__MAIN_TEXT__

Page 1

VOL XI / ISSUE 11 / november 2020

THE STATE OF D IG ITAL HR BIG INTERVIEW Gary Hamel Professor, London Business School

The pandemic, which has altered the way we work today

and has implications for the future of work as well, offers

the possibility for global talent leaders to accelerate to

digital to continue to be mission-critical to their business.

BIG INTERVIEW

Michele Zanini Co-Founder, the Management Lab


Rev-Up Growth Thank you for making People Matters L&D conference 2020 a great success 35

1573

41

2167

138

32 MN+

No. of Sessions

Connections Made

Attendees

Virtual Meeting Scheduled

Speakers

Social Reach

4027

Discussions


Our Partners PRESENTING PARTNER

POWERED BY PARTNER

DIAMOND PARTNER

GOLD PARTNERS

CATEGORY PARTNER Corporate Coaching Partner


FFrroom m tth h e E d i t o r ’’ss DDeesskk 4

Have you digitized your HR, yet?

T

he COVID-19 pandemic has forced organizations to suddenly shift their focus to new priorities. Companies were scrambling to adapt as the emergency hit and news of layoffs, costcutting measures and halting demands started flashing all over. However, companies that had adaptable cultures and strong business resilience rode out the storm very well. Fast, agile, and robust digital transformation initiatives helped those businesses come out stronger. The shifting priorities of businesses entailed them to double down on areas around employee needs, health and safety, and a far more agile and cross-functional way of working.

| november 2020

The pandemic saw yearlong digital transformation projects consolidate into months and companies including the non-tech-savvy ones exploited digital tools to enable the virtual mode of working, ensure productivity, and ensuring employee well-being. Almost overnight, most companies have digitized their sales, service delivery, products, and retail offerings. It’s clear that in order for companies to thrive beyond the pandemic, they need to look ahead. The decisions they make now will impact the health of their business and their people in 2021 and beyond. The crisis also reinforced the fact that organizations need to have a plan to fall back on, whenever a crisis of such magnitude strikes. And they need access to the right technology, data, and partners that can provide meaningful insights, to make better business and people decisions that will drive better outcomes. So, the overarching message from the COVID-19 pandemic is "become more digital and be more human". We have seen an incredible amount of resilience and agility demonstrated over the last several months, with entire workforces transitioning to remote work or being redeployed into new roles overnight. The passion, commitment, and agility of the people were the driving force of this resilience. HR leaders have been propelled

into an increasingly strategic role with the responsibility of balancing business continuity with the need to maintain human connections. This needed talent leaders to increasingly leverage digital technologies to help businesses survive the crisis. In pre-COVID-19 times, several leaders felt that HR tech was rather expensive and were not taking up HR technology on priority. However, the aftermath of the crisis has created a very strong case for HR technology. The businesses have noticed the importance of employee experience and engagement. It is hard to put a monetary value on them, but the pandemic has shown the enormous value that engagement and experience can bring in for businesses. Organizations with strong digital-led HR governance and a focus on employee needs are more capable of driving the change the crisis demands. Interestingly, companies that are continuing to move ahead with HR technology investments aren’t just those that are financially stable. Companies that are looking at the long term and understand that making an investment, such as moving to cloud-based HR technology, will ultimately be a greater benefit to their organization. We didn’t see the large adoption of technologies like blockchain in HR over the last few months. However, organizations are looking at HR technology to drive their overall digital transforma-


remodel their talent management systems with next-gen HR tech such as people analytics, talent acquisition tech, RPA, and AI in across recruiting, onboarding, upskilling, performance management, and employee well-being. The story also covers how HR tech vendors are stepping up their games to address new market needs by realigning their product offerings to deliver maximum value to their customers. For the Big Interview, we have London Business School’s Professor, Gary Hamel, and Management Expert, Michele Zanini, co-authors of “HUMANOCRACY: Creating Organizations as Amazing as the People Inside Them”, who share insights on how to bust bureaucracy and harness the everyday genius of workers, and how struggling organizations can stay resilient in difficult times by committing to the 4 Ms of Motivation, Mindsets, Models, and Migration. The issue also features a report “The State of Behavioral Learning 2020” and why it has become critical to business operations. As always, we would be happy to hear your views, comments, and suggestions regarding our stories.

THE COVER STORY (BEHIND THE SCENE)

I don’t want a red dot...

From the Editor’s Desk

Nice! Here comes the sun!

VOL XI / ISSUE 11 / november 2020

tion – by harmonizing data, streamlining processes, and creating seamless experiences for their employees to stay productive and engaged. The biggest areas of deployment amid the crisis include employee communications, real-time and online training, surveys and feedback, and the new emergence of “back to workplace” scheduling and safe workplace tools. The HR tech landscape has experienced an increased focus on the need for collaboration and knowledge management tools. Talent management and capability development, especially remote learning, performance management, and workforce/ talent marketplaces are other areas that have seen a lot of movement. The adoption of AI and automation technologies has also accelerated since the outbreak because of its ability to facilitate contactless interactions at a time of social distancing and heightened awareness of hygiene. Several organizations have seen an increase in HR functions using analytics from within organizations to help drive cost and reward optimization to determine how best to reward their workforce. The demand for agile workforce solutions has gone up, along with talent marketplace solutions that support workforce agility and the delivery of an inclusive career experience. The cover story in this issue takes a look into the current HR landscape and how talent leaders are demonstrating agility by taking the lead to

PHEW!

Happy Reading! Esther Martinez Hernandez Editor-in-Chief follow

M > @Ester_Matters F > estermartinez > ester.martinez@peoplematters.in

THE STA TE O F D IG ITA L HR BIG INTERVIEW Gary Hamel Professor, London Business School

The pandemic, which has altered the way we work today

and has implications for the future of work as well, offers

BIG INTERVIEW

the possibility for global talent leaders to accelerate to

digital to continue to be mission-critical to their business.

november 2020 |

Michele Zanini Co-Founder, the Management Lab

5


contents

n ove m b e r 2 0 2 0 volu m e xi issue 1 1

expert views cover story

60 Josh Bersin, World-known industry analyst, educator, and thought leader in all aspects of HR, leadership, and HR technology

58

63 Samir Bedi, EY Asean Workforce Advisory Leader 67 Aaron Green, Senior Vice President and Head of SAP SuccessFactors, SAP Asia Pacific Japan 72 Soumyasanto Sen, HR Technology, Transformation & People Analytics Leader and Advisor 76 Vaclav Koranda, Vice President Human Resources at T-Systems Malaysia 79 Shailesh Singla, Country Head & Senior Director, Employee Experience/HCM Business, Oracle 84 Colin Brennan, President, Global Solutions & Services, Alight Solutions

C O N TE N TS

88 Vaibhav Goel, Vice President HR – Digital Transformation at Reliance Industries 92 Walt Sokoll, Principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP 96 Niamh Graham, Vice President, Global HR, at Workhuman 100 Angie Freeman, Chief Human Resources Officer at C.H. Robinson 106 Roelof Kistemaker, Chapter Lead People Insights & Technology, Roche 109 Clinton Wingrove, Director of www. WantToBeGreatManager.com and www.ClintonHR.com

By Mastufa Ahmed

112 Anne Fulton, CEO of Fuel50

Editor-in-Chief

Features Writers

Senior Editor

Assistant Managers, Content

Esther Martinez Hernandez Yasmin Taj

Associate Editor, Print & Online

Mastufa Ahmed

Marta Martinez

Drishti Pant | Neelanjana Mazumdar Design & Production

Shinto Kallattu

Manager, Content

Digital Head

Jerry Moses

Prakash Shahi

Associate Editor

General Manager, Sales

Abid Hasan

Senior Features Writer

6

Anushree Sharma Bhavna Sarin

Senior Associates, Content

Manager, design, photography, and production

Shweta Modgil

Mint Kang

Rubi Taj rubi.taj@peoplematters.in +91 (124) 4148102

| november 2020

Manager, Sales

Saloni Gulati saloni.gulati@peoplematters.in +91 (124) 4148102 Manager, SUBSCRIPTION

Neha Yadav subscribe@peoplematters.in +91 (124) 4148101 Printed and Published by

Mahesh Kumar on behalf of People Matters Publishing Pvt. Ltd. Owned by

People Matters Publishing Pvt. Ltd. Published at

501, 5th Floor, Millennium Plaza, Tower A, Sushant Lok-1, Sector-27, Gurgaon - 122009, Haryana, India

Tel: +91 (0) 124-414 8101 ask@peoplematters.in www.peoplematters.in Printed at

Printed at Polykam Offset C-138, Phase - I, Naraina Industrial Area, New Delhi - 110028 Tel: 011-45566341-42 Note to the readers The views expressed in articles are those of the authors and do not reflect the views of People Matters. Although all efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the content, neither the editors nor the publisher can take responsibility for consequences arising from errors

or omissions in the information provided. Reproduction in any manner without prior permission from the publisher is prohibited. Printed at Polykam Offset C-138, Phase - I Naraina Industrial Area New Delhi - 110028 Published at 501, 5th Floor, Millennium Plaza, Tower A, Sushant Lok-1, Sector-27, Gurgaon - 122009, Haryana, India

This issue of People matters contains 144 pages including cover


the big Interview

20

interview

Busting bureaucracy with humanocracy

Jobs, skills, and changing workplace dynamics

Gary Hamel, Professor, London Business School Michele Zanini, Co-founder, the Management Lab By Yasmin Taj

34

Gareth McIlroy, Managing Director, Korn Ferry, Singapore By Mastufa Ahmed

126 HR s t r a t e g y

16 Ne w s F e a t u r e

Empathy is not a speed breaker, but a performance accelerator

Creating a ‘Discovery Market’ for talent search with AI

By Praveen Sinha, Ex-Head-HR Center of Excellence, Escorts Ltd and Co-Founder, People n Planet Fora

By Bhavna Sarin

28 T h e r o a d less t r a velle d

The road less travelled

130 S K I L L I NG

By Visty Banaji, Founder and CEO of Banner Global Consulting (BGC)

The state of behavioral skilling

By Jerry Moses

Easing the post-lockdown work life

By Jeffrey Pfeffer, Chair professor of organizational behavior at Stanford Graduate School of Business, and By M Muneer, Managing Director of CustomerLab and Co-Founder of the non-profit Medici Institute

44 I n t e r vie w

Can’t solve 21st century problems with 20th century ways of thinking

Blair Sheppard, Global Leader, Strategy and Leadership for the PwC Network By Yasmin Taj

50 s t r a t e g i c h r

Navigating HR post COVID-19 Transforming for the future of work—leading with head, hands, and heart

By Ramon A. Chelva, Chief People Officer of edotco Group, an integrated telecommunications infrastructure services company in Asia

C O N TE N TS

40 E m p lo y ee r el a t io n s

135 E m p lo y ee Well - b ei n g

54 le a d e r s h i p

Goh Swee Chen on leadership behaviors By Maia Jenkins

116 S P E C I A L I NT E R V I E W

Companies want to make smart investments, even more so now when things are so uncertain

Sailing in the choppy waters of pandemic:

Revisiting ‘Emotional Well-being’

By Dr. Saumya Goyal, Counselling Psychologist, Founder – WEQIP, and By Dr. Lalatendu Kesari Jena, Assistant Professor (HRM), Xavier School of Human Resource Management.

regulars

04 From the Editor’s Desk

Joe Ross, VP, Global Product Management at WorkForce Software By Shweta Modgil

08 Letters of the month

120 Co r p o r a t e A g ili t y

138 Knowledge + Networking

Organizing for speed: New possibilities post the lockdown

By Faridun Dotiwala and Aarti Subramanian, respectively, are partner and senior expert in the Mumbai office of McKinsey & Co

124 E n t r e p r e n eu r s h i p

You can’t wait for a perfect time to launch a business

Raj Nayak, Founder and Managing Director, House of Cheer By Abid Hasan

10 Quick Reads

140 Blogosphere

Featured In this issue Aaron Green Angie Freeman Anne Fulton Blair Sheppard Colin Brennan Goh Swee Chen Gareth McIlroy Gary Hamel Joe Ross Josh Bersin

Michele Zanini Niamh Graham Raj Nayak Roelof Kistemaker Samir Bedi Shailesh Singla Soumyasanto Sen Vaclav Koranda Vaibhav Goel Walt Sokoll

CONTRIBUTORS to this issue Aarti Subramanian Clinton Wingrove Faridun Dotiwala Glenn Campbell Jeffrey Pfeffer Dr. Lalatendu Kesari Jena

M Muneer Praveen Sinha Ramon A. Chelva Dr. Saumya Goyal Visty Banaji

november 2020 |

7


Letters of the month

l e t tqeur isc okf r t heea m d os n t h

Reimagining workplace learning

A quick interesting read on the urgent need to reimagine workplace learning. The concept of building a culture of continuous learning was already being cascaded across industries when COVID-19 came rushing in only to accelerate the process of learning. As several employers and employees turned to learning programs to utilize time in the early COVID-19 days and eventually came to the realization that the post-pandemic era is here to stay for time unknown, the need to revamp learning programs emerged. Both from the perspective of what skills to learn as well as the delivery aspect of how to make learning more engaging, personalized, and beneficial in a virtual setup. The pressure on HR and L&D leaders has been tremendous in these times to ensure all practices and measures remain engaging, however, employers are missing out on the key aspect of learning preferences and the fact about existing digital fatigue. There is a definite need to address the unchecked rush to implement learning programs and targets, while also ensuring redesigned learning strategies are not overwhelming, but rather meaningful with adequate scope to personalize as per employee preferences and learning needs. - purnima singh

COVID-19 has accelerated the need for tech competence

With the magnified need for technology to stay connected, enable workflows and ensure business continuity along with providing services to people, both as employees as well as customers, it is critical for the technology itself to evolve and meet the ever-changing needs of all stakeholders. Global economic, business and personal circumstances have undergone a drastic shift and to help sustain through these times, technology is not only the enabler but carries with itself a huge responsibility to help people, businesses, and economies grow from sustenance and continuity to recovery and growth. Doing that with existing technologies might pose a challenge for many, which is why we see greater digital adoption across all aspects of life. From work to healthcare to socializing with physical distancing, the way forward is with technology. How tech organizations scale and evolve will determine their relevance in times to come. - Pragun Jindal 8

| november 2020

october 2020 issue

Leaders should bridge skill gaps by cultivating people’s core capabilities

Michael’s emphasis on the Human Capital Trends Report that highlights that 53 percent of respondents stated that within three years between half and all of their workforce will need to change their skills and capabilities, struck a chord with me. The pace of change is today is unlike anything the workforce has been exposed to in their past, and to be able to cope with the demands of existing as well as emerging needs, there is a definite call for action on accelerating skilling. One key contributing factor to enable the journey is learning and collaboration tools. The efficiency and effectiveness of existing learning infrastructures have now experienced some testing times with several leaders recognizing the need to bring in blended learning through synchronous and asynchronous learning. - Kanishk Agarwal


Interact with People Matters

Speak leadership’s language to gain their buy-in

- Smruti Ranjan

There has never been an opportunity like this to reset HR functions “What we planned on doing in 2020 makes no sense any longer. Priorities have changed. Budgets have changed. Intentional sequencing is more important than ever.” This is exactly what the last few months have been about. A collective shift in priorities and investment. The silver lining amid the ongoing crisis is the opportunity to reset. Much like the pandemic, this opportunity is a once in a lifetime opportunity to reassess current practices, policies, culture, outlook, and the ultimate ‘end in mind’ or goal. - Grishma Putran

How the pandemic will change the way we care for our employees

Several organizations today endeavor to up their wellness strategies, making them more holistic. What a majority are missing out on is that health doesn’t come from mere policies but also culture and working environment, which comes out very well in this piece. You can have an EAP service, and still, it is highly likely that employees might not reach out to the counselors owing to several factors, such as trust, credibility, and transparency. - Kaushik Srinivasan

Building a workforce that has the skills to build skills

A lot of interesting insights from Lewis Garrad; relevant, actionable, and food for thought on how leaders and individuals perceive skills. In recent times, conversations surrounding the urgent need for skilling, reskilling, and upskilling the workforce have surfaced quite often. While employers look to prioritize key skills from a future of work, relevance, and shelf-life perspective, it goes without saying that the ability of employees to respond to these skilling needs would vary. Some might lack the ambition, some might have different aspirations altogether, some might be aligned on the bigger picture but aren’t skilled to the level to be able to cope with the current needs and several other different parameters for the skills gaps. - Anish Aravind

Preeti Bose @preetibose26 Had an engaging session sharing my insights on ’BlindSpots in Leadership’ with @PramathSinha earlier today. Sharp questions from the audience too. Thank you @PeopleMatters2 for the opportunity! #PMLnD #Leadership #BlindSpots #SelfAwareness Rey Celsub @Rey_Celesio This conference is full of high impact topics! Now with Mark Onisk (Chief Content Officer), Skillsoft. Topic: Leading Effectively in the New Now: The Leadership Spectrum @PeopleMatters2 #PMLnD Mastercard APAC @MastercardAP Soft skills are now more important than ever: #Mastercard #AsiaPacific head of HR Amanda Gervay speaks to @Mastufa from @PeopleMatters2 about #WFH, the #futureofwork and why #flexibility is key for ideal workplaces in a post #COVID19 world. Read it here mstr.cd/3k1YU4v Swetha Nemala @swethanemala @PeopleMatters2 @Ester_Matters Thankyou for organising this Tweetathon. Great and highly fast paced exchange of ideas and thoughts. Relaxed weekend ! Kunjal Kamdar @kunjal23 How are you feeling at this moment? As always excited to follow and learn from #PMLnD @PeopleMatters2 conference:) @Ester_Matters Birlasoft @birlasoft Over the weekend, on #WorldMentalHealthDay, leaders of various organizations took a pledge to help improve #mentalwellbeing their employees. An exclusive report by @PeopleMatters2, which features comments by Arun Rao. Read more. buff.ly/3jRNccS #MentalHealthMatters

l e t tqeur isc okf r t heea m d os n t h

Hit the bull in the eye with this one. HR leaders often struggle with getting requisite leadership buy-in for numerous peoplefocused initiatives, and it all comes down to communication. As talent leaders we seldom factor in time to cater to tailormake pitches in the language that the management is open to hearing, it becomes more about the message, with not adequate focus on how it is communicated, which often is the dealbreaker. While the need for an initiative or new program is one, HR professionals and leaders need to articulate the purpose in a manner that translates into an effective workforce strategy for the organization, and back that up with data and insights.

People Matters values your feedback. Write to us with your suggestions and ideas at editorial@peoplematters.in

follow

M > @PeopleMatters2

{WRITE TO US NOW BY SCANNING THIS CODE}

november 2020 |

9


Jobs

Jobs

IT major Salesforce plans to add 5.48 lakh direct jobs in India in near future and sees the country has the potential to become the second-largest in terms of GDP, Salesforce Chief Data Evangelist Vala Afshar stated while speaking at the Raise summit. Salesforce is estimated to have a market capitalization of around $240 Bn. Like many companies, Salesforce had flagged the

possibility of slower revenue growth earlier in the pandemic as their customers navigated economic difficulty and struggled to pay their bills.

Unemployment main concern for global business leaders: WEF Culture

Microsoft making WFH standard for most roles Microsoft will be allowing most of its employees to work from home even after its offices reopen, according to its Chief People Officer Kathleen Hogan. In a blog post, Hogan announced that the tech giant will be moving towards increased work flexibility, and has issued guidelines on what this constitutes. "Moving forward, it is our goal to offer as much flexibility as possible to support individual work styles, while balancing business needs and ensuring we live our culture," she wrote. 10

Singapore forms workgroup to push pay rise for low-wage workers

Leadership

q u i c k

r e a d s

Salesforce to add 5.48 lakh direct jobs in India

| november 2020

Unemployment is the main concern for business executives globally, with fiscal crisis – the top concern in 2019 – coming third, according to the World Economic Forum’s interactive map on Regional Risks for Doing Business 2020. Infectious diseases progressed 28 spots and is the second most recurring risk, appearing in the top 10 in all regions except South Asia.

Singapore's Ministry of Manpower, its National Trades Union Congress, and the Singapore National Employers Federation are forming a tripartite workgroup to push for higher salaries and better welfare for low-income workers. The new workgroup, comprising representatives from each of the three organizations, will look into implementing better wage models in sectors with large numbers of low-wage workers—such as waste management—

while improving productivity for these sectors. Ng Chee Meng, Secretary-General of NTUC, said in a Facebook post announcing the workgroup's formation that one of its initiatives would be to expand the progressive wage model originally introduced in 2012. The model, which is currently implemented in the cleaning, landscape, and security sectors, involves building an annual wage increase for workers in these sectors and balancing it with training to raise their productivity.


Jobs

Acquisition

Cineworld closure puts Churchill II acquires 45,000 jobs at risk Skillsoft and Global Knowledge

HR platform FirstMeridian acquires CBSI India

Home services company, Urban Company has launched an industry-first initiative by announcing its Mental Health Leave Policy, ahead of the World Mental Health Day. Under this employee-centric initiative, employees will be allowed to take unlimited sick leaves in case they are suffering from any form of mental or physical illness, particularly if the patient has contracted COVID 19.

Funding

Braintrust raises $18 MN funding

Braintrust, a network for freelance technical and design talent has announced that it has raised $18 million in new funding. The funding round was led by ACME and Blockchange Ventures, joined by new investors Omidyar Technology Ventures, Pantera, Multicoin, Hashkey, and Variant. The company intends to use the funds to further accelerate the marketplace’s growth.

r e a d s

cquisition

Other employee benefits

Urban Company offers 'Mental Health' leave policy

Churchill II will merge with Skillsoft in a transaction valued at approximately $1.3 billion and, following the closing of the merger, the combined company will acquire Global Knowledge for approximately $233 million, putting the total cost of the transactions at $1.5 billion.

q u i c k

Cineworld is on course to cut tens of thousands of jobs after confirming plans to temporarily bring the curtain down on its UK and US cinemas because of continuing disruption from the coronavirus pandemic. The company said its decision affected 45,000 workers, almost 6,000 of them in the UK, and Sky News understands they will lose their jobs this week in the hope they can be re-hired when the hibernation ends.

Churchill Capital Corp II, a special purpose acquisition company, and Software Luxembourg Holding S.A. (Skillsoft), a global player in digital learning and talent management solutions, announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement to merge, and Churchill II also announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Global Knowledge Training LLC, a worldwide player in IT and professional skills development.

FirstMeridian announces 100 percent acquisition of CBSI India - an IT staffing business, for a total investment of INR 120 Million. CBSI and its employees will now operate as part of the FirstMeridian group. With presence across Contract Staffing as well as Permanent Recruitment, CBSI works with marquee clients in the IT Service Industry Space.

november 2020 |

11


newsmaker of the month

q u i c k

r e a d s

The US Election and the world of jobs

12

T

he US election is one of the biggest political headlines in 2020. In a closely watched contest, Donald Trump and Joe Biden go head to head in a year that has seen multiple crises on different fronts – from economy to healthcare to geo-politics. The unemployment rate in the US hit the highest levels since the Great Depression in April this year. Although the numbers have reduced since lockdown measures were eased, a winning candidate will shape new norms on jobs of the future – from unemployment extensions, tax policies, social security to incentives for new jobs and industries like green energy and infrastructure – a lot is on the line for American workers. The election is also set to determine the future course of action for professionals seek-

| november 2020

ing to work in the US. The H1B regime is closely tied to the outcome of the election. Trump’s call to keep “American jobs for American workers” has already led to a re-examination of the rules for visa eligibility and conditions on it. Recently, the Department of Homeland security and the Department of Labor notified new rules for the visa – according to which there’s a focus on changing the definitions of specialty occupation, limiting the validity of an H1B visa to one year for a worker placed at a third-party worksite and changes to the prevailing wage system among others. Reacting to the news of new restrictions on the H1 B visa program – the Indian IT lobby group, National Association of Software and Service Companies (NASSCOM) said the changes announced will

restrict access to talent and will harm the American economy. “These regulations seem to be based on misinformation about the program and run counter-productive to their very objective of saving the American economy and jobs. This is particularly relevant at a time when US businesses continue to face a huge deficit of STEM skills: overall U.S. unemployment rate grew from 4.1 percent in Jan-2020 to 8.4 percent in August-2020; while unemployment in computer occupations declined from 3 percent to 2.5 percent in this period,” the statement said… despite the high degree of overall unemployment in the US, demand for high-tech skills continues to remain robust – clearly endorsing the argument that there are just not enough workers with relevant skills to fill them. The new rules announced will worsen this talent gap by making it more difficult for U.S. employers to hire foreign workers.” Beyond the political rhetoric, the opportunities for high skilled talent, the future of emerging green industries, and the future of jobs in America are likely to shift both for Americans and citizens elsewhere based on the outcome of the election.


Teradata appoints Nicolas Chapman Chief Strategy Officer Teradata, the cloud data analytics platform company, announced the appointment of Nicolas Chapman as Teradata’s Chief Strategy Officer. In this newly created position, Chapman will be responsible for working collaboratively across the organization to develop Teradata’s strategic plan, annual operating plan, as well as the ongoing measurement and refinement needed to achieve the company’s strategic goals. Chapman held leadership roles at McKinsey & Company, guiding technology companies around the world in executing successful business turnarounds.

r e a d s

Monica Bhatia named Essence’s MD for Singapore Essence announced the appointment of Monica Bhatia as the company’s Managing Director for Singapore. Bhatia will be responsible for driving continued client-centric innovation in data, analytics, and technology, as well as business growth and company culture for Essence in Singapore. As part of Essence’s APAC leadership team, Bhatia will report to APAC CEO T. Gangadhar (Gangs). Alongside her new position, Bhatia will continue in her current role as Essence’s Senior Vice President, Client Partner, APAC, leading the agency’s Google business across the region and reporting to Dave Marsey, Essence’s President, Global Client Partner.

Bhaskar Ghosh joins Accenture as the Chief Strategy Officer Accenture has announced changes to its Global Management Committee, with the appointment of a new Chief Strategy Officer and leadership moves in its U.K. and Ireland business. Bhaskar Ghosh has been named Chief Strategy Officer, effective immediately, with responsibility for the company’s strategy and investments, including ventures and acquisitions. He will continue to lead the growth strategy for Accenture’s Industry X business, which includes digital manufacturing and intelligent products and platforms.

q u i c k

Nestlé appoints chairman and CEO for MENA region Nestlé has appointed Remy Ejel as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region, effective September 1st, 2020. Ejel joined Nestlé in Saudi Arabia in 1998 and held various executive positions in different markets and countries over the years. In 2007, he assumed the role of Assistant Regional Manager in Zone Asia Oceania and Africa (AOA) at Nestlé headquarters in Switzerland, supporting all African countries for four years, before returning to the Middle East as Business Executive Officer Confectionery.

Wipro GE Healthcare appoints new President & CEO Wipro GE Healthcare announced the appointment of Dr. Shravan Subramanyam as President & CEO, GE Healthcare India & South Asia and Managing Director, Wipro GE Healthcare, effective 1 October 2020. Shravan joins Wipro from Roche Diagnostics where he was their Managing Director, India, and Neighbouring Markets, responsible for commercial operations, market access, customer experience, and digital transformation efforts. He succeeds Nalinikanth (Nal) Gollagunta who will be taking up a new role as the Global Chief Operating Officer of the GE Healthcare Digital organization post-transition.

Raymond Lifestyle gets a new CEO Raymond Limited announced the reinforcement of its management team at Raymond Lifestyle with the appointment of Joe Kuruvilla as the Chief Executive Officer. Joe was till recently the Vice President - Digital Transformation, Media, and E-Commerce for East Europe at Unilever PLC. The recently appointed Chief Operating Officer, Ganesh Kumar will report to Joe and work with Joe to execute the transformation agenda for the business as it emerges from the nationwide lockdown due to the global pandemic. november 2020 |

13


q u i c k

r e a d s

Juhani Hintikka appointed President and CEO of F-Secure Cybersecurity provider F-Secure announced that the Board of Directors has appointed Juhani Hintikka as new President and CEO, effective 1 November 2020. Hintikka has held leadership roles in various industries such as telecommunications, software, and materials handling and has board experience in aviation and construction sectors. Samu Konttinen, the previous President and CEO of F-Secure Corporation, has resigned to pursue a leadership opportunity outside the company. SBI names former EY Partner as new CFO State Bank of India has announced the appointment of Charanjit Attra as its new Chief Financial Officer, the lender stated in an exchange filing. Attra is one of SBI’s latest lateral hires and will report to J Swaminathan, Deputy Managing Director of the finance department. Attra will be responsible for overseeing statutory audit functions in the bank besides coordinating with the banking regulator and the National Financial Reporting Authority on auditor related issues. Prior to joining SBI, Attra worked as a partner at the global consulting firm EY. In one of his earlier stints, he served as the CFO of 3i Infotech and ICICI Securities. Adidas appoints Amanda Rajkumar as new HR Chief Amanda Rajkumar has been appointed to the Adidas Executive Board: Beginning of 2021, the British national and HR professional will join the then six-member Executive Board of the sporting goods company as Executive Board Member responsible for Global Human Resources. Amanda Rajkumar holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Goldsmiths College, London University, and has over 24 years of human resources experience in global organizations. She joins Adidas from 14

| november 2020

BNP Paribas, where over 11 years, she held several executive HR leadership positions for different business divisions based out of the UK and the U.S. Kimberly-Clark appoints new CHRO Kimberly-Clark Corporation announced that Sandi Karrmann will join the company as Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, effective October 26, 2020. Karrmann will have global responsibilities for the human resources function including talent recruiting, development and performance management, labor relations, compensation, and employee benefits. Karrmann will report to Mike Hsu, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Kimberly-Clark, and serve on the company's executive leadership team. Carolyn Moore joins Auth0 as Senior Vice President of People Auth0, the identity platform for application builders, announced that Carolyn Moore has joined the company as Senior Vice President of People. With more than three decades of experience in global human resources, Moore will be integral in furthering Auth0’s next phase of growth. Previously, Moore held senior people and HR-related leadership roles at Fortune 500 organizations, including Mercedes-Benz, Apple, and Samsung. Shweta Setia joins Growisto as Head of HR Growisto, an eCommerce marketing, and technology company has recently appointed Shweta Setia as the head of Human Resources. Shweta comes with over a decade of experience in Talent Management, Diversity and Inclusion, Learning and Development, Performance Management, and HR operations. Before joining Growisto, Shweta has helped scale HR functions of start-ups and greenfield setups from the ground up. She has experience working with multinationals like IBM and WIPRO as well as niche firms such as Delphix and Rare Mile.


