To be in the business of people these days is to be insightful and personable.

Job seekers have more power than before, with hiring patterns in disarray. Current employees consider career changes while employers ponder how much of the workforce needs to be in the office full time, or is hybrid the best way to go.

It is a good time to ask some questions. A survey was prepared by North Bay Business Journal Research.

Do you allow staff to work from home and the office? What are you going to do to manage this hybrid arrangement?

Roles that do not have responsibilities that require them to be in person are allowed to work from home part time.

RCU began a strategic initiative several years ago to create an environment with greater flexibility that allows our team the same amazing RCU employee experience regardless of where they physically perform their work. The new normal brought with it greater focus to our vision and we were able to use the challenges to create an even better employee experience that will help the organization navigate the new normal.

Monica Flores said that the staff can work from home up to three days per week.

We are sensitive to the differing needs of our staff and have been flexible with many of them on our requested time of two days per week in the office. We are using regular communication to keep staff up to date, evaluate project needs, and ensure support and mentoring for newer staff. The person is Brenda Gilchrist.

Many of the HR Matrix clients discovered that many of their positions can now be done remotely. Over the last two years, our clients have realized they don’t need a lot of guardrails. Many employees have shown increased performance and overall describe an increased level of job satisfaction associated with less drive time, more flexibility, more autonomy and less distraction.

Lynn Ichinaga: As a retail operation, the majority of our team members work in-person in customer facing roles and we have structured our corporate sphere to emulate this environment.

In the last two years, team members in our corporate headquarters have transitioned from remote to hybrid work models, returning in-person to our office at least two days per week. Many people wanted to come into the office for more days than they were required to. Support for hybrid work has included regular Microsoft Teams check-ins from the managing staff, the use of a central digital communication platform, shared goals and agreed upon guidelines, and an emphasis on accurate timekeeping.

The policy for hybrid work capabilities, including goals and expectations, will be outlined by the end of the decade.

If the employee is in direct patient care, they can work from home.

We have hybrid and remote work agreements with caregivers that provide for safety, daily operations and payments for technology required to work off-site

We decided that working in the same space was essential to keep our company culture and team productivity similar to what it was pre-pandemic. For positions that allow remote work, we offer that employees can work from home on Mondays and Fridays, as well as the rest of the week. The roles of our customer service representatives and employees at Sonoma Clean Power’s Advanced Energy Center require more in-person hours. Setting hours/days for remote and in-office work makes it easier to transition.

Tiffany Vigil: Yeah. A hybrid arrangement with staff who are able to complete their work remotely while still serving the needs of our youth and organization is offered. We have increased our IT accessibility and security of our systems while working remotely to ensure our staff and the youth we serve are set up for success and privacy Increased access to talent and diversity of hires is one of the benefits of having hybrid and remote staff.

Most of the positions are hybrid, but some are fulltime. The program teams that work at the client’s location are 100% on-site.

Critical processes or procedures that need staff to be in the office fulltime are some of the positions that we have. Some teams work well outside of the office while others do not. The teams that work better in the office have been brought back. The teams that we thought we would bring back to the office fulltime are hybrid because that model is working for them.

There are guardrails in place to manage hybrid work schedules, including close contact between managers and employees, regular team or one-on-one meetings, and monitoring activities like sales and production numbers.

Exchange Bank has a hybrid workforce model that is still in place. The customer-facing employees are unique in that they have been in the branches since the start of the Pandemic. For the remaining staff, individual managers are managing their teams according to their specific needs, allowing for more flexibility.

We have brought on individuals with targeted skill sets who live and are working remotely in markets outside of Sonoma County and will continue to do that, as it makes sense to attract talent and remain flexible. With the expansion of remote work, we increased our information security measures.

Are you asking employees who worked from home to return to normal office hours? How were you able to transition them into that arrangement?

On the first day of the Pandemic, the President and CEO of RCU had a clear vision for the people. We would send as many people home as possible to keep them safe. We would help them to work from home. We wouldn’t set a return to work date until it was safe to do so.

Though many employers brought back their employees early on in the Pandemic,Brett believed that there was a way to continue to serve our members while serving our employees’ best interests.

