By Stamatis Ferarolis – CEO, RISC
As COVID-19 began to grip the world, I started thinking about preparations here in the US and how it might affect our business. Our employees are the lifeblood of our company, so it got me wondering how this new norm would affect their work and home life. The biggest questions I had were, what would work from home look like and how did this change their children’s life? Fortunately, and by design, we were already largely prepared for the work-from-home scenario as we had many operational functions online and in the cloud. However, we quickly realized that there was another problem arising with older aged adolescents at home or suddenly coming home from college. As a father of teenage kids, I saw this firsthand how COVID19 was affecting them. They now had the challenge of virtual school, no longer had afterschool or summer jobs and had lost all sense of normalcy. These ‘kids’ had suddenly entered a very challenging time in their lives, and I saw an opportunity where I could help.
After some consideration, I realized that RISC had several opportunities where teenagers and young college-age kids could learn different skills within the RISC virtual office. Not only was this going to help our company, but more importantly, it was an opportunity to teach these students essential business skills and earn some money. It was at this point that Program LIFT, “Leaning Into the Future Together”, was born. After staff consultation we saw this as one way to create young leaders of tomorrow during a time of great uncertainty.
This program was designed for teenage children of RISC employees. A source of pride for me was to see the relationship that parent-employees cultivated with their teenage children because many of our LIFT employees get to work alongside their parents, providing additional mentorship, pride, and revenue.
Here is how it works for RISC. As LIFT candidates, they are introduced to a real-world professional hiring process. They are required to submit a resume, conduct an interview, and upon acceptance, the new LIFT employee joins the company following the same process as any other new employee would. This includes reviewing the employee handbook, setting up their direct deposit payroll, obtaining a company email address, setting up their home office equipment, one-on-one manager mentorship and so on. The employees work on routine, non-emergency items that can be accomplished remotely, part-time and during flexible hours. To incentivize hard work, the pay rate is well above minimum wage. Exposing the LIFT candidates to this new work-from-home opportunity has allowed them to learn in a professional work atmosphere while working on their time balancing school and work.
I see Program LIFT continuing well beyond the COVID era. It has been a very positive experience and worth the effort. My dream is that this inspires other companies to do something similar. I am promoting this as a template for others across the country to follow. We have a duty to lift others as we rise ourselves, and our children are the way to make that happen. To learn more about our framework, please download the Program LIFT template HERE. Good luck!