Following Our Own Lead 
HR’s Journey to Readiness

A picture containing person, person, suit, wearing    Description automatically generatedFlashback to September 2019 and as an HR organization, we were preparing for a company-wide transition to Workday. Our target launch date was July 2020 and the HR team was hyper focused on stepping into a truly digital way of working – making data-driven decisions, leading with digital-first processes, and designing interactions that start and end with the employee experience in mind. The Workday platform brings this new digital HR mindset to life and will re-energize our internal product, the experience of working at Comcast for the next generation of Comcasters.  

We prepared for the upcoming change by partnering differently across geographies, business units, finance and operations and bringing these partners into the decision making and co-creation process of the new employee experience. Perhaps most exciting is how we centered our approach around the voice of our employees – listening to our teammates and putting them at the center of how we designed the new Workday experience. Little did we know that these new HR ways of working – co-creating policies and processes with our business partners, informing those decisions with data and by listening to our employees, and remaining committed to our employees physical, financial, emotional and career health – would become the foundation for how we would respond to the global health crisis that 2020 was about to bring.    

At the end of 2019, the COVID-19 calls began first for our Comcast Beijing offices. By early 2020, the decision was made to postpone the launch of Workday to January 2021. Our primary goal was now to support our teammates, our customers and our communities through the coronavirus pandemic.  

Caring for Our Teammates Becomes How We Operate 

From the outset of the pandemic, our Comcast leadership team knew we had to follow our own lead to do right by our employees and our customers and to keep the country connected to our services. During those first few weeks in March, our focus on health and safety meant that the HR organization was going to play a key role regarding our COVID-19 enterprise response. But the preparation to become a digitally- focused team, with operational focus and the credibility built over many years, were the key factors in having the HR team lead this effort. The Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) and medical teams, teams within the HR organization, were informing the hundreds of decisions that needed to be made quickly. HR coordinated with IT and facilities teams to move tens of thousands of employees from offices to work virtually from their homes, including more than 95% of our U.S. call center employees and over 90% of our office-based workforce. We continued to lead engagement across functions, working closely with frontline leaders to enhance health and safety protocols for all customer-facing employees. This included adjustments to how we conduct technician visits in homes or businesses and modifying the operations of hundreds of retail stores with enhanced safety measures such as social distancing, plexiglass barriers and curbside pick-up. To ensure we kept our retail employees working when stores were closed due to local orders, HR created programs to temporarily transition these roles to virtual agents so they could continue to work from home.  

HR also established a cross enterprise team with our partners at NBCUniversal to rapidly operationalize a testing, case management, tracing and national support model. We knew that this testing model was critical to providing us with the data we needed to keep business operations going. The model supported tens of thousands of COVID-19 tests to build COVID-free bubbles for our entertainment businesses. The model was then repurposed for a national customer-facing case management team supporting our front-line employees. Through enhanced health and safety protocols, testing, screening, specialized support and application of leading practice data science, we have seen that this model has made a difference keeping the levels of infection low among our teams. 

Our Product and Technical teams increased targeted efforts on digital tools, such as Xfinity Assistant, and virtual services, such as the Virtual Technician, to continue essential services while limiting in-person contact. Working with HR to accelerate investment in digital roles and rethink some of our core services, we were able to help keep our employees and customers safe while also helping keep the country connected. Our acceleration of digital also enabled us to expand career opportunities, provide opportunities for new, virtual roles and maintain continuity of work for thousands of employees. 

These are just a few key examples of how HR’s partnership with the business and our role guiding data- driven employee decisions helped transform how we operate. Each of these massive changes were implemented quickly and impacted our employees, how we operated our business and how we serviced our customers. A key to our success has been making sure our people-impacting decisions and our operations-impacting decisions are aligned and support each other the whole way. As the research and science evolved and as employee sentiment evolved, so did our programs, policies and operating models, because keeping the health and safety of our employees, customers and communities came first.  

Our Commitment to Listening 

Leaning even further into our culture of listening, taking action on feedback and using data to inform our decisions, we changed the cadence and focus of when and how we listened to our teammates. We launched a dedicated COVID-19 employee pulse survey and we incorporated COVID-19 specific questions into our ongoing bi-monthly employee survey, an internal employee rating system that mirrors how we also survey customer experience satisfaction. We knew that COVID-19 had a tremendous impact on nearly every aspect of our daily lives, and we wanted to make sure we were caring for our teammates in the ways that they needed. Through our listening, we learned that our employees needed new kinds of support in their work and especially in their home lives. We learned that our protocols and policies were effective and appreciated, but we also learned where we needed to adjust services and interactions with customers. We learned that employees needed new ways of working with each other and needed to optimize where we could. 

The data, the feedback and the verbatims were clear. Employees needed support managing their work, home, and family lives whether they were working in our stores or with customers and balancing a new normal or working from home where the lines between work and family were blurring together.  

Recognizing the new challenges that employees with families were facing, and the concern our employees had about being able to care for themselves and their family members, we offered enhanced Paid Time Off (PTO) benefits. This benefit supported employees who were diagnosed, exposed, or taking care of someone with COVID-19 providing two weeks of additional PTO to take care of themselves or those they love. We are also provided employees a new form of PTO called Family Care PTO - an additional 40 hours of PTO specifically for those who are dealing with childcare issues or caring for an immediate family or household member who may be a high-risk.    

As schools and day care situations continued to be in flux across the country, we expanded back-up care options and support services for children, adults and elderly family members. This includes 25 days per dependent of waived co-pays for center-based care and in-home care, as well as reimbursements of up to $100/day for out-of-network care. Additionally, the program provides priority access to over 600 childcare centers across the country and access to learning pods, tutoring services, elder care planning and resources, and primary childcare tuition discounts. 

Additionally, we pulled all these resources into a designated work from home resource center. The site was first established to help employees find the resources and tools they needed to connect into our company systems, and it soon expanded into a virtual workplace resource to help our employees learn how to collaborate differently, lead teams and projects effectively with new virtual norms, connect with colleagues in new and thoughtful ways, optimize the features of our tools and our technology and feel supported in their wellbeing.  

The Results 

As a result of our focus on listening to our teammates and prioritizing health and safety throughout all our employee and customers experiences, they in return have never felt more positive about our company. In July, at the height of the pandemic, we reached an all-time high external score in how customers feel about their overall experience with Comcast as a brand. Similarly, we saw a nearly 10-point improvement from August 2019 in our internal employee rating for whether they would recommend Comcast as a place to work, and our internal engagement and motivation scores continue to remain strong.  

Today, almost a full year later since I joined my first coronavirus-related call, we remain just as committed and focused on the physical, financial and emotional health of our employees, the safety of our customers and on delivering critical connectivity and services that our customers and our communities need. As we enter what feels like round two of the global pandemic, the path forward is clear. The business needs HR to continue to lead critical components of our pandemic response: thinking holistically about the physical, financial, emotional and career health and of the employee experience, focusing on the health and safety of our employees and customers, using data to inform employee and business decisions, and we will continue to drive digital ways of working while we remain committed to each other as ONE team. These core, foundational components, led by HR, will thrive well past this pandemic and I believe has elevated the role of HR for years to come. I am grateful to the leadership across our HR organization and to our internal partners and our employees who stepped up again and again to do the right thing and take care of each other, our customers and our business.