HR News

New Focus on Employee Mental Health in 2021

January 1, 2021

COVID-19 has left its mark on virtually all aspects of American life, and businesses and their workforces have been no exception, with the stress and isolation of physical distancing during the pandemic adversely affecting the mental health of employees, and their ability to connect and collaborate.

HR has a fundamental role to play by promoting remote communication and teleconferencing that fosters a sense of camaraderie and teamwork, not simply the accomplishment of tasks and goals. Communication models like online lunch-and-learns, department check-ins, and even after-hour get-togethers have become important tools for maintaining employee morale and connection.

HR professionals are leading the way in designing such tools and developing effective models that have been shepherding employees through the pandemic, and will continue to support workforce mental health and resiliency in 2021.

Emphasizing Civility: More Important Than Ever

December 1, 2020

Let’s face it, these days our politicians, favorite celebrities, and others with a prominent social media presence don’t always practice civility. That is, they often opt for a deliberately provocative, impolite, even downright disrespectful, interpersonal style. And the example they set (or fail to set) affects the behavior of the rest of us, sometimes unconsciously, as we interact with others on the job.

But civility is key to a friendly, cooperative, and productive workplace. So what’s the role of HR in encouraging a civil environment? HR professionals can take a three-pronged approach to support civility: (1) modeling polite, respectful behavior; (2) training to identify and nip microaggressions in the bud; (3) and teaching the importance of microaffirmations, or the mechanics of civility.

Communicating expectations of polite, respectful behavior at work is crucial, as is enforcing expectations by rewarding civility and penalizing inappropriate behavior. HR professionals who lead with civility make a tangible difference.

Remote Hiring in a COVID World

November 1, 2020

In the new COVID environment, the hiring process has had to go through some changes to minimize face-to-face interaction with candidates.

Nowadays, following the usual perusal of cover letters and résumés, initially screening an applicant with a conversational phone interview can streamline the remote hiring process. Use this time to ask general questions, like “Why do you think you’re a good candidate for this position?” to assess the applicant’s suitability and get a feel for what the person is like.

If the person seems like a potentially good fit, schedule a remote interview through a videoconferencing platform like Zoom, GoToMeeting, Microsoft Teams, or Jitsi. Take this opportunity to spend enough time with candidates to assess whether they might be a good fit with your organization’s culture and how well they could fulfill the requirements of the position, and to ask more specific questions about the person’s skills, expectations, and experience. To get to know candidates better, encourage further elaboration of their answers.

When you settle on a top candidate, take the last step by checking the person’s personal and professional references.

If you take a thorough, thoughtful approach to hiring, chances are you’ll hire someone just right for the job!

Are HR Professionals Especially Well-Suited for Telecommuting?

October 1, 2020

The shift to working from home has been a welcome one for many employees, who are enjoying many aspects of telecommuting, from not having to get themselves physically to work, to having less distractions, to easier access to a good cup of coffee.

But many people find working from home challenging. They miss the structure and camaraderie of working on-site, and may find it hard to focus on work when the dishes, just a few feet away, need doing.

HR professionals, though, may be especially well-suited to telecommuting. As a group, they tend to be well- organized and comfortable with technology. They’ve also been enthusiastic about taking advantage of online learning, and have used it to help them help employees cope with stress and manage working from home, from offering training for such things as teleconferencing etiquette to stress management. HR has stepped up and reached out to help employees navigate work during the pandemic, and they’ve managed to do it with aplomb—and without leaving the house.