HR leaders have spent the last few years prioritizing other people — often at the expense of their own mental well-being.
Almost all HR professionals are burned out: research from workplace communication app Workvivo found that 98% of HR professionals have experienced feelings of burnout, and 79% are considering leaving their jobs.
Addressing these issues means that HR leaders need to “put our oxygen masks on first,” says Julia Anas, chief people officer at Qualtrics, an employee experience platform. Over the last several years, Anas has seen the impact HR leaders have had on employee well-being, but they should be able to reap the benefits of that support, too.
“HR professionals are no different than other employees,” Anas says. “There’s an opportunity to listen and learn about ourselves in this process.”
Read: Why Allstate revamped their mental health benefits more than 2 years into COVID
Anas recently chatted with Employee Benefit News about the challenges HR is facing, and why she herself took time to reflect on her approach to work and leadership during the pandemic.
HR leaders have been super focused on their employees’ mental health — but are they overlooking their own well-being in the process?
COVID fundamentally changed the way HR leaders do business, and it’s created space for people to think about what’s most important. HR leaders want to help employees have what they need to be successful and productive and create successful business outcomes. Companies are looking at their HR teams to help guide and lead, because people are the company's most important assets.
But oftentimes the view of HR is that they have the resources for others, and sometimes it’s like, how are we leveraging that for ourselves? Are we putting our own oxygen masks on first and taking care of ourselves before we're able to take care of others?
Read more: 5 ways to encourage mental health in your workplace
That’s a lot of pressure on HR people. Who should be looking out for them?
I'm going to be vulnerable here, because it's been a little bit of an awakening for myself. I think about how I talk to the team and leaders about work-life harmony, yet I constantly have to remind myself that I don’t live to work; I work to provide a living. I ended up moving with my kids to Utah from California and we were really excited about going on our first spring break. We hadn’t been on vacation in two years and I told my team I was going away. Then we had to cancel our plans because my family came down with COVID. And looking back, I didn’t provide a great example. I still took care of my family and modified my schedule. But we didn’t take that vacation.
So what I reflected on is, I can be better at [modeling good behaviors]. That means leading by example, and valuing vacation time and being open with my organization about how they take care of themselves and invest in their well-being.
What does that look like at Qualtrics?
We really take time to connect with each other professionally and personally in our meetings — we take a few minutes to say, show us a picture, tell us something amazing that’s happened in your life. It's a really great way to remind one another of what's important. Sometimes that's work and sometimes it's not and that's OK. Bringing that balance into the workplace has created a very different vibe within the team which has been awesome to see.
Read more: How to design an unlimited PTO policy employees will actually use
We’ve also announced a wellness reimbursement of $1,200 that employees can spend across any wellness pillar, whether it's financial wellness, emotional wellness, mental health or physical health. We also offer an annual experience bonus and that's for employees to go spend on an experience that matches their passions. It's things like that that allow employees to be able to do something and invest in themselves in a very meaningful way.
For HR leaders, how can you ensure that they’re using these benefits, too? How are you encouraging them to prioritize their well-being?
For HR professionals, we're no different than other employees. There’s an opportunity to listen and learn about ourselves in this process. We’ve focused on prioritization and creating a strategy around what matters most. When there’s not, there’s a lot of variation and a lot of noise around what we need to do. So being able to provide HR leaders with clarity around what’s important can help us deliver things that make the most impact and put resources to it. You can focus on a lot of little things and do them marginally, or you can focus on doing a couple things and do them exceptionally well.
Read more: The 10 most popular mental health and wellness apps
What we've all been through has had us reflect. At the core, taking a human-centric approach and recognizing that everyone needs different things and honoring that has been the biggest learning. If we can take care of all of our employees on their professional journey, and create the professional journey that supports them in their personal journey, then we've differentiated and created a great experience that aligns to their ultimate purpose.
VANCOUVER, BC, Aug. 3, 2022 /CNW/ - The COVID-19 pandemic should serve as a wake-up call to Canadian business leaders, that employee mental well-being is now a top priority for those looking for jobs. A national study carried out by Canada's leading Human Resources organization, Chartered Professionals in Human Resources Canada (CPHR Canada) found that future employees will likely seek out businesses who have put mental health at the forefront of their HR plans.
More than four out of five respondents (85%) think employers should be focused on implementing mental health programs in the workplace.
"The results of this study show that employees are much more aware of mental wellness than they were before the pandemic hit," said Anthony Ariganello, CEO of CPHR Canada. "This means it's something that should be an important consideration for all managers and CEO's as well."
The importance of having a proper HR strategy in place managed by trained Human Resources professionals, was also a clear message given by the poll, which was carried out by Research Co. Out of those who responded, the majority said they would rather speak with a Human Resources professional if they had a crisis or challenge in the workplace than go to the owner or a senior manager or a colleague. More than 70% of respondents said they had a positive view of HR professionals – a number only bested by doctors and accountants.
"It's not the case that HR professionals should be employed only by larger-scale companies, and small and medium-sized businesses should take note of that." Said Ariganello. "Human Resources are business resources – organizations cannot say their team is their most valuable resource, but not ensure their needs and concerns are being met, by having someone in-house dedicated to their well-being."
Chartered Professionals in Human Resources represents 27,000 members in the Human Resources Profession across nine provinces and three territories in Canada. Established in 1994, CPHR Canada is the national voice on the enhancement and promotion of the HR Profession. With an established and credible designation and collaboration on national issues, we are proactively positioning the national human resources agenda in Canada and representing the Canadian HR Profession with HR Associations around the world.
SOURCE Chartered Professionals in Human Resources of British Columbia & Yukon
View original content to get multimedia: http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/August2022/03/c1718.html
In HR Dive's Mailbag series, we answer HR professionals' questions about all things work. Have a question? Send it to [email protected].
Q: What happens if you go through the FMLA process — notices, medical documentation, approval — and later realize the employee isn't eligible because they didn't work enough hours?
When employers follow the leave designation process set out by the U.S. Department of Labor for Family and Medical Leave Act leave, they won't likely run into this problem, according to Epstein Becker Green Member Nancy Gunzenhauser Popper. That's because at the beginning of DOL's designation process, employers fill out a form — WH-381, to be specific — that details an employee's FMLA eligibility.
The form calls into question an employee's length of service and hours worked, two essential components of FMLA eligibility. To qualify for FMLA leave, employees must have worked for their employer for 12 months over a seven-year period. They also need to have worked 1,250 hours within a 12-month period prior to taking leave.
The form will prompt employers to consider whether the employee in question meets those standards. "It's an incredibly helpful tool for HR professionals to use," Gunzenhauser Popper said. "Always remember to read it through completely instead of just checking the eligibility box … It will hopefully be a really good stopgap before you get too far into the FMLA process."
When the stopgap works and employers realize an employee who has requested FMLA leave isn't eligible for it, employers should proceed carefully, Gunzenhauser Popper said. The employee could be out provisionally before the employer has considered the absence, she noted. For instance: The employee may have encountered a health emergency causing them to miss work.
"It could be very useful for employers in those scenarios where there's no advanced notice to pause before deeming the absence approved or unapproved so they can go through all the right steps," Gunzenhauser Popper said. "You want to make sure you're getting the FMLA approval done correctly."
When the stopgap doesn't work
Sometimes, however, employers don't get the approval done correctly, and employees end up on FMLA leave when they're not eligible. Before proceeding, employers must consider a number of factors, from separate leave laws to employee relations.
Employers must determine whether another law gives an employee job-protected leave akin to the FMLA, Gunzenhauser Popper pointed out. They could be covered by state or local leave laws. And if a health condition caused their absence, they may qualify for leave as an accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
What should employers do if no law guarantees the leave? In this instance, employers should review their own internal policy. "The employer may have a written leave-of-absence policy that would deliver similar types of leave to employees who don't qualify for FLMA," Gunzenhauser Popper said. "That could be because they have too few employees in a location to be covered by FMLA or that they want to offer similar benefits to someone who hasn't reached 12 months of service."
Even if an employer lacks such a policy, it should consider how its response to the leave situation could impact employee relations. Revoking the leave could cause particularly unpleasant consequences, Gunzenhauser Popper noted.
"The employer will want to consider the fact that they were the ones to make the mistake," she said. "The person may not have been legally covered under the FMLA, but depending on the reason for leave and if the leave was revoked, it may lead to potential claims by the employee that they were treated unfairly, particularly if others had been granted similar leave and they weren't eligible."
There's also the possibility that revoked leave could sour the employer-employee relationship.
"In all my years of practice, I've never seen an employer recall an employee if the employer was the one to make the mistake," Gunzenhauser Popper said. "When you think about it, it's a 12-week absence, and that's if the person was taking the full time. The employer would need to weigh those risks of recalling someone in that time period. There's a potential that it would lead to many more issues."
Cloud computing company Citrix Systems secured a spot on Disability:IN’s 2022 Disability Equality Index, joined by other HR heavy hitters like Indeed, Deloitte, LinkedIn and UKG. Beyond its employee resource group for workers with disabilities, an event series and anti-ableism training sessions, Citrix told HR Dive the company also shows up for this community through its Mental Health First Aiders program.
Citrix employees learn about self-care, how to catch early symptoms of mental health issues and best practices for guiding co-workers toward professional support. The software company’s approach supports Disability:IN’s observations about neurodiversity at work; mainly, that the stressors of the COVID-19 pandemic opened up a greater dialogue about well-being.
“During COVID-19, non-disabled workers gained awareness of how ordinary work interactions can tax their physical well-being and mental health, highlighting the ways traditional working conditions have perpetuated inequity for people with disabilities for decades,” Disability:IN researchers wrote in the report. “Companies now recognize broader wellness initiatives as a form of disability affirmation and inclusion and are implementing programs to make the workplace healthier, more balanced, and more accessible.”
Citrix’s VP of Diversity, Belonging and Giving, Scott Ballina, has been with Citrix each year of its Disability:IN rating. Ballina told HR Dive that ERGs aren’t just a way to retain employees, but to attract them as well. (Among the companies surveyed by the inclusion collective, 88% reported an officially recognized, disability-focused resource or affinity group.)
“When employees see people who are like them in leadership positions, they have more confidence that they, too, can grow in their career. The more inclusion you demonstrate, the more inclusion you get,” Ballina said in an email. In many ways, cultivating a robust community of marginalized folks within an organization is its own form of positive messaging.
Beyond adopting diverse hiring practices, Ballina encouraged HR professionals to defer to employees with disabilities. “Listen to their needs. Listen to the barriers to success that they are experiencing,” he said. “Listen to the experts in the field — like Disability:IN — to help you develop strategies.”
A benefit that, according to HR experts, increasingly benefits all: 96% of companies surveyed for the index said they offer flexible work options. And of the 415 companies participating in the survey, 84% said they provide wellness benefits beyond an employee assistance program, therapy and counseling. Researchers noted the inclusion of financial planning, fitness, nutrition and sleep programs within many of these benefits packages.
Initiatives such as these — encouraging hybrid work and offering what Disability:IN calls wraparound human services — are considered “foundational practices.” These lay the groundwork for talent with disabilities to feel welcome in their workplace.
BY Emmanuel Zvada
Technology has caused sweeping transformation across industries in the last couple of decades and HR has not been left behind.
The future of human resources (HR) looks agile, digital and fast. HR needs to take the lead, ensuring we are at the heart of enabling organisational success. The pandemic has fundamentally changed our work environment and how we interact with colleagues. HR must rethink the capabilities and operating models required in the future. This it the right time for HR to evolve as it has a critical role to play in this new digital environment.
What is HR tech?
HR tech or HR technology is the application of technology to redefine fundamental HR processes like recruitment, talent management, compliance, payroll, performance management, employee engagement and so on. HR technology has transformed the most fundamental practices of the HR industry.
HR tech is nothing, but the application of emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and RPA (robotic process automation) etc to key HR processes. This is transforming the way basic HR functions are being carried out. What is more, it is even transforming the goals of the HR department. From merely getting processes in place, HR is moving towards a more broad-based goal and these emerging technologies are also being used to expand the role of HR and to align it towards productivity and employee engagement.
The concept of electronic human resource management (e-HRM) is the adoption of technology in delivering human resource practices. The term “e-HR” describes the transformation of HR service delivery using web-based technology. Implementing e-HR requires a fundamental change in the way HR professionals view their roles. Now HR professionals must not only master traditional HR skills and knowledge, but should also have the ability to apply that knowledge via technology. Due to the digital revolution in the world e-HR is a tool that organisations can employ to manipulate the performance and behaviour of the people they rely on to achieve business success.
Hiring and retaining the best talent is critical to any firm. Given the cost of recruiting and developing highly skilled technical talent, knowing on who to focus retention effort can present a significant competitive advantage.
The web-based technology used by e-recruiting helps organisations attract a stronger and more diverse applicant pool. Technologies like AI are playing a big role in helping HR teams find and hire top talent. E-recruiting increases quality and quantity of applicants and allows organisations to conveniently reach applicants across the country or around the globe.
One of the challenges in most performance appraisal systems is the lag between work activities and performance feedback. With the availability of real-time data, managers can provide more timely feedback and employees can see a closer link between their behaviour and their performance.
E-performance management is the panacea to many problems including the above and it uses technology to automate the collection of performance data, monitor employee work and support the development and delivery of performance appraisals. E-performance management reduces biases in appraisals. A manager’s evaluations are often unduly influenced by his or her most exact observations of the employee. This can be mitigated by having performance data for the full evaluation period readily available for the manager. Linking performance information to other HR data, such as individual developmental plans, compensation and bonuses, job assignments, and training opportunities is easy when HR is digitalised.
HR virtual assistants (HR robots)
HR chatbots are already getting strong traction. They are being used as a kind of virtual HR help-desk and employees are increasingly using chat-bots to get answers to routine queries.
The pandemic has made organisations realise they too need to interact with employees.
Virtual assistant technology can initiate this, share policy changes when remote working, promote well-being and mental health with push notifications. In the future, it is expected that AI-powered virtual assistants will be able to handle a range of HR functions as a result improving employee engagement, generating insights on talent metrics, managing process workflows, and so on.
Artificial intelligence (AI) in HR tech
AI-enabled programmes are increasingly playing an important role in companies recruiting and hiring processes. They can speed the process by which recruiters review and filter job applicants from vast numbers of resumes.
AI can facilitate an analysis of the labour market, match skills and identify competencies, and can perhaps detect and mimic bias in posted job descriptions. Technology can be used to cement and reinforce internal structures of the workforce and ensure employees feel secure and supported during the shift to a digital workplace. AI is reinventing human resources in a way not seen before by automating recruitment, onboarding, learning, and development, allowing HR teams to focus more on creative and strategic work. Artificial intelligence at the workplace allows a company and its employees to reach maximum efficiency levels, leaving more time for projects and networking.
Data analytics transforming HR (HR analytics)
It is all about data. Expanding HR’s analytical capabilities to Boost decision-making and facilitate the discovery of human capital insights is key. The goal is to move from data being purely descriptive to being prescriptive, where it tells a story that enables you to make better data-driven decisions. Using analytics, data-driven decisions can be made by HR professionals to attract and retain top talent. Post COVID-19 HR practices will provide endless possibilities to use analytics in identifying trends and patterns on employee absenteeism, leave frequency, employee turnover rate, engagement level, among others.
Data analytics will play a prominent role in increasing workforce productivity and engagement as well as improving workforce planning and talent development. Retention, recruitment, engagement, diversity and workforce planning including other jobs can be done by analytics. In fact, the sky is the limit for what people analytics can do to help enterprise talent teams. With data based on surveys and employee information alone, your HR team can start to make more informed people decisions and address top concerns.
New digital communication tools on the rise
The HR digital revolution is here and moving at a rapid speed, and organisations are looking for new, effective, productive ways to meet the evolving demands of doing business — agility, 24/7 global access, speed and accuracy. By embracing IT as an enabler of workplace change, forward-thinking businesses will be able to move forward swiftly, empowering a new generation of staff through flexible and productive working practices.
