Editor’s Note: AOE provides outsourced HR services to the associations we work with and if there has ever been a year in which we all need more human resources expertise, it is 2020! To this end, we sat down, virtually of course, with Lori Purdom, AOE’s Director of Human Resources, to discuss trends and the outlook for 2021 from a people perspective.  


AOE:  What has been the biggest challenge from an HR perspective this year?


Lori: Aside from the obvious challenge of simply trying to stay on top of the everchanging regulatory environment, for me it has been about helping employees manage their emotions during uncertain times. It is my goal to help provide tools for our employees to manage their fears and concerns. 


AOE: What have you learned in terms of employee communication during the pandemic and our Work From Home (WFH) environment?


Lori:  The more communication, the better, even if you aren’t telling them anything new. It is important that employees feel leadership is including them and keeping them in the loop.


AOE: Will the hiring and onboarding process change at all moving ahead post-pandemic?


Lori: It already has changed. Everything is being done remotely -- starting with the recruitment process all the way to the onboarding of new hires, as well as training and development. I don’t see that changing. Organizations will need to look for creative ways to get their new employees ingrained in their company culture. This is difficult when everyone is working from home. It is important to find ways to help people feel connected and engaged -- both new and existing staff.


AOE: How do health and wellness initiatives work into our current WFH and pandemic world?


Lori: I’m very passionate about wellbeing and am a huge advocate for doing things that help alleviate anxiety and stress. As such, it is important now more than ever to provide tips to employees on how to maintain their wellbeing and stay healthy and happy. We focus on three wellbeing pillars – physical, mental, and financial. There are a lot of articles and YouTube videos that provide good advice on these topics and I share those with employees on a regular basis. For example, I recently shared a video on happiness and many commented that it resonated with them.  Some of our specific initiatives include wellbeing lunch-n-learns, yoga and meditation sessions, and employee health fairs. We also encourage work-life balance and offer an employee assistance program.


Thanks to Lori for her guidance and HR perspective. For more information on this topic, check out AOE’s collection of articles on wellbeing, WFH tips and other pandemic resources.