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Nothing could have prepared me for 2020.


I’m sure many of you feel the same. From scrambling to get supplies during that first lockdown, protecting our employees and their families, figuring out virtual learning for our kids to continuing to support our clients at the highest level–the challenges were coming from all sides.

It feels like March 13, 2020, happened yesterday, and yet it also feels very far away. But despite all the challenges, turmoil and change that happened to us and our business, I feel hopeful.

How it started.

When we first began hearing the rumblings of the pandemic, I tapped into my network of experts to get an understanding of what other organizations were thinking and doing to protect their employees. I spent a lot of time listening and watching trends, which didn’t look good. So, we decided to make a pretty drastic shift in our workplace.

March 13, ironically a Friday the thirteenth, was the day we officially moved our operations 100% remote. With eight offices across the country, this was no small or easy feat. But with the hard work of our engagement, leadership, IT and security teams—plus the resiliency of Solver Nation—we were able to swiftly and smoothly transition. Even before the pandemic, we had a substantial remote workforce population, which I think prepared us for success in ways we wouldn’t realize until later.

What did we learn?

We learned about the stages of grief. We were reminded over and over again about the importance of empathy, flexibility and trust. We learned to honor our differences, celebrate diversity and prioritize inclusion. And that with a strong company culture, anything is possible. Big change is hard at any level. Even small changes, like remembering to press the unmute button to speak, can be difficult. The pandemic, social unrest and uncertainty of 2020 forced us to look at our organization and ourselves differently and make some difficult shifts, but those shifts turned out to be the right ones for our employees, their families and our clients.

Despite the challenges, we did some amazing things in 2020 as an organization. Our annual Vision conference went virtual for the first time. We helped clients respond to spikes in COBRA-qualifying events, we launched the Empathy at Work pandemic webinar series and special Navigating the New Normal video and blog series.

We updated our AI personal benefits assistant Sofia’s responses and skillset to include COVID-19 details to help our clients respond to the flood of queries from their employees.

We hired new leaders to help guide our organization toward our goals. We reaffirmed our commitment to organizational excellence and received Gold Level Recognition for Baldrige Excellence. We launched a Solver book club with a specific focus on diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I), and helped each other learn and grow in inclusiveness and allyship.

But, perhaps most importantly we kept our employees safe and we continued to support our clients and their needs.

How it’s going.

It’s a new year, but many of the challenges from 2020 remain.

However, what I’m most excited about in 2021 is how hope is starting to creep back into our lives. With the vaccine rollout, we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. We’ll never be the same again; the pandemic changed us. We’ll never take hugging our loved ones for granted.

But we will always have hope, and I’m so very hopeful for the future.


To get a full picture of what we did in 2020, check out our interactive Annual Snapshot here.

View all Posts by Jon Shanahan