TecHRseries Interview with Rokisha Lewis, Director of HR, North America and EMEA at ContractPodAi

It is important for companies to understand and recognize the mental and emotional impact of the pandemic on the workforce in general so that they can create plans that can help assist their employees better during this trying time. Catch the rest of this interview where Rokisha Lewis, Director of HR for North America and EMEA at ContractPodAi® talks about what best practices companies should keep in mind when re-creating their on-boarding and company cultures during a pandemic.


Tell us a little about yourself Rokisha, what are some of the biggest highlights of being in the HR / HR Tech space for you?

I’m the Director of HR for North America and EMEA at ContractPodAi. I am based in Toronto, Ontario and have been in the HR tech space for about 8 years.

I think of HR as the heart of a company. HR is tasked with the important responsibility of shaping people’s work experiences. It is about recognizing that employees are not a monolith but have different expectations and needs. Once you understand what those individual needs are, you can give employees the most positive work experience.

The Tech space is the mecca of research and innovation. I think tech companies more than any other, have flipped traditional HR on its head and have pushed us to rethink things like how we work and where we work from. I enjoy working in fast paced, collaborative environments and I think the tech space offers both of those.

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How have you helped enable employee motivation while boosting morale in your team the last few weeks as the Covid-19 pandemic played out?

By checking in on each other, staying connected and ensuring that employees have what they need to work from home.  Trust is a huge motivational factor – it is important for employees to know that we trust them during this time. We encourage employees to set schedules, have routines during the day and to define those around what works best for them.

We’d love your thoughts on how tech companies can re-create their onboarding structure during a time when virtual hiring and onboarding is now becoming common.

As a multinational company, virtual hiring and onboarding is something that we have always done. Personally, I find that applicants seem more comfortable in virtual interviews, perhaps because they are in their own spaces. As an interviewer, you get to see people in their natural habitat which I think makes for more authentic interviews. I think it would be great for companies to identify what their remote working policies will be in a post-COVID world, and to incorporate those into their recruitment strategies and interview questions. It involves moving a step beyond the technical skills to assess things such as how intrinsically motivated an employee will be working remotely.

Companies can recreate their onboarding structure by being proactive and detailed in their approach. This involves things like:

  • Ensuring that new employees have all the technology required to work from home immediately and seamlessly. And, that the IT team is ready and available to assist with set up on day one.
  • Providing a detailed onboarding schedule, preferably one that spans the course of a few days. This creates an intentional plan that increases the employee’s engagement with various colleagues and gives them time to adjust to working from home
  • Reviewing an org chart with HR as a first step – it’s easier to tell people’s teams or team structures in the office, so this can be a big gap when onboarding remotely
  • Amending onboarding presentations to be more interactive and interesting
  • Checking in with the employee during the onboarding process from the HR perspective to ensure that they are getting what they need to succeed

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When it comes to measuring employee productivity for a distributed workforce: what are some of the top HR Tech products you’d advise teams to implement as part of their tech stack: what other suggestions do you have here to address the issue of measuring productivity while ensuring motivation levels are kept at an all-time high given the personal challenges employees have been facing during this uncertain time.

Setting priorities each week is a simple yet effective way of measuring productivity. It is important for managers to review these with their employees to make sure they are aligned on expectations and outcomes. Then, employees should follow up with their managers the next week (or whatever cadence makes sense) and note progress against each of the goals from the prior session. I think managers can boost motivation by being explicit in their feedback and by offering immediate rewards.

Could you talk about some of the innovative employee best practices/team building activities companies have been doing (or that you’ll have being doing) during this challenging time?

It is important for companies to recognize the mental and emotional toll of the pandemic and to create programs that are tailored to addressing those concerns.

At ContractPodAi, we have started regular meditation sessions with a meditation coach, which has been so well received that we will continue the practice beyond COVID. Another longer-term practice we have picked up during this time is the introduction of mental health and wellness days: 1 additional paid day off per quarter to use as needed for each individual’s mental health and wellness, which all employees are encouraged to take. Like many other companies, we have increased our communication overall via frequent CEO emails, and we have created social groups and programs that are aimed at increased team building and engagement. We have seen all of these work as a great way for the team to come together.

What top best practices would you share for team to ensure they are able to maintain the overall workplace and company culture while they work from home and as they slowly return to a work-from-office model over the next few weeks and months?

Communication is key – and cannot be understated. With a lack of in-person connection right now to reinforce a company culture, it is important to share stories and messages that embody and support a company’s mission, values, and culture. This is also an opportune time for companies to pivot and re-evaluate what their company values and culture are. Perhaps there are some new cultural norms that a company explicitly or implicitly prioritized during COVID – e.g., (virtual) happy hours with those outside of your team, more frequent direct executive communication, etc. – that they may want to instill as an on going cultural fixture.

A few general thoughts / tips for businesses worldwide dealing with the current world pandemic?

Now more than ever businesses need to be explicit in their support and appreciation of their employees. They need to embrace the challenges of the moment and to learn from them. That may require a complete overview of their current policies.  There are many things that will return to normal, but many may not, and they need to prepare for that.

ContractPodAi® is one of the world’s fastest growing AI based contract management solution providers, empowering global corporations across the world.

Rokisha Lewis is the Director of HR for North America and EMEA at ContractPodAi®. ContractPodAi® is one of the world’s fastest growing contract management solutions which has already digitally transformed the processes of organizations such as EY, Total Petroleum, Bosch Siemens and Pennon Group. Their service offer blends market leading AI technology with machine-learning, legal engineering and cloud infrastructure – all at no extra cost.