Learning COVID-19 Recording: Moody's Diane Holman & Shavit Bar-Nahum - 6/25/20

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 Learning and Development leaders navigate this unpredictable time.

This week’s Learning and Development action call hosted two special guests: Diane Holman, Managing Director, Global Head of Talent Management at Moody’s and Shavit Bar-Nahum, SVP, Leadership Development at Moody’s. They were interviewed by i4cp CEO and co-founder Kevin Oakes, and some recent i4cp research on holistic well-being was also shared. Here are four key themes that emerged:

  1. L&D can help organizations through the phases of a crisis. Over the first four months of the COVID-19 pandemic, most organizations have gone through several phases. Holman and Bar-Nahum gave a good example of this from Moody’s, where their L&D and broader talent organization has needed to re-focus several times. The initial focus was on virtual work enablement, and activities included standing up new communication channels and enabling necessary technology and infrastructure. Next came what they called “human enablement,” meaning helping employees emotionally manage through often challenging times. To do this, they established emotional support mechanisms in the organization and encouraged non-work human connections that helped employees to be “seen” and feel “known.” A third phase could be called reconstruction or “restoration enablement,” and has a focus on enabling employees to re-build towards a new normal. This is more future-focused, and involves determining which changes to keep, monitoring readiness to resume various activities, etc.
  2. HR has needed to be agile in many ways. Holman noted the many ways that HR has needed to pivot in a very agile way during the past several months, including steps taken in well-being and engagement, business continuity, virtual employee development, and fostering a culture of inclusion. Moody’s is well known as having expertise in risk mitigation, so they applied this to themselves by reducing the number of open positions to make sure they didn’t hire too quickly relative to business growth. Their culture is also very relationship focused, and so they leaned into this strength during this pandemic crisis to foster even stronger, authentic relationship building with all employees working remotely. Holman and team also noticed an initial increase in productivity for many employees, but are now seeing some signs of burnout as the pandemic period continues, so they are pivoting again to provide support.
  3. L&D should focus on timely topics for maximum impact. Bar-Nahum described how during the COVID-19 pandemic period Moody’s has developed a series of “Moments that Matter” virtual learning sessions. Recent topics have included moving from short term to long term focus, maintaining energy and managing your time, and managing your career remotely. Upcoming sessions include understanding change, cybersecurity while working remotely, applying a growth mindset, and staying mindful in the midst of endless distraction. Such short, timely learning sessions are a great way that L&D can provide maximum impact and lead behavior change during challenging times.
  4. Holistic well-being is critical. Holman noted that they recently conducted a short internal well-being survey. Employees indicated they felt Moody’s took a genuine interest in their wellbeing, does a good job communicating with employees, and provided the necessary equipment to work remotely during this time. They learned however that one concern many employees had was around job security, so the team quickly communicated to employees the several ways the organization has reacted to enable healthy business performance. Other changes prompted by the survey results included stipends for home office needs, more PTO, advice from an expert ergonomist, work-from-home best practices, and financial wellness advice.

    Aligned with this approach, recent i4cp research on holistic well-being found that high-performance organizations have expanded their approach beyond a narrow focus on physical health. Mental and emotional well-being have been a key focus during the pandemic period, but so have four other areas that were all on a growth trajectory even before COVID-19: community well-being (volunteerism, involvement), career well-being (job/advancement satisfaction), financial well-being (money management), and social/relational well-being (connectedness with others). When participants on the call were asked which three of these six aspects of holistic well-being had the greatest organizational focus right now, emotional / mental health not surprisingly was the top response, but social/relational well-being came in a strong second – a major change from the study’s results pre-COVID.

In addition to this recording, please see these resources: