The recent coronavirus outbreak has been a crash course in disruption. In a matter of weeks, it escalated from “Corona-what?” to a global health crisis that’s challenging business leaders in ways they never imagined and had no time to prepare for. In this live session, we talk with the HR community about their number one concern: how to provide care and continuity to employees during a time of crisis. We take questions, voice concerns, and share lessons learned from our first few days operating in a state of emergency.
Watch the 3-min recap: Managing Disruption: Best Advice for HR Leaders from HR Leaders
All right, let’s get going. We have a panel of HR leaders to talk about the disruption we’re dealing with today, which is of course the Coronavirus outbreak. But I’m sure for many of you, this is not the first disruptive event you’ve ever been through and it’s not going to be the last, so I hope to provide everyone with ways to manage through our current situation as well as disruption in general.
Again, I’d like to say thank you for being here. I don’t expect you to leave the session today feeling quite as zen as this guy on the slide, but I do hope that by coming together, voicing our concerns, and sharing some insight, we can provide you with a quick breather and a place to pause regroup and prepare for whatever tomorrow brings. My name is Brianna Harper and I’m your webinar host. I’m also your resource for any questions you have during the session or any time after.
I want this to be an open forum, so we have about 30 minutes of content with our panelists, and after that, I’d like to open it up to all of you. I’d love to answer your questions and hear how you are navigating. So please chat into the questions queue whenever something comes to mind. I’ll share as much as I can with the group. You’ll also see a follow-up email for me after the session today with the slide deck and a link to the recording. If you have any questions that we don’t get to today or that you think of after the session, please reach out. You can email me at email@example.com or find me on social @OutMatchHCM.
This is usually the part of the webinar where I talked about upcoming webinars in our future work series, but like all of you, we’re having to take things day by day right now. When you originally signed up for this, you may have registered for a totally different webinar. This was intended to be the first in a two-part diversity series, starting with Diversity Hiring, Then What, followed by How to Build a Culture of Belonging. But it didn’t seem right to ignore the reality that we’re facing different issues than we were just a few weeks ago, and having to respond to a situation that is changing every day.
So, in the spirit of being fluid rather than fighting it, we decided to change course. We will absolutely reschedule our diversity series and I will let you know as soon as we do. In the meantime, I’m happy to share our recently released future of work ebook, which has a whole chapter on diversity.
One last thing: today’s session is valid for one professional development credit for the SHRM-CP or the SHRM-SCP. Look for that activity ID for me at the end of the webinar.
For our discussion today, we have three leaders from the HR community. Robin Stenzel from OutMatch. Robin will actually be moderating the discussion with our guests. We have DeRetta Rhodes from the Atlanta Braves, and Deborah Schwarz from Cousins Properties.
Like I said, we had a totally different webinar planned for today. And these ladies have been shining stars in this time of crisis. They were able to turn on a dime to address the current situation, rather than our planned content, and they did this all while putting out fires of their own as well. So, I’m so happy to have you ladies on, and I’m really looking forward to our discussion today.
First, I would love if each of you could just tell a little about yourself. We’re all working from different places than we normally work from – we usually do our webinars in the OutMatch office in a really quiet room. So, I hope everyone will understand if there’s a little bit of background noise, but I would love for each of you ladies to introduce yourself and tell us, you know, who you are and where you’re working from today. Robin let’s start with you
So, I’m Robin Stenzel, I’m the Chief Solutions Officer at OutMatch. What that means is I work with our go-to-market team (people like Briana) on our messaging and content; our sales team to make sure that they really know what’s impacting HR during all kinds of times good and bad; and then also our product teams as we think about the products and making sure that those really match to you. But the role I’m most passionate about and I’ve spend most of my career in is the part of leading Talent at the organization. So, really thinking about how are we growing and developing our organization through our people and what does that look like for us. Prior to joining OutMatch almost a year ago, I had spent nine years at a large manufacturing company.
I also have experience in the retail and airline industries, which are really being impacted right now, and I’m sorry that we’re having to have this conversation, but excited to be able to share this as a community because I think it’s so important during these times that we’re all talking to each other about what we’re doing and how we’re doing that. I am in my home in Atlanta, Georgia, so you may see, because I really have no way of containing her, a small dog popping up and walking through as we go through this session. So excited to be here. Thank you for Robin.
DeRetta (you can’t see her face right now) but, DeRetta, would you please introduce yourself to our audience today?
Absolutely, and I wish you could see me because I thought I had my picture on. Hello, DeRetta Rhodes, I am SVP of Human Resources for the Atlanta Braves. And as you all can imagine when we’re talking about all of this, a lot of it has to do with the fact that some of the messages that we’re even having to deal with in our organization, we’re getting from MLB. So, it’s one of those things where we’re really having to kind of measure what that looks like.
My office is actually at the ball park, and so we actually for a brief period of time closed our offices. So, there’s a scant crew that’s here with me being here. So hopefully you all will be able to see me shortly and we can talk more about what this looks like when you think about not only the disruptors that’s going on outside of your organization, but then how you have to manage it inside your organization. I am glad to be a part of this conversation.
Thank you, Doretta. And Deborah over to you. Hey, yes, this is Debra Schwartz. I’m the HR Vice President for Cousins Properties. We’re in commercial real estate: Class A Trophy Building across the Sun Belt. I’ve been doing this a while over 25 years, which is ironic because for this situation, it doesn’t matter. It is a level playing field.
We are all in this together, and I have overwhelmed with joy at the amount of connectivity I’ve had with HR people both in my industry, in my city, the ideas we’ve shared. I mean, we’re just going through this together and I really think that is the way to go as an HR professional. We need to be connected right now.
