2020 Year-End Team Reflections


As this year comes to a close, the Human Resources team at Kiwi Partners took time to reflect and collectively share some of the things we are personally grateful for and valuable learnings we have had in 2020.


While the responsibilities of an HR professional have evolved as the workforce continues to adapt and navigate in an increasingly complex and digitized environment, it is still the human interactions and vulnerability that add spirit to both our role and our communities.


Our team is grateful for the diversity of our collective experiences and hope to continue our role as change agents to support and inspire your organization's growth and vision.


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HENRY TSUNG, SHRM-CP:

I have always believed that in adversity, there is growth. Throughout the past year, one of the byproducts of the organizational and societal challenges that we faced was the highlight of mental health and its conversation in the workplace. I am grateful for this.


There is no shortage of statistics indicating that mental health issues are on the rise in America.

However, the percentage of employers who’ve invested in employee wellness over the past few years has not kept pace with the rising cases of depression, anxiety, and stress (even before 2020).

For individuals who are fortunate to be able to telecommute during this year, we have been further blending our personal and professional lives together and have sometimes found comfort in this shared experience. The conversations that I have been able to have with my team and manager have been more candid and vulnerable. I believe this contributes to the organizational awareness in, and comfort in the conversation of, mental health.


Through this momentum, leaders of an organization can be proactively investing in this conversation and aim to further demonstrate both their responsiveness and dedication to prioritizing their employees and their wellbeing.


Looking ahead in the new year, it is my hope that these conversations and connections will deepen further and that we continue to see challenging times as opportunities for systemic and cultural change.



SOLANA CEDERBOIM WAX, MSHR, SPHR:

This year has been challenging for everyone, no doubt. Nevertheless, it has demonstrated that many people can perform their jobs entirely remotely while still being efficient and productive. Leaders who were hesitant regarding virtual work saw inevitable proof that it was unnecessary to work in-person to ensure staff fulfill their job responsibilities.


Remote work has allowed teams to develop a mutual understanding of respect that shows a more mature way to handle professional relationships. Employees’ performances are then evaluated based on their deliverables, rather than hours or presence.


In my case, I was always a believer in giving people freedom and flexibility while still measuring performance based on goals met and job responsibilities accomplished.


I thank 2020 for pushing organizations and us to be more flexible and more objectives-based.

Thank you for reading our newsletters. I wish you and your teams a 2021 full of goals accomplished.



DIANA GALLARDO-LASKA, J.D., SPHR, SHRM-SCP:

This year was full of challenges. Besides new rules and regulations to quickly adapt to, many organizations were forced to lay off or furlough staff. As an HR professional, my role as a sounding board to organization leaders could be highly stressful and demanding during these transitional times. My personal lesson is, and continues to be, take care of oneself mentally and physically.


I have spent more indoor time with my five-year-old. We have meditated, painted, colored, and expanded our plant collection; all the things that helped me take care of myself mentally. This time has also allowed me to discuss our community more deeply with my son. For example, when we sit down with food, we discuss how it was made, who harvested the food, who packed it, delivered and shipped it, and the people who showed up to work so that our family can share a meal.


As I discussed community with my son, I thought about everyone who has made it possible for me to eat, have electricity, have clothes, a clean building, and transportation. I thought about labor practices that either supports them or take advantage of them. I believe, we as employers have a responsibility to reflect on how we treat and care for employees who give so much of their time to dedicate to their work.


Thank you to all of you who do so much for the NYC community and beyond to help with hunger, homelessness, education, social justice, environmental justice, fair and equal pay, and criminal justice reform.



MURONG LI:

2020 has been a year like no other. When I reflect on this year, I think mostly about how individuals as well as organizations have adapted to changes.


It shouldn’t come as a surprise that changes are more common than we thought. What I have learned is that changes come with challenges but also opportunities. Throughout the year, I have seen organizations adapting to technology, such as new HRIS or a continuous feedback platform. Although it took time to implement these tools, they helped improve current processes and turned out to be critical in facilitating daily work during this remote work setting. Changes like these are positive in the sense that they produced positive results, but other changes could be negative and are out of our control like the global pandemic.


