Mental Health, Virtual Integration & ‘Remote’ Compensation Are Key Topics at HR Roundtable

After enjoying the comfort and cost savings of working from home, would you rule out a potential job if remote wasn’t an option? Ever struggle logging into a video meeting and then face “technology bias”? How about your employees’ mental health – are you seeing resilience or deepening depression?

These compelling questions and issues, impacting workforces the world over right now, were explored recently during TRANSEARCH’s Executive Human Resources Virtual Roundtable.

More than 20 senior HR professionals from major corporations, including Baxter, GE, Du Pont and The Haskell Company, participated in the interactive virtual session, co-hosted by TRANSEARCH Managing Directors Chris Swan and John Ryan, and Vanessa Ruda of event co-sponsor RHR International.

The following are key themes that emerged and some useful guidance for HR professionals.

Tackling Mental Health in the Virtual World

Our roundtable spent significant time discussing mental health, mainly since there is a mountain of research detailing the adverse emotional impacts of remote work. One study found 45% of Americans feel less healthy mentally while working from home. With tens of millions of people continuing to work remotely, isolation, low morale, substance abuse, as well as depression and anxiety continue to be issues. HR leaders and all organization leaders need to play their part in addressing these challenges head-on. TRANSEARCH will be speaking with experts and exploring solutions in subsequent articles. For some general guidance:

  • Encourage your teams to make use of Employee Assistance Programs
  • Arrange physical and mental health virtual wellness workshops
  • Focus on employee flexibility and drawing a distinct line between personal and work time at home
  • Organizations must be proactive and committed to emotional well-being initiatives

Versatile Hiring: Video Interviews

The explosion of video applications during Covid, such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, has made video interviews efficient and effective, according to the majority of our participants. Some said the absence of in-person interviews requires digging a little deeper to see if there is a good cultural fit, but overall, the year-long tech transition has been relatively smooth and is here to stay. A number of the HR leaders noted when they see their boss’ family or a dog running around during a video call, these informal moments are endearing and contribute to humanizing leaders. There was also a sentiment that video meetings empower and nurture ‘greater equality,’ with more people having the opportunity to voice their views.

However, several participants said they have experienced some “technology bias,” whereby people who struggle with technology in interviews or meetings are negatively judged. If they can’t log into a meeting, for example, they potentially risk missing out on important company matters. To avoid this issue, remember that tech glitches happen, and we must be mindful not to pan someone for something that’s out of their control and doesn’t speak to their competencies. Plus, before a candidate’s video interview, executive recruiters should double-check that everyone’s technology is working.

Virtual Integration and Onboarding

Virtual integration and onboarding is still a work in progress, according to the HR leaders. After all, you can’t quite replicate lunch with the manager or in-person meet and greets remotely. That’s why the panel emphasized going the extra mile. Leverage virtual technology so more people meet new hires. Ensure the entire onboarding process is more defined and deliberate, with regular check-ins and a formal onboarding plan. And since you can’t do lunch, new hires would surely love it if you sent them a meal at home or shipped them some snazzy company swag.

Compensation: Remote vs. Onsite Location

We’ve all heard phrases like Silicon Valley salaries and Wall Street pay. In a nutshell, they mean compensation is tied to working in a particular geographic location, which in these cases translates into higher salaries. However, with the dramatic emergence of remote-work, this topic turned into a constructive debate for our panel. We discussed whether a person with C-suite level skills and responsibilities who works at home in Cedar Rapids, where the cost of living is much lower, should still receive a comparable salary to their workmates in San Francisco. While we did not arrive at a consensus, we can definitively say the issue must be on the radars of HR professionals, executives and employees everywhere.

Covid Corporate Culture

Covid has forever altered the corporate culture and set us on a transformative path to the future. From the impact of large remote workforces, to fostering relationships with team members you may never meet, to embedding flexibility and compassion into the very fiber of your company culture, these changes are here to stay. As roundtable participant Ed Baldwin, Mikron’s HR Director for People & Culture noted, the proverbial “lid has been ripped off and there is no going back.”


