HR leadership is about much more than hiring and firing, and this is truer than ever right now — organisations are looking to HR managers to help create systems which empower and encourage teams in remote working environments, while also giving them support and clear boundaries between work and personal life.
I recently hosted an HR professionals forum, providing an opportunity for HR managers to come together in a virtual space where they could share experiences, challenges and learnings.
We found HR managers are facing many common challenges in current times, including:
- Mental health strains and stresses are affecting an increasing amount of people in organisations;
- Accessing and implementing the best resources to support people can be tricky as everyone has unique needs and context; and
- Establishing the new rules of engagement for conversations and interactions while working remotely can be a challenge.
However, the forum also uncovered some of the top tools and techniques being used by HR leaders, to ensure teams are feeling supported and connected during pandemic times. These included:
- Encouraging managers to book in one-to-one conversations with their employees more frequently, as these are proving a productive way to gauge how team members are feeling, and to give them a safe space to share and to ask questions;
- Having conversations with the intention of sparking curiosity are important right now. Conversations that don’t have a set ‘purpose’ but are more about building conversation muscles, and providing opportunities for feedback and real listening;
- Partnering with external experts to provide training and support for teams, for example to run programs around mindfulness and mental health, rather than relying already ‘at capacity’ internal teams to build these programs from scratch;
- Encouraging better self care, through talking about the importance of sleep and rest, clear boundaries between life and work, encouraging ‘walking meetings’ and even implementing company ‘hibernation days’ where staff are encouraged to step away from their screens for the day; and
- Understanding every person’s context is unique, especially when working from home. And being open to working with them and supporting them in the specific way they need.
The role of HR leadership is so important right now, and it was refreshing to hear how HR managers are coming up with creative solutions, and finding ways to help teams to feel connected and productive.
If anything, the key takeaway for HR professionals is to be open and flexible — everyone is working in new ways and new environments. By really listening to our teams, and finding creative ways to support them, we can use this time to build robust systems which will serve us into the future, especially with hybrid work models becoming increasingly common.