HR leaders need to rememberÂ thereâs a reason why their job titles include the word âhuman.â
By Elissa Barrett
HR professionals are often at the forefront of listeningÂ and learning from peers, leaders, and employees. TheyÂ are the gatekeepers of the candidate experience and theÂ ones that employees approach to talk, vent, share, laugh,Â and letâs face it: cry. And through those conversations,Â the gathering of data without conscious awarenessÂ occurs.
Those data points are a gift, and one that needs to beÂ cherished. This information provides the knowledge ofÂ what employees are looking for from the companies theyÂ work for, but also what they need in order to balanceÂ life and work while performing at their best. In order toÂ successfully deliver on that promise, HR needs to considerÂ the human side of human resources in efforts that driveÂ decision-making when it comes to benefits selection,Â policies adjustments, and supporting employees.
How can this be done?
Humans talk. Start by listening. When companies scale,Â especially globally, employee demographics change,Â as do the conversations. With every year that goes by,Â employee needs and what they expect or want fromÂ work changes or evolves. For example, at HubSpot,Â not many employees asked about parental leave aboutÂ three years ago. A few employees would mention aÂ desire for longer leave, but the majority of employeesÂ werenât looking for it because they werenât growingÂ their familiesâyet. Fast forward a couple of years andÂ the conversation has changed. Now, employees areÂ in different stages of their lives and are looking forÂ support around parental leave. Hubspot extendedÂ primary caregiver leave from 12 weeks to a minimumÂ of 16 fully-paid weeks depending on the countryÂ the employee works. The policy includes six weeks ofÂ fully-paid secondary caregiver leave to all employeesÂ globally. Plus, the company extended the fertilityÂ coverage to subsidize voluntary egg harvesting andÂ freezing for women over the age of 32 globally.
On the human side, HR needs to listen. The data that isÂ gathered from different conversations with employeesÂ should be captured to understand what they want andÂ what they donât want. Patterns emerge and it makes itÂ very easy to understand quickly where to steer changesÂ when it comes to benefits or policies.
Humans work here. Treat them like humans. The goldenÂ rule of âtreat people how you want to be treatedâ isÂ simple, yet an approach that exemplifies the human sideÂ of human resources. When employees are taxed withÂ life events that are happening outside of work, eitherÂ expected or unexpected, organizations should ensureÂ they are treating others with kindness, respect, andÂ support. HRâs role is to be a champion in ensuring thatÂ employees are treated fairly, with a balance of kindnessÂ and respect.
Humans need flexibility. Get out of their way and it willÂ pay off. The conversation around work-life balanceÂ with an employee often pivots into an understandingÂ of what an employee needs in order to fit work intoÂ life. It can also kick off a better understanding ofÂ what employees need in order to do their best work.Â Assuming that a traditional work week is doable forÂ everyone just isnât realistic. For example, a newly singleÂ parent may benefit from coming into the office a littleÂ later than others to accommodate school drop-off.Â Another employee taking care of elderly parents mightÂ need to adjust their hours in order to commute or beÂ available for appointments. Someone who is goingÂ back to school to finish a degree might be able to finishÂ sooner if they could take just one class during the day. InÂ some cases, life and work become a juggle and humansÂ need flexibility in order to succeed in balancing it all.
At HubSpot, employees are asked about the type ofÂ schedule that would work for them. With a humanÂ approach, asking simple questions such as this can helpÂ HR understand what employees need to bring theirÂ best selves to work. Being flexible on when and whereÂ employees work, when possible, allows employeesÂ to do their best work. By bringing in the human sideÂ and offering flexibility, employers are rewarded withÂ employees who are engaged and delivering versusÂ employees who are distracted by external pressures andÂ responsibilities.
For 2019, it may be time to go back to the basics andÂ bring back the human side of HR. So this year, whenÂ making decisions, pivoting policies, or considering howÂ the workforce has changed, remember that thereâs aÂ reason why HRâs job titles include the word âhuman.âÂ HR leaders are the ones that can help make theÂ difference.
Elissa Barrett is vice president of HR at HubSpot.