Employee Committee Advance Work Guides Ceisler’s COVID Plan
When the coronavirus pandemic hit in March, every business had to navigate uncharted waters. Quick decisions had to be made – would employees work from home? How would we avoid breakdowns in communication? How could we ensure all members of the team had the necessary support to work effectively?
Certainly, we faced those same challenges at Ceisler Media & Issue Advocacy.
I’m gratified to say this company has handled those adversities remarkably well. And I know that a good part of that success comes from the Employee Committee that Ceisler Media launched one year before COVID arrived.
I serve as the committee’s facilitator, which makes me a conduit between firm leadership and staff, helping steer discussions toward productive outcomes. I take great pride in our work and the positive impact we’ve had. The concepts from the outset were straight-forward: Build an honest dialogue between leadership and staff; encourage differing perspectives on key topics; and focus on solution-based actions that foster sustainable progress.
In order for the committee to reach its full potential, it was essential we establish an environment where members could speak freely, without concern about judgment, and that we agree no idea or concept was out of bounds. We wanted to help the firm – and also help staffers grow personally and professionally. Giving accurate feedback and data to the leadership team was essential.
Within our first year, we conducted a staff survey to gauge opinions on work-related topics, helped plan and execute staff developments, organized a firm-wide volunteer effort, and provided feedback that leadership used to better educate staff about company benefits. Our efforts not only empowered staffers to participate in the firm’s decision-making process, but it also allowed us to take ownership of our ideas and carry initiatives to a satisfactory conclusion. Best of all, it united the firm behind common goals that were better understood by all members of the team.
This shared sense of unity was particularly important because Ceisler Media has rapidly expanded in recent years. It allowed staff in Philadelphia, Harrisburg, and Pittsburgh to find common ground on issues – and also share best practices and experiences with colleagues in other office locations.
As I said, this became even more important over the past seven months.
Since March, every Ceisler Media staff member has worked from home. Our living rooms became home offices. Coffee tables became work desks. There were new challenges – not just in doing the work, but in making sure everyone had the necessary support to serve clients and remain focused.
Fortunately, the groundwork laid by the Employee Committee helped steer conversations about safety protocols and action steps. It provided a platform for us to ask questions and for company leadership to provide steady, transparent, and timely direction.
We’ve used tools, including surveys, to provide team leaders with essential feedback on operations and staff capabilities. The open lines of communication ensure we all remain on the same page – even when we can’t remain in the same shared workspace.
The transition has been remarkably smooth. Our leadership team has been incredibly responsive to the ever-changing landscape. Committee meetings regularly generate comments on staff appreciation and support for the firm’s decisions and actions in these unique times. This two-way exchange between leadership and staff has served to strengthen the bonds that already existed within the firm.
Establishing the Employee Committee was a bold move by Ceisler Media. It required an investment in time and resources, as well as patience and a progressive vision to see a return on that investment. I believe the work we undertook, prior to the pandemic, is an essential part of how we’ve been able to stay focused and maintain the quality services our clients expect from us.
Michael Rodriguez is a Senior Associate in Ceisler Media's Harrisburg Office.