As Human Resources Director at OTT Financial Group, Mimi Hancock is responsible for leading human resources activities for all OTT’s lines of business, including recruitment and retention, new hire onboarding, employee relations, employer branding, performance management and training. We recently spoke with her about how COVID-19 has impacted daily operations, and what the company is doing to help employees adapt to these rapid changes.
Has your role changed since the COVID-19 outbreak?
Yes, I have become responsible for updating our leadership team on new government communications related to COVID 19. This also includes providing information on new government programs and their potential impact on the company.
How has COVID-19 impacted OTT’s daily operations?
Being a Chinese Canadian company, we were aware of the situation as we had employees in China at the time the virus first appeared, so we put in self-quarantine protocols quite early. We also instituted a work rotation schedule to limit the number of employees on-site at our offices at any given time, with most people working from home. We have also limited outside visitors to our offices and screen all visitors for symptoms. Wherever possible client contact is via telephone or other means. And we’re lucky to have on-site property management staff who perform comprehensive cleaning off our office facilities daily.
What are OTT’s top HR priorities at the moment?
The health and wellness of our employees, and proactive employee communications.
How is HR supporting employees working remotely and on-site?
HR is supporting all staff by keeping them informed of important business and government information, process changes etc. We’re providing technical support to those working remotely. We have provided resources for employees to manage their work. At OTT we’re all part of a family. The health of our employees and their families is paramount.
How is HR supporting Managers?
The same way we always do. Providing guidance in dealing with employee-related issues. Supporting specific hiring or training needs. Being a strong business partner.
How do you mobilize employees when they’re working from home?
We’re lucky to have a dedicated and passionate workforce. People are focussed on their deliverables. We have clearly communicated expectations and resources available. Employees also know they can contact their Manager or HR with concerns. In addition, each team has set up regular meetings and checkpoints. We make great use of Microsoft Teams!
Did you adapt expectations, deadlines and schedules?
This would be assessed on a case-by-case basis, with clear priorities set for each employee. If employees have set deadlines and can access the information, technology and people resources they need, then the deadline likely has not shifted. However, if a deadline is dependent on resources that are not available, then there is a need to review. As an example, in HR we normally deliver in-person training on a regular basis. With the current situation, we need to determine if there is an alternate method to deliver, or if we need to defer training until employees are back on-site.
Aside from tech solutions, are you providing other tips and tools to employees?
Yes, we have provided tips on how to effectively work from home.
Is HR providing resources for well-being and mental health?
As much as we can. We recognize that employees have multiple stresses in today’s environment, and we do our best to support through flexibility, understanding and proactive discussion.
Do you share regular updates to employees about COVID-19 safety measures?
We did a great deal of communication, especially in the early stages of the pandemic. We also guided employees on reliable sources of information. We have reminders around the office as well. We have also provided information on government benefits that are available.
Do you think this unprecedented situation will bring the OTT community closer?
The OTT family is already a very close group. I would say that as a Canadian company with strong Chinese roots, we certainly feel strongly about doing everything we can to flatten the curve, and to support frontline workers. We’re especially proud to have been able to make significant donations of masks and other medical supplies to local healthcare organizations.