Many of us were forced to work remotely or live our lives virtually. For me, I had to celebrate a milestone virtually, my graduation - it was hard not to react negatively to a sudden change like this one. I felt frustrated at first, knowing that my family and friends couldn’t be there with me to celebrate it. Gradually, I realized and accepted that the ceremony had to be held virtually for public health reasons. In addition, I was inspired to see the school was creative in developing an unforgettable graduation experience even in a remote setting.


Through these difficult times, I have seen my HR professional peers utilize resources and creativity to strengthen organizational values and culture. As 2021 approaches, I aspire to continue being open-minded and remain optimistic about changes and the challenges that come with them.



PRATIKSHA GAIKWAD, SHRM-CP:

For me, 2020 has been a roller coaster ride in terms of emotions and adapting to the new normal. The year started with me getting a new job and new responsibilities. As the excitement settled in, COVID-19 hit in a manner nobody could have imagined. Who would have ever thought that during a thriving economy, and a world that was becoming increasingly engaged and interrelated, things would come to a grinding halt?


The best learning in 2020 for me was adaptability in the onboarding process. We all know how technology shapes the future, but I never thought it would be so important and relevant in the current situation.


Through working in various HR processes, specifically onboarding, I realized that while shifting to a more virtual environment, these processes should still have an element of employee engagement. Even with a virtual setup, organizations can help their employees feel that they are part of the organization and are valuable. I have started to review and work on the onboarding process with my clients, engaging with both the employer and the employee. Employees feel supported when the organization provides tools for them to adapt quickly and smoothly.


In the future, the virtual HR onboarding process should be more comprehensive and I am excited to help be a part of this change.



ARKIEM LEGREE, SHRM-CP:

2020 was kindest to the nimble and flexible. Luckily for the HR Services team at Kiwi Partners, we’ve got those characteristics down to a skill! Each year, we are tasked with learning new things and identifying trends. A large part of my time was spent thinking about the considerations that develop from many organizations shifting to remote work.


With many organizations being forced to reimagine their workspaces, we saw numerous organizations thrive due to some level of remote work protocol already in place. The organizations facing the biggest challenges were those that began considering remote work at the onset of the pandemic. The most significant learning for me was that the operational elements of the transition to a remote workforce were the easiest to execute. However, it was the cultural aspects of the shifting workforce that required pause and sensitivity. I learned that, for some, the traditional office setting was more than just a place to produce deliverables for the organization. Finding ways to ensure employees were engaged was an ongoing challenge.


The compliance changes also kept us on our toes. Shifts in Federal, State, and local legislation ensured that a review of organizational policies remained a constant activity. The COVID-19 pandemic added a layer of oversight that ultimately made the Kiwi HR team even stronger. From assisting clients with maintaining compliance as they became recipients of stimulus from the CARES Act, to supporting organizations whose workforces stretch past the borders of the United States, there were always multiple topics to study and learn.


2020 has challenged the conventions of numerous roles, and forced us to think about how we show up as employees, family, and friends. At Kiwi Partners, 2020 has equipped us with more knowledge to continue to build and maintain strong relationships with all of our partners.



FRANKIE TIN:

2020 was a trying time for all of us, but as an HR professional during this pandemic, I saw communities come together. I saw organizations make drastic changes to how they operated, either moving to a remote model or really evaluating their technology plans. I also had to answer questions like “What can we do to keep our employees working?” and “How do we communicate with our staff remotely?” or “What is Zoom?”. But what I loved most was seeing the resiliency of my clients and their ability to come together in ways I never imagined.


Communities connected in so many different ways, whether it be more social video calls or co-workers checking in on those individuals more frequently. I felt the generosity of others shine through the year.


As we look towards the new year, my hope is for the sense of community to grow stronger and for organizations to continue with this creative path to find ways to adapt and grow.


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We can learn as individuals, but there is also so much we can learn from one another. If you would like to converse or connect with any of the Kiwi HR team members, please do not hesitate to reach out.


Despite the events of this year, our team hopes that your year has been enriching in every aspect, and we continue to send our well wishes for an even more exciting New Year.


Thank you for being a part of our community.


Happy Holidays from all of us at Kiwi Partners!

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