When Jennifer Kraszewski graduated with her master’s degree more than 30 years ago, she was sure of one thing: She wanted to work with people. As a result, she started her career as a recruiter and quickly found that she wasn’t just passionate about serving others, developing strategy, and connecting with people—these are also key ingredients in the “secret sauce” of every good HR professional.
“I’ve used these skills throughout my career to become a trusted advisor to executives and a proactive, curious leader who can see both the people’s perspective and business sense,” Kraszewski shared with HR Daily Advisor.
Today, she oversees HR as senior executive vice president of HR at Paycom, an HR tech company. “As someone who is genuinely passionate about HR, this is a dream position,” says Kraszewski. “At Paycom, our people are our greatest asset, and this means HR has a seat at the table. In my tenure, we’ve greatly expanded benefits and recruiting, and even brought on full-time workplace well-being advisors and mental health professionals to lead our employee wellness initiative.”
In our latest Faces, meet Jennifer Kraszewski.
Who is your biggest influence in the industry?
This may sound strange, but my biggest influences are my grandfather and my husband, and neither has ever worked in HR. My grandfather grew up living in a home with dirt floors and dropped out of school in the seventh grade to care for his family. When I was growing up, he owned restaurants, and working with him taught me the significance of what you can accomplish with old-fashioned hard work.
My husband inspires me daily; we’re each other’s biggest fans. He’s an architect with a strong business sense, and at the end of the day, we talk about how we can improve and give each other honest, candid advice. To truly be good HR people, you must first be good businesspeople.
What mistakes should HR professionals avoid, and what can they learn from these mistakes?
The biggest mistakes I’ve made in my career happened when I didn’t understand business needs, causing the HR team to operate in a silo rather than aligning with larger-scale business goals. Looking back, these mistakes are avoidable by having a clear organizationwide mission, vision, and values to align teams and serve as a North Star. If your organization’s mission, vision, and values are at all murky, it means it’s time to rethink and adapt as a team.
The most important thing HR professionals can do is serve as a trusted advisor. When C-suite leadership comes to you for advice, be ready to intentionally listen, keep confidential information confidential, and thoughtfully guide them and build trust. Build trust by showcasing real-time, accurate metrics, and be prepared to communicate the effectiveness of programs to leadership. Learning HR is a balance of aligning personal goals with business strategy and growth.
What’s your favorite part about working in the industry, and what are you proud of?
My favorite part of the job is solving tough problems through HR strategy and being able to work at the forefront of groundbreaking HR tech. I’m proud to be part of an organization focused on making life simpler for employees. We do this with products like Beti, Paycom’s employee-driven payroll that automatically identifies payroll errors and guides employees to fix them before submission. Using Paycom, our team and others can spend less time on daily administrative processes and more time adding value to the company.
What’s your least favorite part of working in the industry, and how would you change it?
The most challenging part of working in HR is the misconception people have about HR: that we’re largely a department of “no.” We need to change the perception that HR is entirely reactive and demonstrate how it’s a proactive, valuable, and multifaceted tool that can drive business objectives.
Do you have any advice for people entering the profession?
Sit in on as many functional areas of HR as you can before you decide where you want to focus. When you delve into each piece of HR, you’re able to see how the pieces fit together to make the big picture.
Understand your company and how your company generates revenue. Learning the business is key!
Enjoy what you do, and have fun!