HR professionals: What are you thankful for in 2021?

Let us count the ways.
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· 5 min read

The process of giving thanks is one that’s deeply ingrained in the daily work of any successful HR professional. After all, one of the most widely recognized keys to retention is making sure employees feel appreciated and that their work is recognized. (That, and paying them more money.)

As we prepare to give thanks with family and friends, we wanted to hear from HR professionals about what they’re most grateful for in 2021. Despite all the enormous challenges and the daunting workload arising from the ongoing pandemic, folks in HR at least have the comfort of knowing their department is becoming more central to organizations’ processes than ever before. And HR continues to be a field with robust job growth in the United States.

Here’s what five US–based HR folks told us when asked to share the one thing they’re most grateful for, professionally, this year:

Andrea (Masamba) Oputa smiling for a headshot

Andrea (Masamba) Oputa, Diversity & Inclusion specialist at Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas:

As an HR leader, I’m most thankful for leaders of employee resource groups (ERGs) who have helped employees bring their whole selves to the workplace, even in a global pandemic. It’s not easy to inspire connection and lead with vulnerability, but ERG leaders open up dialogues, share their personal experiences and advocate for employees, on top of their regular duties in their day job. I know, all across industries, employees who have had the opportunity to have heart-lead conversations as a result of an ERG are grateful, myself included. Thank you to all ERG leaders past and present!

Susan Tohyama smiles for a profile photo

Susan Tohyama, CHRO at Ceridian:

There is a lot to be thankful for in 2021. Conditions continue to improve, and it feels as if we’re getting closer to some form of “normalcy.” However, professionally speaking, as things have progressed, I’m grateful that we’ve resisted the urge to snap back into the old ways of working. The past 19 months have shown that for many organizations, a hybrid or remote approach works—both from a productivity perspective, but especially as it relates to culture and work-life balance. What came about as a necessity is now the norm, and for many, that’s something to be truly thankful for.

Dani Herrera smiles for a profile photo

Dani Herrera, director of recruitment operations and ED&I at R/GA:

As an immigrant Latina woman, I don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, but I still love and appreciate that this is a community-, food-, and gratitude-centered holiday. However, as an ED&I practitioner, I can’t help but be reflective, intentional, and vocal about what Thanksgiving truly represents—a day of mourning for many Indigenous peoples in North America…a day to raise awareness and highlight the historical, systematic, and ongoing injustice toward Native American peoples.

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Professionally, I’m thankful for the privilege I’ve been given in 2021 to be unapologetically intentional about equity, inclusion, and diversity, and the space I’ve been given to review my company’s practices, the language we use, and the systems we have in place.

I’m more than grateful for the learning and unlearning journey I embark on, every day, while amplifying my voice and the voice of others. I’m also grateful for all my ED&I colleagues, friends, and leaders who pave the way and fight the good fight, even when it gets emotionally taxing.

But more importantly, today I’m extremely grateful for having the opportunity to raise awareness and work toward a more socially responsive and anti-racist Thanksgiving holiday. If you can, please take a moment to read the Indigenous history of Thanksgiving; engage in your local Indigenous rights issues, support small Native American businesses, and learn more about the land you stand on. I’d be forever grateful.

An illustration of Kate Noel

Kate Noel

Kate Noel, VP, head of people operations at Morning Brew (HR Brew’s parent newsletter):

As an HR leader, one thing that I am most thankful for is the 90-plus employees who have joined our team over at Morning Brew. One thing that we take immense pride in is our culture, that we have been able to continue building virtually. When we evaluate if a person can be a great fit for a role, we don’t just evaluate their technical skills for the open position. We also ask the questions that allow each candidate to speak to their character.

We really want to be a space that celebrates and embraces good people. So far, I think we have done just that, and working with the people at Morning Brew has been an absolute pleasure. The folks here love the brand and the product, and see how we all want to see the business succeed while making authentic relationships along the way is an HR’s dream. I am thankful for being part of the magic.

Charles Handler smiles for a profile photo.

Charles Handler, founder of Rocket-Hire:

I am most thankful that we have a chance to reevaluate our relationship with our work.  Workers are demanding more from employers. Demanding to be recognized for their individuality and to be supported in their long-term life goals. And companies are responding by offering more to their employees—not just more pay—but more recognition, appreciation, and opportunities. We have finally reached a critical turning point in the relationship between humans and organizations.

HR is challenging. HR news doesn’t have to be.

HR Brew keeps you effective in the fast-changing business environment.