Navigating the Pandemic – Insights from HR Leaders in Tech  

by | Leaders Lunch, Technology

In April our team sat down for a virtual leaders lunch with a handful of HR leaders from tech companies across the Portland area. Their experiences managing and navigating their companies through this pandemic showed that the biggest struggles are with morale and motivation. 

Keeping employees engaged and emotionally stable starts at the top of a company. As our team drilled into the pain points of these HR managers it became clear that many tech companies seemed prepared to go fully remote but their employees might not be on the same page. Check out the key takeaways and insights from our discussion here: 


  • Time – HR leaders are spending a significant amount of time doing employee relations.  
  • Motivation – Keeping employees motivated and re-learning what actually motivates them in a pandemic.  
  • Engagement – Participation doesn’t mean engagement.  
  • Emotional Stability – Many employees and managers turn to HR for emotional support. 
  • Events – All events canceled for the foreseeable future.  
  • Equipping Managers – Like HR leaders, managers are adapting. What tools and training do they need? 
  • Fatigue – From company-wide “Zoom fatigue,” to the daily monotony of quarantine.  
  • Temperature Checks – HR leaders are finding it difficult to get accurate temperature checks from employees and managers. Often not standardized across the company. 
  • Stability for Contractors – Working with the contract workforce to provide stability and transparency.  
  • Isolation – HR managers are seeing this in everyone from executives to employees. 
  • Life after COVID – Setting WFH expectations in the face of uncertainty. Many tech workers want to consider moving to remote full-time. 

As HR leaders balance the needs of their managers and their employees, more tech companies are finding creative ways to boost morale and motivation. Here are some of the tips and advice that came up during the discussion.  

Tips & Tricks 

  • Require weekly check-ins.  
  • Video. Setting an example by having your video on and expecting it of other team members helps with accountability and distractions.  
  • Internal Newsletters. One HR leader started a weekly newsletter for their team including employee spotlights, resources for employees, company updates, and more. 
  • One competition asked for baby pictures from staff and the team would guess who it is.  
  • WFH Surveys. Now that the glamour of WFH has faded check that your team actually has the resources, equipment, and processes to efficiently work remotely.  
  • Wellness Guide. An easy to access guide for company resources, ideas to stay active at home, ways to support your teammates or community, and more. Check out some examples here: 
  • Netflix Party 
  • Heads Up! App 
  • House Party App 
  • Free Cooking Classes 
  • BurnCycle Challenge 
  • Kid-Friendly exercises with the Blazers 
  • Free classes on Coursera 

The People-First Approach 

One thing that was abundantly clear amongst HR leaders in Portland was their people-first approach to everything. From the initial WFH roll-out to the reintegration plans, this discussion proved that companies across the Portland area are trying everything they can to engage their employees on a personal level and provide safety and stability to their communities.  

Thank you to all the amazing HR leaders that participated in this discussion. ProFocus is proud to connect leaders from all over the Silicon Forest. If you are interested in sharing insights and challenges with leaders from tech companies in Portland, please reach out to our team at [email protected].  


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ProFocus is an IT staffing and consulting company. We strive to connect a select few of the right technology professionals to the right jobs.

We get to know our clients and candidates in detail and only carefully introduce a small number of candidates that fit the role well.