How B Corps Choose to B: Supporting Employees Through Tough Times

March 19, 2020

Helping Employees Be Their Full Selves at Work (Even When Working From Home)

As the COVID-19 pandemic affects the everyday lives of people around the world, the ripple effects for businesses continue. Many are establishing systems so employees can work remotely, while others are considering more flexible schedules for parents who are without child care options or creating new schedules for employees who must be at the workplace.

For example, Certified B Corporations AllBirds and Patagonia have temporarily closed their stores while continuing to pay those affected employees who aren’t able to work. Employees who can work from home were allowed to do so as well.

While these offerings and options are new to some businesses in light of the current pandemic, these practices have been the norm at many B Corps that have the ability to provide more flexible structures. Although not all businesses can make the same offerings, B Corps’ stakeholder model takes into account treatment of workers and community members alongside profits, the environmental impacts of the company, and more. These B Corps aim to provide workers with supportive policies and practices that help them bring their best effort on the job and lead more fulfilling lives away from work — amid a health crisis or at other times.

In honor of B Corp Month, B The Change is highlighting examples of B Corps, including Y Scouts, Participate Learning, and Preserve, with policies that help employees live their values in and out of the workplace and provide them the infrastructure needed to help weather tough times at home and in their communities.

Stay Connected While Working Remotely

At B Corp Y Scouts, “Hiring on Purpose” means connecting leaders to work that matters in a purposeful and methodical way. Internally, Y Scouts incorporates well-being into each employee’s professional development plan, outlining how workers can sustain their mental and physical health.

To allow for greater flexibility, Y Scouts offers “Work That Matters From Anywhere” assignments for employees, ensuring they have the tools and time-management skills needed to take care of business remotely. That includes the ability to host virtual meetings, using online platforms so employees can stay connected. For quicker and less formal communications, Y Scouts suggests providing a chat tool so email inboxes are for lengthier topics. Y Scouts employees also are encouraged to block time on their calendars for specific focus — to help them stay on task and let others know when projects will be complete.

Katelyn Lange, Y Scouts search advisor.
Katelyn Lange, Y Scouts search advisor.

In 2020 Y Scouts employees have worked from Peru and Costa Rica. To share their adventure and stay in contact with colleagues, they share photos and stories from remote locales on an internal communication channel.

Katelyn Lange, a search advisor, says the month she spent working abroad in Peru gave her a fresh outlook on her job as well as a change of scenery and lifestyle.

“I supported our clients through phone and Zoom and enjoyed the opportunity to immerse myself in another culture,” Lange says.

As Y Scouts activates the B Corp charge of balancing purpose with profits while also managing COVID 19, the company has encouraged all employees to work remotely, says Tasha Hock, practice director for social impact, people and culture, and high growth leadership.

“We put our care for our employees in action to keep our team safe, allowing them to continue driving results for our clients and candidates,” Hock says “We’ve set up an open Zoom video ‘room’ where our team can drop in to congregate and connect virtually throughout the day. We also have scheduled a weekly virtual team meditation session. Self-care is critical in times of stress. The better we care for each other and ourselves the better we can provide excellent support in our work.”

Communication Powers Collaboration

The ability to work remotely is rooted in Y Scouts’ collaborative atmosphere, where employees are encouraged to regularly share ideas that shape the workplace. The B Corp’s four key values — driving results, developing others, learning relentlessly, and gratefulness — reflect expectations for Y Scouts employees and the company.

Melissa Schonberger, a Y Scouts search advisor.
Melissa Schonberger, a Y Scouts search advisor.

“We have an open forum where we can speak to our direct leaders and anyone else on the team about ideas, improvements to be made, and ways to solve problems that we are running into together,” says Melissa Schonberger, a Y Scouts search advisor.

That collaboration extends to Y Scouts’ work with its clients looking to hire and leaders looking for purpose-driven work. Y Scouts team members use a “covert” process to learn more about the person behind the resume before they disclose information on the client or job opportunity. This allows for real conversations about what motivates people and the workplace where they would be a good fit.

“We are also looking to work with clients who share this mission of doing good for the world,” Schonberger says. “We are always focused on both personal and professional development at Y Scouts through a culture that encourages collaboration, openness, and creative thought.”

After Participate’s employees said that work schedule flexibility was of high value, the B Corp made changes to address the request.
After Participate’s employees said that work schedule flexibility was of high value, the B Corp made changes to address the request.

Flexibility for Stronger Business

To attract the best employees and keep them operating at their best, B Corps Preserve and Participate Learning made policy changes that also provide returns in multiple ways to the business.

Preserve, a sustainable consumer goods company with a small team, saw an opportunity to increase staff diversity in the short term by expanding its health care coverage to include part-time workers.

“Allowing people to stay on health insurance while reducing their hours to react to caregiving obligations or go back to school seemed like a good, impactful, realistic step,” says Deana Becker, director of stakeholder operations at Preserve. “We also know that by offering insurance at a lower number of hours of work we make Preserve a more appealing employer to people in a wider range of life situations.”

B Corp Participate Learning, a K-12 education program provider, increased PTO and sick leave, and added a policy allowing employees to use sick leave for doctor appointments, and to care for immediate sick children, spouse or parents.

“We encourage employees to pursue their professional and personal passions,” says Ranya Hahn, director of human resources at Participate Learning. “Employees use time away from work for personal interests and rest and then return ready to focus on our mission and goals. In terms of flexibility, we trust our employees to determine the best schedules for themselves, their teams and their work.”

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