After completing my business degree my dream was to work for the UN in my parents’ home country Eritrea. A rotational internship was available with a 60% focus on HR, and it was during this time I realised how essential HR is for a company and how diverse it is in its offering. HR has truly evolved – it’s gone from a sub-function of the finance department to a department of its own because of how important people are to a business.
My proudest achievement so far has been establishing Tapestry’s Total Rewards programme in February 2016. This outlines bonus schemes, salary reviews and benefits for employees in Europe to both attract and retain staff. Tapestry’s Wellness Week was also a proud moment – there were sessions on financial wellbeing, mental wellbeing, as well as managing stress and relationships. We also offered free sports massages and manicures, free health screenings and unveiled a gym membership programme.
I’m currently reading Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself by Joe Dispenza. I love asking the question ‘why?’ – not just to others but to myself. I’m also reading The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins (if you procrastinate or constantly ‘multitask’ you should read this book), and Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg – a must for young female professionals.
I’m listening to audiobooks at the moment and love SuperSoul Sessions, hosted by Oprah Winfrey. There are several on conscious leadership, which make me more aware of the way I speak to people and the decisions I make. It teaches me to be more inclusive and open-minded.
Seven words that make me cringe are ‘we have always done it this way’. It’s imperative that HR is proactive instead of reactive. Listen to your people and open an honest dialogue. Pay attention to what your peers and competitors are doing in this space. Maintain authenticity. And foster an environment that allows for more creativity, innovation and empathy.
I wish I’d known starting out that the way you communicate in HR can make or break anything you have been working on. For example: communicating the details of a pension plan. When you include too many details in a letter people don’t read it. So I add colour, curate the content to keep it concise, and add an attachment with further details.
My advice to others just starting out would be don’t take the ‘human’ out of HR. We are as much about our employees as we are about the business. They go hand in hand and they equally need each other.
Jorda Haile is senior manager, total rewards – HR Europe at Tapestry (Coach, Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzman)