Faces of HR

Faces of HR: Niki Jorgensen Talks Culture, Being Intentional, and Investing in Talent

Before graduating college, Niki Jorgensen knew that a career In HR was for her. After graduating, however, she started working with financial services clients, where she managed and analyzed customer service experience data. A decade would nearly pass before Jorgenson would return to her true passion: HR.

Today, Jorgensen is Director of Service Operations for Insperity, a leading provider of human resources. She joined the publicly traded company in 2009, and has served in various roles, including senior client liaison and manager of HR services of Insperity’s western service region.

Niki Jorgenson

We recently sat down with Jorgensen to discuss how she got her start in the industry, her biggest influence, as well as her thoughts on trends and best practices for the HR industry. According to her, it’s all about culture and treating your people well.

“Leadership should ensure they respect and care for their teams,” Jorgensen recently told HR Daily Advisor. “I think many companies can be better about putting culture at the forefront. It is so important. The thoughtful design of culture is also very important. Employers need to be intentional and purposeful in the development of workplace culture. People should be able to walk into a business and get a sense of the culture within the first few minutes.”

In our latest Faces of HR profile, meet Niki Jorgensen.

How did you get your start in the field?

I have my formal education in HR. I actually interviewed for several positions going into HR right out of college but didn’t get any of them. So, I decided to move back home to California where I worked as a consultant for banks. After the 2008 recession, I moved back down to the Bay Area where I began my first job with Insperity. I remember finding the position for Insperity, turning to my husband and saying, “This is perfect for me, this describes me.” And that’s how I got back into HR through Insperity. I think Insperity intrigued me because it aligned with my formal education, and it had the workplace culture that I wanted for myself and others.

Who is/was your biggest influence in the industry?

I don’t have a biggest influencer in the HR space per se, but I can tell you that my personal biggest influencers were my two previous bosses, a husband-and-wife team. Simply put, they taught me the meaning of valuing your team and to be intentional about the relationships you cultivate with your coworkers and your clients.

What’s your best mistake and what did you learn from it?

Whenever I’m asked this question, I always go back to a time, just after college, where I had this big client I was working with and had a very important report to complete for them. This was a particularly unforgiving client, so when I realized I made a big mistake on the report I submitted to them, I informed my client, but I also immediately called my boss (who I mentioned was my one of my biggest influences). I remember my boss telling me calmly that we would figure it out and we did. What I learned from that was not necessarily to always double check my work, which you should, of course, but it also made me reflect on:

  • How you treat people that come to you feeling like they failed in some capacity?
  • How you want to be treated when it’s you who failed?
  • As a client or someone you are working with not in a direct reporting relationship, how do you want that working relationship to be ruled? Is it ruled out of fear or love?

What’s your favorite part about working in the industry? What’s your least favorite part, and how would you change it?

My favorite part about working in the industry has been client work, where you can see some of the recommendations that you give to business owners, and you get to help them with implementation. You also get to see the positive impact on the employees. I think it is so satisfying to see your work come to life and see the positive impacts it has on your clients.  

My least favorite part of working in the industry is the negative connotation associated with HR. If you are a person in HR and you enter a building, people automatically assume that there is some kind of bad news that goes along with your presence and that shouldn’t be the case. Lessening that stigma starts at the top. Leadership should make an effort to show all the good their HR teams do for the organization. They should ensure that HR has a seat at the table when making decisions that affect their employees.

It sounds like through your experience you really care about people, and you want to help them feel safe and comfortable, which is important in the industry. Please elaborate here.

If you want people to be happy and you want people to do good work for you, you have to care about them. You have to care about what’s going on in their lives. Not just professionally but also personally. If you don’t, no loyalty is built. There is no reason for those people to really want to stay. So as a business owner or company owner, if you’re going to develop productive and thriving teams, you have to invest in your people.

How can company leaders make HR a value within their organization?

Company leaders can make HR valuable by showing all the good things HR brings to the table, such as advocating for people and creating programs that benefit the employees. I think leaders can help by giving visibility to what HR is doing to the whole company and the impact it has to the organization.

Where do you see the industry heading in five years? Or are you seeing any current trends?

It’s all about taking care of and investing in your people. I think that newer generations aren’t afraid to jump around a little bit to find the right fit and it’s not necessarily frowned upon. It’s happening across the board. Over the next several years, there will be “people-focused” programs in place, and business owners will need to be purposeful about how they retain talent. If people are not happy, they leave. They aren’t staying in a position that makes them miserable, and I believe that trend will continue over the next few years.

What are you most proud of?

I’m most proud of just trying to do the right thing always. Something I try to do in both my personal and professional lives. I want to feel good about the decisions I make at the end of the day, which has helped guide me. A quote I live by is, “Be the kind of person who people want to follow,” and I think that goes hand-in-hand with “doing the right thing.”

Do you have any advice for people entering the profession?

Find a mentor. Find someone who aligns with your values, who you look up to, and who exemplifies who you want to be. Find someone you can really identify with and learn from that person. Be open to everything that person has to say because that’s the best way to grow and develop. I think that the feedback you get, whether it’s positive or constructive, is helpful.