Powerful People-Centric Strategies And Ideas from Resources for Humans
A few weeks ago, Brilliant Ink’s Operations team attended Lattice's 2022 Resources for Humans Virtual Conference where we heard insights from executives, thought leaders and HR professionals about people-centric strategies, attracting and retaining top talent, keeping employees engaged and so much more.
The team and I felt so energized afterward and we are excited to incorporate many of the brilliant ideas into how we work. Here are three highlights from this year’s conference:
1. Integrate equity throughout the business
Equity needs to be infused into a company’s structures, processes and systems; it cannot be a standalone model. Additionally, creating an equitable environment and experience is everyone’s responsibility – from leadership to department heads, people managers and individual contributors.
“It’s everyone’s role to do their work through the equity lens. Ask, who else is being left out from this process? Who else is left out from this table?” – Queen Denchukwu
Queen Denchukwu, Head of Diversity & Inclusion at LucasFilm, challenges us to think about: Who are you assigning tasks to? Who are you hiring? Who are you promoting?
Below is some guidance from Denchukwu, Daisy Auger-Domínguez, Chief People Officer at Vice, and Kris Bell, Senior DEI Program Manager at Lattice, on how businesses can incorporate equitable practices:
- Review your hiring processes and requirements. For example, many jobs still require a college degree. However, research has shown that whether someone went to college is more closely related to socioeconomic status than skills. Consider adjusting the requirement to college degree or equivalent experience to ensure you don’t miss out on great talent.
- Encourage inclusive meeting practices, such as sending the agenda and materials in advance, sharing recap notes, being mindful of time zone differences and adding closed captions to online meetings.
- Review your benefits and ensure you have perks that are relevant for hybrid, in-person and remote employees. For example, workplace platform Robin suggests a monthly hybrid stipend that employees can use for their commute, new technology or their internet bill. “Rather than thinking about one size fits all, think about choice.”
- Coach and train managers on how to create safe spaces for feedback. The panelists discussed the importance of psychological safety as it relates to feedback. “For many women, people of color or people from marginalized backgrounds, feedback has been weaponized in the past. That experience makes it harder to receive feedback even if it is coming from a well-intended place,” said Auger-Domínguez. It is critical to recognize this when coaching and training managers to ensure they create a safe space to share and discuss feedback.
2. Keep your meetings efficient and relevant for participants
Meetings. Sometimes, it feels like they run our work lives, don’t they? And we’ve all found ourselves in meetings wondering, “why am I here?”
Conference presenter Priya Parker, author of The Art of Gathering, advised that before deciding to set a meeting, it’s critical that you first clarify your purpose. This is more than just creating an agenda. Really ask yourself, what is the need here? What is the specific, disputable purpose and given that, who should be invited?
“The biggest mistake we make when we gather – online or offline, is we assume that the purpose is obvious and shared.” – Priya Parker
Taking the time to define your purpose and identifying the right people who need to attend will go a long way toward ensuring a successful meeting. In fact, Parker believes that 90% of what makes a successful gathering is what happens before the gathering itself. So make time for that prep work!
One key sign that your meeting is not as effective as it could be is if there’s low engagement from participants – this could be lack of interaction or questions from the group, awkward silences when the host asks a question and no one responds, etc.
Parker suggests, “If people aren't engaged, that's data.” Ask yourself: What’s the systemic issue – Is this topic relevant for this audience? Are people disengaged because they have meeting fatigue? Do all these people actually need to be here?
And if you want to encourage engagement, here are a couple fun tips from Parker:
- Invite participants to unmute themselves during the call. Or, have moments – such as the first 10 minutes or the last 5 minutes – for everyone to unmute themselves and respond to one another or simply be able to listen to people’s reactions. “Our mute button cuts off a very central part of human interaction, which is the feedback loop,” she said. “A lot of context and understanding what’s happening in a [virtual] room is the informal cues. It’s the laughs, the a-ha’s, the jokes, etc.”
- The chat box is also a great tool for engagement. At the beginning of an online meeting ask people to write in the chat box where they’re taking the call from, what room they’re sitting in, and what’s one sound that they can hear that no one else can. “It locates you in a specific moment in time and it’s like, oh yes, we are all in so many different places.” (But use the chat strategically! Our colleague Mylanah shares how to keep accessibility in mind.)
3. Want to manage employee burnout? Lead by example!
According to a recent BambooHR survey, 87% of HR pros report they are facing their own mental, physical, and financial well-being challenges, on top of continuing to help employees through the same thing.
As companies seek ways to respond to and manage burnout, it’s important for leadership and people managers to lead by example. Helen Graham, Head of People Operations at Praekelt.org, emphasized the importance of looking after one’s own well-being first.
“It’s very hard to support the team if we are struggling with our own burnout or exhaustion. If we’re working crazy hours or continuing to work while we’re on leave, it’s quite hard to justify to your team why they should prioritize their well-being.”
– Helen Graham
Being intentional about your paid time off was a common example. “When you go on leave, know that it’s a safe space to really be away from work. Make sure you’ve prepped and have a thorough coverage plan, so you don’t have to worry when you’re away,” said Stephanie Ford, Director of People Operations at Deputy.
And while you’re away, be away. Don’t check email, Slack, or other work tools. Give yourself the opportunity to truly disconnect so you can return to work feeling recharged.
So how can we navigate our own well-being? Below are a handful of suggestions:
- Create boundaries. If you need to break them, make sure they’re for a worthwhile cause but don’t let it be something that happens all the time.
- Make sure you use your leave/paid time off. And if you’re a manager, make sure your people are taking time off!
- Use your EAP (employee assistance program) services. EAPs offer confidential support, resources and referrals on a wide range of work and home topics. Depending on the benefits provider, these can include emotional and mental health, child or elder care, stress management, financial concerns, and legal issues, among others.
- Go on a walk during your lunch break, and then really take the break. Don’t check your email or Slack. Be present during your break and prioritize your well-being.
- Know when you need to lean on other people for support. We’ve all found ourselves in situations where we unintentionally over-committed ourselves. Rather than continuing to feel overwhelmed and risking a missed deadline, take a look at your list of tasks and identify what you can ask someone to handle, where you can partner with someone for their expertise, or where a deadline can be pushed. We all need support sometimes and it’s OK to seek help!
Remember, it’s all about the employee experience
From fostering an equitable workplace to creating effective meetings and managing burnout and everything in between – at the end of the day, it’s all about creating a meaningful employee experience and putting your people first.
In many of the sessions we attended, we heard the pros speaking our language and emphasizing the importance of being human and staying curious. We love hearing our own company values reinforced by experts in the HR industry!