The Changing Face of Human Resources

There has been an earthquake-like shift in the employee-employer relationship and it has happened, not over decades, but within 2 years. It has changed the way employers interact with their employees and the way employees show up for work. In the past, even the advanced HR functions were still primarily transactionally based. This shift has necessitated that employers look at each employee in an authentic Are you an authentic HR leader? (humanresourcesonline.net)way, taking into account their needs on a holistic basis and not just during the workweek. Employees more than ever before are coming to the table with demands. Demands for work/life balance, for enhanced benefits, for more pay, and most importantly, for meaningful work where they can serve a greater purpose and be a part of something bigger than themselves. They are holding employers accountable in record numbers for taking a stand on important issues and being able to eloquently articulate how they are improving the world.  

COVID, while an incredible health travesty, has in some ways, sped up this revolution. It has caused people, employees, to step back and assess what is important to them, where they want to work, how they want to work, and what they are willing to sacrifice, if anything, for a job. In record numbers, over 4.4M in Nov 2021 alone, People Explained Why They Resigned During The Great Resignation, And Their Points Are Sooo Valid (yahoo.com)employees are quitting and quitting without necessarily having another position lined up. Quitting to pursue their passions and their interests and realizing that money is only a part of the equation to leading a happy life. The term The Great Resignation, Great Resignation – Wikipedia coined by Anthony Klotz, a professor of management at Mays Business School at Texas A&M University, who predicted the mass exodus in May 2021, is on everyone’s minds.

I feel very fortunate to be a part of an organization that started this journey long before the world had ever heard of COVID, to have embraced our WHY, and to have established inspirational Guiding Principles that serve as a daily roadmap for our teams for how we want to serve our employees, our residents and our broader communities. Well-being has always been at the forefront of our message and wellbeing in the broader sense of the word, incorporating physical, financial, social, emotional, and career wellbeing. As a people-first company, we continue to take the individual needs of our workforce into account, personalizing our offerings and doing what is right.

While the staggering numbers of employees who are quitting their jobs and moving on may slow in the coming months, the seismic shifts surrounding flexibility and employee demands that have occurred will remain. I am frequently asked by our employees and others if we will revert to the old ways of working without the flexibility and the hybrid The Next Great Disruption Is Hybrid Work—Are We Ready? (microsoft.com)schedules. My answer is always the same “No”. Once we enter a period of enlightenment it is impossible not to know what we know. People can be highly productive working from someplace other than the office, working irregular hours and days, and can be trusted to get the job done, whether you can “see” them or not.

Perks in a Work from Home World

While working from home, in and of itself, used to be considered a perk, it is quickly becoming the norm, whether 100% remote or the more popular hybrid model where employees work two or three days from home and the remainder in the office.  However, this change has made other “in-office” perks more elusive.  5 HR trends you should be paying attention to in 2022: HowNow (gethownow.com)Benefits like free lunches, after-work happy hours, and casual Fridays are difficult to consider when working in an all or partial work from home environment.  So, what perks do employees want most in this new world?  

Global benefits and rewards platforms are popping up all over that allow companies to care for, connect with and celebrate their employees no matter where they are or what they want.  These platforms focus not only on physical wellbeing but also on social/emotional and financial wellbeing.  As the lines between work and home continue to blur, employees have growing expectations that employers will view them as holistic human beings where work is a part of their identity, but certainly not their whole identity.  A study by Perkbox Global Employee Benefits and Rewards Platform | Perkbox suggests that over half of the employees surveyed said Employee discounts are the most coveted.  This was followed by a three-way tie for greater recognition for your work, unlimited amount of vacation time, and at-home entertainment.  There is also growing demand for mental health or wellness days and extended free mental health counseling services. 