IMPACT ACROSS THE EMPLOYEE LIFECYCLE WHEN YOU WIN, WE WIN. ATTRACT, RETAIN, DEVELOP AND ENGAGE Today’s multi-generational workforce with four suites – Talent Acquisition, Learning Management, Talent Management and Workforce Management, all on one common platform. Reimagined Recruiting and New Hire Experience

Pervasive Employee Engagement

Modern and Immersive Learner Experience

Lifecycle Career Development

Embedded Reporting + Analytics

We offer flexible development options SAAS / PRIVATE CLOUD / SAAS EXT / ON-PREMISE

India@sumtotalsystems.com +91 40 6695 0000 sumtotalsystems.com


News Feature

S

Empathy is not a speed breaker, but a performance accelerator The scale of work and home life for employees weigh heavy on the work front, with employees being on the receiving end of unrealistic expectations, hampering both wellness and productivity. How can a Chief Empathy Officer fix the imbalance that persists in experience? Let’s find out By Bhavna Sarin

16

| november 2020

torytelling. Remember the breakthrough discovery of how storytelling helps establish an instant connection with customers? Gaining not just their attention, but their interest and in most cases their loyalty as well? The key purpose and outcome of beautiful storytelling –establishing an unbreakable connection or an unbreakable instant bond with consumers, that goes beyond features, products, services, price, and every such element associated with a business. What was the role of that instant connection? It’s neuroscience! Several research reports have highlighted the impact of hormones like oxytocin and dopamine on human behavior. How certain external stimuli possess the power to trigger response from these hormones, which in turn suggests favorable behavioral responses. Why did organizations shift from talking about their products to telling stories? For the very reason of striking an emotional connect and a recall, through external stimuli. Translating that school of thought in the context of the present day, isn’t it more crucial to ensure such a meaningful connect and loyalty with the workforce first, and then move on to sustaining such meaningful


Empathy needs to be embedded in the fabric of the organizational culture Empathy has often been discussed as a good to have soft skill for leaders. However, ever since COVID19 brought on widespread disruption, the need for empathy grew leaps and bounds to ensure people

sustainability. Yes, while the two terms often used have been business continuity and people safety, what it essentially encompasses is business continuity and people sustainability, and empathy is about people sustainability, which is why the criticality needs to be amplified. One such way is by evolving the leadership structure to accommodate a Chief Empathy Officer, who then would identify the right strategies to embed empathy

91 percent of CEOs believe empathy is directly linked to a company‘s financial performance into the cultural fabric of the organization. Having appointed Tiffany Persons as the company’s very first Chief Empathy Officer in August 2020, Founder and Chairman of David&Goliath (D&G), David Angelo stated, "Given the immense challenges of today, from world health to systemic racism to issues around diversity, equity and inclusion, it seemed a natural evolution of our culture to create a new role, one that not only aligns with our truth, but most importantly is dedicated to creat-

ing sustainable, impactful change, from the inside of our agency out, through the lens of empathy”. Interestingly, a Businessolver report on State of Workplace Empathy 2020 revealed that a whopping 91 percent of CEOs believe empathy is directly linked to a company‘s financial performance, with 72 percent of CEOs acknowledging that the state of workplace empathy needs to evolve. Tiffany’s appointment as Chief Empathy Officer, among several other Chief Empathy Officers who have been appointed in recent times, goes to show the increasing need, recognition, and impact of having a leadership role dedicated to growing empathy as a value in the organization.

Bringing in empathy through authenticity

News Feature

connects with customers in the long-term? Storytelling has successfully been leveraged to design some of the most influential marketing campaigns to strike that bond with consumers, making content not just relatable, but triggering empathy. And while Chief Marketing Officers are leading the charge on integrating empathy into customer relations, who exactly is in charge of integrating this concept into employee relations? The Chief Human Resource Officer, or the Chief Executive Officer? While that debate continues, there are organizations that have passed on the baton on leading the empathy agenda for employees to an altogether new executive, designated and recognized as “Chief Empathy Officer ”. So what is the conversation around empathy and why is there a pertinent need for a Chief Empathy Officer in the current scenario? Let’s find out!

The vote of confidence with “This too shall pass” needs to be supported by an empathetic and supportive work environment to help the workforce sail through rough times until these times do in fact pass. Design thinking. Another interesting concept that brought about revolutionary thinking and altered the approach to designing products and services, with feedback as the driving force to recognize and modify the product or service in question. A similar approach november 2020 |

17


News Feature

Being empathetic doesn’t get in the way of work, it enables work

It is very critical for managers to show empathy towards their team members. This can be done by looking beyond deliverables achieved and considering different situations employees face when working remotely to organizational empathy is required to improve employee experience, at least improved if not make it seamless. And the simplest way is by encouraging two-way conversations, with more of listening to what employees have to say, and then adjusting, introducing, or eliminating any practice that hinders their sense of trust and performance. An authentic approach to being empathetic was shared by Uniphore’s Chief People Officer, Annie Weckesser, in one of her

18

| november 2020

conversations with People Matters, “Given the many challenges we face today, be it company-wide or at a personal level, managers need to be empathetic towards employees. Empathetic by way of listening to what employees have to say and being open to their suggestions.” She added, it is very critical for managers to show empathy towards their team members. This can be done by looking beyond deliverables achieved and considering different situations employees face when working remotely.”

“Empathy is fundamental to leadership. Especially in times of crisis, it is important for a leader to display empathy, to communicate to the employees that they care for their needs. However tough the times are, our shared concern of “we are in this together” will go a long way towards building an environment of support and also drive better performance,” emphasized Siddharth Mehta, CEO Freecharge, in conversation with People Matters. A common thought process among management is often about prioritizing customers over employees, especially today when they continue to ensure a seamless experience for customers, demanding much more from employees, and offering much less in return. However, there are visible changes across industries and geographies where organizations are stepping up in this hour of need and equipping employees with all they need to at the end of the day, feel and perform better. In a keynote session at People Matters TechHR 2020, APJ Senior Director of Employee Workflows, ServiceNow, Alex Margarit, recommended being empathetic first and then introducing employee-friendly services. “It’s about under-


The rise of Chief Empathy Officer

Some argue the need for leaders to be empathetic, which of course is a nonnegotiable, however, the scale and magnitude of disruption that the workforce is experiencing today calls for a specialized focus on employee journey, one that smoothens the transition and uncertainty while also fostering a more collaborative and empathetic culture, creating empathy champions. Industry expert Josh Bersin in his blog back in March 2020 urged leaders to put people first, “leaders in a crisis focus on “empathy and compassion first, business second”. If you believe, as I do, in the unlimited potential of the human

According to a 2019 Nielsen analysis, Empathy is the #1 rule for ‘new product innovation success’ spirit, you understand that only by making people safe will we ever grow out of this crisis. Giving people money will help, but jawboning the stock market won’t matter. When people feel a sense of safety, trust, and empowerment, growth will return.” While Bersin concluded the blog by referring to today’s CEO as the Chief Empathy Officer, the firstof-its-kind corporate and home integration calls for focused attention on sowing the seed of empathy deep into the culture, and any such change requires intervention from the leadership, in the present case, an intervention by the introduction of a Chief Empathy Officer. A study by the Management Research Group found

that empathy was the top competence for good leadership and among the three strongest predictors of senior executive effectiveness. The question that now arises is whether empathy needs to be treated as a skill or as a functionality. Will having a Chief Empathy Officer help cascade the empathy vote throughout the organization, or will it lead to restricting empathy as a responsibility to a select few? Does having a Chief Empathy Officer amplify the importance of the empathy agenda or will that become an easy escape for those who see empathy as a roadblock in business? While several organizations today are responding to the need of the hour with appointing a Chief Empathy Officer to navigate the crisis before them, how does this role play out in the post-COVID-era? Would the business continue to feel the need for such a leadership role or is this going to be more of a fluid role that can be absorbed with under other functions once the rough waves calm down? The answers will only unfold in due time, however, given the urgent need to infuse empathy into every conversation in the organization to balance wellness and productivity, it is likely to bode well for organizations to have someone with an expertise in the field lead the way. november 2020 |

News Feature

standing their journey, being empathetic and being employee-centric, then meeting their needs with digital, cross-functional services.” According to a 2019 Nielsen analysis that studied 61,000 SKUs representing more than 12,000 new launches since 2011, ‘Empathy’ is the #1 rule for “new product innovation success.” Empathy isn’t just great for employee experience, it results in enhanced engagement, productivity, and loyalty, consequently resulting in better innovation, products, services, and revenue.

19


Busting bureaucracy with humanocracy:

B IG

I N TERVIEW

Gary Hamel & Michele Zanini

20

In this Big Interview, London Business School Professor, Gary Hamel, and Management Expert, Michele Zanini, co-authors of ‘HUMANOCRACY: Creating Organizations as Amazing as the People Inside Them’, share some insights on how to bust bureaucracy and harness the everyday genius of workers, and tell us how struggling organizations can stay resilient in difficult times by committing to the 4 Ms of Motivation, Mindsets, Models, and Migration By Yasmin Taj

N

ow, more than ever, we need organizations that are resilient, daring, and inspiring. Unfortunately, the typical organization, overburdened by bureaucracy, is inertial, timid, and dispiriting. We can and must do better. Resilient organizations, great jobs, and zero bureaucracy – that’s the promise of humanocracy, but more than a promise, it’s a reality we can start building today. In HUMANOCRACY: Creating Organizations as Amazing as the People Inside Them, Professor Gary Hamel and management | november 2020

expert Michele Zanini make a passionate, data-driven argument for excising bureaucracy and replacing it with something better. Drawing on more than a decade of research, and packed with practical examples, Hamel and Zanini lay out a detailed blueprint for creating organizations that are as inspired and ingenious as the human beings inside them. Gary Hamel is a longtime faculty member of the London Business School. He has authored 20 articles for the Harvard Business Review and published five books with Harvard Busi-

ness Review Press, including The Future of Management (2007), which was named Amazon’s business book of the year. The Wall Street Journal ranked Hamel as the world’s most influential business thinker, while the Financial Times labeled him a “management innovator without peer”. Michele Zanini is the co-founder of the Management Lab. Together with Gary Hamel, Zanini helps forward-thinking organizations become more resilient, innovative, and engaging places to work. Zanini was previously an Associate Partner at McKinsey and


B IG I N TERVIEW

november 2020 |

21


B IG

I N TERVIEW

Company and a leader in the firm’s organization, strategy, and financial services practices. Zanini’s work has been featured in the Harvard Business Review, the Financial Times, and the Wall Street Journal. In this Big Interview with People Matters, Gary and Michele, acclaimed business thinkers detail how to bust bureaucracy and harness the everyday genius of workers. Read on to learn more about how to flatten

If you want to build organizations that can succeed in a world of hyperconnected change and unprecedented challenges, we will have to be quite intentional in dismantling bureaucracy or building something better in its place the organizational hierarchy, distribute power, and unleash the “everyday genius” of every human being at work; and how struggling organizations can stay resilient in difficult times.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world like never before with more than 38.9Mn confirmed cases, as of October 16, 2020, globally, and more than 1.1Mn people known to have died. On the other hand, 22

the crisis has also impacted businesses like never before. How do you see the larger picture of this crisis? Gary: For sure, COVID19 is the most demanding test for individual and organizational resilience in our lifetimes. And not surprisingly, a lot of large bureaucratic organizations have struggled to respond to the crisis. An Italian health care leader said about the crisis, that the virus moves faster than our bureau-

| november 2020

cracy and that’s a fact. What we saw was a typical response to a large crisis. In a small crisis, power tends to move towards the center, but in a large crisis, power moves towards the periphery and this is what we have seen with this pandemic. It is important to note that COVID-19 is not the only unprecedented challenge we faced as a species; we are also facing climate change, income inequality, social injustice, declining productivity growth, geopolitical

threats, and the job displacing impact of automation. And so, against those challenges, we need to mobilize qualities of human initiative and imagination and unfortunately, that is almost impossible in bureaucratic structures. Bureaucracies turned human beings into semi-programmable robots, they demand compliance, they are innovation phobic and they are very slow to change. We have seen through the crisis how human beings at all levels of society are doing what bureaucracies can’t – forming these spontaneous horizontal networks, experimenting locally, combining their knowledge, and trying to deal with the problem. Now, you might hope that as we come out of the crisis, CEOs and other leaders would recognize all of this and want to harness that and support that. But, history says otherwise. Typically, as a crisis wanes, power moves back to the center as bureaucrats, ever jealous of their power, seek to reassert their authority. That’s what happened after the financial crisis of 2008-09. So, I think that will happen again this time and unfortunately, COVID-19 has been lethal for hundreds of thousands of human beings but will not be lethal for bureaucracy. If you want to build organizations that


Michele: The COVID19 crisis is testing the adaptability of the world's organizations as never before – and most are coming up short. This is hardly surprising. Authoritarian power-

structures and rule-choked processes are an untenable liability in a world of accelerating change and global mega-threats. COVID-19 provides an opportunity for a real reset, provided smart CEOs and government leaders commit themselves to dismantling bureaucracy and building something better in its place – something that maximizes contribution, not conformance.

What does Humanocracy stand for? And how can

november 2020 |

I N TERVIEW

can succeed in a world of hyper-connected change and unprecedented challenges, we will have to be quite intentional in dismantling bureaucracy or building something better in its place. And, COVID-19 will not do that work for us.

B IG

COVID-19 provides an opportunity for a real reset, provided smart CEOs and government leaders commit themselves to dismantle bureaucracy and building something better in in its place – something that maximizes contribution, not conformance

leadership be re-envisioned in a Humanocracy? Gary: The word bureaucracy which is a French word means the rule of desks – which essentially means the rule to form a hierarchy where your authority is correlated with your rank. So, the core architecture of bureaucracy is that the traditional pyramid where the authority trickles down and the power and compensation is correlated with rank. In a humanocracy, by contrast, authority comes from competence, from value add, when you are a leader only if other people say you are a leader and not by virtue of a formal title or by virtue of whether others are willing to follow you. So, in a humanocracy, what you find is that rather than a single dominant formal hierarchy, we have multiple hierarchies that are based on the particular issue at hand. The hierarchy depends on what is the problem that we are trying to solve and in that instance, who is competent is most relevant. Administrative competence is not very rare in the current times and they add very little value to most organizations. It is necessary work but it does not add distinctive value. So, despite all of these changes, despite the fact that today everyone can have a full picture of an

23


B IG

I N TERVIEW

organization and its performance, despite the fact that now administrative competence is almost a commodity, our organizations are still structured as these administrative aristocracies. And I think that has to change; that is the essence of bureaucracy. It is administrative aristocracy, it is a caste system that separates the thinkers and the doers, the executives and the ordinary employees, the clever and the compliant.

24

if you start with those goals, you adapt and then you work to build an organization that helps you achieve that goal, whether it is maximizing compliance or maximizing contribution. Depending on the goal you start with, you end up with radically different organizations. Michele: The main premise in our book is that we need to put human beings, not structures or processes, at the center of

Instead of a management model that seeks to maximize control for the sake of efficiency, we need one that seeks to maximize contribution for the sake of impact. We need to replace bureaucracy with humanocracy In humanocracy, we assume that we have basically an almost flat organization where the work of managing is the work of everyone every day, that individuals and teams are self-managing and that administrative skills are one competence amongst many rather than one competence to rule them all. In bureaucracy, the goal and the problem we were trying to solve was compliance. In humanocracy, the problem we are trying to solve is maximizing human contribution and | november 2020

our organizations. Instead of a management model that seeks to maximize control for the sake of efficiency, we need one that seeks to maximize contribution for the sake of impact. We need to replace bureaucracy with humanocracy. In a bureaucracy, human beings are instruments – they are the “resources” employed by an organization to create products and services. In a humanocracy, the organization is the instrument – it’s the vehicle human beings use

to better their lives and the lives of those they serve. So, the question at the core of bureaucracy, the operating system powering most large organizations across the globe, is, “How do we get human beings to better serve the organization?” The question at the heart of humanocracy is, “What sort of organization elicits and merits the best that human beings can give?” We think the implications of this shift in perspective are profound, not least in terms of how we think of leadership. If the definition of a leader is someone who catalyzes positive change, then every organization needs all the leaders it can get. Unfortunately, the idea of leadership that predominates in most organizations has been hopelessly compromised by bureaucratic thinking. We have a long way to go in disentangling leadership from hierarchy. So, we think it’s time for a radical rethink of leadership and leadership development. As much energy as your organization spends teaching up-and-comers to be better administrators, it needs to invest even more in identifying and equipping those who are naturally inclined to be internal activists.

How can organizations flatten the organizational hierarchy, distribute power,


• The fifth principle is openness. While tightknit communities are emotionally vital, we also love being in environments that encourage curiosity, learning and candor. That means building an organization that is open to brilliant ideas wherever they come from. • The sixth principle is experimentation. There’s something deeply satisfying about using

B IG I N TERVIEW

• The third principle is and unleash the “everyday markets. In a market genius” of every human economy, consumers have being at work? lots of choices—and that’s Michele: Uninstalla good thing. Markets are ing bureaucracy and buildmuch better at aligning ing something better means needs and resources than rebuilding our management centrally planned econostructures and processes mies. But most businesses around new, human-centric operate like a command principles. We need to inject economy, where a small new DNA into the managenumber of people at the ment genome. top make most of the big The goal of humanocracy decisions. This needs to is to maximize contribution. change. So, what sort of principles would you start with if you wanted to build an organization that inspired people to give their very best? Our research suggests that seven principles are key: • The first principle is ownership. If given the chance, most of us would rather be owners than employees. While not everyone can work in a start-up, it’s possible to build organizations where every team member has the autonomy and financial upside that helps them feel and act like an • The fourth principle is entrepreneur. community. All of us • The second principle is crave genuine commumeritocracy. All of us nity—and the emotional want the chance to develop strength and resilience our skills and be recogthat comes from being nized for our contribuknow and accepted for tions. We need organizawho we are. That’s why tions where influence and our organizations need to compensation are correfoster deep, trust-based lated with competence and relationships. When we value-added, and where feel safe and accepted, we decisions are untainted by do our best work. politics and bias.

your ingenuity to solve a new problem; to come up with a new idea, test it, perfect it, and then put it to work. Experimentation is also fundamental to business success—it’s the way an organization reinvents itself. • The seventh and last principle is paradox. The companies we profile in the book like Haier, Nucor, november 2020 |

25


I N TERVIEW B IG 26

and Buurtzorg have learned how to reconcile conflicting goals—like scale and agility, innovation and efficiency, and freedom and discipline. Getting better at paradox means localizing key trade-offs—giving front line team members the information and skills needed to make smart, real-time trade-offs as the situation demands. Dismantling bureaucracy requires taking these principles to heart and embedding them into each organization’s management systems and processes.

With Google and many other companies announcing remote work plans through 2021, reports lauding employee productivity and efficiency have dominated headlines. But is there a downside to the new virtual workplace? What are some of those? Gary: I think there are some upsides but there are also a couple of downsides. The upside is that of course people don’t spend a good portion of their day commuting and wasting time getting from point A to point B. The downside for employees is that you may save that time commuting, but now your home is your work environment and it becomes even harder | november 2020

to separate your personal life from your work life. Secondly, the fact is that a crappy job done at home is still a crappy job, that working remotely does that make that work any better. I would also argue that remote working does not change things that employees dislike about work. It doesn’t change the fact that you have a tyrant for a boss, it doesn’t change the fact that you still have someone

think remote work changes that. Again, it doesn’t improve the quality of the job, it doesn’t remove bureaucracy, it doesn’t remove oversight, doesn’t give you a bigger share of voice, it doesn’t raise your pay, and it doesn’t give you a financial upside. So again, what we have seen over the last 10-20 years is that we keep fiddling at the margins. We keep changing marginal

looking over your shoulder and second-guessing your work. They can’t do that virtually but they can still do that. Working from home doesn’t decrease the oversight. It doesn’t give you a bigger share of voice, it doesn’t allow you to be part of the strategy conversation. So, the reality is that everywhere around the world, only 15% of employees are engaged at work and I don’t

things like we will have a cafeteria at work, we will put a gym into the work facility or we allow people to have flex time or maybe to work from home. All of these things are good, but these changes are not going to turn bureaucracies into empowering meritocracies.

How can struggling organizations use your principles to stay resilient in crises?


growth. This is more than a philosophical orientation; it’s a heartfelt conviction that inspires personal transformation. Models: Learning lessons from organizations that have broken the bureaucratic mold – like Haier, Buurtzorg, Nucor, Gore, Vinci, Handelsbanken, and many others. These organizations that are, on average, substantially more profitable, creative and resilient than their peers.

should be empowered to work on individual components, much like Amazon or Google organize their software development. We think that distributed, cellular approach to building humanocracy is similarly sensible. One can easily imagine a large organization supporting dozens of parallel management experiments, like those we detail in the book. That’s the way to bring down bureaucracy—not with a giant

Migration: Syndicating the work of “hacking” management to the entire organization in a way that elicits new thinking, mitigates risk, and routes around old power structures. Our view is that the responsibility for change must be broadly syndicated. Everyone must see themselves as a potential change leader. The task of rewriting the management “codebase”, needs to be disaggregated, and small teams

I N TERVIEW

To change our organizations, we must first change ourselves. We must own our part in perpetuating bureaucracy and take corrective action. This means actively committing ourselves to the ideals of human agency, dignity, and growth

B IG

Michele: To become truly resilient, organizations will need to commit themselves to four “Ms”: Motivation: Being honest and transparent about the costs of bureaucracy, for employees, firms and the economy as a whole. Gary and I started calculating how much an excess of bureaucracy was costing the U.S. economy. We said that if companies could reduce the size of the bureaucratic class by half and redeploy all that energy into value-creating roles, we could add just under US$3.5 trillion to the U.S. economic output. No one does this kind of accounting at the organizational level. Most of the costs are invisible. Apathy doesn’t show up on a P&L. All their emotional energy that goes into winning zerosum battles for promotion instead of creating more value for customers isn’t visible. Mindsets: Ridding ourselves of the outdated “managerialist” beliefs that keep us trapped in the bureaucratic status quo. To change our organizations, we must first change ourselves. We must own our part in perpetuating bureaucracy and take corrective action. This means actively committing ourselves to the ideals of human agency, dignity, and

reorg, but with a swarm of hacks. The idea of “change management” like “jumbo shrimp” is an oxymoron. There’s no way radical, systemic change can be successfully designed and deployed top down. In the future, the most effective change efforts will be socially constructed. They won’t cascade, they won’t roll out. Instead, they’ll roll up. To escape the curse of bureaucracy, we must change the way we change. november 2020 |

27


Visty Banaji

The fast track to organizational transformation How can you elevate the best without dispiriting the rest? In this article, we look at how to build a talent pipeline that fast tracks promising talent to leadership roles

The road less travelled

I

28

magine this all too common scenario. You are the HR head of a large corporation which has been very successful in its time but is now in great need of renewal and transformation. The change demands new businesses to be created from scratch and entire functions to be modernized and greatly strengthened. For several reasons, including the immediate infeasibility of lifting compensation structures to levels high enough to attract talent, lateral intake has to be limited. Over the years you have been recruiting some excellent people from campuses but they’re way down in the hierarchy. You don’t have time for them to crawl up the plaque-blocked promotion channels and, in any case, most of them get frustrated by their slow progression and leave before they have a chance to make a significant difference. The challenges listed here are the right triggers for a | november 2020

Fast Track Program (FTP) provided you are a passionate believer in the 'stretch' theory of development.1 Of course, an FTP is not a panacea for all organizations in all situations. Let us examine where it is likely to make the greatest contribution to the firm’s strategic and operational goals.

Why have career path Autobahns The first predisposing factor demanding an FTP

is company size. Smaller organizations may also find an FTP useful but it is virtually mandatory for large corporations that have been around for a while. Regardless of how dynamic an organization is in its origins, scale and time bring hierarchies, bureaucracies and set ways in which things-have-to-be-done in their wake. The problem is exacerbated when the business or technical environment suddenly demands


needs modification but, thoughtlessly stirring people from potentially incompatible organizational cultures in the pot, is a recipe for organizational indigestion or worse. Speaking of culture, an FTP is itself an invaluable tool for cultural change. Since the people selected exemplify the desirable new cultural markers, they can become proselytization pivots wherever they are placed. Equally importantly, the scheme itself is a perfect catalyst for organizations that have been stuck in bureaucratic limbo while moving from traditional,

seniority-bound people practices to nimble, meritocratic avatars. A robust FTP smashes age and tenure specifications that pass for HR policies in some companies. For organizations that are dependent on people commitment and creativity, it is vital to retain their best contributors and potential leaders. An FTP can significantly improve the probability of holding on to the few who are disproportionately capable and promising. Further, if the challenges facing the organization require leaders with creative fluency,

FTP is an invaluable tool for cultural change. Since the people selected exemplify the desirable new cultural markers, they can become proselytization pivots wherever they are placed

november 2020 |

The road less travelled

a different set of strategic competencies and, given the company’s past priorities, talent (both in numbers and quality) is far from the limbs which current and future strategic imperatives demand should be strongest. Of course, diversification or rapid growth in adjacencies makes leader paucity into an existentially threatening drought. The pat (and frequently disastrous) answer is to get outside talent both to shake up the existing orthodoxy and remedy the interfunctional or inter-business lopsidedness of internal talent distribution. Few companies are in a position to rejig their entire compensation structure just to maintain parity with a large inflow of lateral hires. In this situation, paying top Rupee for outsiders can cause additional acceptance problems for people who are likely to be resisted anyway for the change they are supposed to effect. Getting what is affordable leaves the company with the worst of both worlds – having to absorb outsider shock for no perceptible talent quality gain. Another great challenge with a large lateral influx (whether for growth or rejuvenation) is the cultural confusion it brings in its wake. This is not to deny the utility of selective and appropriate external admixture when culture

29


The road less travelled

mental flexibility and high energy levels, an FTP can be an especially appropriate vehicle for carrying people with precisely these capabilities to the actual scene of action. When the most dynamic innovators are left in organizational backwaters or jobs that do not stretch them to the full, not only will the company fail to benefit from their capabilities but will, very likely, lose them. The FTP is thus a valuable component of the employer value proposition, particularly for millennials entering the workforce who may otherwise go to start-ups. Being in an FTP combines the excitement and challenges of a start-up with the scale, stability and learning potential that only larger firms can provide.

The race isn’t always to the swift... but that’s the way to bet

There are as many versions of FTPs as there are modern corporations that have found this an optimal answer to their people planning problems. Distinct from the internally sourced FTPs we have been considering is the Fast Track Program Variant (FTPV) which throws open (or even limits) the initial intake to external talent (usually fresh out of college). The FTPV is particularly useful for large conglomerates which find it a challenge to disseminate a common 30

| november 2020

culture across sectors as well as geographies. A cadre of super-capable culture-carriers (with continuing ties and commitment to the conglomerate center) can play this role with suitable central support. While all the pointers given in this section and the next may not apply to every

FTPs are a valuable component of the employer value proposition, particularly for millennials entering the workforce who may otherwise go to start-ups FTP, it is unlikely that too many of them can be controverted without jeopardizing the basic objectives of such programs. Let’s briefly look at some of these relatively invariant principles for designing and deploying a successful FTP. Assuming there is a sufficiently bright, eager and diverse pool to choose from (and if there isn’t, you can stop your hopes of creating an FTP right there), the obvious place to start is selection. This is where all our psychometric proficiencies will be tested to

the full. After all, we are trying to identify Fast Trackers (FTers) with the potential to be CEOs many years later while having the maturity and usable competencies to make an immediate splash. Apart from the creativity, flexibility, and energy to which we have already referred, we need to evaluate the hunger to keep learning and the ability to inspire and influence people who cannot be ordered (either because they are decades older or not in the reporting hierarchy). Making the process even more complex is imperative to involve the top leadership of the company during the final selection. Unless they participate in the program and are seen to be committed to it, the FTP will be shot down much before it can prove its worth. Even after an FTP is successful, a single wrongly selected cohort can disproportionately damage its equity. Hence there is a need to never relax the selection quality. Extreme selectivity need not cause disaffection among those who don’t make it as long as the process is run fairly and the organization at large can see the remarkable caliber of the people who are chosen. In fact, the greatest testimonial the selection process can receive (and I have been fortunate to hear it on more than one occasion) is for people who have not been selected telling you they


training inputs 2 and find programs of substantive duration, delivered by topclass educational institutes, an invaluable ingredient. Since management education is the most likely gap for FTers, the identification of the most suitable executive MBA course is a 'musthave' for most FTPs. Of course, such education is only enough to bring everyone to the same starting point. Even more important

FTers should be trained with the top management. There is a limit to which culture can be transmitted in a classroom. FTers must be the first choice for multidisciplinary task forces – particularly those dedicated to major transformational initiatives. Those who wish to leave a mark on a corporation’s history can do no better than learn from those who have made history in the past and from closely

Now for the hard work

observing those who are in the process of creating it. Hence mentoring by previous leaders, access to current leaders and the opportunity to work with the latter is an important part of the education of these future leaders. At the heart of any FTP is the challenge, variety and learning contained in the assignments and projects that form the bulk of the post-selection training. Each of these has to be meticulously chosen but it is their summation that must mosaic representative samplings of the organization’s key functions and geographies (other than the ones the FTer originated from). For instance, it would be impossible to cover all of a large company’s functions in stints of 3-4 months (which are the general norm) even if the training extended for well over a year. But it would be very practical to ensure immersion in a customer-facing function, an operations or delivery one and a couple of functions focused on support, service and monitoring. As important as the choice of assignment is the choice of guide or supervisor for each of them. Very obviously these have to be capable coaches who have a demonstrated record of nurturing leaders. They must be secure enough not to feel threatened by the FTers assigned to them but must also have the firmness to start rubbing november 2020 |

The road less travelled

Provided the pool of talent from which the choice has been made is educationally diverse (as it should be) there will need to be supplemental education to fill the gap for some FTers. I am not a great believer in the efficacy of very brief

are the tailor-made courses for each cohort depending on the challenges the organization faces and the cultural continuity or change FTers are meant to contribute. Each major corporate transition or renewal is prefaced by orientation sessions for the top management and longer training for key change agents. The most recent FTP batches must get places at the more intensive training and previous

appreciate why others were picked up and realize what they need to do to improve themselves.

31


The road less travelled 32

out the rough edges that are the concomitant of young enthusiasm. In addition, HR needs to provide individualized coaching to FTers as they cope with a totally different magnitude of responsibility and facilitate formal mentoring as well as informal networking with previous FTer batches. Make no mistake. FTers are a resource requiring high maintenance. The initial placement requires even more care (than the training stints) in the choice of both assignment and supervisor. Very often an executive assistant role to a business leader is an excellent introduction and signal of support for an FTer starting several levels

higher than similarly qualified employees. The extent and rapidity of the level jump varies from company to company but, if it doesn’t burn a few envious hearts, we are really not talking of an FTP. On the other hand, if the caliber the FTP yields is not obvious to the general employee population (at least in their non-Iago moments) either the selection is flawed or some of the organizational pre-requisites don’t hold and it is time to review whether the organization should step back from having an FTP at all. The role of mentors and HR support doesn’t become less critical in the first few years after initial placement. In particular, if an

Even after an FTP is successful, a single wrongly selected cohort can disproportionately damage its equity

| november 2020

above-average trajectory is to be continued, both the top management and the HR leadership will have to put their weight behind the best achievers among the FTers. If such advocacy is not energetically pursued, jealous seniors (slogan: "I never got such a boost when I was young") and the inertia of the system will ensure a reversion to the mean.

Shooting down Icarus

It should be clear by now that the FTP is a highly complex and fairly delicate ecosystem. The lack of almost any of the prerequisites and action steps already mentioned can cause the scheme to malfunction. The most frequent causes of FTP fatality, however, are just three. They are interconnected but worth examining individually. Once an FTP is successful, the greatest temptation is to pump more people through the program. But in this case, diminishing returns set in very quickly. All else being the same, higher intake means some lowering of quality. Once this decline becomes perceptible, the aura justifying the higher placement and progression fades away and the scheme becomes a source of demoralization rather than inspiration for employees at large. It is not enough to ensure just that there are enough entry level roles for FTers. A good


fails, the company falters badly not too much later.

The Gains

Substantial gains accrue to organizations that correctly tailor-make their FTPs and sustain them over the years. The obvious and immediate advantage comes from the extraordinary results these outstanding performers deliver. Moreover, they are an ever-ready and versatile team of leaders that can be air-dropped whenever there is a crisis to be handled or opportunity to be exploited. Over the long term, it is even more valuable to have a pipeline of enculturated leaders available for future CEO and CXO openings. The benefits of an FTP that are not so obvious are those it provides to the employee population at large. An FTP gives a clear signal of what the company really values. If a picture is worth a thousand words, an acceler-

ated promotion is worth a million. It inspires people to follow the FTers examples because, even if they can’t make it to the program, mirroring these behaviors will make their own careers faster than otherwise. Moreover, a successful FTP makes it immeasurably easier to 'unstodge' sclerotic systems and bureaucratic blocks to the free and fast upward movement of the meritorious throughout the organization. And that, after all, is what makes for a nimble and high performing organization.

The road less travelled

manpower planner must also limit FTP intake to the number of CEO / CXO roles that will be available to this source in the future. Before an FTP finds its feet or when there is a leadership change, the loss of support and commitment for the program from the CEO or CHRO is another grave danger. Since the FTP Icarus always has to struggle against the gravitational pulls of mediocrity and inertia, it falls back to earth as soon as top-level boosters are removed. Closely linked to both these threats is the decline in the quality of learning and placement assignments. These are inevitably followed by a slowing career progression vector which is no longer being pushed by HR. These three acts conclude, of course, with FTers following the stage directions for Antigonus. 3 When these 'schemicidal' steps are taken by newly arrived CEOs or CHROs, they take these departures as confirmations of their good sense in distrusting and debilitating the program. The truth is just the opposite. FTers are like canaries in mines. Their quality, confidence and the FTP stamp make them the first choice of talent hunters everywhere and their departures should be an early warning that things are not well with the organization. In my experience, when an FTP

Notes:

1. Visty Banaji, Stretch them: A simple philosophy of development, People Matters, 19th February 2018, (https:// www.peoplematters.in/article/trainingdevelopment/stretch-them-a-simplephilosophy-of-development-17533). 2. Visty Banaji, Draining the (Training) Swamp, People Matters, xxxx, (xxxx). 3. William Shakespeare, The Winter's Tale, Act III, Scene 3.

Visty Banaji is the Founder and CEO of Banner Global Consulting (BGC) november 2020 |

33


The New Workplace

Korn Ferry’s Gareth McIlroy on jobs, skills, and changing workplace dynamics

34

For years organizations have been talking about digital transformation, but the pandemic has grabbed the concept and made it an absolute imperative for survival, says Gareth McIlroy, Managing Director, Korn Ferry, Singapore, in an interaction with People Matters By Mastufa Ahmed

M

cIlroy has built an impressive track record supporting clients spanning a broad range of industries and has coached and developed senior executives from major multinationals, family-owned enterprises, and governmental agencies in a variety of countries around the world. His work with senior executives includes supporting leadership teams in leading mergers, acquisitions, and preparation for an IPO. McIlroy has also played a leading role in the CEO Succession and Transition at a variety of firms. McIlroy's key area of expertise is in designing and implementing initiatives for senior leaders to drive executive team effectiveness | november 2020


and internal development needs. Prior to joining Korn Ferry, McIlroy was Regional Managing Partner for APAC and M.E. for another Leadership Consulting firm based in Singapore. Here are the excerpts of the interview:

The impact of the pandemic will not be the same for all: some businesses will rebound sharply, some will recover at a much more gradual pace, and some will not rebound at all redesigns have been more focused on creating efficiencies, but now the focus needs to be much more on creating structures that allow for greater agility so that they can course-correct quickly when required. The impact of the pandemic will not be the same for all: some businesses will rebound sharply, some will recover at a much more gradual pace, and some will not rebound at all.

The New Workplace

How do you see the current business landscape amid this COVID-19 outbreak and the readiness of businesses to come through stronger on the other side? In my view, the impact of COVID-19 will be much broader, deeper, and enduring than many realize. The knock-on effect of the circuit breaker, social distancing, travel bans, etc., will have a longlasting impact on the business environment. Even though many firms understand the change in the landscape conceptually, many are still in denial about the fact that life after COVID-19 will look and feel much different to how it was as we entered 2020. It will not be the same for all: some businesses will rebound sharply, some will recover at a much more gradual pace, and some will not rebound at all. Many organizations are currently taking a long hard look at their organization structure to ensure that they are set up to enable more agile decision making and faster implementation of ideas. They have realized that they are going to require a very different operating model to achieve the required speed, but also to ensure that they can keep their own workforces engaged and effective. Historically, organizational

The latest data on the labor market impact of the COVID-19 tell us the disturbing effect on workers and millions of enterprises worldwide. What's the november 2020 |

35


The New Workplace

need of the hour given this neverbefore situation? While the number of opportunities in the labor market has significantly contracted, the pandemic has created opportunities within sectors like healthcare, logistics, e-commerce, and technology. The real pressing need, however, is more acute when it comes to the softer skills required within the workforce such as the need for greater adaptability, more creativity, stronger leadership skills, and a heightened sense of emotional intelli-

Historically, organizational redesigns have been more focused on creating efficiencies, but now the focus needs to be much more on creating structures that allow for greater agility so that they can coursecorrect quickly when required gence. Leaders need to find different ways to engage a remote workforce, while members of the workforce need to be able to operate effectively without the need for constant supervision. Personal ownership for the job that you are carrying out has become increasingly more important.

In the post-pandemic days, there may be jobs that get lost forever, and then there may be jobs that can become more important than ever. How do you 36

| november 2020

see the job landscape five years down the line? For years organizations have been talking about digital transformation, but the pandemic has grabbed the concept and made it an absolute imperative for survival. The “new normal� postpandemic world will never be the same as it was before. Cybersecurity was important in pre-COVID-19 times, but this importance has been significantly magnified as the reality for digitalized operations has made organizations much more vulnerable to potential attacks. The opportunities in this area will continue to expand. E-commerce will be another area of significant job expansion and opportunities, and the way that payments/banking is carried out will continue to transform. Cloud technology will continue to accelerate the disruption of banking as we know it, and the job landscape within financial services will be fundamentally changed as a result. Artificial Intelligence and the diverse range of uses that it brings will be at the heart of this transformation. In addition to the financial aspect of E-commerce, the whole approach to supply chain and logistics will also be very different in the post-COVID-19 world. The potential problem caused by globalized single source dependencies has been magnified, and we will move towards a much more flexible model, with multiple sources to fulfill demand. I would expect that regional logistics hubs will re-emerge,


and there will be substantial job opportunities created as a result.

The New Workplace

Do you think the new work from home phenomenon can transform the job market? How do you see the overall impact of this virtual mode of working? Working from home (WFH) has moved from being a COVID19 phenomenon to a new business reality for many, and organizations are seeing this new reality as an opportunity rather than a risk. This will have significant implications for the job market. Whilst there has been global competition for talent with some of the most strategic jobs, historically most jobs were limited to a much smaller local talent pool. With WFH, the talent pool for most roles can potentially be much broader with competition not being geographically constrained. Salaries that companies are willing to pay for certain roles will no longer be based on the cost of living in the location of the office. There will be less requirement globally for people to be based in the more expensive metropolitan areas, so the potential to live in much more cost-effective areas will be greatly enhanced. While the number of opportunities in the labor market has significantly contracted, the pandemic has created opportunities within sectors like healthcare, logistics, e-commerce, and technology.

tions and revamp their upskilling approaches by embracing an agile approach to strategic workforce planning? To be effective in the postCOVID-19 world, organizations are going to have to invest not only in their operating model, and also in their people. Remote working requires an enhanced level of technical skills, but also it requires a different type of emotional support, as without the face-to-face interactions, there is a danger that team members may feel isolated and the overall morale may suffer. Leaders and managers will need to be more proactive and disciplined in ensuring that they are having regular one-on-one catch-ups, and increased levels of communication are required to make sure that the workforce is kept motivated and engaged. People must be allowed more autonomy to make decisions, and a clear decision-making structure must be set up to enable this.

Do you think organizations need to invest in effective longterm remote-working foundanovember 2020 |

37


The New Workplace

Significant upskilling will be required from a technical perspective, and this will need to include training around cybersecurity.

COVID-19 has exposed the inequalities of our societies. So, how do we build better normal that supports the most vulnerable first? The impact of the pandemic has shone a spotlight on the increasing inequalities within societies around the world. In Singapore, by far the greatest number of cases of the virus has spread through the workers' dormitories, where living conditions are in sharp contrast to the widely admired HDB flats where 80 percent of Singaporeans live. Fundamental to reducing inequality is the approach that respective governments take to the way that they apply their tax and benefits regulations. More subsidies can, and should, be given to the most

vulnerable, and in certain cases, this will require a higher level of taxation for those who are further up the financial food chain, either through increased income taxes, or additional taxation on luxury items. Remote working requires an enhanced level of technical skills, but also it requires a different type of emotional support, as without the face-to-face interactions, there is a danger that team members may feel isolated and the overall morale may suffer.

How do you see the overall role of HR and people managers evolving amid this pandemic and what’s the way forward for people and talent managers to make the most of this situation? The role of HR is evolving rapidly as a result of COVID19. A lot has happened over the last few years to position HR as having a “seat at the table� and this will continue to evolve. The pandemic, however, has significantly increased the importance

While the number of opportunities in the labor market has significantly contracted, the pandemic has created opportunities within sectors like healthcare, logistics, e-commerce, and technology 38

| november 2020


What's your advice to the millions of workers who are now jobless? How can we help ease off the greater burden of the out-ofthe-work community? Being jobless can be stressful at any time, but this stress can be multiplied during uncertain times like what we are currently experiencing. It is critical for

people seeking employment that they keep an open mind and be willing to explore alternative solutions. If you are fixed on an opportunity having to look exactly like what you were used to before, then you will severely limit your options. Be open to career switches, and while searching for a job you can also use some of the time to seek to develop additional skills through any available learning programs. In addition to driving your own personal development, it is also important that you look beyond traditional job portals. Make sure your online profile (e.g. LinkedIn) makes it very clear that you are in the market and looking for opportunities. This is not a time to be worried about how people will perceive you being out of work, be transparent and direct in your communication, and help the people with opportunities to find you. november 2020 |

The New Workplace

of what HR can do with this “seat�. HR and people managers now play a critical role in ensuring that the purpose and values of an organization fully connect with the employees and that their voices are listened to and considered in the decisions made by the company. In addition, the need for employee engagement has been magnified, especially with so many people now working remotely. As such, HR also plays a key role in making sure that team members are communicated regularly and consistently.

39


e mploye e re la tions

Easing the post-lockdown work life What practices should human resource leaders and leading-edge companies implement to ease employees into post-pandemic life? There is actually very little difference between what good leaders and good companies do all the time, and what they are doing now By Jeffrey Pfeffer & M Muneer

T

he coronavirus has seemingly changed everything. Working from home was fashionable at first, but turned out to be more stressful than ever with people trying to do their job while educating their children at the same time. People are thankful that they have a job. India’s unemployment has risen

40

| november 2020

to an all-time high of 24 percent with reported 12Cr job losses, and this doesn’t take into account the millions of daily wagers and migrant laborers. Over 20 million workers were laid off in the USA in April alone, which is its all-time high. Multi-tasking is the new normal and 24/7 is no longer just a corpo-


Avoid layoffs

Job loss raises the risk of premature death by 63 percent, causes both physical and mental illness, and doubles the suicide rate. Is it possible to retain employees even in difficult economic times? Of course, because layoffs are in part a choice and a consequence of how leaders run their business. For instance, American Airlines spent U$12.4 billion since 2014 buying back stock, loading itself with debt. The Whole Foods layoff in the 2008 bubble was fewer than Stanford University’s. In the 9/11 aftermath, Southwest didn’t layoff anyone, other airlines did.

In 2019, over 60 Indian companies bought back shares in the hope of maximizing shareholder value, but in a crisis like this, if they don’t have cash reserves to support employees, massive layoffs are likely. Even now, media houses and retailers are laying off quietly. In most cases, the layoffs are effective immediately, with few people getting even 90 days severance and most getting nothing. Companies are using this extraordinary event as a panacea for their ills. Meanwhile, Amazon has announced its no-layoff plan and promised fresh hiring. Tata

Expecting people to do their jobs with the same level of concentration and performance as before the pandemic is insane. Organizations need to follow practices that can ease employee work-life, reduce turnover, and make people more productive

november 2020 |

e mploye e re lations

rate customer service tagline— it is the reality for many people whose homes are their offices. Expecting people to do their jobs with the same level of concentration and performance is insane. Not only are people taking on tasks in different work environments with changed interaction between bosses and colleagues, but they are also trying to do work even as bad, fabricated, or otherwise fake news bombard them via media and WhatsApp. Amid all this, some organizations are working hard trying to make employees breathe easier, and what’s most striking is how very sensible all these steps really are even in a COVID-less world. Here are the practices some global organizations are following at this crisis time, which in our opinion, should be continued post the pandemic to ease employee work-life, reduce turnover, and make people more productive.

41


Group has followed suit on layoffs by holding off all capex. Avoiding layoffs generates goodwill and extra effort from employees. People will find ways to save money and enhance productivity once they feel secure. Companies will build their brands among workers as well as with customers.

e mploye e re la tions

Prioritize and postpone tasks that aren’t urgent

Too much of organizational life is filled with such busy work as unnecessary meetings, initiatives, and processes that don’t add value. A crisis is a great time to redesign work. One reason for the crazy work hours that have become all too customary, and are mentally and physically unhealthy, is that “everything is equally urgent” even though, of course, it is not. Better prioritization helps people focus on those things that are truly the most important. One of the most trusted groups in India, guided by values that

workers are part of an extended family, has immediately put all non-critical projects (for instance, completing 360-degree performance reviews) on the back burner so people can focus only on the most mission-critical tasks.

Provide back-up support

People need to know there are others to help on projects. A major source of stress comes from feeling under the gun because some critical task falls only on one person. No wonder that people often work even when sick. A leading software firm changed the system of individual accountability so that for critical projects, there were at least two people, and frequently more, with responsibility for tasks so people could cover for each other if they had other pressing issues, but the work would still be completed. Similar to the relay in sports, shared responsibility ensures that people have coverage and that important tasks get completed.

Recognize and embrace the connection between work and family

We all need to recognize that children are part of our working life now. The WFH experience has turned every day into bring-your-children-to-work day because that’s what’s on employees’ minds. While they’re at work, they’re thinking about the daycare pickup, the fact that their child has a behavioral issue, and how they’re going to create a nutritious meal. In India, more women than men reported work-family conflict, 42

| november 2020


leading to greater absenteeism, more employee turnover, reduced labor force participation, and reduced productivity. The COVID19 crisis is a perfect time to remediate family leave, paid time-off, and other policies that inhibit work-family conciliation.

Assess and support people to cope with the crisis

Unleash employee creativity

Companies like IDEO channel everybody’s energy into collectively designing what it means to work in this new way. They have taken pieces of their process and crowdsourced the answers to questions such as how design research methods can move to the virtual world. While this may be easier for such firms, it can be done by many others too.

Avoid layoffs, postpone non-urgent tasks, provide support, embrace the role of the family—these are all sensible practices. Not just for the COVID-19 crisis, but for all shrewd human resource leaders and leading-edge companies, all the time

e mploye e re lations

Without data, it is impossible to manage anything, including employee well-being and engagement. Gallup has published five “pulse” survey questions that any company could use to monitor changes over time due to interventions. IDEO, the design firm, instituted a people tracker so they could support employees in their work wherever they are—at home or locked-up in a remote location. Many Indian companies have partnerships with counseling organizations such as Pre2Doc and MHFAI. A few others do Zoom town hall sessions during the crisis and provide all support ranging from providing equipment at the company’s expense to social support and referrals to mental health professionals.

From reducing economic insecurity and stress to unleashing employee creativity, these are all sensible practices. Not just for the COVID-19 crisis, but for all shrewd human resource leaders and leading-edge companies, all the time. In that sense, the current pandemic changes nothing about what good leaders and good companies should always be doing; it just makes those actions more imperative in the here-and-now. Dr. Pfeffer is chair professor of organizational behavior at Stanford Graduate School of Business and Dr. Muneer is Managing Director of CustomerLab and Co-Founder of the non-profit Medici Institute. november 2020 |

43


i n t e r v i e w

Can’t solve 21st century problems with 20th century ways of thinking: PwC Network’s Blair Sheppard In an exclusive conversation with People Matters, Blair Sheppard, Global Leader, Strategy and Leadership for the PwC Network shares some insights on “The Six Paradoxes of Leadership”, the four global crises we face today, and how the tragedy and suffering of the COVID-19 pandemic has also presented us with an urgent opportunity to reset our approach By Yasmin Taj

44

| november 2020

T

he COVID-19 pandemic has brought problems to the fore that we had not even imagined. A huge repair job is needed and it is indeed time to rethink - strategy, structure, culture, and leadership. It is an opportunity for us to reset our approach and pave the way for a better future. Blair Sheppard is the Global Leader, Strategy, and Leadership for the PwC Network, a network of professional services firms committed to building trust in society and solving important problems. He proposes “The Six Paradoxes of Leadership” that work as a system, forcing

leaders to balance competing characteristics, abilities, and beliefs. In this exclusive interaction, Sheppard talks about these six paradoxes of leadership, the four global crises we face today and how they are interconnected with each other and the coronavirus crisis, the need to reset our approach, and more. Sheppard is also the author of TEN YEARS TO MIDNIGHT: Four Urgent Global Crises and Their Strategic Solutions (August 4, 2020; Berrett-Koehler Publishers) and Dean Emeritus and Professor Emeritus of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, where he taught for thirty-three


years. He was the principal force behind opening Duke's campus in China and the founder and CEO of Duke Corporate Education. Here are the excerpts from the interview:

Why is our current moment, like the Marshall Plan 70 years ago, a milestone to reset, rethink, and rebuild the direction of society for a better future? After World War II, the economies of many countries were devastated, and a large number needed to be rebuilt from the ground up.

The Marshall Plan provided the funding to do that and eventually evolved into economies and societies, at least outside the socialist regime countries, that we can think of as having distinctive characteristics in terms of four elements - strategy, structure, culture, and leadership. The strategy evolved into global interconnectivity with singular measures of success at the national (GDP) and corporate (shareholder value) levels. The structure was primarily through institutions built to sustain multilateral-

november 2020 |

i n t e r v i e w

In the new millennium, we found ourselves trying to solve 21st century problems with 20th century ways of thinking. And the problems we were facing were so big were so severe that huge changes were needed

ism, free markets, and technological interconnectivity. The culture was largely market-based and technology-focused, and leadership was provided by what we’d call economically sophisticated globalists. This system worked great for about 70 years until it didn’t. In the new millennium, we found ourselves trying to solve 21st century problems with 20th century ways of thinking. And the problems we were facing were so big were so severe that huge changes were needed. In that sense, the tragedy and suffering of the COVID-19 pandemic have also presented us with an urgent opportunity to reset our approach. Of course, we have a huge repair job to do when it comes to the balance sheets of governments and businesses, just to stop the bleeding, but then we have the chance to rethink all of the elements I mentioned before - strategy, structure, culture, and leadership and then reconfigure them so that they are ready to take on the really big challenges that we face, like climate change and a world transformed by technology and income inequality. Strategy will have to focus more on local first and inclusive success, structurally, institutions will have to address those big challenges with new logic and more agility, culturally we will need

45


i n t e r v i e w

to become more humancentered, more balanced, and more replenishing. And the leaders that will be needed will have to be able to hold and manage paradoxes that are inherent in the new world – like how to be a techsavvy humanist or a globally-minded localist. We’d better get it right because the four crises won’t wait.

46

What are the four global crises we face today and how are they interconnected with each other and the coronavirus crisis? A number of forces have been interacting over the last few decades to create what we have described in the book as the four global crises. The first one is the crisis of prosperity: basically, when the general population is not prospering, societies are in deep trouble. The crisis of prosperity plays out across what we’ve come to identify as the four fragile groups: those who are young and falling behind, those who are in danger of retiring broke, and in between, the encumbered - or squeezed - middle. The fourth group is composed of those who were barely scraping by and have now been effectively pushed off a cliff. Second is the crisis of technology; this is a host of issues ranging from the dominance of the tech giants and pervasiveness of tech platforms, unintended harms of technology | november 2020

Many leaders—indeed, all of us—gravitate toward our sweet spots; to what we do well. But by definition, paradoxes require that we use our best skills while also improving those traits we would prefer to avoid like the negative psychological impacts of social media, and, critically, the way that AI and robotics are threatening jobs and livelihoods. Third is the crisis of institutional legitimacy; our institutions are no longer fit for purpose, because of disruption, fragmentation, and changing demographics, among other things. Fourth is the crisis of leadership; basically, we have become so divided that leaders can’t or won’t tackle the biggest problems that threaten every one of us.

What trends caused these crises? This question takes us back to what caused us to write Ten Years to Midnight in the first place. Before the pandemic, I used to travel a lot and I always took the opportunity to talk with people from all walks of life who I interacted with, whether those were CEOs or people in airports or taxi drivers, and ask them about their lives and their biggest concerns. I was really struck by how so many of these people had the same


The challenge for institutions is for them to be able to change rapidly without inciting insecurity in the society they are designed to serve and without damaging the essential oversight that makes them stable forces in the world

business, social institutions, and economies; Polarization which includes the breakdown in global consensus and a fracturing world, with growing nationalism and populism; and Trust, which refers to declining confidence in the institutions that underpin society.

What new kind of a leader is needed to solve today’s four crises? Well, in order to apply 21st century thinking to 21st century problems, leaders need to understand the forces I’ve already described and how they interact, but they also need to be able to approach problems while holding seemingly opposite qualities in mind by embracing what I call the Six Paradoxes of Leadership. This is not an easy undertaking. Many leaders—indeed, all of us—gravitate toward

our sweet spots; to what we do well. But by definition, paradoxes require that we use our best skills while also improving those traits we would prefer to avoid. The Six Paradoxes of Leadership work as a system, forcing us to balance competing characteristics and beliefs. At the heart of each paradox is a core tension that involves contradictory-yet-interrelated elements that exist simultaneously and persists over time. When these characteristics are out of sync, the outcome is almost always disappointing. So, think of the high-profile executive hero who saves an organization from the brink of disaster but lacks the humility to seek advice or the ability to change course; more than likely, that campaign will end in failure. The six paradoxes I’ll list here aren’t

november 2020 |

i n t e r v i e w

concerns, like "Will my kids do better than me or worse?" "Will the climate heat up so much that it will be too late to do anything about it?" "Do we have the leaders we need?" and "Are we hopelessly divided?" As a result of these conversations, we developed a framework to which we gave the acronym ADAPT to describe five global trends that societies around the world are confronted within the new millennium. Those five challenges are: Asymmetry, by which we mean increasing wealth disparity and the erosion of the middle class; Disruption or the pervasive nature of technology and its impact on individuals, society, and our climate; Age, which stands for demographic pressure on

47


the only ones leaders will encounter, but I think they are the ones most urgently needed to confront the problems I’ve already described. The six are: tech-savvy humanist; globally minded localist; strategic executor; humble hero; traditioned innovator; and high-integrity politician.

i n t e r v i e w

What needs to be done to restore trust in our institutions? The challenge for institutions is for them to be able to change rapidly without inciting insecurity in the

slowly, they risk irrelevance. So, it’s very much a balancing act. What needs to be done varies to a certain degree with the type of institution we’re talking about – so multilateral organizations versus educational institutions versus, say media. But, by and large, there are four elements that are essential to revitalizing our institutions. First, they need to identify their own core principles and then innovate around them. That essentially means they must think long and hard about

48

society they are designed to serve and without damaging the essential oversight that makes them stable forces in the world. To stay relevant, the institutions must change and fast, but, if they do it in the wrong way, they risk disenfranchising the people they are designed to serve. And if they change too | november 2020

what is absolutely vital and what can and must be changed. Second, they need to design the institution’s operations to survive and improve people’s lives in a fractured world. That’s not the world in which most of the institutions we rely on were born. Third, they have to accelerate new ideas and

their execution while not alienating those who fear change. That’s a tricky thing because in times of great disruption many people seek to lessen their anxiety by shying away from change. Fourth, they must forge intimate connections with the local community and the people to be served. Much of the distrust comes from the sense that institutions are disconnected and uncaring.

How can any of us apply a Local First mindset as a first step toward solving our global crises? Well, you could say that a Local First mindset is a step toward solving local problems and that the aggregation of these could indeed help us ultimately solve global crises. But that actually undervalues the possibilities of Local First, because one thing that they do is free up and multiply one of the greatest forces in the world: human ingenuity. Local First is about selfsustaining, continuously improving local economic ecosystems and it’s the ideal way for any of us to start to make a difference. Whereas multinational corporations became unmoored and essentially nationless, causing their connection to the locations of which they’re a part to be severed, Local First systems are fundamentally about the common good, and they also allow


How will today’s crises test our ability to scale solutions at speed as never before? There are two crises in particular that stand out as undeniably massive, desper-

ately pressing, and badly in need of creative solutions as well as focused and concerted attention from countries around the world, and those are job losses from automation and climate change. Conservative estimates suggest that as many as 10 percent of jobs in the world will be eliminated over the next ten years by automation, so that means we’d need to retrain and find positions for three hundred million people currently in the workforce. To add to this challenge, there are more than one billion youth under twenty years old living in underdeveloped countries who need education now and a job in the next ten years. Next, let’s consider the global crisis of climate change. Estimates of the effects of global warming suggest we have little more than a decade

to dramatically modify our carbon footprint before things are potentially irreversible. Flooding, drought, and intense summer heat as well as violent storms could become the new normal. Drastic changes in global water supplies could severely compromise global health, availability of food, and fragile ecosystems. It’s hard to imagine two problems that are larger in scope and they’re both playing out over the next 10 years. Simply put, we will not be able to address these crises fast enough if we depend on the speed of decisionmaking and implementation typical of the past seventy years. We need to do some important things on a very big scale, very quickly. november 2020 |

i n t e r v i e w

people to feel and see how they make a difference. They turn on local entrepreneurs devising local solutions to local problems which leads to dynamic local economies. Of course, Local First will happen more quickly if these local entrepreneurs can count on resources in the form of organizational, operational, and design expertise as well as financial support from the private sector and philanthropists in developed economies. But, when a Local First mindset focuses it on the common good, amazing things can happen that might have impacts far beyond the local.

Conservative estimates suggest that as many as 10 percent of jobs in the world will be eliminated over the next ten years by automation, so that means we’d need to retrain and find positions for three hundred million people currently in the workforce

49


Ramon A. Chelva

Navigating HR post COVID-19 Transforming for the future of work— leading with head, hands, and heart

st r a t e g i c

hr

The future of work has arrived sooner than anticipated. How can HR departments shape their resource strategies, talent development, and use of technology to ensure the best outcomes?

50

C

OVID-19 is undoubtedly the greatest challenge Human Resources departments have seen in recent times. As many companies unexpectedly entered unfamiliar territories, HR became one of the single most important functions for organizations. From keeping employees safe to ensuring business continuity with reconfigured workflows, making sure employ-

| november 2020

ees stayed motivated, or achieving maximum productivity, HR teams needed to rise to the occasion and help businesses weather the storm. Today, as we transition to the new normal, we need to ramp up efforts and prepare for a post-COVID-19 era—an era that will change the way we work for good. HR teams alongside businesses must steer through workplace transformations, changes in

practices, and refined policies, among many others. Now, as we develop new and improved workforce strategies to support employees in real-time, it is clear that the future of work has arrived sooner than anticipated. As countries around the world begin to revive their economies, business leaders must acknowledge that large-scale shifts have

The future of work is not just about embracing technological and structural changes that will foster a dynamic workforce experience but also about ensuring our workforce is upskilled and well taken care of


changed the way people work. The question many of us have is: “What will the future of work look like?”

Dynamic workforce models and resource strategy

Leading with the head, hands, and heart

Despite every tendency to focus on the economic side of the business, bringing compassion and empathy to day-to-day work and decision-making is crucial. With employees at the center of every organization’s success, business leaders must consider adopting a thoughtful leadership style— one that enables them to lead with their head, hands, and heart. The aim is not for leaders to change but rather to embrace their strengths,

tighten the gaps they see in their leadership ways, and adapt to different styles that allow them to be more effective when leading. Especially in trying times such as these, conventional methods of leadership will take a back seat, and we will see all layers of teams working together to make decisions quicker and more effectively. In addition to giving teams the tools, they need to continue being productive, ensuring support, and keeping up a teams’ spirit, leading with empathy is key to november 2020 |

hr

Having a clear plan on what type of resource is needed, the duration that it is needed, and the most efficient approach will help organizations ensure they have the best talent in place to increase the chances of an optimum outcome

st r a t e g i c

The focus should not be on building a talent pipeline that only leaves business leaders with black-andwhite choices for staffing. Instead, organizations must innovate and redesign their existing approaches to workforce management. We must assess how work is getting done in today’s environment and explore dynamic plans that let us pivot as things change. An alternative to explore under a dynamic workforce model is a just-in-time talent approach—a pull-based strategy that provides managers with candidates that match their needs for a set duration. Apart from that, considering flexible work hours that allow employees to start and finish work at different times each day could benefit both organizations and employees— fueling productivity and helping employees achieve better work-life balance. Having a clear plan on what type of resource is needed, the duration that it is needed, and the most efficient approach will help organizations ensure they have the best talent in place to increase the chances of an optimum outcome.

51


making sure that the backbone of our organization’s culture stays undistorted, regardless of the way of working. It holds true that a company is only as good as its people and while there is no compromise to accountability and delivery, our people management strategy moving forward places an increased focus on ensuring the company culture continues to be experienced virtually.

st r a t e g i c

hr

Paradigm shift in talent development

As the future of work unfolds rapidly, individual learning has become part of the powerful current of the daily workflow. At edotco, we regularly communicate to our employees that upskilling is key to staying relevant. As an organization we have made it easier

for our employees to access learning and development throughout their careers— be it in the form of selflearning, online classes, or coaching and mentoring sessions. It is safe to say that we no longer learn to work but rather, work to learn.

