Author Archives: Lynda Cusano

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How HR Leaders Can Adapt to Uncertain Times

By Sue Bingham, Harvard Business Review

August 4, 2020

Grant Faint/Getty Images

Human Resource departments had a difficult job prior to the pandemic. In 2019, more than 50% of HR leaders struggled to ensure that employees had the skills necessary to navigate an increasingly digitized workplace. But, admittedly, this “future of work” had always seemed a safe distance ahead — far enough, at least, to thoughtfully prepare for.

My company, HPWP Group, has been leading discussions surrounding the future of work and how it impacts HR professionals for the past 15 years. We can tell you that Covid-19 has changed the playing field. Today, HR leaders are working around the clock, taking unprecedented measures to keep their employees safe and ensure that their organizations survive. They are navigating furloughs, layoffs, and reductions in force. They are adjusting to mass remote work. They are creating business continuity plans, drafting emergency communication procedures, and preventing the spread of germs in the office.

All of these issues are being addressed through a familiar process: defining the problem, addressing the variables that make it complicated, and agreeing on the best way forward. But when we consider that today’s greatest challenges are ones that many leaders have never faced before, it becomes clear that they are not just complicated (predictable) but complex (unknown). Traditional problem-solving, which is aimed at addressing the complicated as opposed to the complex, will not establish the most effective solutions.

As we’ve seen through our work, many HR teams aim to resolve issues by developing new policies and procedures. Unfortunately, once created, those same policies are rarely revisited, ultimately leading to additional problems — especially now, when the landscape is changing so fast. At the same time, a “one-size-fits-all” approach won’t allow for the kind of individual thinking and creativity that result in the most innovative solutions.

To be truly effective in this “new normal,” then, we believe HR leaders need to adjust and develop a new core capability: a complexity mindset. Read more

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Have This Friday Afternoon Meeting With Your Employees To Immediately Reduce Their Burnout And Increase Their Optimism

Forbes, Mark Murphy, Senior Contributor- Careers

Back view of Asian business woman talking to her colleagues about plan in video conference. Multiethnic business team using computer for a online meeting in video call. Group of people smart working from home.

Employees, whether working from home or in a pandemic-remediated office, are feeling stressed, burned out and a bit (or a lot) pessimistic. But if you’re willing to conduct a Friday afternoon meeting with your team, you can quickly and significantly reduce some of that burnout and pessimism. And this meeting can be combined with ones that you’re already conducting.

Essentially, you’re going to ask each person on your team four questions. You’ll ask the first question and have everyone answer. Then you’ll ask the second question and have everyone provide an answer. And so on.

Here are the four questions you’re going to ask:

Question #1: Share an example of at least one success from this week.
Question #2: What was your biggest frustration from this week?
Question #3: What accomplishment are you most proud of from this week?
Question #4: What’s one lesson from your successes this week that you’re going to bring into next week?
Now let’s explore the science behind each of these questions (and why they’re so important).  Read more

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HR’s Compelling New Role In Response To The Coronavirus

Tracy Brower Contributor, Forbes

June 7, 2020

Hand holding big tree growing on green background with sunshine. HR new role amidst the coronavirus--to drive business success and the work experience.
HR has a new role amidst the coronavirus–to drive business success and the work experience. GETTY

The coronavirus pandemic has caused tremendous disruption in lives and in business, and human resources (HR) is key to supporting companies and catalyzing changes in the workplace. Organizations must rethink, reimagine and reconsider how they foster talent, deliver services and strengthen their organizations through a forward-thinking HR strategy—how they deliver the most compelling work experience.

The issues are complex—including employee support, leadership development, pay and benefits and shifts and strategic partnerships across the organization. Here are some of the most important ways HR can lead, partner and drive for the best in their organizations.

Reimagining The Organization

Systemic thinking. To survive, businesses must adapt to the future of work, and the capability to move with speed and agility is a critical capability HR can influence. HR is in arguably the best position to see overall processes and offer a systemic viewpoint, ensuring coordination, communication and collaboration across units, functions, business groups and silos. HR can facilitate dialogues that help ensure the right amounts of reinvention, re-proportioning and re-prioritizing of business goals to adapt to shifting customer demands and markets in response to the crisis created by Covid-19.

Company cultureOrganizational culture, too, is a critical contribution area for HR. With employees who have been sent home, culture is context for decisions and work ethic. It guides choices and actions—and must be managed intentionally. Julie Stich, CEBS, Vice President, Content, at the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans (IFEBP) agrees, “As we create a working environment—be it in the office or home offices—employers need to consider how the company culture is impacting their teams.” HR can conduct culture assessments and close gaps between current culture and desired culture—helping to manage the myriad variables that affect culture. They can help prioritize where to focus and how to sustain culture through disruptive times. Change is significant, and HR is in the best place to catalyze transformation and motivate shifts that will reinvent organizations.

Leadership. Brilliant leadership will ensure success for organizations and there is no room for mediocre leadership during difficult times. HR has a key role to play in developing leaders, ensuring they are successful and holding them accountable. According to Amy Leschke-Kahle, vice president of performance acceleration at The Marcus Buckingham Company, an ADP Company, “As stewards of the organization’s talent, HR has a responsibility to create the practices that maintain focus, create connectivity and ensure continuity between the most critical partnership in the world of work: that between the team leader and the team member.” Leaders require new and enhanced skills in managing from a distance, motivating employees toward a vision in the midst of ambiguity, providing calm and clarity, aligning work among team members and building community.  Read more

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Meditation can help calm your pandemic worries. Here’s how to start a practice at home.

by Kelly O’Shea, Updated: June 3, 2020, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Meditation can help calm your pandemic worries. Here’s how to start a practice at home.

As the Philadelphia area moves toward reopening after weeks of stay-at-home orders to contain the spread of COVID-19, one thing is clear: this summer will look much different than in years passed.

Though we will soon be lifting many restrictions, our routines will still be disrupted in all sorts of ways, and there is much we don’t know about the future. Will there be a second wave of COVID-19 cases? When will a vaccine be available? Will schools open in the fall?

Take a deep breath. These questions could go unanswered for months. That’s why it’s important right now to focus on improving your mental health and learning how to accept the uncertainty of the future. Meditation is a great way to do that.

“Because we aren’t able to give ourselves a break in the way that we normally would, such as by going out to a restaurant, now is a good time to spend some time with yourself and use that as a way to support you,” said Michael Baime, a physician and director of the Penn Program for Mindfulness in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

If you’re new to meditation and mindfulness practices, Baime shared tips for how to get started at home and common pitfalls to avoid: Read more

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7 things not to do when coronavirus lockdown and quarantine end

For most of us, life won’t return to normal right away.

Jessica Dolcourt May 11, 2020 CNET

Quarantine may loosen, but some restrictions could stick around.

A phased approach to lifting lockdown restrictions has already begun in the US and around the world, but that doesn’t mean the deadly coronavirus has gone away. In the US, over 79,000 people have already died from the COVID-19 disease, and the numbers are growing. We know that life will look different when cities and states reopen as local leaders attempt to restart the economy while trying to keep a second wave of coronavirus infections at bay.

As we count down the days until you can hug your friends, throw a party, file into a stadium and board an airplane, just remember that even as some restrictions loosen, that there’s still much we don’t know about the long-term behavior of this particular coronavirus strain. 

“The worst that can happen is that we make a misstep and let our emotions get ahead of the facts, and we have to go through this again,” said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a daily press conference last month.

In countries and cities that are beginning to reopen, the warning is clear: If cases surge again, the lockdowns will return. Reopening society may be a little different everywhere, but here are some common-sense codes to keep in mind.  Read more

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3 ways HR leaders can build new capabilities during COVID-19

Upskilling, virtual learning and other necessities during this pandemic.

By: Jeanne Meister | May 6, 2020  HR Executive

(Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

As businesses worldwide cancel in-person training due to the coronavirus, they are overwhelmingly turning to virtual learning. Whether that means upskilling the front line or adding new capabilities to managers, most leaders agree on one thing: They must continue to provide myriad ways to add new skills while keeping employees safe.

Collaborative social learning was already on the rise before the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, what we are seeing is more Chief Learning Officers experimenting with new ways  to deliver training, such as re-imagining virtual learning and offering online coaching from firms such as BetterUp and Thrive Global, as well as integrating online visual collaboration tools such as Miro and Mural to enable remote teams to participate in online design thinking sessions.

Here are three suggestions for building capabilities, based on what I am seeing from our clients as they re-invent learning and development during  these uncertain times. Read more

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7 best practices for supporting employees during Covid-19

Getting culture right is crucial at any time—but it’s particularly important in times of crisis.