Employee Discounts

There is a myriad of market leaders who provide Employee discounts.  Some of the larger include names like Corporate Offers, www.corporateoffers.com Next Jump www.nextjump.com, and Anyperk www.anyperk.com.  Most of these services have both a free, limited option service and a paid service.  Normally these will differ in the way an employer can customize the specific offerings to their employee base.  If you choose to go this route, do your due diligence.  A common complaint is that these services may not offer better discounts than employees can get on their own

Recognition

Study after study has proven that there is a very weak correlation between remuneration and an employee’s job satisfaction.    A study from the Saratoga Institute looked at more than 19,000 exit interviews. When they asked the managers or supervisors why their employees had quit, nearly 90% of the supervisors cited reasons related to remuneration. In nine out of ten instances, they believed their employees quit to pursue a job with a larger salary. On the other hand, 88% of employees said clearly that their reasons for leaving had nothing to do with their salary. The data on this issue is pretty cut and dried. In most instances, people choose to leave their current position because of poor leadership from the person they report directly to.  What employees really want, once they feel they are compensated fairly, is to be appreciated personally and professionally by the company and their manager.  They want to be connected to a larger purpose, but they also want their work and contributions to be acknowledged and appreciated, no matter how small.  

Certainly, ensure each of your team members is fairly compensated for the work they are doing, but remember to take the time to truly appreciate what they are contributing and help them to see how it is connected to the larger company goals and purpose.  Take time to call out the traits that are unique and let them know you appreciate them!

Is Patience a Virtue?

We live in a world where the pace is constantly increasing.  An analysis of the history of technology shows that technological change is exponential, contrary to the common-sense ‘intuitive linear’ view. So we won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century—it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today’s rate), according to Wikipedia. Accelerating change – Wikipedia

90% of the world’s data was generated in the last 2 years How Fast Is Technology Growing Statistics [Updated 2021] (leftronic.com).  The adoption of mobile devices has led to the mass adoption of mobile banking technologies.  5G network technology is expected to be 100 times faster than the 4G standard, delivering 10 gigabits per second. The technological progress of mobile broadband networks will enhance IoT, bringing faster wireless internet to cars, refrigerators, and other innovations.

Workers in technology companies and other high-growth industries, routinely work 60+ hour weeks just trying to keep up.   In the last 40 years, Americans, just on average, have been working longer hours for more weeks a year. The average worker in 1980 put in 38.1 hours for 43 weeks a year. Today, the average employee works 46.8 weeks a year for a total of 38.7 hours a week.  Small increase but hey add up!

So, does patience Four Reasons to Cultivate Patience (berkeley.edu)have a place any longer in our amped-up society?  It does when it comes to human interaction.  You can be impatient with the process, focus on meeting deadlines and project plans and strive to deliver ahead of schedule.  However, there is an inverse relationship between being able to achieve the above and the amount of patience you show to the individuals on your team.  Give your employees time to finish their thoughts before jumping in.  Make sure you listen more than you speak.  It can be tempting to jump in right away with your own ideas but resist that urge and just listen and ask probing, not leading, questions. For many people, silence is uncomfortable. A break in a conversation for too long can feel awkward. Rather than succumbing to it. Use it to your advantage. Next time you feel like jumping right in to say something, pause and count to 10 in your head. You’re likely to find the other person in the conversation will step in to fill the silence. If you’re a manager, this is a powerful tool. It gives your people an opportunity to fully share what’s on their minds. How Managers can be more Effective Listeners to Better Lead their Teams (getlighthouse.com)

Different people process information at different speeds.  Giving your team members the freedom and opportunity to process all of the information and then revert back with questions will likely yield superior results in the end.  They will usually be more receptive to whatever change you are bringing forth as they will have had the time to adjust.  Not everyone can move at the same pace and human nature is to resist something until you have had time to think it through.

Start with the strongly held belief that everyone comes to work wanting to do their best.  Giving your employees the space they need and being patient with those who move at a different pace is the key to successful leadership!

