Company Culture

A year into the pandemic, it’s time to take stock of your company’s strengths

Here's what people ops pros are focusing on post-"firefighting mode" in 2021.

The inaugural BuildingUp webinar's panelists. ( image)
Most human resources managers and people operations professionals spent 2020 mitigating one global crisis after another.

How do we handle a complete transition to remote work? What COVID-19 policies are important to implement? How do we have conversations about racial justice at our company? Will we ever go back to the office?

These questions and more were discussed in’s first BuildingUp webinar, a quarterly series that will focus on building better workplaces.

Last spring, those leading culture and people teams had to learn, like everyone else, how to adapt amid uncertain circumstances. But one year in, Tamara Rasberry, head of Rasberry Consulting and HR manager for a national nonprofit based in D.C., says she’s getting out of that “firefighting mode.”

She and others in her position have had to regain focus on growing and shaping their teams again. During this last year, companies should have learned better and different ways to work in the pandemic, and that’s a greater proposition to offer to new recruits, she said.

“It’s still not a great situation, but we’re used to it now,” she said. “So what are we doing now to move away from ‘everything is just fighting fires’ and going back to what we were here to do as an organization.”

Talia Edmundson, the Philly-based head of HR&B Consulting, said she agrees it’s the time to regain focus on your organization’s purpose. It’s a good moment to ask, “What were you good at before all of this?”

The last year probably showed leaders what areas of their businesses needed improvement, but if they’re addressing those things strategically — for the long term, not just short-term fixes — it’ll strengthen their foundation, she said. That might include some pivoting to amplify those strengths, she added.

“I think there’s new areas emerging where people are realizing there’s aspects of their business or elements of people that they were really good at before,” Edmundson said. “And they didn’t know it before everyone had to get up and completely change.”

And right now is the perfect opportunity to simplify all of your processes, Amy Leschke-Kahle, the VP of performance acceleration at Marcus Buckingham Company, told attendees. Often, people in HR do things because they’ve always done them, she said, like performance reviews or engagement action planning.

“I think we need to ask ourselves what are the critical few things that we need to be doubling down on and just forget the rest,” she said. “What’s the 20% of work that’s going to give us 80% of our impact?”

She added that people ops teams could probably stand to be a little bit “courageous” and be willing to stop or let go of some of the things currently holding companies back, especially as a return-to-office plan is considered.

For more ideas, you can watch a recording of the webinar here:

And catch some more lessons on 2021 hiring and workplace culture trends in’s report on just those topics:

Download the Report hbspt.cta.load(2084427, ‘4f94f6cb-06c8-4758-aad4-a8708c415ef6’, {});


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