WFG Prioritizes Employee Physical, Mental Safety

May 7, 2020

Real estate and mortgage companies that continue to provide their essential public services are adopting social distancing measures to safeguard the physical health of their customers and staff. Some, like Portland, Ore.-based WFG National Title Insurance Co., are also expanding employee protection and education programs in an effort to provide emotional support, mental health care, and a safety net against loss of income should the employee become sick or need time off to care for a family member.

Like most of the nation's title companies, WFG promptly established safe signing rooms in “clean closing” locations and contracted with mobile notaries when needed to provide in-home signing with social distancing. It also had employees perform CDC-approved health screenings for all transaction principals prior to entering the offices for an appointment-only meeting, where a fresh unused pen was available for each individual to use and then keep or discard.

Then it took the extra step.

“We understand that our employees are anxious right now and the safety and well-being of our WFG family is our top priority,” said Heather Krablin, senior vice president and WFG’s chief human resources officer. With this in mind, we’ve made some significant enhancements to our existing policies, including expanded employee assistance program and PTO benefits to help safeguard our employees’ mental health and ensure that they won’t have to worry about a loss of income if they or a family member should become sick with COVID-19.”

Expanding Employment and Emotional Assistance

In addition to limiting non-essential employee travel, and adjusting the workspace to allow appropriate personal space and prevent direct physical contact, the company has also hired a mindset and mental health coach to provide support to company employees over the coming months. Al Fuentes has coached many professional athletes and executives through the years and will be doing a series of live webinars, calls and short videos for WFG employees.

Most significantly, WFG has expanded its Personal Time Off (PTO) policy to address any extended leave of absence when an employee:  

  • tests positive for COVID-19 and thus is unable to work
  • is responsible for taking care of a family member who has contracted COIVD-19 and is unable to work
  • is exposed to COVID-19 and, by doctor's order or the company's request, is quarantined to prevent any further spread of COVID-19 to others

Those employees who have already taken PTO due to COVID-19 for one or more of the reasons listed above will retroactively receive up to 80 hours of PTO.

While an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) may be common with many companies, WFG’s internal communications team is now highlighting its features in a video webinar and providing additional training to help employees access the massive EAP resource library that, in addition to pet insurance, travel and entertainment, and legal and financial resources, now includes topics related to coping with COVID-19, such as managing stress and other useful links.

To foster open communication, agents and other employees have been encouraged to send updated information that can be shared with fellow staff members and industry colleagues through an expanded Business Continuity Plan, which includes a detailed Pandemic Policy and Procedure Plan.

The pandemic has provided a true test of WFG's pledge that, "Everything we do is because of you."

"We believe deeply in this promise," Patrick Stone, Williston Financial Group's executive chairman and founder, wrote to clients in the early days of the pandemic. "And, with the unrest surrounding COVID-19, it remains our top priority to live this statement by protecting you and our employees while continuing to do everything we can to service your title and escrow needs. To that, we promise to keep you informed: We are all in this together."

"The most important thing for all of us, is to get through this with our health intact, our families feeling loved, and our clients knowing that we care,” Stone added.

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