Three HR leaders explain what they’re thankful for this Thanksgiving

Carol Foote
Last updated on 4th December 2019
3 min read

Thanksgiving is the season of gratitude and reflection.

While many check out of work to spend time with family and friends over the holidays, we checked in with three leading HR professionals to ask them: what are they grateful for?

They came back with three distinct things – the people they work with, the opportunity to build great experiences, and purpose in their careers.

They share with us why.

1. “What am I thankful for? The best part about HR is the people,” says Ashley Ambuel, Director of Employee Relations at Stifel

In People Companies, employees are not treated simply as resources or capital—on the contrary, the diversity and individual uniqueness of each person is valued and managed as such.

It’s an approach Ashley Ambuel, Director of Employee Relations at Stifel, an international full-service brokerage and investment banking firm, tries to adopt.

“We are all very complex and different, leading to diversity of thought,” she explains.

 People Companies actively communicate with their workers, engage them and give them the tools and resources to do their very best work.

Ashley explains that she enjoys the fact that every day, she is given the opportunity to make a difference within her organization. Some are big differences, and some are small, but “all involve people”, she says.

 Ashley, who refers to employees as associates and business partners, acknowledges that HR and People Teams’ roles can be challenging, but she’s thankful that she experiences new things every day.

“We build relationships that can impact associates’ lives, solve problems, and hopefully provide solid advice and guidance to our business partners”, she explains.

“Ultimately, the best part about HR is the people. While my role is to provide guidance and partnership, I find I learn something from almost everyone I interact with.”

She concludes: “Given my interactions are ongoing, I get to say that I learn something new every day.  For that, I am truly grateful.”

2. “What am I thankful for? Being honest about the employment experience,” says, Susan LaMotte, founder and CEO of employer brand experience firm Exaqueo

We’re living in challenging times where there are more jobs available than people looking.

Employees that have a negative experience can air their grievances on social media and look for another job in a nanosecond.

Susan helps organizations to build their employer brands in order to attract and retain the best talent out there. “I’m thankful for an opportunity to help organizations be authentic,” she explains.

It’s important that employers take a good look at themselves and the experiences they offer their employees at every interaction. They should ensure employees are onboard with the company’s values and understand why it’s the right work environment for them.

Ultimately, a positive employee experience is good for productivity, collaboration, and ultimately an organization’s bottom line. It can also help with employee referrals and attracting new talent.

 What’s Susan’s top tip? “When you’re building employer brands, being honest about the employment experience is key, and helps candidates find not only a job that suits their skills but an organization and culture where they can thrive.”

3. “I’m grateful for purpose-driven organizations who inspire employees,” says, Dave Ulrich, Rensis Likert professor at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, and co-founder and principal at global professional services firm, RBL Group

Less than a decade ago, CEOs didn’t talk about ‘purpose’ beyond maximizing profits and returns to shareholders.

Now, there is a demand from employees for meaningful work, customers that want brands that inspire, and societies that want companies that are responsible.

Dave is a seasoned speaker, author, professor, thought leader in human resources, leadership and organization and he is passionate about work with purpose.

“I’m thankful that human resource people and practices help create organizations that enable employees to experience how to believe, become, and belong”, he explains.

Dave explains that when employees believe in their work and find meaning in their work, they not only find increased personal well-being, self-confidence, and physical health, but they are also more personally productive.

He adds that good people want to become better. By giving employees opportunities for stretch assignments, training, and new projects, employees learn and become better.

He also warns us not to underestimate the importance of belonging at work. “Belonging overcomes loneliness”, he explains.

“Belonging requires work to invest in relationships using technology to connect not contact; empathy between people one-on-one; and personal accountability for discovering relationships that matter.”

Dave adds that “belonging is active, not passive. It requires persistent work, endures over time, is tied to shared values, and shapes well-being.”

What are you grateful for this Thanksgiving?

So, there you have it from our three HR leaders.

They’ve explained what they’re thankful for – the people they work with, the ability to build great employee experiences, and working with purpose.

We couldn’t agree more.

Happy Thanksgiving from all the Sage People team!

What are you thankful for in your role? Let us know by tweeting us @SagePeople.

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