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HR Lab Recap—Tips to Navigate The Great Renegotiation

What a surreal experience it was to host Versique’s 11th HR Lab, and first one in person in two years! Led by Versique’s Human Resources team and Marketing division, we welcomed three of the most innovative HR leaders in the Twin Cities: Kendall Harrell, Chief People Officer for Caribou Coffee; Meredith Heerey, Sr. Manager of Talent Acquisition & Development at Lunds & Byerly’s; and Chad Crutchley, Director of Talent Acquisition at Thrivent.  

As a Director of Client Partnerships for our HR Interim Solutions clients, I found more than a few helpful takeaways at HR Lab for navigating The Great Resignation, or as some are calling it, The Great Renegotiation. Some of these include the following general phrases for companies to keep in mind right now:

  • Feedback is guaranteed, so accountability is key: In regards to performance management during a time when work may still be remote or hybrid, it’s important to remember that feedback is still a part of management, so it’s all about being accountable for your actions and work. How do you partner with your team and how are you managing your time and priorities? Rather than traditional annual reviews, keep the conversation going and have check-ins with your team along the way. 
  • Lead the way with grace and empathy: Burnout is real in many industries.  As management, we must acknowledge that and what all our employees (not just frontline workers) have been going through.  Let grace and empathy lead the way in understanding and conversations with your team, especially during the Great Resignation or Great Renegotiation, when employees will be more selective about leadership that suits them.  
  • Walk the walk and talk the talk: How can we as leaders effectively tell our teams to take time to reduce burnout when we don’t do the same? With a remote or hybrid adoption at work, leaders need to lead by example of when to “turn off” the workday, modeling habits that aren’t expecting 24/7 email responses. 
  • Talent acquisition is at the center of organizational transformation: Executives know that they need to support their teams with resources in a number of ways to get them in the right spot to source, attract, and find talent.  
  • “Reimagine” versus think: When companies talk about how they will look at something differently, they use the term “reimagine.” This term is a creative way to look at how different functions no longer work. “Reimagine” refers to something better; something different.
  • Normalize mental wellness: Instead of expecting employees to compartmentalize work, personal life, etc.,companies are starting to recognize the need for a “whole self” approach for employees. This requires companies to provide a variety of benefits that encompass mental wellbeing.

With the current labor market being labeled “The Great Renegotiation,” here is how local Twin Cities companies Caribou Coffee, Lunds & Byerly’s, and Thrivent are putting these negotiation strategies in action to build a strong internal culture and attract strong candidate leads:

1. Implement a Flexible Workplace

Employees and job seekers are looking for flexibility, trust from their leadership, and efficiency of working where they are most productive. Our panelists addressed the question: When a company has mixed populations of front-line workers and those who can work from home, how does your company best balance that?  

Here are their answers:

  • Caribou Coffee has adopted a “Where Are You Most Productive” program, focusing on where employees get their inspiration and do their best and most productive work. Corporate employees can choose where to work, and then they come together in-person for team meetings.    
  • Lunds & Byerly’s has encouraged this mentality amidst their frontline and corporate workers – “It’s not where you are working but what you are achieving.”  For corporate teams, this means jumping into stores at peak times for an all-hands-on deck approach. During the height of the pandemic, corporate staff was there to help to stock toilet paper, bag groceries and support when and where they were needed. Two years later, team members still jump in to help where there is a gap. The teams within the stores feel supported and appreciated, and it gives them a sense of community and shared mission.
  • Thrivent’s executive team has focused on listening to their employees and their needs. They implemented a cautious approach to return-to-office and designated a “Future of Work Committee,” to help inform those decisions by speaking with employees and listening to their concerns and desires for remote or hybrid work.

2. Listen to Employee Desires & Values

In this current labor market, more than ever before, the pressure is on companies from employees who are adamant about what they need to be productive and healthy team members for their employers. Our panelists addressed the question: How do we stay true to our company goals while providing added benefits to employees?

Here are their answers:

  • Caribou Coffee takes the opportunity to truly listen in the interview process to what candidates are looking for. For current employees, they listen to what growth opportunities they need to stick around. Communicating your company’s mission, vision and values is more important than ever! Candidates and employees are savvy and can search and find out anything about your company—whether it aligns with their public image internally or not. You need to recognize the gravity of your company voice and model.
  • Lunds & Byerly’s has upped their discount and added daily pay, allowing employees immediate access to their payroll after their shift, which is a huge benefit for their employees. Lunds & Byerly’s has heard that candidates, potential employees and current employees demand a clear career path: Candidates and employees want to know that they can grow with the organization, so Lunds & Byerly’s has added trainable skills, rather than roadblocks, to development and retention.
  • Thrivent: To help with burnout, Thrivent has implemented focused work time for employees to block their calendars where meetings can’t be scheduled. In our rapid-thinking environment, they want their employees to feel that they can walk away from their computers, particularly after work hours. They are also adopting the “whole self” approach to relating to their employees which they can relate to performance management, weekly check-ins, and more.

You can view more HR Lab Takeaways here, and watch the recording of the HR Lab here

For more HR Resources, reach out to me or my team!