Maybe the Greeks Had it Right

sherrie suski pandora's boxIn the Greek myth of Pandora’s box, Pandora was given a box by the gods. The gods told her that the box contained special gifts from them but she was not allowed to open the box ever. Pandora was trying to tame her curiosity, but at the end she could not hold herself anymore; she opened the box and all the illnesses and hardships that gods had hidden in the box started coming out. Pandora was scared, because she saw all the evil spirits coming out and tried to close the box as fast as possible, closing Hope inside.  As she slowly re-opened the box, there was Hope, in the corner and it needed to be coaxed to enter the world and show all humankind that it existed.

Humans need Hope and as leaders, we manage humans.  It is up to us to set the stage for a hopeful environment, one in which when the going gets tough, we remind people it is temporary and that we will get through it together.  Some of the ways we can create a culture that is built on Hope as the foundation are to:

Get to personally know your team

It is hard for you to offer Hope in a way others can receive it if you don’t truly understand the people who work for you.  Spend time getting to know who they are outside of work, what hobbies they have, how old their children are

Allow you leaders to lead

Ensure that you hire the right people and then provide them with both challenges and choices on how they meet that challenge.  You get to define the what, but let your leaders define the how

Recruit help

Every organization has both formal and informal leaders.  Find those informal leaders. and enlist them to help you instill Hope throughout the organization.  When communication takes both a formal and an informal path, it is much more impactful and spreads much more quickly than depending on formal communication channels alone

Offer the right information at the right time

While honesty and transparency are admirable traits, when you are trying to create an environment of Hope, it makes sense to shield your team from some of the inconsequential negative information.  I am not suggesting that you withhold critical, negative information, only that you smooth the ups and downs and focus on the larger upward trend

Paint a picture of a hopeful future

Continually help your team to see how bright the future could be.  Choose to focus on the positive and show them the path to get there.  Share with them all the things that are going well and how you will help them to overcome what is not.  Happiness is a choice.  Choose wisely.

Internal Employee Communications

sherrie-suski-officeDeveloping a comprehensive and intentional internal employee communications strategy and a plan to execute on that strategy is critical to the success of your business, no matter the size. The best internal communication strategies do more than simply manage and distribute information. They can foster an engaging environment and cultivate relationships that are built on trust. That trust, in turn, creates a strong company culture whereby your employees know you trust them to deliver and they trust you to have their best interest at heart.

An internal communications plan is a clear guide for consistently communicating with employees, so they feel informed about goals for your organization or a specific initiative. This ensures they take action and do their part in achieving those goals. It should clearly and specifically define what internal communications strategies are important to focus on, how, when, who’s implementing them, and how you’ll measure them to demonstrate value and impact.

An internal communications plan should facilitate important conversations and engagement with key leaders and partners about internal communication strategies that can best deliver on key business needs and opportunities throughout the company.  It should also focus keenly on behavioral change that you expect will result as an outcome of this communication.  Communication just for the sake of communication is nothing but noise in an already noisy world.  You must understand and help your audience to understand what the call to action is and be prepared to measure whether or not you have achieved your goals.

If you are not yet fully convinced that you need an internal employee communication plan, read on!

Your employees are your most dedicated brand advocates.

According to Gallup, less than 30% of employees believe in the brand they work for!

This is very concerning, considering employees are the ones charged with delivering on the promises a brand makes to its customers. So start to think of internal communications as a marketing/branding exercise.

And Forbes agrees, you need to approach your internal marketing the same way you would external marketing efforts—by knowing your audience, your goals, tailoring the message, and providing an exceptional experience. This will require involvement from a cross-functional team.

Internal communication builds employee engagement, culture, and trust.

Internal communication is a key driver for employee engagement. The vehicle for all employee engagement initiatives is communication, core values, and a commonly held purpose statement or why. When employees feel like they are communicated with, engagement and trust will flow, resulting in a strong corporate culture.

