People Matters: Outlook 2021 - January 2021

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VOL XII / ISSUE 1 / JANUARY 2021

SPECIAL INTERVIEWS MELONIE D. PARKER Chief Diversity Officer & Global Director, Employee Engagement, Google

TERENCE MAURI Founder of Hack Future Lab; Bestselling Author

TOMAS CHAMORRO-PREMUZIC Chief Talent Scientist at ManpowerGroup

BIG INTERVIEW LISA M. BUCKINGHAM EVP, Chief People, Place and Brand Officer, Lincoln National Corporation


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The connected workplace of 2021

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he COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the work culture placing flexibility, adaptability, and technology at the heart of the workplace. The concept of the workplace has evolved so swiftly that even the most conventional organizations have had to adapt overnight in order to get through the COVID-triggered hurdles. Adapting to the new working landscape is just the beginning of a never-before transformation for organizations across the globe. As the pandemic reboots work trends, talent leaders need to rethink workforce and employee planning, perfor| JANUARY 2021

mance, and experience strategies. HR leaders will have to step into the new year with a fresh perspective and a bold readiness to set new gears in motion. The future is digital. It’s important to understand your organization’s digital preparedness to take on the impact of COVID-19. This warrants strong leadership to set a team culture and foster an environment of connection and cohesion, regardless of where everyone is located. A lot of trends have already set in and some are going to stick around forever. Tomorrow’s workplace will likely no longer be tied simply to the office or home, but a hybrid of the two — as many experts say, and remote work management needs to be tailored to every individual given that flexibility differs in meaning for every person. Amid all this chaos, the role of HR or talent leaders has become more crucial than ever. They need to reimagine what the “workplace” means and start to adapt their policies keeping in mind the needs of their employees. There are alarming statistics about the number of women leaving the workforce because they struggle to manage their work-life and childcare needs. Leaders also need to ensure reimagining how they can deliver learning to

their people; they need to be in a constant delivery mode where they have to quickly pivot and reskill people based on project needs. This is also the time to start with a pulse of employees and then dive deeper to understand what has and has not worked for them during this time. What is the best possible scenario for them to work in, both from a productivity standpoint and an engagement one? What resources do they need? Then, they need to align this to what the business needs. The pandemic has accelerated mental health and well-being to rise up the corporate agenda and employers now realize that looking after their workforce's health goes well beyond simply providing a traditional health insurance package. The current times have forced organizations to rethink their strategies and become more agile and creative to survive and thrive. It is, hence, important for organizations to review their employee policies, ranging from remote working, employee benefits to personal time off. This is where a peoplefirst approach matters. As employees around the world get used to working from home and using new technologies to collaborate better and come together virtually, it will change the way organizations oper-


views with Terence Mauri, Founder of Hack Future Lab and bestselling author; and Tomas ChamorroPremuzic, Chief Talent Scientist at ManpowerGroup. We have a special story on ''Top 10 workplace trends to look out for in 2021'' and a feature on HR Tech and Startups in 2021. Do join our People Matters’ Cohort Certification Program launched for January 2021 to March 2021 under the People Matters BeNext platform. The Virtual Team Leader: Reimagining Team Alignment program will reflect on how work can be reimagined to adapt to remote working; the Virtual Meeting Facilitator Certification program will train you on how to effectively design, manage and lead online meetings; and the Virtual Coaching: Effective One2One Conversations will be about skills to help have more productive remote conversations. More details here: https:// tinyurl.com/peoplematters As always, we would be happy to hear your views, comments, and suggestions regarding our stories.

THE COVER STORY (BEHIND THE SCENE)

Something is missing?

It’s 2021, I’m not feeling blue!

Not even dark blue!

From the Editor’s Desk

ate. If done correctly, with the right level of employee engagement and enough collaboration within the teams and the company, this could have a significant positive impact on productivity. So, what would be the key trends you should closely keep your eyes on in 2021? Well, there could be many — from the hybrid workplace to the uprise of flexible work schedules to enhanced focus on employee training and employee well-being to the acceleration of digital transformation to a renewed focus on innovation. Our cover story deep dives into what lies ahead and how business and HR leaders should gear up to seize the opportunity to make the most of the year 2021. For the Big Interview, we have Lisa M. Buckingham, EVP, Chief People, Place and Brand Officer, Lincoln National Corporation, who talks about the larger HR landscape and how talent leaders should reimagine workforce management in 2021. We have a special interview with Melonie D. Parker, Chief Diversity Officer & Global Director, Employee Engagement, Google, who talks about changing employee needs, the relevance of inclusion efforts, and key lessons from the pandemic. This issue also features inter-

Let’s sail through...

PHEW!

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

M > @Ester_Matters F > estermartinez > ester.martinez@peoplematters.in JANUARY 2021 |

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contents

JANUARY 2021 volume xii issue 1

50

Top 10 workplace trends to look out for in 2021

By People Matters Editorial Team expert views

56 Dr. Frank-Jürgen Richter, Chairman of Horasis and Former Director of the World Economic Forum 59 Kulmeet Bawa, President and Managing Director, SAP Indian Subcontinent 63 Richard R. Smith, Ph.D., Professor at Johns Hopkins University where he also serves as Vice Dean, Corporate and Global Partnerships at the Carey Business School 66 Amy Hanlon-Rodemich, Chief People Officer, GlobalLogic

cover story

C O N TE N TS

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69 Aadesh Goyal, CHRO, Tata Communications

Trends that will define work, workplace, and workforce in 2021

73 Helen Snowball, Head of Human Resources, Asia Pacific, JLL 76 James Lester, Country Managing Director, Telstra, South Asia 78 Clinton Wingrove, Director of www.ClintonHR.com 82 Michelle Leung, HR Officer, Cigna International Markets

the big Interview

The pandemic made it abundantly clear that companies need to invest in peoplefocused technology

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special Interview

It is the time to challenge our limits, not limit our challenges

Terence Mauri, Founder of Hack

Future Lab and #1 bestselling author of ‘The 3D Leader: Take your leadership to the next level’ By Yasmin Taj

Lisa M. Buckingham, EVP and Chief People, Place and Brand Officer, Lincoln Financial Group By Yasmin Taj and Mastufa Ahmed

Editor-in-Chief

Features Writer

managing Editor

Manager - research & Content

Esther Martinez Hernandez Yasmin Taj

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Associate Editor - Print & Online

Assistant ManagerS - Content

Mastufa Ahmed

Manager - design, photography, and production

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Manager - Content

Jerry Moses

Senior Associate - Content

Drishti Pant

Senior Features Writer

Manager, Sales

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This issue of People matters contains 122 pages including cover


14 H R T e c h S t ar t u p s

Will it be a good year for HR Tech and Startups in 2021?

human capital report

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By Shweta Modgil 24 In t e r v i e w

'Culture fit' can sometimes be used to mask bias in hiring

Melonie D. Parker, Chief Diversity Officer & Global Director, Employee Engagement, Google By Mastufa Ahmed 35 R e m o t e W o r k i n g

Tackling and ushering in the ‘new reality’ of remote working

Human capital trends that will rule 2021: Report By Bhavna Sarin

By Mankiran Chowhan, Managing Director, Indian Subcontinent, SAP Concur 38 S p e c i a l I N TE R VIEW

Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, Chief Talent Scientist at ManpowerGroup, a professor of business psychology at University College London and at Columbia University, and an associate at Harvard’s Entrepreneurial Finance Lab By Mastufa Ahmed

86 In t e r v i e w

Patriarchy in the region has not gone away

Mohammad Naciri, Regional Director of UN Women for Asia and the Pacific By Bhavna Sarin

109 D i v e r s i t y

I want people to stay engaged

Ann Marr, Executive Vice President of Global Human Resources for World Wide Technology By Mint Kang

92 T h e r o a d l e s s t ra v e l l e d

'Working from Home is NOT a piece of cake'

