The most valuable resources of any organization are its employees. Ensuring the right people are in the right positions and are happy in their environment is a formidable task.
Meet Renee Wietschner Cutler, the go-to person for all human resources issues at the Orthodox Union, from recruiting, onboarding, maternity leave and everything in-between.
Renee says “dedication and wanting to make a difference in the community” are leading qualities the OU seeks in candidates. She says applicants should be “motivated and willing to learn” and be “honest and professional,” to thrive in the workplace.
So far, it may sound like any other corporate environment.
However, the OU maintains a unique work culture reflecting values of the community it serves that go far beyond time off for Jewish holidays. “There are many perks that come along with a career at the OU, the best being that the work is meaningful,” she says, adding that OU staff are “truly making a difference.”
A genuine people person, pivoting to remote work during the pandemic was a challenge. Renee quickly adapted and a hybrid of virtual and face-to-face professional interactions is now the norm.
“I really love what I do. I live and breathe what I do,” she says of her six years at the OU.
But it almost didn’t happen.
Renee had planned on becoming an occupational therapist. Later, she realized that it was not for her and changed direction. She studied business and looked for a way to merge that with her psychology major. Human Resources was the answer, and she earned an M.S. from NYU in Human Resource Management and Development. “In this field I am still helping people and it’s a very people facing profession, which is what I like.”
Her efforts have a tangible impact on life at the OU, contributing to the environment that makes it a special place to work.
Renee created a program for employees blessed with a new baby. When new parents go out on parental leave, they receive newborn starter kits packed with essentials like diapers, wipes, and a bib featuring the OU logo. “We want to show that we care about parents and are here to support them during this stage,” she says.
That’s just one of the many changes implemented by the OU HR department. Renee also leads weekly orientations held over group video sessions, a departure from the phone calls and individual office meetings of the past. “This was a major change and win for our department because we realized that we can be more efficient, and we recognized the value in new employees across all OU departments and offices meeting each other at the same time.”
Another aspect of her work involves interviewing employees exiting the organization with the goal of examining lessons learned to make improvements. “This has been very eye opening to me as the feedback that we have received would be something I would have never seen myself,” she reveals.
So, what does it take to excel as an HR specialist at an organization with hundreds of employees?
“I would say the secret is to be reliable, patient, empathetic and understanding of situations that arise,” Renee explains.
In her spare time, Renee is a foodie who explores restaurants and snacks, sharing her experiences through her Instagram account and helping people looking for kosher food in the NY area and beyond. An avid traveler, Renee aims to visit all 50 states with her husband. She has checked 20 off the list.
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.