Human Resources departments around the world have been hard at work behind the scenes for months now as the Coronavirus snakes it way through businesses large and small.  Here at Ad Results Media, we work to ensure that the culture and health of our staff are top priority.  In episode 15 of On the Mic with Ad Results Media, Nathan Spell and Lindsay Boyd sit down with Ad Results Media's HR Director, Ceena Babukutty, to discuss culture, values, and the changes made during COVID-19.

Be sure to subscribe to the "On the Mic with Ad Results Media" podcast through iTunes.  It's a podcast about the business of podcasting and audio advertising.  We aim to educate, enlighten and push the industry forward.

Podcast Transcript

From keeping the faith to maintaining a positive work culture. HR departments are hard at work behind the scenes. In this episode, Nathan Spell, and I sit down with Ad Results. Media is the HR director to discuss the steps she's taken to navigate culture, values and mindsets in today's ever-changing landscape. So let's get start. That's the great thing about They grow with you as much fun as I had. I couldn't wait to get back to my sleep number bed. I love my third love bras. They're hands down the most comfortable bras I've ever owned. I love making blue apron and the love it. It's my me time.

Ceena thank you so much for joining us today. I know the Corona virus has had a profound impact on employees and employee engagement across the world. What impacts would you say that it's had on HR and what changes have you experienced? It's interesting because every aspect of HR has been completely changed or modified. Our culture has been changed drastically. We went from sort of a face-to-face culture that we had and engagements to all of a sudden going into this virtual world I'm with now we have face to face meetings and video conferencing trainings are now online and virtual, and we're now using our one-on-ones where the majority of us used to do it face to face.

(1m 34s):
We're now doing and utilizing video conferencing, Slack for employee engagements, for announcements, birthdays, and anniversaries, even information meetings, such as like benefits and payroll and 401k are now done via zoom. We've also had to like create a lot of policies and documents for expectations regarding working from home and managers, responsibilities and employee responsibilities and expectations. So every aspect of HR during this time has changed for the better I feel like because it's more challenging and it's allowing us to really think outside of the box on how to continue HR, it still meeting the needs of the employees, Everything going on right now, the situation is added some new challenges and new stresses.

(2m 40s):
How do you find yourself keeping the faith and all of this, and what's your advice to, to others? That's a great question. I've had to turn off a lot of apps. I think that turning on the TV and getting notifications from apps, it's just put in such a hopeless mood. And I feel like I'm a naturally positive person. And so there's so much negativity and sadness going on and our nation right now. And the way that I try to keep that faith going is turning off all of the negativity and just focusing on the fact that we're in this situation and how do we get through it.

(3m 28s):
And so that's really how I keep the faith is continuing to know that what we're going through is temporary and we're all going through it together. And I also started meditating meditating in the mornings and meditating before I go to bed. And there's nothing more rewarding than starting your day with gratefulness and ending your day with gratefulness, whether it's the small things or big things to really put a positive spin on what's going on and our nation and with this pandemic. So culture is a huge thing for Ad Results. What steps have you made to maintain the culture now that we're all working from home, We completely redid our culture strategy and we encourage more and more employee engagement.

(4m 21s):
They have great, great committees that we have kicked off in 2020. And they've been super active with wellness, with social activities, with recycling, even there's a book club that we meet once a month. And so they've been really active in engaging all different kinds of employees with different likes. And then within HR in itself, we kicked out and rolled out an initiative called project, reach out where we, couple of employees, every week we reach out to them via email or Slack, or we call them or we send them cards, just letting them know that we're thinking about them during this time.

(5m 8s):
And then in addition to that, we have modified our employee recognition program where regardless of where you work or what location you're in, you're going to be recognized for all of the hard work that you do in this organization. You know, culture is obviously important and Ad Results, but I think especially now, a lot of companies are focused on building culture. I'm curious, like, what are the main elements of core culture? Like what are some important points for, for companies to keep in mind, as they're trying to build culture in, in their own organizations, I call it the three CS communication is at the top. It's better to overly communicate with each other.

(5m 50s):
Then under oftentimes things can get misconstrued via Slack emails and other form of communication. And so that tends to lead to assumptions and negativity. So one thing that I always tell employees is that you should always ask for clarifications. It's a lot easier and it makes things a lot easier to talk things out and ask questions rather than harping on things that may or may not be true. And also assuming things so now more than ever, we should always overly communicate than under communicate. And then the second one is collaboration. The more that we collaborate and work as a team, the more unified we are and the better the results will be.

(6m 36s):
It's not about it's my way or the highway mentality. It's really about listening to each other, hearing other peoples ideas and hearing their perspectives. Also last year, we had an HR goal of your company you're voice. And I just truly believe that each and every individual has a voice in the organization. And the more collaborative we are, the studies have shown that it leads to an increase in performance and an increase in leadership. And then the last part is care because of what's going on in our nation right now, we really need to take time to truly care about each other and show it to pick up the phone and randomly checking in with each other and send an email, a text message.

(7m 27s):
Anything to show that you care, whether it's big or small. The reality is it's such a unique situation that we're in and each individual has a different way of going through it and getting through it. But one thing is for sure is there's never going to be any harm when reaching out and showing that you care, because I just believe that you really never truly know how much one sentence or an email can truly impact and other individual or make their day. I think that those are three really excellent points.

(8m 8s):
And, and hopefully there, there are three points that people will continue to take into kind of our new normal with us, you know, kind of piggybacking off of that. I, I really don't think that any of us are expecting to go back to the way things were pre Coronavirus. What do you think our new normal is going to look like? An interesting question. And it's, it's a question that I've thought about a lot recently. And I think that the new normal is going to look like every day is going to be a different day and that's okay. Changes not bad, and it's not always a bad thing, but I think it's gonna make our business and our organization much stronger.

(8m 49s):
I think we're going to be more collaborative than ever. I think we're going to create an event more reach out programs. And the creativity in our organization is just going to increase immensely and for the next couple of years or so, every day is going to be a different normal. And every organization is going to define that differently and as scary as it might be, I think that is going to have such a profound, positive effect on each and every employee in this organization. Ceena I know that you recently gave a zoom presentation about how there's there's no tomorrow without today.

(9m 30s):
I'd love if you could speak about that a little bit here on the podcast. Yeah. You know, I was the person that planned out every second of every day, right? When I opened my eyes to the time I closed my eyes at night and went to bed. And when I realized was I was so fixated on planning every second that I didn't enjoy the great moments in my life. And I didn't enjoy also the struggles in my life. And we can always plan for tomorrow plan for tomorrow plan for tomorrow.

(10m 13s):
But if we keep harping and spending so much time planning, we're going to miss out on the key moment and our life that, that forces us to sort of stop and enjoy those successes. And then when struggles happen to stop and reflect on those struggles and learn from them. And so now what I'm trying to do is to slow down a bit, because I just believe that everything happens for a reason and there's a purpose, and there's a meaning behind everything that we go through in life. And unless we stop and really enjoy those moments or reflect on those moments, then only will we be stronger and better as a employee and as a human being.

(11m 6s):
And so I'm trying not to rush things so much, but really take time and bottle up with those successes. So that when I do go through struggles, I remember what success felt like at those pivotal moments in my life. Yeah. That's so important. I think to keep that in mind, especially now, it's really, really awesome. Yeah. I love that. I personally feel like maybe I needed that a little bit. It's hard. It's, it's really hard, especially when you're a planner, especially when it's so much, there's so much going on, it's hard to stop and bottle up those achievements or look at struggles, a positive because we're all going to learn something from it.

(11m 58s):
What are some of the best advice that you could give to our listeners? Right. Right. Now I think that the number one advice is your words and your actions become your reality. If you wake up every morning and say that you're going to have a great day, and that you're grateful for the small things in life, and you're grateful for family and a great job and a great culture, chances are that you're going to end the day feeling and saying those words and feeling that way. When you end your day, if you tell yourself that you're never going to get through this, this is a horrible time.