By: Diane Adams | May 1, 2020 , Human Resource Executive

“People always remember how you make them feel.”

During the hardest times, this quote is especially true—people always remember how you make them feel. In 10 or even 30 years, people will remember the coronavirus pandemic and how their companies made them feel during this unprecedented time.

I work at a company that has a cultural value of “treating employees like family.” As COVID-19 continues its spread across the globe, the health and safety of our employees is our top priority. This has been our guiding principle in making difficult decisions. Taking lessons from my current role and previous experiences, here are seven things companies can be doing now to boost employee happiness and wellness during the coronavirus pandemic: Read more

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At a time of great uncertainty, many human resources departments are putting more emphasis on happiness and employee morale than ever—and that may be raising the role’s long-term value.

Thanks to COVID-19, HR departments find themselves in an interesting position these days.

To put it simply, they are tasked with helping to build normalcy at a time when little feels normal, and that means not only helping employees to navigate the benefits that their company offers, but also helping to maintain overall mood and distribute important communications to people on staff.

And that makes the role of the chief people officer (or whatever your HR chief goes by) increasingly valuable, notes The Economist, which recently compared the role to that of a chief financial officer during the 2008 financial crisis.

“The duties of chief people officers, as human-resources heads are sometimes called, look critical right now,” the magazine wrote last month. “They must keep employees healthy; maintain their morale; oversee a vast remote-working experiment; and, as firms retrench, consider whether, when and how to lay workers off. Their in-trays are bulging.” Read more

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Coronavirus Career Advice: 8 Ways To Be More Effective While You Work From Home

Laura Begley Bloom, Senior Contributor, Forbes

work from home increase productivity
Want to be more productive while working from home? Here are some tips to follow. GETTY

With the coronavirus pandemic raging around the world, millions of people are suddenly finding themselves working from home—for better or for worse. In many cases, this means sharing a dining room table with kids who are doing remote learning or carving out a corner of a crowded bedroom. Yaara Gooner to the rescue. This architect and designer has worked with five-star hotels, luxury restaurants and flagship commercial properties around the globe, designing spaces that boost productivity and spark creativity, while also offering a sense of place and home.

Most recently, as the lead architect and designer at LABS (flexible coworking spaces across London) and STAY (serviced apartments with the luxuries of a boutique hotel), Gooner has focused on creating environments that help people thrive. “We create spaces that are optimized for sleep, work and play,” says Gooner. “They are designed with a focus on wellness, where members and guests can be at their most productive and feel their best.”

Last month and this month, LABS and STAY have been offering their London-based spaces to those at the frontline of the pandemic, but in normal times, the brands provide hubs of enterprise that are designed to help everyone from travelers to local entrepreneurs maximize productivity, growth and well-being. Set to open in 2020, Victoria House will be LABS’ most ambitious venture yet—a contemporary workspace in an historic building.

Here, we caught up with Gooner and got her tips for how to be more effective, maximize productivity and maintain motivation while working from home—in style.   Read more

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5 Employee Stress Management Solutions in the Time of Coronavirus

Chiradeep BasuMallick Contributor, HR Technologist

Apr 14, 2020

five technologies for employee stress management

Have you taken proactive steps for employee stress management as your workforce faces the impact of COVID-19? For Stress Awareness Month 2020, we discuss:

  • The link between working from home (WFH)/remote work and employee stress
  • 5 employee stress management technologies you need during COVID-19
  • Why these tools matter now more than ever before

April is National Stress Awareness Month, and April 16, 2020, is National Stress Awareness Day. There has never been a better time to talk about employee stress. As COVID-19 has compelled millions of employees to work from home (WFH), there are growing concerns about stress, isolation, anxiety, and other mental health issues that are emerging not just from being isolated, but from the uncertainty about stability in these times.

The link between remote work and employee stress is well documented. In an October 2019 article, the World Economic Forum cited a United Nations report that found that 41% of remote workers experienced high stress levels compared to just 25% of office workers.

Buffer’s The 2020 State of Remote Work survey of 3,500+ employees also shows similar findings – 20% report feeling lonely while 18% aren’t able to unplug after work.

As WFH volumes rise in response to coronavirus, it is time to rethink the approach to employee stress management. Traditional events that helped manage stress in the past – such as company retreats, outdoor activities, Casual Friday, etc. – are no longer possible. Instead, organizations must now turn to tech solutions for employee stress management that are contactless and digitally accessible from home. Read more