Yeah, I totally agree. So, thank you again to each of you ladies for jumping on and kind of taking on this content on short notice. We’ve got a really big group on the call today. So, thank you everyone for joining us. Let’s get going.
So, these are the topics we’re going to discuss today, but I’d like to do a quick poll just to see where everyone is at. So, I’m going to launch this and let you guys tell us what your biggest concern is right in this moment.
So, chances are you’re concerned about all of these things right now.So, it may be hard to pick one. But if you could just tell us what the most pressing issue for you is right now, you know, the thing that’s really keeping you up at night. That will help us focus our time and attention on the things that are most important to you right now.
So, we’re getting some answers and I’ll leave the poll open for just a few more seconds, and then I will share the responses with everyone.
Right now, it looks like providing care and continuity to employees is leading the way, so we will certainly be ready to talk about that with you guys.
All right. Let me get my close out the poll and share the answers.
Wow. Yeah, I mean I think this, you know, it’s interesting, Briana, you look at this sort of “providing care and continuity you employees.”
I mean as Debra mentioned this is an unprecedented time for us, and so really making sure that although we may not know all the answers at this point that we do have sort of at the front of the mind our employees. And then this idea of creating a sense of community is certainly something we’ve been talking about as you work from home, really making sure people, particularly those who might be alone, or you know, that they are having some social interaction. What does that look like and then certainly followed by updates and changes as you start to think about this and we’re going to, you know, touch on all of these and we’ll also touch on technology and sort of the impact that that’s had on all of us in different ways based on all of our businesses. So excited to have the conversation.
Yeah, absolutely. Let me close this down.
Go ahead, Robin, I’ve got a set of questions that we’re going through with the panel. So, I’d love for you to take this on and we can kind of frame this for everybody. Yeah, we know that everything while everyone’s being disrupted, it looks a little bit different in each of our worlds because we each were set up in different ways.
You know, I think just from the simple fact of working at home. As one example, you know, we at OutMatch do that periodically so not as hard. But then there’s been a lot of disruption for us to our customers and what that might look like. I’m curious, you know, DeRetta you and I were sharing some stories the other day on the phone about your workforce and what this meant for you all as it relates to the Braves and MLB. Maybe you could kind of take a stab at sharing what that looks like in your particular circumstance.
Sure, I think one of the challenges for us, quite frankly, is that you think about it we have two different workforces. So, of course, we’ve got our front office. We also are dealing with our game day staff. What you may have seen, this just recently came out here from MLB, there’s foundations that each one of the MLB teams are going to actually continue to pay our game day staff as we go through this disruption. But the reality around that is that we had to take a lot of things into consideration and understand exactly how we needed to do that. And so, in my world, it’s really interesting that there’s so many different interplays that we have to deal with. Not only are we listening to what the MLB is telling us, but for the Atlanta Braves, we’re also owned by the media. So, there’s all these things that we have to take in consideration before we even go out to our population. But the reality is that we want to put people at ease, and what does that look like? And how do we begin get to really understand how we do that for them?
So, just as you all can imagine, I’m on several different calls every single day. And as we just were talking, my CEO came in to ask question. So, we just have a lot that’s constantly going on that. we really have to think about and consider.
That’s great. Thanks. Deborah, how about you within your business or both your business and what you’re hearing? It’s kind of interesting. We’ve got our employees, but then we have these humongous buildings filled with hundreds of people in very close quarters. So, we’ve been trying to communicate proactively, tell them what we’re doing. We’ve been very stringent about sticking to CDC guidelines and making sure they knew we were not giving them directives on how to handle their workforce, but we have come up with ways to manage our properties.
We are looking at, we have smaller staffs and we’re doing different shifts. I’m actually at our office today basically making sure no one’s here. But we have our we have IT resources and we have building engineers at our properties, but we’re giving people a chance to be home at the same time. So, one shift comes in one day the next shift comes in the next day because there are all these considerations around childcare and kids out of school and just all these variables that we hadn’t ever been faced with before.
Yeah, I think, you know, as you talk about some of that and, kind of, you’ve got that same base: you’ve got customers that you’re worried about and what does that look like, as well as your employees. Can you tell us kind of what are you seeing? Are people still staying in your buildings and working? Are they asking you all questions about that? They have been asking questions a lot of the company has sent people home, just because of what the government said up to this point.
It just it’s a new normal and I feel like we’re having to communicate with our customers around that and our employees around that, as well, and the challenges. I keep seeing a lot of emails going back and forth about how to work remotely and it’s all work-related, but I really have been thinking a lot about like, how do you establish a life, a new life?
I mean, it’s really easy not to not to get dressed. It’s easy to stay in your pajamas all day long, and it’s easy to sleep in but it just kind of seems like the novelty of that freedom is going to wear off and we want to be able to support our workforce in having a routine.
I just am workforce obsessed right now. They’re just on my mind and it every day. It’s changing and I’m just trying to be ahead of it. But it is, I mean, it is just consuming. Yeah, I think that’s, you know, I think you know as you talked about, you’ve got employees who can’t stay home, right, those buildings, regardless of whether there’s people in them or not have maintenance issues and other kinds of things that have to kind of keep going. So, both you and DeRetta both brought up something I thought was really interesting, too, is you’re managing multiple bases as far as employees and customers.
