Sensei Partner Story: Mercer


Eric discusses COVID-19 response and recovery at Mercer

We connected with Eric Hachmer, Partner, Growth Leader at Mercer, to discuss how they’re doing their part to help others during the current COVID-19 crisis, how businesses can recover, and what he’s expecting will be changed once we go back to work.

About Mercer

At Mercer, we believe in building brighter futures. For more than 75 years, we’ve been providing trusted advice and solutions to build healthier and more sustainable futures for our clients, colleagues and communities.  Every day we work with organizations to redefine the world of work, reshape retirement and investment outcomes for their employees, and unlock true wellbeing through practical health and wellness solutions. We have more than 25,000 employees, based in 44 countries, that support to clients in over 130 countries. For more information, visit Follow Mercer on Twitter @Mercer.

Hear from the CEO of Mercer Canada Jaqui Parchment on the adjustments they’ve made to continue supporting their clients while ensuring the safety and wellbeing of their colleagues, clients, and community members.

Conductor for COVID-19

Mercer is a partner in Conductor for COVID-19, contributing resources and thought-leadership to help companies respond and recover faster.

Get started for free with Conductor for COVID-19


00:00 [Jay] Hi everyone! I’m Jay Goldman Co-Founder and CEO of Sensei Labs I am thrilled to be joined here today by Eric Hachmer from Mercer.
00:06 Thank you for the warm welcome Jay and I’m thrilled to be here too, so looking forward to our discussion.
00:11 [Jay] Eric, will you just tell everybody a little bit about your role.
00:14 So I’m the growth leader for Mercer Canada and simply what I do is work with our clients and our Mercer teams so that we can connect the best ideas, the best solutions with the most immediate and urgent client needs that that client ask the time. So we help our clients do the right things for their people and that’s what we that’s what I do and on a day to day basis.
00:34 [Jay] So I’m sure in a pre-COVID time you spent a lot of time with your clients in person obviously we are all at home today how have you been finding working from home?
00:43 I was – it has been an abrupt shift so I came back from vacation on March 13th and haven’t been back to the office since, so absolutely everything we were doing face to face is now done remotely. My role was and is national so I was used to being on the phone I was used to doing discussions like this virtually so it’s been a fairly easy adjustment for me but what I have enjoined is that the accessibility.

It’s a lot easier to grab some time with people internally or externally and get good conversations and on a regular basis. So in some ways it’s made our jobs easier because it’s easier to connect with our clients and have real-time conversations on a daily basis.

01:29 [Jay] I know that the world is changing very quickly for your clients, they have lots of questions for you. I saw Mercer pivot very early into this and trying to figure out how to be as helpful as possible to your clients as they’re wrestling with COVID. Can you tell us a little bit about the COVID specific initiatives that Mercer has underway?
01:43 A big part of what we’ve been doing is just helping clients build their own framework around how to move from the react stage to the respond, to the reinvent stage. We’re seeing clients reinventing how they operate, how they support their employees, and how work is done. So one of the biggest things is we’ve helped frame that for our clients so they can make decisions on the basis of where they are in their journey and their most immediate needs and requirements.
02:12 [Jay] When you say reinvent I think this is a really interesting point, lots of people are asking the question ‘when do we go back to normal?’ and our perspective is normal isn’t going to look like it looked before. There will be a new normal state – we’re in an interim normal right now – when your clients are thinking about reinvention, what kinds of topics are they thinking about being different in the future than they were in the past?
02:36 That’s a great question. Over the last two months it’s all been about employee wellness. So are they physically safe? Are they mentally prepared to make the adjustment? Have they got the equipment they need to work from home and be productive? Has an organization done everything they can to help take the worries away from the employees? Now we’re shifting to how do they do their work now in the new world?

So to say we’re focused on the return to work implies it’s just about getting back to the building. Return to work is much more of a new operating model. So some people will never return to the office as a permanently office-based employee, some will transition back on a part-time basis, and some will be the first back into the physical office as soon as the conditions allow. So it’s going to be a different mix and teams are going to have to operate differently. Leaders are going to have to communicate differently and people managers are going to have to support their teams differently.

