Code42 News

Be Safe, Be Well: Enhancing the Employee Experience

5 min Read

Leslie Pendergrast

Chief People Officer

At Code42, we started 2020 with focus, excitement and high hopes for a huge growth year.  Little did we know that our focus would be derailed by something called COVID-19, a pandemic that would alter our work environment like none other I’ve seen in my 20 plus years as a Human Resources leader. The pandemic has been an eye-opening, learning experience. While initially we were concerned about the immediate economic landscape and the longer term impacts, we were soon overwhelmed by the concern for our people. As Human Resources professionals, we have always known the value of people. We’re in the people business. It’s our job to find them, develop them and engage them. It’s our job to create a work experience that’s inspiring, fulfilling and provides connection. It’s our job to ensure that we get the job done and we do the job right. And we have a role to play in keeping them safe – physically and emotionally. 

As forward thinking HR professionals, we have always been adaptive. Now, being on the front line of tremendous workplace changes, the pandemic has given us reason to pause and question our practices, beliefs and underlying assumptions. While I still believe many things are better done in person, I now am finding that our team is even more open-minded and creative in our approach to people development  and connection. Our leadership training programs, that were previously offered in person, will be forever changed to offer a virtual blended learning option that’s convenient for all employees. Our all company events have become Zoom experiences such as visiting sheep farms in New Zealand, social journaling, chef led cooking sessions and virtual story time led by our employees. Our CEO has implemented Thinking Thursdays across the entire company — a meeting free part of the day so we can focus on innovation and mitigate Zoom fatigue.  

Today, work and home life are inextricably linked. It’s of paramount importance that we create safe environments to discuss concerns and voice challenges. We share resources for well-being, promote mental health benefits, engage in frequent one to one conversations and encourage down time. We strive to have some feeling of normalcy, even if it’s totally abnormal. 

Progressive thinking will also serve us well when thinking about the inherent risks that come from a remote, off-network, workforce. Today, many applications allow individuals to share Ideas and files freely without hindering productivity.  Now, working from home, employees all over the globe, while not ill-intentioned, are more likely to use unsanctioned applications and move data to places it shouldn’t be housed. This puts companies at risk of losing critical information, including intellectual property and personal identifiable information. It’s one more scary thought that we don’t need right now, so I’m glad our Security team has this covered, and has partnered with our People team to approach our “insiders” with a philosophy based on trust and positive intent. We want people to work freely and we create practices for the 99% of employees who will do the right thing. That said, sometimes accidents – and incidents – happen, and we rely on our Insider Risk detection and response product to make sure that our organization remains collaborative and our people remain productive while keeping our data safe. 

As Human Resources professionals, we need to always be thinking of ways in which we can enhance the employee experience. Right now, that starts with “be safe.” We need to make sure our employees are physically and mentally safe. As leaders, we also have the responsibility to ensure our company is safe from risk, so we can survive and thrive. Our livelihoods depend on it. 

Leslie Pendergrast

Leslie has a passion for continuous learning, self-development, and having fun. Her energetic and logical approach to aligning the interests of talented people with business objectives has proven successful time after time. Most recently, Leslie served as the Chief People Officer at Datalogix, where she developed strategies and practices in the areas of talent acquisition, talent development, culture and well-being, benefits, compensation, HR operations, and workplace resources. Previously, she served as Chief People Officer at Sourcefire and Vice President of Human Resources for Citrix Systems. A native of Fort Lauderdale, FL, she earned her B.A. from Florida Atlantic University, and holds an M.B.A. from Nova Southeastern University.