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2023 Year-End Team Reflections


As this year draws to a close, Kiwi Partners' HR Services team took time for introspection. In this article, we collectively share some of our thoughts and valuable learnings from 2023.



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. We hope to continue our role as change agents to support and inspire our nonprofit clients' growth and vision.



 

Diana Gllardo, Head of HR Services, Kiwi Partners Nonprofit Consulting

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


As 2023 is ending and 2024 will begin, I contemplate the months that have swiftly passed. I am struck by the relentless pace at which we move. Through experiences, I’ve learned to understand myself better and listen to my inner voice. I strive to resist the persistent allure of tacking another task to my to-do’s and the upkeep of emails in exchange for precious moments with my little one and family.


Caring for yourself while supporting others is akin to tending to your own garden before nurturing someone else's. It's not merely a kind gesture; it's fundamental for your own health and your capability to provide meaningful assistance to others. As much as I am aware of this, it is a constant struggle as I am deeply passionate about my work with clients, my family, and many other interests. There are simply not enough hours in the day.


This past year, I’ve been fortunate and intentionally welcomed a playful furry companion into my life to safeguard myself from burnout. I feel especially thankful for the presence of a supervisor who, without a single demand or expectation of extra hours or weekend work, fostered an environment that prioritized a healthy balance with work. Equally significant was the opportunity to earn a mental health allyship certificate. This valuable resource equipped me with the tools for self-discovery and positioned me to support those around me better. I acknowledge that these privileges may not be accessible to everyone. 

 

Despite my best intentions and the tools I’ve collected to support myself, I was unable to feel respite even after returning from moments of escape and rejuvenation. This has prompted me to make room to reassess priorities, implement self-care measures, and seek a more sustainable balance in both professional and personal spheres. It's a vital step towards maintaining well-being and fostering resilience in the face of persistent challenges. As a leader, I want to be a positive role model by demonstrating self-care while continuing to support my team.


As we collectively navigate the transition into the holidays and the new year, I find myself pondering the tools and support systems that fortify us. What sustains you, your colleagues, your managers, and your peers as we approach this juncture? How do we encourage those around us to pause, take a break, and release their grip on perfection? How do we encourage and support boundaries that people need to work and live happily?


Some ideas to foster well-being personally and within your team in 2024:

  • Conduct a resilience scan – personally and teamwide. 

  • Commit to carving out time before and after vacation to ease back into work, allowing both yourself and your direct reports the space to readjust.

  • Encourage others to find their safeguard against burnout.

  • Cultivate an atmosphere of joy in the workplace by incorporating elements that promote fun and camaraderie.

Sharing our stories and the strategies that sustain us can contribute to a collective reservoir of strength.  Let us foster a culture where self-care is not only encouraged but embraced, where the pursuit of balance is regarded as a mark of wisdom rather than a weakness or concession. As we bid farewell to this year, may the lessons we learned become stepping stones toward a new year marked with resilience, compassion, and shared commitment to well-being. 



 

Gabrielle McDonald, Kiwi Partners' Nonprofit HR Services

GABRIELLE MCDONALD, CSM, CMS


This year highlighted my understanding of the intricate link between employee engagement and communication with overall organizational success. I have also witnessed firsthand the profound impact of aligning HR strategies to business objectives.

 

Navigating challenges such as conflict resolution and improving communication has become even more demanding with remote work transitions and shifting client workplace dynamics, and has emphasized the crucial role that I, as an HR professional, play in fostering trust within client organizations.

 

Throughout the year, I have worked to maintain client partnerships and cultivate strong relationships. Collaborating closely with clients has proven essential for understanding unique needs and challenges. By actively listening to and tailoring HR solutions to align with specific business goals, I have been able to build trust and credibility. These client partnerships are not only enhanced by effective communication but also contribute to a more holistic and strategic approach to human resources, creating a workplace environment that supports employee well-being and organizational growth. As I reflect on these experiences, I am committed to nurturing and expanding these client partnerships in the coming year, recognizing their fundamental role in achieving shared success.

