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June 26, 2020

Flexibility Key to Stimulating Remote Engagement

While the workforce continues to battle through COVID-19's challenges for work and at home, flexibility goes a long way in enabling employees to more effectively manage competing responsibilities.

When COVID-19 made its mark in the U.S. and workforces transitioned to an all-remote environment with haste, Freddie Mac's Benefits and Well-Being team knew they had to act quickly to protect employees and introduce greater flexibilities to support them.

"We immediately expanded our remote working capabilities, ensured safe working conditions for our essential employees and offered unlimited sick leave to any employees diagnosed or caretaking for someone diagnosed with COVID-19," said Mary Ann, senior director of benefits, well-being and recognition.

Soon thereafter, the team recognized the need to provide additional means for employees to help them manage work and life responsibilities in this new normal.

"We are encouraging schedule flexibility to help employees who are wearing multiple hats more effectively juggle work, child care, school work or other responsibilities that are vying for their attention," said Mary Ann.

An unscheduled paid leave policy was also implemented for when employees need a few hours here or there to help their children with school or just step away for a mental health break. "The peace of mind that comes with knowing an employer is okay with an employee taking time during a 'normal' workday is invaluable," Mary Ann says.

"We have a culture where our people are deeply connected to and focused on our housing mission, especially in times of crisis," Mary Ann says. "Our leaders routinely encourage two-way communication during this time to ensure both personal and work needs are met as we navigate the current environment together. Everyone is managing their own unique situation — it's important to provide them with the resources they need to continue to make home possible both at work and within their own home."

Additionally, the Working Parents employee resource group has stepped in to support employees who have taken on additional roles as teachers and caregivers during this time.

"Inspired by their commitment, our HR team hosted a virtual session where we invited the children of our HR working parents to share their perspective on ways that parents can support their kids during this time," Mary Ann says.

The team has also focused on expanding outreach about well-being to employees through multiple channels, so that staff members are aware of available options if they need them.

"In addition to increased communications, we have also stepped up internal pulse checks to gauge engagement. The results show that engagement is strong overall and employees appreciate the flexibility provided during this time," Mary Ann says.

Across the board, we're doing everything we can to make this new normal work, and we're hiring for all open positions by conducting interviews and onboarding virtually. Ready to join our team? Apply now.