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TecHRseries Interview with Gena Romano, Vice President of Human Resources at Centerfield

Recognizing that virtual meeting fatigue can be a real problem for some employees while ensuring that there is more contact between managers and employees during this time of extended remote work are some of the top of mind tips Gena Romano, Vice President Human Resources at Centerfield shares in her recent chat with TecHRseries. Catch the complete conversation where Gena discusses some of the interesting employee engagement initiatives Centerfield has taken to boost morale and workplace culture in 2020.

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Tell us a little about yourself Gena…and your biggest HR learnings in your time in B2B and B2C…

I have a bachelor’s degree in Business Management with a concentration in Human Resources, as well as an MBA specializing in Project Management. I have worked in Human Resources across numerous industries and supported all population types for 12 years. I held multiple HR leadership positions at a global beauty company before building out the HR function from scratch at my current company. There have been tons of HR learnings over the course of my career in both B2B and B2C. Regardless of the industry, I have found that constantly checking in on why and how we are doing daily tasks is the only way to continue to be respected business partners. Stay conversations are more important than ever to retain talent, reduce unwanted turnover, and link in your population. HR teams must evolve to support our evolving populations.

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How have your HR policies and employee practices changed or evolved in this new normal to meet today’s changing business and employee needs?

We have been recognized as a Best Place to Work by BuiltinLA and are really proud of the culture we have built. At Centerfield, we work hard, kick back with our team, and celebrate our successes. With the pandemic, we have had to quickly adapt and find unique ways to connect with and ensure that each employee’s needs are being met. We launched a daily series where we share useful health and wellness tips, fun activities to do with kids at home, and engaging individual and team-based challenges.

To combat COVID fatigue, we are encouraging employees to utilize our unlimited PTO plan, to take the time and be completely logged off, and we also extended our Summer Fridays to reinforce the opportunity for Centerfielders to unplug and recharge. We have also been super excited to provide everyone with complimentary Zoom workout classes!

What are some of the big changes to overall processes and structure you feel business leaders and HR need to drive today to ensure better work cultures in the time of a pandemic?

The amount of contact managers are expected to have with every employee has increased. Our core values at Centerfield empower our employees to manage their book business as they see fit. We realized early on that our employees were able to stay productive in the remote environment. Monthly scorecards and check-ins with managers have been an effective tool for relaying necessary information or concerns.

How have you been seeing a shift in employee behavior and work trends in general at the workplace during this time?

Virtual meeting fatigue is a real thing and we’re really trying to keep employee morale high right now. During these tough times, it’s important that companies are open with their communication and readily providing updates on business status while still being cognizant of total workload.

What are some of the holiday season / end of year employee benefits or employee engagement activities being planned at Centerfield during this remote work inspired new normal?

We have thrown even more resources to our culture team to implement great virtual events. Remote work has inspired new virtual trivia nights, cooking programs, and exercise contests in the final months of 2020. We are topping it all off with a huge end-of-year celebration. We are lucky that we haven’t had to furlough or lay off employees during the pandemic and we want to say thank you to our employees for working through the pandemic with us. We’ve hired a famous comedian to do a show for us virtually and we have personalized gifts being sent to the employees’ homes. For us, it’s all about surveying our people to hear what they want and then doing everything we can to make it happen.

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What according to you are some of the top 5 things every HR should prepare more for in 2021? 

    1. Turnover – For companies that haven’t had to furlough or layoff, turnover has likely gone down as employees want job security more than anything else in 2020. With the new year and companies opening back up, things are beginning to normalize. I would prepare for potential turnover and do what you can to mitigate flight risks.
    2. Continued Support – Just because it’s a new year, doesn’t mean we will be through this pandemic. It will be important for HR leaders to continue with focused support to all employees and ensure employees feel safe at all times, especially if returning into the office. Providing virtual health programs, looking at what additional mental health benefits you can provide, and leaning into expanded communication channels are all areas to keep in mind.
    3. Required PTO – Some companies may never open up to this idea, but with COVID fatigue and reduced travel, people aren’t taking care of themselves by taking time away from work. Forcing managers to look at PTO usage for their employees and pushing them to take time off will pay dividends in the long run.
    4. Virtual Overload – With virtual meetings a necessity, it will be important for teams to look at what meetings need to happen and where can we trim down. Utilizing time efficiently has never been more important than in this new environment.
    5. Remote Onboarding – If you haven’t mastered this in 2020, you must master this in 2021. Bringing people onboard virtually is an art and takes a lot of people in an organization to make it work. Look at dedicating resources for new hires and having checklists for everyone involved to make sure you don’t have unnecessary turnover with early hires. 

What are some of the handy tips you would share with businesses and teams looking for ways to adapt better to the new normal?

Reevaluate meeting cadence. Depending on your business and forecast, the current environment has added completely new pressures and expectations. Take some time to look at where your key talent is spending their time and be prepared to make changes to support them to make their remote experience better.

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Centerfield

Centerfield drives more than two million sales each year for residential services, business services and telecommunications brands such as AT&T, Charter Spectrum and Frontier Communications. Our technology platform, Dugout, and leading consumer guides engage with in-market consumers to help them purchase the right product or service, including internet connections, TV plans, phone, and security, for their home and business.

Gena Romano serves as Vice President of Human Resources at Centerfield, a technology-driven marketing and customer acquisition company. Gena manages all domestic and international HR matters, including life cycle management, recruiting, organizational design and development, benefits and payroll.