Staying Connected in Times of Crisis: An HR Perspective

by Lisa Sordilla

We checked in with Lisa Sordilla, Energage Vice President of Human Resources, to hear about what’s top of mind and how staying connected with employees has been the key to navigating the changing workplace.

As a human resources leader, how has the crisis shifted your priorities?

The health and safety of our employees and their family members have been top of mind, as I’m sure it is for others too. Fortunately, we haven’t experienced any coronavirus cases. So, I haven’t felt the same impact some of my HR colleagues are facing. But we have had to address a number of other priorities.

Shifting to remote working. At Energage, we shifted to a remote working situation fairly quickly. We knew this was a possibility early on and we were able to prepare for it in advance. Still, we needed to find a way to stay connected with our employees.

Understanding new benefits and resources. Grasping the impact of the new benefits and resources that have become available since the pandemic started is another adjustment. For example, we needed to make sure our practices and policies were up to date with the Family First Coronavirus Response Act. First, leading with our care for our employees, but also staying on top of those things so we’re compliant and managing through this the best we can.

Maintaining connection with leadership and employees. Additionally, the changing environment has required a lot of additional communication from me. This includes coordinating with senior leaders and making sure we’re communicating updates and impacts frequently. It’s also important to hear feedback from employees about their concerns and what’s impacting their work.

Shifting to focus on the bigger, longer-term picture. Much focus has been placed on what’s happening right now, but we’re also looking to understand the big picture. All of this has changed our day-to-day interactions, so how are we getting the most out of them? What are the long-term implications for healthcare-related benefits? How can we continue to stay connected to employees?

What has been the biggest challenge with shifting to a remote workforce?

Each of us has different challenges with working remotely. This isn’t a normal work-from-home situation. Understanding the difference has been the biggest challenge, really. We’re in the midst of a crisis and dealing with things we haven’t had to deal with before. I heard this perspective last week on a webinar and it resonated with me. It requires a shift in mindset.

How do you stay connected to employees when everyone is remote?

Pulse surveying is the thing I appreciate most. These quick surveys have been great for connecting with employees. This was especially true when things were moving so rapidly in March. The speed with which things were changing has been unlike anything I have ever experienced in my working life – or in life in general. Communication has been key and we’ve put a lot of effort into staying connected. It’s a top priority for us.

What actions did the pulse survey insights enable you to take?

The action that we took right away was to work from home. We did this before the government required it. We started the process with a pulse survey to determine our readiness to work from home. The data showed us that our employees felt they were prepared and confident we could make the change.

We did that pulse on Thursday. Got the results on Friday. Senior leadership met on Saturday, and we decided we’d make the shift to working remotely. I communicated the change to the staff. Within 48 hours of launching the pulse survey, we made the shift to a remote workforce.

What advice do you want to share with other HR professionals?

I would say that, above anything, remember we are all humans and that every situation is unique. You’ve got people who are suddenly homeschooling their children in addition to having a full-time job. You’ve also got people who are alone and completely isolated. There are mental health challenges in the mix.

The fact is, there is no one way that this crisis is impacting your employees. It impacts every single employee in such a different way. Finding ways to stay connected throughout the organization will help you navigate and act quickly in this environment.

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