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InnerCircle 2022: NewYork-Presbyterian emphasizes communication and employee support during pandemic

Employers 06.21.2022 2 MIN

When New York City found itself at the center of the COVID-19 pandemic, NewYork-Presbyterian used a multi-pronged strategy to preserve the mental and physical health of their employees, and address employees’ urgent needs while they cared for themselves, their families and their patients.

From June 8–10, HR leaders from across Corporate America gathered at the InnerCircle conference to discuss key strategies for maximizing potential at their companies. In a fireside chat, Shaun Smith, Senior Vice President and Chief People Officer, NewYork-Presbyterian and Sharmin Mossavar-Rahmani, Head of the Investment Strategy Group & Chief Investment Officer for the Consumer and Wealth Management Division, Goldman Sachs explored Leading People Through Crisis.

Shaun Smith reviewed the lessons he and his team learned while supporting healthcare workers on the front lines of the pandemic’s epicenter. He also addressed key learnings across communication, decision-making, collaboration, volunteerism and the spirit forged by a common mission—things all CHROs can learn from.

Being a leader through the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, Shaun was responsible for managing constantly evolving safety and employee support needs. He spoke on the critical role communication played in guiding NewYork-Presbyterian’s crisis management strategy that allowed the hospital to save untold thousands of lives.


Key Takeaways

  • Communication is key—with your team and your employees. Set aside time to meet with your HR team to stay up to date on changing guidelines and provide a platform for feedback to reach leadership.
  • For employees, it’s necessary to be present, listen to their concerns and ensure they have updated information and support.
  • Company culture can’t falter. Act on your company’s values in a crisis just as you would outside of it. Sharing a mission gives employees a sense of purpose to band together and meet challenges as a team.
  • Creating a place where people feel they belong starts with empowering a team: See your employees for who they are, with all their unique talents, beliefs and experience.
  • Take care of yourselves! HR’s role in the pandemic can’t be understated. You may not realize the toll it takes on your HR team to play this critical role in your organization. Ensure they have the support they need to act as a center of support for the rest of your organization.


While we hope to not face another crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, Shaun’s insights offered evergreen guidance. Maintaining communication and a strong company culture can help guide you through changing needs of your workforce. For more information on the learnings compiled by NewYork-Presbyterian, explore the full recap, co-authored by Shaun Smith, here.

Find more insights and takeaways from InnerCircle on compensation, benefits, talent and culture. Check out Contact us with questions or to learn more about how Goldman Sachs Ayco can help your employees.