Businessolver Blog

Putting the “Human” Back in Human Resources

Putting the “Human” Back in Human Resources
Posted on Thursday, June 8, 2023 by Jon Shanahan

Returning to the office is a complicated decision, and often perceived as unempathetic by employees. So how can CEOs and HR partner together to bridge the empathy divide?

Want the highlights? Listen to our audio-only recap.

According to Businessolver’s 2023 State of Workplace Empathy Report, there’s a 24-point gap between CEOs and HR’s perceptions of each other. This is the empathy gap, and HR is struggling to navigate it.  

With burnout amongst HR professionals steadily increasing, mediating between the C-Suite and the rest of the workforce seems like an uphill climb with no traction to support them. So how can HR get that support on both sides? 

Businessolver’s recent live discussion, Putting the “Human” Back in Human Resources, discussed the hot topics contributing to the empathy divide, including return to office and DEIB. 

Here are the key takeaways from the discussion. 

Anticipate employee’s needs when facing return to office  

If returning to the office is a true necessity, give employees additional support. Since the pandemic and resulting remote work transition, some workers have moved further away from their office buildings or corporate headquarters. Others have switched their daycares to be closer to their homes. Others still have started caring for a spouse, or elderly parent. All of these changes should be considered regardless of whether the organization is pushed back to in-person work or not. 

Flexibility is possible even for employers who can’t support a fully remote workforce. These benefits and opportunities might look like: 

  • Offering flex hours 
  • Providing pre-tax commuter benefits 
  • Subsidizing or providing point solutions for caregivers and family planning 

In our live discussion, Iesha Berry, Docusign’s Head of People Experience and Chief Diversity and Engagement Officer, explained how DocuSign’s Future of Work strategy encompasses some of these key benefits in their return to office initiative and has been met with positive feedback overall. 

Double down on your efforts to foster diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) 

Our Empathy data shows that 79% of employees say they feel like they belong at their companies, with Black (81%) and Hispanic (82%) employees along with remote workers (83%) most likely to say they feel like they belong. Without in-person “water cooler conversations,” and generally less time spent chatting about non-work-related topics, leaves less of a chance for incidents like microaggressions, that could be inherent in face-to-face interactions, that may be less likely to occur in a fully remote environment. 

The importance of ensuring employees feel like they can be their authentic selves at work cannot be overstated, especially in a brick-and-mortar office environment. As Marcy Klipfel, Businessolver’s Chief Engagement Officer, stated, it’s important to pulse your entire population regularly, and ensure they feel a sense of belonging. 

Ask for feedback and act on it 

All of our panelists touched on the importance of executives being available and transparent to all levels of the organization. Businessolver has a meeting every Monday morning to talk about what’s going on in the business. DocuSign has regular “AMA” (“ask me anything”) meetings with all the executive-level staff, where no question is off limits for employees to ask.  

The key here is personalization. Another great point from Iesha: make sure employees feel like their unique concerns are being heard, and the solutions being brought forward are for their specific needs. By giving HR a seat at the table, delivering feedback from employees to the C-Suite, and in turn, providing the reasoning behind the resulting action, builds that necessary trust to start bridging the empathy gap.  

Missed the live webinar? Catch up on the conversation with the on-demand recording.