Participants pointed out there is some confusion about policy, guidelines and requirements related to the vaccine. For instance, there may be legal issues if an employee does not want to receive a vaccine. Or once vaccine administration is widespread, will companies be required to pay for employee’s time off to receive it?

From shifting workforce cultures to profound compensation considerations, one thing is for sure – the role of HR leaders will be increasingly complex and demanding. Fortunately, virtual HR roundtables are an excellent forum to listen, watch and learn!

TRANSEARCH is planning our next virtual roundtable for June. For more information, please contact Bridget Papanicholas at [email protected] or 773.550.1668.

How Can I Engage My Team If I Suspect Their Burnout?

Workplace burnout is a serious problem that can affect anyone, regardless of their job. It’s a form of physical, mental, or emotional stress that can often go unnoticed until it’s too late. Some common signs of workplace burnout include…

Best Practices for a Life Sciences Executive Search: Hire Your Company’s Next Leader

The life sciences industries are dynamic and heavily reliant on strong leadership. Efficient C-level headhunting and selection evaluate candidates who align with the organization’s ethos and possess the skills to navigate sector complexities. How can you ensure your life sciences executive search finds a visionary leader who can successfully tackle these challenges?

Determining the Cultural Fit of Potential Candidates with the Company’s Values

In an age where a company’s ethos is as critical as its earnings, recognizing the importance of cultural fit in the hiring process is paramount. But what do we mean by “organization culture” or “company values”? Simply put, they guide corporate decisions and internal interactions.
As you scout for talent, gauging the cultural fit is as crucial as…

5 Key Benefits of Promoting Leaders from Within Your Organization

Recruiting, hiring, and training new employees are some of the biggest pain points of operating a business. When you need to fill an open position within your organization, promoting talent from within can offer significant advantages compared to external recruitment efforts. Internal promotions can benefit companies in several ways, including boosting morale, cutting costs, and…

How to Help High Achievers Overcome Burnout

As a business leader, you might relate to the struggle of maintaining high-performance levels while avoiding the pitfalls of stress and overwork. Recognizing burnout in your team and, more crucially, supporting high achievers to prevent it can be pivotal in sustaining long-term business success.

Strategies for Building Relationships with Team Members from Different Backgrounds

As a leader in today’s diverse workplace, fostering inclusion and understanding between team members from different backgrounds is critical for building a high-performing culture. However, with people coming together from various life experiences, beliefs, and communication styles, developing meaningful connections across those diverse perspectives can…

7 Proven Strategies to Retain Top Talent in Your Organization

While attracting great employees is undoubtedly essential, retaining those top performers who excel in their roles and contribute meaningfully to your company’s mission separates the best companies from the rest. However, retaining top talent has become increasingly challenging as employees expect more from their employers—beyond just a paycheck.

5 Tips To Keep You and Your Team at Peak Performance and Avoid Burnout

As a business leader, you understand that your team’s performance is directly tied to your company’s success. Keeping your team operating at peak performance levels is crucial with so much on the line.

But what happens when they experience burnout? Not only does productivity take a nosedive, but employee satisfaction and quality of work do, too.

Crafting an Interview Process That Identifies the Best Leadership Candidates

For any company seeking sustained success and growth, identifying the right leaders is one of the most important tasks. Yet finding talented individuals who can help take an organization to the next level is also one of the most challenging. A good process allows candidates to demonstrate their actual qualifications and potential while also giving the hiring team…

The Ultimate Guide to Finding the Right CTO for Your Startup

The Chief Technology Officer, or CTO, is one of the most essential hires any startup can make. The right CTO can transform your startup’s business, shifting focus from outdated conventional practices to bleeding-edge technology and analytics.

Moreover, your CTO will be an integral part of your leadership team and the face of your startup. Therefore, choosing the right fit is crucial.