The entire leadership team was charged with ensuring we took care of our employees and members. Allowing as many employees to work from home as possible, while protecting and taking care of employees whose jobs can only be done in person, meant this. RCU’s employees were up for the challenge of serving everyone equally well.

As a result, leaders have been open with their employees and have been open about the challenges they are facing. This has made it possible to address and balance everyone’s needs while keeping our doors open.

The first thing we had to do was take care of people’s physical and psychological safety.

RCU realized early on that they needed to allow employees to stay home if they got sick. We believed we had a moral obligation to not contribute to the spread of the virus and to protect our staff.

We invested in enhancing current programs and creating new ones because we realized that providing tools for our employees mental and physical health was paramount.

Some of our clients want employees to be on-site, on the same day, to encourage in-person interactions. For some positions, it was found that they can remain completely remote and still be required to attend important meetings in person. The majority of our clients are still operating. Most of our clients are back to normal, but we are still able to accommodate some people with flexibility to work remotely.

Many jobs may not return to the traditional five-day/ 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule this year but will remain in a more flexible arrangement as long as the needs are met.

Beverly Murray said that they haven’t yet asked their caregivers to return to full office routines.

We realized that asking employees to return to their regular routines was not necessary. We didn’t force the issue because employees showed they could produce fantastic work from home.

Tiffany Vigil said that we are not returning to 100% in-office except where needed to meet the needs of the youth they serve. We have asked staff to return to more frequent in-person meetings in order to increase the engagement of our youth and to facilitate team cohesiveness.

We are bringing people back to the office to get more time together to collaborate, improve communication and cross-train. Cross-training and collaboration can be difficult in a remote area. Hearing someone talk and interacting with them in person is valuable.

It has been a slow transition to fulltime as we continue to monitor COVID cases.

We have started with a part-time in-office schedule of one to two days a week, and will increase that over time, depending on factors such as COVID-19 transmission rates and our ability to maintain business standards in a hybrid work environment.

We talk to employees about their personal safety in the office because we are very cautious about COVID transmission. We make sure that we address the concerns of the employees. Some people don’t want to come back to the office because they don’t want to commute or enjoy the balance of working from home This is a personal safety issue for some people, and we try to address it.

All teams will eventually return to the office, except for those who were hired for remote positions.

As we value the benefits of collaborating in person, we had planned to have staff back full to a 100% office environment. In some areas, like operations, we are making sure we do not pull too many people back at once.

In the past year, have employee requests for mental health support gone up? What ways have you adjusted your company’s policies to accommodate them?

We have allowed staff members to take extra time off to address mental health needs, as well as having more informal events at work, such as employee lunches and social hours, to show our appreciation and bring some more fun to work.

RCU has a long history of caring for employees’ emotional, financial and physical wellbeing. It was important for us to acknowledge the emotional and physical fatigue that our employees and our communities might be experiencing in the aftermath of the fires and the Pandemic. We enhanced our benefits, reduced work hours while paying full pay, offered more time-off benefits for employees to take care of themselves, and hired top-tier experts to come talk and provide practical advice and help to our employees and communities for free.

The mental and physical well-being of our staff has been a priority for QKA in light of the emotional impacts of the Pandemic. The team provides advice, as well as monthly walking challenges, and group events such as “Origami Night.” On the Microsoft Teams platform, we have a channel for health and well-being.

Some of our clients have extended medical leave accommodations for employees who are afraid of the virus due to medical issues, or have an immune compromised one.

Team members have embraced Friedman’s discretionary personal leave program that was extended during the early stages of the Pandemic to provide flexibility and relief for a variety of personal circumstances. These leave-of-absence requests allowed our customer-facing and corporate team members to care for their health and the health of their families without having to provide any information.

Our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) continues to be of benefit, supporting team members with access to counseling, as well as resources to manage stressors inside and outside of work. Financial counseling, child and elder care resources, legal resources, stress-management techniques, and extensive physical and mental health and well-being information are included in these.

The Employee-First Hardship Fund is always available for those in need, and supplemental sick pay has been extended to keep our team members safe.

Linda Lang doesn’t say that HR has received more requests for mental health support directly, but they do assess needs through the number of contacts employees and their families have with the Employee Assistance Program

Providence provides many mental health services for our caregivers in person at selected facilities, virtual same-day services, wellness programs/apps, and traditional mental health provider services.

