An analyst specializing in actionable insights, Ben keeps tabs on key trends in talent acquisition, learning, and workforce technologies. Through primary research and deep analysis, he keeps today’s business leaders in touch with important conversations and emerging trends in the rapidly changing world of talent. He’s spoken to audiences around the globe and his work has been featured in a number of high profile publications. Ben also runs the We’re Only Human Podcast, a show that focuses on the intersection of people and technology in the workplace, and is the founder of upstartHR, a website to help improve human resources. His site has helped more than one million readers since its inception.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my years working in and around human resources, it’s that we all want to feel like we’re not in it alone. Even if you work on a team with great HR professionals, it’s common to want to know how other companies are facing, battling, and overcoming challenges on a regular basis. With that in mind, I reached out to a handful of HR leaders that are creating environments where their teams can excel to ask about major priorities, and their answers were incredibly inspiring.
It’s About Partnering, Not Patronizing, in Career Discussions
Often times HR leaders can feel like the parent in the organization. We’re dealing with drama or channeling our inner peacemaker to help people get along. But as one HR executive put it, it’s not about patronizing: it’s about partnering.
“[HR] can’t motivate or fix someone’s sentiment, but [we] can assist in creating the environment where people choose to thrive,” says Dana Ullom-Vucelich, Chief Human Resources Officer at Ohio Living, a home health and hospice provider that supports more than 70,000 clients a year. Her suggestion is a powerful one. Employers can’t control how people feel, but if we can create environments where they can and want to succeed, the results can be incredible.
Ullom-Vucelich and her team accomplish this by gathering new employee feedback at regular intervals: 14, 45, 75, and 90 days. These touchpoints offer insights into how employees are doing, what needs they may have, and how the HR team can help to establish a foundation for employee engagement and long-term career success.
Communication is the Connective Tissue of Culture
Creating lines of communication is important for every role in the business, but for HR it’s perhaps the most critical as we touch and interact with a range of employees across the organization on a regular basis.
This was reinforced in a conversation with Juanita Phillips, the VP of Employee Experience at Intuitive Research and Technology Corporation. Phillips heads up the HR team that serves several hundred employees, and she believes that communications are a core part of the value HR can bring. She explained, “Communicating and sharing in ways that are clear and that reach every single employee is so difficult and yet absolutely necessary.” For Intuitive, this plays out in a variety of ways, such as creating a common, shared language that helps to reinforce the culture of the firm. For instance, employees are referred to as “Swiss Army knives,” because they are multifaceted and multi-talented, allowing them to serve in a variety of roles. This also serves as a cultural reminder that the firm appreciates its people on a variety of levels, not just for the job they’re performing today.
Phillips explained that this is part of the firm’s hiring approach. Instead of simply looking for someone to fill a job, they look for someone that would be a valuable addition to the workforce and company culture.
Prioritize Conversations, Not Transactions
So often it’s easy to get bogged down in the transactional minutiae of human resources. We have forms, policies, and laws governing how we operate. However, a key part of what we do is enabling better conversations among our staff.
Molly Nuhring, and HR leader at Otis Elevator said that her firm has moved away from more formal processes for employee reviews to flexible, conversational connection points throughout the year. This has not only diminished some of the biases that circulate around traditional methods but also creates better conversations for employees and their managers. It’s not about seeing this as yet another transaction; it’s a conversation where both parties can walk away with something valuable.
This concept connects with how Dana Ullom-Vucelich sees the present business environment challenging HR and other leaders in how they interact. She explains, “Staff have great insights that dovetail beautifully into organization strategy, growth and success.” It’s true that the fast pace pushes us toward streamlining and efficiency, but she reminds us that one of the most powerful things a leader can do is slow down, listen thoughtfully, and be considerate of the inputs of others.
Is your organization prioritizing conversations, communication, and career discussions with the workforce? As these leaders have transparently pointed out, it’s rarely easy to create the right environment for organizational success, but the value of establishing a strong culture that drives a positive employee experience simply can’t be denied.
About the Author
Ben Eubanks | Industry Analyst, Researcher, Blogger & Speaker | Lighthouse Research & Advisory
An analyst specializing in actionable insights, Ben keeps tabs on key trends in talent acquisition, learning, and workforce technologies. Through primary research and deep analysis, he keeps today’s business leaders in touch with important conversations and emerging trends in the rapidly changing world of talent. Ben has spent the last few years profiling some of the world’s best and brightest companies and the innovations in both technology and strategy that have made them successful.
Ben started his career as an in-the-trenches HR leader. The blend of analyst and practitioner experience is used to inform his research and advice on how technology providers can reach their target audience best. Ben has spoken to audiences around the globe and his work has been featured in a number of high profile publications.