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Navigating the HR Department During COVID

By April 14, 2021April 21st, 2021Business Insurance

Just for fun, in preparation for this article, I decided to search the top HR challenges of 2020 and compare it with a similar list I came across for 2021.  Not surprisingly, the lists were strikingly different and read like they came from two different universes, not two different years!  

RiskSOURCE, along with many other businesses, found ourselves in unchartered HR waters during the pandemic.  We planned for a work from home scenario through our contingency planning five years earlier so we had a game plan in place.  We had no idea this plan would reach into 12 months.  Here we are, over a year later and I can now reflect on how we navigated our way through those long months.

Here’s how RiskSOURCE managed the HR component of our business.  Full disclosure: we’re still trying to figure things out as the business needs and the needs of our team evolve.  That said, here are a few things we learned along the way.

  • Discovering what the team wants – We conducted surveys with our team members throughout the pandemic.  This was important to keep a pulse on how everyone was doing with the work from home transition.  It was important to identify what their home office needs were and how we could get them setup in the most comfortable way possible.  We also surveyed the team to learn what their vision was for reopening the office.  We were curious to know how much time they were saving without the commute and how much money they were saving without the morning coffee stop.  Everyone is in a different place so having this added insight helps us make informed decisions when it comes to moving forward. We’ve always conducted pulse surveys, but they were much more meaningful this past year.
  • Flexibility was the name of the game – The surveys helped us check in and understand individual needs.  This allowed us to understand how we needed to add flexibility to the work day and where to make adjustments.  Our team helped us consider what a hybrid style work day will look like.  Although flexibility is key, this was the time to be extremely grateful for having processes in place!  Our framework proved critical to identifying and addressing necessary changes in a timely fashion so that we didn’t skip a beat in client service.
  • Embracing technology on a whole new level – Of course we take full advantage of Teams to meet with both staff and clients alike.  But we also turned to video for onboarding new members virtually.  We created more centralized locations online to share information and we pivoted our in-person Lunch ‘N Learns to webinars.  Connecting digitally and the need for centralized information is not going away.  With that in mind, we’ve begun building an Intranet site for RiskSOURCE where the team can connect, share, and stay informed.  We’re excited to launch this soon!
  • Nurturing the culture from a distance – This was the hardest part.  We work so hard at RiskSOURCE to have a connected and caring culture and the pandemic certainly tested our creativity!  We held contests during the weekly teams meetings, we had socially distanced parking lot lunches, and we still worked together on our RiskSOURCE Cares program to give back to the community.  A strong work culture requires effort and this past year, we all had to work a little harder at it.  Both Jonathan Theders and Amanda Shults went above and beyond.  Jonathan did “missing my team” memes and dressed as our JT Elf on a Shelf.  There are some great photos out there on social media!  Since we had to forego the team holiday party, Amanda gave the team the 12 weeks of Christmas and we started celebrating in October!  All those combined efforts, along with the intentionality of connecting with each associate, helped the days move along faster.
  • Taking advantage of other resources and partners – In the early days of the pandemic, we heard the repeated chorus, “We’re all in this together.”  And it held true.  We turned to our outside business partners, the local associations of which we are  members, and professional associations.  SHRM was a constant resource and continues to be.  

[READ:  Workplace Lessons Learned During the Pandemic.  SHRM HR News]

We’re still working on what the new HR landscape will look like, but building on what worked for us over the past 12 months feels like a good place to start. If you find yourself needing some extra help in the HR Department, we have resources that we can share with you.  In fact, we’ll be delivering a virtual May Lunch’ N Learn this May on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.  You should check it out!

[Read this month’s @RiskSOURCE]


Theresa Clayton

Director of Finance and Administration


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