Workplace MVP LIVE from SHRM 2021: Sarah Chandler, NextGen Laboratories
Contrary to some who perceive HR roles being either “party planners or the police,” Sarah Chandler, VP of Human Resources with NextGen Laboratories believes her work as an HR professional is the “fuel that drives optimization and maximization” of her company’s talent. She and Jamie discussed how she is supporting her front-line workers at NextGen, her philosophy on human resources, and much more. Workplace MVP is underwritten and presented by R3 Continuum and produced by the Minneapolis-St.Paul Studio of Business RadioX®.
This show was originally broadcast live from the 2021 SHRM Annual Conference held at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Sarah Chandler, SPHR, SHRM- SCP, Vice President of Human Resources, NextGen Laboratories
Sarah is a certified strategic HR leader fiercely committed to maximizing organizational excellence through empathetic and enthusiastic employee relations. She is a trusted thought leader and respected member of the senior leadership team.
Sarah is most passionate about creating a culture that views HR as the first and best place to turn for employee relations. She believes that HR is the service provider to the organization and its customers/employees. I come alive
Sara loves to promote the development of effective processes in the workplace, culture change, strategic & dynamic leadership, and employee program development and facilitation for efficient, effective onboarding, team-building, employee engagement, talent retention, change management, and company culture reinforcement.
At NextGen Laboratories, they take pride in their ability to offer high-impact diagnostic results derived from next-generation technologies. Coupling their technical expertise with a dedication to providing personalized customer service, they are confident that their services will exceed expectations for a clinical laboratory. They provide premium testing solutions for a variety of businesses and non-profits. They are a service of advanced monitoring solutions that seek improved outcomes for their patients. Using innovative technology and resources, they make finding a custom-tailored solution easier and more affordable.
NextGen Laboratories strives to achieve unmatched customer care. Their job is to make your life easier at every turn. Their directors are available for consultations to help you provide the best care for your patients. They use a hands-on approach with matching medications and advising dosage changes based on testing results. At NextGen Laboratories, they believe that good testing starts with state-of-the-art equipment, which means their patient results come back faster and with greater accuracy.
About Workplace MVP
Every day, around the world, organizations of all sizes face disruptive events and situations. Within those workplaces are everyday heroes in human resources, risk management, security, business continuity, and the C-suite. They don’t call themselves heroes though. On the contrary, they simply show up every day, laboring for the well-being of employees in their care, readying the workplace for and planning responses to disruption. This show, Workplace MVP, confers on these heroes the designation they deserve, Workplace MVP (Most Valuable Professionals), and gives them the forum to tell their story. As you hear their experiences, you will learn first-hand, real-life approaches to readying the workplace, responses to crisis situations, and overcoming challenges of disruption. Visit our show archive here.
Workplace MVP Host Jamie Gassmann
In addition to serving as the host to the Workplace MVP podcast, Jamie Gassmann is the Director of Marketing at R3 Continuum (R3c). Collectively, she has more than fourteen years of marketing experience. Across her tenure, she has experience working in and with various industries including banking, real estate, retail, crisis management, insurance, business continuity, and more. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mass Communications with special interest in Advertising and Public Relations and a Master of Business Administration from Paseka School of Business, Minnesota State University.
R3 Continuum is a global leader in workplace behavioral health and security solutions. R3c helps ensure the psychological and physical safety of organizations and their people in today’s ever-changing and often unpredictable world. Through their continuum of tailored solutions, including evaluations, crisis response, executive optimization, protective services, and more, they help organizations maintain and cultivate a workplace of wellbeing so that their people can thrive. Learn more about R3c at www.r3c.com.
Intro: [00:00:06] Broadcasting live from the SHRM 2021 Conference at the Las Vegas Convention Center, it’s time for Workplace MVP. Brought to you by R3 Continuum, a global leader in workplace behavioral health, crisis, and security solutions. Now, here’s your host.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:00:25] Hello, everyone. And we are here at day 2 of the SHRM 2021 Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. I’m Jamie Gassmann, your host of today’s Workplace MVP episodes. And with me, I have Sarah Chandler, who’s Vice President of Human Resources for NextGen Laboratories. Welcome to the show.
