Headshot of Dr. Shondra Williams, CEO of InclusivCare.
Dr. Shondra Williams, Ph.D., is the CEO of Inclusive Care and winner of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Dream Big 2020 Community Support & Leadership Award. — InclusivCare

No industry was hit harder by the coronavirus pandemic than the healthcare industry. When COVID-19 first started, Dr. Shondra Williams, CEO of InclusivCare, knew she had an especially difficult challenge ahead of her. Fortunately, she built an incredible team to help weather the storm.

As a provider of high-quality healthcare services for every patient, regardless of their insurance, Dr. Williams knew she had to be resilient for those she served. To ensure InclusiveCare could do this, she grew and developed her team and molded them to be agile and adaptable during the crisis.

[Small business owners: Apply for this year's Dream Big Awards, presented by Spectrum Reach.]

“We have made great hiring [and business] decisions during the pandemic … even while managing to begin the construction of our new state-of-the-art health clinic,” she told CO—.

Over the last year, Dr. Williams discovered the key to running and growing a business during a pandemic was “lots of patience, yet having the fortitude to operate and make decisions in the gray.” She used innovative approaches to engage team members and went the extra mile to lighten the burden on her employees during a difficult time. This included providing resources to manage race and equity issues and acknowledging employees’ concerns throughout the trying months of 2020.

These efforts, along with the work InclusivCare did to serve its New Orleans community, earned the company the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Dream Big 2020 Community Support & Leadership Award.

[Read more: U.S. Chamber of Commerce Big Dream Award Winners 2020]

Over the last year, Dr. Williams discovered the key to running and growing a business during a pandemic was “lots of patience, yet having the fortitude to operate and make decisions in the gray.”

Learning to be flexible with employees during a crisis

Dr. Williams has created a culture at InclusivCare that prioritizes an energized work ethic to provide better care for those in need. But when your team is giving their all to support others, you need to make sure they’re supported themselves.

The events of 2020 put Dr. Williams and her team in a unique place. Not only were they concerned about the incoming health issues associated with COVID-19, but she also had to prioritize the health and well-being of her own employees.

“We have been challenged greatly with workforce demands in which the market transitioned from retention to highly competitive, resulting in the loss of staff due to pay considerations,” she said.

To retain their staff, InclusivCare looked for solutions that would keep them healthy and happy. One of the initiatives they developed was an employee sick policy that allowed those who are sick or exposed to COVID-19 to retain their pay while absent from work.

“We allowed a combination of in-person and teleworking to balance work and home life,” she said. “We tried everything, and most worked!”

For Dr. Williams, the most important takeaway from this last year is to create an agile team that’s ready to respond in a crisis.

“These teams will be resilient enough to weather the crisis and prepare for recovery,” she said.

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Published June 17, 2021