C O N TE N TS

Never underestimate the power of human adaptability

By Visty Banaji, Founder and CEO of Banner Global Consulting (BGC) 98 W o r k p l a c e D i v e r s i t y

'Unearth instances of D&I violation as they are counterproductive'

Dr. Parul R Pandey, Director HR APAC, Director Diversity & Inclusion Global, Oxford University Press By Bhavna Sarin

41 E m p l o y e e b e n e f i t s

From free snacks to employee wellness

By Marthin de Beer, CEO of Brightplan 44 In t e r v i e w

Businesses have started to see sustainability in hiring gig workers

Matt Barrie, CEO, Freelancer.com By Bhavna Sarin

regulars

04 From the Editor’s Desk 06 Letters of the month 08 Quick Reads 13 Rapid-Fire 116 Knowledge + Networking 118 Blogosphere

112 E m p l o y e e r e l a t i o n s

HR must argue for strategic salary hikes

By Jeffrey Pfeffer, Chair professor of organizational behavior at Stanford Graduate School of Business, and M Muneer, MD of CustomerLab and Co-Founder of the non-profit Medici Institute Featured In this issue Aadesh Goyal Ann Marr Elisabeth Stene Dr. Frank-Jürgen Richter Kulmeet Bawa Lisa M. Buckingham Matt Barrie

Melonie D. Parker Michelle Leung Mohammad Naciri Dr. Parul R Pandey Terence Mauri Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic

CONTRIBUTORS to this issue Amy Hanlon-Rodemich Ben Zachariah By Clinton Wingrove Helen Snowball James Lester Jeffrey Pfeffer

Mankiran Chowhan Marthin de Beer M Muneer Richard R. Smith Visty Banaji

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Letters of the month

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The Work-life post-COVID: From collision to integration

Insightful thoughts and practical insights from leaders. There is definitely a need to shift gears from survival mode to one where you take control and architect the way work and life will unfold in times to come. As uncertainties prevail, the need of the hour is to recognize the impact on wellness and productivity and take conscious steps to protect and foster both, and that requires partnership. As much as organizations seek productivity, they must also ensure protecting and boosting well-being of employees, with a reasonable understanding that they are in fact working from home, or at least partially working from home, amid a pandemic nonetheless. Varying personal circumstances are bound to make employees respond, adjust and perform differently, and organizations must build in the emotional intelligence among managers and leaders to navigate and manage through the differing experiences of employees. - Gurpreet Singh

Key takeaways from WEF Jobs Reset Summit

Interesting takeaways. A sad reality though that the world needed a crisis to be reminded of the need to be sustainable, the need for collaboration across sectors, and also how we have fallen back into the trap that we escaped from to some extent, the capabilities of women, what is expected of them,and how in the process they are exploited, and they don’t say a word because a majority continue to believe it’s their job and responsibility alone to put food on the table and tackle household chores. The emphasis on learning and upcoming skills triggers contradictory feelings of fear as well as reassurance. No matter which field you are in, data is taking over and you must upskill and reskill to stay relevant and be the controlling data and technology, to avoid being the one replaced by it. The present is an opportunity for not just established organizations, but for startups to tap into the upcoming areas and offer solutions for large multinationals to be able to pivot and adapt. - Nitin Sethi

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DECEMBER 2020 issue

Mental health is fiscal health

Very well said. Not all individuals are equipped with the expertise of handling issues around mental health. In such times, technology plays a key role, especially when stats indicate that employees prefer talking about their mental health to a robot over their manager. The intent however, shouldn’t be to replace the human element altogether, but to provide employees with the needful tools to manage their well-being. While efforts to eliminate stigma have been taken since years, the fear of how having a mental health issue can impact your manager’s perception of your ability and performance persists.


Interact with People Matters

The woeful tale of bank pensioners

- Raunak Sapra

Organizations should never waste a crisis

Some much needed reflections at a time when a vaccine has been approved and the possible return to work seems like a reality. It remains critical at this juncture to not lose sight of the lessons learned through the crisis. Recognizing and acknowledging the benefits of remote work while also mitigating the challenges it brings along is critical to having a thriving hybrid workplace, one where employees have the flexibility to choose how they can work and contribute best, without the inhibitions and perceptions that clouded the thinking of managers and leaders around remote working. - Khyati Sharma

‘Everyday culture’ experiences by employees will determine employers’ stand on D&I

“Success of flexible working is reliant on two things: First, that people taking advantage of working options believe they can do so without facing any career penalty, and second, that leaders fully enable these ways of working through visible and vocal support.” This statement struck a chord. Even for organizations that had working from home in place pre-pandemic, employees often wondered of the implications of availing these options— will my manager think I am slacking? - Shashank Kaul

The implications of ‘distributed workforce’ will be deep and wide Quite an interesting perspective on HR leaders having to wear the hat of product development, and integrating user experience in digital applications. Connectivity, communication and collaboration are 3Cs that continue to require careful structuring to ensure high levels of productivity and engagement across a distributed workforce, and given the uncertainty around how long the circumstances will remain the same, it becomes all the more important to ensure the right infrastructure and investment in the right tools from an employee perspective. The need to look at employees as consumers of organizational culture and workplace offerings has never been more critical. - Nupur Thakkar

Annette Dixon @ADixon_WB Many thanks to @PeopleMatters2 & @ Mastufa for giving me the opportunity to speak about our work at the @WorldBank Group and the lessons and challenges of supporting our staff and clients in over 100 countries in the face of the #COVID19 pandemic. David Ford @ItsDavidFord "@Ogilvy will undoubtedly be starting the year off on an optimistic note with this new assembly of diverse, global leaders poised to bring value and positive change at speed and scale," writes @PeopleMatters2 bit.ly/38908qb Knoa Software @KnoaSoftware Driving employee experience and productivity in the future workspace (via @PeopleMatters2) ow.ly/oei550CJf2Y Insightful article highlighting how #EX will evolve in 2021. "Make sure during these times of massive changes, employees are engaged." We couldn't agree more.

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

It indeed is a truly sad state of affairs. The discrepancies in the system that predisposes individuals to unfavorable financial health, by virtue of their choice to pursue a career in the public sector vs private sector. As much as the global industry speaks of adaptability and the need to move forward with changing times, it appears everything changes except the outlook towards compensation and pension. The author shared that for some cases the monthly pension amounts to a mere INR 175. Is that really how we are moving forward? Bank employees continue to risk their health and lives through the pandemic as they were asked to work from office, in a majority of cases.

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

Alight Solutions @AlightSolutions In a wide-ranging interview with @PeopleMatters2, President Colin Brennan says employers are leaning more heavily on AI-based solutions to address mounting business and people challenges. Sarang Brahme @Sarangbrahme Very interesting case study of @shadowfax_in to an onboard large base of delivery partners through hyperlocal centres in the middle of a pandemic leveraging closed schools, shops etc. Phygital model! Physical + digital. @PeopleMatters2 #RemoteHiringWeek2020 Ruchi @rucsb Thank you for your exclusive invitation. Great session as always ! #RemoteHiringWeek2020 @PeopleMatters2 Team, take a bow. Kudos !!! follow

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JANUARY 2021 |

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Hiring

q u i c k

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Women now make up 27.3% of all board leaders: Report

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Leadership advisory firm, Egon Zehnder has recently released the results of its 2020 Global Board Diversity Tracker. According to the study, it was found that while there is progress in gender diversity globally, the rate of change is insignificant. Despite increased attention to diversity and inclusion that has sparked conversation and movement, making tangible progress is still challenging. Another urgent charge, beyond the need to increase the rate of diversity expansion, has emerged – the mandate to rethink the culture and dynamics of boards. To foster active participation from new members, companies must move from only adding or turning over seats to increasing action and output as an inclusive unit. Women now make up 27.3 percent of all board committee leaders globally, up from 25.5 percent in 2018. In India, women held 11 percent of committee chairs. However, women comprise just 2.1 percent of all board chairs, up from 1.5 percent in 2018.

