This time for Fond of Work, we spoke with Kevin J. Bohan, CHRO and SVP of Human Resources at WernerCo. Kevin is a strategic and commercially-focused global HR leader who believes that culture and top talent bring competitive advantages. Kevin focuses on building a world class talent base with the capabilities, skills, and behaviors to sustain business performance. His passion is to develop talent and help people achieve their full potential, raising employee engagement, productivity, and retention.

Learn more about his journey below:

How did you first get into the HR space?

While pursuing my undergraduate degree, I did an internship with UPS as a campus recruiter. UPS is all about metrics, and my competitive nature allowed me to excel in a role that we could see our staffing performance vs. other UPS locations. Upon graduation, they offered me a permanent role and my HR journey began.

How did you end up at your current position?

WernerCo has a history of acquiring adjacent brands/businesses and has been expanding globally and growing year over year. I had an opportunity a few months ago to join this team on their journey and it has been an exciting ride so far!

Why are you fond of your work?

At WernerCo, I get to work with talented people, and the amount of potential that we have as a business means that I won’t get bored anytime soon.

Why do you think HR is an important department for every business to have?

HR departments come in two formats: old-school back office HR and progressive business partnering HR. Having an HR function that partners with the business and drives performance is critical to organizations that want to be successful.

What’s your management philosophy? How do you apply it at your company?

My philosophy is to hire amazing talent, empower them to perform, and create the conditions for them to grow and develop. At WernerCo, I was lucky enough to join an already highly talented team, so we have been focusing on the growth and development aspects. With much of our global team working from home due to the pandemic, we have accelerated our focus on our online learning platform that we call MyWernerCo.

How do you reward and recognize employees?

A recent global engagement survey showed that our employees wanted more recognition both from peers and management. With many of our team working remotely at the moment and others continuing to work in our manufacturing facilities, recognition is more important than ever.  Recognition is a top focus for us in 2020.

What is your company doing to react to COVID-19?

Many of our locations have teams working remotely, and as an essential business, we continue to manufacture WernerCo products that keep our users safe and productive in their respective workplaces. We have implemented a host of best practices to keep our team members safe at work. This includes twice daily temperature checking, access to COVID-19 tests, adjusted start and break times, one way walking lanes and a series of actions that allow for social distancing throughout the workplace.

How has COVID-19 affected how you recognize your employees?

During the pandemic, we have been recognizing our teams for going above and beyond. Some have been safety focused including a Zoom thank you message to one of our manufacturing teams for making masks for frontline workers or a Facebook video snippet at one of our plants on social distancing. We have also been recognizing the creative ways our product development teams have continued working from their home garages.

What’s the best advice you’ve received in your career?

Don’t be afraid to challenge the experts. When something does not sound right or you think that there must be a better way, keep asking questions. Sometimes this leads to a better outcome and other times it helps with the learning process.

What are some of the most pressing issues HR leaders face today?

In the world of COVID-19, understanding how to effectively get business and offices back to work in a safe and effective manner is top-of-mind for HR leaders. A part of getting back to work involves considerations for how organizations will leverage the proven success of remote working with the advantages of in-office collaboration.

What’s one thing you’ve had to learn the hard way in your career?

To trust my gut feeling on things and move quickly on decisions.

Any advice for future HR leaders?

Build your analytical and financial acumen skills. HR Leaders who are strong in these areas are sought after and are able to bring a business lens to their HR function, and this is something that will make a difference.

Thanks so much to Kevin for taking the time to speak with us. Stay tuned for the next interview in the Fond of Work series!

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