It is a time for watching, listening and caring about your business environment and your team. We are all feeling challenged and possibly struggling with significant issues due to our current, new reality. It can feel overwhelming at times. That is why you need a grounded, compassionate individual on your human resources (HR) team to take the reins and watch your “gate.” To my mind, this gate is a metaphor for your environment, atmosphere or even the mindset of those on your team in your organization.

I found the following definition of gatekeeper and liked it: A Gatekeeper is an attendant at a gate who is employed to control or monitor who or what goes through it as well as what goes on at your facility. HR staff have typically always operated as the eyes and ears of the organization because they meet with and hear directly from your team, at all levels. They are in a position to observe and assess, and ultimately can notice trends as they occur and recommend steps to take. They also may see the telltale signs of crisis or other issues as they arise and surmise what are the best next steps to take, as well as where problems might be brewing and if they are on track to become serious. 

A good HR professional is always monitoring and assessing what is going on in your organization. It is easier for them because they have the 1,000-foot view and are frequently able to look at things more objectively from the outside than those closer to it. 

HR can monitor and maintain your “gate” in the following ways…

• They are a trusted, confidential source for complaints.

• Monitor types and frequency of complaints from a location.

• See trends in dissatisfaction and frustration among team members.

• Notice subtle trends such as complaints, absenteeism and disputes among staff.

• Monitor frequency in turnover, especially under certain management styles/teams.

• Hear and weigh in on both sides of an issue because they can take a neutral position.

• Offer solutions which are unique and beneficial, but not always under consideration as options.

As you’ve heard me talk about, if you’ve read my articles over the years, the best organizations put a high value on this valuable internal resource and use their HR team to the fullest. Allow your HR staff to set the tone for your culture, leadership expectations and your internal communications during this time. As we all know, it is essential to maintain business rules and policies; however, a strong, engaged HR team can help you do this in a positive, beneficial and healthful manner for everyone involved. This is critically important during this time where patience is strained, employees are on edge, fears are heightened, and personal challenges (family/finances) are at an all time peak. It is essential to remember that these issues arise out of our current strained reality—but to also remember that we are all dealing with the same types of challenges and need to work together and support one another. It really comes down to needing to pay attention to the needs of your team, your employees, and exercise a little bit of compassion and understanding each and every day!

HR Question of the month: Please send your HR questions and concerns, or share your thoughts on your human resources challenges via email to the following address. Send input to Your comments, questions or concerns will help determine the direction for my next month’s column and earn you a copy of my book. Include your mailing address when sending your responses.