Employee Relations

Skilling

Oyo lays off 300 employees

Oyo has reportedly laid off around 300 employees mainly in the renovation and operations departments. This has been done in order to build a long-term sustainable business as the company has introduced some operational changes aligned with the current business realities, the sources said. This is in line with the company's efforts to drive technology-enabled synergies and realign some business functions to other verticals, leading to some redundancies across a few functions, they added.

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PwC, UNICEF & YuWaah to upskill 300 Mn people

Employee Relations

70% of Indian workers are under stress: Survey Seven in ten Indian workers say they’re experiencing stress at work on at least a weekly basis, according to the new data out from global payroll and HR leader ADP this week. The data was collected as part of ADP’s Global Workforce View 2020 report exploring employees’ attitudes and opinions towards the current world of work and what they expect and hope for from the workplace of the future.

PwC India has announced the launch of a strategic collaboration with UNICEF and YuWaah (Generation Unlimited in India) to help bridge the digital gap and help upskill 300 million young people in India over the next 10 years and enable them to emerge as changemakers in society. Kiren Rijiju, Minister of State (IC), Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, and Usha Sharma, Secretary, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, were present during the launch. This announcement is part of PwC’s global collaboration with UNICEF in support of Generation Unlimited; a multi-sector partnership aimed at helping 1.8 billion young people transition from school to work by 2030.


Funding

HR tech platform Hibob raises $70Mn in Series B funding Hibob, the HR technology innovator behind the people management platform bob,

announced that it has raised $70 Mn in Series B funding led by investors SEEK and Israel Growth Partners (IGP). Marking the progress of Hibob’s mission to simplify people management, culture building, and employee engagement for remote and dispersed workforces, the investment will allow Hibob to drive wider global expansion while contributing to further Hibob product development. Hibob has raised a total of $124 Mn to date since its launch in late 2015.

According to the new compensation rules as notified by the government under the Code on Wages 2019, the in-hand component of salaries of employees may reduce starting next financial year. Organizations would have to restructure the pay packages as according to the new rules, the allowance component cannot exceed 50 percent of the total salary or compensation and this basically implies that basic salary has to be 50 percent.

HR Technology

Salesforce to buy Slack in its largest ever deal

Enterprise software giant Salesforce has signed a definitive agreement to buy work communications platform Slack for US$27.7 billion, the largest acquisition ever made in Salesforce's history. The deal, first rumored in November and confirmed just days later on December 1, will add Slack's platform to Salesforce's existing software suite, which had previously lacked a collaboration tool, and according to the official announcement, Slack will be utilized as the “new interface for Salesforce Customer 360”.

Leading global professional services firm Aon plc providing a broad range of risk, retirement, and health solutions today announced its re-entry into the insurance broking market in India. Aon has acquired a 49% equity stake in Anviti Insurance Brokers Pvt. Ltd, a fastgrowing, composite broking firm. Anviti will transition to the Aon brand pending regulatory approvals. Jonathan Pipe, CEO of Anviti, will continue to lead the team. “I am excited to transition Anviti into the Aon world as we continue to help Indian businesses prepare for the new better. We have strong capabilities in India and have established trusted advisory relationships since we started operations in 2017. I look forward to building upon this platform and accelerating results for our clients, colleagues, and communities,” said Pipe.

JANUARY 2021 |

r e a d s

Take-Home salary may reduce from April next year

Aon re-enters insurance broking in India

q u i c k

Compensation & Benefits

Corporate Insurance

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newsmaker of the month

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The phenomenal rise of Zoom

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n a year of remote work, if there’s one thing that has enabled corporate communications, it has to be technology that helped employees connect over video conference. On top of the list is Zoom. A number of companies also turned to technology platforms they were already using including Microsoft Teams, Google Meets, Cisco Webex, Skype, etc. Zoom stood out because it was easier to use and had a 40 minute free to use option. By March 2020, Zoom had become one of the world’s most downloaded applications, repeatedly breaking its own record by touch| JANUARY 2021

ing millions of downloads a day. The growth was also reflected in the stock market. Zoom’s stock was valued at $40 billion as much as Uber. By October 2020, the company’s year-on-year revenue growth had soared 367 percent, reporting a total revenue of $ 777.2 million. But the year 2020 was not all that rosy for the company. As the application started to boom, there was increased scrutiny of the platform. There were a number of privacy and security issues that were raised. Amid increased criticism, the CEO apologized, while taking responsibility for the issues.

Since then, the company has been sharing regular updates on the use of personal data and encryption policies. The TIME magazine recognized Eric Yuan, the CEO of the company as the businessperson of the year – describing his role, the magazine noted that “Yuan soon found himself serving as the world’s relationship liaison, social chair, principal, convention-center host, chief security officer, and pallbearer.” Yuan’s own career journey served as a lesson in leadership and entrepreneurship. With increased scrutiny of its business and leadership, there was bound to be increased scrutiny of the workplace culture. The company was better placed when it came to workplace recognition. Zoom had already ranked among companies with the happiest employees in 2019. And despite a roller coaster of a year, the company managed to retain a spot among the best places to work. As workplaces start opening up to employees, Zoom will have to reinvent itself for a hybrid world of work – one where the consumption of video services will continue but it will not serve as a replacement for human interaction.


Bata names Sandeep Kataria as the new CEO

Swiss shoemaker Bata announced the appointment of Sandeep Kataria as the Global CEO. Kataria is the first Indian to be elevated to this prestigious global role of the footwear major. He takes over from Alexis Nasard, who is stepping down after almost five years in the role. Kataria has extensive leadership experience in working across geographies, backed by an intuitive understanding of consumers and a determined but inclusive leadership style. With 24 years of experience at Unilever, Yum Brands and Vodafone in India and Europe before joining Bata India as CEO in 2017, he has been directly involved in leading businesses and powerhouse brands that command impressive consumer following and extensive global reach.

Castrol India appoints new CFO

HDFC Asset Management Company (AMC) has announced Navneet Munot as the new Managing Director & CEO. Munot, currently the Chief Investment Officer (CIO) at SBI Mutual Fund, will be succeeding the current MD Milind Barve. "The Board of Directors is pleased to inform that at its meeting held on November 16, 2020 has approved that Mr. Navneet Munot will be appointed as Managing Director & CEO of the Company and he will succeed the present Managing Director, Mr. Milind Barve," the company said in a stock exchange filing.

Arvind Fashion appoints new MD and CEO

Arvind Fashions Limited (AFL) has appointed Shailesh Chaturvedi as Managing Director and CEO of the company, effective 1 February

Vineet Jain, CEO of North India for Future Group, has joined the Gurgaon-headquartered V-Mart. Jain has been a Future Group veteran for 17 years and had risen through the ranks to head north India for the Future Group. He is credited to have played a pivotal role over the years in the expansion of the group’s footprint in the crucial northern markets including the important market of Delhi-NCR.

Salesforce appoints Zahra Bahrololoumi as UK & Ireland CEO

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HDFC Mutual Fund appoints new MD & CEO

V-Mart names Future Group veteran as COO

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Leading automotive lubricants company, Castrol India Limited, has appointed Deepesh Baxi as its new chief financial officer (CFO) and whole-time director. Baxi, who is currently the financial controller for Castrol’s businesses globally, will take up the new role and join the Board on January 1, 2021, as per a company release. Baxi will succeed Rashmi Joshi who will step down from her current position on December 31, 2020, after having served Castrol India for seven years as CFO and whole-time director.

2021, replacing veteran J Suresh who is set to retire later this year. Chaturvedi was previously Managing Director and CEO at PVH-Arvind brands, a joint venture that sells brands such as Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein. He also led the Arrow brand for Arvind Fashions. Suresh, current MD and CEO, who joined the company in September 2005, will work with Chaturvedi for a smooth transition. After stepping down from his post, Suresh will continue on the AFL board and also advise the board on key strategic issues. With work experience spanning 28 years, Chaturvedi has been responsible for the launch and development of popular brands in Indian retail, including Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, Arrow, Louis Philippe, Van Heusen, and Allen Solly.

