As this year comes to a close, Kiwi Partners' HR Services team took time to reflect and collectively share some of our thoughts and valuable learnings from 2021.
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.
As the world attempts to move back to normalcy, a word that continues to resonate with me is resilience. I see the city streets fill with people restarting their lives after the pandemic, bouncing back yet again. This is a step forward in dealing with our personal trauma.
Last year when I wrote my reflection, I mentioned how important it was to build exercises or habits to maintain one’s mental health throughout the year. As an HR leader, employee issues around mental health really challenged me, as I am sure it challenged others this past year. Although many have been able to recover mentally from the distress of last year, others are still struggling.
For organizations, it was especially formidable to support employees who could not find methods to preserve their mental health. It was problematic not just from a compassion or empathy perspective but from a problem-solving standpoint. I realized this a problem I couldn’t fix alone. Solving this matter would require a process that involves a community and oftentimes, mental health experts.
Our goal as leaders is to create a work environment where people can be their authentic self. How can employers help employees do this? Consider working with mental health professionals to establish a wellness program and incorporate mental health workshops into training budgets. Take the opportunity to share stories, resources, and tools. As we continue to deal with the impact of the pandemic on our mental wellness, I am hopeful that we can work together to find a solution.
As I sit and reflect on this year, I am happy to see the country starting to open back up from the extensive stay-at-home measures across the nation. Organizations have started to invite their team members to go back into the office while maintaining an agile and flexible work from home model. I saw organizations bounce back from the pandemic, grow stronger, and develop better relations with their staff.
The landscape of work has dramatically changed over the course of the pandemic. Organizations recognize that we don’t have to maintain a physical office to produce outstanding work. There are also new ways of supporting staff remotely – through benefits, technology, and staying connecting with one another.
I am hopeful 2022 will bring an abundance of creativity, innovative ideas, and community across the country.
2021 has been interesting. I genuinely felt that we would have turned the page on the unprecedented times of the past by this time. However, to the contrary, community and personal health and safety considerations still permeate every aspect of our daily life and decision-making.
In addition, as we learn to navigate byproducts of the times (e.g., high resignation rates), we must continue to invite conversation, albeit difficult, in order to stay connected.
As I reflect on what has been the most crucial factor for success this past year, it has been the continued practice of active listening. When things feel in disarray, it is easy to come to the table with solutions to move with haste. However, giving intentional focus to what someone isn’t saying is equally important in understanding what is being said. In doing so, I’ve felt a deepening of relationships and movements in workplace productivity.
As I look towards the New Year, it is my hope that I (and we all) continue to invest in meaningful relationships that support our goals and wellbeing. By prioritizing understanding before a reaction, may there be much progress and positivity in the year ahead. Cheers!
For 2021, I wanted to share a few reflections that stood out to me personally and professionally.
On a personal level, I was able to see friends and have small gatherings more frequently than last year. Though we often talk about how technology brings people even closer, I feel in person interactions are irreplaceable. For example, our Kiwi HR team met in person for the first time this past summer since the pandemic started. After more than a year apart, it felt great to hug and chat with each other and meet with new team members I had only met virtually.
On a professional level, I saw a continuing focus and emphasis on Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion in the HR space. One of the topics we have constantly discussed within Kiwi’s HR team is how the employee life cycle can become more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. For example, we researched how recruiting channels can be reevaluated and expanded to attract a more diverse pool of candidates. We also helped clients find more diverse benefits offerings to assist employees and their families with their various needs.
In 2022, I look forward to continuing to help clients build organizations that are more adaptive and inclusive.
A year ago, I wrote a reflection that celebrated that organizations were being flexible and adaptative by incorporating fully remote practices.
At this juncture, with the opportunity for the workforce to be vaccinated and maintain safety precautions, many organizations are ready to welcome their staff back in some capacity. In addition, the necessity for social interactions, gaining a sense of normalcy, and having a separation between life/home and work, are some reasons that may encourage teams to rethink the idea of fully remote workspaces.
Yet, many individuals have enjoyed the flexibility and can’t picture themselves in person at an office full time anymore. Employees’ needs have always been different and have typically been met by HR offerings such as benefits, PTO, and other personnel policies. However, nowadays, work location (e.g., being out-of-state) is another area that needs to be approached carefully, thoroughly, and by providing options.
On the other hand, organizational culture, values, programmatic and operational needs should also play a part in determining the future of the work environment. As if this wasn’t complex enough, talent retention is not easy these days; the great resignation and the influx of job openings need to be considered when leaders tackle these decisions. Furthermore, fully remote or hybrid opportunities are widely available, so not considering offering them may make talent attraction and retention even harder.
This year, we learned, developed, and reacted to the changes in front of us. However, it is still imperative to remain flexible and adaptative. Ask questions and listen to staff, implement hybrid approaches, and re-evaluate frequently.
We can learn as individuals, but we can learn so much from one another as an active member of our community or organization. Despite the challenges of 2021, our team hopes that your year has been enriching in every aspect; and we send our best wishes for an even more rewarding New Year.
Thank you for being a part of our community.
Happy Holidays from all of us at Kiwi Partners!