So, I think DeRetta, you talked about managing both kind of what are MLB expectations as well as from the Braves organization. And what does that look like? And how does that differ? And Deborah, you mentioned customers, you know in your buildings and as well as what does that look like for your workforce? And I think we’re finding the same thing at OutMatch. We’re trying to think about how do we care and feed our employees?
Yet, we know that our customers, some of you who are on the line, are also being impacted and you know, we support you in hiring needs that maybe aren’t going on or development needs that you can’t focus on right now. And so, I think there’s just a lot as we start to prioritize and start to look at that. And what did those things start to look like in a new normal will be more of sort of what comes up, and I think we’ll get into it a little bit as we ask, kind of, a few more questions.
So, as we think about kind of the next thing we talked about, and again, this was sort of the thing that’s top of mind to our participants on today’s webinar, you know, DeRetta, can you talk about how are you caring for your employees during this time? What are the things that you’re doing? You know, what kind of communications how frequent, how formal/informal? What does that look like in your organization? Hey, and that’s a really great question. So, it’s interesting. We’ve got a multitude of things that are going out. So not only we having to manage what we’re telling them, but also we’re having to manage what’s going out from MLB.
And so, when you talk about the difference between formal and informal, we’re trying to get ahead of things before they before they hear it or see it on the news or in ESPN or wherever they that baseball news may be.
But the other piece is that when we start talking about how do you provide care, one of those I just mentioned is that we wanted to put our organization around the fact that basically, our baseball season has been truncated to what we know today. So opening day for us was supposed to be April third.
Well that clearly is not the case, so one of the things that we’re trying to make sure people feel comfortable about is not only how they’re going to get paid, and then the other thing is making sure that we’re talking to them about their benefits, how that’s impacting them, weaving in what we know, things that are being said out there, the new legislation that’s coming out when you about the emergency FMLA, the medical leave act, the emergency sick plan. So, we’ll try to make sure that we keep those communications in front. We’re also trying to make sure how do we manage that to make sure we just make people feel at ease. And this is a challenge. I don’t know if I can say to any individual, oh, don’t worry about it, because we don’t know. From day to day, we’re experiencing new numbers, understanding what you’re supposed to do for social distancing.
We can’t say it’s going to be okay. We just have to continue to say we’re going to support as best we can and we’re going to move fluidly throughout this whole entire process.
Yeah, I think you’re right that that unknown of, you know, we all kind of sit in this world of wanting to say, it’ll be alright, but we just don’t know what’s happening. Deborah, how about for you and your organization, or for those people that you’re connected to? What are you hearing about in terms of care for employees? I am hearing that people are being the most fluid they’ve ever been before. They’re doing things like suspending their PTO policies to make sure that people are not coming in to work sick.
They don’t want them to feel that pressure if I have a sick family member or they’re not feeling well or another issue. We had people who normally ride Transit are afraid to take public transportation. So, we made arrangements for them to be able to start driving to work, reminding people about resources. We have being straightforward that people are afraid right now and we have Employee Assistance programs to help people. I mean, let me think.
What else? Another thing I’m trying to really get a grasp on is how I can keep everyone connected. I was telling Robin yesterday, I rolled out a challenge, a wellness challenge, where the American Red Cross is desperate for donors right now. And while I was trapped in my house going crazy that I’m just sitting there doing nothing to help, I decided to go give blood and then I thought, well, what if we all gave blood, so I put that out there.
This challenge that if people go and give blood and send me a picture of them in the chair, they’ll earn money towards their HSA incentives.
And we always do incentives with money towards that, but this was on the fly. It’s a temporary offer and I’m just kind of thinking ahead, like I’m expecting we’ll have decent participation and then we’ll have all these pictures and we can we can make, you know, a poster of how we help fight the coronavirus. I’m just trying to think about what can we do together while we’re apart?
I think, you know, kind of as you both have been talking, a couple of things that I just jotted down that I think might be important for the broader group to think about. DeRetta, I like this part of let’s get ahead of what’s coming out of the media. When we can, let’s have our employees here from us versus someone else because I think that helps people feel more calm more relaxed more like they know that you’re caring for that. So, I love that that you’re working to do that, and then sort of thinking about how do we kind of keep these things you know both of you kind of had this normalcy, right, in a time that’s not normal?
How do we keep things consistent: pay, benefits, health incentives, you know, what are those things that we’re doing that we would do during normal times? We might have to do them a little differently than what we did before, but really keeping that that normalcy and I think kind of too, you know, Debra, you talked about, hey, at some point it gets old sitting in your pajamas. So how do you kind of get up? And how do you stay connected? I know, you know, for us at OutMatch, this idea of cameras on all the time. So, I’m very incented to shower and not show up in a ponytail with not makeup because no one needs to see that.
So really, kind of being able to create that environment and that normalcy for each other to see that we’re still there and we’re still engaged and what we’re doing. And there are some of these things that aren’t so normal. Again, you might see dogs walking behind me, but you wouldn’t see that normally. But again, what does that look like? And how do we sort of mix this vulnerability because we all feel a little vulnerable right now with this normalcy to kind of make sure that we’re providing that care.
I think too as we think about communications, it’s really kind of sticking to those channels that your employees know and when you need to making those changes. You know, we do something each week that we call keg of Greg. Greg is our CEO, and you know, it’s one of those things that we’re pretty good about but sometimes we don’t do it or we don’t have a lot, but we know that during these times that has become an important channel for us to make sure that we’re staying connected and doing that. And again, whatever those things that you can do to provide that normalcy.
I think it really helps during these times to sort of settle people because it feels it’s different and working at home. But these are the things I do every day and they feel a little bit more normal. And I think there’s an educational component with your managers because managers a lot of times aren’t comfortable with flexibility or if I can’t see you you’re not working and it is critical they’re the face of your company, and so that behavior is going to be how the company’s response was perceived.