New employees have been interested in mental health options with our insurance plan, and we have had increased inquiries regarding our Employee Assistance Program. Co-pays and ER visits were the questions on new insurance plans.

Tiffany Vigil is yes. We provide our staff with 100% employer-paid medical insurance as well as extensive mental health services through our Employee Assistance Program.

Yes, Melanie Wise. In the last two years, we have seen an increase in burnout, exhaustion, and stress factors related to influences outside of work, such as the political environment, family, illness, and/or inflation. More employees request leave of absence, shift their career paths or leave their jobs altogether.

The employee assistance plan offers up to six sessions with a mental health professional at no cost to the employee Some of our time-off policies have been shifted to give us more flexibility. We made it clear that staff can use sick time for their mental health needs. Our goal is to remain ahead of the ball on this issue, as we are constantly tracking what is happening in the market.

Access to mental health support has always been included in the policies of our company. The impact of the Pandemic has had on our employees and their family members, and our collective mindset has changed, but we are still more aware of mental health needs on a daily basis.

The need for increased time off during times of stress was recognized after the North Bay fires.

Is it more or less difficult for your company or department to hire? Please tell us why and how you and your company have adapted.

We had to increase starting pay rates, work harder to source passive job candidates, promote work-from- home options to candidates, bring in temporary staff, reassign duties from open jobs to existing staff members, and increase employee referral bonuses.

Thanks to RCU’s reputation as a great place to work, I believe this has allowed it to be an easier road for us. Retention rates continue to be strong despite the fact that we have yet to experience the Great Resignation. Many job seekers are taking sabbaticals from working to practice self-care before rejoining the workforce, which has led to a decrease in the number of candidates applying.

Monica Flores said that their efforts in recruiting have been challenged. For example, conducting interviews virtually can make it difficult to pick up on behavioral clues that may interfere with a candidate’s cultural fit, as well as professional experiences that relate to the job or task. We have increased our college career-day presence, as well as incentive bonuses for QKA staff whose recommendations lead to a new hire.

The impact of the “Great Resignation” has made hiring talent in Sonoma County difficult.

There has been an increase in the lack of available talent. Many workers have realized they prefer having a better life balance and have decided to stay home, retire early or reduce their hours, according to our firm. Many employees feel that some work environments have become caustic and too politically charged and have decided to look for other work environments that don’t mandate vaccines.

I think employers need to evaluate the impact of mandates on their ability to attract and retain workers, as well as encourage employers to create unifying experiences with cross-functional teams to work and thrive together. Taking political stances and using political-driven programs in the workplace have caused divisiveness in the workplace.

In the midst of the Pandemic, we were fortunate to add corporate store-support positions, creating roles, and filling them with candidates with the right skill sets, experience and cultural fit. Despite increased difficulty in terms of fewer applicants, we have maintained a steady hiring stream for retail positions.

Linda Lang said that recruiting has always been challenging and it has gotten more so during the Pandemic.

We have increased our employee referral bonuses for hard-to-fill positions and are encouraging our managers to re-recruit their good performers.

The healthcare recruiting landscape has changed because of the workforce crisis, with more competition, less available candidates, and the need to provide quality health care.

There are new processes that Providence has implemented such as virtual interviewing, technology updates in application, and on-boarding processes.

It has been a challenge recruiting and hiring. Candidates know that employers are having a hard time and that qualified and experienced employees have an advantage.

We have connected with new referral sources so we can bring in more diverse candidates as a result of expanding our outreach for job postings. We want to accommodate potential candidates, so we are still holding some initial remote interviews. Candidates are brought into the office for second-round interviews to meet several employees.

Due to the general public’s increased mental health needs, more competitive hiring of behavioral health staff has become possible. Due to hybrid work practices, we are meeting this challenge by developing closer relationships with local universities to recruit graduates.

We are more focused on reaching out to passive candidates and are better using social media to market our openings.

Melanie Wise says it is both. Some job seekers are resistant to being in the office fulltime, which makes it more challenging for companies that want people to be in the office fulltime. Candidates prefer to work from home when hiring for higher-level professional jobs.

Retail, health care, production and manufacturing environments where the work itself is not able to be accomplished in a remote work environment are some industries where little to no impact is seen.