If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail

If your ideas for internal communication revolve around upcoming events and random requests, then you don’t have a strategy. You likely are reinventing the wheel each time and are confusing your internal customers. Internal communications need to be woven into the larger company strategy, with a funded and well understood plan for execution.

Employee Well-Being Redefined

sherrie suski 2021 wellbeingWe typically define well- being in terms of emotional, physical, social and financial wellbeing and while employee wellbeing has always been the purview of HR professionals, it has been taken to a stratospheric new level moving into, what some are calling, the 13th month of 2020, January 2021.  

Never in most of our lives have our employees needed more care, empathy and information that they do today.  At every turn they are struggling with at least one, if not, multiple of the above areas that define wellbeing.  They no longer get the immediate feedback that was part of their everyday office life, where a simple smile, or gesture of reassurance was more than welcome on the days that were difficult.  They had opportunities to use the gym, stay physically active, to socialize with family and friends and to feel some sense of control around their financial future.  If any one of the above areas is in question, it can cause employees not to be able to bring their best selves to work, but when all four have been impacted and the same time, some fee they are driven to distraction by what feels like an out-of-control life.  

Employers need to step up and step in at every opportunity and this is NOT just the purview of the HR function.  This is every people leader’s role.  Your employees need to know that you care, and they need to know that you are there for them, as a beacon in the night, assuring them that life will return to normal and that you are there to support them with whatever resources are at your disposal should they and their families need them

Emotional Support

  • Make it simple for people to connect and do their jobs no matter their circumstances
  • Gauge employee sentiment via a pulse survey to understand where people are struggling
  • Bring to light information and opportunities that are specific to them so employees can thrive amidst uncertainty
  • Employee needs haven’t changed, just evolved.

Valuing every person, every day goes a long way in honoring employee needs and understanding motivations.

Physical Support

  • Offer a wellness platform, like Vitality,  that all employees can engage with virtually
  • Create contents that employees can participate in on socially distanced teams or individually
  • The COVID 15 is no joke.  Being overweight can increase health risks, so help employees to shape up by offering education on healthy eating

Social Support– 

  • Nurturing new hires to accelerate their productivity
  • Providing employees access to relevant learning and development to foster their growth
  • Enabling meaningful manager feedback and coaching to boost performance
  • Increasing motivation by recognizing employees when and how they want to be spotlighted
  • Keeping a pulse on how employees are feeling

Financial Support

  • Offer financial planning courses on subjects of interest to wide ranges of employees
  • Talk openly about the benefits of Living Trusts, saving for retirement and the benefits of a 401(k)
  • Ensure employees, if you are able, that their job is secure.  The stress created form an uncertain financial future is keeping many people up at night.

HR leaders have an opportunity and an obligation to get this right.  Now is the time to reach out to your employees and ensure they know that you care about them not only as employees, but as human beings.

Inclusion and Diversity

While we are all used to the acronym D&I, it would more aptly be called I&D.  That which comes first garners a disproportionate share of the attention and that is exactly what has happened in this case.  Employers and the media alike are focusing on diversity, and primarily racial diversity at that.  Diversity, however, has many meanings.  It could indeed be ethnic or racial or gender, but it could also be cognitive diversity; a difference in the way someone thinks or interprets the world.  The fact is, that no matter how diligent you are in sourcing from a diverse candidate pool, tracking your internal metrics and publishing  your statistics to your Board, shareholders, investors and other stakeholders, none of it really matter if you haven’t spent the time to create an inclusive workplace. Your diverse population will leave because they don’t feel comfortable; they don’t feel like they belong.

An inclusive workplace is more than one with a Diversity Council, a few Affinity groups and holidays that include Martin Luther King Day and Juneteenth.  A truly inclusive workplace is one where everyone feels a sense of belonging.  They can bring their best and whole self to work everyday because they know they are not only accepted, but celebrated, for their differences. 

