating our COVID-19 educational materials, procedures and policies to reflect the latest information from public health officials and providing information and resources to our employees. We are encouraging (not mandating) our employees to get vaccinated with a goal of 80% or more of our workforce vaccinated. We are regularly reminding and providing access and resources for employee assistance program (EAP) services and checking in on their well-being.
- Return to the Office Supports – With many of our physical locations being closed throughout the pandemic, we’re focused on preparing our people to return to the office environment, recognizing that there will be a period of adjustment as staff address family needs and changes in routine. We will be conducting several webinars and providing other resources to help our leaders and teams prepare for and mitigate these impacts.
- Vision in Action Teams – Throughout March 2021, a Vision in Action Team, comprised of operational experts from our Service Delivery Team, conducted meetings with every operation to identify best practices and needs and followed up with training and technical support as needed. Next, they will be sharing best practices broadly through our Communities of Practice and spotlight sessions. This process will also help identify areas where Equus can strengthen investments and supports to help achieve our 2020 and Beyond vision of providing access for all, including serving our most disconnected and marginalized communities.
- New Work Readiness Resources – We worked throughout 2020 to update our work readiness curriculum and materials and launched a new delivery platform through Google Workspace. This has been a major initiative that involved hiring new talent, investing in new technology and engaging with local teams for content development and Beta testing. Our new curriculum, Career Accelerate©, is complete. We began training and rollout in February 2021. If you haven’t heard about this exciting new offering, please reach out to [email protected].
- Professional Development – We have talented team members who are always seeking learning and growth opportunities. To support this desire for lifelong learning, we provided access to LinkedIn Learning for all Equus team members (and job seekers) beginning August 2020. In the first Quarter of 2021, our teams completed more than 64,335 courses! Additionally, our Service Delivery Team offers a robust calendar of live virtual training offerings and support our numerous Communities of Practice where team members across our large footprint collaborate on common challenges, share best practices, provide feedback and hear from special guest speakers.
These are just some of the things we’re doing to help our teams get through this period and look to the future. We welcome your feedback, thoughts and ideas on ways that we can further enhance our support and our services. Thank you for all that you do to provide a caring and collaborative environment, so we can all deliver high-quality services to our communities.