In This Episode
- A mini-rant and reminder about why employee engagement isn’t the right focus, and why employee experiences are.
- Three strategies for HR to do “HR” work better, remotely.
- 1. Having more time is a fallacy.
- 2. You have to shift and practice the way you think about work and policies.
- 3. Time to HR at the highest level.
- Here are some things that were referenced:
- Harvard Business Review article: The Pandemic Has Exposed the Fallacy of the “Ideal Worker”
- Working Mother research about the pandemic’s impact on the economy
- HR Practice – start here
(00:00): You have to actually shift and then practice the way that you think about work and policies. Now this will be really hard for a lot of you and I'm going to not lie. This was super hard for me when I first made the transition to telecommuting work.
(00:19): I'm Melissa Anzman, HR practitioner turned CEO of a thriving employee experience company, but it wasn't all that long ago that I worked as an HR business partner responsible for increasing employee engagement at companies nationwide and I struggled to move the needle even after trying everything under the sun. Fast forward passed many fail tactics and lessons learned and you'll see how I've been able to crack the code and replicated at companies of all sizes for creating true engagement and doing HR work that matters, work that changes the lives of leaders, HR professionals, and employees. By focusing on the employee experience, I created the rethink HR podcast to give you actionable step by step strategies to help you make an impact. If you're an HR leader or one on the rise who's looking to stop spinning your wheels doing the same tired activities that aren't driving results or you want to have a career, you love your in the right place. Let's get started.
(01:21): So I recently saw an article in the Harvard business review about how now is the time that we need to think about what the world looks like post pandemic and it's the time for us to really consider employee engagement. Uh, why are super smart people still stuck on the engagement bandwagon? Engagement is not something that HR you or any person can influence on a another person. Engagement is an outcome of how a single employee experiences your company, how all of their touch points and interactions, emotions and experiences, how they all come together to create an impression. And Paul a either buy in or a wanting to check out. It's built from a series of micro impressions and macro impressions that are aggregated together in real time. If you are still trying to move the needle on engagement, especially now mid pandemic or after the pandemic, whenever that may be, you are going to lose.
(02:35): Employees are tired of feeling like you're trying to convince them to be engaged to meet a ridiculous survey score without their actual lives at work being changed and that includes you in HR, so focus on that. Okay, so I get it. I am really not about this engagement thing and now that I've reinforced, I think that's the wrong focus and why experience is this smart focus. I want to dive a little deeper into what the Harvard business review article was actually about, which was teleworking. So I promised at the beginning of the pandemic that I would not do a podcast episode on how you can work from home and don't worry, I am going to keep my promise with this episode as well. I'm not going to share a 21 steps to make working at home fun because first if something takes 21 steps, that's not efficient and I'm already checking out and second, working from home.
(03:35): Now during sort of a forced situation without a planned entrance or exit and so many distractions, it's not the same as real teleworking. So I don't even want to pretend that that is true. So Nope, I am not going to do it. Still not going to do it today. Instead what I do want to talk about is how to HR from home. So interestingly, this is a topic that my parents asked me to talk about on the podcast because they were curious and thought it would be helpful to those who work in HR from home. I love when my parents have topics like this because they have truly no idea what I do. So it's funny when they're like, Hey, you know, this would be really interesting. You should really go deep. And it matched the HBR article today. So when those things come together, I have to listen to the sides.
(04:28): So here we go. Now the HBR article was all about exposing the fallacy of the ideal worker and how during a pandemic, especially employee things are feeling overwhelmed and they noted a research article by working mother. So please excuse me. While I roll my eyes again about this article, because duh, like let's get granular for a moment. Anybody who works in HR knows that employees were burned out before the pandemic. There should be no surprise that they're even more burned out now and needing help with so many changes at once. And the added stress of the economies and certainty, we knew these things and great HR partners, which you are, we're already trying to solve these issues prior to this forced situation, but it's hard to change things as we know. So now we're left doing HR from home, which is by the way, a completely reasonable and acceptable way to do HR work.
(05:31): I've been doing it for over 10 years without issue. But how can you do it effectively when it's something that you haven't been practicing for so long or your company wasn't prepared for it or isn't really set up to do it, especially in a ongoing or longterm basis. So I know that some of you have already started to have to go back to your offices. I have no idea why. Um, I refuse to kind of go down that path because that's crazy town for me. But I digress. This is for those of you who are lucky enough to be able to do things from home still. So first notice I said, uh, lucky enough and I truly believe that being able to work from home is a blessing whether we are in pandemic times or not. I mean, right now it may not feel that awesome when you have kids screaming in the background during your very important conference calls or videos or when your back hurts from working from your couch and in not ergonomically efficient setup.