DIVERSITY: is being invited to the party

INCLUSION: is being asked to dance

BELONGING: is dancing like no one’s watching

Research tells us that over 40% of employees feel left out or isolated at work. U.S. businesses spend nearly 8 billion dollars each year on diversity and inclusion (D&I) trainings that miss the mark because they neglect our need to feel included.  If workers feel like they belong, companies reap substantial bottom-line benefits. High belonging was linked to a whopping 56% increase in job performance, a 50% drop in turnover risk, and a 75% reduction in sick days. For a 10,000-person company, this would result in annual savings of more than $52M.

Employees with higher workplace belonging also showed a 167% increase in their employer promoter score (their willingness to recommend their company to others). They also received double the raises, and 18 times more promotions. 

There are a number of different ways that employers can increase an employee’s sense of belonging.

Lead the Charge: Ask “How would you change the situation if you could?”

Pay it Forward: Ask  “If you were to talk to someone who has just been excluded in  this same situation, what would you say or do for them to help?”

Gain Perspective: Ask- “Do you know of others in the organization who have faced  similar situations and found ways to cope?”

Be an Ally: Remind yourself of the importance of inclusive behaviors at all times. We can never fully know another’s sense of belonging within our team. Including others and treating them with fairness is always a good idea.

Promote Allies: Verbally compliment fair and inclusive behavior as a way to demonstrate that this is behavior you value.

Working together we can increase the sense of belonging for all employees in all companies!

Diversity & Inclusion

sherrie-suski-diversityMuch is being written about diversity and inclusion these days.  Recent events have spurred companies toward developing full blown D&I programs.  However, most are simply focusing on the metrics of what a diverse population looks like.  What percentages of minorities do we have, how many are in management positions, how many females do we have in management positions? While that may indeed tick the box on diversity, it does very little to ensure inclusion.  Inclusion is a little harder to measure. 

Where diversity is about variety, inclusion is about having a solid foundation for supporting employees and their different needs. Inclusion requires a culture where employees feel welcome, respected, and empowered to grow. Even the most diverse companies can’t be successful without inclusion. 

Many employees still feel that they don’t belong, and dozens of companies have made recent headlines for diversity and inclusion-related crises. In these workplaces, many female employees don’t feel respected (or sometimes even safe), minorities can be painfully underrepresented, people with disabilities often don’t have the resources they need to succeed, and so on.

No company wants to have a culture where not every employee feels like they are valued and can thrive, but it’s hard to address problems when you don’t know they exist. Without a way to measure inclusion, executives and HR teams have to rely on their own subjective perceptions of the culture at their organization—with varied levels of accuracy.

But inclusion isn’t totally unquantifiable. If you want to know whether your employees’ experience aligns with your company’s ideals—at scale—you can just ask.

In July of 2018, SurveyMonkey partnered with Paradigm,  a consulting firm that specializes in diversity and inclusion. Together, they created a survey template designed to investigate the many different layers of inclusion in the workplace. They used the template to survey 843 working Americans, and the results were telling:

  • 44% of employees didn’t feel that they could express a contrary opinion at work without fearing negative consequences. 
  • 32% did not feel that their opinion was valued
  • 60% of employees say their compensation is fair relative to others at their company. But only 48% of Black workers agree with this statement.
  • In every single case, the percentages were lower for people from the underrepresented communities that we checked for (women, Black, and Latinx.)

The importance of inclusion is easy to understand, but the layers of company culture that make up “inclusion” aren’t. Unlike diversity, inclusion is heavily rooted in employees’ individual experiences—which aren’t easy to monitor or quantify. And perception of culture can differ dramatically from person to person.  That is why it is so important to carefully craft a survey and ask each of your employees how they feel to be able to truly understand whether you have an inclusive culture.

