How can HR effectively wear this “dual hat” of communicator and company arm? Transparency and flexibility, Walsh said.
“The good news is that we see good outcomes for the company when we see talent measures in place that add more flexibility for employees,” she said. “That in some ways makes HR’s job easier.”
Walsh cited the example of unlimited paid time off, a perk that can give employees flexibility in how they use their time, while also not being costly for employers to implement, since they don’t have to pay back unspent PTO.
Ultimately, transparency is the key to trust, Walsh said. If HR is transparent about what it can and can’t do, employees will trust HR “even if they don’t like a policy,” she noted. Such transparency is especially important regarding issues of worker safety, data protections and contentious political events.
The Dobbs ruling, which ended Roe v. Wade protections for abortion access, and employers’ reaction to it — prompted by calls from employees in many cases — encapsulated the tightrope walk HR must now perform. Employees want their employers to take a stand, Walsh said. But they also want them to actually do something. “It is worse to say something and not take any action than not say anything at all,” she noted.
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