After the events of 2020 and a new emphasis on remote work, Protective launched the Ambassador Program to foster community among our virtual workforce, which included many who had previously worked in an office together.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, 19% of Protective teammates worked remotely, growing to 60% in 2022. Putting our people at the heart of our decisions, Protective pursued ways to build culture, community and connection with our distributed teammates, identifying geographic concentrations of team members and engaging them.
“It grew out of a business need a few months into the pandemic,” said Letitia Morsch, Vice President, Head of Retirement Operations and Ambassador for the Chicago area. “We all moved home and got settled in, and truly never missed a beat. We were able to maintain a high level of customer service and support remotely. Because of this success, and hearing very positive scores on survey results, we decided to create more remote positions, knowing we could source talent from anywhere. Now, everyone across the country has an opportunity to be heard, make meaningful contributions and grow along with Protective.”
As a virtual teammate in the Chicago area, she understands the importance of the program and has helped shepherd it since its earliest days as a way to replicate natural connection opportunities an office environment creates.
Thanks to the work of team members like Morsch and Kat DePalma, who manages the program, in 2022 the Ambassador Program expanded to 11 ambassadors with chapters coast-to-coast, from South Florida to Oregon, all working as ambassadors in addition to their traditional roles within Protective. With support from the Protective Life Foundation, Ambassadors executed eight service projects in their communities with over 700 total participants. DePalma said this is an indicator of the continued growth and success of the program.
“It’s vital that our virtual team members know they are an important driver in how we are moving forward as a company,” said DePalma, Associate II, Human Resources Generalist. “By pairing our Ambassador Program with Protective Life Foundation support, we are able to make a difference in more communities, while empowering our distributed team members to give back to the places they live and experience every day.”
As the program has matured through the years, buzz about the work and impact of the Ambassador Program is growing. We are even starting to see the next generation of ambassadors step up.
“We’re now at the point where places we didn’t have offices, pre-2020, are now seeing ambassador chapters grow,” Morsch said. “In Nebraska, a team member started an Ambassador chapter because she saw the value it could bring in connecting teammates in her area and building camaraderie. It’s an incredible testament to what we’re trying to do here. Even core site teammates are taking notice and cheering on our efforts. As a key member in the founding of the Ambassador Program, I’m so proud to see us take this small idea of keeping our virtual teammates engaged and witness it expand into a coast-to-coast program of community and collaboration.”
In 2022, Protective hosted Ambassadors in Birmingham for a two-day summit to discuss planning, best practices and success stories. This summit energized the team members involved and provided a lifeline to the larger company.
“We’ve seen higher engagement, communication and connection to the company in our quarterly team member surveys as a result of this work,” noted Morsch. “We’ve put in countless hours to make this program successful and sustainable, and it’s rewarding to see it grow and mature.”