The mergers and acquisition (M&A) industry fascinates us all — in papers, online and in films — but if you’re anything like us you rarely stop to think about the software they need. Or, more realistically these days, a SaaS platform that enables the “dealmakers” to do their job with due diligence. That’s exactly the role performed by Datasite, and today we speak to its Chief Human Resources Officer, Deb LaMere.
While the M&A world may be glamorous, it still faces exactly the same challenges as elsewhere. How to embrace the changing demands from workers so that you not only encourage the best talent to join you, but stay with you for years. Supporting workers who may rarely visit your office. Building a company culture that works for everyone.
As you will read, these are topics that both Datasite and Deb LaMere have tackled head on over the past few years. And, as the headline of this article indicates, will continue to do so in the future…
Related reading: Future of work – what does it hold?
What is your role?
I am the Chief Human Resources Officer at Datasite, a leading SaaS technology provider for the M&A industry, empowering dealmakers in investment banking, corporate development, private equity and legal professions around the world with the tools they need to succeed across the entire deal lifecycle.
As CHRO, I am responsible for all aspects of the firm’s human resources strategy, including talent management, leadership development, compensation and benefits and diversity, equity and inclusion. Prior to joining Datasite, I served in senior employee engagement roles at Ceridian, Lawson Software and Allina Hospitals & Clinics in Minneapolis.
What made you pursue a career in HR? And what advice do you have for anyone considering a career in HR?
Human resources leaders play a critical role in helping organisations achieve their strategic goals. I wanted to pursue a career in HR to have the opportunity to support people in their careers and make significant contributions to a company’s operations and success. Prior to becoming CHRO at Datasite, I had the opportunity to work as a product manager, focused on software talent solutions that HR departments could use to support their processes, people and goals. This experience gave me a new perspective on my industry and business.
My advice to anyone pursuing a career in HR is to recognise that a career is a marathon, not a sprint. Career aspirations will evolve over time and familiarising yourself with all sides of the HR role – from best practices in recruitment and talent retention to employee support and even the technology behind all of these operations – will help you better serve as a leader for organisations.
How do you think offices as we know them will change in the next decade?
The workplace has rapidly changed in recent years, from the rise of hybrid work to Gen Z entering the workforce. Over the next decade, the office as we know it will likely evolve even more. That’s why consistently improving company culture, where employees are engaged and bringing their best selves to work, will continue to be a top organisational priority. One way to do this is to ensure they take time off, to step away from work and relax.
At Datasite we do this by providing our employees with a generous paid time off policy, which includes 25 days off annually, as well as ‘recharge days,’ aptly called ‘Up to U hours,’ to relax and recharge however they like. In October we celebrated World Mental Health Day by giving our employees an additional ½ day of ‘Up to U’ hours. We also provide an extra day of paid time off each year to volunteer and opportunities for employees to work together outside of the office to support causes they care about. These programs help employees make an impact both within Datasite and in their local communities.
Post-pandemic, what are your thoughts on hybrid work trends and how do you think they’ll shape the upcoming years?
Hybrid working environments have largely been established as the new norm. They have proven to be a productive way of working while also offering more flexibility and optimal work-life balance to employees.
Yet, while employees may no longer be physically in the office every day, there are still many ways to ensure that a workplace feels connected. Finding ways for employees to engage both in-office and remotely can help build company culture while still granting employees the benefits of remote work flexibility.
Additionally, remote work has opened the door for an expanded talent pool. Employees can now work from places beyond a company’s headquarters, unlocking the potential for recruiting great talent with a diversity of perspectives and opinions.
Related reading: How the world of work will look in 2030
What are the top three challenges HR professionals face today?
The HR role has evolved significantly over the past few years. The top three challenges include adapting to new technologies and endless data, finding ways to support employee growth, and navigating the new normal of work-life expectations.
Can you give us an example of how your HR department/team leverages technology and how that has helped the company?
Technology has become an integral part of an effectively run HR department, and recent advancements can help connect and support employees. It can be challenging to ensure connectivity in a hybrid work environment, and technology offers innovative ways to support a strong company culture. For example, during the height of the pandemic, Datasite introduced a peer-to-peer recognition tool that celebrated employee achievements. This allowed employees to celebrate everything from work anniversaries to project wins, even while miles apart.
We also introduced a new communications tool that allows for two-way correspondence to make it easier for employees to connect with each other and stay informed about company announcements and employee news.
What do you think has been the most significant way in which technology has impacted HR?
HR professionals have more access to data than ever before. There are now more metrics that can be utilised to identify areas of success and opportunity for the overall employee experience. In turn, HR professionals can create more personalised and effective initiatives for their employees, which will result in a more positive and productive work environment. Surveys are one example of a valuable data-collecting resource that HR professionals use to measure success and obtain employee feedback.
What is an HR initiative you’ve spearheaded that you are particularly proud of?
I am particularly proud of the work we have done at Datasite to recognise and celebrate our employees. It is important to prioritise these types of initiatives to show employees how much they are valued and appreciated.
At Datasite, we’ve embedded recognition into our engagement strategy. For example, in March to celebrate this Women’s History Month, we asked employees to nominate women who make Datasite a great place to work by sharing their stories and shouting out their successes.
We also recognise and celebrate our talent on social media. These programs have had a positive effect on employee engagement, helping to boost the company’s engagement score by nine points year-over-year since first launching our annual engagement survey in 2019.
More great content for HR professionals
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