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TecHRseries Interview with Elaine Richards, President & COO at Wyzant

“People want to be seen, heard and understood,’’ shares Elaine Richards, President & COO at Wyzant in a recent conversation while catching up with TecHRseries to talk about her biggest leadership lessons. The ability to genuinely connect is important in building trust and bringing people with you on your journey. ‘’This takes time and intention, and although it seems like there’s never enough time, this concept is foundational to any leadership role,’’ continues Elaine.

Catch the complete QnA here to uncover interesting thoughts on preparing for a post pandemic future of work:

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Hi Elaine, Welcome to this chat with TecHRseries! We’d love to dive into the theme of the day – how have you been seeing employee trends and workplace cultures transform significantly in the recent decades, what according to you should today’s HR leader focus on when shaping their employee policies and strategies?

In today’s uncertain workforce, HR leaders need to support the needs of their employees more than ever. For parents, navigating work-from-home obligations as their children tackle virtual schooling is stressful and something HR leaders should consider when shaping new benefits and policies. We’ve seen companies adapt to this need first hand with a surge of interest in subsidized learning solutions, since perks such as free lunch and onsite gym memberships aren’t as meaningful anymore.

There’s been increased demand for reskilling and upskilling initiatives during this Covid-19 downtime, with several organizations also investing in employee development initiatives. Can you share your thoughts on a few ways in which you’ve seen companies adapt to changing employee needs during this downtime and also, how you see education services impacting workplace benefits in the future.

With the needs and priorities of working parents drastically shifting due to COVID-19, workplace benefits are being revamped to address the current climate of the world. The need for educational resources to help parents work from home (while also making sure their children are managing school online) has increased in demand. At Wyzant, we’ve noticed companies adapting to these needs by offering a variety of learning services – for both employees and their families. In a time of economic uncertainty, business leaders are recognizing the priority of career development as well. Reskilling can benefit both the employees and the company by forming well-rounded workers who can contribute in new ways required in today’s changing landscape. This can look like a lot of different things, depending on company and job type — from learning Spanish to becoming an expert in Excel to advance data science.

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We’d love to know a little about Wyzant’s experience and the team’s response to adjusting to the new normal…what are some top employee practices that were put in place especially because of the pandemic?

As soon as it was made aware that Wyzant would be working remotely long-term, we wanted to ensure that our employees had a comfortable and productive WFH experience. Originally, we encouraged people to help themselves to supplies from the office, whether that be computer hardware, supplies, or furniture. More recently, Wyzant offered a $250 stipend to make their home office experience more suitable. To stay true to our mission, we also offer a personal tutoring benefit of $500 per year which can be used for yourself as well as your household family members. Employees still get 50% off tutoring beyond this amount and unlimited tutoring for their own professional development. Employees can also offer a $200 tutoring coupon to other friends and family members. While Wyzant employees enjoy these tutor benefits (given the increase of remote schooling for the 2020-21 school year) we’ve seen a lot of interest from major corporations as well, which is why we launched Wyzant for Business.

What are some best practices you’d advise small to mid-sized businesses to follow in the new normal and beyond as the future of work changes?

Embrace upskilling and reskilling. The economic downfall has created a strong need among workers to look for ways to secure their employment and continue career growth and longevity. At Wyzant, our tutors have seen an uptick in professionals looking to upskill. By providing learning and development resources through HR resources, employees of small to mid-sized businesses will feel supported and encouraged to succeed in their careers during such an overwhelming time. These initiatives of continuous learning will also help maintain business agility while keeping employees connected.

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A few general thoughts / tips for businesses worldwide dealing with the current world pandemic?

Organizations — and leaders — need to be prepared to adjust traditional business methods in today’s swiftly changing landscape. Be open-minded to ideas about the core competencies and offerings of your business and how they can be applied in new ways if the usual doors are closed.

 

 

 

From passing a prereq to helping you land your dream job, Wyzant connects people who need to know more on a topic with the experts who can teach them.

Elaine Richards is the President & COO at Wyzant