Given the many struggles everyone has gone through as an individual and as collective, possible decline of motivation can be a slippery slope in the stewardship role of HR. Whether employees are affected vicariously or directly, there are many who are grief-stricken brought about by the pandemic, country wars, angst-riddled elections, shooting of school children, etc. This invisible toxic sludge can be a bane and contradictory to HR’s role as culture builder.
With this backdrop of a dark underbelly, companies seem to have become a parallel universe where the espoused values like Integrity and Respect are antithesis. This situation created an urgency for employers to focus on employee experience in unsettled times. HR Leaders will need to be a stronghold in affirming their company’s values interspersed with some harsh realities.
Looking back at my decades of experience, I had the privilege of seeing how several company programs can impact lives and even change one’s economic standing. One instance comes to my mind, is that my previous company used to give out free donuts to entice applicants. Can initially be viewed as a simple come-on but an interesting turn of events transpired when a person in need walking near the building saw the poster. After not having eaten several meals, he applied because of the donuts and, lo and behold, landed a job. Fellow trainees lent him money so he can buy food until he was able to support himself through his own paycheck. It was amazing how a person who had nothing, was transformed by the simple donut from a recruitment campaign and the kindness of its employees.
"With this backdrop of a dark underbelly, companies seem to have become a parallel universe where the espoused values like Integrity and Respect are antithesis"
After that incident, the reality of the life-changing aspect of certain company programs made a mark on me. There is real privilege and opportunity to help those who can be invisible to others. Thus, I am particularly grateful of the kind of work that HR does and the highly inclusive company that I belong. At WTW we believe that difference makes us stronger. We want the make up of our workforce to reflect the different and varied markets we operate in, and a culture of inclusivity where all our colleagues can bring their best self to work every day, feeling welcomed and valued. Our values – client focus, teamwork, integrity, respect and excellence – are more than words. Living our values every day frame our approaches and ways of working, and embed the behaviors that drive our performance. Our WTW Country Head, James Matti, will always remind us of the nation-building aspect of our business since we help employers pay their employees better. WTW also supports various advocacies which makes our work more meaningful including poverty-inclusion program that support financially challenged college students finish their studies. The wealth creation aspect of giving people opportunities to earn a living make each company a true portal of good experience. A stable source of income, a work environment that lives by age-old values, are just some of the ways that enable more employees fulfil their life aspirations for themselves and their family. If we picture ourselves as collective of big and small companies, the influence that HR does is a real strong ally for good.
Let us continue to soldier on and communicate a compelling picture of each of our company’s values, business objectives and our employee’s role in implementing them. People intrinsically seek for what is good and are awe-inspired by great team performance. Nurture leaders that amplify values and compassion. We are all critical connectors and need to help remove enterprise-wide barriers, open doors for employees and managers. This skill involves identifying linkages between people-related requirements and obstacles (at the macro and micro levels) and enabling the achievement of company goals. As HR leaders, we need to have keen insight into team’s successes but also shortcomings and where those gaps need to be bridged.
Gandhi, one of the greatest spiritual leaders of our century, said “he felt that almost anything one can do will be insignificant. Yet to do something is very important.” Each day, each change is small but takes us all in a direction. When we look back over the last year and several tragic events, we may have some doubts about remaining faithful to values. But the kind of person we each become in these trying times is as important as what we accomplish in our company, and in the world around us.