Companies with remote work options are more likely to look for and hire new talent. The company’s remote work policies can affect the difficulty of hiring.

Recruiting and hiring are very different now. The high cost of living in Sonoma County has caused qualified people to move away from the area. Online job postings aren’t as viable as we’ve added new tools to expand candidate sources Referred employees continue to help with our recruitment efforts.

How have you changed your approach to work in order to better care for yourself and your staff?

Allowing remote work when possible, increasing communication and recognition, providing more opportunities for fun and connection, and improving benefit offerings are some of the things we’ve done.

The fires and the Pandemic had a profound impact on my daily life, but I did not take care of myself as well as I should have. When faced with the kind of adversity our communities have faced over the last several years, leaders often have a mindset of helping their employees and those they serve first and foremost.

It can be a blessing or a curse. One of the things I’ve learned is that we are all human. It is possible to be the best human you can be, without being a superhero.

You need to take care of yourself first so you can continue to be there for others. It will prevent you from helping others at some point. For anyone who needs to hear this, the best thing you can do is to celebrate and take care of yourself. Can you be ready to take on the world? Don’t feel guilty practicing self-care and don’t feel embarrassed asking for help.

Monica Flores says that keeping an open mind and dialing in to employees needs is an imperative.

Being able to create and stick to my professional boundaries is something I need to be able to do. I set the limits when I’m away from work. I like being in the office and my home is my safe place for me and my family to be. The key will be in understanding their employees and fostering an individual approach to people management.

Many of our clients were forced to look at more efficient ways to process their work as a result of the government lockdowns. Employers were able to leverage technology and resources to increase efficiency. In many cases, the approach to work became more streamlined, resulting in an opportunity to look at different ways to approach tasks, projects and teams.

Lynn Ichinaga: One of our core values is care, which puts people first, and we have always worked to encourage a healthy work-life balance and well-being within a work environment that fosters genuine connection. When we could not hold in-person barbecues or events, we came up with some creative solutions. Individual to-go meals that would have been enjoyed at a team member appreciation lunch can be provided. Linda Lang is a writer.

I am fortunate that I live close to my office so I can work from home when I want to.

Beverly Murray has changed the leadership approach by emphasizing wellbeing, role modeling work-life blend, and spending time to become an expert in our health resources through education and participation. Examples are included.

At the end of team meetings, the wellbeing of the team is discussed.

TheProvidence Choose Well program pays a benefit if eligible caregivers complete 40,000 points of wellness activities or education each year.

Setting expectations of no required responses outside of working hours if there is an emergency.


I take aholistic approach to care for myself and my family. Our team doesn’t perform well or take care of their teams if they are not taking care of themselves. We don’t see the needs of others if we’re too stressed.

We try to provide a healthy workplace which includes a workout room and quiet room at headquarters. There is a large kitchen for staff to eat in and an outside patio for people to sit and eat. We help out where we can when we learn about other departments needs. Each month we give time off for employees to volunteer and provide generous time off for the children.

The company culture is centered around employee connection, diversity, equity and inclusion, and a work model centered on flexibility and autonomy. We invested in new technologies that support remote work and collaboration, and supported our Employee Network Groups, which bring together colleagues from across the globe who have common interests and background.

The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council is looking at initiatives that increase equity and a sense of belonging for our staff. Since the fall, our CEO has led our team with an increased focus on trauma-informed management practices, such asMindfulness about physical and psychological safety, creating trustworthy environments, giving employees choice and a voice, and building empowerment, such as recognizing employee strengths.

Employees in a hybrid workforce often don’t feel like they can take time off because they’re working longer and harder. We make it a point to shut down work at a specific time and that employees are held accountable for taking time off. Managers are asked to be thoughtful about how and when they communicate with their colleagues because it is harder to separate home life from work. Don’t message co-workers about business needs outside of business hours and expect them to reply.

Creating boundaries between work and home life is something we try to emphasize for those in hybrid positions. Asking employees to develop a routine which mimics the old commute, such as going for a walk after they shut down, meditating or reading, is an example.

Prior to remote and/or hybrid work environments, we experienced a separation of home and life, which was normally accomplished via the commute and allowed the mental transition that we are finding is often lost in our current environment.

We encourage our staff to stay home if they feel unwell, it’s in line with our culture.