Holistic approach to workplace wellness

Traditional wellness programs have proven to be beneficial for employees. However, as our day-to-day living and work environment changes, businesses need to think of wellness more holistically. Corporate wellness programs should start looking at wellbeing in terms of wholeperson care, which includes mental health and efforts that positively contribute to an employee’s work experience. The Mental Well-

being Counseling Program at edotco provides emotional support for our employees. Rolled out during Malaysia’s Movement Control Order (MCO) period, the program provided an avenue for employees to speak to certified professionals if they were experiencing stress or just need someone to talk to as they observed stay at home orders and extended periods of social isolation. We acknowledge the benefits of speaking to a professional contributes to both individual and organization, and intend to make this a permanent benefit, normalizing speaking to a professional for mental wellness.

Building a 21st-century organization

To begin with, a 21st-century organization is one that

As an organization we have made it easier for our employees to access learning and development throughout their careers—be it in the form of selflearning, online classes, or coaching and mentoring sessions 52

| november 2020


Corporate wellness programs should start looking at well-being in terms of wholeperson care, which includes mental health and efforts that positively contribute to an employee’s work experience

hr

and the lifeblood of a true bionic organization. It can feed us with information that is critical to business outcomes, improve human decision-making, and help organizations better manage resources. Apart from that, the usage of virtual reality (VR) technology in the workplace will soon become a viable solution for the future of work. Ranging from VR conferencing to development and testing of solutions, virtual training, the adoption of VR by businesses will bring about significant change to a company’s overall flow of work. By identifying the technologies that complement an organization’s business, leaders will be able to structure their work transformation strategies and scope future of work

st r a t e g i c

fosters human-machine collaboration, promotes an intelligent and dynamic environment unbounded by time or physical space, and enables new skills and worker experiences. At edotco, while navigating through the recent changes, the events that unfolded have fast-tracked the company’s transition to a 21st-century organization. The rapid changes that we experienced have accelerated our efforts around realtime efficient operations, advanced analytics, predictive capabilities, and futureproofing the company. As businesses lay the groundwork for the future of work, one of the key aspects organizations need to invest in is data. Data and artificial intelligence (AI) learning is the future

initiatives essential to the modern workplace. In addition to accelerated efforts to ensure HR teams have an evolving strategy in place, we must build on the lessons and practices we have executed during the recent crisis and continue to lead with empathy and resilience. The future of work is not just about embracing technological and structural changes that will foster a dynamic workforce experience but also about ensuring our workforce is upskilled and well taken care of.

Ramon A. Chelva is the Chief People Officer of edotco Group, an integrated telecommunications infrastructure services company in Asia. november 2020 |

53


Goh Swee Chen on leadership behaviors

G

le a d e r s hi p

oh Swee Chen was the Chairman of Shell Companies for Singapore from 2014 to 2019 and is currently a trustee of Nanyang Technical University of Singapore. Goh also sits as a non-executive director on the boards of Singapore Airlines and Capitaland. Goh has had a fascinating career, working globally and living in countries like Japan, Australia, the US, Malaysia, and Singapore. She has led large global businesses not just at Shell, but also at P&G where she worked previously. We talked to Goh about what’s needed most from leaders in the current situation - what we should zoom in on and what we can afford to let go? - and how we can forge a positive path through difficult times by building a culture of curiosity, openness, and learning. Goh led us through her journey in a candid, thoughtful conversation that touched on stewardship, scenario planning, and the importance of ‘’effective worrying’’ to leaders.

Goh Swee Chen, the Non-Executive Director Capitaland and Singapore Airlines, Effective worrying talks about stewardship, scenario Goh opened by referencing a planning, and the importance of book entitled “What Should we be ‘’effective worrying’’ to leaders, Worried About? Real Scenarios in an exclusive interaction with That Keep Scientists Up at Night,” People Matters by John Brockman. The scenarios By Maia Jenkins 54

| november 2020

that experts worry about include the rise of states run by ‘’grandiose narcissists,’’ the role of social


media as the “de facto source for truth and fact,” the declining yet graying populations, and how “adequately hardened” our children are for an increasingly complex future. There’s plenty to worry about, certainly, but can worry itself actually be good and effective? Yes, Goh says. Worry has evolved to give life direction and focuses attention on “genuine threats.” Therefore, it allows leaders to better anticipate potential damage and dangers.

Black Swan vs. Grey Rhino

le a d e r shi p

An increasingly complex operating environment – many risks to worry about! • Black Swan (term coined by Nassim Nicholas Taleb) - rare event, probability of occurance is unknown and impact is catastrophic • Gray Rhino (term coined by Michelle Wucker) - highly probable, high impact yet neglected threat

says. The COVID-19 outbreak could also be described as a Grey Rhino event, in that the world had been warned about such an airborne virus affecting the world for many years, and yet we were ultimately caught unprepared. For leaders, Goh says, the information we need is out there - more than we are possibly able to consume and understand. No one can be expected to know and prepare for everything, but what’s important is “we must be willing to learn and see things even if they are not what we want to know and see. We must be willing to recognize the problem, and to plan and act.”

Scenario planning

As chairman of a huge energy company like Shell Companies in Singapore, Goh became wellacquainted with the importance and processes of scenario planning. However, Goh points out that “it’s important we under-

A Black Swan is a term coined by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, and describes an event that is totally unexpected with unknown probability and causes untold damage. A Grey Rhino event, on the other hand, is slightly different. Coined by the author Michelle Wucker, the term ‘’Grey Rhino’’, refers to a highly probable event that’s high impact but nevertheless neglected. “Imagine a grey rhino right there in plain sight, it’s charging at you and you don’t take action,” Goh november 2020 |

55


tate a much deeper understanding of risks. By doing so, they can, as much as possible, try to mitigate this “crescendo of risks” that could give rise to a crisis.

Culture of curiosity, resilience, and trust

le a d e r s hi p

Credit: From Shell Scenario Planning

stand scenarios are not predicting the future.” In an increasingly complex operating environment, forecasts are inappropriate. A scenario is not a forecast, however. Nor is it a plan. Rather, scenarios stretch perspectives and allow for consideration of a range of plausible futures. The past does not necessarily predict the future, Goh says, but scenario-thinking can help leaders build resilience. However, for scenario planning to work, leaders must “encourage a diverse range of viewpoints,” and facili-

The past does not necessarily predict the future, Goh says, but scenario-thinking can help leaders build resilience. However, for scenario planning to work, leaders must “encourage a diverse range of viewpoints,” and facilitate a much deeper understanding of risks 56

| november 2020

When building company culture, leaders should focus on curiosity, resilience, and trust. Goh added that complacency “erodes the resilience” of a corporation. It’s important to keep up the momentum, remain inquisitive, and open to ideas. According to Goh, a leader should also have humility. This involves leaders recognizing that they can’t always be right and “seek[ing] different and challenging viewpoints.”

Safeguarding corporate reputation - Steward Leadership

If there were only a few choices for leaders to make, life would be a lot easier. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Choices are abundant. According to Goh, choices typically come down to “impact in the short term versus the long term.” Quoting a former Shell CEO, Goh compared building trust It takes a bicycle ride to build the desired reputation

And, a Ferrari drive to lose it!


The kind of leaders we need in a crisis

It’s important to keep up the momentum, remain inquisitive, and open to ideas. According to Goh, a leader should also have humility. This involves leaders recognizing that they can’t always be right and “seek[ing] different and challenging viewpoints”

le a d e r shi p

in an organization to a long, slow bicycle ride, one that takes time and energy to be achieved. However, “that trust can be destroyed with a single bad move,” Goh pointed out. “Reputations can be lost as quickly as a Ferrari drives.” Patience and timing are absolutely critical, therefore, and it’s up to the leader to set this tempo. Steward leadership - in which the leader leaves the company in such good shape it will outlast their own tenure should be an ultimate goal when looking to make choices that have a long term impact. When a crisis hits, Goh believes there are three things that matter in what the leaders do and how they will be viewed externally: 1) How the leader communicates the company Value, how fast they will act to respond to the crisis. 2) What the company will do to help others in the industry learn from them and mitigate

similar crises. These are the Actions they take. 3) Behaviour, openness and how you treat people “even if they are in the wrong,” Goh says, “we treat them with respect.” Goh Swee Chen ended her talk by saying: “In this day and age, leadership is for the bravehearted. But don’t despair - it’s skills that we can learn as long as we continue to be open.” november 2020 |

57


STORY C OVER 58

| november 2020


The pandemic, which has for sure altered the way we work, already —with significant implications for the future of work, offers the possibility for global talent leaders to accelerate to digital to continue to be mission-critical to their businesses

By Mastufa Ahmed

T

november 2020 |

STORY

with increasing number of employees working remotely, turning to cloud-based tech solutions. And this makes sense because organizations that use cloud-based HR solutions are 26 percent more likely to report gains in productivity and 27 percent more likely to report improved workforce insights than their counterparts using on-premise solutions, according to PwC’s HR Technology Survey 2020. The cover story in this issue takes a look into the current HR landscape and how HR and talent leaders are demonstrating agility by taking the lead to remodel their talent management systems with nextgen HR tech such as people analytics, talent acquisition tech, RPA, AI, etc. in across recruiting, onboarding, upskilling, performance management, and employee well-being. The story also covers how HR tech vendors are stepping up their games to address new market needs by realigning their product offerings to deliver maximum value to customers and meet the challenges HR professionals are facing.

C OVER

he coronavirus pandemic has not only caused an economic downturn for businesses, it has also impacted HR practices and the overall role of HR departments across organizations worldwide. However, with the pandemic altering the way we work, it also offered the possibility for HR and talent leaders to accelerate to digital and enable their workers stay productive amid all this chaos. In fact, the crisis has also forced digital transformation initiatives of organizations to fast-forward into the future of work where tech innovations especially remote technology solutions have become a musthave. This is the time to identify gaps the crisis has surfaced in the existing HR solutions landscape and embrace solutions to fix those issues. After all, organizations that invest in robust and flexible HR technology architecture will be better positioned to sustain their operations and respond swiftly to the changing needs of their business, in the long run. Over the last few months, we have already seen organizations —

59


Companies are going through massive transformations and there is no going back: Josh Bersin Companies are going through massive transformations and the big focus areas are around employee needs, health and safety while a far more agile and cross-functional way of working is now a norm, says Josh Bersin, in an exclusive interview with People Matters By Mastufa Ahmed

C OVER

STORY

The biggest areas of growth amid this pandemic are employee communications, real-time and online training, surveys and feedback, and the new emergence of “back to work� scheduling and safe workplace tools tion between work and life. Josh also advises a variety of HR and learning companies to help them align their products and services toward the needs of corporate buyers. Here are the edited excerpts.

J

osh Bersin is a worldknown industry analyst, educator, and thought leader in all aspects of HR, leadership, and HR technology. Josh is a global

60

| november 2020

research analyst, public speaker, and writer on the topics of corporate human resources, talent management, recruiting, leadership, technology, and the intersec-

With the pandemic bringing about a drastic change in terms of how organizations leverage technologies, how do you see this overnight digital transformation of businesses globally? Digital transformation has accelerated at light speed. Not only are digital tools widely used by every


employee, but most companies have digitized their sales, service delivery, products, and retail offerings. In the HR domain, HR leaders tell me they have adopted digital tools far faster than they ever thought possible. Instead of waiting for multi-year rollout strategies, companies are creating “mashups” of various systems and rolling them out in an iterative way. Everything -- from recruiting to onboarding to communications and performance management, is now simplified, online, and easier than Consulting firms are finding it hard to ever. grow right now because companies are in

uling and safe workplace tools.

scheduled “safe workplace” strategy is huge.

What does the HR Tech market in the COVID-19 era look like? How are service providers stepping up their games to address the new market needs amid this crisis? Consulting firms are finding it hard to grow right now because companies are in such a hurry to implement new solutions, but they are now quickly learning about “future of work” needs (flexible work and work at home), contingent hiring, and how to build a safe workplace strategy. The need for well-

Given the budgetary constraints that many organizations are facing and the many challenges amidst the pandemic, how can HR build an effective business case for new technology right now? Most companies have plenty of budget for digital tools because they’ve stopped spending money on travel, hotels, and events – so there’s no lack of buying – in fact, the tech industry and online learning industry is growing faster than I’ve seen in a decade. november 2020 |

STORY

such a hurry to implement new solutions, but they are now quickly learning about “future of work” needs (flexible work and work at home), contingent hiring, and how to build a safe workplace strategy

C OVER

How has the HR tech landscape changed over the last few months? What trends have you observed around HR tech adoption amid this COVID-19 crisis? Many companies that rapidly sent employees home are now realizing that their management practices have to keep up with the work changes. How do we support and communicate better? How do we listen and empathize with people in a digital environment? Face-to-face and one-to-one communications are more important than ever, stepping up the role of leaders as coaches and good listeners. As far as the biggest areas of growth, I’d say employee communications, real-time and online training, surveys and feedback, and the new emergence of “back to workplace” sched-

61


STORY C OVER 62

Some of the changes the COVID-19 pandemic has brought upon us are going to be permanent and HR has to demonstrate a whole new kind of agility. What's your advice on how HR can up their game to become mission-critical to business? I call this The Big Reset. Companies are going through a massive transformation. We aren’t ever going back to “normal” work – the way work was done prior to the pandemic. I am advising that leaders put big focus on employee needs, health, and safety; a far more agile and cross-functional way of working; and a focus on individuals moving into new roles as digital solutions for customers become standard. All this must be coupled with feedback, listening, and lots of transparent communications – and an enormous focus on trust, equity, fairness, and citizenship. The first is the economic transformation, which I call the emergence of The Pandemic Economy. People still want food, entertainment, healthcare, and connection – so we’re delivering these services in a digital way. As HR or business people, it means we’ve been busy. We’ve been buying and implementing digital tools (Microsoft, ServiceNow, SAP revenues are growing explosively), we’ve been redeploying people to new roles, and | november 2020

In the HR domain, companies are adopting digital tools far faster than they ever thought possible. Instead of waiting for multi-year rollout strategies, companies are using tools now, creating “mashups” of various systems, and rolling them out in an interactive way we’ve been developing new safe workplace protocols at light speed. And we’ve really been learning how to improve well-being, psychological safety, and mental health at work. The second transformation we’re in is the social transformation of our lives. On one hand, we’re all becoming nicer to each other. Every Zoom call starts with people checking in on each other, and we’re all very forgiving when people have kids at home, power

outages, or other family issues to deal with. In fact one of the “ten keys to transformation” we discovered in our research is “taking care of employees’ families” – a new part of HR that has now gone mainstream. And part of being more kind and forgiving is really listening to the issues of racial injustice, income inequality, and diversity. The third change is the transformation in global culture. In a world where global forces are unstoppable (Coronavirus for example, but also global warming), the theme of collectivism starts to grow. You can argue about masks or the impact of carbon on the environment, but you can’t argue with fire, tornado, hurricane, or pandemic. These problems are what the military calls “violent, asymmetric, unpredictable enemies” – so we need to band together in response. In business, this has been an amazing thing. Every company I talk with tells me stories of how people are more connected, working in cross-functional teams, and more focused on purpose and mission than ever. If your CEO doesn’t understand this I’d guess your company is not doing well – but if he or she does, there is enormous energy to harness here. All these transformations are real. We are NOT going back to where we were last year.


We have seen an increase in HR functions using analytics to help drive cost and reward optimization: EY’s Samir Bedi

C OVER

Over the past few months, organizations have focused on workforce planning, job redesign, and performance reward metrics employing data analytics and technology. This shift has created an opportunity for HR to step up and become mission-critical for businesses, says Samir Bedi, EY Asean Workforce Advisory Leader By Mastufa Ahmed

STORY

S

amir is EY Asean Workforce Advisory Leader, with extensive consulting experience in helping organizations to develop business strategies linked to people-organization dynamics across Southeast Asia. He has worked on numerous competency, performance, and rewards design and implementation projects for public-, private- and thirdsector clients. His experience covers all aspects of human resources consulting, ranging from organization structuring and manpower planning to job redesign and the future of work. Other areas include creating differentiated reward programs, developing a high-perfor-

mance culture, integration of performance and reward and talent programs, as well as HR process review and audit. Here are the excerpts of the interview.

To thrive in the new normal, digital transformation is a must. But isn’t it a huge challenge for many businesses? Can the digital world fill the chasm to thrive in the post-pandemic world? If you were asked in 2015, where do you see yourself in five years? Your answer

would probably differ from where you are right now. This goes to show the unpredictability of the world we live in, and the pace of change we’re currently experiencing is only going to accelerate. How we live, work, and play has been drastically altered over the past nine months as we’ve learned more about the new normal – where digitization can address the challenges created by COVID-19. Prior to the pandemic, organizations already recognized the need for digital november 2020 |

63


C OVER

STORY

transformation and were looking at ways to leverage technology to remain relevant to consumers and improve productivity levels. Now, it has become even more apparent that those who do not digitize rapidly may struggle to survive. While digital transformation remains a challenge, organizations are discovering that it is not an insurmountable task. Organizations are demonstrating agility in their approach to digital transformation, bypassing bureaucracy,

64

and red tape in approval processes. In the past, the implementation of a remoteworker policy in a large organization would have probably taken two to five years to pass through the approval processes – this year, organizations have made the move in a matter of days and months for the sake of survival. When change is a matter of urgent necessity, the choice is clear. This is exactly what businesses are recognizing, that digital transformation is the only option to compete,

Prior to the pandemic, organizations already recognized the need for digital transformation and were looking at ways to leverage technology to remain relevant to consumers and improve productivity levels. Now, it has become even more apparent that those who do not digitize rapidly may struggle to survive

| november 2020

remain relevant, and thrive in the current environment.

In the current situation, organizations have been forced to look at the HR operations, policies, and processes through a digital lens. Is it time for organizations to digitize HR? How can HR up their game amid this uncertainty? HR will need to continue providing current services and ensure that they meet baseline service expectations of employees, customers, and the business. However, they should consider how HR technologies could help to optimize their outcomes. According to EY research, the HR function currently spends over 80 percent of their time and budget on vertical services that are largely administrative and operational in nature. Instead, the HR function needs to reframe their operating model and go horizontal to focus on services, leveraging technology, and analytics, that improves the employees’ experiences and creates long-term value. As the HR function works on delivering people-first experiences, they should leverage data and analytics, in tracking service metrics to determine the return on investment (ROI) on talent and consumer value. Technology will allow large organizations to harness and analyze their


According to EY research, the HR function currently spends over 80 percent of their time and budget on vertical services that are largely administrative and operational in nature at what we might expect in the future of HR tech adoption.

What are the key areas of HR function have you seen maximum tech implementations in the last few months and the reasons for it? Over the past few months, we have seen an increase in HR functions using analytics from within organizations to help drive cost and reward optimization to determine how best to reward their workforce. Defining employee experience and optimizing these reward systems can be made a lot faster and more effective through the use of technology. As organizations undergo digital transformation, job roles are evolving, new tasks that need to be supported with new skills are emerging, driving the need for reskilling. Employees recognize this trend and learning has become a highly valued employee proposition. We have seen technology implementation ramp up in the learning space through online classes, and virtual seminars or conferences. This use of technology has had the effect of lowering costs while increasing the variety of learning opportunities available for employees, ultimately helping organizations to reimagine the roles of their workforce, create more value over november 2020 |

STORY

Given the breadth of constraints that many organizations are facing, how can HR build an effective business case for new technology right now? To build an effective business case for new technologies, we must first take a step back to better understand the landscape we currently operate in. Budgetary constraints will always be a challenge that businesses face. Even during prosperous times, it is still best practice to be prudent with spending. Instead of focusing on their financial constraints, businesses should instead look at their business priorities and ROI of technological investments. Organizations must understand which technology is going to create value and the payback period before a meaningful investment is made. Crucially,

HR should position itself as a vessel for these kinds of technologies.

C OVER

large amounts of data to solve issues seamlessly and efficiently, while still complimenting the traditional outcomes. This is key to delivering an approach that is of high value and impactful to the business and its leadership. Over the past few months, organizations have focused on workforce planning, job redesign, and the performance reward metrics – all of which rely upon the use of data analytics and technology. This shift has created an opportunity for HR to step up and showcase its value and become mission-critical for businesses, and we can expect this reliance to increase in the future. During the pandemic, a focus of HR analytics has been on employee wellbeing and using technology to get a better understanding of how employees are coping and what they value from the business. Using detailed data-stories and analytics, this can help employers understand the varied needs of workers, and eventually create a better employee experience in the long run. This has never been more important. When you look at HR through a technologyfocused lens, we better understand the kinds of change that have occurred over the past few months. This helps us to look ahead

65


C OVER

STORY

For a leader to lead an organization during this time of change, they will need an agile mindset, understand the importance of ‘‘digital first’’, and be people-centric. We also need leaders to be able to be flexible and have a higher level of learning agility so that they can lead the organization into the next stage of its development.

HR will need to continue providing current services and ensure that they meet baseline service expectations of employees, customers, and the business. However, they should consider how HR technologies could help to optimize their outcomes the long-term and become re-deployable through an organization.

For the post-pandemic world, do you think the archetype of a successful leader will have to be reimagined? When discussing the archetype of a successful leader in a post-pandemic world, we often talk about emerging stronger; but to some extent, we also need to learn to live with the changes that we’ve experienced, and a successful leader will understand that operations will not return to post-pandemic days. It is clear that the behavior of consumers is dras66

| november 2020

tically changing: The way consumers will share data, the way that they will shop, the products they buy, and the experiences that they spend money on will all drastically change. According to the EY Future Consumer Index - which tracks emerging consumer behaviors and sentiment around the world - 50 percent of consumers still expect their lives to change significantly in the long term. As COVID-19 accelerates the digital adoption rates of consumers, organizations will need to reskill their workforce to consistently deliver meaningful digital customer experiences.

What do you think the future holds for HR for the post-pandemic time which will be largely data-driven? In the near future, we can expect the HR function to transform through the use of data. HR will play a crucial role in the implementation of a business’s digital transformation, retaining the right talent, and re-training the right people to keep up with this pace of change, helped along by a data-driven world. The use of data analytics in an efficient manner for future decision making could be greatly beneficial to both the employer and employee and HR professionals must realize the value that they can bring through the use of these metrics. They should look at the vast amount of data available, deriving insights on performance, and being able to define the right reward mechanisms that work best for the organization overall.


Organizations are looking at HR tech to drive their overall digital transformation: Aaron Green

There has been an incredible amount of resilience and agility demonstrated over the last several months, with entire workforces transitioning to remote work or being redeployed into new roles overnight. It was the passion and agility of people that drove this resilience, says Aaron Green, Senior Vice President and Head of SAP SuccessFactors, SAP Asia Pacific Japan By Mastufa Ahmed

A

STORY

COVID-19 presents significant challenges to people and organizations around the globe. How do you see the overall impact of the pandemic on businesses and people globally? To say that the world in 2020 is very different would be an understatement. Our focus now november 2020 |

C OVER

aron Green is the Senior Vice President and Head of SAP SuccessFactors across Asia Pacific and Japan. In this role, Aaron leads a business that enables organizations of all sizes, across all industries, to deliver extraordinary results for their People & Culture strategies. Prior to joining SAP SuccessFactors, Aaron was the VP of HCM for Oracle Asia Pacific and held various Strategy and Sales leadership roles at several technology companies. Aaron is passionate about researching and identifying emerging trends in the practice of Human Resources and Workforce Management to deliver industry-leading innovation for organizations around the world. Here are excerpts of the interview.

67


STORY C OVER

is not to return to “normal” but rather how we move forward in our current reality. It has become more challenging to balance our professional and personal lives, given the challenges of alternate and/or remote working arrangements. As such, an important area of focus for SAP is our employees’ overall well-being, including mental and physical health. In the SAP Qualtrics’ The Other COVID-19 Crisis: Mental Health survey, we found that since the COVID19 outbreak, 66 percent of employees in APAC are feeling more anxious and 64 percent are feeling more stressed. Even more worrying, 36 percent shared their mental health has declined. There’s a direct correlation between mental health and productivity which in turn affects the bottom line of businesses. According to the WHO, it’s been estimated that depression and anxiety cost the global economy US$1 trillion per year lost in productivity. Mental-related stressors tend to spiral and if left unaddressed, can present a major challenge to retaining talent.

How does the HR function landscape across organizations globally look like today? Are organizations leveraging this moment as an opportunity to reimag68

| november 2020

ine the role of talent leaders and digitize HR? As the pandemic has dramatically impacted countries, organizations, and communities across the world, leadership has been stress-tested. There’s no question that organizations will need a disciplined focus on the viability and financial health. However, a human crisis demands a more human approach. Three major characteristics we’re seeing as key to leading your people through turmoil are - empathy, decisiveness, and flexibility.

siveness. Leaders who wait for definitive amounts of data risk ''analyze paralysis'' COVID-19 has provided harrowing proof— if leaders had waited for comprehensive data to respond to a still-unfolding crisis, they’d likely be waiting right now and potentially putting employees and customers in danger. Communicating clearly and with frequency helps the entire workforce understand what the shortterm steps are towards a longer-term recovery. • Flexibility – this approach demands a

In the past 10 years, the number of employees working remotely increased by 91 percent according to a 2019 FlexJobs report. The adoption of AI in the workplace has been another growing trend, with a 2020 Deloitte survey reporting that 71 percent of executives plan to spend more on AI in the coming year • Empathy - this could mean creating different flexible work arrangements for individuals to take into consideration remote-schooling, for example. In circumstances where retrenchment has occurred, actively providing support programs and reassuring those employees that they’ll enjoy rehiring priority once the business is in a place to rebuild. • Decisiveness - leaders must layer empathy with confidence and deci-

cultural and organizational focus on learning agility. Great leaders are looking to super-charge any efforts they’ve already undertaken to build agility in action as well as thought and must ensure they’re focusing on managing objectives rather than tasks to allow for flexibility in approach. Organizations can build this sort of resilience by investing in people and capabilities, but great leaders are also rethinking entire busi-


With the pandemic disrupting businesses in a never before way, do you think organizations are spending on new-gen HR technologies? Many elements of what was considered the future of work have been accelerated and have become today’s reality for many companies, as COVID-19 made it necessary to undergo rapid workplace restructuring. But changes in the working world were already well underway long before

to spend more on AI in the coming year. Overall, organizations are looking at HR technology to drive their overall digital transformation – by harmonizing data, streamlining processes, and creating experiences that help employees be productive. The urgency of these transformations has been accelerated because having the right technology in place enables businesses to be agile and flexible, and quickly respond to changes. HR technology

helps HR leaders gain visibility into operations and the flexibility to adapt plans and contingencies. It helps them listen to employees’ concerns and take the necessary actions to help their workforce feel safe, supported, and equipped to do their jobs well. In October 2020, SAP surpassed 4,000 customers using SAP SuccessFactors Employee Central, demonstrating the continued need for global organizations to adopt a cloud-based core HR solution that is scalable and flexible. Within the first six months of 2020, we also saw a dramatic increase in the use of SAP learning solutions as organizations had to quickly train employees on new safety protocols, redeploy them to new roles, or look at reskilling opportunities. Usage of SAP SuccessFactors Learning was up by 30 percent and nearly one million SAP Litmos courses were assigned in that same period – an increase of 95 percent year over year.

How is SAP gearing up to seize this moment given that the priorities of organizations are shifting? What are the key areas of HR function have you seen maximum tech implementations in the last few months, and the categories seeing the greatest levels of innovation from the service providers’ side? SAP is leading the HR november 2020 |

STORY

the pandemic was upon us. In the past 10 years, the number of employees working remotely increased by 91 percent according to a 2019 FlexJobs report. The adoption of AI in the workplace has been another growing trend, with a 2020 Deloitte survey reporting that 71 percent of executives plan

C OVER

ness models for short-term survival. Through a blend of resilience, decisiveness, and empathy, great leaders are navigating a gamut of challenges that are still taking shape. And, though this leadership is crucial for immediate survival, it will also make teams and organizations stronger in the long run.

69


STORY C OVER 70

market with Human Experience Management (HXM), which replaces top-down HR processes with experiences that put people at the center of the organization. At a time when we are working and living with constant change and uncertainty, HXM helps make technology work better for people. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of our customers leveraged the SAP Qualtrics Remote Work + Onsite Pulse tool to check in on their employees and make informed changes. Throughout the SAP SuccessFactors HXM Suite, we have continued to add embedded experience management capabilities across our solutions so customers to collect feedback at key moments so they can understand what is happening in their workforce and take action. | november 2020

We also announced SAP Work Zone for HR, which connects multiple applications from across the business into a personalized digital workplace for employees. The solution enables organizations to push top-down communications, without IT involvement, and more easily reach employees.

There has been a lot of discussions happening around technologies such as blockchain for HR. Which ones among AI, people analytics, and blockchain are being leveraged most, and why? Innovation is being born from these challenging times. In a recent podcast on my channel, People People. Unfiltered, I spoke with our customer, Tata Communications, on their response to COVID-19. As COVID-19 intensified longstanding

HR and business leaders should work together to look at their workforce to best understand the available resources, then match them to immediate needs. They need to understand the technology needed to keep employees engaged and support right while looking at what skills they will need in the future challenges like protecting gig workers and helping employees keep pace with technological changes, Tata offered a blueprint for innovation that’s as grounded in business strategy as it is humanist empathy. According to Tata, the first step was creating true self-service experiences for employees, particularly in learning and development. Only a few years ago, 80 percent of Tata’s training happened in person. Now, 90 percent is delivered digitally and the annual training consumption per employee has more than doubled. Building on that digital approach is their internal platform, Project Marketplace, which empowers employees to register their skills or crowdsource project assistance. It’s a market


approach that matches supply and demand, neatly building project teams, and creating opportunities for people to expand their skillsets and networks. It’s good for their people, but it’s also good for their future. It’s this sort of thinking that helps the HR function ensure they aren’t just offering the same core services and can change the game in a long-term way. But it also requires an organization with both foresight and healthy risk appetite.

What role can leaders play to ensure a better alignment of HR technology investment and business goals? The extreme importance of resilience and agility

They need to understand the technology needed to keep employees engaged and support right while looking at what skills they will need in the future.

How do you see the adoption of HR tech two years down the line? What are your priorities and new focus areas as we come out of this pandemic? At SAP, we are continuing to deliver on our HXM vision with new capabilities and solutions that help people be more productive, develop new skills, and do

has recently been brought into sharp focus for many companies. This has meant that workplace procedures are increasingly prioritized for efficiency, personalization, and flexibility. People must remain the priority in any business, especially now when maintaining order and continuity are critical to both survival and success. HR and business leaders should work together to look at their workforce to best understand the available resources, then match them to immediate needs.

