A year ago, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, changing billions of lives in ways unimaginable. Two days later, on Friday, March 13th, our employees began working remotely while the health crisis unfolded around the world.

We had just publicly announced our Sequoia People Platform at our annual Grove conference. During my presentation, I asked more than 1,200 of our clients to email me their ideas for how we could evolve our platform to solve their biggest HR challenges. I believe we were all starting to sense that many of us were about to face the most significant professional and personal challenges of our lives.

I received hundreds of thoughtful messages from our clients, many of them seeking solutions to support their people during the pandemic. As a result, throughout 2020, our Sequoia team collaborated tightly with many of our tech-centric clients, large enterprises, and small businesses to work the problems and take the learnings forward on how we could help companies take care of people.

I want to share the journey we’ve been on this past year and spotlight four key areas where this collaboration with clients and partners came through for people when they needed it most. I find it is important to look back and see what worked well in order to develop future solutions for the inevitable challenges ahead. And I am so appreciative of our community and our team members for their hard, smart work to turn out great stuff for so many others during their time of need.

1. Protecting the health and safety of people and companies

Businesses needed a way to get their people to work safely and protect them from the virus while there. So, we worked with clients and partners like One Medical and Wilson Sonsini to launch the Sequoia Return to Work Center, a centralized system for businesses to track who was coming into the office, manage COVID-19 test results, share policies with employees, and coordinate communication to them and health officials, all in one place. We refined the system along the way thanks to valuable feedback from forward-thinking clients like Snap Inc., Roblox, and Peloton who pushed us to consider how we could support different types of workforces across the globe.

2. Better support of wellbeing and mental health needs

Everyone quickly realized the pandemic had taken a toll on people and their families’ wellbeing and mental health. Our clients asked for an affordable and efficient way to extend more wellbeing services and virtual care to their employees who were facing new challenges in a distributed environment. Thanks to meaningful relationships and shared values with vendors in the wellbeing space, we created Sequoia Wellbeing Bundles to ease the burden of managing multiple vendor solutions, which meant clients could quickly roll out a range of wellbeing packages to their employees. Within weeks, tens of thousands of employees received elevated care, and that would not be possible without the close partnerships with businesses like Headspace, Spring Health, Galileo, Quit Genius, Rigthtway, Ginger, Aaptiv, Physera, and many other wellbeing vendors.

3. Better access to and understanding of company benefits.

We’ve always been focused on simplifying and centralizing benefits information for our clients and their employees. But with many workforces entirely distributed by the Fall, many of HR’s traditional benefits education methods were no longer viable. We needed to launch a digital experience for Open Enrollment 2020 since most businesses were operating remotely, and they and their families were now everywhere. This led to the creation of new Employee Experience Sites right before OE that brought all benefits information in one easy-to-use place for clients to share with their employees and families. With feedback from our client community, we built features to help employees compare benefit plans, calculate the cost, and learn how their company was investing in them, all in one digital, always-on experience.

4. Understanding what’s happening with people.

With so much change in the workforce, HR leaders asked us for more insight and guidance into what was happening with their people now so they could make better business decisions. This led to new innovations on our platform such as people insights, on-demand benchmarking, compensation insights, and predictive financial modeling tools to give our clients deeper insight into the changes in their organization.

Our clients and our team tackled many more problems this past year, but these four examples illustrate how a powerful community can come together to solve some of the toughest challenges. I couldn’t be prouder of what was accomplished with so many great client CEOs, CHROs, HR Finance teams, partners, and of course, the amazing people of our Sequoia team.

I wanted to thank our unique community as we are already taking the learnings forward to solve the challenges ahead together. Thank you!

Disclaimer: This content is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, medical or tax advice. It provides general information and is not intended to encompass all compliance and legal obligations that may be applicable. This information and any questions as to your specific circumstances should be reviewed with your respective legal counsel and/or tax advisor as we do not provide legal or tax advice. Please note that this information may be subject to change based on legislative changes. © 2021 Sequoia Benefits & Insurance Services, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Greg Golub – As Sequoia CEO, Greg is responsible for constituting the vision and future of the company, leading the management team, and strengthening our client-centric culture as Sequoia scales. Greg also spends much of his time studying industry trends, serving on advisory boards and figuring out what changes in our industry will serve as opportunities for our clients.