Salesforce announced that Zahra Bahrololoumi will join the company as Executive Vice President and CEO, Salesforce UK and Ireland (UKI), in March 2021 to lead operations in both key growth markets. Zahra will join the company from Accenture where she leads the Accenture Technology practice for the UKI with a particular focus on next-generation systems in artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and platforms underpinning new applications. She also sits on the board of techUK and is a vice-chair of the Technology Leadership Group (TLG) for the Prince’s Trust.

Nutanix appoints its new CEO

Nutanix, a leader in private cloud, hybrid, and multi-cloud computing, announced that its Board of Directors has appointed Rajiv Ramaswami as President and Chief Executive Officer. Ramaswami will succeed co-founder Dheeraj Pandey, who previously announced his plans to retire as CEO of Nutanix upon the appointment of JANUARY 2021 |

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a successor. In his most recent role as Chief Operating Officer, Products and Cloud Services at VMware, Ramaswami co-managed VMware’s portfolio of products and services. During his tenure, Ramaswami led several important acquisitions and was playing a key role in transitioning VMware toward a subscription and SaaS model.

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Hero MotoCorp names new HR head and COO

Two-wheeler maker Hero MotoCorp has appointed global mobility expert Michael Clarke to the newly created position of Chief Operating Officer, with the additional role of Chief Human Resources Officer. Clarke will join the company with effect from January 1, 2021 and report to Pawan Munjal, Chairman and CEO of Hero MotoCorp, the country's largest two-wheeler maker said in a statement. The Nomination and Remuneration Committee (NRC) of the company has approved the appointment, it added. Clarke has more than 25 years of global experience in publicly listed companies in the US and UK. He has worked in leadership roles in various companies such as Fiat Group SPA and Delphi Technologies.

Times Internet appoints Smriti Ahuja as Chief People Officer

Times Internet Ltd (TIL), the digital venture of The Times of India Group, has appointed Smriti Ahuja as Chief People Officer. In her new role, Smriti is responsible for building and maintaining a highperformance culture that is inclusive, people-friendly, and business first. Prior to joining Times Internet, Smriti was working as Global Head Organization Effectiveness and Geo Leader Diversity & Inclusion at Cognizant. She has close to three decades of work experience, 10 years of which have been as an Independent Consultant.

Kotak Mahindra Bank appoints Shweta Pathak as VP, HR

Kotak Mahindra Bank has appointed Shweta Pathak as Vice President Human Resources. In her new role, Shweta would be leading Campus and Talent Branding for the bank. Shweta is an Employer Branding, Strategic Recruitment Marketing and Talent Experience Specialist. She has extensive experience on both corporate and consulting sides. Prior to joining Kotak Mahindra Bank, Shweta was 12

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associated with EdCast as the Assistant Vice President - Change & Engagement. An alumnus of Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies, she had earlier worked with companies such as Sun Pharma, IDFC Bank, Deutsche Bank, Marico and others.

Mercer appoints Achim Lüder as new Chief People Officer

Mercer, the human resources consulting firm, and a business of Marsh & McLennan, has announced Achim Lüder as its new Chief People Officer. Based in Frankfurt, Germany, Lüder is responsible for driving Mercer’s global people strategy, including building a diverse workforce and inclusive environment for over 25,000 colleagues across 44 countries. He reports to Carmen Fernandez, Marsh & McLennan’s incoming Chief Human Resources Officer, and joins the Mercer Executive Leadership Team led by Martine Ferland, President, and CEO of Mercer and Vice Chair, Marsh & McLennan.

Randstad North America appoints Bob Lopes as CHRO

Randstad North America announced the appointment of Bob Lopes as the company's new Chief Human Resources Officer. Lopes has served as an executive at Randstad's sister company Randstad Sourceright for six years. At Randstad North America, Lopes will develop the company's internal human resources practice and oversee all aspects of human capital, including recruitment, talent management, employee engagement and organizational development. Lopes has more than 35 years of global experience leading private, mid-stage and public technology and services businesses in outsourcing, consulting and HR-related services.

SmartBank appoints Becca Boyd as the new Chief People Officer

SmartBank recently announced the promotion of Becca Boyd to Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer. As Chief People Officer, Boyd will lead the human resources department and all aspects of people management including training and development, payroll, benefits, recruiting, talent management, associate engagement, and HR technology. “Becca has earned a reputation as a strong leader and has been instrumental in supporting our growth strategies, people processes, and cultural initiatives,” said Billy Carroll, President and CEO of SmartBank.


ten Questions

Rapid-Fire

interview

Elisabeth Stene

Chief Human Resource Officer, Digi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd By Neelanjana Mazumdar

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One thing that makes you passionate about HR?

HR as a business partner or HR as a business driver?

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Self-paced learning or guided (organization-lead) learning?

Having the opportunity to drive people transformation, and in turn inspiring them to shape the company’s growth and future.

HR as a business partner and an enabler to drive people excellence.

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While in sales and customer service, I found my passion in solving people matters and improving processes that inspire better performance management and competencies development.

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What do you think about when you’re alone in your car?

Alternative solutions to solve complex tasks. Also, my family at times, though my children are adults now.

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One question you ask in every interview?

A variety of questions, but always with the intention of understanding the candidate’s ability to reflect and maturity in thinking.

Automate repetitive tasks so that resources can be channeled to manage more strategic work

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Flexi work or 9 to 5?

Empower people with trust and integrity to make flexi work, work.

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Best career advice you've ever got?

When I became a mother of two within 14 months, I was assured that I didn’t need to worry about sacrificing my career for motherhood. It’s important to choose a company that supports female leadership.

Self-paced learning where employees are given the freedom to learn and are encouraged to take charge of their own learning with 24-hour access to digital content.

r a p i d - f i r e

What was the turning point of your life as an HR professional?

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Things HR professionals must keep in mind while implementing tech in any HR process?

Automate repetitive tasks so that resources can be channeled to manage more strategic work. Data security and privacy must be prioritised too.

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Core HR competencies no technology can replace?

Soft skills such as communication skills, coaching and problem solving; knowledge and empathy when engaging employees, human intuitions when making hiring decisions. JANUARY 2021 |

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HR T e c h S t a r t u p s

Will it be a good year for HR Tech and Startups in 2021? How will the year 2021 be for startups in the HR tech space when it comes to adoption and expectations? Read on to find out By Shweta Modgil 14

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better people decisions using real-time data, HR, payroll and benefits platform Swingvy, Joye.ai-a B2B SaaS startup in mental health space, and hiring startup Able Jobs, among others to understand which way the wind will blow. Here’s what they had to say.

HR tech will evolve beyond the conventional world of recruiting Ravish Agrawal, Co-founder, and CEO, Able Jobs shared that in 2021, HR tech will evolve beyond the conventional world

Amsterdam based online skills assessment platform TestGorilla shared that “The Great Rehiring” will come in 2021. After the accelerated digitization in 2020, many HR tech startups will benefit from the increasing demand that comes with the Great Rehiring. Same thought are echoed by Navneet Singh, CEO & Founder of AVSAR HR Services who believes that the need of remote working will create ample job opportunities in cloud computing, automation and collaboration etc. which

If there is one thing that the pandemic has highlighted, it is that the role of HR is critical in supporting business. HR practitioners must be able to see the “big picture” of where a business is heading, the threats and opportunities on the way, and how its workforce plays a role On this note, what does the year 2021 bode for HR Tech? What are some of the trends that will shape this space in the coming year? What are some of the opportunities that lie ahead in this year? We talked to a number of startups in the HR Tech space such as HRIS provider Talbrum, online skills assessment platform TestGorilla, recruitment service provider Avsar, Engage Rocket-cloud-based software that helps leaders and organizations make

of recruiting, talent management and will make inroads in the daily work routines. In recruiting and training companies will double down on the efficiency through technical products that can support their recruitment needs. While on the other hand, performance management and employee wellness products will see more adoption in the coming year.