(06:34): But as a whole, working from home as an HR professional allows you a lot more positive experience once you get used to it. And honestly, especially if you work at one of those offices that thought that an open concept layout for HR people was a good idea. I honestly don't get that. How are we supposed to have people conversations with the people sitting next to us? That's so weird to me. But once again, I digress. So in order to HR from home, effectively, I'm going to talk about three things that you can implement right now to increase your experience. Now, these are strategies, these are not tactics. There are three strategies that will take some time for you to figure out how to make it work. But once you put it into play, it's going to do wonders for your HR life at home. So the first is realizing and stop saying that having more time when you work at home, it is a fallacy.
(07:43): This is true for you. This is true for your team members. And this is true for your employees. There are still the same number of hours in a day. The work day has not changed and there is not more time simply because you're in a different environment. Sure, you may have gotten 30 minutes back each way or an hour each way with a commute, but that doesn't mean that your employees or you have more time to do actual work. And that should not be the expectation around this situation. So you don't have more time. But what you do have as a little bit, I mean in theory, more freedom around the time that you do have during your Workday. And I say I, you know, maybe because some of us have kids at home or some of us are trying to juggle different things and with everybody being at home, we have meal time, we have take the dog for a walk time.
(08:46): There's other things that are jumping up in our day that changes that are working hours a little bit, but the actual culmination of time doesn't change. So we don't have more time and stop expecting from yourself and for mere team members that they're able to output more because they're working from home. Same expectations, just a different physical space. So the second thing I want you to do is you have to actually shift and then practice the way that you think about work and policies. Now this will be really hard for a lot of you, and I'm going to not lie. This was super hard for me when I first made the transition to telecommuting work because a lot of us believe like we were institutionalized. I don't, that's not a bad word per se, but like we grew up in a work economy, a work era that was basically created in the 1950s and that HBR article talks about that more where we were clocking in and clocking out and our butts were in seats and we weren't doing work if we weren't doing that.
(10:02): That's not today's workplace. But we still grew up with that, especially your gen X or are your gen Xers and baby boomers. And so we have to really shift how we think about work in order to not let the things that used to drive us batty drive us batty. So these are things like watching people log in and out of IAM and who's online and when they're online, like that's not efficient, nor is that reasonable. It never has been. But if you didn't get that memo, let me just remind you of that again. I have a friend who actually works at a big consulting company and they have leaders who literally sit there and watch for their online status in I am all day long. And if they're not online during quote unquote working hours or they take more than an hour break offline to do something or they're saying don't disturb me for an extended amount of time, they get an email.
(11:02): Where are you? What are you doing? What's happening? That is not okay. I don't know who thought that was ever okay. But especially right now it when we are telecommuting, we're working from home, we have different demands. Output is a hundred percent more important than butts and seats. This is not something that happens naturally though. This type of shift, this approach to work, this, um, adherence to our policies or nonadherence, it takes a lot of work and practice. And so I really want you to consider what are the things that your doing that are still based in that 1950s institutional mindset. What are the things that you get irked with or annoyed about or policy breaks that don't match the current situation of the workforce? And so for me, I'll just give you some examples. I did grow up in the workforce, have, you know, what's appropriate, what's not appropriate, and how we talk like at work and what our expectations are and all of those things.
(12:20): And so for me it was really hard to change the perspective of, you know, showing up at certain times, being in my seat at what, let's say, eight o'clock on the dot. Um, but I never logged out at five o'clock on the dot. And so there were some flexibility allowances and there were a lot that weren't, um, response time on email that may or may not be important for what you do. Like is it as important? Probably not unless it's an urgent matter. And so my whole point here is we have to practice these things, especially if you're a high performer, you have a lot of things that internally drive you and expectations for yourself that we then like to put onto other people. And all it does is bring us a lot of frustration and unhappiness because other people aren't us and they don't necessarily have the same drive and they haven't bought into the same situation.
(13:28): And maybe they're not institutionalized. And I think like at its core, the biggest sort of rub between millennials and gen Xers and baby boomers, like in the workplace, huge generalization here on all of the points, the generations and the rub. But I think it's that millennials aren't growing up in the institutionalized workforce. And so they come to the table like, Hey, I come, I go, I want to do work that matters. Like I'll get it done. I don't necessarily need to be at my desk to do it. All of those things that drive a lot of gen Xers and baby boomers nuts and that's because they grew up differently. Their frame of reference, their starting point is different and right now we can practice it at home in the privacy of just our own space instead of being on display in an open work for workforce office setting to really practice like does this break in policy really matter?
