TA and HR leaders share the good that has come from the bad

Mar 26, 2020 - Joe Matar

It is times like these that we need community more than ever.

That's why I reached out to some of the brightest, most supportive TA and HR leaders that I know and tapped their big, wonderful minds for some insights on how to address the current crisis we are all in.

Each week, I'll be asking the group a question and curating their responses. This week the question was simple yet the responses were anything but:

What is one positive change that has come out of all the disruption thus far (for yourself, your team, your company, your brand, whatever)?

And the answers were incredible. I think the biggest takeaway for me is to hear about how resilient and adaptable humans are and that is no more apparent than during the COVID-19 crisis.

So, without further ado, here are the responses to question number 1, in unabridged form:

Brandon Prideaux - Director of Talent Acquisition at HCA Healthcare

What has been great to see in this disruption is that people are more resilient, creative, and determined than they give themselves credit for. Nobody likes the fear of the unknown. But when you see recruiters, leaders and healthcare professionals wake up and say "I don't know what this day is going to throw at me. But I do know I'll get through it. And so will my team." That's inspiring. I mean we had 19 hospitals pivot to almost 100% virtual interviews and events in about 5 days. That's pretty amazing to change a process that has been cemented for years, in 5 days. And people in the south, don't let people in the south fail. Tennessee is the volunteer state and we live up to that name. We've had 1000's of homemade masks delivered to our facilities. Now, in most cases we can't use them. But the thought and effort is amazing. ;)

Jen Tracy - VP of Recruiting Solutions at Spectrum

  1. Our business is tackling work from home and probably wouldn’t have as quickly without this kind of demand. 
  2. We might get to find out how important certain parts of our processes are truly important (i.e. drug and background).
  3. We are trying to create partnerships with other companies who are having to furlough or lay-off people.  
  4. Grateful we are still hiring. Grateful that my day is busy.  
  5. I've been practicing my writing skills and prioritization on a daily basis.

Debbie Shotwell - Chief People Officer at Saba Software

In summary – I believe people are learning to adapt, resolve and create a sense of humanity that could be what we need at this time. Care more about others, and less about themselves. We are truly in it together and we need to care and respect everyone we work with.
  1. Connection is key at a personal level. Really getting to know people (genuine knowledge)
  2. People willing to help each other (responsiveness) has increased
  3. Individuals helping others in their communities (shopping for elderly-caring for other's children)
  4. Teachers driving through neighborhoods to wave at their students to stay connected; heartwarming
  5. We are all human and we are truly in this together (some folks need more support than others)
  6. Leaders and managers – connecting on a more regular basis which is nice to see
  7. Spending more time with family and reflecting on personal goals and planning for the future
  8. Focusing more on what is important and less on what frustrates me

Hannah Fleishman - Senior Manager, Employer Brand at HubSpot

We talk a lot about vulnerability at HubSpot and I think our leaders and my coworkers have always led with vulnerability. But over the past few weeks, we've really seen a new level of openness. Everyone is dealing with uncertainty, everyone is dealing with stress, and that's actually bringing people together more than ever because we want to support one another. HubSpot's a really safe space for employees to be vulnerable and that's more important than ever right now. I'm personally feeling grateful for that.