And so I kind of feel like if managers are a little stiff, maybe you need to say to them, You know what it’s okay right now, none of us know what we’re doing. I’m here to help you if you want to bounce things off of me or you know, let’s be accommodating. Let’s be accommodating, assume people have good intentions. And that’s our M-O for right now. I mean, I just I see that struggle in managers and it’s just not worth that getting in the way right now.
I’m seeing a lot of comments and questions come I,n which I love. It’s absolutely the intention of this forum today. So, I just wanted to say that Christine said, “What I still have to put makeup on?” and then Jennifer chatted in asking if we could please talk about how we’re handling employees who have children at home. That’s a great question threat Deborah. You want to start with that?
Yeah, we have been absolutely flexible. I I’ve always had the mindset about teleworking that that is not how you take care of your child the first 12 months of its life. So, I’ve always felt really strongly that there’s needs to be a line in the sand and there needs to be appropriate child care. Not right now. It is just an impossible circumstance for people if you think about them being able to obtain daycare, it’s pretty much impossible.
And they’re figuring it out in their family, but single parents or parents that work different shifts. There’s just going to be challenges now. We have to be we have to be flexible. I really do I do think that there needs to be a standard that our performance has got to be there for the job. We’ve got to take care of the health of our companies, so we do need employees performing.
But if they need to do it a little differently, if they need to work at night once the kids are asleep. I just I think it’s worth making that accommodation, and it’s also amazing. The government is starting to adapt and talk about implementing all of these accommodations, FMLA-wise and other because people need help, people need support, people need money.
DeRetta, have you heard any things, kind of as you think about sort of the idea of working parents. Things that you all are doing or things you’ve heard from others?
Maybe we lost DeRetta. I think she’s stuck on mute. DeRetta, are you there?
We might have to let her jump back in. I got another comment from Sherry that said, “We went ahead and loaded 40 hours of leave for our staff to use at their discretion,” which really started to reduce some of the fears in their workforce. Great, great tip. Yeah.
I had another question come in about “How do you handle staff when half is able to work from home, but half is required to be there?” I hope DeRetta can come back on with us because it sounds like that’s somewhat of a situation that she’s in, but we can talk to that. Yeah, Debra, you’ve got that too, right with this the building? It’s kind of interesting in tough times like this people really step up.
So I don’t really feel like they’re comparing themselves to other people, and like I said, we are making accommodations for our property on-site staff to be home part of the time, but I think people really want to do a good job and they understand that they are more critical than ever. Because like what Robin was saying, I mean, we have a hundred systems on every single floor that could break at any second, and if people are working in the office they want lights on and they want heat and air conditioner and all that.
So, I mean, I think that if it is a problem that you to just have a very direct conversation with your staff about why it’s important and that their health comes first and their safety comes first, but you know, hopefully the company is making accommodations for those type of things, which is why we’re at half staff because there’s less people to be around.
DeRetta, how about you? Have you guys face this sort of some getting to work at home and some not?
Well, let me tell you the very interesting thing for us. We didn’t have a work from home policy. So, when you think about our population like we be people to be here because we needed them to be engaged with, you know, our fans, and what happens is so we have to very quickly put together temporary work from home on policy so that we could make sure that we lifted those employees into that type of environment. And so, this is the challenge right now.
Not only did we have to do that, but then we started to have to talk to people about what does working from home mean? We know this is something that we weren’t typically doing, and it wasn’t that we didn’t want to do work from home.
It’s just what our body of work is wasn’t that. You know, you have some populations or small groups that could, but for the most part we are a fan-facing, service sports entertainment organization, and that’s what we do, And we look at people every single day. So, for those organizations that already had it, I applaud you guys because now I really need to start thinking moving forward, What is it that we need to do as opposed to spin something up really quickly? That we have other things that are in place that is a contingency part of how we need to do it. And so, I’m in a very different place than I probably think a lot of organizations because we didn’t even have it, and, you know, I have my leaders talking about, Whoa, this is great.
We have it now and we had think about, What are those components that you have to have work from home? Like people need equipment, people need to be able to talk on the phone. I mean, it’s all those things that we started to have to think about in a very short period of time, literally 24 to 48 hours. And that really dovetails into the value of business continuity plans.
We put one of those together about a year ago, and the minute this came out we were able to refer to these documents and we really, we had not, Pandemic was not on the list of disasters. But nevertheless, we things we had considered in advance was every single person at the corporate office already had a laptop. I mean that was extremely significant for us because then we could just do a drill with everyone working from home last week, last Monday, and making sure the technology worked and we could support it.
And so, that will be a great to-do item post this period of time, if you haven’t done it already to really get something on paper that where every function knows what they serve, you know, what they do. If you can’t go to the office, what are your options? It’s it just takes a lot of the reactionary pain out of it. Yeah. I got another question from Coral. She said” I work in the food manufacturing industry if employees aren’t here, we can’t run production. So, any advice or suggestions on how to manage our workforce?”
So, Deborah and I actually worked together before in a manufacturing environment and we know. We’ve been talking a lot to our colleagues who are still there and needing to run shifts and 24/7 operations. And what does that look like? So again, we came out of the packaging industry. So, for all that great foods you’re making, hopefully, you know, you’re getting packaging that comes along with that. And so how do you do that?