HR Tech to benefit from “The Great Rehiring” Otto Verhage, founder of

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t was a good year.” That’s what most of the HR Tech startups we spoke to opined when they looked back at 2020. From the degree of adoption to the amount of funds flowing in, the startup space generally saw an increased awareness around technology in HR as the pandemic forced companies the world over to digitize overnight. With the talks of AI, automation, technology dominating the whole year around, HR Tech saw a definite uptake both in India and globally.

will benefit the staffing companies.

2021 demand to boost HR Tech

Navneet also shared that HR policies have been revamped according to the new normal and employees have become accustomed to the same. It means more time and increased productivity in the coming year. HR industry would invest heavily in analytics which will provide relevant workforce insights. Sectors like FMCG, BFSI, JANUARY 2021 |

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Telecom, Manufacturing etc. are hoping to reach the pre-Covid demand level by March 2021. Hence, the business of HR startups is expected to increase many folds as compared to that in 2020.

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Opportunity for HR Tech startups to provide collaboration based tools Now that HR Tech is a hygiene factor, people would be prepared with cloud based HR Tech SAAS requirements to work in new normal, believes Vinay Dalal, Co-founder, Talbrum. Many organizations till the mid of 2021 may have a start stop approach including manufacturing units so the underlying opportunity is huge. For now, the opportunity is for HR tech startups to provide collaboration based tools; earlier it was looked upon as providing control based tools.

Remote work means considerable investment in HR Tech products

Adit Jain, CEO, Leena AI, an artificial intelligence (AI)-powered employee experience platform, shared that the office has moved to our homes, and that trend is here to stay. From tech giants announcing permanent work from home or anywhere to statistics proving employees will expect work from home for at least a few days a 16

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week, remote work and flexibility are now basic needs that even traditional organizations must fulfil. With remote work comes the need for a culture of trust and considerable investment in HR tech products. The work culture and workspace has undergone a massive change and that means there will be a need for collaboration tools, as well. This means demand for new-age tech products will keep rising across the globe and organizations will realize the investment in such products will not go waste.

Innovation in mental health solutions for remote work

Sanjeev Magotra, CEO and Co-founder of Joye.ai, startup in mental health space, shared that during 2020 the biggest shift has been the acceptance of remote work as the new

normal. As per PWC UK, 9 in 10 CEOs expect this to be a permanent shift. To cater to this reality, in addition to digital solutions for video conferences and collaboration, the employee engagement and well-being solutions need to transform as well. With growing isolation and stress, the time is ripe for innovation in mental health solutions for remote work.

The rise of hybrid workplace and HR

CheeTung Leong, CEO and Co-founder of EngageRocket shares that with the reopening of many offices, a hybrid workplace becomes popular with many organizations introducing rotating shifts, partial occupancy, and work-from-anywhere. Organizations will continue investing in new solutions to develop a sense of belonging and improve


use excel to manage payroll and WhatsApp to manage their staff ’s leaves because they feel that it’s still manageable but what they don’t see in the long run is that their HR operations will get messier. So in 2021, we believe that these companies will come into realization that the importance of having

In a nutshell, 2021 will likely be a good year for HR Tech startups as digitization and remote work continue to rule the roost in the second year of the pandemic Opportunity for HR Tech to work more with SMEs

Jin Choeh, Co-founder and CEO of HR Tech startup Swingvy shared that since this year many companies had to abruptly move their HR operations online because of COVID19 and we saw most of them (traditional small businesses in Malaysia) are struggling to cope with technology and some of them still prefer to

an integrated HR cloud based solution is important for them to manage their business effectively and they will be ready to utilize a HR tool by then. We will start to see more companies automating their payroll with an integrated HR system in 2021. Certainly, there will be a continued demand for HR tech solutions for sure and most companies will resort to

HR tech startups because of cost if compared to larger ERP companies and because remote working will continue into 2021, companies will move to a cloud based HR platform rather than an on premise HR system. With more employees working from home, the need for a mobile HR app will be important and this is a great business opportunity for HR tech startups as most of their software is cloud-based, built for mobile users and it operates on a subscription model making it an easier and affordable alternative for businesses shifting into HR cloud. Similarly, HR tech startups can help to bridge the current learning gap in Southeast Asia and introduce a new virtual avenue for flexible and personalized HR learning when it comes to payroll, setting up company policies, understanding and staying up-to-date and complying to local tax regulations etc. Ultimately, this will then introduce a stronger HR community online, thus, will lead to more businesses adopting and demand for a HR cloud based system naturally. In a nutshell, 2021 will likely be a good year for HR Tech startups as digitization and remote work continue to rule the roost in the second year of the pandemic. JANUARY 2021 |

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team collaboration. Talent management processes will be more and more supported by technology, artificial intelligence and analytics. If there is one thing that the pandemic has highlighted, it is that the role of HR is critical in supporting business. HR practitioners must be able to see the “big picture” of where a business is heading, the threats and opportunities on the way, and how its workforce plays a role. To do that, HR must leverage people analytics and other tools to continuously upgrade themselves, protect our workers and help them and the organization thrive.

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The pandemic made it abundantly clear that companies need to invest in people-focused technology Chief of People, Lincoln Financial Group

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Lisa M. Buckingham, Executive Vice President and Chief

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People, Place and Brand Officer, Lincoln Financial Group, in an exclusive interaction with People Matters, talks about the larger HR landscape and how should talent leaders reimagine workforce management in 2021 By Yasmin Taj and Mastufa Ahmed

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isa Buckingham is the Executive Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer for Lincoln Financial Group, responsible for all human resources practices and policies for the organization. She is also responsible for overseeing the corporation’s brand and advertising, enterprise communications, consumer insights, and corporate social responsibility activities; as well as the facilities, aviation, and corporate strategic real estate areas. Additionally, she leads the company’s business continuity and enterprise crisis management efforts. She reports to the President and Chief Executive Officer, Dennis R. Glass, and is a member of the Senior Management Committee. | JANUARY 2021

Buckingham has more than 30 years of experience in all aspects of human resources management. She is on the Board of Directors of the HR Policy Association, the new American Health Policy Institute, Lincoln Life & Annuity Company of New York, and the Eagles Charitable Foundation. She is the Chairman and an Executive Committee member of the Peer Round

Table for CHROs and is a member of the Steering Committee of the HR Policy Institute. Buckingham also Chairs the Lincoln Financial Foundation. Here are the excerpts of the interview.

As a people leader at Lincoln Financial Group, you have been at the forefront of ensuring the health and safety of nearly 12,000

I am so amazed by the incredible connections forged among the global HR community in 2020. This is just the start of a new chapter of deeper connections between companies, driven by HR, to better all of our collective workforces. We are all sharing more and learning from one another


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employees and an extensive network of financial advisor partners as they transitioned to work-from-home. You are driven to make sure that the company continues to honor its namesake by stepping up to support its employees, communities, and the country during the COVID-19 crisis. Please tell us what helped you sail through these challenging times. A few factors have been absolutely critical in our response to this pandemic at Lincoln Financial:

Our people: The resilience, commitment, and strength of our workforce have been amazing. While so many of our employees have been dealing with their own personal challenges during COVID-19, they have never stopped caring for our customers, or for each other. Not for a second. Our preparation: We have a Business Continuity function at Lincoln that is solely dedicated to preparing our enterprise for the unexpected – we were ready.

In April, I partnered with fellow CHROs from Accenture, Verizon, and ServiceNow to launch People + Work Connect – a digital employerto-employer platform that brings together companies laying off or furloughing people with companies in urgent need of workers

Our digital focus: We’ve been on a digital journey for four+ years now at Lincoln – and we firmly believe that our digital investments and business continuity planning positioned us to be so successful in our response to COVID-19. We pivoted to working from home for 99 percent of our workforce in a matter of days, we have had virtually no disruption to our customers, and we’re meeting and exceeding service goals. Our culture and communication: We have focused on being there for our people and ensuring that our strong culture provides some stability and support through these challenging times. We call ourselves “Team Lincoln” because we truly believe it. We’re ALL in this together – we’re all real people, with real families, real challenges, real stress in our lives right now. Communicating frequently and transparently at every level of leadership in the organization has been critical.