Dustin Wilshire - Talent Acquisition Director at Nike

I think there are many positive changes to come out of this disruption. At work, it’s nice to connect via video conference. Some of the women don’t have make up on, and don’t care. Kids pop in and out of the screen. Dogs bark. It’s humanized us. Everything is not as buttoned up as it is in the office, and that’s nice At home, I’m a more compassionate and understanding father and husband. We went through a scare with our kids. We had covid symptoms and it got bad. Now that we’re pulling out of it, there is a re-set of priorities. The only thing that is important is the love and support of our friends and family, and health. The last few years I have felt strongly that we are in a truly unique and transformative time on earth. The last 4 weeks have done nothing but confirm that. Perspectives are changing. Business is changing. Relationships are changing. Priorities are changing. I believe my viewpoint on the world and this crisis has impacted my personal in a positive way. I’m normally very private about my personal life, however I decided I needed to share the scare we had with our kid’s health in order to let others know what is really going on out there. The responses has been tremendous. I then took to video to share my view with others on how they should be spending their time during this crisis. So many will lead you to believe that you are falling behind if you’re not spending this time on learning a new skill, or grinding that hustle mentality. Truth is, not everyone can and should focus on this. We should be focusing on health and community. If that’s all taken care of, by all means take the time to learn a new skill. But how dare you tell others that they are lazy for not doing so. My message has been so well received. And the ironic part is, by telling others to not worry about their brand right now, and to focus only on what’s truly important, I feel my brand is benefiting. Not intentional, but seems like people are hungry for authenticity.

Shannon Smedstad - Senior Employer Brand Strategist and Engagement Director at exaqueo

On a personal level, I'm enjoying the time home with my kids and husband. We're eating more family dinners, snuggling on the couch, and taking walks together -- instead of our usual fast-pace of work, school, volunteering, and rushing the kids from one activity to the next. On an industry level, it's amazing to see talent acquisition, human resources, and employer brand professionals stepping up to do whatever they can to support one another. In the spirit of wanting to help, there's been a flurry of blog posts, webinars, resources, downloadable templates, and virtual happy hours to help people navigate the crisis, communicate effectively, and stay connected. It's pretty powerful stuff.

Lauryn Sargent - Cofounder and Partner at Stories Inc.

In response to our heightened anxiety, companies are caring about and investing in improving their team’s emotional and mental health. And, making public statements about the importance of mental and emotional wellness at work and beyond, which might further normalize these conversations and continue programs after the crisis.

Cody Winters - Director Talent Supply Chain at 3Pillar Global

For us as a business we have always been virtual, we are a global company so we were able to adapt very quickly with little impact! While this is certainly a positive it isn't the one I want to call out. What has changed in the best way possible for us (TA) is that our hiring teams globally are operating with a much more flexible mindset when it comes to solutions we can offer from a staffing standpoint. In the past, our hiring managers leaned heavily towards wanting developers, teammates and new hires to be in their physical location. That is no longer the case and I love it! We have been successful with filling open roles in Romania with team members out of India and vise versa. Now more than ever you can feel the #oneteam mentality.

Mona Javid - Senior Manager- Talent Management & Global Talent Operations at 3Pillar Global

#Oneteam As a global team that operates both locally while driving global initiatives and strategy, we sometimes found ourselves disconnected or working independently but all in good intention. This often led to replicated work or misalignment. Now in our second week of 100% virtual work globally for 900 employees we have never felt stronger as one team. As a HR Manager keeping your culture and engagement positive and strong can keep you up at night. Ever since we had this disruption not only as a talent team but every team member has actively taken apart in staying engaged and supporting each other. From personal videos to notes from their families, surveys, and virtual happy hour our team's culture seems have grown stronger through adversity. I no longer feel like an independent culture keeper because every day there seems to be an army of culture keepers with me.

Theresa Mazzaro - Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist at Suburban Hospital

Yes, this is my nursing background talking here… People are actually washing their hands! So very happy that people (including all healthcare workers) are washing their hands with the proper technique and frequency! This should lower the rates of Hospital Acquired Infections (like C. difficile, which caused 12,800 deaths in the US in 2017).