And I think you know what we are hearing is: lots of communication to people, safety plans to kind of Deborah’s point, you know, there are plans in place. Hopefully, you have those within your food operations plan or if you do have to make some changes, what does that look like? So, there’s contingency plans. The other thing, you know, probably you have some sort of shift change communication that’s going on beforehand. If you don’t, you should have that in place, and then also what our contingency plans that people can use virtually in case they do have issues that are coming around. Those were a couple of things that I had heard from some colleagues who are sort of in that in that manufacturing space because it became so important to them as they thought about their business and thinking about it.
Yeah, the food and service industries are getting hit really hard and we need to pay attention to them.
You know, what’s interesting to me about that, too, is that, again, not that I’m unique in any type of way, but in the city of Atlanta, a lot of our part-time employees, we shared with the Hawks and with the Falcons and with the Atlanta United, which are all sports teams.
And so, the interesting thing is that one of the conversations that I’ve heard is we know that Kroger Public’s and also Amazon is hiring, is that we say, oh, let’s think of other options. And I’m speaking specifically about a part-time staff because we want to be able to provide other solutions for them. And it’s like, you know, the best analogy I can give is that we still want them in the bullpens. Look we still want them ready to go because when we spin back up to play games, which is what our goal is, we still want to have our good people there. We just want to think of other options to support them during this timeframe, knowing that there’s some things we can do.
But what other partners out there that we can work with that can also help us as well with that population, and just thinking through that as well, and really talking about collaboration from a workforce perspective across different cities and organizations. I think too, as you think about kind of these people who are having to kind of go the front lines and if you’re an employee who’s not having to be sort of front-line, you’re working from home or someplace that that’s a little bit different. You know, what can you do for those front-line employees?
So, can you provide maybe a meal that you maybe don’t traditionally do, but can you provide a lunch or a snack or a dinner that you wouldn’t]. Just as a thank you kind of thing. And then thinking about kind of those corporate employees and from a support perspective, What are the ways that you can maybe o some virtual, you know, video thank you that you can send into a plant that you could play that show employees are like, hey, I appreciate the fact. You know, I think again so much of being in that environment and how appreciative I was every single day of those people who went on to a manufacturing floor and created a product that gave me a job so that someone was selling it.
But how might you kind of get those thank you’s from your, kind of people in support staff and things like that to kind of share with those frontline employees. That might be another way to sort of help them kind of think about community and the appreciation that you feel knowing that their work can’t be done virtually and what that looks like. Yeah.
I’m really loving this conversation right now, and we’re continuing to get lots of comments in. While we’re on the topic of remote work, Tammy wrote in and said that LinkedIn is offering 16 free courses on remote work and that they are compiling a one-pager for their team who’ve never worked remote before, so that’s a suggestion, and then I got another question from Laura asking about you know, how do we stay productive?
So, when other employees might not have the same volume of work to do, what kinds of directives or suggestions can we make to help them be more productive in the downtime, and then you know, how to keep them sharp so when things get back to normal? I think it’s really easy to just defer to email when you’re when you’re working from home, and it is really important to stick to make the time to set up a conference call or a Skype call. The connectivity is just completely different and I was speaking with someone on my team who does a lot of administrative and receptionist work. So when she’s home we figured out a way for her to answer calls.
But the traffic that she’s used to just isn’t there, and I think you can, like I-9 purging project – wouldn’t that have been perfect? Too bad we already did that. Something like that that’s kind of been on the back burner.
You haven’t had time to slow down enough to get it done. Those projects are always waiting in the wings. They’re housekeeping, but they matter, and I think if you kind of flip through the big picture of what your function looks like, some of that stuff is lying around and you might be able to get it done at this time. And I totally agree with that like we just implemented Workday. So, there’s several different optimization projects that people were not excited to do anyway. Now you get to do it. You get to spend your time on that.
I do like the idea also about connectivity, like all of us being able to see each other.You want to still feel like you’re part of a community, and it’s something sometimes is lost when it’s just on the phone. So, when you can see somebody, I’m like, oh I can see you and I feel connected and I think thinking through those type of things. And just imagine, you all, I’m thinking through those as we again close our offices through April 3rd, and having people work from home. So, we’re just trying to think of how we keep community? How do we compete collaboration? How do we keep connection?
I think to just that, you know, I think kind of some of these things are sort of on the tactical side, but thinking too about thought leadership, right? What are some of those things that you just sometimes don’t have the headspace to think about in the office because people are coming at you, regardless of your job. You don’t really get that chance to sort of think big picture and strategically. And what might I do? And so, what does that look like? And that could be anyone in their job – I mean. So, for me strategy is about making choices, right? So, what are the choices you want to make when you kind of go back that might be for individual contributors about their career and what that looks like for them. It could be about a business plan, a department plan.
And what does that look like? And how do you start to put that in place? And then how do you use free resources like things like YouTube? How do you Google kind of where things are coming in, or how do you start to create content? We just went through a run through earlier today. We’re going to talk about some managing your career that you never have time to talk about, but we’re going to do that with our employees. And it was great because I engaged three employees to sort of tell their story around, What does it look like for managing their career in different ways? And we’ll launch that out to the team, you know, need week with a set of resources – books to read, YouTube videos to watch, and article to read.
So, it’s a great time when people don’t have that to start to build those skills that they maybe don’t get to do during the normal times because all of the stuff that’s coming at them. So hopefully you come out with a workforce that as Deborah mentioned, we’ve still got to be productive and how do we get that, but productivity probably looks a little different today. But imagine if we all go out and build a little bit more skill what productivity can look like tomorrow. Good point.