(12m 41s):
Your words, they become your reality because you end up believing those words. So if you constantly surround yourself and tell yourself, you can, you will, that's most likely the day that you're going to have throughout the day, it's really about changing our mindset. And the more that we change our mindset, the more that our mindset will become our reality, because it will help us through the struggles that we go through and through the ups and downs that we go through in our day, because our, our lives are not perfect. It's inevitable that we will go through ups and downs, but I always tell employees, it's not what we go through in life.

(13m 24s):
It's how we get through it. That helps us and shapes us and redefined who we are. I love that. And, you know, I think it's so important as you said, to set the tone for your day with that mindset at the beginning of the day. I think that's great. Yeah. I, you know, on a personal note, I, I found myself kind of having to take a step back and reset my way of thinking. You know, I felt like I started quarantine really strong. And then as time has gone on, I've kind of spiraled down a little bit and I was fortunate to be able to kind of see that in myself.

(14m 7s):
So I've definitely within the past two weeks, I kind of started my days by doing like a 10 minute meditation and, and just kind of being grateful for what I have. So I think that that's really excellent. Yeah. It's interesting because I've been following theirs, there's five steps that I'd sort of made changes On. One of the steps that I've made changes on it is I wake up an hour early than I normally would. So normally my day starts up at like five 30 in the morning. Now I wake up at four 30 and that one hour made such a difference in my life because I use that for yoga. I use that for meditation, but I also use that for Time to myself because I know that the could bring several ups and downs, but if I start off mentally strong, I found that in the last six weeks or so, I've ended my day mentally strong.

(15m 4s):
So taking that hour and having it to yourself really makes such a difference in your day. So at the beginning of 2020 Ad Results launched this campaign for are our core values, our new core values, the four GS growth, gratitude guidance, and, and grit. How do you feel those values can best be used now? Oh, they're, they're more crucial now more than ever gratitude saying thank you for showing appreciation goes along the way. I always tell employees that we should increase positivity and decrease negativity.

(15m 45s):
And a big part of that is really acknowledging others' for their hard work, whether it big or small, but it's also showing gratitude to yourself, taking time for yourself. There has to be a balance. You have to be able to show appreciation to others, but also yourself. And there's nothing wrong with showing gratitude to yourself. I think guidance in times like this employee's need to come together now more than ever to collaborate, support, and mentor each other and unique ways because we're all going through this and this is our time to help each other and give each other guidance because what has worked for you can really impact someone else.

(16m 25s):
And also it can apply to the family and friends growth, you know, Ad Results, Media. We have strong morals and values to create a successful and viable company, but it's also to contribute to the growth of you individually, because without employees, without great employees, we wouldn't be the organization that we are today and then grit everybody. Whether they realize it or not is applying grit to their personal and professional life. It takes more effort now, more than ever to complete tasks, to keep in touch with people, to accomplish goals and this kind of environment.

(17m 13s):
And only if you apply grit to your day to day life, will you accomplish your short-term goals and long-term goals. And one thing that I've realized over the last couple of months is these four GS are not just applicable to your professional life. They're also applicable to your personal life. And I personally have applied these four GS of my personal life as well, because it's so universal and it makes such a difference. I found myself really resonating with the core of the company outside of just work. So I think it's, I think it's awesome that we have these core values that are so important, you know, at a universal level.

(18m 3s):
Well, Ceena thank you so much for joining us on this episode. And I'm really hoping that our listeners are able to take some of the information that we've discussed and some of your advice and feedback, and, you know, not only apply that to their personal lives, but, but maybe their professional as well. Thank you both so much for this opportunity. And I've just had such a wonderful time discussing about topics that I'm truly passionate about. And if it wasn't for this Avenue, I wouldn't have this opportunity. So thank you both so much. If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to subscribe for updates on future episodes and leave us a comment with your feedback, questions, or ideas for future segments.

(18m 47s):
If you would like more info on Ad Results Media and what we do, please visit us online at Ad Results. Media dot com. This podcast is an Ad Results, Media production.