(14:31): Is this going to genuinely change the outcome of the work and deliverables that we are supposed to be overseeing or is this just that boss being annoyed and picking nitpicking that. And the other thing with that as we dig deeper into these, uh, complaints or situations are policy breaks or policy bends that are coming to you that whether it's your leader or you, yourself, you find yourself in, I want you to really consider what's the core of that. So what I mean by that is if, if a leader is super annoyed that their employee is not online at eight o'clock on the dot, I dig deeper. Is that really the issue that they're not showing up or is that the excuse the leader is using as an example for the employee not delivering the work that's expected? So we have to question as we shift and as we practice the root cause of why these things are in place, why we've cared about them so much and how we are going to address them as we move forward in a different work environment.
(15:46): And also give a little grace to those of us who are not working at home all the time. This is really a new experience and there are some things that just take time to get used to. So the third strategy and this is the biggest one for you and this is the one that you may have a little bit internal resistance when you hear me say this, but then I know you're going to come around and really get what I'm saying here. The third strategy is you have to be HR at the highest level, so in the current situation and as we move forward there is no room for mediocre, especially in HR. We know it, our budgets are tight, our departments are shrinking, whether it's HR outside of HR, we are all feeling the squeeze right now and this means that standards and performance expectations need to be met.
(16:42): Leaders who are not exceptional are to be performance management out or stayed in and proved right like we have to leverage the tools that are available to us right now. Basically it's time for us in HR to be extremely people first. Not company or leader first, but your employees first. We can't just let under performers or leaders who are not adding value both professionally, personally, people wise, leader wise, all those things. We can't allow them to infiltrate or stay or coast at our organization. I can think in a millisecond of at least five leaders who were terrible that I've worked at. And those are the same leaders who maybe got promoted or it's made it through each, um, lay off because they were high performers but no one wanted to work with them. And I also can name five leaders right now who during the pandemic have bundled like massed up really badly and haven't been addressed.
(17:58): We can't allow that. Now is the time that we have to step up to the plate and really do great HR work. Because if we don't, not only are our workforce thoughts and attitudes going to continue to decrease in experience and positive experiences, but we are alienating the employees who are with us still. We are giving them reason to walk out the door when things change or when they get a competing offer. People are still hiring. So I really want you to think about how to tackle the hard conversations, the lower performers, the things that just don't make sense of what we do. We need to start questioning and tackling these. And I want you to use this time to go really deep with your own HR practice. Now I have an entire series on what this means and how to do it on my blog.
(18:59): So you can check that out. better.com/blog to find more. But the point here is, is we all need to do better at managing the people aspect of our work. And that's not easy because I am asking you to be more confrontational. You can do it politely if you want, but you have to step up in that front. You may have to say no and I actually want you to say no a lot more. Please like stop being yes people. And as we do HR at the highest level, we have to contradict our leaders. We have to speak truth to power, we have to be in front leading from a people purse first perspective. And while we're doing that, use this time to grow your own toolbox of HR information and knowledge. So listen, HR back in the day as an just two months ago was still trying to find its footing as the workflow workforce changed as a workplace changed and so did the HR talent like we were already in this sort of weird growing pain stage as an as a department in HR because we knew engagement wasn't working.
(20:22): We didn't quite know how to change it, how to frame it. We had a seat at the table, some understood what that meant. Some were just trying to get used to it. Some CEOs care, some didn't. Some HR departments understood what ROI wasn't, how to show it. Some didn't like we were just in this weird space as it was and now the pandemic has sped up where we are and sort of illuminated all these gaps in the workplace, in HR, in our leadership, in our communications and so now is the perfect time for you to up level your game and stop being that yes person and start moving towards what you want that new HR to look like. Whether it's people first, which I like and delivering exceptional value versus just going with the flow, which is kind of what a lot of HR people do now as we think about these three strategies at a high level.
(21:22): So the strategies again are having more time as a fallacy. Stop that you also, the second is how to shift and practice the way you think about work and policies to match the reality. And the third is to HR at the highest level. So as we think about these three practices, they are very urgent and current for right now. And it's how you HR from home. These are that first three strategies of how to use your time more effectively and wisely. How to lead your people and lead HR more effectively and wisely. But at the end of the day, the bottom line is you have to focus on the employee experiences that your employees are having with your company and with HR. Because right now is when your employees are on an ongoing basis. Even more now than ever making those positive or negative connections, stockpiling the experiences in their back pocket because they're already geared towards a negative experience because of all the external influences. So use this time wisely to implement these strategies so that you can build a stockpile of the right experiences of the positive experience in order to create a more
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