Presented by TriNet

In a pandemic-impacted world, HR managers need to embrace new processes and policies to help ensure their business is compliant and employees are safe and productive. To learn how organizations can pivot to ensure business and employee success, catch up on this VB Live event!

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Over the past six to eight months the world of work has changed on many different levels, says Darby Starnes, Manager of HR strategy and content at TriNet.

“Now, more than ever, HR managers need to be strategic and intentional about their planning and their processes,” Starnes says. “Strategic planning has shifted to the long term, meaning that companies no longer can rely on systems and practices in place to move forward.”

One of the single most significant changes are the new roles, responsibilities, and needs that have arisen with a virtual workforce. From recruiting and conducting virtual interviews in alignment with organizational, diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, to technology architecture, to organizational infrastructure, companies have needed to redefine what being “at work” means now with the complexities of those needs.

She also noted that, because virtual meeting capabilities need to become a priority, HR managers should be partnering with experts to help ensure that employees have the critical capabilities to move forward, whether that’s in the office or at home.

Sylvia Lan, senior HR director at Stem, notes that there’s a fair amount of resistance to people wanting to come back to the office. There are a number of factors — they might have to manage young children at home, or live with someone who has a compromised physical situation. For employees who take public transportation to the office, there is some fear or caution about the close quarters with strangers in transit.

For Lan, some of the most significant changes on the HR front are continued employee engagement, especially for virtual employees, and supporting those employees who choose to move away from company centers.

“At the center of all this, it’s about people,” Lan says. “How do we ensure that they continue to remain engaged in our business so that they can grow, and the business itself can grow as well?”

Measuring productivity in hybrid office-remote environments and remaining fair is also a major issue in this environment. At Stem, Lan is doing a series of check-ins with employees. She sends frequent messages to people managers about coaching, how to check in with their teams, how to make sure they’re engaged with their teams during virtual lunches or virtual happy hours. They’re doing things like virtual Jeopardy games as well.

“Checking in with your employee population is important,” she says. “Setting clear expectations and deliverables, making sure that your technology can support remote work, and then also to survey employees to understand what circumstances are affecting them not just professionally, but personally as well.”

Publishing those survey results is also essential, so that the company as a whole comes to understand how situations and experiences are differing from employee to employee. Of course, a company cannot support every single issue that an employee might have or experience, but things like checking in, and ensuring that they’re listening, can help mitigate how their employees are being affected by the remote working situation, as well as prepare them for coming back to the office when the time is ready.

“From a strategy point of view, it’s so important to ask ourselves what productivity is going to look like going forward,” Starnes says. “We can’t apply previous thinking to current structures and expect that our results are going to fall in line with those expectations from 9-12 months ago.”

There are several questions that businesses need to ask. How is work to be done now? What does business continuity look like? How is success measured? What changes have happened, or need to happen? How is data being collected to support and impact business decisions? And how do you make job constraints more flexible? How do you stay fair?

HR managers are advocates for both employees and the organization, she adds, so when addressing fairness, HR needs to look through the lens of both employee and organization at that fundamental level. For example, when determining how an employee is compensated to fulfill tasks or how they’re assigned job duties, the new norm may be that the organization needs to redefine productivity and institute new measurements of success.

It’s also imperative to make sure that businesses remain current and compliant with federal, state, and local requirements, especially as the landscape continues to evolve like never before, and changes are difficult to keep up with. For example, she points to how compliance changes to California paid sick leave were rolled back to pre-pandemic rules, and then changed again.

“The smartest thing from a strategy perspective is to review corporate policies with a competent professional,” Starnes says. “Policies are no longer something you can download from Google and put in a binder or a virtual shared site and have them be effective. There are too many complexities now, too many risks, and frankly too much information to make one person or a small department responsible for carrying that risk profile on their shoulders.”

For more on how to ensure your company stays compliant with policy changes, how to connect and engage with your employees, establishing a clear and consistent communication plan, and more, access this VB Live event.

Access free on demand.

You’ll learn about:

  • The 4 P’s: Planning, Productivity, Pivoting, and Policy
  • Getting HR systems in place
  • Communicating and enforcing new HR rules
  • Impacts on compensation and benefits


  • Sylvia Lan, Senior HR Director, Stem
  • Darby Starnes, Manager, HR Strategy & Content, TriNet
  • Stewart Rogers, Moderator, VentureBeat