How Roundtables Have Provided Support During the Pandemic

July 30, 2020
Publication
Inside HR
Communication
Read time: 3 mins

MRA roundtables have always been highly valued, and right now, communicating with one another in a safe and productive way has proven to be priceless, especially during the last few months.

Like most in-person activities, MRA pivoted and made roundtables virtual, but there are two critical things that didn’t change, and those are driving roundtable members to come back for more.

It's a Matter of Trust

What’s the most important thing when you are faced with a challenging situation you’ve never experienced before? Trust. Trusting in the people you are confiding in and gaining insight from. Trusting the information is coming from a reliable source. This has helped to lessen fears and allow participants to focus.

Not only do roundtable members trust one another, they trust their facilitators. Groups are guided with the backing of MRA resources, like the vast array of content made up of tools like sample policies, guidance on communication, preparing workplaces and layoff information—all at your fingertips. The facilitators’ presence at these meetings has brought a sense of normalcy and comfort to each group.

Another trust factor when it comes to roundtables is the sharing of confidential information regarding sensitive topics you maybe can’t talk about at work. Many HR professionals don’t have other people within the organization to talk to and bounce ideas off of.

And It’s a Matter of Comfort

Many organizations have switched to conducting meetings virtually, often back to back, and that can get overwhelming for everyone. A roundtable isn’t just another meeting—it provides an opportunity to have a little fun, to let off some steam with people you are comfortable with. Many roundtable participants have been friends for years within their peer network. During the pandemic, these groups have helped its members through difficult and challenging times, both professionally and personally.

It’s not all about serious issues—members benefit from light-hearted discussions and laughter. Here's an example: Last May, one roundtable in Neenah, WI, was focusing on “in HR you wear many hats”—so, during that virtual meeting, all participants wore different hats during their time together to bring some fun to the experience.

A New Season—A New Experience

MRA’s 37th Professional Roundtable Season starts in September. Will it be an in-person experience? That remains to be seen. But no worries, no matter what the current situation, MRA will meet our roundtable members’ needs.

Both in-person and virtual meetings have their benefits. In-person provides participants the opportunity for side conversations as they arrive and depart the meetings. The benefits of virtual roundtables include eliminating the commute and meeting from the convenience of your workspace with built-in social distancing.

Want more information on the world of MRA roundtables? Visit our website or contact Kimberly Kent-Slattery at Kimberly.Kent-Slattery@mranet.org.