Guiding the Workplace

Lisa Leath gives work leadership advice

For human resources professional LISA LEATH, one key action that work leaders and business owners should practice is checking in on employees on an individual and regular basis.

“They’re working hard to make your business great; notice, recognize and thank,” she says.

Leath is the president and co-founder of Leath HR Group, a firm that provides human resource services including management, audits, assessments, and more to companies.

This past year, as a result of the ongoing pandemic, workplaces continued to see changes and shifts that many employees and employers have had to adapt to.

WILMA checked in with Leath to examine some of the major changes we have seen and to get advice on what leaders and employers should be on the lookout for next year.

Leath 2 Story

WILMA: What are some of the major workplace changes that we have seen/experienced in the past year?
Leath: “Many companies have adjusted their expectations on having people physically in the office and are more comfortable with remote work. Companies are spending time getting creative with their employer brand and looking for new ways to get the word out about what makes them different from other companies that are looking for similar talent. For the companies who are winning the talent war, they have a good online and community presence.”

WILMA: What are some features of a workplace that the pandemic showed is important?
Leath: “The pandemic has upped the ante with regards to everyone getting more technically astute. Technology will continue to play an increasingly important role in how we interact with one another, so assess what you have and fully utilize your tools! We can expect to see a hybrid workforce for the foreseeable future and need to row with the tide v. buck it. The pandemic has also shown us that peer-to-peer and peer-to-supervisor communications are extremely important. I’ve seen many exit interviews where people blame the pandemic and lack of team camaraderie as a core reason for leaving. Figure out how to foster cohesion with a hybrid team.”

WILMA: How can a workplace adapt to better accommodate for remote working?
Leath:“Communicate, communicate, communicate! If you want to have a policy, that’s great, but at the end of the day, you have to have basic expectations and regular conversations around those expectations between employees and managers. Examples: Do you expect them to ever come into the office? At what regularity? Are there core hours to be ‘online’ or in front of a computer? Are there projects or client meetings that require you to come in or leave your house? Do you have the right technology and Wi-Fi at home to do a great job and be effective? All of these things can be solved in conversations and regular check-ins where remote work situations intentionally show up a topic.”

WILMA: What guidance do you have for workplaces dealing with the worker shortage also known by many as the “Great Resignation” period right now?
Leath: “Figure out what it is your people actually value about your company and promote that internally, externally, often and by different people. The message about your culture should regularly come from the CEO, but others at all levels should be empowered and encouraged to chime in and talk within the team and publicly about what is so great about working there! Also, if it’s possible (not loved), allow people to work remotely, at least on a part-time basis… if they value that! Realizing you will have some responsibility to have regular conversations about outcomes and performance, employees will usually strive to do a good job and shouldn’t be put in a bucket with the 5 or 10% of people who will abuse the privilege. These are conversations we should be having anyway. The people who aren’t putting in a 40-hour week at home likely weren’t putting in 40 hours at the office, to begin with.”

WILMA: What HR/workplace trends do you see growing or emerging in the new year? What are some ways workplaces can prepare for them?
Leath: “We’re going to see the need for added workplace flexibility continue to increase across all industries. If you’re thinking about returning to pre-pandemic policies and practices, I’d advise you to think twice… many successful growing companies are stretching their flexibility muscles in an effort to keep and attract talent.  All solutions are not effective for all workplaces, so ensure you have a good pulse on what’s important to your particular workforce as it relates to flexibility before you implement a ‘benefit.’ Get out of your comfort zone and row with the current instead of against it!”

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Categories: Women to Watch