Human Capital Management (HCM) Platforms

sherrie-suski-hcmHuman Capital Management System (HCM) is a one-stop solution to manage HR needs, to streamline processes, to provide visibility into the global workforce, and to provide a user experience that’s accessible from anywhere. So we can keep your people engaged while helping them adapt and grow. It covers the whole employee lifecycle: onboarding, recruiting, learning, compensation, payroll, benefits, time off, analytics, planning, etc.

How can an HCM benefit your organization?

There are a number of variables and considerations when selecting a new Human Capital Management (HCM) Platform.

  • What is the size of the company?
  • What are the platforms other functions are using?
  • Does your company plan to grow?
  • Are you global or domestic?
  • Do you have field teams that require mobile capability?
  • Do you need customized reporting capability or is standard reporting sufficient?
  • Are you looking to integrate payroll?
  • Which modules will you need?
    • Learning Management System
    • Applicant Tracking System
    • Performance Management
    • Compensation
    • Does it offer machine learning capability?
    • Do you require a cloud based solution?

The majority of providers today have cloud based solutions.  A cloud based solution refers to on-demand services, computer networks, storage, applications or resources accessed via the internet and through another provider’s shared cloud computing infrastructure. One of the key benefits of cloud-based software is the flexibility it offers. Cloud doesn’t tie you or your business into a single location. You will be able to do business from all over the world. This kind of flexibility can also help with employee satisfaction and productivity.

Selecting the right HCM for your business now and in the future provides a one stop shop for you and your employees to be able to access all information in one place.  Designed correctly, HCM’s save a tremendous amount of time and manual manipulation.  Value propositions include:

  • A single platform to manage and develop a diverse workforce with transaction history and operational metrics in a single system providing real-time global visibility.
  • Organizational flexibility and agility to adapt to change (M&A activity and shifting business models).
  • Operational efficiencies, freeing up more time for employee services and strategic HR initiatives.
  • Consumer grade, modern mobile experience for managers and employees.

Choose wisely as HCM subscription and implementation fees are not inexpensive and the time devoted to bringing one up is significant.    

An Attitude of Gratitude

sherrie-suski-gratitudeGratitude is an intriguing concept.  It has very little to do with how much you have or what your position is in life and much more to do with the personal quality of being thankful, of the readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. Actively practicing gratitude and pulling it toward you on a daily basis is important because it helps us to see a world that is bigger than ourselves.  When we have gratitude, we can help each other grow personally or in business. We can help those less fortunate because we see and appreciate how much we already have.

Some of the benefits of gratitude include:

It helps you to be in the present by noticing what you do have and stopping to acknowledge it 

Being grateful has the power to change your mood almost instantly from negative to positive

The simple act of gratitude has been scientifically shown to balance our heart rhythms and nervous system, leading to favorable changes in immunity and hormonal equilibrium, as well as increased production of the anti-aging compound DHEA.

Further benefits include a significant reduction in stress, anxiety, insomnia and depression.

Those in the gratitude condition reported fewer health complaints and even spent more time exercising than control participants did.

Improved emotions when someone who has a chronic illness focuses on an “attitude of gratitude” instead of feeling negative.

5 Ways Gratitude Changes our Brains

Gratitude Improves Mental Health 

Gratitude Improves Physical Health

Gratitude Improves Resiliency

Gratitude Activates the Brain Stem Region that Releases Dopamine and Serotonin

Gratitude Improves Sleep

Tips to Foster Gratitude 

Keep a journal of or in some way note big and little joys of daily life.

Write down “three good things”—identify three things that have gone well for you and identify the cause.

Write thank-you notes to others.

Think about people who have inspired you and what about them was most significant.

Engage in “mental subtraction.” Imagine what your life would be like if some positive event had not occurred.

How do you practice gratitude during Difficult Times? 

Just being around those you love can help you feel more grateful. Also, being more appreciative of life and feeling less cynical pushes you in a more thankful frame of mind. At other times, when you are facing a tough time, seeing it as a gift is useful.  Even in hard times comes the opportunity to learn, to improve, and, most importantly,  to give back.