HR Business Partner Reflects on Lessons Learned from Transitioning to Remote Work Environment

HR Super Hero: Eviliz Gola, Senior HR Business Partner

Company: LexisNexis Risk Solutions Group provides data and technology services, analytics, predictive insights and fraud prevention for a wide range of industries worldwide. Its portfolio of brands include LexisNexis Risk Solutions, Accuity, ICIS, Cirium, Proagrica, XpertHR, EG and Nextens.

Number of employees: Approximately 8,700 worldwide, with 140 in two locations in Brazil

Size of HR Team: 4 supporting operations in Brazil

Eviliz Gola

The past year was a challenge for everyone. Disruptions to all aspects of the business world required organizations and their workforces to seek out new ways of doing business and respond to new challenges. HR professionals continually demonstrated their adaptability, resilience and compassion as they supported and guided their organizations through unprecedented times of change.

In recognition of these extraordinary efforts, XpertHR put out the call to business professionals asking them to nominate their HR Super Hero. We wanted to hear their stories and celebrate and showcase their achievements.

Eviliz Gola, senior HR business partner at LexisNexis Risk Solutions Group, was nominated for seamlessly transitioning the company to a 100% remote environment with minimal business impact, and for working with business leaders to provide guidance on projects and staying compliant with changing legislation. XpertHR spoke with Eviliz about these challenges and the importance of building trust between business leaders and employees.

The interview has been edited for length.

Tell us about your current role in HR.

I'm currently a senior HR business partner at LexisNexis Risk Solutions Group (RSG). I joined LexisNexis Risk Solutions in 2018 and in the last year I began supporting other RSG brands such as Proagrica, ICIS and Accuity. Nowadays, I'm playing two roles, one as an HR business partner and the other as an HR manager, primarily supporting operations in Brazil.

What led you to a career in HR?

I started my professional journey working in customer service in a national company when I was invited to work in HR as a recruiter. I learned a lot about about people, understanding their different perspectives, dealing with expectations during interview processes. I was impressed by how HR can impact people's lives! A few years later, I joined Hewlett Packard as an HR advisor to support all their HR operations and I was also interested in learning more about the HR business partner role. I got a mentor, who was a senior HR business partner there, and he helped in my development plan and contributed a lot in my journey as an HR business partner. At the time, I started supporting a call center operation, which was a great opportunity for professional growth. After that, my role expanded to support other areas such as technology, sales and account executives and my mentor was key during my journey at HP supporting me.

Hewlett Packard was an amazing school for me. In the last years there, I started planning the next challenge in my career when LexisNexis Risk Solutions offered me an opportunity to be an HR business partner and to support the structuring of the HR area, implementing local policies, defining operational process in alignment with the global HR team. It has been an exciting experience.

Can you tell us what your team's greatest HR challenges during the pandemic?

The biggest challenge was concerning our people. We wanted to know that they were well and safe and understand how we could best support them since we were operating in an unprecedented situation. It was hard to follow what was going on globally and locally, and I just wanted to ensure that the right communication was reaching them. A lot of communication to our people was put in place to guarantee they were informed and knew what tools we had to support them.

HR and leadership were very connected to understand employees' main concerns and to identify opportunities to support them and keep business running. It was very important - the connection with the the global team - to get the right directions and align expectations.

Did you have many people working remotely before the pandemic? Were there any concerns about transitioning to remote work?

LexisNexis Risk Solutions started in Brazil about five years ago, it was a new business and leadership's approach was to keep people working in the office to collaborate as a team. We had a few positions that were either home-based or hybrid, but there were few people working in these models.

When the pandemic hit, everybody quickly moved to work from home, but there were concerns about engagement, collaboration, productivity and efficiency. Communication had increased, tools were provided to support our people. Our people have made significant contributions in this virtual environment with no business disruption, which demonstrates resilience, maturity and flexibility to work in this new model.

What will be the approach to remote work going forward?

There is a steering committee working on a "Future of Work" project. It aims to go from the current remote scenario to the "new normal". It is still in the process of identifying which positions will be kept in the office every day, home-based ones and hybrid. For the majority of our positions, a hybrid model will be followed where people will be in the office two to three times a week.

Can you speak a little bit about your relationship with the senior leadership team and some of the key ways that you, as the HR business partner, support the business objectives?

I'm dealing with some different business units in Brazil and my role is to be close to leaders to coach them, understand the business strategy and support them with people strategy. We have a very open and transparent communication with a great partnership and collaboration on both sides. I meet with them on a regular basis to align and support them in order to make the business successful. Communication is key to this successful partnership!

What advice would you give others on how to manage in a crisis?

My first advice - Make sure that your people are safe. We can't expect people to be productive if they are not safe. Mainly in a time like this, it is essential to be close to individuals to learn more about them, be assertive in providing directions and communicate company support tools in an effective way.

My second advice - Do some cool things for your team. Bring some creative and innovative ideas to get people together. People enjoy talking about personal things too and we have discovered a lot of talented people in the organization during some non-working activities.

My third and last advice - Be a role model and set a good example. Give to your people the same attention you would like to have.

Did any HR processes, procedures, or policies change because of the pandemic or in response to the pandemic?

Certainly. We have changed the way we do union negotiations, interview processes, hiring and people onboarding, HR documentation activities, etc. It was all moved from physical to virtual. Some benefits were also adapted, for example, meal vouchers, more benefits sessions, telemedicine and implementation of our Employee Assistance Program, physiology online and wellbeing programs.

What do you see as the biggest challenge facing HR today?

Keeping up the same level of people engagement. We had great scores in the last employee engagement survey. Overall the employee satisfaction at [our parent company] RELX was 87% (favorability index) which is the best result in the regions and our engagement score was 81 - that is excellent too.

To what do you attribute the high engagement scores?

It is attributed to the top three scores in the employee engagement survey: 1. The climate of mutual respect among employees of different backgrounds, 2. Our people are committed to make a real contribution to the success of the company and 3. Managers are setting a good example of Doing the Right Thing.

What excites you most about the future of HR?

The opportunity to continue working with a high-performance leadership team that cares about people promoting good working conditions, which in turn contributes to the business success.