With remote working more widespread than ever, it is inevitable that new communication methods such as over WhatsApp, zoom, and others instigate faster decisions, more streamlined processes, and instant approvals and are superseding email in many cases as preferred tools for employee communication.
Collaborative social learning tools
Collaborative social learning was already on the rise before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Collaborative learning is an e-learning approach where leaners are able to socially interact with other students, as well as instructors. In essence, learners work together in order to expand their knowledge of a particular subject or skill.
During this pandemic we are seeing a rise in collaborative learning where consulting firms are now delivering training, virtual learning and offering online coaching over the internet.
In an age where technology disruption is the norm, HR’s digital transformation, like every other aspect of the organisation, is critical. HR must now embrace the digital revolution, lead HR transformations and engage employees to reap the benefits.
For any firm to stay competitive and relevant in an increasingly digital world, it is important to align its goals and strategies with exact trends and transformations.
Members of the Communications Workers of America and 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East plan to hold a public informational picket Aug. 18 at two Kaleida Health campuses in Buffalo, N.Y.
The unions represent Kaleida Health workers including registered nurses, nurse practitioners, dietary workers, personal care attendants, professionals, technicians, service and maintenance workers, and clerical workers. The informational picket is planned outside of Buffalo General Medical Center and John R. Oishei Children's Hospital in downtown Buffalo.
On Aug. 5, members notified Kaleida Health about the informational picket, according to an Aug. 8 news release shared with Becker's. They said the action is to raise awareness about what they deem unacceptable working conditions for staff and patients, and their goal of a contract that will enable the health system to recruit and retain staff.
"This informational picket is an opportunity for workers who are exhausted from severe understaffing at the hospitals and nursing homes and concerned about their ability to provide quality care under the current conditions to speak out about what they are enduring," Cori Gambini, RN, president of CWA Local 1168, said in the release.
Kaleida Health has committed to adding more than 400 full-time equivalent employees under a state law signed last year mandating hospitals to establish clinical staffing committees. Those expected hires are in addition to the more than 800 existing staff vacancies at the health system.
However, the union said this commitment is without the needed financial support from the state and is calling on the state to help alleviate staffing problems.
Meanwhile, contract negotiations continue between Kaleida Health and union workers.
In response to the informational picket, Kaleida Health released a statement Aug. 8.
"In March, we committed to three objectives as part of this contract: no concessions, plus addressing staffing and wages," the statement read in part. "We have not wavered from that commitment. As far as economic proposals, we have exchanged proposals but are still quite far apart. The unions' initial proposal would cost us eight times of what we spent on the 2019 contract. We expect a revised proposal from the unions soon, which will allow us to continue to have productive negotiations."
The health system also said it "will continue to negotiate in good faith until we can reach an agreement."
Human resource departments have been working on overdrive since 2020, constantly assessing and reassessing rapid fluctuations in our social, economic and cultural landscapes, while simultaneously attempting to optimize working conditions and recruit new talent despite numerous global crises.
It also makes sense that HR departments and their leaders—the chief people officers/chief human resource officers—now occupy a prominent (and promising) position at the very center of business operations. In fact, a exact survey from McKinsey indicates HR has nowhere to go but up, with over 90% of interviewed CHROs predicting “significant” HR reforms throughout the next two to three years.
Still, HR doesn’t exist in a vacuum, and most CHROs are currently facing the unique predicament of having to manage their own unprecedented stressors while also piloting initiatives to help colleagues through these turbulent times. It’s a phenomenon Carnegie Mellon University CHRO Michelle Piekutowski believes puts HR team members at a crossroads, perched precariously at the “forefront of…staff expressing their frustrations regarding their challenges, all while [HR personnel] are experiencing many of the same challenges themselves,” she told Deloitte.
So, how can CHROs bypass these difficulties and ensure their newfound influence remains sustainable? And how can they help maintain, or perhaps even expand, HR’s critical position as a company keystone going forward?
