Key Points

10 Questions For Chief Human Resources Officer Greg Barnes

In this leadership spotlight, Legence Chief Human Resources Officer, Greg Barnes, shares his path toward HR leadership and pivotal experiences and career advice that helped shape his growth. Learn how Greg fosters an inclusive and people-focused culture at Legence while balancing strategic business objectives. As a bonus, Greg shares one of his most memorable traveling adventures—which is quite compelling!

1. As the Chief Human Resource Officer at Legence, can you share your career journey and the pivotal experiences that have shaped your approach to HR leadership and employee well-being?

I can definitely say my career has been just that…a journey. I, like many others, did not have a linear career path. I started my career as a Chemical Engineer working in the petrochemical industry, before moving into a Sales leadership role for an Engineering Staffing company. The next step in my journey was pursuing an MBA, where my interest in talent and leadership development sparked. I joined a leadership development program with a large multi-national employer that gave me great experiences and exposure that helped me rapidly grow in my HR career. A continued focus on business outcomes, eliminating complexity, and adding value through a people-focused approach has led me to this great opportunity with Legence, where I lead the HR function.

2. Could you share a piece of career advice that has had a significant impact on your professional journey?

I had a mentor early in my career who talked about how self-awareness could be a superpower on the path to a successful career. When I started my career in HR, I was so focused on improving my weaknesses and learning new things, that I forgot to lean on my strengths. That advice shifted my focus to leveraging my strengths to impact the business while addressing my weaknesses and building a strong, diverse team.

3. What are your strategies for developing a comprehensive and well-rounded employee wellness plan that addresses physical, mental, and emotional health needs?

First and foremost, this is a team approach. Historically, executive and HR leadership teams have focused on benefits for employees on physical wellness—encouraging annual check-ups and preventative care to ensure longevity and physical wellness for their employees and families. We’ve taken an approach at Legence to encourage similar strategies for mental health by encouraging mental health check-ins regularly through our partnership with Spring Health which can be leveraged by eligible employees and their dependents for services that meet them where they are on their mental health journey.

4. How have you seen the landscape of employee wellness evolve in recent years, and what do you believe are the most important priorities for companies to focus on in terms of employee well-being?

The landscape for employee wellness has definitely changed over recent years. The COVID pandemic accelerated the focus on mental health and well-being. I believe the greatest influence we can have as a company is to create a safe place to have open discussions and do our best to remove any stigma associated with mental wellness. To that extent, over 300 employees engaged in the Spring Health platform within the first year the program was offered to eligible employees. I l’d ike to raise that awareness, so employees and their family members know they are not alone in their journey. Being actively engaged in your mental health results in a really positive outcome that we continue to support and publicize.

5. What innovative approaches or practices has Legence implemented to foster a strong sense of culture and productivity across the company? Additionally, what is your vision for how this culture will evolve in the next year or two?

We start by acknowledging the strong sense of culture existing in each business that has built Legence into what it is today. Building on that strong foundation, we continue to find new ways to increase communication and messaging about Legence so that all employees are aligned on what we’re trying to accomplish, and why. This is done through multiple communications channels including e-mails, quarterly business reviews with the CEO, newsletters, and social media. Additionally, we look for multiple methods of feedback through town halls, communications councils, and engagement surveys that help us shape our organization’s future. Finally, we are engaging with leadership from each of the business units as part of our Legence Leadership Council (LLC). How we engage this LLC will continually evolve to drive connectivity across the company while also seeking guidance on how we develop our leaders, employees, and culture over the next few years.

6. What role do you believe technology plays in shaping the future of HR practices, particularly concerning employee engagement, performance management, and well-being programs?

I believe technology can be one of the backbones of highly effective and innovative organizations. Embracing technology that allows us to improve collaboration or challenge the status quo should be at the forefront of our investment. From an HR perspective, we continually think about how we can improve the employee experience, heavily leveraging our existing HR platform, Dayforce—leveraging tools for Goal Setting, Talent Development, Talent Acquisition, Learning, and Engagement, just to scratch the surface.  Yet, even the most innovative tools in technology still only support the idea that we need great people in the organization to access those tools to achieve great outcomes for our customers and employees.

7. In your opinion, what are the essential components of a successful HR team, and how should the business leverage HR?

Legence HR exists to deliver insight into talent, leadership, culture, and HR practices that enable Legence to accelerate the energy transition. Great HR focuses on accelerating business, advancing human capability, mobilizing information, fostering collaboration, and simplifying complexity. Business leaders and employees should hold HR accountable to deliver on these elements and leverage HR as a trusted partner and advisor for all things people related.

8. How do you balance the needs of employees with the strategic objectives of the company when developing and implementing HR policies and programs related to wellness and safety?

That’s a great question, as that balance is one of the more difficult outcomes we seek as HR professionals. We are employee advocates AND business partners at the same time. We continually challenge ourselves to eliminate complexity and add value to everything we do. If we continue with that mindset and achieve great outcomes for our communities, customers, and employees, we tend to find an appropriate balance.

9. In your opinion, what are the key factors that contribute to creating a workplace culture where employees feel valued, supported, and empowered to prioritize their health and well-being?

This starts with great leadership. Legence has grown by acquiring companies that have existing cultures that care passionately about their employees, the outcomes they provide their customers, and the impacts their work has on their communities. As Legence continues to grow, we must maintain this focus on leadership, positive relationships with employees, and embracing feedback to continuously improve outcomes for our employees.

10. Outside of work, what has been the most exciting adventure you've been on? How do you enjoy spending your free time?

The most exciting adventure I’ve been on was a long time ago! In college, I did a backpacking trip through Europe for two months, visiting 19 different countries on my own.  It was my first time leaving the United States and it really challenged my ability to get outside of my comfort zone, try new things, enjoy the unknown, and embrace new cultures and environments with an open mind. I’m fortunate that most of my free time is spent with my family. I have three kids (two girls and a boy) who are heavily involved in sports. So, most of my time is spent supporting their teams, generally, Mom going one way and me the other, as they try every sport they can get their hands on. When I’m not at one of their games, I’m a pretty big sports fanatic myself and I likely spend way too much time following professional baseball and all things statistically relevant to the sport.

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