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2022 Year-End Team Reflections


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 2022.


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 we close the year, I reflect on the various services our team provided and how they impacted our nonprofit clients. For example, we performed a significant number of HR effectiveness reviews to help assess an organization’s HR resources and identify opportunities for technology improvements. We also provided HR Advisory insight to managers and leaders.

The HR needs of organizations have changed over the last few years. Since the start of the pandemic, many organizations invested in upgrading their technology to support a flexible post-pandemic workplace. The technology updates either included moving to a Human Resource Information System (HRIS) or a Preferred Employer Organization (PEO), alleviating many payroll compliance state requirements while offering discounted monthly medical premiums. In addition, some organizations opted to move employee data to cloud-based document storage, allowing them to review and update personnel files in a hybrid or fully remote work setting.


We welcomed these new opportunities to showcase and illustrate our technology exposure and the lessons learned throughout past years. We embraced the crucial role of bringing organizations into the present-day way to think about the employee experience and lifecycle while alleviating some administrative tasks. As a team with a shared passion for utilizing technology to build efficiencies, we've had these kinds of discussions with clients for several years, but this year, we only needed a little push because organizations were coming to terms on their own.


This year, the requests shifted from technology-based upgrades to supporting people and focusing on improving or building people-focused HR departments. For many HR professionals, shifting an employer's mindset and culture to one that centers its people is a significant milestone. With the increase in our project work and HR advisory opportunities, we laid the foundation for organizations to rethink or re-do policies and practices.


Social injustices have been amplified and affected employees in the past few years. Furthermore, the influence of remote work, hybrid work, and mental health awareness sparked the shift, or need, to connect with employees more often. The final events that brought HR into the spotlight this year were the great reshuffle, quiet quitting, and employee demand for a voice in their pay, benefits, workload, and learning. HR talent and services will continue to be in need as we head into 2023, and our subsequent requests for assistance may be to support mid-level management in balancing their work and managing people in a renewed HR landscape.


As organizations organically or strategically begin to align communication to their purpose, it would be wise for leadership to make space for employee growth and development within their management team. Mid-level managers will be called upon to spearhead initiatives related to building a culture where all feel like they belong and cascade messages to convey the organization's purpose. Managers will seek a partner in employee relations, brainstorming new ways to engage with their team members and assisting with finding resources and training for their journey as a leader. Additionally, people management will continue to change, increasing the percentage of mid-level management burnout.


As I head into the new year, my HR passion will be: 1). persuading organizations to encourage white space and allocated downtime for mid-level managers to self-care and reflect and 2). defining HR support to managers.


I look forward to sharing and connecting with you in the new year! Cheers to 2023 and to more in-person get- togethers.

 

GABRIELLE RICHARDSON, CSM, CMS


As 2022 comes to a close, I’d like to reflect on many positive changes this year. I am approaching one year with Kiwi, and I appreciate the knowledge I’ve gained. Working with my clients, I’ve strengthened my skills in building relationships. I’ve become more proactive, being certain to research topics to enhance my HR knowledge and provide feedback as needed. From learning more about PEOs to HRIS implementations, I’ve enjoyed working with a variety of clients on many different projects.


In addition, I’ve enjoyed discussions with clients about ways to build relationships with one another virtually. Hybrid and remote work has taken the workforce by storm in the last two years; seeing clients embrace the change has been rewarding. Working in a different state from the rest of the team and clients can be different and difficult for some, but I enjoy remote working and have always done my best to stay connected.


One thing that was very important to me was prioritizing self-care in my work life. Maintaining self-care in the workplace can be challenging, but little things throughout the day can guide anyone in the right direction. Activities that have helped me maintain self-care in the workplace included taking walks during lunch, meditating before and after work, and incorporating 30 minutes of yoga in my day. I’ve noticed clients realizing the importance of self-care and helping employees maintain a balanced work –life, by incorporating summer Fridays, virtual workout options, or 35-hr work weeks.


In 2023, I look forward to continuing to grow in every aspect and look forward to the new year ahead!

 

JOYCE ACOSTA


Reflecting on this past year, what resonated with me is how crucial employee engagement is to increasing productivity, morale, and motivation in the workplace. Although it may seem that an engaged employee is likely to be satisfied, a satisfied employee is not necessarily engaged. 2022 was the year that employees embraced their influence and collective power. The job market is currently attracting employees by offering ample opportunities and higher pay to unengaged workers. An idiom to best describe this power would be “The ball is in the employees’ court”. People have the choice to commit to a new opportunity, so employers must engage with their workers to stay.


Engaged employees are more likely to produce high-level outcomes and performance, which is necessary for teams to achieve goals. Organizations with engaged employees tend to have higher retention rates. Disengaged employees tend to be average performers who feel no connection to their work. Often, they tend to be pessimistic about the job being performed and may not align with their company’s values not aligning. Detached workers may only do the minimum required to earn a paycheck. These employees rarely communicate their feelings regarding their work; when they do, it’s to express complaints and negativity. According to an article by Gallup, “people want purpose and meaning from their work. Employees want to be known and recognized for what they’re good at.”


Economic uncertainty continues to be a concern for all in the upcoming years. I’m hopeful that leaders will make employee engagement a priority, so organizations and their team members continue to thrive during these unpredictable times

 

KAREN KINGDOM, SHRM-CP


This past year has been another one for the books when it comes to change. Organizations have made many adjustments while determining what their new “normal” will be. Transitioning employees to pandemic life and to post-pandemic life has not been easy for leaders. Part of the difficulty I have seen is adjusting and managing expectations of performance to match the situation at hand.


