There has been a lot of conversation around the topic of whether the workplace is responsible for supporting and ensuring the wellbeing of individuals, and while that topic is still up for debate, we spoke with a Human Resources professional who has a unique perspective that provides food for thought.
A Different Point of View:
Meet Nadia Eran, People Manager at Talkspace, a start-up Telehealth company that provides mental health support in the form of on-demand therapy. Nadia received her degree at Teacher’s College in Organizational Psychology and began her career in clinical research and oncology where she spent four years streamlining workflows for the hospital (amongst other things). Soon after, she began working at Retensa, a company focusing on improving employee engagement and retention for its clients. While in this role, Nadia realized that she was missing the dimension of time; she was unable to measure the change and impact that strategies had on employee populations and workplace culture down the line. Nadia wanted to be in the weeds implementing changes and experiencing the outcomes. She wanted to truly understand a company as a system, learning how pulling one string here might impact one or all parts of an organization. It was this realization that brought Nadia to Talkspace where she began as a team of one in her department. There were barely started projects and few systems in place with no People Operations or Talent Management support. It was a blank canvas where the only constant was [and still is] change.
Nadia’s role has been in managing the employees of Talkspace and she has had to make decisions on everything from L&D and D&I to wellness offerings, believing that the best place to mold individuals is where they work. Why? “Because one third of our lives are spent at work,” Nadia says “and employers have a unique opportunity to help shape individuals. If we [an employer] can foster change agents in the workplace, it can translate to other parts of their lives”. The qualities nurtured in the workplace through Talent Management, Performance Management, and L&D can inspire our people to become more in tune with their work, themselves, their families and with their communities. A workplace that focuses on building strong, resilient and healthy leaders can in turn impact the places in which these individuals live, work and play. We had the pleasure of speaking with Nadia to discuss both her unique perspective on the workplace as a space for individual betterment, and about stepping into the start-up space.
- If we can turn people into engaged, happy and inspired individuals and groups and develop them into the best version of themselves through meaningful work and opportunities for growth, we can foster an individual who can help the people around them succeed and who can mobilize their teams [or entire company] to do amazing things. Building skills, community structures, confidence, and leadership can impact more than just work translate to more than just work. Imagine what those people will look like in their outside lives. It can inspire them to become better mothers, fathers, caretakers, friends and community members, and can influence them to show up to their commitments ready to give 110% effort.
- If people expect equity, fairness and support at work, then maybe they will begin to expect it in their homes, in their communities and from their government. As an employer, we can create new-norms for people.
- The ultimate intent of People Operations or HR is to be a 2-way partnership. Nadia’s job is to make sure all levels of the organization have what they need to feel confident to ask a great question that can spur a new product, or to make a mistake that helps cultivate a space for learning and experimentation.
- How people feel when they first begin with a company impacts whether they remain in the company. Paying particular attention to your companies onboarding and performance management process is one piece of the puzzle. Onboarding helps new hires acclimate to the culture and ramp up their understanding of how the role is important to mission of the company. Performance management helps employees set aligned goals to the roadmap, keeping everyone on track and accountable to their deliverables.
- Establish your “Why”. An important aspect of the start-up world is to remember that the pace is faster than in other types of business, making it important to keep yourself accountable. For those in the start-up space, Nadia suggests establishing the ‘why’ of your role to keep yourself motivated and laser focused through the ambiguous, day-to-day challenges of competing priorities and gray layered ambiguity inherent in all start-ups.
- Slow down to speed up. If you are moving a million miles a minute you don’t realize the mistakes, or the impact those mistakes can have. It becomes harder to connect dots when you’re always moving so quickly. Take time to get to know the people on your team, take the time to listen to a webinar or go to a training. The start-up space is like an ocean. You feel the motion of the current and you want to keep up with the waves but if you don’t have the right systems in place, big mistakes can happen.
- Make connections with other start up leaders to gain perspective. It’s so easy to be in your own head or system and a third party or network of people you can trust to bounce ideas off of comes in handy.
- Use yourself as a barometer. When you walk into a system (team, company or culture), whatever it is that you’re feeling or comes up for you when you walk through the door may be what is actually happening. Pay attention to those signals. Others [clients, candidates, etc.] are most likely feeling it too. But once you’re in that system, after a while you become used to it and you stop asking questions, it just becomes the norm. Recognize the power that your new-ness holds and utilize this valuable time to disrupt, investigate, to collect data trends and patterns. Put those observations into your roadmap as areas to address. Everyone has this power when you start a new role to pause, take notes and ask questions. Do people feel included or not? Does leadership meet employees’ expectations?” You have an advantage of coming in with fresh eyes.
Nadia believes that if you build strategies and systems that make work more inspiring and productive by creating an experience, that this is key to moving, developing, and transforming your workforce. Ultimately this positively impacts companies, communities and families.