The pandemic has ushered in an unprecedented level of organizational change with our clients, upending not only the way they are operating, but how they recruit, manage, communicate, and invest in their people. Chief People Officers have been the ones leading the charge in making over policies, improving employee experience, and driving business results with the right talent.
I recently talked with our own CPO Marty Reaume, about how the HR leader’s role is changing and what they are prioritizing to win with people in the years ahead. Marty, what would you say are the biggest changes HR has had to deal with in the last couple of years?
MR: There’s no question that the challenges of remote work have changed almost every aspect of what we do. It has altered the way we interact with our team, where and how we recruit new team members, the types of benefits and perks we offer, and how we conduct everything from on-boarding to open enrollment. As remote work has opened up a nationwide job market, it has also significantly influenced how we determine pay. What’s more, these changes also coincide with the much-needed work most companies are doing around DEI and pay equity.
Combine all these new challenges with the growth that’s happening in tech right now, and you can see why HR leaders really are the heroes of their companies in 2022. I think of Sequoia clients like Wix, which doubled the size of its U.S. operations during the pandemic, and yet is continually benchmarking and refining its benefits package to ensure that employees are getting exactly what they need and know how to access it. They’ve made changes to their already free healthcare for employees, improved the fee structure with its 401(k) provider, and added an array of new wellbeing offerings that includes on-demand talk therapy to help with the isolation and strain their employees may be dealing with at home. A new HR playbook is being rewritten right now by forward-thinking CEOs and HR leaders like this who see the link between talent and business results and are willing to get creative to achieve their goals.
GG: Absolutely. Many company leaders are using this time to take a step back and better define who they are, what they stand for, and what their philosophy is around their investment in their people. A focus on total rewards is quickly becoming the norm, making it that much more important to make sure you are taking care of your people and communicating the why behind your rewards to your people.
A campaign by one of our clients, The Skimm, shows us just how important this is. Its #showusyourleave campaign challenges employees to share their company’s paid family leave policy on social media. It has published a database of nearly 500 private companies’ leave policies, along with material to advocate for change at their organization. The privacy and control that used to characterize HR is gone, as more rewards data is available online and employees have more options. As difficult as all this cultural and organizational change has been for companies to navigate, we are seeing it drive better financial performance, employee engagement, trust, and retention.
I think by now most everyone realizes how essential the right talent is to performance, and it’s encouraging to see the business leaders I know working that much harder to make sure they identify and reward committed employees driving results and devote more resources to develop and train younger talent for the years ahead. The upside of all this real-time data is that business leaders can now better close gaps in their organization, build more meaningful benefits programs, and see how they stack up against their competitors.
But what’s also exciting, is how many CEOs are using this time to revise their organizational model, creating new teams, positions, and capabilities based on these people insights and collaboration with their HR team. After 20 years in this business, it’s gratifying to see companies fully tap into the power of HR’ s capabilities and acknowledge how large a role HR plays in shaping the organization of the future. We’re excited to be a part in this process and proud of the work our clients have done to lead the way in the new workplace.