Suzanne Lucas on the new role for HR following the pandemic

We bring to you ‘The Shape of Work’, a Podcast series that brings to you insights from top People Managers across the world on the future of work and how it’s shaping our workplace. Anything goes conversation with our speakers about their journey, insights and thoughts. Most importantly their ideas and visions for the workplace of the future. See all posts here

We interviewed Suzanne Lucas, a freelance writer, who is famously known for her blogs on her EvilHRLady blog page. She covered several points on how for many years people did not have good feelings about their human resource department and how pandemic now made people realize the importance of the role of an HR in the setup of things in the organization.

She also touched upon points such as inducing changes in HR policies to reflect the workplace reality during remote work.

Suzanne is very famous for her incredible original ideas on the HR space and is recognized for putting people first in all her ideas. Her blogs get 300,000 to 500,000 hits per month and are considered one of the best sources to understand the HR world.

She focuses on Human resources and business issues. She spent 10 years in corporate HR where she hired, fired, managed the numbers, and double-checked with the lawyers. She focuses on helping people managers manage better and helping employees understand how to navigate the world of work. Her work has appeared in Inc, The New York Times, CBS Moneywatch, Cornerstone’s ReWork, and many other places.

Let us walk you through some of the important insights from our interview with Suzanne!

HR became an important part of the business changes during pandemic

Some businesses were affected positively, yet most people were affected negatively. Every business had to make changes. Some businesses had to hire, yet some such as restaurants and hotels had to fire. Grocery stores had to revamp how they did everything to keep their employees safe and HR became a critical part of that. On top of that, every country had new laws on how to do things and it was HR that’s responsible for implementing all of those changes and they weren’t easy changes. But I don’t think so. There’s just so much that had to be done and had to be understood and had to be processed and explained and put together and the HR was really at the forefront of that.

HR showed massive care for their employees during pandemic 

Suzanne runs a Facebook group, called Evil HR lady which has 6000 HR people on there. She shared that she saw these HRs from all over the world pulling together to be each other’s HR departments for getting through this pandemic. For instance, someone would say, “Can you give me your policy on work from home and 10 people would respond, here’s our policy” and help one another. She found it to be a great thing to see how much they cared about their employees’ job, health and safety.

Remote work is making more difficult to build relationship with co-workers

Even though Suzanne has worked remotely exclusively for 12 years, she believes that remote work is not for everyone. She shares that working from the office made all of us build relationships with our coworkers and now that people are working at home, they still have those relationships. So they still have these conversations about what they watched on television and so much so because they already know each other, but when you hire new people who never met you. They don’t know anything about your personal life. It’s not necessary that we need to be open about everything in our personal lives. But that’s reality. That’s how humans build relationships and people should Feel free to be sharing about their personal lives. However, it has become more difficult now to have spontaneous conversations.

Zoom fatigue is real

Zoom fatigue is more than any part of our problems with the lockdown. This will go away as the corona is sorted. Our feelings and attitudes are largely conveyed by non-verbal signals such as facial expressions. The tone and pitch of the voice, gestures, posture and the distance between the communicators. In a face-to-face meeting, we process these cues largely automatically and we can still listen to the speaker at the same time. But on a video chat, we need to work harder to process nonverbal cues. Paying more attention to these consumes a lot of energy.

Also, in face-to-face meetings we rely heavily on non-verbal cues to make emotional judgements, such as assessing whether a statement is credible. We automatically take in information such as: Is the person fidgeting? Relying predominantly on verbal information to infer other people’s emotions is tiring for us.

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Priya Bhatt

I cover Employee stories at Springworks.

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