Sarah Chandler: [00:00:44] Thank you. I’m so glad to be here.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:00:46] And we’re really happy you joined us today in R3 Continuum’s booth. Talk to me about your career journey as an H.R. representative.
Sarah Chandler: [00:00:55] Sure. I fell into H.R. It was accidental. I was a receptionist and then an office manager and just really found myself with the leaders, just drawn to them, wanting to spend time with them and understand. And, the H.R. manager of my company kind of took me under her wing. And, because I demonstrated that I was trustworthy, which is one of the key cornerstones for H.R., they trusted me. And, she ended up going out on leave of absence, and I just got right into that role, fell in love with it.
Sarah Chandler: [00:01:26] So, I sort of did things backwards. I went and got my H.R. – at first, I got a two-year certificate and then I went and got certified. And then, my whole career of the last 25 years has been in human resources from every part of the whole employee lifecycle. So, I do consider myself a generalist as I’ve worked in every single touchpoint whether it be recruiting, onboarding, training and development, performance management, discipline, offboarding, all of that.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:01:58] Wow. So, I’ve heard in some of my other interviews here at the show that I kind of fell into it.
Sarah Chandler: [00:02:04] Yes.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:02:05] Now that you’re into it, if you were going to, you know what’s one thing that’s kind of like that passion? Like, what is your favorite part about this line of work?
Sarah Chandler: [00:02:14] So, I find that it suits me personally because I love people and process. And, a lot of times there’s an assumption that you just love people, we’re the party planners or the police. And, that is not my function. I feel like I’m supposed to bring out the best in people whether they are our employees or the leadership. And then, in doing so, I bring out the best in the organization. So, for me, to be the kind of fuel that drives optimization and maximization of all our talent, that’s exciting to me.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:02:53] It’s awesome. The fuel of the organization. I love that quote. That’s a very tweetable quote. That’s great.
Sarah Chandler: [00:02:58] Thank you.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:02:59] So, looking at NextGen Laboratories and I know you mentioned that you guys do some testing, but what were some of the challenges or things that you faced in your role over the last year?
Sarah Chandler: [00:03:08] So, right now, we are in a massive growth spurt, but we’re also kind of like heads down because of the pandemic. So, COVID really spiked our industry and it kind of blindsided a lot of laboratories.
Sarah Chandler: [00:03:22] So, right now, my goal is I’m doing a lot of stay interviews. I’m sort of – I feel like I’m the back help because all the frontline employees are serving the community, serving the patients or providers, and we’re still in the heat of it. So, I’m not going to implement any kind of program that requires massive organizational change when my team is already, like, fried and burnt and working at max capacity.
Sarah Chandler: [00:03:52] So, right now, it really is a strategy of TLC. Like, I am trying to be present and listen, and we implemented a thank-you day, where you could take one day off paid any time, you know, in addition to holidays and vacation, all of that. But our employees really weren’t going on vacation and taking sick time. And, I’ve told people you can call out sad, not just call out sick, you know if you just need a personal day to be with your families, and we’re all sort of in this together. So, by giving grace to your coworker, when you need it, they’re going to give grace to you.
Sarah Chandler: [00:04:28] I also implemented an every Monday matters message. So, we just send something out every Monday that’s kind of an inspiration, like keep going, something to think about, and also something that we want all our employees to know because we found that in uncertainty, people need information and communication. And, if you don’t give a message, they’ll make one up and it’s almost always worse than the truth. So, we’re trying to communicate all the needs to know so that they don’t have to, like, look over their shoulder and go, “What am I missing?” And you know, “What am I doing?”
Jamie Gassmann: [00:05:06] Yeah. So, with that, you know, obviously communication, I hear that a lot, especially over this last year, you know, and knowing that your team is fried, you know, email might not be the best mode of method for communication.
Sarah Chandler: [00:05:19] That’s right.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:05:20] So, have you had to get creative in how you’ve tried to send those messages out? And what are some of those creative approaches you’ve taken?
Sarah Chandler: [00:05:27] So, we do have key people in different locations who will print things, and so we send them in a PDF format so they can be printed in the break room. We’ve also sort of made the break room like a genuine place that people want to go to rest. So, there’s snacks. It’s comforting. There’s lockers, you know. We’re trying to create an environment where people can really thrive.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:05:52] Yeah. Absolutely. That’s fantastic. And so, now you’re here at SHRM.
Sarah Chandler: [00:05:56] Yes.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:05:56] You know and obviously lots of different educational sessions you can attend. What are a few things that you’re hoping to get out of this conference that you can take back to your team?
Sarah Chandler: [00:06:05] So, I was very, you know, nervous about coming because of the pandemic, because of getting away from work. But to be honest with you, like everyone else, I have pandemic fatigue, Zoom fatigue, and I’m like, I just need to go and be with the people. And, I knew it was going to be different. I wanted to be able to pivot and adjust and connect.
Sarah Chandler: [00:06:28] SHRM has always been a source for me, like a touch base. You know, wherever I’m working, whatever problem I have, I usually go immediately to the website and, you know, just bounce things off, get templates, or read the latest article. It’s like Google search, you know, about H.R., so I use it quite often. And so, being at SHRM, being a member of H.R., to me it’s like taking a step that says if I’m not growing, how can I expect my organization to keep growing?
Sarah Chandler: [00:07:03] So, I have to remain curious. I have to be open-minded. I have to be willing to adapt. And, this is a very different SHRM. And, like everything else, it’s disappointing, but it’s inspiring because look at how creative we’ve gotten and look at the things that we’re doing. And, the world is just different now. And so, I want to be where the people that are changing the world for the better are and I think that’s SHRM.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:07:34] Oh, that’s a great way to end this interview.
Sarah Chandler: [00:07:37] Thank you.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:07:38] And, if anybody was going to want to reach out to you and kind of learn a little bit more about some of the approaches you’ve taken, how would they be able to do that?
Sarah Chandler: [00:07:45] So, my platform is really LinkedIn. So, I don’t want LinkedIn to become personal, although I do see posts that are going that direction. I’m trying so hard to keep it business, and our lives are blended. But if I want and I do share relevant personal information about myself on LinkedIn, but I do so in a way that I believe maximizes myself at work. And, I just feel like, you know, I want to be open to others as they have been open to me. And, you know, I’m not a big fan of formal mentorship. I have mentors that don’t even know they’re mentoring me, you know, because you can emulate and you can follow and you can find things that people have written and apply them and immediately be better for it.
Sarah Chandler: [00:08:36] I’ve also gotten guts in H.R. to ask questions, to ask really, like I’m not afraid of looking dumb anymore. Like, you know, I used to be so hung up on I need to look credible because I’m H.R. And, now, you know, it’s absolutely okay to say, you know, the situation is dynamic and it’s ever-changing, and I’d be interested in your opinion on this. Can I bounce something off of you? Most people are open to that.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:09:01] Yeah, absolutely showing that vulnerability.
Sarah Chandler: [00:09:03] That’s right.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:09:04] And allowing others to see that.
Sarah Chandler: [00:09:06] Yes.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:09:06] That they know it’s okay to be that sometimes.
Sarah Chandler: [00:09:08] I guess that’s a long answer of saying yes, I’m open to people contacting me.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:09:11] Yeah. Call me on, or reach out to me on LinkedIn.
Sarah Chandler: [00:09:14] Anytime. Yeah. I do my best, right?
Jamie Gassmann: [00:09:16] Well, it is really a work-life balance, right?
Sarah Chandler: [00:09:18] It is.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:09:18] And LinkedIn is kind of merging in that direction a little bit as well, but, well, you’ve been amazing to have on the show.
Sarah Chandler: [00:09:24] [Inaudible] It’s nice.
Jamie Gassmann: [00:09:24] Thank you so much for joining us. And, if you’re in the SHRM expo area, stop by Booth 4076 and check out our show. We’d be happy to have you on. And thanks again.
Sarah Chandler: [00:09:35] Thank you.