How can HR leaders continue making a difference while reshaping talent acquisition and company processes in tech during this extended new normal? Hermina Khara, VP of People & Head of Talent at Alida takes the time to share a few thoughts while taking us through her HR journey in this quick chat:
Tell us a little about yourself Hermina, what are some of the key HR and leadership your journey in tech and HR has taught you?
I have been with Alida for over 7 years and have been blessed to be a part of an amazing evolution of the company. I have always loved people and that has driven my career path through the years. I initially started working in financial services, managing inside sales teams. After I had my first child, I transitioned into an external recruitment role and now lead the talent management and talent acquisition function at Alida.
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My current People and leadership roles have taught me that as HR professionals we live in the gray! There are no black and white areas. The truth is always somewhere in the middle. Quite simply, no matter what role you are in or what level you are at, we all want to make a difference, create a positive impact and feel valued for what we do. I have learned that the one constant thing is change. You must approach it with an open mind and positive attitude because change often creates opportunities and opens doors for us. It’s okay to be bold and speak up for what you believe in. I wholeheartedly believe that as HR professionals, our role is to leave people better than when we found them. This is something that I have learned from one of my mentors and I apply this discipline daily.
How have you used HR Technologies to drive talent acquisition initiatives in your journey?
Hiring the right talent is fundamental for your business to succeed and here is where technology can help to find those people. At Alida, we have used technology to be strategic and focused in sourcing talent. We leverage LinkedIn for social reach and for exploring and connecting with great talent across the globe. We also use Lever from a CRM perspective. It is user-friendly and works well with LinkedIn. Using this tool streamlines the entire recruiting process and provides transparency to all our hiring managers and recruiters across the company.
At Alida, how have employee practices or hiring initiatives been remodeled to adjust to the challenges surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic?
When the pandemic hit, we had to remodel our work environment to a 100% remote and virtual space. We already had remote employees, so the process was not entirely new to us. Being a technology company, we were able to pivot quite quickly and provide all our employees with the support they needed to work efficiently from home.
Our hiring practices have mainly remained the same, except for our interview processes. We now conduct all interviews over Zoom as compared to in-person interviews prior to the pandemic. It is unfortunate that candidates no longer get to experience and gauge our office culture and vibe. Given this, we ensure that all candidates have the opportunity to meet virtually with a number of our employees to help them with their decision. Everyone from hiring managers, peers, the leadership team and even our CEO invests time in interviewing and meeting with candidates over Zoom. This allows candidates to receive diverse perspectives from various employees across the company. Once hired, we work with the hiring managers and the IT team to provide our new employees with all the resources they need. They are then granted secure online access to our onboarding portal, which kickstarts the onboarding process. So far, our remote onboarding process has been seamless and efficient.
As workplace trends evolve and the global workforce adjusts to new work models in 2020 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, what do you feel HR leaders should be doing more of to ensure teams are performing at their best?
As HR leaders, we must continue to focus on people during this challenging time. As cliché as it may sound, our people are the most important asset. All companies, including Alida, can’t be successful without people. Now, more than ever, we must be employee centric and ensure employee experience is top of mind. Every aspect of the business that touches the employee during their life cycle with the company must be a good experience, one that creates a lasting impression and inspires people.
As HR leaders, we do need to:
- Ensure that the safety and well-being of our employees is our top priority. Our employees are balancing their personal lives and the needs of their families while working. It’s important to recognize this and support our employees in finding creative solutions to help them manage their workload and establish priorities. We also need to remind our employees of any available resources such as an EAP program should they require additional support.
- Continue to foster and support an inclusive culture and employee morale in a virtual environment. Spend time with your team and have frequent touch points. Now is the time for us to lead with compassion and build trust with our employees.
- Engage our employees by providing them opportunities to socialize and host virtual social hours. This way, employees can connect with the leadership and wider teams rather than just the teams they work in or with. It’s important to be social and have fun during this challenging time.
- Leverage social tools such as Slack to connect, share ideas, celebrate special days and recognize people wins, and more.
Can you talk about some of the ways in which you see hiring processes change in the tech and B2B marketplace: what according to you will tomorrow’s HR leader in a tech role look like?
Some of the ways we see hiring processes change in tech will be the adoption of AI and the investment in recruitment automation and diversity tools. This technology will enable HR leaders to increase efficiency, save recruiting time and enhance the overall employee experience. Our role tomorrow will be to master talent acquisition, including talent sourcing, growing talent pipelines, and upskilling and reskilling to resolve workforce shortages. We will need to continue to invest in training and leadership development and in employee programs with a core focus on diversity and inclusion to create high performing teams. HR teams will also need to review their health and wellness benefit plans to ensure their existing plans meet the evolving needs of their people and help maintain a healthy active workforce.
Several teams have adopted remote onboarding processes this year; can you share a few tips/thoughts on how HR leaders can drive better remote interviewing and hiring processes during this time?
A few tips and thoughts on how HR leaders can drive better remote interviewing and hiring processes during this time is firstly to become comfortable in the digital world. Learn how to efficiently use tools like Zoom, be agile and willing to try new things, and be ready to adjust or pivot quickly when things change. Leverage the people around you and partner with other departments such as the marketing team to help with recruitment, marketing initiatives and company branding. It’s important that leaders across the business understand they all play an active part in recruiting top talent into their teams. It’s all about creating connections and ensuring that we move quickly and provide a good experience for our candidates during the process. It doesn’t stop there though! We need to continually review and evolve our processes to ensure that we find new and better ways to attract, engage, hire and retain talent.
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As employees return to the workplace during the pandemic and businesses try to return to a sense of pre Covid normalcy, how should leaders focus on implementing better organizational practices in a Covid-19 working era (where team members have to stay distant even while sitting on the same office floor).
Now is a great time to review and re-evaluate our current processes as we develop our return-to-work strategy. We need to ensure that we have a safe working environment that meets all the safety protocols and guidelines in place for the various offices and regions we operate in. It is essential that we continue to find new techniques and tools to maintain engagement with our employees as we practice social distancing and good hygiene practices. Additionally, we will have to review and implement different policies such as employee health monitoring and work from home, encourage cross collaboration between teams, and facilitate communication within the business.
A few parting tips on what companies and HR heads should keep in mind as they shape their strategies in 2021 amid the new normal?
It’s an unprecedented and challenging time for everyone – we are in a human crisis. We must remember to be kind to ourselves. As HR professionals we are managing the needs of the business, advocating for our employees and managing the everyday emotions of our peers and employees. We are all navigating this together.
Here are my three top tips on what we should keep in mind for 2021:
1. Take time to fill your own cup first
You can’t drive far with an empty gas tank, the same applies to us. Take care of yourself and encourage others to do the same to ensure you are in the right mindset to handle the challenges that come your way. Be resilient!
2. Stay informed and current
Ensure that you are connecting with other HR professionals and continuously learning from others. There is so much information that is available online as companies and industry leaders are sharing their best practices for COVID-19 and beyond. Take advantage of the information and apply the learning to your organization and people practices as needed.
3. Be authentic and lead with empathy
The most important thing for us to keep in mind amid this new normal as HR leaders is to be our authentic selves. It’s ok for us to show vulnerability. We are all handling and managing the pandemic in different ways. Place the safety, health and overall well-being of your employees at the forefront of your priorities and let that guide you in your day to day decisions. Everything else will fall into place.