Rethinking Post-Pandemic HR Policies with Ryan Gormley


This article is a lightly-edited summary of the key takeaways from our speakers’ appearance on our podcast, “The Shape of Work.” If you haven’t listened to our show yet, be sure to check it out here. These speakers have an incredible stable of startup experiences to draw from, the kind of stories that are unbelievably helpful for HR/people managers to hear.

In this episode of “The Shape of Work,” our guest is Ryan Gormley, an HR professional who has significantly contributed to this field for 12 years.

Ryan is a strong believer in diversity and loves to innovate. His previous stints include working for organizations like Slack, Symantec, and Earnin.


Name of the guest: Ryan Gormley

What he does: Head of People, Nylas

Find him on LinkedIn.

Get Smart: “The discussion needs to be focused on understanding how there are all sorts of employees that need different work environments, and to accept that and be okay with it.”


In this episode, you will get familiar with different topics regarding:

  1. Impact of the pandemic on the way of work.
  2. Offering Employee engagement to the employees.
  3. Role of managers in encouraging work-life balance.
  4. A shift in the compensation policies.
  5. Thoughts on Basecamp being mission-driven.


Impact of the pandemic on the way of work:

Ryan is a strong proponent of employee freedom and autonomy. When people are more comfortable working from home, forcefully calling them in the office is micromanaging. Before having a workspace, an organization needs to know about the intent behind it.

He feels that a hybrid workplace will provide better performance by offering better talent from every corner of the world. For high-performing teams, hybrid work is necessary. People should have the freedom to arrange their day’s schedule as long as the work is done. This calls for a more output-focused mindset. He explains that there is a difference between work and office. You can have a smaller workspace for the office people to interact.

Giving the employees the freedom and responsibility of structuring their routine is going to retain them. For this purpose, an organization needs to have the value of trust.

Offering Employee engagement to the employees:

Ryan talks about looking at the picture when an office expands. It is not possible to have offices at all locations their employees reside in. The CRM (Customer Relationship Management) needs to connect with the employees of these locations. Facetime is the next best option for not being able to come and meet. 

However, this might create pressure on the employees from remote locations. It depends on the leadership management of individual organizations.

According to Ryan, if an organization wants all the employees within the office, it should give them the freedom to run their own schedule until the company’s requirements are met. Everyone can’t function at a high rate in the middle of office distractions. Different employees have different ways to function.

Role of managers in encouraging work-life balance:

Ryan has read a lot on these topics and his company has already implemented a few things. He explains that managers and leaders should offer more guidance here. It should be ensured that people’s well-being is being looked after. Managers should encourage employees to set boundaries and be able to say no. The management should be encouraged to ask for limited things for a specific time.

There are two things to be understood regarding work-life balance:

  1. Pandemic threw a curve in the way of work. In the current situation, people are confused about what they can do on consecutive holidays. Thus they consider not taking these holidays up.
  2. After the onset of the pandemic, people are accepting that an employee needs to set boundaries and take time off. Such breaks from work are necessary to avoid burnout.

In order to come up with a fair holiday policy, Nylas decided to talk to 15 different tech companies regarding policies.

A shift in the compensation policies:

There is going to be a real shift in the compensation policies of different companies. Ryan talks about companies like Microsoft, Twitter, and his company where they choose to give their people the option and the choice. This will pave the way towards better employee retention. According to him, people are craving more flexibility. Many talents might leave their organizations if the hybrid model is changed. Moreover, compensation takes time to shift.

It is important to understand that compensation is not the cost of living but the cost of labor. It is the market rate for the job you do and the location you do it in. There might be a shortage of jobs in a location. However, if there is a high demand for the skill set, the pay will increase on the basis of supply and demand curve. Ryan personally takes the time to explain compensation to the employees. They attempt to bring equality in terms of compensation. Organizations should inform the employees in higher pay scales when they will not be receiving a raise for a specific time. Transparency makes these tasks seamless.

Thoughts on Basecamp being mission-driven:

Ryan feels that engaging in a mission-driven environment might be beneficial. However, he feels that the organizations should ensure a safe working environment as well. Every company can have its own culture and opinion. But it also has to be a place where employees can openly discuss. 

Advice to young HR professionals:

To sum up, Ryan gives a valuable piece of advice to young HR professionals. It does not matter where you come from or which school you went to, if you work hard, you will definitely achieve success. Moreover, be hungry to learn and grow. If you are working in a startup, make yourself comfortable with the ambiguities that will accompany it. You have to be motivated and passionate about working in a startup.

Personal Interests:

Ryan mentions that he is a lover of travelling. He is grateful to have travelled different parts of the world, tried different cuisines, and learned different cultures and languages.

Dhristi Shah

Hi, this is Dhristi, Content Writer and Editor at Springworks India. I am a keen learner and am passionate about everything related to writing.

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