And Robin, I love that. Let me tell you why. So, we just came off a Performance Management and we started goal setting. So, I had one of my staff members say, Oh are we not doing goal-setting? I said, And why wouldn’t we? Yes, we’re still doing those setting now. What I may do is, I mean, I extended out a little bit longer for you from a different perspective maybe as opposed to 10 days you’ve got 15.
But at the at the end of the day, and this is the reality I think we’re going to have to think about because I feel I have a feeling that we’re having this disruptor call, we’re going to have another disruptor call when everything spins back up and we’re sitting here and we’re like, Oh my gosh what’s happened? We’ve got to get people back in the game and we need them to have that happen. So, from a business continuity standpoint, we’re still doing goal setting. We’re still doing those things that are functioning you and your role. To your point, Robin, you come back and it’s not the saying we’re in a new normal, but then you’re back in another normal that you’ve got to get ready for that and be poised to do.
So, goal-setting is still happening for us. Yeah, that’s awesome. That’s a great point. I got a question in from Ashley asking if we could share our work from home policy. So, it OutMatch we’re a software company.
We’re about 50 percent remote already, and we have you know, especially people in the IT team that are just all over the world that have been used to this type of environment. And different teams have a different, you know, amount of people who work remote normally, but I can definitely type some things up. Like, you know, how we’ve kind of been operating even before this and then share that with the group if that would be helpful. And then I got a question about hiring. So, Natalie asked, “How are you managing pending new hires that cannot be on-boarded remotely. If we delay their start date and they have already given notice, should we compensate them?” I think, I mean, look you’re all going to be in different places in your in your business.
But, I mean, for some people you might be facing the fact of I’ve got new hires and I can’t support new hires because my business, right, isn’t growing in this place. As a matter of fact, you know, if you saw today, you know, there’s organizations that are furloughing employees and having to let people go. So, I think if you’re still kind of have that ability to bring people on board, which is fantastic, and can’t do it remotely, if you can at least even, maybe if you can’t do full pay, could you consider partial pay? Is there a way, if it’s benefits that are important, can you start their benefits a little bit sooner?
So I think really this is the time kind of as HR and finance start to partner together, what are those things that you as an organization can do? And I think, you know, both Deborah and DeRetta have talked about sort of err on the side of doing more versus less. So again, for those who are in that financial position, I think it’s great. You can imagine the goodwill of somebody who’s sitting at home and anxious and you know, Oh my gosh, why did I pick now to start a new job? I was having a conversation with somebody else you thought, I mean, I don’t know what’s going to happen. So, the more you can do to bring that on board.
If you can’t pay somebody, again, can you get your benefits plans in there? If you can’t do pay or benefits, what are the other things? Hey, we’re excited about you coming. Here’s a delivery, you know, here’s an Uber Eats, you know, gift card or something like that that sort of extends the fact that we’re excited you’re joining our team and here’s a way to sort of help out. Again, maybe it’s just it’s a, you know, a grocery card. Maybe you send them a box of toilet paper these days. I don’t know. I mean, there are all these kinds of things that people are trying to face, and what does that look like? Those just might be some ideas to think about. I don’t know if you all have faced that as you’ve kind of started.
Okay, any other questions that you’ve got coming in? These are great. Yeah, these are great. Um, I think Robin and DeRetta you both touched on this. I mean Doretta you were just talking about the goal-setting project that you just went through. So, someone wrote in how are you managing performance, you know business as usual or are you modifying your performance process? So, I think that’s a good place for us to talk about, you know, like where do we try to be agile and shift quickly? And where do we try to kind of keep focused on those further out targets?
Well, you can’t argue with the adult there. I mean, I like to start with the results because then you don’t have to micromanage someone. I mean there’s a deliverable and that’s the expectation, but there is some project work that just is not realistic to be done in this circumstance.
So, you go back and look at how you mapped out initiatives for the year and shuffle some things around, and if things aren’t getting done, I would be willing to address that with an employee. I might be a little more sensitive to the fact that, Is something else going on there that is that is causing it? Do they have 10 kids and the house is insane, or whatever, but I think you have to. I mean, it’s not, we do still have a responsibility to our companies, like I said, and we want our jobs to be there when this is over.
And I think that’s really a great point. I think you actually have to look at it role by role. So, when I think about my sales organization, right, people aren’t trying to buy tickets, they’re just not. And so, thinking with them about what type of projects do we need to spin them back up o, what are they working on right now in terms of making sure that we can work with them with what that looks like. And you’re absolutely right, performance is golden.
So, if you were performing before, you should be performing now. What does that look like? I think the other piece to that it was also mentioned is that, are there life items or life things that are happening that you’re having to deal with. So, aging parents?
What’s that looking like for you now? Do we need to really sure up what our EAP looks like so people can actually work through what this is? And then we’re providing that from a service perspective, looking at our health care and understanding, are there other things that we can offer from a healthcare perspective? Or as a it deals with stress, as it deals with financial planning? I mean, I think we’re going to have to be much more creative around thinking about. These are life issues that we talked about before, but guess what, they are at a heightened rate. Another thing is that when you’re dealing with parents is that they have closed all the schools. And so, you’re dealing with a parent that’s not only working from home but managing kids.
Like if I for me, I would be horrible at it right now and somebody would have to really work with me because that’s another dynamic I think we need to really consider because there has been a shift with how work is and the output of what the work is going to be like. But there still needs to be performance around what that is. And so, if you reset expectations, reset parameters and then talk with people about their real-life issues and help them with it and provide them support and help.