As a global talent leader, what is the biggest lesson you have learned from this pandemic and why does it matter? Do you see any big opportunity that businesses should seize in 2021? I am so amazed by the incredible connections forged among the global HR community in 2020. This is just the start of a new chap20

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we have been there for one another through thick and thin.

What are the key COVIDtriggered trends that you think will accelerate in the long term in terms of work, workplace, and workforce? What gaps and blind spots have COVID-19 brought to the fore? Of course, there are major possibilities – especially from a talent perspective – with more remote

How do you see the larger HR landscape evolve in 2021 and how should talent leaders reimagine workforce management in 2021? Prior to COVID-19, some of the biggest “hot topics” in HR were talent and technology – and while the specifics might look different today, these two themes continue to be hugely important. Before the pandemic we heard a lot about the “war for talent” – or the “war for differentiation” as I like to

work moving forward. Another huge talent opportunity is connectivity among the HR community. We’ve learned so much about how skills can transfer across industries... how people can be “redeployed” within a company or outside. While we couldn’t be together in person, 2020 actually brought the HR community closer together than ever before. And that is opening up a whole world of possibilities.

call it – and yes…the landscape today looks dramatically different with the level of unemployment COVID-19 has caused. But, we’re STILL seeing a competitive talent marketplace, and more than ever we’re seeing the importance of employee engagement and creating a differentiating employee experience. Technology, similarly, has become more critical than ever. In the HR space, we continue to focus on how we can leverage technolJANUARY 2021 |

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With more remote work moving forward, there are major possibilities – especially from a talent perspective. Another huge talent opportunity is connectivity among the HR community. We’ve learned so much about how skills can transfer across industries... how people can be “redeployed” within a company or outside

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ter of deeper connections between companies, driven by HR, to better all of our collective workforces. We are all sharing more and learning from one another. We aren’t competing against one another, we are building vibrant and very different work environments and can help each other and our employees. A shining example of this (from my perspective!) is the People + Work Connect platform. In April, I partnered with fellow CHROs from Accenture, Verizon, and ServiceNow to launch People + Work Connect – a digital employer-to-employer platform that brings together companies laying off or furloughing people with companies in urgent need of workers. There is no cost for employers to join and participate. We developed this initiative in direct response to unemployment caused by COVID-19, but we believe it can be a much more long-term tool for companies, across countries and across industries. More than 1,500 organizations spanning 90+ countries are leveraging the platform today. If interested, folks can learn more at the People + Work Connect website. These true examples of resilience and kindness have been a true learning. Honestly, we all should just take a moment and celebrate all our learnings and how

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Adaptability is so key. That means being nimble as changes come – and it also means being able to leverage those changes to make a positive impact. How can our learnings from this pandemic make us better? ogy while at the same time keeping human in human resources. We want to implement technology that fosters more connectivity, more time to be present, and focus on things that matter most.

age those changes to make a positive impact. How can our learnings from this pandemic make us better? Make us more creative, more agile in the long-term? To be more agile, more adaptable, the partnership between HR and IT is more We hear a lot of agility, resilience, adaptability in the important than ever. This wake of the COVID-19 and pandemic has made it abunhow they are critical for busi- dantly clear that companies nesses to chart a purposeful need to invest in peoplepath for the future. What’s focused technology while at your take on this? the same time keeping the Adaptability is so key. Yes, human in human resources. that means being nimble as changes come – and it also How do you think this means being able to levercrisis will change the way

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we work? Will more of us be remote? What's your plan for 2021? Is it going to be a hybrid work model for you? We’re all working to figure that out in this everchanging environment. At Lincoln, we’re monitoring the progression of the virus constantly, and we’re getting real-time advice from experts as we see progress with the vaccines. This is informing our approach as we plan for an eventual return to our offices, and each day we learn more. But beyond the pandemic – I believe 2020 has forever changed the ways we work. One of the silver linings is all of the learnings this experience has brought us. At Lincoln, we know that work-from-home, flexible work arrangements, and physical office space are all valuable in different ways, and will continue to be. We’re also factoring in feedback from our employees. This experience has been new and different for all of us, and our employees have been incredible. Because of their commitment to our customers and our focus on digital technology, we’ve been able to continue working from home, protecting the health and safety of our people top of mind. The Willis research found that 90 percent of companies believe their culture has improved, 83 percent


a global issue and we all need to care for ourselves, our loved ones, and the bigger amazing world of humans. The pandemic is not over at the end of 2020… and it’s so critical that we continue to protect the health, safety, and wellbeing of our workforces. And when I say well-being… I mean physical, emotional, and financial. All of it. As employers we must continue to look at our benefit offer-

development practices. We will only continue to amplify this focus at Lincoln moving forward – and I hope that is a trend we see across companies and industries.

ings, our policies, our support tools, our capabilities with a critical eye and ensure we are helping our people as much as we possibly can. Additionally, looking at how we can maximize the quickly evolving talent marketplace will be a major focus in 2021 and beyond. We can all look differently at how we recruit, where we recruit, and how we work. JANUARY 2021 |

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What’s your take on leadership especially at a time like this and how can they make ethical and diversitycentered decisions? What should a leader look like in 2021? It’s important to reflect on the fact that we have seen not one but two major crises

this year. The pandemic, and the fight for racial justice. Leadership today means tackling crises head-on, taking action, and being transparent with your workforce. Fostering diversity, inclusion, belonging and equity is truly a core competency for leaders. It is one of our eight key “Leadership Expectations” at Lincoln – the key traits that define our culture and our hiring, training, and

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believe their employee experience is better, and 84 percent believe employee engagement has gone up. Where do you see this equation in 2021? An enhanced focus on employee engagement and feedback has been critical in 2020 and will continue to be. Yes – this was very important prior to COVID19, but today it is pivotal. At Lincoln, we have asked our employees for feedback every single step of the way – when COVID-19 first hit the U.S. and we wanted to learn more about what they needed to work from home, as we have planned for our eventual return to our offices and what that will look like, as the school year has started and we’ve gathered intel on what our working parents are struggling with and how we can help. This focus on employee feedback – and robust employee communication, internal and social – has been extremely important in our response at Lincoln and I believe it will continue to be crucial moving forward in 2021 and beyond.

What would be your key priorities in 2021 as a global talent leader? Continuing to help our people – and the broader working world – get through this pandemic. This is truly

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'Culture fit' can sometimes be used to mask bias in hiring: Google’s Melonie D. Parker In an interview with People Matters, the Chief Diversity Officer of Google talks about changing employee needs, the relevance of inclusion efforts and key lessons from the pandemic By Mastufa Ahmed

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elonie D. Parker is the Chief Diversity Officer & Global Director, Employee Engagement, Google. Parker is an HR executive committed to innovative, relevant, and contemporary HR leadership. She is an advocate for change and a passionate thought leader. Parker is responsible for advancing Google's employee engagement strategy across Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. Additionally, Parker serves as a Minority in Energy Initiative Champion for the Department of Energy. Parker received a B.A. in Mass Communications from Hampton University and an M.A. in Human Resources from Villanova University. She was named the 2016 HR Professional of the Year by the New Mexico Society of Human Resource Management. She was recognized with a Special Recognition

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We’re committed to building a workforce that is more representative of our users and a workplace that creates a sense of belonging for everyone. Over the past few years, we’ve taken concrete actions to steadily grow a more representative workforce, launching programs that support our communities globally, and building products that better serve all of our users. While the pandemic certainly brings new challenges, we announced several initiatives to further our diversity efforts. For example, as employees, educators, and students continue working remotely in response to the spread of COVID-19, we’ve done a number of things to help them stay connected and productive, such as rolling out free access to our advanced Hangouts Meet video-conferencing capabilities to all G Suite and G Suite for Education customers globally. Addition-