STORY

Within the first six months of 2020, we also saw a dramatic increase in the use of SAP learning solutions as organizations had to quickly train employees on new safety protocols, redeploy them to new roles, or look at reskilling opportunities

C OVER

What’s your advice on how can talent leaders help instill an agile mindset in their organization to be in a better position to compete for talent and market share in a digitally-enabled future. There has been an incredible amount of resilience and agility demonstrated over the last several months, with entire workforces transitioning to remote work or being redeployed into new roles overnight. Technology was not responsible for this resilience; it was the passion, commitment, and agility of the people at these organizations. HR leaders have been propelled into an increasingly strategic role with the responsibility of balancing business continuity with the need to maintain human connections. As business and HR leaders determine what their digital transformation jour-

ney looks like in this new normal, they must continue to support their employees with the resources to be agile. For example, they can prioritize fostering a culture of continuous learning and provide employees with the resources to develop new skills, from leadership training to technical skills.

their best work. To excel in our new normal, organizations need to create dynamic, engaging, and employee-centered experiences that support individuals by empowering them to be in the driver’s seat of their own career journey. This means delivering solutions that are intuitive and personalized. Furthermore, they need to develop a culture of continuous learning and support that culture with tools and technology that empower employees to develop new skills. november 2020 |

71


Organizations are betting on AI and automation tools: Soumyasanto Sen Technology is enabling organizations to solve persistent HR issues, says Soumyasanto Sen, an HR Technology, Transformation & People Analytics Leader and Advisor. Now, organizations must match their technological evolution with a cultural evolution that will nurture innovation and advancement By Mastufa Ahmed

C OVER

STORY

co-author of The Sustainable Organization - a paradigm for a fairer society. Here are the excerpts.

P

eople Matters asked Soumyasanto Sen, an Advisor and Leader in Workforce Transformation, Technologies, Strategy, and Analytics with more than 17 years of experience, about the state of HR technology in this pandemicdisrupted world. A wellknown keynote speaker and

72

| november 2020

one of the top global influencers in HR Technology, Transformation, and People Analytics, Soumya is the founder of the Frankfurtbased advisory firm People Conscience. He is the author of a highly popular book, Digital HR Strategy: Achieving Sustainable Transformation in Digital Age, and

How has the HR tech landscape changed over the last few months? HR tech can help in areas like recruiting, as talent is still the major challenge. A lot of focus is now on workforce health and safety, engagement, and well-being. Keeping the workforce up-to-date with the right skills and competencies is critical today, to thrive in any transformation and this challenge is massive for the organizations. The demand for continuous learning drives gamification and microlearning trends. The distributed workforce is in focus again in this situation, along with flexible working, benefits, payments, etc. This would also help society with challenges related to migration and globalization. Investment activity in the HR tech space continued at a consistent pace during 2020, despite concerns that the COVID19 pandemic would act


as a brake. According to HRWins’ Q2 2020 HR Tech Global VC Update, venture capital investment in HR tech increased more than 14 percent from the first quarter during the period.

There has been a lot of discussions even before the pandemic around emerging technologies such as AI and blockchain. Are organizations leveraging next-gen technologies such as blockchain for the HR function? An emerging globally decentralized workforce

extends well beyond traditional concepts of jobs and organizations. The impact is not just on the world of work, but also on our society. Rather than focusing on the details of the blockchain technology itself, HR functions should consider the benefits blockchain delivers, such as trustworthy verification of counterparties’ identity without the involvement of a third-party, and then use it to categorize difficulties and areas of inefficiency in their standing operations.

november 2020 |

STORY

Given the current turmoil triggered by the crisis, is this the right time for organizations to digitize HR? COVID-19 has brought a sudden shift to virtual operations and interactions. Also, the pandemic provides an opportunity to accelerate the pace of learning, and the adoption of technologies with which your organization might have only started to experiment. With this pandemic, HR should be available for employees to prompt their concerns and address them immediately. Mitigation is key to dispelling employee fears while continuing to successfully and safely run a business. In a recent PWC survey, only 27 percent of respondents rated HR tech as

C OVER

The major issues driving HR tech decisions are related to finding, attracting, and retaining right talent, development of people, improving employee experience, creating collaborative work environments, rethinking on workforce planning, and ensuring employee well-being, diversity, and inclusion. All these demand a change in the HR operations, policies, and processes

Verifying and assessing the education, skills, and performance of possible recruits, creating trustworthy blockchain-based records of HR data, managing cross-border payments and employee mobility, enhancing fraud prevention and cybersecurity in HR are some potential uses of blockchain. As there are continuous developments in blockchain technologies, the best solutions are still being devised. Many projects are developing several different aspects, and decentralized applications and platforms could have a considerable effect in the future.

73


STORY C OVER

very effective for changing behaviors at work. The survey also found that the major issues driving HR tech decisions are related to finding, attracting, and retaining right talent, development of people, improving employee experience, creating collaborative work environments, rethinking on workforce planning, and ensuring employee wellbeing, diversity, and inclusion. All these certainly demand a change in the HR operations, policies, and processes. Organizations have been digitizing HR for many years, but the adoption of emerging technologies is just one part of a factual digital transformation. The bigger goal is developing a culture that improves the kinds of relationships, behaviors, and skills which enforce innovation.

How are large organizations leveraging HR technologies such as AI, people analytics, talent acquisition tech, or RPA? AI and automation technologies are enabling organizations to solve persistent talent issues such as skills shortage, employee turnover, matching employees and external candidates with career opportunities, eliminating manual tasks in administration and payroll through robotic process automation, and creating a personalized platform for employees to learn. HR functions worldwide are adopting RPA technology, reclaiming up to 40 percent of their time, and making their workplace happier and more human-centric, according to UiPath, a major service provider for RPA. Today, people analytics is not only necessary for

the HR organization. Other business functions have also recognized that they need people data to analyze and plan, and to make evidencebased decisions on people functions like joining, leaving, performance, pay, retention, engagement, succession, learning, leadership, etc. Currently, companies are majorly leveraging people analytics practices in measuring employee performance, strategic workforce planning, identifying skills gaps, evaluating recruiting channels, assessing talent supply/demand, identifying flight risk to improve retention, and reducing bias in hiring/promotions. People analytics is an evolving journey and it’s growing with the expansion of areas like organizational network analysis (ONA), cultural analytics, workplace analytics, etc. With these new applications

Organizations have been digitizing HR for many years, but the adoption of emerging technologies is just one part of a factual digital transformation. The bigger goal is developing a culture that improves the kinds of relationships, behaviors, and skills which enforce innovation 74

| november 2020


better decisions for these changes. Organizations need data to assess risks, progress, adoption, and usage related to the changes in leadership and culture when considering transformation. For an organizational change, it is important to identify changing behaviors, ways of working, and ongoing collaboration among the workforce. Instead of applying a checklist approach to change management, organizations should focus on listening to the voice of the employee and adopting this input to identify key drivers of change. We could definitely see more organizations moving towards the datadriven world in the coming future. november 2020 |

STORY

Where do you see HR tech five years down the line? We are living in a world that is changing at a lightning pace and overloaded with information, continual technological revolutions, and uncertainty. All these changes are transforming the way we live, how we communicate with each other, how we create and share knowledge, how we do our personal stuff, and even how we manage a relationship. Every single organization is undergoing transformations in their business, irrespective of their industries,

and many of them are struggling despite their efforts to become successful in the data-driven world. Datadriven transformation can make a huge positive impact on the business in terms of performance and growth, as they use data and analytics to reduce complexity, taking better decisions, performance improvements, or even new analytics offering to their customers. But, in many cases, the initiatives of implanting capabilities of data insights and analytics into the business operations fail, although the organizations are investing millions in these data-driven transformations. Organizational change related to transformation is not easy as it requires an adaptive strategy that’s well supported by leaders who can foster a culture of embracing change. Capturing the right data is important in making

C OVER

and areas, organizations can gain insights from analyzing behaviors, values, relationships, workplace habits, and social sentiments of the workforce. This can help them in improving employee experience, future learning, and many other challenges.

People analytics is an evolving journey and it’s growing with the expansion of areas like organizational network analysis (ONA), cultural analytics, workplace analytics, etc. With these new applications and areas, organizations can gain insights from analyzing behaviors, values, relationships, workplace habits, and social sentiments of the workforce

75


I don't see large adoption of technologies like AI and blockchain in HR: VP, HR, T-Systems Malaysia

C OVER

STORY

There is still a vast unutilized potential that lies in technologies such as AI and blockchain when it comes to their implementation in HR, says Vaclav Koranda, Vice President Human Resources at T-Systems Malaysia, in an interaction with People Matters By Mastufa Ahmed

V

aclav Koranda is the Vice-President of Human Resources and a member of the board of directors at T-Systems Malaysia. He has held several executive roles in human resources, namely in the ICT industry. For a significant part of his career, his roles have included regional responsibility, mainly for the region of Central/Eastern Europe. Before joining

76

| november 2020

T-Systems Malaysia, he was the VP of HR at T-Systems Czech Republic. He also served as a member of the Sector Council for IT and telecommunications in the Czech Republic. Koranda is a member of the Malaysian Institute of Human Resource Management as well as the Organization Development Network Malaysia. Here are the edited excerpts.

COVID-19 has become a trigger to accelerate transformation for business globally. How do you see the current business landscape amid all this chaos triggered by the pandemic? What have you learned from your customers? COVID-19 has become a business killer, rather than a trigger. For some businesses whose nature allows it, it has definitely accel-


erated certain trends like digitalization and virtual working. However, many businesses had to limit or even cease their operations as a result of government restrictions and fear spread among citizens. Especially tourism, hospitality industry have been hit the hardest. Consequently, oil prices have plunged because of low demand. This has made some of the poor countries even poorer. We will need several years to recover from this crisis.

In the current situation, do you think it makes sense

to digitize HR completely? Definitely, we have to review our HR policies and processes and adjust it to the situation we are in. I don’t think that we must necessarily digitize the whole of HR. In the end, HR is about people, and people are human, not digital. We mustn’t lose the human touch in the way how we manage our employees. However, currently, in this pan(dem)ic situation, going as much digital as possible may be the only way how to keep our businesses going. In the long-term perspective, I think all administrative and transactional operations

november 2020 |

STORY

In this pan(dem)ic situation, going as much digital as possible may be the only way to keep our businesses going

C OVER

How has the HR tech landscape changed over the last few months? What trends have you observed around HR tech adoption in HR amid this COVID19 crisis? Has the adoption has seen a spike or it slowed down? There has been increased demand for electronic document management including electronic signature. Such technologies have been around for years however they have never been largely adopted in HR mainly because of rigid legal frameworks and practices in many countries. Maybe the current situation can be a catalyst in this sense. Other than that, there has been an increased need for tools enabling all sorts of virtual working – virtual hiring, virtual onboarding, and also virtual off-boarding.

Are organizations actually leveraging next-gen technologies such as blockchain for HR function? How digitized is your HR function? I can’t see the large adoption of technologies like AI and blockchain in HR. There have been some attempts to develop HR tools based on those technologies but we are still in the initial stage. I think there is still a vast unutilized potential that lies in those technologies when it comes to their implementation in HR.

77


I can see a lot of service providers are stuck in the prepandemic mindset and offering pretty much the same as before, mainly traditional recruitment services and traditional HR tools

C OVER

STORY

I can see a lot of service providers are stuck in the pre-pandemic mindset. They are offering pretty much the same as before, mainly traditional recruitment services and traditional HR tools. I think the current market will require more on outplacement services, reskilling, virtual working, and digitalization.

78

in HR should be digitalized but we must take care that the human element is not lost.

business demands. In IT, there is always a lot of short-term projects after which you have to redeploy the employees to other projects. Traditionally, this Can you share some insights from real-life exam- requires a lot of manual work but it can be nicely ples of how large organizations are leveraging HR tech- automated using AI. You nologies – be it in the areas of just have to feed the skill profiles of the employees AI, people analytics, talent into the tool, alongside the acquisition tech, or RPA? business requirements, and In our organization, the tool churns out a list we have implemented of employees whose profile AI-powered tools for matches the requirements recruitment and talent the most. Elegant! placement, as well as chatbots helping us to What does the HR Tech manage standard queries market in the COVID-19 era from our employees. I look like? How are service especially like a tool that providers addressing the helps us to match our new market needs? current talent with new | november 2020

How would you define the role of a successful leader who can lead in a crisis? It will be interesting to see which of the trends that have been accelerated by this pandemic, will actually stick in the future. I think we should be prepared for more digitalization and virtualization wherever it brings efficiency into our businesses. In that sense, HR has to find new ways of looking at topics like performance management, motivation, and employee engagement. These topics will have to be redefined and adopted for a more digital future.


The pandemic is speeding up adoption of automation and AI: Oracle’s Shailesh Singla In this exclusive interaction, Shailesh Singla, Country Head & Senior Director, Employee Experience/HCM Business, Oracle shares his views on how the pandemic has pushed the HR function to the forefront and has greatly accelerated the adoption and implementation of automation technologies By Mastufa Ahmed

C OVER

S

STORY

hailesh Singla represents Oracle India leadership team and Heads India HCM Business. Shailesh works very closely with large conglomerates and leading enterprises of different sizes and has helped them to evolve Employee Experience to the next level, using right technology and consulting partners. He is a technology evangelist and has been instrumental in launching many new technology products successfully in India. In Oracle, Shailesh has led next Generation HCM cloud technology, right from its inception and now Oracle has a triple-digit partnership leveraging the same. Shailesh has in total 20+ years of experience and has worked with some of the leading Organizations - IBM,

PwC, TCS, and HCL Technology. In this exclusive interview, Shailesh shares some insights on how the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital technologies by several years and why HR must demonstrate a whole new kind of agility in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis and up its game amid this uncertainty. Here are the excerpts from the interview.

Have the strategic priorities of HR teams changed

amid this pandemic? What are the areas they should focus on right now? How do you see the larger HR landscape amid this uncertainty? The pandemic has changed all the business realities and the responsibility to help employees adjust to this change has landed on HR. The implications for HR are comprehensive and point towards new priorities like equipping leaders to manage remote teams and safeguard the company culture with a distributed november 2020 |

79


STORY C OVER

workforce in highly dynamic circumstances. HR needs to help leaders to lead better during ambiguity and to dynamically adjust annual goals and review all workflows to align with the new business priorities. The focus on employee wellness has not been more important. We did a survey, which shows that workers feel that 2020 has been the most stressful ever. 92 percent of the Indian workforce prefers to talk to robots than to their managers regarding their mental health issues. They feel that robots provide them with a judgment-free zone. I think, that gives HR leaders a clear mandate on what they need to do. They need to be more sensitive than ever, for helping build their employees’ physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual wellbeing. HR recognizes the humanitarian crisis of the pandemic and needs to be more deliberate about the way they reach out as their approach will have long term and profound effects on employee experience.

74% of companies planned to increase spending on HR tech in 2020 to address pressing talent needs, according to a study by PwC done in December 2019. Are organizations investing on HR tech solutions amid this uncertainty? McKinsey did a survey in 80

| november 2020

June, which points out that the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital technologies by several years. 85 percent of respondents said their businesses have somewhat or greatly accelerated the implementation of technologies that digitally enable employee interaction and collaboration. The adoption of automation technologies has also accelerated during the pandemic. These trends reflect automation’s ability to facilitate contactless interactions at a time of social distancing and heightened awareness of hygiene, as well as cost pressures that may arise from the economic slowdown. Adoption of automation and AI has expanded the most among firms that had a greater shift to remote work since the outbreak. Among executives of companies that moved most of

their employees to remote work during the pandemic, 80 percent said they had increased automation, while only 51 percent of executives from companies that adopted remote work for just a few employees said automation had grown. Some 35 percent of survey respondents said they would need more workers skilled in automation, AI, and robotics – a reflection of the increased deployment of automation during COVID19.[1]

How have vendors stepped up their games to address new market needs? What are the key areas of the HR function where you have seen maximum tech implementations in the last few months, and what are the categories seeing the greatest levels of innovation from the service providers’ side?


The implications for HR are comprehensive and point towards new priorities like equipping leaders to manage remote teams, and safeguard the company culture with a distributed workforce in highly dynamic circumstances

initiatives around diversity and inclusion in their workforce.

Can you throw some light on how top organizations are leveraging HR tech – people analytics, talent acquisition tech, RPA, blockchain? RBL Bank employs nearly 6,000 workers across a network of 370 branches located throughout the country. Banking being deemed as an “essential service”, the bank branches were open with skeletal staff. Caring for the well-being of so many employees can be daunting. The bank opted for Oracle Workforce Health and Safety module in sync with the already implemented Oracle HCM cloud. The module gave the bank the ability to track and manage health and safety matters within its organization. Employees could quickly report november 2020 |

STORY

a result, the latest updates improve both the employee and HR experience. The new updates deliver a seamless, step-by-step experience for employees as they move through personal and professional situations that require complex tasks and interactions. New career development products help organizations quickly meet changing needs, increase career mobility, and encourage employee growth. The updates improve data accuracy for HR teams with expanded autocomplete and localization features. There is Diversity Dashboard with Oracle Fusion HCM Analytics that expands the possibilities of data by providing personalized business analytics for HR decisionmakers. The pre-built dashboard highlights key statistics and trends to help HR teams better analyze employee data and improve

C OVER

The new normal requires a new approach. At Oracle, we realized that in this time of need, our customers do not need technology partners, rather our customers would like to have counsel, who can help them move out of difficult times. For the first time, we offered free solutions to our customers. We offered HCM tool for free, to help our customers keep their employees safe during COVID-19. As the offices started to reopen, we provided additional help by introducing the Oracle Employee Care Package: a bundle of HCM tools and technology that will help HR teams make work safer, supportive, smarter, and more human. We also announced major updates to Oracle Cloud Human Capital Management (HCM) to deliver personalized journeys and growth opportunities for employees, while improving data accuracy for HR teams. As

81


C OVER

STORY

health-related incidents or concerns from their mobile or desktop devices and administrators can communicate follow-up steps. Piramal Group is managing its diverse workforce effectively and transparently by integrating fragmented HR data over a single system of employee records. It provides them with datadriven smart dashboards at the click of a button. Its HR analytics allows them to gain insights into finding and retaining top talent as well as uncover trends and identify potential problems.

As per a survey by McKinsey, 85% of respondents said their businesses have somewhat or greatly accelerated the implementation of technologies that digitally enable employee interaction and collaboration At Dalmia Bharat, the HR function is looked upon as a strategic business partner as Oracle Cloud HCM has enabled their HR function to track, monitor, review, and analyze all the business solutions and deliver them proactively.[2]

Some of the changes the COVID-19 pandemic has brought upon us are going to be permanent and HR must demonstrate a whole new kind of agility in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. How can HR up their game amid this uncertainty? 82

The world has changed completely over the past few months and it will not get back to its older self. Suddenly, almost everyone is working remotely and organizations, even the skeptical ones, have realized that no one needs to be present in the physical office to work. Now, when the lockdown is being lifted, there are certain points that HR leaders need to keep in mind while preparing their organization for the new normal. First, they need to understand that the new normal will be digital. And that does

| november 2020

not only mean, the ability to work remotely. It will also mean a digital ecosystem to change the organizational culture; to use the technology to create a culture of responsiveness, agility, and compassion. If not already, the business leaders need to decide upon their digital strategy based on their business vision and mission. The new normal will be driven by values as much as by technology. Today, employees are far more conscious about the values that their employers adhere to. The HR leaders must help

their business leaders to find a common ground between commercially viable, socially, and morally ethical, and environmentally viable. Empathy is going to be one of the key factors that HR needs to keep in mind in the new normal – in terms of being more sensitive to people in the hour of their need and to understand the turmoil that we all are going through.

What role can leaders play to ensure a better alignment of HR technology investment and business goals? How can CEOs and CHROs work together to sail through this pandemic? The pandemic has elevated the role of the CHROs permanently. Today, CHROs are working closely with the CEOs to manage the present and help their company into the new normal. The pandemic has proved what many visionary CHROs knew before anyone had heard of the virus that digital resilience is directly tied to employees’ individual physical, mental, and emotional resilience. CEOs are depending on CHROs to make sure that their people are feeling secured and supported as they have realized that their future and survival depend on their employees. In some places, CHROs are at the helm of some difficult conversations about costcutting and letting people go.


HR tech was rather expensive and were not taking up HR technology on priority. However, the aftermath of the pandemic has created a very strong case for HR technology. The businesses have noticed the importance of employee experience and engagement. It is hard to put a monetary value for employee engagement or experience, but the COVID-19 times have Given the budgetary shown the enormous value constraints that many organ- that these two factors can izations are facing and the bring in for the businesses. many challenges amid the When the leadership will pandemic, how can HR build notice the direct impact an effective business case of employee experience/ for new technology right engagement on productivnow? ity in real-time, they will In pre-COVID times, the be more likely to give the business leaders felt that buy-in for HR Tech.

STORY

The organizations are going to face a completely new set of challenges at the other end of this crisis. There will be renewed conversations around diversity and inclusion in the workplace. The new social norms generated from work from home will directly affect organizations’ agility, productivity, adaptability — and they will chiefly be the province of CHROs.

C OVER

The pandemic has elevated the role of the CHROs permanently. Today, CHROs are working closely with the CEOs to manage the present and help their company into the new normal

How should HR gear up for the post-pandemic times given that the pandemic has offered the possibility for them to accelerate to digital? Agility is going to be the buzzword in the coming times. One key takeaway from this situation is that anything is possible, and businesses need to be prepared for any change that may sneak in. The businesses need to be agile enough to mold themselves according to new situations quickly. The organizations need to have a plan to fall back on, whenever a crisis of such magnitude strikes. For example, UST Global, a multinational provider of digital technology and transformation, IT services and solutions, managed to get their workforce remotely in less than 24 hours, as they had the digital infrastructure in place. They opted for the Oracle tool in addition to their existing HCM Cloud for tracking their employees’ health. UST Global is investing heavily to create an infrastructure for remote working for a longer period.[3] Notes

[1] https://www.mckinsey.com/ featured-insights/future-of-work/ what-800-executives-envision-forthe-postpandemic-workforce [2] Pre-approved content [3] https://cio.economictimes. indiatimes.com/news/strategy-and-management/how-ustglobal-is-tracking-the-health-ofemployees/76397502 november 2020 |

83


Companies continuing with HR tech investments aren’t just those that are financially stable: Colin Brennan

C OVER

STORY

We largely see organizations in two situations—they’re either pausing on investment because of ongoing cost pressures, or they’re moving forward, says Colin Brennan, President, Global Solutions & Services, Alight Solutions, in an interaction with People Matters By Mastufa Ahmed

I

n his role as President, Global Solutions and Services, Colin Brennan leads Alight’s value engineering capabilities, strategic advisory, and global human capital and business solutions. Colin and his team are charged with partnering with clients to design and implement solutions

84

| november 2020

that drive better outcomes for their people and their organizations. Bringing together data and analytics capabilities across the full suite of Alight’s solutions, Colin and his team derive critical insights and help clients take action to respond in the present and prepare for the future.

During his more than 20-year career at Alight and its predecessor organizations, Colin has held a variety of roles across the business. Most recently he led Alight’s cloud and payroll business. Colin was instrumental in successfully navigating some of the company’s key acquisitions including OmniPoint, Kloud, Future Knowledge, Carlson Management, Appirio, and NGA HR. Colin has deep expertise in the ERP business and regularly speaks at major industry events, including Workday Rising and HR Tech. Colin enjoys working with clients to solve complex problems, enabling them to transform for the future. Here are the excerpts of the interview.

With organizations worldwide grappling with mounting business and people challenges amid this pandemic, how do you see the impact of COVID-19 on businesses and people? From Alight’s perspective, we see COVID-19 impacting


short term and in the long term. Many companies are through the initial shock of the immediate disruption and are finding their way in this new normal. Top companies, with adaptable cultures, are coming out on top. Organizations that shifted their models quickly, whether it was moving workers to virtual work or retailers and restaurants that moved quickly to delivery-based models with easy to use ordering are thriving. Alight’s State of HR Transformation study found that those organizations with strong HR governance and a focus on employee

How are and talent leaders across large organizations globally stepping up to the mounting business challenges amid this chaos? How do you see the larger Landscape amid this uncertainty? If there was ever a realization that people are at the core of what we do and who we serve, it’s now. CEOs are realizing that the mantra “people are our greatest assets” just doesn’t cut it because employees are in fact, people. Of course, HR practitioners have understood this for some time but under the strain of the pandemic, leaders know it can’t just be lip service anymore. We are seeing that those companies that had the foresight november 2020 |

STORY

Companies that are looking at the long term and understand that making an investment, such as moving to cloud-based HR and finance technology, will ultimately be a greater benefit to their organization

engagement are orders of magnitude more capable of making these changes. Gartner also noted in recent studies that smart companies can no longer just design for the most efficient way to get things done – they have to design for efficiency AND resilience. And finally, of course – people. We know that they are craving connection, culture, and inspiration, while also embracing the flexibility they now have. It is the responsibility of leaders to find the right ways to keep people connected both now and once we’re on the other side of this pandemic

C OVER

organizations in three main ways: First, none of us can dispute the basic health and safety requirements for our people and the need to balance that with the very real demands on your business to grow? • It costs money to put new safety protocols in place • It costs money to continue to pay for corporate offices that sit idle. • It costs money to re-configure to meet social distance standards in the office, not to mention the loss of space Next, companies are having to completely adapt their business models in the

85


C OVER

STORY

to declare and live by a purpose or mission have had the guideposts they needed to navigate the crisis. Additionally, employees are demanding more ways to engage and collaborate in the remote environment. This doesn’t necessarily mean they want to go back to the Monday through Friday 9-5 routine in the office, but it does mean they want to still feel like part of a community and a culture they can be proud of.

86

Do you think the economic uncertainty of the pandemic has paused organizations from spending on HR technology? Can you share some numbers? We largely see organizations in two situations— they’re either pausing on investment because of ongoing cost pressures, or they’re moving forward. Those

| november 2020

companies that are continuing to move ahead with HR technology investments aren’t just those that are financially stable. Companies are looking at the long term and understand that making an investment, such as moving to cloud-based HR and finance technology, will ultimately be a greater benefit to their organization. Access to data and analytics is one of the key drivers for moving forward with major transformation work right now. We’re helping companies tap into scores of data and information that will allow them to make better business decisions.

What’s your assessment of the service provider landscape right now? How are vendors stepping up their games to address new market needs? What are the key areas of HR function

have you seen maximum tech implementations in the last few months? The landscape continues to consolidate with Kronos & Ultimate plus purchases by Ceridian and others. HR is moving to enterprise software from best-in-breed and the software players are struggling to cover all the bases for employers. With Work Tech under focus and a lot of areas overlapping with HR, we will continue to see consolidation. On the services side, some organizations are slowing down and letting people go while others are investing through the cycle on new products, AI, and Analytics. In terms of new-gen technologies, which ones among AI, people analytics, and blockchain are being leveraged most, and why? The key areas right now continue to be people analytics especially with everything going on in the world. Organizations are pushing harder on how to measure productivity, how they know who will show up for work, and what trends they are seeing in their workforce. Organizations are also leaning more heavily on AI to offset workplace volatility and automate as much as possible. We are seeing good discussion around blockchain, with initial use cases getting deployed.


data can allow business leaders to have hard data to inform and support business decisions that can directly impact business goals.

Is this the right time for businesses to invest in HR tech given that organizations are facing a lot of challenges? In order for companies to survive and thrive, they need to look ahead. The decisions they make now will impact the health of their business and their people in 2021 and well beyond. Access to the right technology, data, and importantly, the right partner that can provide

meaningful insights, will allow companies to make better business and people decisions that will drive better outcomes now and in the future

What are your priorities and new focus areas as we come out of this pandemic? First and foremost, we’re focused on caring for the health and safety of our 15,000 colleagues around the world. And we’re focused on delivering greater value for our clients and their people through our continued investment in technology, AI and analytics capabilities. november 2020 |

STORY

What role can leaders play to ensure a better alignment of HR technology investment and business goals? One of the biggest mistakes we see is the under-utilization of data and analytics. In fact, by some estimates, more than half of the data collected and stored by organizations goes unused. Tapping into people and organizational

For companies to survive and thrive, they need to look ahead. The decisions they make now will impact the health of their business and their people in 2021 and well beyond. Access to the right technology, data, and the right partner will allow companies to drive better outcomes now and in the future

C OVER

With the majority of workers working virtually across organizations globally, businesses have had to embrace some new realities like flexibility as part of their culture. And this necessarily means HR has to demonstrate a whole new breed of agility! Do you see a synergy in terms of how talent leaders are raising the ante? I see the flexibility going both ways. Workers want more flexible work arrangements, which include when and where work gets done and flexibility in how and when they’re paid. On the flip side, many companies are also seeing the value in flexibility in terms of employee satisfaction, engagement, and productivity. In addition, organizations see the value in having a more flexible – or gig-based- workforce so that they can easily scale staffing up or down based on need or based on their specific talent needs.

87


Agility across IT systems & processes are gaining momentum: Reliance Industries’ HR Tech leader

C OVER

STORY

The pandemic has brought companies to a much greater agile application of technologies across every aspect of the business value chain, says Vaibhav Goel, Vice President HR – Digital Transformation at Reliance Industries By Mastufa Ahmed

88

V

aibhav Goel, the Vice President HR – Digital Transformation at Reliance Industries, India, has over 15 years of experience in Strategic HR and digital transformations. An HR Leader with strategic acumen and entrepreneurial passion, he is deeply involved in HR digital innovation and agile transformation at Reliance Group. He has spent the last five years working closely with senior leadership and stakeholders to drive futuristic ways of working. People Matters asked him for his thoughts on how the COVID19 pandemic has changed the way HR tech is used and where he sees the HR tech landscape going globally as the world changes. Here are the excerpts. | november 2020

Has the pandemic brought about a drastic change in terms of how organizations leverage technologies? How do you see this overnight digital transformation of businesses? Organizations being part of overall societal institutions and their purpose being to serve their customers better and better, it is but natural that when customers' as well as employees’ life, preferences, and behaviors undergo a radical shift, correspondingly organizations ought to be re-thinking and re-imagining business fundamentals. And that

should take place at scale and in a globally synchronized fashion in response to a global pandemic. The real shift in fact has not been in technologies per se, which were already available for quite sometime. The shift has happened in their agile application by companies, first in business-critical operations and now holistically across every aspect of the business value chain. We all have been fortunate to have some of these agile and cloud technologies handily available, which has helped most organizations to respond to this global


pandemic in a much better manner than expected. Just a decade back, something like the SARS-CoV-2 virus would have been ten times more devastating to human life and global economies when even smartphones were not a very common device.

