In response to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak and its unprecedented impact to business and employers, i4cp holds a weekly series of standing calls to help HR leaders navigate this unpredictable time.
On i4cp’s October 23, 2020 CHRO/HR Strategy Action series call, HR leaders from a wide range of organizations were joined by special guest Ashley Goldsmith, Chief People Officer at Workday. She was interviewed by i4cp Chief Research Officer Kevin Martin and i4cp CEO and co-founder Kevin Oakes. Here are some of the highlights from the conversation:
A strong culture serves well during challenging times. Goldsmith shared that Workday's culture includes a strong sense of humility, starting with their founders and leadership team, and carrying through to all aspects of the company, including how they work with their customers. During the COVID-19 pandemic period, the culture at Workday hasn't needed to change, because the company's values have stayed the same. But Goldsmith noted that because of everyone working remotely, connections and relationships have been strained, even with how much they use Zoom and other tools to communicate and collaborate.
Having a strong employee listening strategy is more important than ever. For several years, Workday has rotated through over 30 questions each quarter in their weekly Friday pulse surveys (2-3 questions each). Like many organizations, they added some timely questions in March related to COVID-19, remote work, etc. This listening strategy has been useful, as they have found elements during the past eight months around employee well-being that they could take quick action on to provide improved mental/emotional support for employees.
How can you recreate moments of social serendipity while working remotely? That is, random meet-ups that can spark creative ideas or grow people's internal networks in the organization? This is a question that many organizations are struggling with for their remote workforces. At Workday, Goldsmith noted that they are encouraging leaders to have skip-level calls instead of only meeting with their direct reports. We polled participants on the call and the number one response was similar: 76% indicated they have key leaders make random 'check-in' calls to employees. 61% said they promote small-group forums for employees, such as channels on platforms like Teams or Slack, and 48% said they use breakout room functionality in Zoom or other meeting platforms. One participant noted that they have virtual coffee hours for their different location-centric cohorts, and another said they have optional 'virtual water cooler' meetings that are open forums for chit-chat.
Developing internal talent marketplaces continues to be a major trend. Goldsmith noted that the Workday suite has new solutions to help organizations develop internal talent marketplaces, allowing managers to post jobs / needs, and then match up employees who are a good fit, especially for smaller gig-sized projects. They developed this and tested it internally first, and found their employees were excited about it because they can see opportunities pop up that they'd be eligible for with whatever new skills they are developing. Solutions like this give a lot more power to employees, and especially to minorities as it levels the playing field and helps to work around traditional practices that at times became barriers.
In addition to this recording, please see the i4cp Coronavirus Employer Resource Center for new research and next practices to help address the COVID-19 pandemic.