03:33 [Jay] Yeah absolutely. I think the full set of things that are going to change isn’t obvious yet and we’re going to have to get further into this before we figure that out. We were very excited when Mercer signed on as one of our content partners in the Conductor for COVID-19 and I’d love to hear from you why it was important for you to be part of that initiative.
03:50 I’d say, yes it’s great – two things: first of all I think we have a shared philosophy about helping organisations in this time do the best work they can and enable their employees and I saw Conductor and the environment you’re trying to build is a great way for Mercer to contribute to that. We’ve got ideas and perspectives and thought leadership that we’re more than – we’ve been happy to provide out to organizations that we might not already be in contact with. We need to go where organisations are in their journey and obviously you’ve got an ecosystem of organizations that Mercer can help in some way and for us to participate made a lot of sense and we’re happy to do it.
04:32 [Jay] I think as companies are struggling with this and they’re starting to think as we talked about with reinvention they’re settling into a new rhythm, they’re trying to figure out what this recovery is going to look like. What advice – if it was maybe a sort of top three – would you give to somebody as they think about the transition phase?

So not maybe what this is going to look like in a future or what it is right now, but how do we go from that react to recover where we are now, and then into this next phase? What’s that transition?

05:00 Yeah I think a lot of it has to do with truly listening to the employee. We’ve seen a lot of great work done around pulse surveys, quickly in real-time, so that organizations can measure the real-time sentiment, because we need to do that to understand where the employee is in their journey, what they need to be productive going forward, and so they can reconnect with the purpose of the organization as the organization operates differently going forward.

You know, it’s all – the success of any organization – is about the employee contribution. So if we can listen and then act on what we’re hearing, sentiment, the input from the employees, it’ll make for a much more successful transition and return to whatever the new normal is.

05:46 [Jay] So on that note when we think about this return – I mean I think what’s a little hard to predict the details of what its gonna look like – we’ve talked about some people maybe not returning to offices or different environments – what’s something that you’ve seen from your clients or maybe from the world at large that has changed now for the better that you hope we carry forward?
06:06 Well I think in the last eight weeks we have learned that work can be reinvented very very quickly. I think reluctance of organizations to change, to try new things, and to make rapid shifts – we’ve broken that. And I think organizations now know that they can reinvent work quickly, successfully, and do so in a way that engages their employees as opposed to disengages them. So we have had to flex a muscle that wasn’t comfortable but a lot of organizations realize they can do it successfully for the benefit of their clients and their employees.

So there really, there’s some big barriers that have been knocked down and won’t be there in the future.

06:50 [Jay] Are you seeing maybe concurrent to this sort of push to digital and I think one of the effects of COVID on the world has been a rapid acceleration of adoption of digital technologies. We’ve had no choice. We’ve sent everybody to work from home. Do you see a concurrent rise in the concern about engagement now that everybody has been pushed out of the office?

Are companies sort of saying maybe this is the forcing function that really changes how we think about engagement with our team and maybe how we measure it as well?

07:21 Yeah that’s a great question and digital is such a broad word – topic – it means so many things to different people but we’re seeing organizations that are using technology and digital processes to take some of the non-value-added work off people’s desks. Because we’re asking them to pivot so quickly to new ways of doing things we’ve got to give them a win as well so digitization of key non-value-add processes has happened very quickly.

The other digital shift we’re seeing is how organizations are interacting virtually, so it’s not just about meeting software but it’s about communicating, collaborating, celebrating success, sharing information, some of the things that Conductor brings to the table that doesn’t require people to physically be on the same floor but still you know provides the motivation for both leaders and frontline employees to work together as effectively as possible.

08:20 [Jay] Well thank you so much for joining us today Eric! It’s been a pleasure chatting as always and I look forward to our next conversation.
08:28 It has been my pleasure Jay, thanks again.


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