STORY

As business leaders begin to grapple with how to architect the future of HR in a time of uncertainty, they must focus on technology changes that can deliver immediate results. What are some of the most critical business challenges that HR and work technology can help organizations solve today? The redefined partnership between HR and technology is effectively addressing the most critical business challenges like productivity and innovation in truly re-imagined ways and at a faster pace. Talking first of productivity, while it’s a function of the business model ranging from consumer services to manufacturing, still, common design elements like the transparent alignment of teams, real-time business outcome tracking, and weekly-monthly course corrections are becoming new levers of productivity and performance in this VUCA world. While HR is redrafting the policy aspects

C OVER

How has the HR tech landscape changed over the last few months? Do you see a major change in terms of how HR leverage technologies? HR Tech is profoundly impacted, probably the most among all other business functions. HR Tech enables (or disables!) every employee, and goes much beyond in terms of creating lasting employee impressions. While EX-employee experience—has been on the agenda for most of the progressive organizations,

two specific trends have picked up momentum globally, as a result of COVID-19. The first is agility across IT systems and processes, and the second is personalization. In fact, combining agility with personalization is a winning formula for designing context-specific and tailor-made employee experiences around productivity, well-being, and learning to upskill or reskill. A chatbot/assistant based approach makes adoption even more intuitive at scale. These technologies are no longer ‘’nice to talk about’’ or small pilots but are seeing speedy implementations on a global scale. In fact, most organizations are now open to plug-n-play solutions beyond the traditional HR tech players, as they are not ready to wait for multi-year release plans from big Cloud HCM players.

The redefined partnership between HR and technology is effectively addressing the most critical business challenges like productivity and innovation in truly re-imagined ways and at a faster pace november 2020 |

89


and helping leadership mindset shifts, technology is the enabler giving us platforms to drive OKRs (Objectives and Key Results), continuous feedback, and collaboration, making these designs possible in the very first place. Secondly, with pandemic disruption, crowdsourc-

help drive the entire idea-toprototype life cycle in a truly agile manner in days and weeks!

What role can leaders play to ensure a better alignment of HR technology investment and business goals? Leaders have the most

STORY

Most organizations are now open to plug-n-play solutions beyond the traditional HR tech players, as they are not ready to wait for multi-year release plans from big Cloud HCM players

C OVER 90

leader prioritizes the team’s growth and well-being, letting their own needs and ambition take a backseat’. The most important characteristics to be a servant leader are to be really selfaware (and work on self), authentic listening (be with your team member wholly), empathy (knowing what makes each team member tick!), and building a community of support.

ing innovation capital in every business has become an organizational survival competence that is needed at different levels in the value chain. An effective strategy hence is to crowdsource innovation directly from the front lines in an open and transparent manner. Again, while HR has to augment some of the Reward and Recognition policies to fuel an innovation ethos across the organizational layers, we have some very powerful platforms, which can | november 2020

important role and are a make or break factor for most businesses and organizations, but the ‘leadership ask’ for this global reset is not easy. What is required, is a fusion of principles of ‘Servant Leadership’ with ‘Digital Mindset’. To put it succinctly, servant leadership is rightly summed up by Robert Greenleaf in his 1970 article as, ‘Servant leadership flips the typical leadership script by putting people ahead of (personal) power. A servant

But the ask is even greater, as leaders have to have a digital mindset in everything they try to do. All leaders need to have a crash course on new-age technologies but also be humble to learn from the new generation of talent. This means shifting from ''know-it-all'' mindset to a ''learn-it-all'' mind-set!

The pandemic has pushed upskilling and reskilling into the limelight. How can talent leaders ensure seamless learning for their virtual workforce? How are you ensuring workplace learning for your employees?


tools, RPA, and Augmented Reality are you most excited about and why? I am particularly excited about the ‘’Intelligent Automation’’ possibilities that arise from the various innovative use cases for AI. At one end, it has tremendous scope to improve efficiencies as most of the transactions and even simpler datadriven decision making with set patterns can be automated, while at the other end AI is truly helping in leveraging large scale data to find insights, which can be weaved into workflows resulting in hyperpersonalization of experi-

ences. Design creativity in this space is just beginning to explode. RPA has been around for sometime and is relevant only in certain use cases. AR still is 2-3 years away from large scale use cases and will require an improved infrastructure of bandwidth and devices at scale. Having said that, AR can still make an impact in specific uses cases of employee engagement, learning, and organizational communication. The future of HR Tech is definitely exciting and this future is all about the ‘’art of possible’’. november 2020 |

STORY

Most management leaders do appreciate that the talent and skill market is extremely dynamic, and learning agility is going to be a competitive advantage for our organization

C OVER

An open access to learning resources and a culture of continuous learning are critical for upskilling and reskilling. For talent leaders, this is probably the biggest challenge for the foreseeable future. They really need to articulate the business priorities linked to the skills framework, which itself will remain dynamic, and further need to craft learning paths that will lead to actual skill acquisitions which are deployable and productive. This requires re-designing learning frameworks, learning platform landscapes, and learning policies to drive a continuous learning culture. More progressive talent leaders are able to drive ‘’precision learning’’ and ‘’just in time’’ learning solutions. The key is to have a proper skills framework and curated content ecosystem. We are deploying all these strategies at scale, uniquely tailored to business and talent market requirements. Most management leaders do appreciate that the talent and skill market is extremely dynamic, and learning agility is going to be a competitive advantage for our organization. How do you see the future of HR tech globally as we come out of this crisis? Which technology among AI, ML, automation

91


Deloitte’s Walt Sokoll on HR tech in times of crisis

C OVER

STORY

In this exclusive interview with People Matters, Walt Sokoll, Principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP talks about how the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a massive shift in the way organizations leverage technology and how the HR tech landscape has evolved in these times By Mastufa Ahmed

92

W

alt Sokoll is a Principal in Deloitte’s Human Capital practice and leads the US HR Transformation practice. He specializes in HR transformation projects including the implementation of new HR service delivery models and technology. He brings more than 20 years of HR transformation experience across various industries. Aside from implementation projects, he has a wide range of additional consulting experience including HR service delivery assessments, software selections, business process design projects, and organizational assessments. In this exclusive interaction, Walt talks about how the pandemic brought about a drastic change in terms of how organizations leverage technologies, the trends around HR tech adoption in HR amid this COVID-19 crisis, and how organiza| november 2020

When technology efficiently enables remote work and employees find purpose in the work they do, companies will achieve the outcomes they desire tions can unleash the true power of HR technology in a way that is futuristic. Here are the excerpts from the interview.

Isn't tech essential for businesses to operate in this new world of work? Is everyone up for the game? Technologies impacting work, the workforce, and the workplace had significant momentum before the pandemic. The impor-

tance of these technologies was even more evident as the roadmaps to virtual work shrunk from years to months. At Deloitte, we are thinking about the technologies associated with the work itself. How do you tie together all technologies that are used in daily work - from communication and collaboration tools to talent networks to knowledge sharing repositories? With work becoming virtualized, the connectivity and integration of those work technologies will continue to be crucial. While technology plays a bigger role in accomplishing work, we cannot forget the human aspect to work as well. Deloitte’s 2020 Human Capital Trends report focuses on individuals’ connectivity to the purpose of an organization and finding meaning in the work that they do. When technology efficiently enables remote work and employees find purpose in the work they do, companies will achieve the outcomes they desire.

How has the HR tech landscape changed over the last few months? What trends have you observed around HR tech adoption in HR amid this COVID-19 crisis? Amid the pandemic, the


To do so, organizations must give the people the ability to be in connection with the right knowledge at the right time; and to connect people and knowledge, you have to go beyond silos and team borders to be intentional about the use of tools and technologies to interact and replace “water cooler” talk and live whiteboard sessions.

STORY

How can HR up their game amid this uncertainty to become mission-critical to business? How can nextgen HR technologies play a role here? Deloitte ‘Exponential HR’ point of view urges HR to operate in new ways, to support ever shifting business and workforce demands. It means reimagining HR and becoming more Adapt-

able, Agile, Architecting, and Augmented. In terms of Agility, HR must adopt a ‘Fail fast – learn faster’ mindset to deliver iteratively, drive and enforce a culture of collaboration over individual contribution, and enable rapid decisions with embedded HR teams, democratized data, and frequent reflection. Tomorrow’s HR operations necessitate collaboration with other support functions, and the business to lead the continuous transformation. As expectations from the business shifts, HR Operations must deliver new solutions, that require new capabilities and roles. This agility will mean creating an open dialogue with the business to ensure organizations are solving for what really matters and developing continuous improvement capabilities to actively monitor and then manage behavior.

C OVER

HR tech landscape has experienced an increased focus on the need for collaboration and knowledge management tools. Effective knowledge management helps connect people to shared information in a way that extends their capabilities; and that's ultimately what's going to help organizations to realize their potential. To capitalize on this opportunity, organizations need to create a culture that recognizes the value of knowledge sharing and that leverages worker experience and expertise to maximize human potential at work. Additionally, even with the pandemic, we have seen an increase in worker mobility. Knowledge management technologies ensure that as people move to different positions, knowledge does not leave with them.

How are top organizations leveraging HR technologies in the areas of AI, people analytics, talent acquisition tech, RPA, and blockchain? Concepts from the 2020 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends come to mind, including superteams and human/AI collaboration. Our report also found that 70 percent of respondents said that their organizations were exploring or using AI at some level. november 2020 |

93


STORY C OVER

Superteams are combinations of people and machines leveraging their complementary capabilities to solve problems, gain insights, and create value— extending this concept beyond the individual to the group. Superteams bring together the redesign of jobs and the redefinition of work to focus on how teams operate and utilize technology. Organizations that actively search for strategies to integrate robotics, AI and analytics, into teams can produce transformative business results. These superteams enable organizations to generate new insights to create new value and meaning while giving workers the potential to reinvent their careers in ways that increase their value to the organization and the broader talent market. Organizations that continue to manage AI and humans on parallel tracks will continue to be able to make moderate gains in efficiency, while organizations that choose to integrate humans and AI into superteams can realize much greater value by redesigning work in transformative ways.

Given the several constraints including budget that many organizations are facing in the wake of the crisis, how can HR continue to digitize 94

| november 2020

mid the pandemic, the HR tech landscape has experienced an increased focus on the need for collaboration and knowledge management tools the function and ensure employee productivity? There is something to be said about how HR can enable enterprise productivity beyond the HR function by focusing on work technologies, analytics, and collaboration. We anticipate the ability to build business cases that are driven by innovation and productivity enhancements for the business and not just for the HR function. New technology should be driven by the desired workforce experience and designed to reduce drag for employees and managers that prevents them from working on things that add value to the organization.

Given that many organizations are now working virtually, there are opportunities to evaluate and improve the Moments that Matter and the overall experience. Highlighting priorities for innovation and productivity that are specific to one’s own organization, allows the organization to focus on the workforce experience, evaluate productivity gains, and inevitably see value flow through the business results. When HR starts to influence and drive those enhancements, the business case will be clear.

In what key areas of the HR function have you seen maximum tech imple-


mentations in the last few months and the reasons for it? Talent management and capability development, especially remote learning, performance management, and workforce/talent marketplaces are areas where we have seen a lot of movement. We also are seeing engagement platforms that combine portal, case management, and knowledge management playing a significant role in enhancing the entire enterprise’s ability to get work done.

collaboration tools and the integration of work technologies with human insights.

With COVID-19 triggering an acceleration of Digital HR with new ways of working becoming the norm, how can organizations strengthen their digital base of HR and unleash the true power of HR technology in a futuristic way? When COVID-19 hit, the knowledge workforce had

november 2020 |

STORY

We are seeing ecosystems of HR, Workforce, and AI technologies come together to deliver a superior Digital Experience (DX), that is personalized, contextualized, intelligent, and proactively engaging based on an individual’s anticipated needs

to pivot and largely work from home. Companies rallied to make this happen and were largely successful. However, a new truth emerged – the employee experience is now almost exclusively digital. The Digital Experience (DX) at almost every company, is falling desperately short of expectations. As a consequence, Deloitte is seeing an exponential upswing in organizations investing to re-imagine the DX for their workforce, incorporating many of the aspects that we already discussed. We are seeing ecosystems of HR, Workforce, and AI technologies come together to deliver a superior DX, that is personalized, contextualized, intelligent, and proactively engaging based on an individual’s anticipated needs. Not just because that’s what people want and need, but because, when done well, it drives valuable business outcomes, such as, productivity, innovation, well-being, collaboration, connection, and yes, diversity, equity, and inclusion. As mentioned, we are also seeing the emergence of the Unified Engagement Platform to deliver all this and many tech organizations are currently racing to be the one-stop-shop for everything you do at work and beyond.

C OVER

At a crisis moment like this, how should organizations assess HR tech solutions with viability, scale, and alignment to business? And what should be the best practice strategies for HR tech implementation amid this crisis moment? During the crisis, people are willing to be more agile and try new things. As we mentioned earlier, the timeline of what needs to be done to make HR more efficient and better equipped to lead the business has very much accelerated. That acceleration provides a unique opportunity to deliver in an agile way – because we must move quickly. In order to achieve this quicker timeline, organizations must be willing to iterate and to adopt a culture of continuous improvement.

Amid this pandemic, Deloitte has shown that we can be successful with remote implementations. Using a variety of collaboration tools, our teams have executed numerous global design sessions, testing cycles, cutovers, and go-lives – all virtually. We have been able to work with, collaborate, and iterate with our teams and clients, ultimately proving the value of the

95


HR playing a critical role in keeping the ship afloat amid this crisis: Workhuman’s Niamh Graham

C OVER

STORY

Those that had already invested in HR technology to maintain connections between employees and managers through recognition were better prepared to transition to remote work. Everyone else is now playing catch up, says Niamh Graham, Vice President, Global HR, at Workhuman By Mastufa Ahmed

A

96

s Vice President of Global HR, Niamh oversees all HR activities that focus on the recruitment, retention, and alignment of Workhuman’s international workforce. Chief among these responsibilities is driving Workhuman’s internal recognition program and managing its company culture and values. During her 10-plus years with the company, Niamh has also held several leadership roles in operations, setting up a global operational infrastructure as the company | november 2020

scaled on a global basis. Prior to Workhuman, she worked with large multinational music companies and focused on international marketing and intellectual property. Here are the excerpts of the interview.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted businesses and people globally in a never before way. How can we minimize the impact of the epidemic on business, its performance results, and, most importantly, on employees?

For many companies, COVID-19 has been devastating and many people have had to wonder if their company could survive the pandemic, whilst others have performed extremely well in certain industries. For others, their businesses were forced to go remote and how they work will be changed forever. And many others have and continue to work around the clock in the frontline and medical/ pharmaceutical industries. As 2021 approaches, things will never


cultures, and their employees to thrive. In some ways, the pandemic has been a catalyst for change in workplace practices, for business strategies, for elevating culture. Companies should embrace change and find a solution to overcome challenges – including COVID-19. Ask ‘’what is the problem to be solved’’? Then do it! Humanity will rise and overcome COVID-19 - and companies need to make work more human in return.

STORY

How does HR function globally look like amid this uncertainty? Are we on track to reimagine the role of talent leaders for the postpandemic world? Now, more than ever, HR plays a critical role in keeping the ship afloat. With fewer in-person connec-

tions, performance management needs to be ongoing and more collaborative. A culture of frequent checkins and feedback is critical. Employees need to feel appreciated, understood, and connected to a company’s values, goals, and mission. With the workplace becoming a fluid concept, it is up to talent and HR leaders to create these conversations and set the tone in the workplace. Companies that keep a pulse on employees’ feelings are able to take responsive actions that strengthen core values and purpose, improve culture, and achieve a higher level of employee engagement. Especially in a remote world, employers can take advantage of social recognition platforms that mitigate isolation and encourage social and emotional connections during a time of crisis when people need it most.

C OVER

completely go back to how it was before. Remote work is here to stay for now until a vaccination becomes available. Hybrid cultures will become the norm for some companies. For others, culture and being together in person will be even more important to thrive in the future post-COVID-19. Humans miss human interaction and managers must connect with their team members now more than ever. Being connected, being flexible, and understanding and respecting the current challenges of working from home is essential. The novelty of working at home has eroded and now isolation, loneliness, and stress have taken over. Human connection using human-centered technology with human-centered strategies will enable companies,

With the pandemic disrupting businesses in a never before way, do you think organizations are spending on new-gen HR

It’s clear that when the world started to shift to a new way to work, this also meant gaining a deeper understanding of core human needs november 2020 |

97


STORY C OVER 98

technologies? Can you share some numbers? Looking at the outset of the pandemic, Workhuman’s adoption grew 40 percent in comparing April 2019 to April 2020. It’s clear that when the world started to shift to a new way to work, this also meant gaining a deeper understanding of core human needs. The Workhuman Cloud provides organizations access to solutions that both measure and improve employee engagement, performance, and inclusion all in one solution. Workhuman expects to end 2020 up from our 2019 results for both revenue and profitability. This growth is a reflection that in today’s times, human connections are more important than ever. How is Workhuman gearing up to seize this moment given that the priorities of organizations are shifting? How are you helping companies build and deepen connections with their employees? We started 2020 seeing an entirely new decade of potential at Workhuman. At the same time, we remain committed to our goal of making work more human. As this year has progressed, the importance of our movement has only grown. We have always believed in the power of recognition and, as COVID-19 has required many to work under the toughest | november 2020

conditions, the act of showing thanks proved to be critical. Our Social Recognition and Continuous Performance Management solutions help companies do this and energize their cultures, unlock their employees’ passion, and unite their workforce around a shared purpose.

We are witness to an unprecedented change in organizational culture and leadership in these uncertain times. What has this crisis revealed about leadership? Fostering connections has been critical since the start of the pandemic. Companies are forced to see their

employees as more than someone who is in the office from 9-to-5. We are in each other’s homes, sometimes seeing each other’s families. Work and personal life are intertwined. And while we are separated by a screen, we have stronger reminders that the person on the other side is human. As we see the bigger picture of many employees’ lives now, it is leadership who must take this chance to humanize the workplace. Companies who took steps towards being human-centered well before the crisis have had a strong advantage. For example, those that had already

Workhuman expects to end 2020 up from our 2019 results for both revenue and profitability. This growth is a reflection that in today’s times, human connections are more important than ever


invested in HR technology to maintain connections between employees and managers through recognition were better prepared to transition to remote work. Everyone else is now playing catch up.

STORY

What role can leaders play to ensure a better alignment of HR technology investment and business goals? Between the pandemic, gender and racial inequality, and economic turmoil, leaders have more on their hands than ever. And while confronting these varying modern crises, leaders must at the same time continue to facilitate human connection, all digitally, for the time being. This is a tall order, yet I am not sure that it is a changing role, just a reinforcement of the role of a leader and why they exist during crisis. On that note, it is the responsibility

C OVER

As Bill Gates says, success today requires the agility and drive to constantly rethink, reinvigorate, react, and reinvent. With workplace dynamics changing, how can HR demonstrate a whole new level of agility? It’s important for leaders to be in tune with employees and listen to their concerns. Being attentive and adaptable shows not only that you care, but that you want to make a change in the work environment.

Post-pandemic, millions of office denizens will regularly spend time working from home. Technology plays an essential component in daily business interactions. For employees to be successful working from home, they need to have direct access to performance goals, recognition, and feedback. New technologies have made it easier to recognize employees through Social Recognition and ContinuCompanies should embrace change and ous Performance Management platforms. COVID-19 find a solution to overcome challenges has permanently impacted the traditional workplace. – including COVID-19. Ask ‘what is the prob- Now more than ever, it’s important for employers to lem to be solved’? keep humanity in the workThen do it! Humanity place and stay in tune with will rise and overemployees. We launched come COVID-19 - and a free solution during the companies need to pandemic called Moodmake work more tracker to help employers do human in return just that. In today's unprecedented work environment, employof a leader to utilize everyees are also demanding more thing at their disposal – of their employers than in many ways, this means ever before: more equaltrying something new. An ity, more opportunities for HR technology investment growth, and more work-life is a perfect example of this. balance. According to a new At Workhuman, we have report from Workhuman, the privilege of seeing the Progress Toward a More payout every day when a new concept or idea is intro- Human Workplace almost 90 percent of employees said duced to an organization. they would prefer to work for How do you see the adop- a company that has a clear policy on employee rights. tion of HR tech two years As we look to 2021, our goal down the line? What are of making the workplace your priorities and new more human is stronger than focus areas as we come out ever. of this pandemic? november 2020 |

99


It is time to rewrite the employee playbook: C.H. Robinson’s CHRO

C OVER

STORY

In this exclusive interaction with People Matters, Angie Freeman, Chief Human Resources Officer at C.H. Robinson shares her views on the impact of COVID-19 on the transportation and logistics industry worldwide and how the pandemic has sparked the adoption of automation on a large scale By Mastufa Ahmed

100

A

ngie Freeman leads C.H. Robinson’s global talent and corporate responsibility strategies, including employee communications, sustainability and D&I. C.H. Robinson is one of the world’s largest third party logistics providers, with annual revenues of over $16 billion and approximately 16,000 employees around the globe. As a services company, C.H. Robinson’s people and winning culture have been instrumental to its long track record of success. Angie also serves as President of the C.H. Robinson | november 2020

Foundation. Angie joined C.H. Robinson in 1998 and during her career and has served in a variety of positions including leading Investor Relations, Marketing, and Public Affairs. Angie serves on the Board of Directors for the Shyft Group, Inc, a manufacturer of commercial specialty vehicles. She also serves on the Board of the University of North Dakota Alumni Association & Foundation. Previous Board service included serving as Chair of LeadersUp, a national nonprofit founded by Starbucks that supports increased employment opportunity for

at-risk youth. Angie holds a Master of Science degree in Comparative Politics from the London School of Economics, in addition to a BA in Political Science and a BS in Secondary Education from the University of North Dakota. In this exclusive interaction, Angie shares her views on the impact of COVID-19 on the larger transportation and logistics industry worldwide, how the industry is adapting to the changing scenario and how the pandemic has accelerated the need for technology to boost productivity and creativity.


Here are the excerpts from the interview.

omy and people’s needs – including transporting vital personal protective equipment (PPE), food and beverage supplies, and more. C.H. Robinson was grateful to work alongside our 78,000 contract carriers to help make that happen.

STORY

How is C.H. Robinson adapting to the changing scenario? Throw some lights on your initiatives? How are you measuring impacts? The logistics industry has been gradually undergoing digital transformation, but the pandemic has accelerated the need for technology to boost productivity and creativity by eliminating repetitive tasks. C.H. Robinson is committed to supporting clients and partners through our dual initiatives in technology and human resourcing.

C OVER

Every country across the world has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. And the transport and freight sectors have certainly not gone untouched. How do you see the impact of COVID19 on the larger transportation and logistics industry worldwide? The impact of the COVID19 pandemic on transport and logistics has been significant, largely due to the wide variety and vast number of players in the sector. The industry faced initial downturns due to the disruption in global manufacturing and grounding of passenger planes due to border closures. However, we also quickly saw a spike in demand for freight services due to stay-home measures resulting in an e-commerce boom. One positive impact of the pandemic is the accelerated adoption of supply chain technologies – such as Inter-

net of Things (IoT), cloud computing, and data analytics. In a COVID-19 world, cargo visibility/traceability are key tools for companies to gain an advantage in terms of overcoming supply chain shocks. We anticipate that the industry will continue to embrace logistics technologies at a faster rate in order to adapt to the new normal. For example, this will include leveraging data to provide near-real-time analytics into shipment tracking, hence driving more precise logistics and inventory management. The pandemic not only shined light on the importance of supply chain technology, but also the people who kept supply chains running. We saw an increased appreciation and understanding for those working long hours to support the global econ-

While Logistics 4.0 and the adoption of technology within the industry was well underway before the pandemic, COVID-19 has clearly hastened the industry’s transformation november 2020 |

101


STORY C OVER 102

Firstly, we continue to invest in our global technology platform, Navisphere®. Our technology built by and for supply chain experts provides customers with greater supply chain efficiency and real-time visibility to help deliver smarter solutions. Earlier this year, we partnered up with Microsoft to integrate IoT device monitoring within Navisphere®. This provides customers a more detailed level of intelligence about their goods as they move through the supply chain – including temperature, humidity, light, and pressure in shipments. Through this collaboration, we hope to benefit more customers and carriers around the world. As with every industry, we are using automation and technology to extend human capability and complement business growth. We also see our people as one of our largest competitive advantages in this changing landscape. Even through disruption our customers and contract carriers know they can rely on our people. As we keep up with evolving consumer shopping habits and the rising volume of online sales, we are seeing a need to hire for a wider range of roles. In addition to the usual roles of dedicated account managers and supply chain experts, we continue to open roles for | november 2020

Any organization that has the support of a digitally adept HR function will outperform those without. In some cases, this could mean a massive change in current business processes for some companies software engineers and data scientists. These roles help us strengthen our information advantage and technological innovations, providing our clients with greater visibility for their logistics needs.

Adaptability, flexibility, and the use of innovative technology are essential for supply chains to operate effectively in the new normal. What implications does this have for HR and talent leaders? How can HR leaders create a culture of innovation amid this chaos? While Logistics 4.0 and the adoption of technology within the industry was well underway before the pandemic, COVID-19 has clearly hastened the industry’s transformation. In turn, digital talent is – more than ever before – an asset for logistics companies that are looking to differentiate and gain a competitive advantage. At C.H. Robinson, our employees remain our

biggest asset – hence we have put in place HR strategies to recruit, train, and retain top talent across our company by expanding our definition of critical talent, we’re aiming to ensure we have the people and expertise necessary to lead our company into the future. For example, aside from opening roles such as data scientists or software developers, we also have made appropriate investments in skills training for our existing employees. This allows us to future-proof our organization and enable the robust talent pipeline needed to adapt to changing business conditions. While we believe digital talent is imperative in sustaining business momentum in the new normal, our efforts to recruit and upskill would not succeed without the right organizational culture. Our culture of trust and transparent communication is key at C.H. Robinson as we aim to provide as much certainty as possible for employees during this time. Our approach to leveraging human-centered leadership and empathy has also gone a long way in uplifting employees and reassuring them of their sense of purpose within the organization. Ultimately, we hope to help our employees adapt, innovate, and find opportunities to thrive.


How do you see the increasing role of next-gen HR technologies such as AI, new wellness technologies, VR, cloud-based HCM tools? What are some of the critical business challenges that HR Technologies can help organizations resolve today? The nature of HR work has undergone tremendous changes in recent years, thanks to the mass adoption of intelligent tools to help HR professionals automate administrative tasks, measure employee performance, and make recommendations to the business.

How are you resetting your global talent strategy amid this pandemic? How should talent strategy be different for the new world of work? A key offering of C.H. Robinson is our global network of highly qualified and dedicated logistics experts with broad industry experience and proven track record in supporting our

pandemic economy, given our long-term focus on recruiting, nurturing, and empowering the right talent from day one. Of course, the increasing competitive landscape today, with the logistics industry being the key enabler of global trade amidst disruptive shifts, does present a new set of hiring challenges. This is all the more reason for C.H. Robinson to double down on our existing efforts to inspire and grow passion for the industry—through strategic investments in employee engagement, training opportunities, and benefits.

november 2020 |

STORY

What are your priorities as the HR leader of C.H. Robinson with respect to the adoption of HR technology? Any organization that has the support of a digitally adept HR function will outperform those without. In some cases, this could mean a massive change in current business processes for some companies. At C.H. Robinson, the way we tackle this centers around two aspects: challenging ourselves to stay abreast of the latest HR technology and customers’ every business building a work environment need. Our people are arguthat is fit for the next generaably our largest competitive advantage, and we are acutely tion of savvy talent. C.H. Robinson has HR conscious of the role the HR systems and processes in function plays in maintaining that edge, particularly in place to prepare our organization and people for the today’s context. We are not embarking on a next phase of growth in the industry. Placing a strong brand-new path in the post-

C OVER

Today, AI-powered HCM software offer the HR function a tangible edge in assessing employees’ experiences, skill sets, and potential movements, while also adding intelligence to decisions regarding training, promotion, and recruitment. This is invaluable for a

people-first organization like C.H. Robinson, where anticipating what our talents’ need to excel within their work scope is high on our priority list.

103


STORY C OVER 104

data-driven world post the pandemic? The pandemic has sparked the adoption of automation on a large scale, and the impact is being felt across many industries, including logistics. Within the HR department, data insights give us access to people analytics – a more comprehensive view of how C.H. Robinson’s human resources are being allocated and utilized. The ability to act on this knowledge strategically allows HR to offer even more value to the busiThe current environment presents a black swan opportunity for companies to rewrite ness. Of course, the advent of transformative technolthe employee playbook – transforming it ogy will also have a signifiinto one that speaks to the unprecedented cant impact on existing HR gains in technology and the trust processes, and we will need employees place in their leadership to proactively improve our HR skill set to adapt and thrive. We see this as a case emphasis on added intelOur digital HR stratof leading by example in ligence, process efficiency, egy goes hand in hand with continuous learning and and optimal user experience, C.H. Robinson’s approach adapting to the new nature we have made significant to recruiting – maintaining of work. investments in human capia healthy pipeline of expeOutside of HR, the modern tal management software rienced and digitally adept workplace will see many for our employees across the professionals. Candidates globe. This includes streamwho are motivated, entrepre- business functions translining our talent manageneurial, comfortable working formed, restructured, or even made obsolete. As part ment, payroll solutions and with technology, and interof our mission to continupeople analytics within one ested in pursuing a career platform. Additionally, we in an industry that is under- ously nurture talent, we put a lot of emphasis on spearalso leverage digital workgoing rapid transformation. flow solutions to enable our Ultimately, we want to build a heading a new game plan employees to access answers capable team of experts who to smoothen the transition to commonly asked quesare passionate about leverag- into the future workplace – tions about employee poliing technology innovations to making sure every employee cies and benefits. Ultimately, solve business challenges for knows where they stand, and where they are going. we are looking to provide our customers. seamless integration for our As each country begins employees – regardless of What do you think the to come out of the crisis, where they work. future holds for HR in a | november 2020


recruiting top talent can be expanded across cities and states – particularly for roles that allow for remote work. Recruitment is often location agnostic, and this can result in a whole new level of opportunities for HR leaders. For C.H. Robinson, we have also leveraged the current landscape to enable digitalization and higher adoption of technology for the purposes of remote employee training. We have put in place programs to help our employees build upon their skills for the future, while enabling them to stay productive at home.

november 2020 |

STORY

Do you think leaders will need to focus on building much more agile and resilient supply chains, as great swings in supply, demand, and costs become the new normal? With COVID-19 continuing to impact our global

markets, it has become clear that supply chains across the world can no longer rely on tried-and-tested tactics of the past. As shipping volumes become more variable, supply chains must become more adaptive, especially as the logistics players prepare for the next major catastrophic events – from weather, to future outbreaks, and other associated disruptions. Indeed, traditional supply chains that rely on manually intensive and laborious processes will struggle to compete as our industry continues to transform digitally. Moving forward, industry players will have to leverage new technology that enables end-to-end visibility of shipments. At C.H. Robinson, we have put in place such functions for our customers – allowing customers full visibility over their shipments and ability to adjust their delivery timelines in the event of disruption. The use of data analysis to optimize logistics routes and streamline warehouse functions based on fluctuating consumer demand can also prove useful in enabling a more resilient supply chain. Above all, ensuring that we continue to hire and provide upskill training for employees across all functions will go a long way in building the supply chain of the future.