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will also continue to address head-on the unforeseen challenges that threaten our efforts to cultivate this culture. Most notably, the global COVID-19 pandemic is pushing us to find new ways to use technology to keep Googlers connected to each other, to our communities, and to the world. We will continue supporting Googlers as they navigate major life disruptions related to The global health crisis is the pandemic, including shaking up the normal ways expanded caregiving and/or of work and upendingbusinesses like never before. What education responsibilities, does it mean for businesses as by ensuring they have the flexibility to balance work they plan for the year 2021? with caring for themselves As we navigate the impact of COVID-19 in our own and their families. We’re also taking steps to support workplace, it’s vital to conthe mental health and welltinue our work to advance being of Google’s employees diversity, equity and incluthroughout this time. sion. Earlier this year, we released our 2019 diversity Do you think the efforts annual report, and I was towards diversity that have personally proud to see the been built painstakingly over growth of many of our underrepresented communities the last few decades are being is outpacing Google’s overall derailed by the COVID-19 growth. As an example, in pandemic? the U.S. Black+ headcount growth was at 340% for men and 320% for women. We see this as a promising sign but know there’s more work to be done. As we look to 2021, we’re committed to continuing to make diversity, equity, and inclusion part of everything we do—from how we build our products to how we build our workforce. The world may look different, but our goals remain the same. We Award at the 2014 Women of Color STEM Awards, and in 2012 graduated from Lockheed Martin’s Executive Assessment & Development Program. In an exclusive conversation with People Matters, Parker talks about the future of diversity and inclusion mandates in a post-COVID-19 world.

While most companies hire for culture fit, or those who embody skills, qualifications, and experience in a job role, we realize that ‘culture fit’ can sometimes be used to mask bias in hiring. To keep our culture inclusive, innovative and thriving, we don’t hire for culture fit. We hire through the lens of “culture add” JANUARY 2021 |

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ally, many of our programs geared towards underrepresented groups, such as Code Next, a free computer science education program for black and Latinx high schoolers, and Tech Exchange, a semester-long program for historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and HispanicServing Institutions (HSIs) where computer science majors immerse themselves in coding instruction on the Google campus in Mountain View, continue to operate remotely. Finally, this year, we held our first-ever all virtual intern class, where thousands of interns joined us from their homes in 43 countries around the world. For our employees, we also introduced a student loan repayment program for all Googlers. Starting in 2021, Google will match up to $2,500 per Googler per year in student loan payments to help them pay off their student loans faster, allowing them to save money to use in other ways, whether it’s purchasing a new home, starting a family, or investing in a 401(k). We recognize that many of the communities we serve in our diversity work are also disproportionately impacted by these events -- as a Black woman, I’m acutely aware of the outsized impact of COVID on communities of color. We continue to support Googlers who are | JANUARY 2021

facing uncertainty, health concerns, or who may be targets of discrimination. As we continue through this uncertain time, diversity and inclusion will remain a crucial priority for us in meeting the needs of our employees, their families, and our communities.

Google’s culture has long been seen as a model for other companies to cultivate growth and innovation in the workplace. Has there been a change in your ‘culture’ equation? Today’s workplaces are rapidly evolving and employee demands of their employer are at an all-time high. Google is known for being one of the most transparent companies in the world, sharing as much as possible with employees. This has continued as we grow. One area where we have evolved is hiring. For example, while most

companies hire for culture fit, or those who embody skills, qualifications, and experience in a job role, we realize that ‘culture fit’ can sometimes be used to mask bias in hiring. To keep our culture inclusive, innovative and thriving, we don’t hire for culture fit. We hire through the lens of “culture add.” We’re asking ourselves “What perspectives or experiences are missing from our teams?" In other words, what can a candidate add to the organization? When looking at the hiring process through a culture add lens, it opens up the possibility of considering candidates that do not “fit” a preconceived profile and will bring about a greater possibility of diversity in both thought and perspective.

How are diversity heads steering their companies through the crisis globally? Do you see a synergy of initiatives and collaborations?


One thing that you have learned from this pandemic and why is this important? One thing we’ve seen is that people are searching for new ways to connect with their communities while being physically distant. I’ve focused my career on building initiatives and resources for minority groups within large companies. To ensure Google is a workplace where everyone can do their best work, we've spent the last several years understanding how employees from different backgrounds experience Google and building internal programs that foster an inclusive work environment. As we navigate the impact of COVID-19 in our own workplace, it’s vital to

continue building a culture of belonging. With much of our workforce working remotely, we’re focused on helping our employees connect and finding new ways to prioritize inclusion. For example, one thing we’re doing is helping to boost virtual connection. Throughout the year, we’ve explored a variety of virtual formats for connecting people across Google and many of our Employee Resource Groups have extended their efforts to help underrepresented

make everyone feel comfortable, empowered, and heard? Isn’t it challenging? We want our workplace to provide a sense of belonging -- where every colleague feels seen, connected, supported, and proud to be a part of Google. This isn’t an easy task when you think about our scale - today, Google has offices in over 170 cities spanning nearly 60 countries and we have over 100K+ Googlers in offices around the world. But it’s important work that needs

As we navigate the impact of COVID19 in our own workplace, it’s vital to continue building a culture of belonging. With much of our workforce working remotely, we’re focused on helping our employees connect and finding new ways to prioritize inclusion Googlers build community during this time. For example, our Black Googler Network hosts recurring virtual Yoga sessions, and our Women@Google chapters across the globe have been hosting virtual sessions for connection and career development. Our Asian Google Network has aggregated resources for their community and created office hours for members to connect online.

How can companies build a culture of belonging and

to be done, and I see this as a huge opportunity for us. Building a culture of belonging empowers people to do their best work, and Google is a company where people of different views, backgrounds and experiences can come together and show up for one another. We’re focused on accelerating efforts to ensure every Googler—and in particular those from underrepresented groups—experience Google as an inclusive workplace. JANUARY 2021 |

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As Google’s Chief Diversity Officer, and as a woman of color who grew up in the segregated South, I feel a great responsibility to advance a more diverse workplace. This opportunity includes bridge divides, giving voice to marginalized groups, and creating the kind of workplace where everyone belongs. We collaborate with a number of experts that help to inform our DEI strategy. We’ve currently engaged with John A. Powell, Director of the Othering & Belonging Institute, IBIS and other external experts in the field to help further our work.

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It is the time to challenge our limits, not limit our challenges: Terence Mauri

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In this special interview with People Matters, Terence Mauri, Founder of Hack Future Lab and #1 bestselling author of ‘The 3D Leader: Take your leadership to the next level’ shares some insights on how uncertain times call for organizations to build the resilience, trust and courage to reimagine new ways of working and why, as agents of change, it is time for leaders to rip up the rulebook on leadership and move beyond disruption By Yasmin Taj

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he year 2020 proved that change is the only constant and organizations and leaders had to pivot to this changing world by focusing not just on business continuity, but on empathy, trust, and well-being of employees. The pandemic totally changed the way we look at work, workplace and the workforce. In many ways, it was an accelerant for change for trust, ethics and transparency and has given leaders a unique opportunity to reimagine a more resilient and sustainable future. In this exclusive interaction, Terence Mauri, Founder of Hack Future Lab and #1 bestselling author of | JANUARY 2021


What has been your biggest learning from the year 2020 and how has it transformed the way you look at the world now? A CEO said to me recently that 2020 is canceled. I disagree. I think this year is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to not just return to work but reimagine relevancy from rethinking workforce capability and automation to the rise of the WFH, WFA and the ‘Nowhere office’. In some ways, 2020 has been a gateway or portal from one world to another – a liminal space that allows leaders to break free of old assumptions about the world

and discover better ways of scaling an agile, resilient and sustainable future. There are decades where nothing happens and there are weeks where decades happen. As CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella said, ‘for many organizations this year, they have experienced 2 years of transformation in 2 months’. I personally learnt that a crisis is also an accelerant for learning, growth and reinvention. This year has shown me that it is possible for lead-

to happen as a breeze. Now it feels like a category five typhoon. Blurring of industry lines, economic and geopolitical uncertainty, disruptive technologies such as AI and automation, shrinking of company and product lifespans – and a global pandemic. Now is the time to challenge our limits, not limit our challenges. I call it ROI. Not just return on investment but ‘return on intelligence’. As leadership and business models decay at

In some ways, 2020 has been a gateway or portal from one world to another – a liminal space that allows leaders to break free of old assumptions about the world and discover better ways of scaling an agile, resilient and sustainable future ers to win with empathy and that wealth without health is pointless. In the current climate of global pandemic and economic uncertainty, organizations’ capacity to focus on both the financial physical and mental health of their employees has never been more vital.

