Two employees who started at New York Life in 2020 explain how they had a smooth transition to their new jobs, all while getting to know their colleagues through a screen.
When Covid began spreading in the U.S. in March 2020, New York Life quickly sent 95 percent of its workforce home, equipping them to perform their jobs remotely. In the two years of this work-from-home environment, the company hired hundreds of new employees. The entire process, from interviewing to onboarding to starting the work, had to be done remotely. It was definitely different, but New York Life gave the best possible experience to its “pandemic hires.”
Instant “work buddy”
One such hire is Jorge Patrisso, who works on the Technology Communications team and was hired in the fall of 2020. Jorge says the first few weeks went smoothly, as his manager set up many one-on-one virtual meetings for him so he could meet the rest of the team and the Technology business partners he would be supporting.
But Jorge says the most important thing about his onboarding was that he was assigned a “work buddy” to help with his transition. “She wasn’t good, she was great,” Jorge says. “She made me feel like I always had someone to go to. If she didn’t hear from me, she would check in to make sure I didn’t need anything. That made a world of difference in my first six months.”
And it wasn’t just his work buddy whose compassion he appreciated. “Everybody was very understanding and treated me with an extra level of kindness and care,” Jorge says, “and they never forgot that it’s not normal to start a job during a pandemic and completely virtual.”
When Jorge came into the office for the first time, in March 2022, he was very nervous. “It felt like the first day of school,” he recalls. “I had only met everyone through a computer screen, so I was really anxious. But everyone was so warm and inviting.”
“The company did everything it could to make the transition as easy as it could,” he adds, “from sending us Covid test kits at home to giving us return-to-onsite-work gifts. They also changed the dress code to be more casual for the main corporate locations and encouraged more flexibility with people’s start and finish times.”
Many colleagues sought Jorge out and introduced themselves, and Jorge’s manager gave him a tour of the building and introduced him to everyone else. “I’m a hugger,” Jorge says. “But I always asked first if it was ok to do so!”
Communication and caring
Sara Castro, who works in Co-Sourcing Operations within the Finance department, started at New York Life in February of 2020—she worked very briefly in person with colleagues before everyone was sent to work from home. “I was happy they wanted to protect their employees,” she recalls. “That meant so much to me, that safety is a priority. I admired that about the company.”
It was an adjustment going virtual, but Sara’s manager made sure it went smoothly. “My manager was always there whenever I needed a hand,” she says. “I was still in the training phase when I went virtual, but my manager kept an open line of communication to make sure that I was on track and receiving the help that I needed.”
Now a two-plus year New York Life veteran and back in the office three days a week, Sara easily ticks off a list of things she likes about working here. “I’ve noticed that New York Life really fosters professional development of its employees, offering different learning opportunities that are easy to sign up for,” she says. The company’s online Learning Exchange, for example, is a digital platform offering thousands of courses, videos, and articles, along with custom learning pathways for developing specific skills.
Sara also points to the company’s culture of giving back. “Not only during the annual Giving Campaign, but throughout the year,” she says. “The fact that they make it easy to give back means a lot to me.”
Within her own department, Sara values the “open line of communication” with senior management. “They take their time to regularly meet with us and keep us in the loop of any changes that the company might be undergoing, the financials, etc. They want us to be aware of what’s going on, and I definitely appreciate that.”
“Overall, I’m very happy with New York Life. They offer flexibility, they foster professional development, they practice what they preach—they really care about their people.”
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