 

In 2024, I look forward to a year of continued success and positive client partnerships!


 

Jesse Crumbley III, PHD - Kiwi Partners' Nonprofit HR Services USA

JESSE CRUMBLEY III, PHD


As we approach the close of another remarkable year, I want to reflect on the collective achievements and growth experienced as one of the newest members of Kiwi Partners. I have had an incredible six months. My tenure with Kiwi would not have been so awesome without an amazing team. When I first joined the team, we were in the beginning of rolling out a new Mental Health Awareness initiative provided by the Society for Human Resources Management (SRHM) and PsychHub called the Mental Health Allyship Program. As an advocate for mental health awareness and someone who is going through my own mental health journey, I found this extremely powerful. I think employers must acknowledge their team’s resilience, adaptability and most importantly, commit to fostering a workplace that prioritizes the well-being of every team member.


The challenges we faced throughout 2023 were not just professional but personal. The uncertainty and demands of the times and consulting work can take a toll on the well-being of anyone engaged in this meaningful work. Yet, it’s precisely during such moments that our commitment to supporting each other became a defining strength.


In pursuing success, it's easy to overlook the importance of mental health. However, we recognized early on that the well-being of our team members is foundational to our collective achievement. This year, the HR Services team took significant strides in destigmatizing conversations around mental health and fostering an environment where seeking support is not only accepted but encouraged.

Kiwi’s HR Services commitment to mental health awareness goes beyond policies; it's embedded in our culture. From regular check-ins to initiatives that promote work-life balance, we've strived to create an atmosphere where every team member feels valued and supported. It's a continuous journey, but our progress is a testament to our shared dedication to one another's mental well-being; I look forward to sharing this journey with my clients.


I’ve also learned that mental health is a dynamic aspect of our lives, subject to change and growth. This understanding has allowed us to approach challenges with empathy, offer support where needed, and celebrate victories together, big or small.


As I step into a new year, I am excited to carry forward the lessons of 2024. I endeavor to continue to prioritize mental health, be attentive to the well-being of my colleagues and clients and foster a workplace that thrives on compassion and understanding. Our success is not just measured in projects completed or milestones achieved but in the strength of the bonds we've forged and the supportive community we've become.

 

Joyce Acosta - Kiwi Partners' Nonprofit HR Services Team

JOYCE ACOSTA


As we bid farewell to 2023 and look ahead to new opportunities and challenges in the coming year, I wanted to take a moment to reflect. This year, in particular, has been significant in my use of technology and data-driven approaches for our clients. HR professionals, including myself, continue to adapt and expand our skill sets to manage HR Information Systems (HRIS) effectively.

Staying up-to-date with the latest HR technology trends and continuously improving our proficiency with HRIS tools has become a crucial part of our roles. Many platforms have enhanced their data analytics capabilities. We have been able to generate insights from HR data that  directly impacted strategic decision-making. The ability to provide meaningful metrics and predictive analytics has contributed significantly to the success of our HR initiatives. I am proud of  our commitment to harnessing the full potential of these systems to support our non-profit organization's growth and the well-being of its employees. The journey in 2023 has solidified my belief in the power of HRIS to revolutionize HR practices and drive organizational success.


Amid life's trials and tribulations, we have much to be grateful for. It's important to take a moment to acknowledge the positive aspects of our lives and express gratitude for the blessings we have received. I’ve honed my skills, overcome obstacles, and achieved milestones that have shaped my professional path. As we move into the new year, we all have the opportunity to set fresh goals, make resolutions, and embrace new possibilities. I am excited to further explore and implement innovative HRIS solutions and strategies that will continue to enhance the HR experience—approaching 2024 with optimism and a commitment to personal and collective growth.

 

Karen Kingdom - Kiwi Partners' Nonprofit HR Services Team

KAREN KINGDOM, SHRM-CP


This year, I have seen an uptick in social media and TikTok’s influence over workplace trends. Much of how the Millennials, Gen Z, and Gen Alpha connect is through these apps. They can be places of collaboration, learning, and discussion. My TikTok feed is filled with tips on how to function in Excel, how to negotiate salaries, and emerging workplace trends.

Some of the most interesting workplace trends on my feed surround how women function in the workplace. Some of the most popular and trending hashtags amongst women are #lazygirljobs, #snailgirlera, and #bareminimummondays.


While these terms may give the feeling of “I don’t care”, that is deceiving. These trending hashtags reflect women rejecting the idea that they can have it all and should be ’girlbosses’. The expectations of a #girlboss are women climbing the ladder to success at work and having a successful family life with perfect kids, a happy partner, and an Instagram-worthy house.

 

A study in 2018 showed that while both men and women experience burnout, women are more susceptible to it. It also showed that men are more likely to internalize or compartmentalize their stress from work. At the same time, women are more likely to take on domestic roles as a coping mechanism. Women are burnt out. We saw it during the pandemic when women were working remotely, homeschooling, and entertaining their families. The result of that expectation and burnout is establishing new work/life balance and boundaries.


Despite the name, #lazygirljobs is not actually about jobs that are not challenging and don’t require much work. It’s about making sure you have time outside of work to refresh and replenish. You may have a tough job, but it ends at 6 pm Monday through Friday, and you can pivot back to your home life. It empowers you to have more autonomy over your workload and schedule. It’s not less work; it’s deciding how and when to accomplish it.  #Snailgirlera is about slowing down and making time for self-care.

My favorite trend is #bareminimummondays, when there are minimum meetings scheduled, there is scheduled focus time and open space on your calendar. It’s a way to ease into your week, set realistic expectations, and manage your calendar so you are less likely to feel overwhelmed, stressed and irritated. It will give you a better headspace to deal with all the week’s unknowns and space to be creative with projects or tasks.


There is an aspect of “managing up” in all these trends by not allowing a manager to create unnecessary stress, overcomplicate things, or contribute to a toxic environment. Implementing these trends in your role will shine a light on poor leadership and create opportunities for retraining, acknowledgment of gaps, and better time management for the whole team.

Understanding what is important to employees by looking at the trends that are forming on social media will help you create a culture that draws people to your organization.



 

Laura Sliker - Kiwi Partners' Nonprofit HR Services Team

LAURA SLIKER


This year has highlighted the paramount importance of cultivating a positive employee experience within the organizations we serve.


In a world where the lines between work and life continue to blur, creating a workplace that fosters positivity is not just a luxury but a necessity. Our collective well-being directly impacts our professional lives, personal growth and happiness.

One of the key lessons I've learned this year is that a positive employee experience is not a one-size-fits-all concept. It's about recognizing and celebrating the unique strengths, talents, and perspectives that each team member brings to the table. Whether acknowledging achievements, providing opportunities for skill development, or simply fostering an inclusive environment, these small gestures collectively contribute to a thriving workplace culture.


Engagement has been at the forefront of many organization’s efforts, and rightly so. A team that feels connected, valued, and heard is a team that excels. This year, many organizations have implemented initiatives that encourage open communication and collaboration, breaking down silos and fostering a sense of unity. From virtual meetings to anonymous feedback channels, many have strived to create spaces where every voice matters.


Here's to a new year filled with continued growth, collaboration, and, above all, a positive employee experience that transcends the workplace into the lives we lead outside of those walls.

Wishing you all a joyful holiday season and a new year brimming with positivity!

 

Sarah Ahmed - Kiwi Partners' Nonprofit HR Services Team

SARAH AHMED


This past year has been a transformative journey, revealing a profound lesson about the significance of embracing authenticity in the workplace. Previously, the notion of bringing my entire, genuine self to work was restricted to presenting a refined and buttoned-up version of who I am. This inclination to project a polished version was deeply ingrained, driven by a desire to uphold a particular image in the professional setting. 

 

However, this year has taught me the importance of embodying a more authentic self, even within the limits of the workplace, which could encompass not only expressing one's values but also acknowledging and embracing the imperfections and quirks that make us human. I’ve come to the realization that authenticity at work involves a willingness to be vulnerable, often venturing beyond the boundaries of one's comfort zone. 

 

Being authentic does not mandate revealing all aspects of one self; rather, it allows for a spectrum of comfort levels, enabling individuals to decide how much of their authentic selves they are willing to share. It could be displayed in simple acts, such as expressing genuine thoughts on a proposed idea, acknowledging challenges, or sharing personal narratives. It lies in recognizing that authenticity is a nuanced and deeply personal choice, influenced by our comfort levels and unique dynamics. 

 

Looking ahead, I am eager to continue the journey of bringing more of my authentic self to work. Simultaneously, I am committed to playing an active role in cultivating an environment that encourages and celebrates authenticity among my colleagues. By doing so, I hope to contribute to the ongoing development of a workplace culture that thrives on genuine connections and mutual respect. 

 

Solana Cederboim Wax, MSHR, SPHR - Kiwi Partners' Nonprofit HR Services Team

SOLANA CEDERBOIM WAX, MSHR, SPHR


I decided to start this reflection note by looking at our 2022 end of year thoughts. Once again, the topic of mental health is still very prevalent. As HR professionals, we continue to encourage mental health education and inspire everyone to bring their whole selves to work, to fully show up, to allow themselves to be fully seen, and to bring their outside life into work.


Reflecting on the impact of this paradigm throughout the year, I discern a multitude of advantages. This approach has contributed to creating a more supportive and inclusive work environment, fostering work cultures that are genuinely personable and authentic. However, it has also placed greater demands on People Managers. They are tasked with maintaining empathy and support for their teams, all while ensuring work progresses, targets are met, and their teams continue to grow. Furthermore, they must address mental health challenges within their teams and respond in a professional, thoughtful, compassionate, and compliant manner.


Many People Managers are handling these responsibilities admirably, demonstrating genuine care and compassion for their teams. However, some find it challenging, struggling with the personal impact, and occasionally expressing discomfort with their evolving role expectations.


As HR professionals, it is imperative that we extend additional support to these People Managers, including helping them establish boundaries and rely on professionals to deal with their team needs. This can range from bringing outside mental health professionals to clarifying when HR should step in and lead conversations to referring employees to seek treatment and the proper assistance outside of the organization. The goal is to continue supporting team members, educating organizations and communities on mental health, to ensure that conversations and approaches help people feel safe and are respectful to everyone involved. After all, meeting everyone where they are, regardless of their role and level, is what truly makes an inclusive culture.


 

Susie Abdelghafar - Kiwi Partners' Nonprofit HR Services Team

SUSIE ABDELGHAFAR


Reflecting on 2023 and its challenges, one aspect of the Human Resources world I have appreciated is the exponential growth and stride of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). When I think back on what the work world looked like and felt like when I first started my professional career and where we are now, it truly fills me with pride to be an agent in a field that can provide a safe and belonging space for all.


Coming from primarily social work-related nonprofit spaces in my career, I have found DEI is an especially crucial aspect to focus on. Diverse teams bring together individuals with different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. This diversity can lead to more innovative solutions, better problem-solving, and increased creativity. When employees feel comfortable contributing their unique viewpoints, it can lead to improved performance, outcomes, and enhanced/well-informed decisions. DEI has also been shown to increase innovation and adaptability, making a workplace better equipped for thriving in a rapidly changing world. Inclusive workplaces also foster a positive culture of respect and acceptance, where employees feel safe, valued, and empowered, leading to a healthier work environment where collaboration and teamwork thrive.


In summary, diversity, equity, and inclusion are not only important for creating a fair and just workplace, but they also steer to tangible benefits for organizations, such as improved performance, talent attraction and retention, and enhanced decision-making. Embracing DEI is not just a matter of compliance; it's a strategic advantage in today's diverse and dynamic business landscape. Promoting a culture of DEI helps create and foster warmer, safer environments where goals and thoughts can truly soar.


 

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 2023, 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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