Ted Bauer - Writer, Editor, Marketer, and all around good guy

  1. Cloud got to scale and Bezos made more money in the process (so did Microsoft, Oracle, etc.) And even though one major value prop of cloud is, well, distributed work ... when the pandemic first started escalating, we got terrified of all that entailed. I think even within 1-2 weeks, people are seeing that remote work is possible for some roles (obviously not retail, service, etc.) and it's actually going OK and employees are being more productive. You will always have the control-obsessed, "un-woke" manager class out there, but this has the potential to shift how we think about work, location, and productivity longer-term, which would be good. Plus: that can reduce commutes, which helps both the environment (macro) and stress (micro).
  2. I think the employee level (execution workers) are getting more "woke" to the idea that companies broadly don't care about them as much as the financials. Some companies are better at dealing with people, but in crisis, many are not. Hopefully we get a macro focus on work not being the be-all and end-all of one's life coming out of this, and hopefully we realize that if there's no loyalty on one side (company to employee), then they can't expect loyalty from us consistently either. Not saying we're about to have a Marxist uprising, but I think people are "getting it" more. 
  3. When TA isn't executing on open reqs and interview reschedules, can they see the power of longer-term thinking and strategic interludes? Can they carry that into "the new normal?"

Sarah Moffat - Learning & Development and Founder of Leading Ladies

For me, it's the incredible gift of *really* putting into practice things I've learned, most critical among those things is being to choose my attitude, response, and perspective. As leaders, we know that in a time of crisis, we get to choose to focus on the obstacles, or we can focus on the opportunity. We get to choose to be overwhelmed, or to innovate. We get to choose to feel like "this is the worst thing that's ever happened", or we can keep our head above the crowd and look for the light. So, every day I feel blessed to be able to choose and, I have to say, it's brought more joy, love, and commitment to my leadership and it's brought me a multitude of opportunities to serve and help others.

Ryan Gillis - Sourcing Expert, Leader, and Head of SourceCon D.C.

People are using new and different beneficial technologies that they may have resisted before. Companies that have been resistant to remote work are now realizing that their people can work effectively from home. A specific example is an an executive I know who was very resistant to technology couldn't even digitally sign documents outside the office at the beginning of this year and this past week he lead a group meeting on Zoom and is starting to use Trello for project management. In the long run, this can lead to better work life balance for employees and lower fixed operating costs for employers if they maximize/share work spaces. More people working from home also equals less traffic, which is better for the environment and our mental health :)

Michael Poerksen - President of Loudoun County SHRM

As a talent acquisition professional for more than 25 years, and an adjunct instructor for nine years, I’ve had the good fortune of remaining in touch with many former recruits and students who have become great friends of mine.  One positive change from this disruption is people are balancing their busy schedules by making a more concerted effort to set time aside to reach out to each other, to share thoughts about current state, and express appreciation for simple things in life that creates and bonds friendships. Perhaps more than ever, many of whom have been checking in with me during the past week, even scheduling a virtual happy hour to satisfy our social needs that physical distancing does not permit.  We share our perspectives and support to each other on current state, particularly when it may be hitting closer to home than we wanted to envision. More importantly we share determination and optimism for a stronger future once we get beyond the current crisis.   As a side note, Loudoun SHRM is having discussions with local organizations to play a part in supporting our employers and employees impacted by the crisis—more to come!

Susan (Strayer) LaMotte - Founder and CEO at exaqueo

Organizations are recognizing that candidates are an important audience. Even if they aren’t doing anything to communicate or address them at this time, they are recognizing the importance of it, and know that if they don’t it will ultimately have an effect on their brand.

Andi Thomas -Senior Technical Recruiter at Aledade, Inc.

I am thrilled to see how quickly my colleagues at Aledade have sprung into action to do anything and everything they can to help our primary care practices adapt during this crisis.  Our mission is to do what is good for patients, doctors, and society and seeing the unbelievable commitment  and creativity of my coworkers in that effort during a pandemic has been inspiring.  I think all of our employees feel they are having a significant positive impact right now.

Wow! That's a ton to digest but well worth it if you made it this far. We are connected with some truly amazing and inspirational people.

We'll be doing this once a week so make sure you sign up below to get notified when we release our community leader responses as we continue to respond to the changing crisis. You can sign up below!

And if you need anything at this time as it relates to COVID-19 or anything else, I'm here: joe.matar@brazen.com.

Stay safe out there!

P.S. Can we send you an email with our awesome talent acquisition content every week or so?

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