A Conversation with Nlets' HR Department

May 9, 2022

Nlets staff has been growing consistently over the last few years, and we are rapidly approaching 50 employees. We sat down with Suzanne Church, Nlets’ Administrative Assistant, and Laura Carter, Nlets Chief Human Resource Officer, to ask them some questions about their thoughts on the field, the culture of Nlets, and more.

How Would You Describe the Culture of Nlets?

Laura: I would say, first and foremost, we are a team. There are no singular efforts within the organization, we rely heavily on each other’s input, skill set, and work ethic to achieve our mission. Also, we are a friendly group and don’t operate in silos. Most people know their coworkers’ spouses and children and what’s going on in their lives outside of work. It’s important to us as an HR department to make sure people feel comfortable sharing more than just their work responsibilities with their coworkers.

Suzanne: Part of our work in the HR department is to foster relationships in a variety of ways. We hold team building events, family events, holiday parties, and send out birthday cards to families. We also send Mother’s Day and Father’s Day cards, send flowers to those who lost family members, and more. It’s also important to us to facilitate continued education so we have a specific training and education budget and offer tuition reimbursement after five years.

What Are the Most Important Qualities You Look for In Applicants?

Suzanne: Without question – a positive attitude and the ability to take initiative. You can teach someone how to do the work, but having the right attitude is something that has to come from within.

Laura: I would also say we look for someone who is invested in what we do. Again, that’s not something you can train into someone. If someone isn’t onboard from the beginning, they’re not going to last very long at Nlets. Working at Nlets is definitely rewarding, but there is a lot of mental demand on our employees and having a strong motivator is important.

What Are the Top Reasons You Are Hearing That People Are Looking For New Positions?

Suzanne: I would say about 50% of the people I talk to are looking for new employment because of being laid off, but the other 50% are leaving their current companies for culture reasons. They mention things like management being overbearing, the company not aligning with their personal values, or the overall work culture not being a fit.

In particular, I have noticed a trend that the younger workforce is being especially intentional with lining up their personal values with the organizations they choose to work for.

Laura: You can really see that in play at Nlets because while we do compensation adjustments to ensure that people are being paid the market rate, what really makes people stay for 20, 30 years is the mission being close to their hearts.

What is the Biggest Lesson in HR That You Have Learned So Far In Your Career?

Laura: It is important to have the ability to look beyond your company for resources. When you work in HR, there are so many people you can reach out to and learn from in the community. Personally, I think it’s a good idea to join cohorts to learn from your peers on a regular basis. You have to remember that HR is so broad (payroll, learning management, policy, hiring/recruiting, legal, compensation, strategic planning…) and you cannot know everything in the field so it’s wise to lean on external resources where you can.

Suzanne: I would also add that we are a strategic member of the team, and anything that we do plays a role in how the business is going to succeed. What we do and how we do it has a direct impact on how successful a program or initiative will be. Having someone in HR at the table during critical conversations will help it succeed from a people standpoint, because we influence the employees and how they view the company.

Laura: Also, you have to get buy in from management. One way to do this is to make sure whatever you want to do aligns with the bottom line of the company. Explain to them how whatever you want to implement meets the company’s strategic plan and you will have a much better chance of getting management buy in.

What Are Some Trends You Are Noticing in the HR Industry?

Suzanne: I think there is going to be a lot more people in HR. The field is growing because a lot of companies are recognizing that by not having an HR department they are losing out on so much.

Laura: I also think there will be a lot of growth in the field. The last two years have proven the importance of the HR department and the role of HR professionals in having to deal with so many challenges. Beyond purely covid related challenges, HR needs to provide emotional support and be the voice of the company to the staff.

What Else Would You Like to Share About HR?

Laura: I truly love my job because I love the people and it brings me joy to work with people both personally and professionally. Obviously, it can be draining and emotional when you have to make changes or hear complaints, but it feels good when you know someone can come to you with a complaint, and they know they won’t be reprimanded. At the end of the day, I think the most important aspect of HR is knowing how to listen to understand, not to just how to listen to respond.

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