In a time of personal and professional uncertainty, global crises, and the necessary changes of our workforce experience, the Human Resources (HR) field is tackling this challenge head-on. An effective Human Resources function delivers a workforce that can help execute the organization's business strategy. How can the Human Resources function deliver this workforce when the business landscape is in a constant state of change, that is not just unpredictable, but rapid?

While every organization is trying to find a way to manage through these challenges, let me offer you a perspective on what we, at Greif HR, are doing.  Greif Inc. is a 144-year-old global leader in Industrial packaging that operates in 44 countries with a workforce of over 16,000 plus.

"While building the right culture, driving engagement, and demonstrating the right behaviors is key, do not underestimate the importance of employee mindset"

We aligned the mission of our HR organization to the organization's vision. This alignment ensures that our colleagues' behaviors are guided towards success everyday but especially during global turmoil. Greif’s HR mission is "to enable a world-class, diverse & engaged workforce to deliver on Greif's strategic priorities," Our HR function has not missed a beat in proceeding along with their professional responsibilities while tackling unprecedented challenges, all while staying rooted in our core “Greif Behaviors” and building a culture that will thrive in adversity.

One of the main "Greif Behaviors" that our colleagues are asked to follow is having an "Organization's Interest First" mentality by placing the company's goals to the larger organization ahead of one's own agenda. HR colleagues experience how other colleagues in their function work in the "Team First" mindset. Our colleagues work closely with different areas within HR (Total Rewards, Talent and Learning, Payroll, Corporate, etc.), and witness how their respective teams work to prioritize the larger interest of the organization in their daily decisions and work in the best interest of the business.

Administered for colleagues, the annual Colleague Engagement Survey was taken and shared across every function and business unit.  Here, managers connected with their teams on their engagement with Greif and created action plans to further the connection between all stakeholders. Guides and modules were provided to managers to ensure that the results of these surveys are processed in a productive manner and with a positive outcome in mind. Putting the team first when colleagues are not interacting with one another in-person is one of the many ways an employer can drive engagement and develop collaborative skills for the future.

We kept our commitment to our Summer Internship Program. It was a big investment, yet another way that Greif tackled one of its workforce challenges during the global pandemic. The Internship Program is part of our hiring strategy and important in keeping a dependable, high quality talent pipeline. We leverage our interns for working experience to develop their professional fields while aiding Greif in pivotal projects and services. Greif's Global Talent Center has evolved its Internship Program from its previous in-person iterations to a virtual platform quickly and efficiently to ensure that the investment in this space delivered the right outcomes for the future, despite the pandemic.

The future of HR will be about embracing technology, using it in our daily lives to further advance and create connections with our colleagues to ensure their engagement and provide a platform for success in their professional field.

Communication with colleagues is a key skill that Greif members practice; therefore, communicating with "respect, candor, and trust" is embedded in our Greif Way as one of our expected behaviors. Every experience inside the organization allows colleagues to closely connect with multiple aspects of the company's DNA. The practice of communicating effectively with respect, candor, and trust sets Greif apart. This behavior focuses on the effective connection and inter/intra communication among all constituents to being one founded on strong values. As the working environment teeters from in-person to virtual offices, exceptional communication among all channels is pivotal to the success of any global multinational organization.

It is important that an organization’s leadership philosophy is articulated well. We walk the talk on being a Servant Leader at Greif. Being a servant is defined as identifying and meeting the needs of the constituents one is entrusted with.  Another example on how leaders at Greif are expected to think of the team first, not only to focus on the benefits of the business but put as much focus on meeting the needs of the colleague constituency. When thinking about the future workforce, and the need for engagement and connection, practicing the behavior of a servant leader will ensure the attraction and retention of exceptional talent at Greif.

Colleagues are provided an opportunity to participate in roundtables with different members of the Executive Leadership Team to gain more knowledge on the businesses they support. Providing colleagues with attention, education, and support during these roundtables by the company's leadership inspires colleagues and creates invaluable learning opportunities. Connecting with colleagues through these venues can showcase core behaviors that colleagues are expected to demonstrate.

While building the right culture, driving engagement, and demonstrating the right behaviors is key, do not underestimate the importance of employee mindset. We call it the Champion's Mindset.  A champion mindset means one has the drive and positive outlook to find solutions, choose to excel and seek to strive. A champion mindset does not look for problems but focuses on ways to solve a challenge. An example of how this mindset is exercised through the Greif Way is with the work of our Global Talent Center within the HR department. The Global Talent Center focuses on the acquisition, development, and education of our company's talent.  This function helps deliver the resources colleagues need to tackle the challenges that they are faced with day to day within the industrial packaging business. The support and investment provided by this center enables colleagues to acquire knowledge, learning and development that will equip them for success now and in the future.

An organization needs to have a solid set of beliefs to follow and abide by to succeed through unpredictable and rapid change. We believe in our "Greif Behaviors" of putting the team first; communicating with respect, candor, and trust; practicing servant leadership, and having a champion mindset. These behaviors are embedded in our colleagues so that every aspect of the Greif business is managed to deliver on its vision of "In industrial packaging, be the best performing customer service company in the world."

 How are you preparing to lead in the future?