C OVER

having the first-mover advantage of knowing who to approach and where to hire them from will be a critical factor in gaining market share. How should talent management strategy evolve for the postpandemic world? The current environment presents a black swan opportunity for companies to rewrite the employee playbook – transforming it into one that speaks to the unprecedented gains in technology and the trust employees place in their leadership. In the post-COVID-19 world, talent management must evolve to address the need for fluidity in talent and a seamless flow of knowledge and innovative ideas to enable capability, capacity, and agility. Given the world’s rapid adoption of remote working culture, organizations and their HR leaders now know that

105


C OVER

STORY

We are already digital, will continue to explore new technologies to further improve employee experience: Roche’s Roelof Kistemaker

106

The majority of our processes and document management are now digitized at Roche. Besides, we have successfully introduced chatbots in various areas, says Roelof Kistemaker, Chapter Lead People Insights & Technology, Roche, in an interaction with People Matters By Mastufa Ahmed

R

oelof Kistemaker joined the pensions and employee benefits industry some 35 years ago. For most of this period, he worked for Aon Hewitt in various roles. He also spent three years in Ireland where he worked as a Pension Consultant for Coyle Hamilton Willis. In July 2005, he joined Roche in Switzerland. In his current position as Chapter Lead for People Insights & Technology, he is responsible for the Group’s People & Culture Technology, Insights and Data Governance strategy and related programs. He is a member of the Roche Group People & Culture Enabling Team. He has a diploma from the Dutch Actuarial Institute, | november 2020

an EMBA from the EU Business School, and is a Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development in the United Kingdom. Here are the excerpts from the interview.

How do you see the larger digital transformation initiatives at this point amid the crisis? What does this over-

night transformation of businesses mean for the future? Roche was already on a journey to become more digital. The crisis has accelerated that journey as an additional catalyst. The importance of adopting digital work practices became even more evident and we will therefore further accelerate our digital transformation.


questions from employees (e.g. participants in our Employee Share Purchase Program) • Use predictive analytics to determine job leveling, based on a range of parameters

AI is already used today in recruiting, HR service delivery and L&D. Do you see new use cases of AI in HR? One area which so far has relied on manual effort and subjective interpretation is Rewards. Whether it is the process of survey submissions, job matching, or job leveling, AI can bring significant benefits to making these processes more efficient and

Our efforts over the past few years in adopting digital solutions for People & Culture at Roche, especially our move from on-premise to cloud-based platforms, have helped us live in to our vision of “Anyone working Anytime, Anywhere from Any device”

STORY

Are you planning to leverage new-age tech solutions such as AI and blockchain? AI and Machine Learning are beginning to be used in several of our HR Practices and IT solutions. Examples are recommendation engines within our Learning Management System or predictive modeling in a variety of areas (e.g. attrition analysis or compensation/leveling). Some of our vendors are starting to leverage innovative blockchain technologies to securely issue and verify credentials.

management is now digitized at Roche. In addition, we have successfully introduced chatbots in various areas. We will continue to explore new digital technologies to further increase impact and improve employee and manager experience. Can you share some insights from real-life examples of how large organizations are leveraging HR technologies – be it in the areas of AI, people analytics, talent acquisition tech, or RPA? • Using text and sentiment analysis for employee engagement surveys • Using machine learning to recommend training • Using chatbots to answers

C OVER

What’s the HR tech landscape in your organization like? Have you deployed any new tech solutions for HR? Our efforts over the past few years in adopting digital solutions for People & Culture at Roche, especially our move from on-premise to cloud-based platforms, have helped us live in to our vision of “Anyone working Anytime, Anywhere from Any device”. The last six months have demonstrated that, as a P&C organization, we have been able to continue to pay, hire, move, and develop employees without disruption.

How are you transforming your HR function in terms of policies and processes? The majority of our processes and document november 2020 |

107


C OVER

STORY

solutions to allow collaboration across all time zones.

AI and Machine Learning are beginning to be used in several of our HR Practices and IT solutions. Examples are recommendation engines within our Learning Management System or predictive modeling in a variety of areas (e.g. attrition analysis or compensation/leveling) more reliable. Given the high volume of data, this area is ideally suited for a digital transformation. Another area is the use of skills in matching employees with opportunities. The gig economy and the introduction of agile ways of working require us to think differently about how talent flows to where it can have the highest impact. Technology can play a major role in this.

What does the HR Tech market in the COVID-19 era look like? Do you see service providers stepping up their games to address the new 108

| november 2020

market needs amid this crisis? Remote working is here to stay. The vast majority of employees will likely continue to work from home to a much larger extent than before. This will fundamentally change how we hire, engage, assess, manage, and interact with employees and candidates and how people collaborate. Vendors will need to ensure that their technologies are adapted to meet the needs of these changing ways of working, that collaboration tools from different vendors can be integrated into existing HR

For the post-pandemic world, do you think the role of a successful leader will change? Will HR have a role to play here? Leading remotely requires very different leadership skills. More than ever, employees will need to be assessed on their contribution, which is not measured by how many hours they work in the office. Leaders will have to empower their people and trust them to make the right decisions. Leaders will have to make extra efforts to maintain meaningful relationships with their people. And given the challenges in maintaining a healthy work-life balance, managers need to invest extra time in the wellbeing of their employees and themselves. What do you think the future holds for HR post the pandemic? The role of People & Culture in helping organizations be successful will only increase. It does require HR professionals to embrace new technologies and become more data-savvy. Let’s keep in mind that the role of People & Culture goes far beyond the adoption of technology and has been increasingly important, for example in establishing agile working techniques.


Digital HR: Is it clouding our thinking? The rapid increase in the availability of cloud-based HR technology has, in many organizations, outstripped our ability to acquire and develop skills such as business acumen By Clinton Wingrove

STORY

W

e all know that COVID-19 has had major impacts on HR processes and HR professionals. Many organizations have had no choice but to equip and enable employees to work remotely - even when, only weeks before, they argued that this was not possible! Some HR functions managed the impossible within a week! At center stage has been the rapid implementation of digital tools of various types such as video-conferencing. But have these tools proved as useful and as impactful as hoped? Have these furthered HR’s strategic digitization plans or have they clouded our thinking?

Almost daily we see reports like, “organizations that implement: • Cloud-based HR digital solutions are W% more likely to report higher productivity; • Cloud-based virtual communications tools increase staff interactions with their managers by X%; • Employee self-service increases employee engagement by Y%; • HR analytics improve diversity by Z%.” But, are these relationships causal, mere correlations, or simply examples of randomness bias? We seldom have access to the data to discover the truth about each claim … but they all make great stories for

us to read and they offer us a quick solution to our own challenges! However, as HR professionals, we should not develop strategies based solely on stories and vendor claims. Rather, we should base them on evidence, our own knowledge of our organization’s needs, and an in-depth understanding of the power of contemporary technology. I have long argued that, in addition to core HR knowledge and expertise, senior HR professionals need five other skillsets: 1. Business acumen – understanding how each and every HR process impacts the organization’s bottomline (financial or social responsibility, etc) so that they can prioritize strategic initiatives, including digitization projects. I hear many HR professionals arguing that they need the latest technology for managing their talent … and I am sure that they do need such tools. But they also need to know what the payback will be and how much that justifies them spending. I find few are skilled at measuring the financial or other costs and benefits of HR processes. november 2020 |

C OVER

COVID-19 has had a major impact on HR and given us the right and the power to demand technology to support productivity and development. But, the speed with which this has happened may have clouded our thinking

109


STORY C OVER 110

It reminds of a situation many years ago when a department manager, in a company with a recruitment freeze, wanted to recruit an additional employee. They presented their case to the company’s senior management team. During the Q&A session the manager was asked by the HR Director, “So, you say you need one extra person. How do you know that? Perhaps you need two?” The manager’s response was, “Well, you know how difficult it is to measure people. So, yes, two would be great. Thank you.” The director adopted a sterner expression and responded, “Well if you can’t measure it, you clearly don’t know how many you need. Come back to me within the week with some solid justification for each of your existing staff or I will instruct you to reduce by one.” In well less than a week, the manager had put together measures and justifications … and so had most of the managers to whom they recounted their experience. The fact is our ability to measure the costs and business benefits of HR processes is directly proportional to our desire to do it; it’s a mindset. 1. Technology acumen – understanding the power of contemporary technology so that they can lead digitization initiatives and not | november 2020

rity, remote-staff monitoring, and activity tracking, whistleblowing; • Analytics e.g., data validation, data management, data aggregation and integration, analytics, interpretations, predictions, and visualizations. HR do not need to be experts in all of those but we do need to know enough, or to engage with those who do, to be able to make sound HR have them driven by IT or Technology decisions, many Procurement. of which (especially AI appliHR technology is often cations) are progressively referred to as though it is becoming fraught with data a single offering. Certain privacy and security issues. vendors want us to believe 1. Analytical acumen – that. They also often argue understanding how to ensure that best-of-breed applicathe collection and availtions are inferior. However, ability of quality HR data contemporary HR technol(comprehensive, valid, reliogy offers numerous forms of power that we can deploy, able, differentiating, useful, and defensible). including but not limited to: Many HR functions are • Transaction or process management e.g., improv- still working with poor quality data and basic reporting ing the efficiency and tools. We need to take action effectiveness of recruiting, payroll, on-boarding; to enhance data quality, and then to understand and use • Communications e.g., video conferencing, team- descriptive, analytical, interpretive, predictive, and visuworking, collaborating, alization processes and tools networking, ticketing; • Behaviour engineering or so that we can drive strategic change. modification e.g., perfor1. Courage – demonstratmance management, ing the courage to challenge employee recognition, employee feedback, stress the status quo, resist flawed requests, fight for what will management; • Productivity optimization work and what is right, callout, and stand-up to bias. e.g., ToDo lists, project We must provide profesmanagement; • Compliance and monitor- sional services not merely be subservient. ing e.g., entry/exit secu-


ate need for us to manage our liquid assets. We must ensure that spend on HR technology proves to be an investment and not a cost. If Procurement asks you what you need, what will you tell them – what you need or what you want? Do you know the difference? Are you making the best use of tools you already have? How are you going to measure your return on any investment? For your unique organization, what do you need HR technology to achieve and do for you? What are the risks (features, financial, support,

…) of single source technology? What are the risks to you of integrating multiple best-of-breed solutions? Is an all-singing all-dancing ERP system right for you? Will it do precisely what you need it to do at an acceptable price? Do you know if it will support (technically and financially) the changes that you may need in the medium and long term? Do your IT team know and understand what you need to achieve. Or, are they driven by what they know is available and widely used? Do you know what is possible? Do you know how

STORY

We must ensure that spend on HR technology proves to be an investment and not a cost

to write an RFP that genuinely will get you the best possible solution? If not, do you have access to an independent resource to help you with that? Yes, COVID-19 has had a major impact on HR and given us the right and the power to demand technology to support productivity and development. But, the speed with which this has happened may have clouded our thinking. There will be many vendors keen to capitalize on that confusion. For example, there is a massive increase in the availability and sales of software to monitor the behaviors of remote employees. But, would that be the best use of your funds? Or, for example, would your funds be better spent on AI technology to help advise managers on how to enhance their interactions with individual team members, and which team members to focus on first? Now maybe a great time to brush up on your Business Acumen, Technology Acumen, and Analytical Acumen before you use your Courage and Personal Effectiveness to drive your organization’s HR Digitisation strategy.

C OVER

2. Personal effectiveness – demonstrating the ability to command airtime, influence key stakeholders, and build personal credibility. The rapid increase in the availability of cloud-based HR technology has, in many organizations, outstripped our ability to acquire and develop those five skills. Consequently, far too many expensive HR digitization decisions are made based largely on a combination of (a) external IT-vendor marketing and social media hype, and (b) naturally biased recommendations from well-meaning internal users, IT, and Procurement. Organizations need to invest in suitable HR technology to position themselves to sustain their operations and respond swiftly to changing needs. But, too often either (a) new process designs are driven by the technology (typically developed by someone who has never worked in HR and without any behavior engineering expertise), or (b) technology is demanded to automate existing flawed processes. Ironically, a consequence is that many processes fail to capitalize on the power of technology. Whilst COVID19 has thrust the need for technology upon us and potentially led to budgets being made available for it, we must remember that COVID19 has also created a desper-

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Clinton Wingrove is the director of www.WantToBeGreatManager.com and www.ClintonHR.com november 2020 |

111


We see a surge in demand for inclusive talent marketplaces, agile career frameworks: CEO, Fuel50

C OVER

STORY

We are finding accelerated demand right now for an agile workforce and talent marketplace solutions that support workforce agility, reskilling, and the delivery of an inclusive career experience for all employees, says the CEO of Fuel50, Anne Fulton By Mastufa Ahmed

A 112

nne Fulton is the author of The Career Engagement Game and is an experienced organization transformation expert with a passion for career enablement, talent optimization, and workforce agility. Anne is the CEO and Founder of Fuel50 - an AI-driven talent experience platform, which is now | november 2020

operating in 28 countries, and winners of the HRTech Awesome New Technology in 2014, Brandon hall Career Pathing Gold Excellence Award 2015 and 2016, and Employee Engagement Award US Vendor of the Year 2018, Top HRE Product 2020. Here are the excerpts of the interview.

How do you see the current business landscape and the evolving role of HR in enabling employees to stay productive amid all this chaos? Right now, the current business landscape is focused on the disruption caused by the global pandemic and lockdown, and how we all cope with that. It has magnified the need for organizations to be able to change and change rapidly. The new buzz words are things like "agility" and "flexibility," and this speaks to the reality that the only effective way to deal with chaos and uncertainty is by being able and willing to react quickly and make smart changes as business conditions change. HR, as you might imagine, is at the heart of this. The HR team has always had to collaborate across the organization, but now, this is more important than ever. HR leaders need to be collaborating more with employees at every level because they are the people that most employees look for answers in this chaotic and uncertain time.


to support the homeless during these tough times, so we wanted to absolutely support any of our clients who are also doing good work. Other clients like one of the world’s leading BioTech companies that we work, were also the first to release a COVID-19 test and we know they used FuelGigs and had delivered over a million reskilling hours over the last year, which meant their workforce was ready to pivot and respond. We are very proud to support them and the important work they do. We are also pivoting around the new inclusivity

imperative that has swept the world as a result of the BlackLivesMatter movement. We have always had a deep business commitment to fairness, transparency, and inclusivity and these values have driven the way we have responded to the pandemic we found ourselves surrounded by as we had to make some tough decisions to future-proof our business too and ensure our team could respond to the surging demands we were experiencing in these unprecedented times.

STORY

How are you sailing through tough times? What has been your greatest challenge and learnings so far? Our clients have been under immense pressure and we have had to be responsive and humane in our response too. For example one of our clients in the UK is Travelodge and they pivoted

The new buzzwords are ‘agility’ and ‘flexibility’, and this speaks to the reality that the only effective way to deal with chaos and uncertainty is by being able and willing to react quickly and make smart changes as business conditions change

C OVER

How do you see the larger HR tech landscape today amid all this chaos? What are the areas HR and talent leaders should focus on right now? The global pandemic has created chaos in a great many areas, and HR technology is not immune. There is a rapid evolution going on in every HR domain from payroll to recruiting to technology, and just about every tech company is trying to build an operating model or a framework to make its products future-ready because the goal today is to make sure that our clients can utilize their technology solutions to help tackle both the problems of today and the problems of tomorrow. We are finding accelerated demand right now for an agile workforce, and for a talent marketplace solution that supports workforce agility, reskilling, and the delivery of an inclusive career experience for all employees that is based on principles of fairness and transparency.

What are the key areas of HR function have you november 2020 |

113


C OVER

STORY

seen maximum tech implementations in the last few months, and the categories seeing the greatest levels of innovation from the service provider side? We have seen a huge surge in the demand for inclusive talent marketplaces and for agile career frameworks, both to support the rapid redeployment of the workforce and to support workforce agility during these unprecedented times. We have also seen an increase in demand for agile career architectures as no organization has the structure it had six months ago, so there

is a huge demand for the AI agile approach to career frameworks and skills architecture to ensure we are still delivering organizational clarity and building the talent intelligence that is needed across the organization to ensure there are the right people in the right places to match to their organizations’ rapidly changing demands.

What are some of the most common workplace challenges that global companies are now trying to solve with technology? One big challenge that tech-

There is a rapid evolution going on in every HR domain from payroll to recruiting to technology, and just about every tech company is trying to build an operating model or a framework to make its products future-ready

nology is helping with today is what Gartner refers to as "The Distance Economy." Gartner makes the case that the global pandemic has "influenced the emergence of the distance economy or business activities that don’t rely on face-toface activity. Organizations with operating models that depend on first-party or hosted events have switched quickly to virtual alternatives." This has given rise to all manner of technology-driven meeting solutions that attempt to replace in-person gatherings, client interactions, and a variety of business activities that are now all virtual. Companies are also trying to leverage technology to reskill and improve their workforces, and this is what Fuel50 has been doing.

How do you see the investment in the HR tech space? What do investors look for before investing in startups like yours? There is still a lot of interest in the future of work space, so we are getting a lot of investment interest now. We believe that investors are looking for the ability to deliver product market validation with a proven revenue model that is built on beautiful technology execution and that delivers value back into our client organizations. We also think that a well-rounded, passion114

| november 2020


The good news is that knowledge is power, and by having the knowledge that what we're dealing with today will be the reality for the near future, we will be able to better plan and not continue to think this is just a temporary cycle we're in. I'm not sure what the biggest workplace struggle will be, but I agree with Prof. Christakis and his view that "the shift to working from home will linger." Organizations that allowed people to work from home as a last resort will now have

STORY

What do you predict for workplace trends and HR tech in the next 5 years? This past weekend, The Wall Street Journal published a really interesting article by Nicholas Christakis, the director of the Human Nature Lab at Yale University – The Long Shadow of the Pandemic: 2024 & Beyond. His point is that the impact from the coronavirus is going to last for quite some time and that we won't be into the post-pandemic era until 2024 at the earliest. Yes, that's a sobering thought because it says that we are going to be dealing with the business and workplace chaos we're currently experiencing for a lot longer than we have been thinking.

There is still a lot of interest in the future of work space, so we are getting a lot of investment interest now. We believe that investors are looking for the ability to deliver product market validation with a proven revenue model that is built on beautiful technology execution and that delivers value back into our client organizations

C OVER

ate dedicated, and innovative executive leadership team that is mission-aligned makes a difference to a true investor-entrepreneur partnership. Our investment community is a valued partner to our vision and ability to execute the vision. We are lucky to be working with the best value-add investment partners in our future like PeakSpan Capital in San Francisco and BonfireVC in LA. Our early angel investment community in New Zealand has also been valuable partners to where we are today, with support from IceAngels, ArcAngels, EnterpriseAngels, and Flying Kiwis.

to confront the reality that they may need to make the decision more permanent. Besides, workforce dynamics are changing, and how we cope with that will determine how successful our businesses are moving ahead. We may have lots of challenges ahead, but also a lot of possibilities too, and from great possibilities come great results. Remembering that will help keep us ALL going as we push ahead and help our businesses and workplaces evolve. november 2020 |

115


Companies want to make smart investments, even more so now when things are so uncertain: Joe Ross, WorkForce Software SPE C IAL I N TERVIEW

Analysts predict that by 2025, 80 percent of large enterprises with hourly-paid workers will have invested in a workforce management system. COVID-19 is certainly accelerating this shift, says Joe Ross, VP, Global Product Management at WorkForce Software By Shweta Modgil

W

hile the coronavirus pandemic has been a major downer for business and economies, one thing it has impacted positively is HR practices and the overall role of HR departments across organizations worldwide. With the pandemic altering the way we work, it has offered the possibility for HR and talent leaders to accelerate faster to digital and enable their workers stay

116

| november 2020

productive amid this chaos. In fact, it has prompted several organizations to turn towards cloud-based tech solutions so that they are better positioned to sustain their operations, maintain productivity, and respond swiftly to the changing needs of their business, in the long run. Joe Ross, VP of Global Product Management at WorkForce Software – a provider of cloud-based workforce management solution, shares in an exclusive interaction with us the kind of HR Tech solutions organizations are investing in the wake of the pandemic. Here are the excerpts of the interview.


With the increasing number of employees working remotely, several organizations are turning to cloud-based tech solutions. What are the kinds of solutions that organizations are investing in? Interestingly, we are seeing considerable investment not just in remote employees, but in employees who can’t work from home. These are your essential workers - manufacturers, grocery chains, utilities, etc. It’s more important than ever to efficiently manage your hourly workers. Old technology and manual processes

With continued focus on the bottom line during these uncertain times, companies are looking for tools that will provide a high ROI by improving efficiency and reducing labor costs

november 2020 |

SPE C IAL I N TERVIEW

With the coronavirus pandemic altering the way we work, it also offered the possibility for HR and talent leaders to accelerate to digital and enable their workers to stay productive amid this chaos. What are some of the trends you have seen across organizations? Analysts predict that by 2025, 80% of large enterprises with hourly-paid workers will have invested in a workforce management system to improve employee experience and support digital workplace initiatives. COVID-19 is certainly accelerating this shift. We are seeing that businesses are looking for technology that will: • Enable quick pivots in a rapidly changing business environment • Make it easier to comply with evolving workplace safety guidelines • Provide a user-friendly customer and employee experience that keeps people safe and engaged

117


SPE C IAL I N TERVIEW

cannot effectively support new environments with escalated health and safety concerns. And with continued focus on the bottom line during these uncertain times, companies are looking for tools that will provide a high ROI by improving efficiency and reducing labor costs.

How do you think organizations are remodeling their talent management systems with HR tech – people analytics, talent acquisition tech, RPA, blockchain in the wake of the ongoing crisis? When the pandemic hit, companies realized how flexible their

A recent PWC survey of CFOs found that allocations for technology investments are not set to change in the next 12 months, despite cost cutting in other places

systems were (or were not) to handle this new reality. New labor laws went into effect almost overnight and HR departments were scrambling to figure out how to make sure they were compliant with the new rules. More companies are realizing the importance of a robust and flexible workforce management system that can quickly and easily adapt to sudden change and ensure compliance. Scheduling workers can be especially challenging during this time when things are so uncertain. Tools that help companies analyze historical data and make adjustments based on current business dynamics can help simplify that process. Modern scheduling systems that use emerging technology like AI and machine learning can automatically generate efficient schedules that minimize labor costs and keep your employees safe.

How have you realigned your product offerings to deliver maximum value to customers and meet the challenges HR professionals are facing? This summer, many of our customers were dealing with the same problem - how to adjust their processes to get employees back to work as safely as possible during the pandemic. Safety involves many factors. You need to make sure that sick employees are not coming to work, reduce the number of physical touchpoints your employees have in the workplace, and quickly identify and address virus exposures 118

| november 2020


How do you think investments in HR Tech have grown this year and what do you think is going to be the trend in the coming year? A recent PWC survey of CFOs found that allocations for technology investments are not set to change in the next 12 months, despite cost cutting in other places. We were cautious when the pandemic hit, but were pleasantly surprised to have our largest financial quarter in 20 years this summer, at the height of COVID-19, and we are still seeing strength in our pipeline. Companies want to make smart investments, even more so now when things are so uncertain. If you can demonstrate and quantify the value companies will get from their new systems – reduced manual work, more efficient processes, improved compliance, reduced labor costs – companies will invest in digital transformation that will improve their operations and make them more efficient. november 2020 |

SPE C IAL I N TERVIEW

when they arise. WorkForce moved quickly to ensure our product could support these new safety requirements. • We leveraged AI to develop a pre-shift health screening solution so employees can be required to complete a health screening before they start work and the system will prevent them from starting their shift, provide real-time guidance to the employee and notify their manager if they do not pass the screening • We rolled out contact tracing surveys and reports to allow customers to ask about exposure and notify others who have been in contact with exposed or diagnosed employees • We helped customers who use physical time clocks to check in and out of shifts, to make those interactions touch-less or switch to a solution that allowed employees to use their own mobile phones

119


Organizing for speed: New possibilities post the lockdown In a world disrupted by COVID-19, organizations must move with great speed and flexibility to adapt. Agile practices will allow organizations of any size and nature to respond robustly to crises, and to recover well in the aftermath

Corporate Agility

By Faridun Dotiwala and Aarti Subramanian

120

I

n recent months, one of India's largest conglomerates was tasked to deliver quarantine chambers for a large hospital in a south Indian state. Due to COVIDrelated disruptions, this meant that an impossible amount of work had to be accomplished in just a few days, all with dozens of new restrictions every day. To manage the project, the organization marshaled teams from across its subsidiaries as well from other partners and ended up surprising itself. It finalized the chamber's design in just a week and extended its capacity by seven times to deliver the 551 bed hospital | november 2020

in two months—all during a time of high disruptions and uncertainties. Such success stories were not uncommon during India's lockdown— considering that, wittingly or unwittingly, many organizations embraced agile practices to cope, and these practices are geared to mount a robust response to crises. Agile drives speed, productivity, customer

centricity, and employee engagement.

Agile proves its mettle in unprecedented times

Agile's multifarious benefits have been proven time and again in organizational research. A recent global survey conducted by McKinsey in partnership with the Harvard Business Review confirmed that agile practices are suited to a world of disruptions too. Our survey covered 25 organizations that were undergoing or had already experienced an agile transformation at the time that lockdowns were


The key ingredients of agile's success

We also assessed the specific agile practices that had the greatest bearing on helping companies organize for speed during a period of intense disruptions. Our analysis highlighted the following elements: Empowerment and servant leadership. Empowered front-line teams, supported and trusted by the senior leadership, ensured

Business units that had fully adopted an agile model before the COVID-19 crisis outperformed units that hadn't Performance self-assesssment of agile business units relative to nonagile units in same organization % of respondents (n=25 organizations)

31

62

8 Customer satisfaction

35

33

41 60 24 Employee engagement

7 Operational Performance

Significantly better Better About the same Worse Significantly worse Note: Figures may not sum to 100%, because of rounding

The writing on the wall for CEOs and HR executives across organizations is clear: embrace agile. Companies must hasten to act, as the price of inertia or a bureaucratic approach could prove to be disproportionately high

a greater immediacy of response to changing on-ground realities. An Asian telecom company, for instance, did away with complex approval processes within days of the lockdown, and empowered its front-line executives to independently roll out popular content on its videoon-demand service to meet evolved consumer demands. Agile ceremonies. Any collaboration during times of crisis demands just the right communication balance—any more and you risk wasting precious time, any less and you risk the ball getting dropped. Therefore, structured team-level events, or agile ceremonies, were crucial for organizations to remain on top of constantly in-flux priorities. While some teams increased the frequency of their daily check-ins, others canceled all weekly staff meetings. A large Indian FMCG company, for example, shortened its planning-to-execution cycle to a daily rhythm to enable a dynamic response to the situation. This helped the company restore its trucking capacity twice as fast as many of its peers. Cross-functional teams. Few silos and a high degree of collaboration among functions, both trademarks of agile organizations, were critical to speed up decision-making and launch november 2020 |

Corporate Agility

unrolled globally. Each one of these organizations reported that their agile practices had placed them in a better position to mitigate the pandemic's shock. A senior executive of a European bank told us that if the bank had not undergone an agile transformation, its development would have "completely stalled" during COVID-19. Agile proved its mettle not just across sectors but also within organizations. For instance, highly agile financial services companies and telecom players launched new services on average twice as fast as their nonagile peers. And on measures of customer satisfaction and operational performance, 90 percent of organizations told us that their agile business units performed "better" or "significantly better" than their nonagile units.

121


Corporate Agility

new services during the lockdown. A leading bank in India, for instance, mobilized executives from across tenures and business units to manage highpriority projects. These cross-functional teams helped the bank launch new features related to KYC (Know Your Customer/ Client) and deposit renewals in just a few weeks. Customer-centricity. Adopting a customer-centric mindset, as opposed to

122

one focused on processes, was also key to delivering in the trying lockdown times. Many companies intuitively made this shift. A leading telecom player, for instance, understood the heightened need for fast data to support the surge in video-conferencing across the country, and accordingly increased data limits for specific customer groups. This helped it not only to gain new customers but also to earn market goodwill.

Agile drives speed, productivity, customer centricity. Out of 25 organizations that were undergoing or had already experienced an agile transformation at the time that lockdowns were unrolled globally, each one reported that their agile practices had placed them in a better position to mitigate the pandemic's shock

| november 2020

Lockdown dispelled entrenched corporate myths

Pivoting to agile practices busted many myths across organizations. The first myth was that large organizations typically operate at close to 100 percent efficiency. This myth was debunked when many organizations delivered months of work in weeks—sometimes even in days—and, that too, at reduced staff levels. The second myth was that co-location is essential for high-performing teams, even those with embedded agile practices. The lockdown disproved this belief, as productivity levels on average did not suffer due to remote working. In fact, many teams witnessed a productivity boost. In a McKinsey survey conducted in May, more than 30 percent of participants reported that their productivity had increased because of remote working, with one in ten citing a rise of as much as 50 percent in their productivity levels. All in all, about two in three respondents in the survey said that their productivity either increased or remained the same. In the wake of this realization, many organizations across India are considering moving up to half of their workforce to hybrid models permanently. A financial services company, for instance, is


to turn more agile, they could benefit from the same framework. We call it RESET: • REflect on what worked and why it worked • Structurally Embed through pilots • Transition by scaling successful pilots

planning to let its customer services division and support functions work remotely even as lockdowns lift across the country. Another Indian IT services firm has already announced plans to shift the majority of its workforce to a permanent work-from-home model by 2025.

At this crucial juncture in India's corporate history, speed will be of the essence—considering that many organizations have already crafted their agile strategies for the coming years. So, companies that are starting out now must hasten to act, as the price of inertia or a bureaucratic approach could prove to be disproportionately high.

