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RfH Workshop Recap: HR Teams Exchange COVID-19 Best Practices

April 22, 2020
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Since the health and financial crisis began, HR leaders have rallied together in the interest of employee wellbeing and keeping teams productive. From overhauling recruiting and onboarding processes to implementing new employee perks, they’ve been busy, to say the least.

Resources for Humans is a Slack community of over 8,000 HR leaders. Lattice recently hosted a virtual working session for members to share their experiences, ask questions, and help brainstorm solutions. Here are some of the highlights from the conversation.

Setting Boundaries

Working from home can sometimes blur the line between employees’ professional and personal lives. That’s especially true now that entire families are sheltering in place together. While messaging apps like Slack can make it easier for teams to collaborate, they can also make it harder to disconnect after a day’s work. Community leaders reflected on how they were setting boundaries before and after hours.

"Running is one thing that I have found that has helped me set boundaries or at least start my day off right. I am a very active person and so I set aside 30 minutes or an hour to go for a run outside or fit in some sort of workout. And then I do my very best to attend the daily meditation that we do as a company.”
- Regina Eckert, Director of People & Culture at Sawyer

“I'm used to being in the office, which is unusual for my mostly remote company. But at home, it's easy to say, ‘I'll go make my dinner and then log back on,’ but everyone's been super understanding of me saying, ‘No, my day is ending now, and I will get to this in the morning.’”
- Becky Pratt, HR Manager at Chef Software 

“I just wanted to build off of what Becky said in terms of boundaries. I have three young kids at home, who are also being homeschooled, on top of all my client work. So what I really had to do was just block off time from 8:00 to 9:30 AM to make sure that I had time to set my kids up for school.”
- Roselyn Fogerty, Principal HR Consultant at People Partners Consulting

Employee Benefits and Perks

Some of the most active discussions revolved around helping employees adapt to today’s new productivity and financial challenges. HR teams shared some of the unique benefits and perks they had developed, which ranged from home office stipends to a snack delivery program.

“We gave employees $150 to buy whatever they need to work productively — so like a desk, another monitor, any work-related stuff. But the [stipend] also included investing in yourself. So that could mean your groceries for the week, a new food delivery service, or investing in a hobby like coloring books for anxiety. It covers essentially anything and everything that you may want or need during this time.”
- Hayleigh Kurtz, People Operations Generalist at ASICS Digital

“We ended up sending a work-at-home SnackNation box to every employee in the United States just because we were saving so much money on office snacks. And it went over really, really well. And then for employees overseas, we gave them a stipend to spend on websites to get snacks, food delivery, or whatever they wanted. We created a Slack channel called Snack Love, and everybody posted their unboxing and their families eating it, and it became a thing that brought us together virtually.”
- Becky Pratt, HR Manager at Chef Software

“I think one of the key takeaways for me there is that every organization is having different challenges, and their people are being affected in different ways. So a lot of the conversation we had was about being flexible and being adaptable about what you're offering, not making assumptions that a laptop or second screen is the answer for everyone. Someone else might just need groceries. It depends where they are and what they're dealing with.”
- Rachel Ben Hamou, Director of Talent Development at PeopleStorming

Bringing Teams Together

Remote work can be isolating, especially for those who either aren’t accustomed to it or live alone. The COVID-19 crisis has put pressure on HR teams to keep team morale high and even strengthen existing work relationships. Resources for Humans community members shared some of the fun and creative ways they were bringing everyone together.

“One of the things I've loved so far is that we have virtual pet happy hours. So anyone can join, pets or no pets, and it just gives people space to see each other's personal life, see their fur babies, and connect on a different level. We've also been doing kitchen roulette, where people get randomly paired with someone to have lunch with.”
- Emily Duff, Benefits Partner at Udemy

“We've been doing some virtual yoga and meditation sessions, trying out Peloton videos and using live instructors on Zoom. And we've also been doing them at different times of the day. Some people like to meditate in the morning. Others like to do it in the afternoon. That's been going pretty well. We’ve also been doing lunchtime fish bowls, so just a half-hour that’s totally optional for people to drop in and say hi and maybe have their kids say hello.”
- Bonnie Lau, Senior People Partner at StyleSeat

“What we've done is set themes for each week, starting with fitness, learning, and people outreach. Next week’s theme is learning, so we’re focusing on learning-related challenges, games, and encouraging people to pick up some small or large courses, depending on their role. We are also doing non-work-related learnings, which could be a live cooking session.  The week after that is fitness, so we’re doing live Zumba and yoga.”
- Tushar Kad, Human Resources Senior Manager at Simeio Solutions

Onboarding

Global pandemic or not, starting a new job is already intimidating. How to get new hires up to speed and feeling like part of the company was a major topic of conversation. HR professionals reflected on some of the logistical and cultural challenges they faced while onboarding remote employees.

Donut is a great app for getting employees to just be randomly paired with each other, but they've also implemented a lot of additional features for onboarding. But otherwise, we've also broken down our onboarding into a much more modular perspective. So that way, we can segment out sections if there are people joining in different locations or different times. And then we’re really trying to do more one-on-one onboarding versus doing it in groups.”
- Dan Smolkin, Head of People Operations at Aurora Solar

“We've been able to put a lot of time into getting our onboarding program up to snuff. So we've been redoing our orientation presentations, putting the focus on getting people excited. We started doing this fun thing where we would get everyone into a grid view on Zoom during our virtual happy hours and hold up signs that say, ‘Welcome to StyleSeat!’ So that's kind of fun, just leaning into the awkwardness of remote onboarding, something we're not totally used to.
- Bonnie Lau, Senior People Partner at StyleSeat

“We've done a lot of virtual onboarding, so we kind of just did business as usual and tried to set up a virtual lunch with the hiring manager. Basically everything we would set up in person we set up over Zoom and doubled up on the number of conversations that we scheduled on behalf of the team because we noticed that things were happening less organically. So we just went ahead and preloaded everything into people's calendars, which went over well.”
- Ashley Burnstad, Head of People at Roostify


Those are just some of the insights shared during a recent Resources for Humans virtual meetup. If you haven’t already, join the 8,000+ HR leaders that make up our Slack community. You can also talk shop via Zoom by registering for one of our upcoming virtual meetups.