How to build resilience and agility in HR

In HR, practitioners have to be amenable to change

How to build resilience and agility in HR

For Jamie Savage, founder of The Leadership Agency, thriving through disruption is nothing new. Having launched her own executive recruitment agency in 2017, Savage now works with the likes of SkipTheDishes, Endy, StackAdapt, and TouchBistro – helping Canadian organizations find their perfect fit. Speaking to HRD, Savage painted a picture of the future of HR in Canada – beginning with how leaders can prepare themselves for the changes still to come in 2022.

“The number one attribute that we're all going to have to hone is agility,” Savage told HRD. “We need to be agile, and we need to be resilient. There’s definitely some companies out there that’ve thrived during the pandemic, and then there's others which have been impacted in a very negative way. Companies that did thrive were the agile ones - the ones which knew how to bend without breaking. This isn’t going to change anytime soon.”

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In HR, practitioners have to be amenable to change. If innovation is born out of disruption, then HR leaders are the masters of chaos. This ability to evolve, pivot, and strategize quickly led to HR being the quintessential saviour in the pandemic. CEOs, CFOs, even COOs, eventually took note and began to change their sometimes unflattering opinions of the HR department – allowing CHROs to finally take their rightful place in the boardroom. But we’re not ready to stop there.

“HR is fragmented at best,” added Savage. “A lot of the decisions we make as HR professionals are based on legacy and historical data - but really, at the end of the day, it's ever changing. What the pandemic has done for HR, the HR community, is change the dynamic even more.”

And these changes are as varying as they are sweeping. Everything from how we work to where we work to how long we work have completely evolved. Company cultures that were once based on free lunches and free beers have been replaced with flexi-hours and WFH perks. But HR doesn’t just have to contend with building adaptability in the company – they also need to cultivate it in their own teams, specifically when it comes to wellbeing and mental health.

Read more: Give me a break! Why you need a mental health day

The past year has been unpredictable, leading to a dramatic decline in employee mental health. In Canada, cases of depression and anxiety skyrocketed, as people reported feeling more isolated than ever before. Research from The Genwell Project found that COVID-19 sparked a loneliness epidemic in Canada, with 60% of employees feeling down as a direct result. Building mental resilience in HR is one way of safeguarding your people against the storm still yet to come.

“HR is such a big, all encompassing, area of business,” added Savage. “It literally infiltrates all aspects of a company - but at the same time it's so intricate. HR leaders can empower their teams to be more resilient by becoming knowledge centres. We need to be well informed and empowered to know more than we've ever known before – to become veritable experts in our respective fields. Encourage your team to be connected to the Canadian HR Community – whether it’s through events or LinkedIn or media – dial in to your peers, because we’re not going to be able to rely on historical data anymore.”

Savage will be speaking at HRD’s upcoming HR Leaders Summit – take a look at our exciting agenda here.

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