When leaders ask“how do I get my employees to care as I do?” or “how can I get them to work as hard as I do?”, my answer every time is, you can’t. You cannot expect employees to work as hard as the owner or director. The key to getting the most out of your employees is to find out what motivates them - find their why and what drives them. Some ways to do this are by not making assumptions, communicating often, and being willing to be challenged by your team.


Making assumptions about what employees are thinking or feeling can make communication difficult. It takes some self-reflection to let go of assumptions. It is key to clearly understand why you have those assumptions and determine if your actions align with the organization’s values. Occasionally, you will need to get an outside perspective to make sure that your unconscious bias is not preventing you from seeing the reality of the situation. Asking questions and not jumping to conclusions will help you become a leader whose actions and intentions are trusted.


Communicating with your team often and in the way that works best for them goes a long way when managing expectations. Asking employees how they like to communicate: emails, direct messaging, phone calls, or meetings, will make the conversations easier. Having consistent communication will also give you insight into what is working well for your employees and what needs improvement. You will be able to tell how your staff’s workload is being handled. Do they have too much or not enough? You will be able to determine if there is an area an employee loves and should spend more time in or figure out where they are struggling and may need more training. Getting to know your employees by communicating with them will give you a direct line to reasonable expectations for each one.


Having consistent and open communication empowers your employees to bring their ideas to the table and challenge the processes that may need to be fixed. Listen to their concerns and make necessary adjustments. These changes will help you understand what is happening within your organization and contribute greatly to making your team more effective.


It can be a hard task to have a realistic look at the expectations you are placing on your team members. It usually requires an outside perspective to validate them as well. The first step in the process of aligning expectations is to have an open mind to changing your perspective and thought process. Then, looking to a trusted outside source to help you evaluate where you are, and finally, determine an action plan on how to get where you need to go.


2023 is a year to make strides forward with productivity and engagement, and focus on the employees so they can focus on the work. I wish everyone a happy and healthy new year.

 

RACHEL LAXNER


“True communication goes beyond talking and listening; It is about understanding.” – Gerald Campbell.


As I reflect on the last year, I have learned that employees and people, in general, need to feel heard and seen now more than ever.


We are often told that communication is key, which could not be more true in our profession. Communication is fundamental for HR professionals. Moreover, one common trait that HR leaders possess is strong communication skills. When you demonstrate the traits of being a good listener along with friendliness, empathy, and open-mindedness, you can build the base of trust and respect. With the Great Resignation, the Great Reshuffle, and navigating life and work after COVID, the last few years have shown me that we need to actively listen and understand our employees to increase retention and employee satisfaction. When communicating with others, I have discovered that the best thing to do is have an open-door policy to reduce conflict, increase productivity, and develop trust.


Open and effective communication ensures that employees feel safe, heard, and valued. Organizations should work on creating a culture that encourages open and honest communication.


I look forward to a great year of connections and effective communications with you all in 2023!

 

SARAH AHMED


The manner in which we work has changed over these past few years. In a remote environment, instead of our morning small talk by the coffee maker, we are now conditioned to use Zoom and Teams for daily work interactions. As a result, the way we show appreciation to our employees has significantly changed as well, and it’s often overlooked when the pace of work increases.


One of the key takeaways I’ve learned this past year is the importance of employee appreciation. A thank you with a happy face emoji via Slack doesn’t really compare to an in-person “thank you” accompanied by eye contact and a smile. The complexity of virtual relationship building, plus other trends such as quiet quitting, have greatly impacted employee recognition this year. As an employer, how we recognize employees correlates to retaining talent and being able to support our employees’ needs. While it may seem like a small gesture, if a team member is having a bad day at work, telling them the things they do well can lift them up and let them know you value them.


When you have the opportunity to shed light on an employee’s work, it’s vital to do so, whether in a group meeting, a one-on-one, or even an end-of-week kudos. Small acts of appreciation and recognition go a long way and help establish a strong workplace environment that’s the foundation of any organization’s culture.


As we continue to navigate this ever-changing work environment while exploring and implementing best practices to bolster our workforce, employee recognition should be a constant priority.

 


As I look back and reflect on the number one change in the HR industry this year, I think about the “Bring Your Whole Self to Work” paradigm shift.


Organizations used to encourage staff to leave their personal issues at home and to keep work relationships as professional as possible. However, HR now encourages organizations and managers to become more involved in the employees’ personal lives.


Individuals are persuaded to bring their whole selves to work, including sharing their stories, rituals, values, and being honest about their personal challenges. Organizations not only celebrate the differences in opinions and experiences, but also are building up their support system to be able to assist individuals with their physical, emotional, social, and financial problems.


Managers are advised to ask, stay present and engage in conversations about well-being. While it is HR’s role to provide managers with tools, guidance, and training, it is supervisors’ responsibility to engage in these well-being conversations with their staff. Even though some may feel more authentic and comfortable with this new approach, other leaders may struggle with participating in personal conversations while managing a respectful and professional distance.


While things have changed, individuals are still expected to stay committed and engaged at work. This paradigm shift brings the understanding that employees cannot be 100% engaged all the time, and that is ok. The main goal of allowing everyone to bring their whole self to work is to ensure employees are as genuine, happier, and healthier as they can be.


In this new year, I hope you and your team can continue to foster community and a supportive work environment. Happy new year!

 

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 2022, 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!

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