I think that will, going back to how we caring for our workforce, that will be the care that we can provide for our workforce. I mean you’re not going to go, “Okay everyone we’re lowering expectations.” Right? You not going to do that. You’re going to alter expectations and you’re going to reshape things. So, I think it’s an easy conversation to have when you approach it like that.
I think too as HR leaders, right, it’s really our responsibility to be working with our CEOs and CFOs and sort of other senior leadership teams to say, what are the expectations now? What is that from that business, you know, standpoint. I mean you talked about sales, right? Her team would look a little, you know, and our sales teams right would look like a little bit like we were blind to or deaf to what was going on if we went out and tried to sell things, you know, imagine about OutMatch going to a restaurant customer and saying, hey, would you like some software to help with hiring? I mean that’s a little tone deaf. So, how do you make sure that you’re getting through that? And so now, how do you reset those expectations?
What is it that your CEO, CFO, and Leadership teams really expect and then how do you communicate that down to the organization so that, again, people know what their expectations are. They know, maybe, that it’s okay to take this time to spend some learning, but we’re going to then ask you to come back and teach somebody else something when you come back to the organization. Or we’re going to ask you to lead a project. We ask you to put a project plan together that you can’t maybe execute from your home, but you can get ready then we come back. So again, that they’re really keeping sharp on those things I think are important. DeRetta, I love that you brought up salespeople because we got a handful of questions about sales performance and how to manage that right now.
So glad you went ahead and addressed that one. Kristen also said, I think one internal opportunity for companies where there’s a mix of experienced virtual workers and those who’ve never done it before – putting them together and giving them some networking opportunities. So, I’ll just share I mean at OutMatch we use Teams. So, were already pretty plugged into that collaboration tool and we actually already had a team that I’m a part of that was called OutMatch moms because I have a three-year-old and so I hopped on there today and said, you know, it’s a really small thing but it made a big difference when I said, “What are you guys doing about daycare? Because I don’t know what to do.” So just to, you know, just knowing that other people are in the same boat as me and having that small group.
You know, I didn’t have to send like an all company email saying what do we do about day care? I was able to talk directly to the people who are affected by that, and then as needed, we can kind of communicate out from there. But I mean that’s just a small thing we’re doing at OutMatch that maybe is something that you guys can take on in your own companies. I think too, as we talked a little bit about before about work from home policies and maybe if you didn’t have one before, I’ve heard on the news about all these school systems where kids weren’t either having internet access or they didn’t have a computer at home.
So, how are you enabling your employees to work at home may also require you, again – this is sort of a financial conversation. So how are you partnering with Finance? But do you offer some sort of stipend that allows somebody to maybe pick up your bandwidth or, you know, get internet at home. If that’s something that you didn’t have in the past. It doesn’t have to be forever.
But again, for this period of time, we’re going to have this allocation so that you can work at home. Or are there people, well, maybe your kids are not getting it free from school, is there something you can do in utilizing that, or can you reach out to a provider that can help you particularly if you’re an industry that’s being, you know, more hardly partially impacted by what’s going on might become another way to think about, how do you help your employees? And how do you bring that that community together is to enable them to do that. I know we had several people ask and say yep, I can bring a laptop home. But really to do my work I need a monitor.
For us, were able to say, here’s a To Amazon and here’s a monitor that you can purchase and then you can expense. And we did something that was good enough quality, but yet not a huge expense to the organization. So, thinking about those kinds of things really become important particularly for I work at home all the time. I’m either on the road or I’m at home. Those are kind of my options – mostly on the road. So, I was very equipped to do that. But I realize not everybody is in that same situation.
Yeah, I got another hiring question from Ally: “For someone in a recruiting heavy role who has been told, there’s a freeze on hiring, what recommendations do you have on keeping candidates warm?”
I think being honest. Just having the conversation. I mean, I know, again, what we typically would understand as business continuity isn’t what we’re used to, right? Think about what happened in 9/11 and some of us are dealing with something very similar, not quite the same, but very similar in terms of disruption.
And so, I think the conversation, again, is that if there is a hiring freeze we still want to talk to you, especially if it’s great talent because the spin up is going to be something that we all are going to be talking about in these next few months. And how we going to manage that? And so, I think just being realistic with on it with individuals. Being transparent with individuals about what this is right now because it’s not like we’re not all dealing with the same thing and experiencing the same thing and people are hearing it. So, I think if we’re just honest about this is what our organization is doing today.
And I want to just keep you apprised of what that looks like in just having those conversations and continuing those conversations. Or just calling and saying, How are you? Because people feel trapped and just saying, Oh wow, this recruiter who works for this company I’m considering to go work for thought to call me and check in. Wow, you know. You’re kind of like, you can just give them an example of what kind of culture you come from. So, I mean, it’s the little things right now. It’s the little things.
We are, for those of you don’t know you don’t know, I mean at OutMatch, we were offering our video technology for free because we know that this is something that you all might be needing to do to stay, another way to stay connected is with your candidates. And again, sort of that Deborah talked a little bit, that desperate feeling is it’s a great way for candidates to be able to come in and share maybe now they’ve got some time and they’re at home. They can share a little bit more through the, you know, using video and that kind of thing, and again, then you got something more personalized to be able to reach back out to them.
“I just watched your video and I saw this and we’re really excited about you. You know, we’re kind of going through a slower process but here are some of the things…” It gives you something to talk about in another way to do that. So again, just thinking about how, you know, for us it was so important to connect people to purpose and how do we go about doing that?
