By Terri Mock - February 16, 2021
Earlier this month, HR Gazette hosted a podcast featuring Rave Mobile Safety's vice president of human resources, Amy Kruglak. The topic of the podcast was how HR has had to change its focus to address challenges attributable to the COVID-19 crisis, and the podcast begins with host Bill Banham asking Amy what she feels the biggest challenges for HR have been in the past year.
Amy replies that there have been two significant challenges for HR leaders over the past twelve months. The first is relevant to companies with an in-office culture or in which HR had direct contact with employees because, when employees started working remotely, HR had to look at processes such as recruiting, hiring, onboarding, and performance reviews, and adapt them to a virtual environment.
The second challenge for HR leaders was ensuring team managers had the tools to connect with remote employees and were prepared to address the challenges encountered by remote employees. Amy states it is important HR leaders and team leaders focus on employee mental health regardless of whether the challenges relate to the employees' work life or their home life.
Bill next asks Amy how HR roles have changed during the pandemic – noting that, prior to Q1 2020, most of his podcasts with HR leaders were about the positive things they do. He comments that, due to factors such as layoffs, conversations with employees have got more difficult and suggests it's more important than ever HR leaders are heard by the C-Suite and have a “seat at the table”.
Amy agrees, and says it is important the C-Suite has a diversity of perspectives around the table to sustain and grow the business during difficult times. With regards to HR roles changing, Amy feels it is vital the C-Suite are reminded that people play a key role in the success of the company and that, now more than ever, it is critical they are listened to (via HR) and feel they are valued.
Bills then wonders if a detachment from the company culture has contributed to employees losing trust in their employers. He asks Amy if she has any recommendations about building employee trust during extreme times. Amy suggests communication – even over-communication - is important because if employees do not hear from company leaders, they will create their own messaging.
Amy continues by describing how Rave Mobile Safety engaged employees during periods of remote working with positive announcements about new product releases and product upgrades to meet customer requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic. She adds the channels of communication used – such as video-conferencing – were also crucial to help employees feel more connected.
In his next question to Amy, Bill asks if employee perception of HR has changed and what skills HR leaders need now to do their job compared to 12 months ago. With regards to the first half of the question, Amy believes employee perception has changed due to HR leaders needing to be more compassionate, empathetic, and nurturing than before, and that this has helped develop more trust.
Amy also feels HR leaders need to spend more time listening to employees than maybe they did previously to help them cope through difficult times, while still supporting the needs of the business. Amy concludes this section of the podcast by expressing the hope that HR leaders have taken advantage of this difficult time to bring more value to the role HR has within a company.
The next part of the podcast starts with Bill raising the results of a survey in which only 44% of employees fully trusted their companies to navigate the COVID-19 crisis successfully. Amy is astonished by this statistic; but acknowledges some industries were hit harder than others by the pandemic and that some companies within those industries coped better with setbacks than others.
Amy says it is important employees trust their employers because this helps with retention and helps the company build a stronger workforce that will increase the chances of the company successfully navigating the crisis. Therefore, HR teams within these companies should use engagement surveys and other opportunities to better connect with employees and regain trust.
The discussion then moves on to the relationship between HR leaders and the companies they work for, and Bill asks how HR leaders can support companies so the companies themselves can demonstrate they care for employees. Amy responds by stating HR teams should be regarded as a strategic asset for any company to ensure its continued growth and business success.
Amy suggests companies should trust their HR teams to provide a balance between business needs and employee needs – notwithstanding that both business and employee needs may have changed dramatically due to the COVID-19 crisis. Indeed, Amy comments that what companies may have considered to be business success in Q1 2020 likely looks a lot different now.
The podcast concludes with Bill asking Amy how Rave’s mass notification system Rave Alert can help companies connect with employees in order to build trust during the pandemic. Amy replies with an overview of Rave Alert's capabilities and an explanation of how the platform enables employees to connect very easily with employees to ensure they operate safely in difficult conditions.
Amy also shared an anecdote about how Rave Alert was used to inform the occupants of Rave Mobile Safety's office building that the building would be closed for a day due to a COVID-19 exposure. She added that although the majority of employees were working remotely at the time, the company was able to ensure the safety of anybody coming to the office building with just three clicks, and that any other company in the same scenario would find the platform just as effective.
Terri Mock is Rave's Chief Strategy & Marketing Officer, overseeing strategy, product, and marketing. She is an executive leader with achievements in delivering revenue growth, driving go-to-market, innovating products, and scaling operations from high-tech startups to global companies.
Over 40% of HR leaders say that keeping company culture alive in 2021 is their single biggest priority. Listen and learn to Amy Kruglak, Vice President of Human Resources at Rave Mobile Safety, explain her take on these issues.