Meet Mikaela Kiner, Founder & CEO of Reverb, Author of Female Firebrands.

Mikaela Kiner
July 19, 2021

This article is part of our new State of Employee Feedback Series which will interview a diverse mix of HR experts and thought leaders with a goal of better understanding their perspectives on the current state of and future of HR.

The following is an interview we recently had with Mikaela Kiner, Founder & CEO of Reverb, Author of Female Firebrands

What is the state of human resources today? 

I've heard HR leaders say that this is HR's moment. The role has become increasingly valued, strategic, and more complex. This is in large part due to it being a job seeker's market and the evolving expectations of candidates driven by the times and by generational differences. Contributing factors include the mutli-generational workforce, Black Lives Matter movement, and changes brought by COVID ranging from increased remote work to the need for employer supported mental health benefits and resources. 

What are the most common challenges you face when managing employee feedback and reporting? 

  • A lack of demographic data about employees making it hard to distinguish what different employee segments need from the organization.
  • Secure ways to enable anonymous feedback without losing the ability to improve and act on employee questions and concerns.
  • Keeping feedback alive and communicating progress as well as staying well informed throughout the year. 

What are 3-5 pieces of advice for organizations looking to improve their employee feedback culture? 

  • Approach feedback as a two way street by training employees at all levels to both give and receive feedback. Teach people constructive ways to respond to feedback in the moment with curiosity so they can remain open and not become defensive. Do this early with refreshers to make sure it's a lasting priority. 
  • Asking for and giving feedback has to be role modeled from the top so make sure senior leaders frequently and publicly request and share feedback. 
  • Normalize feedback by inviting people to constructively voice disagreement openly vs. behind closed doors or in one off meetings. Consider a solution like Feedback Fridays where people are invited to share feedback on a designated day. 
  • Adopt technology that supports feedback by including feedback in performance reviews, as part of 360 feedback assessment, and asking for upward feedback for managers from their direct reports. 

What's the future of HR? 

As the HR job has gotten bigger, there will be increased automation to handle more routing tasks. That's going to enable HR business partners to be higher touch and spend more time with individuals. In partnership with DEI, HR is being held accountable to listen, create safe spaces, and ensure companies have a culture of inclusion and belonging. Policies that feel progressive such as improved parental leave, pay transparency, and pay equity are increasingly becoming more standard. 

In remote and hybrid workplaces, HR is going to have to be more attentive to make sure people continue feeling a sense of connection and engagement. They also need to create mechanisms that protect remote and work-from-home employees from being penalized when it comes to work assignments, recognition, and promotions. 

How do you see your role evolving over the next 3-5 years?

I welcome the bigger role HR has to play going forward. In the past, leaders engaged with HR at varying levels often depending on their own understanding of the role and the value it adds. Today, the role has become so vital to hiring, engagement, and overall business success that its importance is a no brainer. I personally look forward to playing a more active role in organizational strategy as well as short and long term planning. I'm excited to help leaders create healthy, inclusive workplaces where employees have a purpose and sense of belonging. 

Normalizing hybrid and remote work, flexibility, shorter work weeks, and expanded physical and mental health care will be a necessity as companies compete for talent and I look forward to being on the front line supporting leaders in making that happen.

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