Here are three essentials for HR leaders to keep in mind as businesses continue to navigate their way through our present age of uncertainty.
Keep it ‘100’
If you remember nothing else, remember this: There’s no substitute for the real deal.
Before you can accurately pinpoint the role HR will play in the future (and quantify the responsibilities you’ll assume as CHRO in the months and years ahead), you must evaluate the “why” behind your motivations—that is, how authentic you are in your commitment to bettering employees’ lives.
Because (and this is the crucial part) if you can’t demonstrate you genuinely care about interpersonal relationships and the “holistic” wellbeing of your people, your HR efforts will always fall short. Especially in a post-pandemic world.
In other words: You have to keep it real.
Need an expert opinion? Kerry Chandler, CHRO of Endeavor and fellow of the National Academy of Human Resources, further elaborated on this inherent truth in a exact interview with HRE:
“The pandemic was a catalyst for so many of us to reflect on what matters most in this life and how best to marry our purpose with our day-to-day work. [Therefore, I] spend a lot of time thinking about how companies can ensure their cultures reflect (and best support) their people—that sense of ‘I am valued for who I am AND what I do’—as that alignment is so critical to a company’s ability to secure and keep best-in-class talent.”
As CHRO, your job is largely measured by how much value you place on your talent—and how well you translate that value into action. Such action can take many forms, but here are a few ideas to consider:
Be a leader, not a responder
Hoping to keep the post-COVID HR momentum going? Start flipping the script.
If HR wants to secure a wider sphere of influence, CHROs will have to reinvent the HR image. Businesses are all too familiar with the narrative depicting human resources as an isolated department that keeps to itself, useful only when it comes to cutting monthly checks or conducting the occasional seminar. Your task as CHRO is to help replace this view with something new and inspiring: a story in which HR emerges as a vital, heroic contributor to the health of your organization.
And to do this, you have to lead, not follow.
The good news is the groundwork has already been laid for you. Gartner reports a full 60% of today’s CEOs are ready to “rethink” the HR function, while 70% expect their CHROs to be key players in future business strategy.
The bad news? Only 55% of CEOs feel their CHRO is meeting the moment appropriately.
To establish HR as a strategic partner—or, in former Splunk CPO Kristen Robinson’s words, “right-hand partner to the CEO and board”—the CHRO has to take on some additional personas. These won’t come with added titles, but should instead be considered part and parcel of the CHRO’s general job description. They include (but are not limited to):
Bridge Builder, keeping lines of communication open between HR and C-Suite stakeholders, making sure HR’s strategy, practices, procedures and goals all support big-picture aims for the entire business. (Conversely, CHROs should also ensure companywide initiatives can effectively support HR functions and actively address employee concerns … of both the human and business varieties.)
Pioneer, forging pathways and uncovering new frontiers as needed. Much of the post-COVID landscape is still unsettled territory, but CHROs can absolutely help with the ongoing colonization. As organizations begin to codify concepts such as “hybrid work” and “employee wellness,” the CHRO should fight to include HR in the conversation and to place HR at the head of new programs that arise as a result. Such responsibilities are a chance to prove just how valuable HR can be. They’re also an opportunity to help firmly embed human resources into the organizational fabric. As Dashlane CPO Ciara Lakhani cautioned HR practitioners in a exact Workday study: “The HR team needs to be ready to execute new responsibilities with confidence where there are no existing best practices.”
Decider, taking on tough challenges and wielding power of approval in areas such as resource allocation and budgeting, even for functions slightly outside the standard HR purview. For example: Sales methodology adoption might not fall directly under the auspices of HR, but it could potentially see some overlap with procedures that do (like onboarding and training). In such cases, the CHRO should ideally have a say in how best to implement the methodology. Similarly, the CHRO should be part of the decision-making process for all initiatives that impact employee lives, such as when, where and how to offer education and development programming for rising company talent.
Together, these roles can go a long way toward recasting HR in your company narrative as a proactive protagonist, rather than a reactive supporting character. As such, CHROs should use them as part of their overarching plan to help HR take center stage.