The imperative now as India unlocks Now that the benefits of becoming agile have been confirmed, the writing on the wall for CEOs and HR executives across

organizations is clear: embrace agile. Executives could perhaps borrow a leaf from the book of a leading Indian conglomerate, which is applying the lens of "Is this necessary?" to reevaluate processes identified as “agility blockers”. The organization has already crowdsourced more than 150 ideas from its employees to support its transformation and has already implemented more than 40 to cultivate an agile culture. As enterprises set out on their individual quests

Corporate Agility

In a McKinsey survey conducted in May, more than 30 percent of participants reported that their productivity had increased because of remote working, with one in ten citing a rise of as much as 50 percent in their productivity levels

Faridun Dotiwala and Aarti Subramanian, respectively, are partner and senior expert in the Mumbai office of McKinsey & Co. november 2020 |

123


You can’t wait for a perfect time to launch a business: Raj Nayak

Not everyone can become an entrepreneur. It’s a tough journey & these are challenging times. Don’t get carried away only by the success stories. You need to have the courage and the conviction & more importantly the risk appetite, says Raj Nayak, Founder and Managing Director, House of Cheer

En t r e p r e n e u r s h i p

By Abid Hasan

124

R

aj Nayak launched the general entertainment channel Colors and took it to newer heights. The former Chief Operating Officer of Viacom 18 Media launched his own venture House of Cheer that specialized in curation, consultation, and creation. In a candid conversation, he shares his ideas on taking the entrepreneurial route amid the crisis, why Reed Hastings and Richard Branson inspire him, and why everyone can’t be an entrepreneur. Read the edited excerpts here:

A crisis is usually the time to take a step back, slow down, and think through more carefully than usual. But you took the entrepreneurial route. How did you get your idea off the ground? Like everyone else, we were not expecting this | november 2020

You cannot change the external environment. We have to remind ourselves that, what is not in our control is not in our control abnormal situation of a prolonged lockdown. Initially, we thought that it will last for a month or two, nobody expected things to come to such a pass. All our

plans came to a hard stop. I debated with my colleagues and we soon realized that in the current environment when people are anxious, afraid, disconnected, working from home, and stressed, a product offering like happyness.me becomes even more relevant. The biggest challenge leaders are facing in companies today is how to adapt their people and strategies to the demands and changes happening around them. How do you make your people feel connected and motivated? Keeping this in mind we decided that this was the right time to launch. And the overwhelming response we have received has validated our thinking.

There’s a good chance the new entrepreneurs feel a loss of direction right now. Every business in the country is being put to the test. What should leaders do in such time apart from waiting for the business to shine bright? As an entrepreneur, the first thing to do is to accept what is. You cannot change the external environment. We have to remind ourselves that, what is not in our control is not in our control. You have to see how best you


can react to it. How can you navigate these challenging times? This is also the time to relook at the entire business model. It’s time to press the reset button and introspect how you would do it differently. What are the learnings from here and how well you can prepare yourself for the future? I am an eternal optimist and I believe this too shall pass. We can’t lose hope. Sometimes it is also a good strategy, to just sit tight and weather the storm.

The person who inspires me the most is Richard Branson, but now I would also add Reed Hastings fine-tune, tweak your business, make course corrections and be in a pole position to take advantage when things are back to normal. But it all depends on the area of your business & it is not that one size fits all.

As an entrepreneur, what is it that motivates and drives you? You are outside of your comfort zone & life becomes more challenging. There is no security of a paycheck at the end of the month. There is a certain amount

of uncertainty that makes you come alive. When you wake up every morning you feel the adrenaline rush. The good thing is, you have the freedom to do what you want. It is the whole feeling of having found a purpose to pursue things that you are truly passionate about.

In one word, describe your life as an entrepreneur and who inspires you? Master of my destiny. And the person who inspires me is Richard Branson, but now I would also add Reed Hastings to it. What advice would you offer to other entrepreneurs who are planning to take the entrepreneur route amid the crisis? Not everyone can become an entrepreneur. It’s a tough journey & these are challenging times. Don’t get carried away only by the success stories. You need to have the courage and the conviction & more importantly the risk appetite. Once you have finally decided this is really what you want to do, then just go for it. Follow your gut & take the leap of faith. Though it’s a bit early, but what are the key learnings so far as an entrepreneur? Start small, Think BIG! Manage your cash flow well. Be frugal & conserve fuel for the long haul. november 2020 |

En t r e p r e n e u r s h i p

Throughout human history, crises have been pivotal in developing our societies. It has been said that never let a good crisis go to waste. The present coronavirus pandemic will arguably not be an exception; can entrepreneurs be expected to rise to the challenge? It all depends on the business you are in. Many entrepreneurs would have been wiped out or will be wiped out when this is all over. That is a sad reality. Some would have used their capacity and skill to pivot to another area of business. Not everyone has this luxury. In every adversity there is an opportunity, some will be able to take advantage of it. It’s not that entrepreneurs cannot rise to the challenge, many of them will, but some may just not have the resources to do so. These are challenging times.

There are two sides to a coin in the current situation and one of the theories suggests that if any business is able to launch successfully during these extraordinary times it’ll be well set up to thrive into the future. What’s your take on that? I am a big believer that you can’t wait for a perfect time to launch a business. A dear friend once told me ‘that perfect is the enemy of the good.’ My advice is, if you launch now, the expectations are less from everyone, so you can use the time to

125


praveen sinha

Creating a ‘Discovery Market’ for talent search with AI With the deployment of AI to better match talent with roles, it is possible to create a better approach to collaboration among both competing and non-competing companies

hr

s t r a t e g y

I

126

n Brisbane, Australia, the ‘‘Sunday’’ Discovery Market' draws thousands of people each weekend. This sprawling marketplace offers shoppers an opportunity to explore exceptional treasures, including books, toys, coins, artifacts…it is simply filled with options and choices! Drawing inspiration from the ‘Sunday Discovery Market’ in these pandemic times, we can think of creating staffing models or solutions using AI (Artificial Intelligence) to address mounting employee layoffs and internal

| november 2020

talent deployment in companies. The thinking process is simple. In India alone, the Deccan Chronicle reports that around 6.6 million white-collar professionals lost their jobs after the coronavirus lockdown, washing away all employment gains made since 2016. So, let us visualize creating an AI-driven ‘’Discovery Market’’ to address individual, corporate, and rising social problems due to the loss of jobs from the pandemic. The concept of ‘’Discovery Market’’ is based on the social change which we


are experiencing in the face of COVID-19. It can provide an opportunity for competing and noncompeting companies to co-create algorithm-powered both, internal and external ‘matching market’ platform to harvest available talent.

Applying AI in talent search and deployment

The forms of 'Discovery Market'

st r a t e g y

COVID-19 has brought to the forefront the interconnectedness, interdependencies, and vulnerabilities of the complex systems that make the modern social systems run. In this environment, AI can enhance collaboration among competing and non-competing companies

hr

It is interesting to note what Yuval Noah Harari once said: “Nonconscious but highly intelligent algorithm may soon know us better than we know ourselves”. In this context, we can examine the various dimensions of AI in context of its application in talent search and deployment. Firstly, how AI can enhance collaboration among competing and non-competing companies. COVID-19 has brought to the forefront the interconnectedness, interdependencies, and vulnerabilities of the complex systems that make the modern social systems run. This global health crisis is a human, economic, and social crisis, in which we must make our motto ‘Human Life First’. And in that context, it must be possible to create a ‘Discovery Market’ to save job losses, heading off the severe social problems that might otherwise result. Secondly, how AI can support internal and external talent search and deployment of resources within the company on projects to support business growth. Thirdly, how AI can support managers in decision making for the selection of internal resources and their redeployment.

Finally, how the ‘Robo-Advisor’ concept can power the ‘matching market’ platform. Further, using the predictive power of AI, employees will be able to accurately understand what part of their work can be replaced by technology and how to stay ahead of curve, and what tools they need to drop that are no longer adding value to their career progression.

By keeping AI at the core, we can create an alternative staffing framework considering two major driving forces: the company's goals and employees’ wellbeing. The success of the framework relies on two important considerations. Firstly, managers should ideally be less possessive over their teams. Secondly, the company should actively encourage and promote a culture where employees move around functions or teams to gain hands-on experience in new environments, handling some fresh challenges as part of constant renewal. The structure of this ''Discovery november 2020 |

127


hr

s t r a t e g y

Market'' is simple. Firstly, a good number of opportunities or openings should be available in the ''Discovery Market'', just as the variety in the real Brisbane ‘Sunday Discovery Market’ that inspires it. Secondly, the ''Discovery Market'' should be able to provide managers a wide range of talent choices for selecting the best fit. The choices may come from internal sources or external sources—from competing or non-competing companies. Lastly, the ''Discovery Market'' should be sufficiently automated for transparency, accuracy, and speed. Two types of ‘’Discovery Market’’ may be proposed.

128

By creating a ‘Discovery Market’ system, companies can experience increased ease of moving employees through competing and non-competing companies by reducing ‘frictions’, namely, cost, time, and geography

| november 2020

‘Discovery Market’ 1: where access is open to competing and non-competing companies for talent search and deployment. In pandemic times, competing and non-competing companies may be invited to come on board and have access to the ‘Discovery Market’ with the sole objective of minimizing layoffs and job losses, and harvesting the right talent. In this marketplace, employees who are likely to be displaced from their present company will be provided access to the job opportunities made available or displayed by the participating companies. The viability of this ‘Discovery Market’ depends on transparency around the roles that are available, and the skills required to fill them. It also depends on timely updates to the job board displaying opportunities, possibly on a weekly basis. Further, on this platform, both employees and managers should be allowed to rank their choices of roles, and they must do so accurately. AI can then pair them using an algorithm to arrive at a good match between employees to roles based upon their choices, and of course those of their managers. This platform will also be armed with a bias-free ‘RoboAdvisor’ which would be available for both, employees and managers, to consult the bias-free ''Robo-Advisor'' to validate the role match results generated by the system. ‘Discovery Market’ 2: where access is exclusively for internal talent search and deployment (not open to competing or non-compet-


The main advantage of a ‘’Discovery Market’’ system is increased ease of moving employees through competing and noncompeting companies by reducing ‘frictions’, namely, Cost, Time, and Geography. AI can be success-

st r a t e g y

A major cultural shift

AI can be successfully used to power the ‘Discovery Market’ to facilitate uncovering the talent available within and outside the company, but this level of collaboration among competing and noncompeting companies will require a major cultural shift

hr

ing companies) and both managers and employees can use this platform for talent search and deployment. This version of the ''Discovery Market'' will encourage employees to enthusiastically network with managers across the business, in order to understand emerging opportunities and the requirement of new skills. For this ‘’Discovery Market’’ to remain relevant, new opportunities or openings would have to be placed every quarter. Otherwise, it will be quite similar to the first version. The success of both types of ‘’Discovery Market’’ relies on firstly, stakeholders’ trust in the system. Employees should be able to feel that they have adequate control over their deployment or finding relevant roles. They should also feel that they are able to get one of their top 3-4 choices whenever they move internally. Furthermore, for either type of ‘’Discovery Market’’ to succeed, managers should ideally be less possessive over their teams. The company should also actively encourage and promote a culture where employees move around functions or teams to gain handson experience in new environments, handling some fresh challenges as part of constant renewal.

fully used to power the ‘Discovery Market’ to facilitate uncovering the talent available within and outside the company, but this level of collaboration among competing and non-competing companies will require a major cultural shift. With this application, AI can be used to connect people and create a win-win situation for companies, employees and their managers, and collectively for the society at large. Praveen Sinha is the Ex-Head-HR Center of Excellence, Escorts Ltd and Co-Founder, People n Planet Fora. november 2020 |

129


SKILLI N G 130

| november 2020


The state of behavioral skilling

B

usinesses around the world are being disrupted amid the coronavirus crisis. In an uncertain business world, companies are identifying ways to become future-proof. And those at the forefront of navigating disruption are preparing their employees with the right skills to identify opportunities, take charge of uncertain projects and drive business results in a near real-time environment. Navigating continuous change has become a critical business differentiator. Companies today need employees to become selfstarters, identify possible opportunities to collaborate cross functionally, and build daily habits that will enable them to work seamlessly and create business leverage. Behavioral skills are a critical component of deliver-

ing value to businesses. In this context, employers can't just expect their employees to display behaviors right from when they walk through the door; they need to invest actively in training employees. This People Matters and Harappa Education Study on “The State of behavioral Learning 2020� brought together data from 350 companies, a first-of-itskind research aimed at understanding the priorities, challenges and opportunity areas for companies on behavioral skills. The research was aimed at surveying: 1. Strategic priorities on behavioral learning 2. Top challenge and opportunities in behavioral skilling 3. Approach and focus areas on impact measurement. november 2020 |

SKILLI N G

As the world of work becomes more hybrid – with a combination of remote workers and office goers, behavioral skills become critical to business operations. Here are the findings of a recent study By Jerry Moses

131


SKILLI N G 132

There’s a need to create coaching programs for short and long term for behavioral skilling needs to support your employees During the course of the research, experts shared varied pressing concerns on behavioral skills - from giving the time needed to develop these skills to personalizing roadmaps -- companies need to design for the individual employee; they can no longer expect the employee to stay engaged with mandatory programs prescribed for the organization at large. HR and L&D teams need to demonstrate the value of behavioral learning not just to the business, but also to the individual employee. HR and L&D professionals have a task cut out for them| november 2020

selves: To bridge the gap in behavioral learning in an engaging manner while also keeping abreast of the latest trends in learning. They also have the added responsibility to work with the business, service providers as well as the individual employees to demonstrate the value of learning and the impact on the business.

Personalization is a key challenge While a majority of the companies (85 percent) that participated in the study said that they already have programs focused on behavioral skills, most of them

don’t have a personalized behavioral learning roadmap for their employees. This is a key focus area for most HR and L&D departments. Experts believe that while the benefits of personalized training are unparalleled, the roadmap for individual learning is still difficult to establish at scale. Companies are turning to smaller cohorts depending on job-based responsibilities. About half of the employers surveyed said that they are satisfied with the current stack of learning programs on behavioral skills. 40 percent of them said they were either unsure of the programs or not satisfied with them. When it comes to personalization - and involving employee input in the design process, most companies route their learning programs through the line managers (51 percent) and 47 percent said the employees discuss their learning preferences during the goal-setting process. Another method of taking into account employee feedback is to capture their feedback through surveys (29 percent) and evaluate them (35 percent). Curiously, although a number of companies said that they involve employees’ (62 percent) input in the learning process, only 29 percent of the companies surveyed


actually have a personalized learning roadmap.

Top challenges in implementing behavioral programs

ranks on the top when it comes to behavioral skills needed for businesses today. It is followed by client or customer management skills, leadership skills, problem-solving skills, communication skills and critical thinking skills. While many employers are mapping these specific skills to job roles and to individual KRAs of their employees, not all companies are mandating or evaluating these skills as part of the

SKILLI N G

When asked to choose among the top challenges that businesses face with respect to behavioral skills, 69 percent of the survey respondents opted for “applying learning to daily work” as the top most challenge. This was followed by “uncertain future business environment (55 percent)” and “limited resources (54 percent)”, indicating that the prevailing business environment due to the global pandemic has adversely affected training on behavioral skills. As companies continue to evaluate their business continuity plans, it is clear that training or additional investment in behavioral learning may not rise in the near future.

and resources on behavioral skills, classroom training and on-the-job training still rank among the most preferred methods to develop or enhance behavioral skills. A number of companies also prefer to invite expert speakers to share their business knowledge and people management skills in a company-wide Town Hall or through webinars. According to employers who participated in the study, ‘’collaboration’’

Go-to methods and skills for training employees Despite the rise in the number of digital tools

Most important behavioral skills

1

Collaboration

2

Client Management skills

3

Leadership skills

4

Problem solving skills

5

Communication skills november 2020 |

6

Critical thinking 133


• “Digital learning'' is on par with ‘On the job training’ and ‘’Classroom training’’ as one of the most preferred methods of imparting behavioral skills. In fact, training remote employees was identified as a challenge area by 49 percent of respondents. It is essential to create a digital strategy around behavioral training. • Although 96 percent of companies believe that coaching is important, 44 percent don’t currently have coaching as a signifi-

Employees’ participation in designing behavioral learning roadmap

According to employers who participated in the study, ‘collaboration’ ranks on the top when it comes to behavioral skills needed for businesses today

Top challenges in implementing behavioral programs in 2020

69%

55%

54%

49%

Applying learning to daily work

Limited resources

Uncertain future business context

Training for remote employees

38% SKILLI N G

Leadership buy-in

performance management or appraisal process.

cant aspect of the learning program. There’s a need to create coaching Key takeaways: programs for short and Planning your behavior long term for behavioral learning strategy skilling needs to support • 85 percent of the compayour employees. nies said that personaliza- • Articulate the ‘why’ of tion is important. Although learning in consultation in many companies (62 with the line manager and percent), employees play a the business. Most experts direct role in giving inputs who participated in the on behavioral skills learnresearch said that there's ing, there’s still a need to greater engagement in the create personalized learnlearning process when ing roadmaps. Over 71 employees have clarity percent of the companies about how it would help DO NOT offer personalized them. roadmaps. • Most companies invest 134

| november 2020

51%

Discussion with line managers/ L&D experts

47%

Share inputs in the goal-setting process

38%

The employee is not directly involved in designing the learning roadmap

35%

Periodic assessments and evaluation

29%

Through annual or periodic surveys

heavily on behavioral skills when employees move up the organizational hierarchy. The study showed that senior management and executive rank on top of the priority list. It is however a good idea to invest in behavioral skilling earlyon in an employee’s career. Download the complete report on People Matters Website (www.peoplematters.in)


Sailing in the choppy waters of pandemic: Revisiting ‘Emotional Well-being’

The new norms of working in the pandemic are having an adverse impact on the well-being of employees. Here are a few useful tips to stay productive and sane By Dr. Saumya Goyal and Dr. Lalatendu Kesari Jena

Employe e We ll-be ing

T

he pandemic has been an event that was neither imagined nor experienced by most of the people in the current world. It has hit on two very core aspects that humanity thrives on health and wealth – while the focus at the beginning, and rightly so, was on securing everyone, confining people at home, social distancing, etc. People had an imaginary line of sight on this being a much-needed measure for a specific duration to eliminate this disease. Everyone seemed to be taking it well. But then the goalposts started moving. And very soon it became evident that this was for a much longer period than people had imagined it to be. While the focus was originally on

staying safe, the cascading impact has been manifold, emotionally due to the overall sense of helplessness in this situation.

The toll on employees’ emotional well-being

Adapting to new workplace realities has led to challenging times for the workforce, especially those who are vulnerable to the virus or have a pre-existing mental health condition. These unprecedented times have

brought to the fore several first-time concerns and predicaments. 1. Loneliness and lack of oxytocin production – Humans are social animals, and we thrive in communities. Physical distancing and isolation have led to increased isolation and feelings of loneliness. 2. Getting distracted too often – Distraction from work is a reality we are all living in. This happens because there is no clear november 2020 |

135


Employe e We ll-be ing

demarcation between work and life. 3. Expectation of being always available – With practically no option to head out, employees are susceptible to reach out beyond a certain time of the day. 4. Constant online interaction and overdose of video calls – While the video call tools have made virtual connect possible, it does not come without drawbacks. Unreliable internet connections along with the impersonal nature of the communication medium have turned this into an often unsatisfactory experience. 5. Online Schooling – Space and devices have been a challenge in Indian middle-class homes where parents as well as children are all required to log in online for their work/ study. Overworked parents and anxious children are what this scenario results in. 6. No vacation/ break from work – The pandemic has engulfed us in such a situation that even if we desire, we are not in a position to take a vacation.

Employees need to maintain a fixed schedule even during their ‘flexible’ working mode 136

| november 2020

Constant work with no breaks can lead one to have depressive episodes and anxiety attacks. 7. Lack of physical activities – Nowadays, employees are expected to sit in front of the screen for long hours at a stretch. The lack of physical activity has led employees not to experience the benefits of enhanced immune function, stress management, lowered cortisol levels.

How employees can take charge of their emotional well-being

• Maintain a fixed schedule – Employees need to maintain a fixed schedule even during their ''flexible'' working mode. To make it workable, employees need to schedule small breaks between tasks, set realistic goals, and even schedule leisure activities.

• Avoid disruptions/ distractions by proactive planning – Employees need to train themselves to avoid distractions. Emails should be responded to during a fixed time and household chores, TV, and sleep must be avoided during work hours. • Accept all emotions – Observing, understanding, and accepting emotions is vital during these times of uncertainty. Employees need to realize that anger, fear, sadness are just as normal as happiness. • Achieve mental reset with enough sleep – A minimum of seven hours of sleep is required by the human body to reboot its brain and achieve a mental reset. • Let good nutrition work in your favor – Caffeine, fried food, excess sugar


– are all enemies to one’s physical and emotional well-being. A diet rich in vegetables, fruits, cereals, nuts, and unsaturated fats is essential. • Keep your expectations real – Expectations, especially from self, have to be kept real. It is also important to understand that while one needs to be productive, constant over-productivity especially to create/ increase one’s visibility can lead to burnout.

There are multiple aspects that organizations can focus on in ensuring that employees feel that they have their backs covered in these pandemic times. • Empathetic leadership – In the time of distress, the single most effective enabler for employees is to have the reassurance that the leadership is there to listen. The moment this trust is established, the fear of acknowledgment of these goes away from the minds of the employees. • Support in COVID management – Organizations should also help out employees and their families in secondary needs such as hospitalization, help with quarantine facilities, remote counseling, etc.

A minimum of seven hours of sleep is required by the human body to reboot its brain and achieve a mental reset the key casualties of this pandemic has been worklife balance. Organizations can help with this by nudging employees to follow a schedule and/or taking breaks from work by utilizing their accumulated leaves.

What the future holds - Transforming challenges into opportunities

The pandemic has left indelible marks on multiple aspects of life. While there are negative impacts, there are also fresh perspectives and possibilities that have emerged.

• The pandemic has proven to be a great equalizer for the workforce. Employees living in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities and towns also now have the same opportunities as those residing in metros. • Information security management has been tested. Going forward that will not be a reason for organizations to stop people from working from home. • Organizations will move to a hybrid mode of working. Offices will become spaces to converge and collaborate when needed. • Quality of life would improve as people would be able to choose where they want to live, depending on personal needs and affordability. This pandemic is like no other which our generation has seen. We are constantly striving to study and mitigate the pandemic’s impact on our work lives and with self-awareness. With a few practical steps, we can change today’s challenging times.

Employe e We ll-be ing

Building supportive organizations

• Sincere communication – Communication, which is empathetic and compassionate, comes from the leadership, and is sincere with actionable items is always more impactful. A virtual get together with open dialogue has a better impact than a templatized mailer campaign. • Helping maintain worklife balance – One of

Dr. Saumya Goyal is a Counselling Psychologist, Founder – WEQIP, and Dr. Lalatendu Kesari Jena is the Assistant Professor (HRM), Xavier School of Human Resource Management. november 2020 |

137


Past Month's events

Knowledge + Networking

The Working-from-Home Facilitator Certification Mastertrack

138

People Matters BeNext Program 28th - 30th October 2020 Online The Virtual Facilitator: In this foundation program, we learned some of the best practices for remote facilitating, various tactics to increase participation and engagement, strategies to avoid disengagement as well as learn about different virtual facilitation tools and understand when to effectively use them.

| november 2020

People Matters L&D Conference 2020

2020

People Matters 21st - 22nd October

Online In the digital transformation journey, having a detailed talent development roadmap will be as critical as having a technology one. Articulating critical skills for recovery, building the base of future digital skills, reimagining training at a scale in a distant world, and bringing on an experimentative mindset is the base to rev-up growth for individuals, organizations, and economies. This Conference brought together our community to help us reflect and find collective answers to one big question: How do we Rev-Up Growth through capability, through change interventions, and through culture in a time of uncertainty, chaos, and disruption?

Insights from Ujjivan’s Remote Digital Transformation People Matters and Darwinbox 13th October 2020 Online Investing in digitization can give companies the agility they need not only to improve employee engagement and overall productivity but also to reduce the company’s business risk. While the multi-functional complexities exist and are only doubling in a remote mode, when the org vision is clear, the odds often don’t matter. We had Sanjay Kao, CHRO, Ujjivan Small Finance Bank who deep dived in decoding the A-Z of leading a digital HR transformation remotely.


Upcoming events The Working-from-Home Facilitator Certification Mastertrack

People Matters BeNext Program 9th - 13th November 2020 Online The Virtual Learner: This specialist course covers everything you need to know to create impactful online learning sessions. Content includes icebreakers, how to design remote learning materials, breakout sessions, and continuous engagement.

The Working-from-Home Facilitator Certification Mastertrack People Matters BeNext Program 16th - 20th November 2020 Online The Virtual Coach gives you the skills to help have more productive remote conversations, including regular coaching and challenging conversations such as performance coaching and implementing remote performance improvement plans.

“Top Jobs in India" - A Hiring Week to help people find jobs People Matters & Indeed 2nd - 6th November 2020 Online Indeed & People Matters bring to you, “Top Jobs in India" - A Hiring Week to help people find jobs. The week showcases India’s top organizations

Knowledge + Networking

People Matters BeNext Program 2nd - 6th November 2020 Online The Virtual Team: In this deep dive program, you will become more familiar with how to effectively lead, manage and design online meetings for all types of events including small to large meetings and town halls. You will learn about best practices for managing content, delivery, and on-going audience participation. In addition, we will also cover online tool decision making, to enable you to leverage the best technologies.

The Working-from-Home Facilitator Certification Mastertrack

hiring actively now. Hear from top leaders and apply to top jobs in India from the convenience of your home. The top organizations which are part of this campaign are: Capgemini, VMWare, 247ai, UST Global, GSK, Jubilant Foodworks Ltd. and more.

november 2020 |

139


Blogosphere What will it take to become a global leader for the post-COVID-19 era? >> Glenn Campbell

b lo g o s p he r e

The pandemic has presented the opportunity to reassess the qualities and adopt newer skills in the new world of work

140

T

he COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the very pillars of humanity and businesses. The world of our work has been disrupted from working in the office premises to working at home, from face to face meetings to virtual meetings, from the office chit chat to more focused communication and the list goes on. Conventional approaches are getting

| november 2020

molded and new skills are needed. The current times are challenging everyone’s emotional and social operating systems as well as their functioning. As new job opportunities begin to emerge, it is imperative to develop and practice the must-have new skills. Here, a good educational institution would discern and determine the changing requirements of businesses

and impart necessary skills along with formal education. So future leaders must be wise enough to select institutions that can help them develop 21st century skills. Let's look at five key essentials not just to become an apposite candidate for a job but a future global leader: Resilience: When the COVID-19 scare started to spread, over 157 crore students across 191 countries were severely impacted by the closure of schools and educational institutions. All the stakeholders in the education sector- government, education institutions, teachers, students and parents together showed great resilience and the online learning paved its way to almost every household in one way or the other. Institutions’ management adopted the digitization of education, teachers too got training to teach and engage


This unruffled ability to do what needs to be done in any given situation, no matter how challenging or unexpected the situation is, helps to lead and grow Communication with impact and emotional intelligence: Your ability to communicate and build relationships with others has become one of the most essential skills. We all crave for a genuine human connection and understanding in any job role. Working in a virtual world, attending digital meetings with limited facetime would demand not just impromptu words but to prepare well in advance. Clarity of thoughts and messages to be passed on in these meetings would require both words as well as empathy for others’ emotions. As people work

from remote locations, clarity in email or virtual meetings help build trust and retain high productivity levels. Empathize and start by reminding yourself that you have no idea what other people are going through this will make you a more generous and calmer leader. Make sure that colleagues and people around you feel valued and included in the organization. Humility has come to the forefront for many leaders during the lockdown period. Critical Thinking: It is one skill that is a musthave in your skillsets. The process of thinking critically allows deep thinking, november 2020 |

b lo g o sp he r e

with students, parents supported as the guide and provided their ward with necessary infrastructure and students quickly adopted it to continue learning online. The Indian government also took many great steps from promoting digital education to offering free courses, providing classes on TV, and recently announcing New Education Policy (NEP) 2020 which would change the face of education in the future. This unruffled ability to do what needs to be done in any given situation, no matter how challenging or unexpected the situation is, helps to lead and grow. Like the education sector, leaders across different sectors are putting their focus to adopt newer ways and bounce back in these difficult times. In these changing times, businesses would look for employees who are flexible and quick to adapt even under stressful conditions. Build this skill up as change becomes the new normal. To enhance your personal resilience: • Stay positive • Take time out for selfreflection • Identify your emotions that are the most positive and useful • Recognize what you can and cannot influence • Set your personal goals • Most importantly, stay open to learning and growth

141


b lo g o s p he r e 142

understanding and addressing the situation based on the facts and information available. Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined method of conceptualizing, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating the information gathered. Pandemic or no pandemic, critical thinkers are vital to the success of any business. To attain this prized attribute of leadership, think critically: • Question all the assumptions behind every proposition • Be open to adopting different perspectives • See potential opportunities • Managing ambiguity in an environment where change is constant and swift decisions are required Creativity and innovation: Creativity is not just limited to typically artistic professions, it could also mean being able to adjoin the dots with seemingly distinct information or finding creative ways to steer a business through challenges and opportunities that come its way. Though there isn’t any predefined process to think creatively, one can follow a few steps to sharpen the creative skills: • Work on your curiosity levels to go deep into the subject/ matter | november 2020

As new job opportunities begin to emerge, it is imperative to develop and practice the musthave new skills for leaders • Express your thoughts more frequently • Let your thoughts meander, observe and imagine for inspiration From new product development, new technologies, fresh approaches or finding imaginative yet viable solutions to market challenges, new ways of working in a team and many other roles necessitate creativity. Innovation and creativity have always been in demand, and now more so than ever, as the future of work begins to look very different from what it did just a few months ago.

Digital literacy: According to Forbes, the current medical emergency has led to the fastest digital transformation of companies in history. From workforces shifting to remote working, telehealth consultations, online grocery shopping, digital skills are at the forefront of everything advancing from here. The unprecedented times have accelerated the need for digital skill sets to help businesses become more aligned with today’s myriad technologies and virtual platforms. 82 percent of the job profiles now require digital skills of some kind. With this new industrial revolution on the horizon, the understanding of technology and its usage is essential. The novel coronavirus crisis has fundamentally disrupted life, learning, and business as usual for everyone, however, it has been the driver for many individuals and businesses to step up from their previous roles. The pandemic has presented the opportunity to reassess the qualities and adopt newer skills in the new world of work. So let's make this pandemic an opportunity to do something extraordinary!

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Glenn Campbell is the Executive Director & CEO at Deakin University.


RNI Details: Vol. XI, Issue No. 11, R.N.I. No. HARENG/2010/33504. Price Per Copy: Rs. 150/- Printed and Published by Mahesh Kumar on behalf of People Matters Publishing Pvt. Ltd. Published at 501, 5th Floor, Millennium Plaza, Tower A, Sushant Lok-1, Sector-27, Gurgaon - 122009, Haryana, India. Printed at Polykam Offset, C-138, Phase - I, Naraina Industrial Area, New Delhi - 110028. Editor: Esther Martinez Hernandez

People Matters' People Matters' Digital Platforms Digital Platforms Engaging talent Engaging 300K+ 300K+ talent professionals in Asia Asiadaily daily professionals in

Know More

Know More

Profile for People Matters

People Matters: The State of Digital HR - November 2020  

The pandemic has not only caused an economic downturn for businesses, it has also impacted HR practices and the overall role of HR departmen...

People Matters: The State of Digital HR - November 2020  

The pandemic has not only caused an economic downturn for businesses, it has also impacted HR practices and the overall role of HR departmen...