Yeah, definitely. Let’s do one last question and then we’ll move towards our final thoughts and wrap up the webinar. We had more slides prepared. But this is better. I’m so glad that you guys had your questions coming in. This made it a really great discussion. So, Sarah wrote in can we talk about other wellness initiatives for working remote – ways to help people feel united as a team.
That, you know, with us getting to the end of the call, I just want to say this as HR professionals, that’s one group we haven’t talked about. This is heavy. I feel like I’ve been run over by a truck yesterday. I got so much done, but I was exhausted because I am like emotionally invested in this and I thought of the Red Cross thing yesterday and I was like, but that’s only one thing and we’re on the first week of being at home like, oh my, how am I going to come up with anything?
I think it is really important for HR professionals to – that routine I talked about before and being self-disciplined about making sure you stopped and do your exercise, making sure you eat lunch, making sure maybe you have a hard stop at a certain point at the end of your day because you don’t have to deal with traffic you just keep working.
So, I think we really do have to take care of ourselves and we shouldn’t dismiss the weight that we’re carrying because we’re taking care of people and we’re taking care of their families and that is a lot. So, if you kind of start feeling heavy or down, I think you have a good reason, but address it and figure out how you can take care of yourself. And then you’ll be able to take care of everybody else.
Agreed. I think the other thing is as you think about this. I mean I was having this conversation with one of our folks last night is thinking about what are those free apps? Again, going back to if people don’t have enough to do, maybe you’re recruiting team is a little slow right now or there’s somebody else, but having someone research what are those apps that you can get for free? Whether that’s a meditation app whether that is an exercise app. How do you share that out with your employees?
And I think too, you know, Deborah mentioned, we’ve got a on our plates as HR professionals. How do you utilize the rest of your organization? We have a group that helps us. We call it our Culture Club group, but whatever that is, and you can start to form a group remotely of people to kind of go through, you know, we tried to do a happy hour kind of thing of like show us your dog on Friday to kind of stay connected. It went okay, it was my idea. Not great. Or your pet, didn’t have to be a dog. Dog or cat.
I was going to do like a “Show us the best brown bag lunch that you that you make yourself at home” or like your canine coworker or like your staff with your like little kids running around. Just something that people, that we could post on our intranet and people would get to see what other people were doing. Or, you know, just send out, I don’t know, a Sudoku or a or a News of the Weird.
I mean, you can find that all over the place now. Just anything that might be – I think if you can make people laugh that really goes long way. And give them something to kind of go back and forth about because there’s no like water cooler talk right now.
Yeah, and Deborah I wanted to tell you quickly that Kristen wrote in and said, “As a part of the American Red Cross, thank you for your wellness challenge to give blood. It helps us take care of the nation and it does make a difference.” I’m going to guilt them in!. I’m going to throw that down on them. Your first virtual challenge was a success.
I think, you know, that sort of leads to a point that I heard from someone the other day. A friend of mine and I were talking about what things do, and she had gotten something from a partner of theirs and she shared it with me and it’s: people want to help right now. So how do we provide employees ways to help, and whether that’s putting our employees, you know again, if you’re not as creative as Debra, I would just say, “Hey employees, we’d like to have a wellness challenge. What do you think this is?” And to get a small group of people who’ve been asking about helping. How do you engage them? How do you keep them busy? How do you keep them connected? Yeah, that’s great. We’ve got about a minute left.
So, I’d love to go around the room and just get like your 20-second final thought, final takeaway. DeRetta, let’s start with you. Sure, just understand we’re all in this together. So, we can’t feel like we’re isolated are alone. And whoever we need to call: our Board of whatever, Board of friends Board of mentors, Board of whatever it is. We just need to realize that we’re all in this together all kind of working through this together and trying to figure out how we do that together.
Yeah, definitely. Robin, What about you? Yeah, I would just say gosh utilize your network. Utilize your resources, utilize your family, certainly your HR community. But I’m, you know, I in addition to my great HR community and network, I’m getting great ideas on how to help people through other resources. So, being able to be open and talking about sort of what’s going on and being vulnerable. I mean, I think you know as we put this together, you know, Briana and I talked about like should we be holed up in a room in our house? What should we do?
And we just decided to be open and who we are, and I did put makeup on whoever asked that question. Yes, you know, not that vulnerable. But that vulnerability, I think we as leaders need to show that we’re vulnerable during even these times – that we’ve got a plan, but look, we’re human too.. And it’s really important for employees to see that. Yeah, Debra. What about you?
My last words of advice. I don’t know. I mean, this: It is terrifying, but if you’re looking at it professionally, it is the most unique opportunity you’ve had in your career so far because it’s never happened before. And we take care of people. So, I mean, I’m just every day I’m kind of like, when I can take the emotion out and look at it intellectually, it’s just unbelievable in terms of learning and growing.
Like I’m thinking of people who are you know, three to seven years into their career. Like, wow, if you pay attention now, you’re going to walk away with things that you will use throughout your career forever.
Not the pandemic part, but that how you deal with people and how you deal with emotion and how you deal with change. It is an opportunity right now for HR folks if we’re paying attention, so there’s a little upside. Little pandemic upside. I love that and I completely agree. I feel like when this is all over and I can look back, I’ll really have some experience and some takeaways that I’ll be able to draw on. And Dom said the same thing, you know, “Three weeks into my new role and we’re dealing with this.” So, you know, I mean that is the potential upside: that we’re going to learn a ton from this experience and will be better for it. So, thank you ladies. Thank you to everyone who joined us.
Before you go grab your SHRM code if that’s something that you need because professional development still thing even in times of crisis. So, thank you again, and I hope to see you all back for whatever’s next. Bye everyone. Bye.