How COCC continues to build a healthy, effective, and cohesive culture
The challenges over the past few years have caused ripple effects that uncovered unforeseen hurdles for how employees and employers conduct everyday activities. However, with these challenges came newfound innovation and approaches to problem-solving that have furthered COCC’s commitment to serve our clients and expand our business. The collaborative nature of COCC’s Cooperative has been hard at work. COCC employees and clients worked together to rapidly deploy new technology to enhance and personalize the virtual experience, as well as to implement new security tools to ensure the safety of our solutions. These challenges allowed COCC the opportunity to assess how we can work together to improve client satisfaction, business growth, and all of our relationships.
A rapidly changing business landscape meant that COCC had to find qualified staff to fill open positions while equipping managers with the skills and tools necessary to manage a hybrid workforce. Expectations around work responsibilities and hours have changed, adding further complications to COCC’s approach to supporting and empowering employees. We reacted quickly by adopting a variety of online tools, creating connection opportunities, and fostering an environment of belonging.
Utilizing Online Tools
This past year, COCC effectively onboarded new talent as we grew to more than 700 employees. We developed a return to office strategy to help departments get back onsite in a manner that ensures our safety while utilizing a hybrid work-from-home and in-office approach.
To enhance communication during this phase, while keeping a keen eye on maintaining a collaborative culture, COCC adopted several new technologies:
- Instituted the use of WebEx and Jabber to facilitate virtual meetings and create mobility for office calls from any location.
- Introduced Slack, a single platform combining the best features of email, social media, and instant messaging to create a connected and fun employee experience.
- Integrated 15Five, a performance management and employee engagement application built around weekly check-ins to help foster stronger relationships. In addition to being a great way to keep managers and their teams connected, the check-in is used to give others in the company “high five” accolades, generate a one-on-one meeting agenda, track overall goals, and structure employee reviews.
- Improved our employee training platform through the implementation of LearnUpon, a learning management system to continue education and professional growth initiatives. Ensuring employees are connected while providing opportunities for growth generates a committed workforce able to deliver higher levels of customer service by staying actively engaged.
- Expanded the use of ServiceNow to include workflows for internal requests and incident management. By adding functionality for internal teams, using the same system to track work requests as their clients do every day, COCC is more in-tune with the client experience while streamlining internal issue resolution.
Creating Opportunities to Connect
- COCC has implemented a core day program to enhance our existing hybrid staffing model. The idea is simple: we will continue to offer choice and flexibility in hybrid work while introducing a one day a week in office presence for all employees. Core days will feature employee events, free catered lunches, and opportunities for departments to engage in teambuilding.
- We have grown our existing activities and rolled out new events that create fun connection points for our employees. During the warmer months, we convene company-wide happy hours at different locations where employees are encouraged to take a break in a relaxed, stress-free setting. The holiday season features parties at each Connecticut-based office, catered luncheons and social hours, as well as a holiday marketplace featuring employee and local vendors.
- Adapting our events to a hybrid model to engage our remote-only employees has become a major initiative. Large-scale company meetings, trivia, and holiday activities used to take place in-office only; today, we offer these events virtually as well so that remote employees have a chance to participate.
Fostering Growth, Diversity and Belonging
- We believe that diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging provide the workplace a competitive advantage in employee engagement and innovation. As a company that focuses on collaboration, COCC encourages all employees to be their authentic selves every day and to come together to make the company a welcoming, inclusive environment for all. We strive to ensure that all employees have representation at every level of our organization and equal access to opportunities to impact decisions that influence their workplace experience. COCC is committed to creating a workplace that encourages communication and education – leading a movement in which we celebrate what makes our employees unique and the values we share together.
- Introduced in late 2021, our Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are essential to encouraging the power of engagement. These groups create and promote a network of like-minded individuals who are willing to listen, learn, speak up about issues or concerns, and support one another. Throughout the year, ERG members coordinate networking opportunities and community service activities to give back to local and surrounding communities.
- COCC continuously seeks ways to enhance our employee experience. Most recently, our internal Talent Development and Talent Management teams collaborated to design a new, engaging weeklong new hire orientation program called BEGIN@COCC. This highly interactive weeklong program showcases a rotating list of internal guest speakers, instructors, presentations, and a tour of all three of our Connecticut-based campuses to our newly hired employees to highlight the culture and business of COCC.
- We recognize that our employees have varying needs and interests outside of work. In order to ensure inclusion across our benefits, we have rolled out Lifestyle Spending Accounts (LSAs), a wallet-style account that allows employees to put funds toward their own wellbeing, student loans, childcare expenses, pet supplies – or just about anything else.
COCC employees continue to be incredibly resilient and adaptive to the shifting demands and responsibilities of running a growing and complex business. Our people truly embody the spirit of collaboration, teamwork, passion, and security. Every day presents new opportunities to tackle challenges with a great attitude and with solutions that are best for COCC and our clients. As an organization, COCC continues to foster an open work environment for our employees by providing them with the flexibility and tools needed to grow and succeed as it has nurtured and developed our culture to make COCC such a great place to work. Undoubtedly, it is a strong sense of community that allowed COCC to remain true to our core values.