3 global HR chiefs on how they bring fairness to hybrid working

3 minute read
How can you manage concerns about fairness for those who may or may not be on site when it comes to hybrid working practices? Our editorial director Siân Harrington asked three global chief HR officers what they are doing
Sian Harrington


Rhonda Morris Chevron, Loren Shuster LEGO and Donna Morris Walmart
From left to right: Rhonda Morris, VP and CHRO at Chevron; Loren Shuster, chief people officer at The LEGO Group and Donna Morris, executive VP and chief people officer of Walmart

Rhonda Morris, vice president and chief human resources officer at Chevron

Some 35% of Chevron employees never stopped reporting to his or her workplace throughout the pandemic, because they're on ships, they're on offshore platforms, they're working in refineries, they are working in our terminal. So we have a large population that doesn't even have access to hybrid work.

And we always have to keep that top of our mind as we communicate to the 65% of our employees who in March of 2020 made this sharp left turn and started working remotely. We don't want to create a ‘have and have not’ environment.

As part of our communication strategy we always talk about the ‘essential workers’ first. If I shift and talk about the 65% of our employees who are working remotely – we operate in 55 different countries and the experiences that the remote workers have had it’s not the same, pretty much anywhere. We still have, I believe it's in Thailand, employees who are not back in the office; we've had in Australia employees who have gone back to work and been sent back home. Same thing in Singapore; in the US we brought our employees in our two hub locations of Houston and San Ramon back, starting in February and March of this year.

We survey our employees very frequently, about once a quarter, and a lot of the feedback is that they want more flexibility. Most of our employees are on a three day in the office, two day remote schedule, and they're asking us for a bit more. We have some groups that have two days in the office and three days at home, and it's based really on what type of work the person is doing and how much collaboration and engagement is required for a specific role.

And what we've learned is that in order to address the fairness question, we really have to  engage in new and different, I'd call it ‘high touch’, ways to find out that if Josh says to me I want more flexibility, I need to understand from Josh exactly what does that mean? Josh might want to work early in the morning, take his kids to school and then come to the office and work from nine to two. So we're still figuring this out, we're still working with our leaders to give them the skills to deal with probably one of the grey-set areas they've ever had to deal with.

Loren Shuster, chief people officer and head of corporate affairs at LEGO Group

We have 25,000 employees around the world and 15,000 are factory production colleagues or retail colleagues who did not have the opportunity to work from home. So we're also very sensitive to the A and the B team and trying to manage that.

I think it's important to realise that one person's flexibility creates potentially an issue of flexibility for other people with whom they need to collaborate.

So I'm sure that like Walmart and Chevron, at the LEGO group we did a lot of research, we piloted a lot of things. And then we made a partially database and partially belief-based decision that we'll pursue the same approach for all of our salaried colleagues: three days in the office, two days off. We call it a ‘rule of thumb’ so there is trust in the system for teams to manage around it and to work within that framework.

There are clearly some colleagues who are still pushing for more flexibility, but we feel that –and I think also being a Danish company, equality is a very important value in the Danish culture and in the LEGO Group –  it's important to us to land on something where everyone is treated in the same way.

Donna Morris, executive vice president and chief people officer at Walmart

Walmart truly does believe that we're in business to help people save money and to live better, and that comes from being teams that collaborate and work together. We’re going through significant digital transformation, which means we need to move with speed and productivity and innovation.

So we're not declaring it as hybrid, and in fact, we're not saying you're going to work these days in the office. What we have framed is that we'd like people to spend the majority of their time on one of our campuses – we have multiple campuses across the country and across the markets in which we operate – and we believe in flexibility. And it's an ‘and,’ it's not an either or.

So in our world, what success looks like is the majority of time people are on either campus, or they might be in a location – they might be in a store, a distribution centre etc. Or they could be working from home. The individuals, though, who work from home on a regular remote framework would have to be approved, and those are the exceptions.

And we're looking at flexibility more broad-based because our frontline needs flexibility too. So for our frontline associates, we've rolled out it's called Me, it's an app that allows, within a 12-week window, our frontline associates to trade off schedules or to create schedules that adapt to their life, because, frankly, those of us who go into an office that might be afforded that same flexibility are very fortunate. It's not the same for the majority of our associates. So we call it flexibility; we do believe that it has to match what the person's role is with what the business outcomes and requirements are.

Rhonda Morris, Loren Shuster and Donna Morris spoke to Siân Harrington from the Irresistible conference in Los Angeles, a future of work event for pioneering HR executives run by The Josh Bersin Company.

Published 27 July 2022
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