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Doing the right thing delivers for employees and clients

When your business matches the right talent to the right organization, doing right by employees is a must.

For more than 70 years, Robert Half, the San Francisco Bay Area–based global staffing leader, has been focused on the well-being of its employees. But this year, leadership took its caring culture to a new level. They prioritized the health and safety of the company’s 13,000 employees, leveraged innovative technology to support job candidates and clients, and found new ways to connect, even with a fully remote workforce.

“Our employees had the unconditional right to work from home if they chose, and that continues to this day,” says M. Keith Waddell, chief executive officer. “We also give them tools to be successful. Many of the investments we had made in the technology area were critical, like our cloud-based CRM [customer relationship management] system, which natively provides remote access.”

Employees also received multiple business expense allowances to cover any extra costs associated with working from home, such as more internet bandwidth, as well as increased access to Robert Half’s employee assistance program, which provides support for overall mental health and well-being, as well as childcare resources for working parents. Regular webinars covered everything from dealing with stress to school closures.

On the communication front, leadership rolled out new software that allowed for large-scale video communication, including monthly live events with the executive team, which had an 80% to 90% global attendance rate. They also ramped up the cadence of employee surveys to quickly see challenges and opportunities, enabling them to provide more regular feedback.

“The overall message to employees is that we’re all in this together and that we care,” says Waddell. “Robert Half’s caring culture was the basis for just about every decision.”

“That empathy that we have for employees—the sensitivity, the compassion—really led the way for us,” says Lynne Smith, senior vice president of global human resources. “Being a professional services firm, our people are number one.”

The ultimate recipients of that caring culture were job candidates and clients, like state governments processing a huge surge in unemployment claims and banks handling the elevated demand for Paycheck Protection Program loans. 

Speaking out about social injustice as well as making contributions and expanding partnerships with related business associations, like the National Association of Black Accountants, National Urban League, and National Society of Black Engineers, were also part of a year unlike any other.

“I’ve been here 35 years, and this year was pivotal, both in our support of diversity and against inequity,” says Waddell. “We spoke out on these critical issues and took the time to listen and learn from our employees as their diverse ideas and perspectives can help guide us. We’re giving transparency to our employees about what our DEI [Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion] statistics are, because we can always do better.”

Study after study has shown that diversity drives better problem-solving and decision-making, more innovation, and happier, more engaged employees. It’s also just the right thing to do. In fact, principle has guided Robert Half since it was founded in 1948, with the motto “Ethics First.” The company is now looking ahead, using everything leadership has learned over the past year to make it an even better place to be.

Says Smith: “Making lists like the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For list never gets old for us. It’s great for employee morale. We take a lot of pride in it.”