Veteran HR leader Nikki shares her inspiring career story, proudest accomplishments, lessons learned, and valuable advice for aspiring HR professionals in this insightful interview.

For nearly three decades, Nikki has helped shape the human resources strategy and culture at The Service Companies. From handling core HR functions to driving engagement, training, and inclusion initiatives, she has witnessed the field’s remarkable evolution. In this interview, Nikki shares her proudest accomplishments, the biggest lessons learned, and insights for aspiring HR professionals.

An Accidental Yet Rewarding Career Path 

Nikki’s career in human resources was an unexpected one. With a background in business administration, she initially joined TSC as an executive assistant. The CEO asked her to transition into the HR Director role — a leap of faith that paved the way for her 26-year journey.

“HR has evolved remarkably over the last two decades,” Nikki recalls. “In the beginning, my role was largely functional — handling benefits, recruiting, policies, and employee issues. Today, we are brand builders, culture makers, marketers, and developers of our teams through engagement initiatives, targeted training, and personal involvement.”

Proudest Accomplishments: Staffing Solutions and Relocation Program

Among her proudest accomplishments, Nikki cites the successful implementation of a relocation program that allowed TSC to staff hard-to-hire markets. By establishing a relationship with the Department of Labor in Puerto Rico, the company could source, interview, hire, and relocate employees from the island to areas where recruitment was challenging. This innovative solution continues to be instrumental in TSC’s staffing efforts.

The Human Element: The Heart of HR

Throughout her tenure, Nikki’s favorite part of working at TSC has been the people. “I’ve met so many dedicated hospitality professionals who have positively impacted our business and associates,” she says. 

Nikki emphasizes the importance of understanding employees’ needs, providing support and guidance, and engaging them through effective communication, training, coaching, empathy, recognition, and a bit of fun. “Our greatest successes live each day in the tenured employees we maintain,” she notes.

Advice for Aspiring HR Professionals

For those starting their careers in HR, Nikki offers valuable advice: “Don’t forget the human element. Remember to ask ‘why’ when making decisions. Help others to help yourself. Become familiar with software and technology. Listen, ask questions, and keep learning. Network — you often gain practical knowledge from speaking with others. Be kind.”

Fostering a Positive and Inclusive Culture

Nikki stresses the importance of embracing learning opportunities about inclusion, listening to employees at every level, helping train and mentor new hires, recognizing coworkers’ strengths, and seeking out differences. “Not everyone is good at everything,” she says. “Seek out the differences.”

Attracting and Retaining Top Talent

In today’s competitive job market, Nikki highlights the need to promote company culture and values, create enticing job descriptions, offer competitive wages and benefits, and be transparent and flexible. 

Factors like employee engagement, development, and work-life balance are crucial in retaining valuable employees. “Employees need to believe that their employer stands for something,” Nikki explains. “Aligning a person’s strengths to their roles improves performance. Encouraging boundaries for communication after work hours helps employees disconnect and maintain balance.”

Retirement and a New Chapter

After her remarkable 26-year journey, Nikki looks forward to retirement as an opportunity to continue learning and growing. “I do not plan to be idle but will use this time to improve myself,” she says. 

Nikki’s story is a testament to the transformative power of human resources and the lasting impact it can have on an organization’s culture and success. Her insights serve as a valuable guide for aspiring HR professionals and a reminder of the enduring importance of valuing people, fostering inclusivity, and adapting to the ever-evolving landscape of the modern workforce.

Insights from a 26-Year HR Journey: Lessons in People, Culture and Adaptability was last modified: June 18th, 2024 by Val Reaburn