Let tech do some of the heavy lifting
On a good day, competing HR functions and obligations can overwhelm even the most seasoned of HR teams.
And, obviously, COVID has only compounded the problem.
Indeed, Robinson maintains the post-pandemic era represents a double-edged sword in which HR has been given an extraordinary opportunity to elevate its own status, but also has been forced to face more pressing challenges than ever before. “Today’s world offers up so many dynamics that … instigate the need for [HR leaders] to lean in and drive business/talent actions,” Robinson says, adding, “No one else has the scope (or wants it!) to effectively take these issues on.”
Given the many dynamics in play, CHROs should take advantage of every tool at their disposal to help eliminate stress and sidestep unnecessary roadblocks. Got a task that can be easily automated? Outsource it to a tech platform that will assume the burden for you. Email automation solutions, project management software and the like can all work wonders in streamlining day-to-day activity.
In addition, technology solutions for aggregating, analyzing and storing employee data can also cut back on HR headaches, particularly in larger enterprises. Platforms such as digitized training and testing modules as well as data dashboard software can collect wide datasets and break them down according to nearly any metric. The resulting analysis can then help CHROs take comprehensive temperature readings on markers regarding employee adoption, satisfaction and engagement across a variety of programs.
In the interest of bringing things full circle, it’s important to remember that tech is by no means a panacea for every HR pain, and that ingenuity is no stand-in for empathy. As Endeavor’s Chandler notes:
“…The secret sauce is in finding the balance between data and real human connection, as there’s still so much that can only be learned through conversation and observation.”
So, while data may deliver you a window into how employees are doing/feeling/performing, you as CHRO will still need to deliver them as much of your time and personal attention as possible. This means face-to-face meetings, talkback panels and frequent check-ins. It also means you should remain flexible and offer a sympathetic ear, even (and especially) when you’re presented with grievances you might not understand at first.
This may very well be a learned skill, but it’s an essential component of authenticity.
It’s also a sign of true leadership.
And for the HR boom to continue into the next decade, CHROs must prove themselves to be authentic leaders, as adept at interpersonal contact as they are at crunching numbers.
Today’s employees deserve nothing less.
CEO at BrightHR and COO at the Peninsula Group, responsible for the global rollout of HR tech supporting over 44,000 organizations.
It appears that a great shift in workplace culture is coming.
The stigma typically associated with numerous women’s health issues is being challenged—quite rightly so—with celebrity spokespeople, social media and, very recently, primetime TV documentaries shining a spotlight on the health struggles faced by millions of women every day.
I thought I was pretty clued up about menstruation, menopause, etc., but, having heard of the challenging experiences millions of women go through in both their professional and personal settings, I’ve realized that is not the case. And I have to say, I’m alarmed at just how much I didn’t know or, perhaps more accurately, what I previously never even stopped to think about.
That’s when I committed to developing a deeper awareness and understanding—and becoming a better ally. Health issues such as infertility, endometriosis, menopause and post-natal depression are now being talked about much more openly, and that’s highlighted some truly shocking statistics about the impact they have.
In the U.K., one in 10 women leaves the workforce due to menopause symptoms. A survey by the U.K. government as part of its "Vision for Women’s Health Strategy" found that nearly half of employers have no policy in place to support employees undergoing IVF treatment. It also found that 60% of women feel uncomfortable talking to their manager or supervisor if symptoms of menopause are impacting their work performance. Perhaps most shockingly, 90% of employers have no menopause support policy in place.
According to a U.S. survey, four in 10 women reported that menopause symptoms have interfered with their work performance. Further, 17% of those surveyed had previously quit a job or considered it due to menopause symptoms.
Currently, most welfare strategies focus on mental and physical well-being but pay very little attention to women’s health specifically. It’s important to take a step back and consider the impact this has.
Typically, where no reasonable adjustments are offered, employees suffering from painful periods, endometriosis or menopause can have increased levels of absenteeism, which can widen an existing pay gap and result in key talent leaving. There is certainly no one-size-fits-all approach as each business is different—as is everyone’s experience of menopause and other health issues women face.
But how many women feel genuinely comfortable enough to talk about these sensitive issues with their bosses—particularly if that person is male?
I was particularly saddened to hear that well over half of women feel uncomfortable raising health concerns to their managers. We need to do better. Having an open and supportive work environment is a good place to start, a place where conversations around sensitive subjects are encouraged and normalized and nobody is made to feel unwanted. It’s crucial that managers lead by example. To do this effectively, we need to educate ourselves. The more knowledgeable we are, the better we can listen and be confident discussing the support available.
Offering training on how to approach these conversations effectively and sensitively is a great step toward championing open communication and creating the trust needed for employees to properly ask for support. It’s essential to break down the stigma and incorporate productive discussions around these often sensitive and personal health conditions in the company culture.
Hosting well-being sessions where employees are invited to share their stories, advocating an open-door policy and communicating your employee assistance program all help ensure your employees are not suffering in silence. While you should never make assumptions about someone’s health or push anyone to discuss subjects they have no desire to talk about, there’s nothing wrong with making sure everyone knows you are available for a confidential chat.
In the last two years, we’ve seen the benefits of flexible working first-hand. If it’s not already commonplace in your organization, this can be offered as a reasonable adjustment. Many women going through menopause are between the ages of 45 and 55 and fall into the sandwich generation, which is the generation caring for children while also having aging parents who rely on them. Flexible working has been a game changer in lots of ways, but it’s arguably been most beneficial to parents, employees with caring responsibilities and employees whose health conditions can result in exhaustion and other debilitating symptoms.
While progress is being made, we still have some ways to go.
Spain is set to bring in three days of unpaid menstrual leave every month, with a provision for another two days in extreme cases. Other EU countries could adopt the same legislation. Whether or not this will be introduced in the U.K. or U.S. remains to be seen.
However, the Fertility Treatment (Employment Rights) Bill has been proposed to Parliament, which would deliver women and couples the right to take time off to attend fertility clinic appointments. Under the bill, employers would also be required to implement a workplace fertility policy, including guidance on time off for treatments and miscarriage, flexible working and access to HR support. Many in the U.K.—and in the U.S.—are watching the progress of this bill with interest.
As employers, we have a duty to our staff to create an inclusive and supportive environment that looks after everyone’s needs—at every stage of their career.
So how do we solve this?
Unfortunately, there are no easy fixes but, with new legislation on the horizon, and more women in positions of power, change may be around the corner.
It might be easy for some men to dismiss such subjects on account of them not being directly impacted as such, but it’s important to understand that a thriving business requires a thriving team. I feel strongly that all of us—regardless of gender—should do our part to support women facing these issues daily. As men, we need to do this not just as husbands, sons, fathers, brothers or friends but as human beings.
We have a duty to take this seriously and to provide adequate support and adjustments. We need to ensure that the work environment is one full of opportunity, where everyone can thrive at all stages of their career—right from the second they enter the workforce to when they choose to leave it.
Forbes Human Resources Council is an invitation-only organization for HR executives across all industries. Do I qualify?
Searching for an executive with a full plate? Look no further than the human resources department. Pandemic-induced calls for hybrid and remote work, demands for social and racial justice in the workplace, and the need for more robust health and wellness plans have kept HR leaders busy and then some over the past few years. (And that's in addition to managing payroll, recruiting and hiring, and overall keeping the people ship on an even keel.) Women tech accelerators, pipelines for diverse talent, techniques to avoid unconscious bias in the workplace, diversity dashboards and talent-management plans built around mentor-style relationships are just a sampling of the people-first programs these leaders have launched to meet today's HR challenges. Everyone can learn from their creativity and drive.
METHODOLOGY: The individuals featured did not pay to be included. Their profiles were written from the nomination materials submitted. This list is not comprehensive. It includes only individuals for whom nominations were submitted and accepted after a review by editors. To qualify for the list, nominees must be based in the Chicago area, have at least 10 years in their field, serve in a leadership role and demonstrate the ability to affect HR and diversity and inclusion at their organizations. They must also show leadership outside of their organization, via involvement in civic or professional organizations.