If you had to pick 3 highlights from the world of work from this year, what would those be and why? The only certainty is uncertainty. Change used

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‘The 3D Leader: Take your leadership to the next level’ shares some insights on how uncertain times call for organizations to build the resilience, trust and courage to re-imagine new ways of working and why, as agents of change, it is time for leaders to rip up the rulebook on leadership and move beyond disruption. Terence is founder of Hack Future Lab, a global management think tank helping leaders to win the future. He has been described as ‘an influential and outspoken expert on the future of leadership’ by Thinkers50, the global ranking authority of top management thinkers. Here are the excerpts from the interview.

a faster rate, my top three highlights from the world of work this year are: 1. Digital everywhere: Governments and organizations finally shifted from doing digital (incremental) to being digital (cloud first). However, with only 20% organizations in the cloud, I think the next 5 years will see a big focus on CEO’s re-platform companies and even whole industries to the cloud. This trend line will accelerate as countries JANUARY 2021 |

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increase their spending on IT from 5-10 percent of GDP. 2. Connected ecosystems: The global pandemic showed us that everything and everyone is connected and the numbers tell the story. According to McKinsey, ecosystems represent a revenue pool potential of over $60 trillion dollars by 2027. The future is ‘eco, not ego’ with Costa Rica like ecosystems that capture and deliver value beyond our imagination and new leadership and talent models that are ‘humanity first’. Innovation travels faster through networks than hierarchies. Just look at how BioNTech’s Ugur Sahin and Ozlem Tureci developed a COVID-19 vaccine in less than a year, a truly remarkable business and scientific success. | JANUARY 2021

3. Distributed leadership: The pandemic showed that for many organizations the old work and talent models are broken. The future of work is arriving faster than ever before. Leaders are moving from command and control to care and co-creation. The best way to outpace disruption is through workforce capability: more human-led, but tech enabled, intentionally diverse, purpose driven, operationally nimble and built for speed. It’s time for leaders to go big on meaning and remember that leadership is about ‘we, not me’.

You have asserted that uncertain times call for organizations to build the resilience, trust and courage to re-imagine new ways of

working. Tell us more about it. Leaders must master the new logic of competition. You’re competing on learning, ecosystems, physical and digital (phy-gital), imagination and resilience. Every organization must now be in a perpetual state of beta creating zero-friction, personalized and predictive experiences for customers on the outside and workers on the inside. How will you win the race to re-skill and up-skill? General Motors (GM) CEO Mary Barra made a fast pivot to producing masks and ventilators and accelerated its transformation to an all-electric future. AirBnB CEO Brian Chesky is my nomination for most resilient leader of 2020. It took 12 years to build the home-rental platform and they lost almost everything in six weeks. However, AirBnB, like most agile and resilient businesses, has what I called the Benjamin Button effect. This means three things that every leader should pay attention too: visionary capital, velocity and vertical integration. Today, AirBnB is valued at over $100 billion dollars and continues to turn adversity into advantage. CEO Jack Dorsey has taken the bold move to give the entire workforce the flexibility to work from anywhere. The bottom line is that behind the scenes,


digital superpower companies such as Amazon, Google, and Microsoft have already re-engineered their business models and entire operating models around software, data, and AI to power a completely new breed of organization. Now is not the time to adopt a ‘wait and see’ strategy. As agents of change, it’s time for leaders to rip up the rulebook on leadership and move beyond disruption.

What are some of the key workplace trends you see emerging in 2021? There are many from diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) to the race to re-skill and up-skill and humans and machines working together. However, the big workplace trend line I want to discuss is wellbeing. The global pandemic has turned peoples’ working lives upside down and for many has led to feelings of being overloaded and overwhelmed by back-to-back Zoom meetings. According to a recent global survey by Hack Future Lab, 89 percent of workers say they struggle to focus on what really matters and multi-tasking eats 40 percent of your day. The Japanese have a saying

for this – Karoshi - that literally means 'death from overwork'. Our well-being and mental health is under attack. Information overload, digital distractions and the cult of accessibility mean that for many of us, the default setting is ‘always on’. The World Health Organization has declared "burnout" to be an occupational phenomenon that undermines how well people perform at work. For HR and business leaders, conversations about our collective future — and its impact on our health, wealth and well-being dominate the airwaves. How equipped are we to embrace permanent remote working? What are leaders doing to improve mental health and wellbeing outcomes for those impacted by the COVID-19 crisis? In 2021 and beyond, we’ll see a long-overdue

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How did the year 2020 transform the very definition of leadership? What were some of the biggest shifts that you observed? 2020 was an accelerant for making leadership future-fit for a world of hyper-change. Necessity breeds innovation, and it is clear that we are already embracing new ways of working and living. Leaders are transforming their structures to attract new generations, reinvigorate their businesses, and promote employee health and well-being. In short, difficult circumstances are challenging leaders to think and act differently. Some examples include: • Control to co-creation • Economics to empathy • Efficiency to intelligence • Hierarchies to un-bossed • Money to meaning

human potential to tackle the biggest challenges on the planet’.

My definition of leadership is ‘a moral duty to make a difference and harness JANUARY 2021 |

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acceleration of organizations caring about employee well-being from the day they start to the day they finish. Thriving employees — defined as flourishing in terms of well-being, mental health and career — are three times more likely to work for a company that they perceive as caring.

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#1 takeaway People want to feel more alive at work. Personalized well-being programs will become the norm for workers. Leaders who overlook this criti-

The pandemic showed that for many organizations the old work and talent models are broken. The future of work is arriving faster than ever before. Leaders are moving from command and control to care and co-creation cal workplace trend in 2021 line will ultimately erode their workforce capability and lose out on the war for talent.

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ant for change for trust, ethics and transparency and has given leaders a unique opportunity to reimagine a more resilient and sustainable future. Stuart Crainer, co-founder at Thinkers50, the global ranking authority of top management thinkers in the world says, “The focus of leadership over recent years has been on the impact of AI, big data and other technologies on the practice of leadership. How can and should leaders utilize technology? Where does technology leave

As we step into 2021, what are those qualities or traits that would inspire leaders to thrive in this new world and age of disruption? The pandemic turned our leadership models upside down. It forced leaders to rethink the nature of work, the workplace and the workforce. In many ways, the pandemic was an acceler| JANUARY 2021

traditional core leadership skills such as judgement? The pandemic has changed the emphasis. The leadership agenda over 2021 and beyond will focus on people as never before. Leaders will have to figure their way through a complex array of issues — more people working remotely, fast changing and often declining markets, and uncertainties piled on uncertainties. Listening, empathy and emotional intelligence will need to be to the fore for leaders in the post-COVID-19 era. For

many these will be new and sometimes impossible skills, but they are and will remain critical.” #2 takeaway To win next

year and beyond, leaders must prioritize trust along growth and profitability.

You have been speaking a lot about “winning with empathy with compassion, ethics and transparency”. Tell us more about how leaders can win with empathy while ensuring business continuity? Trust is a leader’s North Star for prioritizing all ethical and moral decisions. It’s not just about career, it’s about legacy. With a new, more responsible mandate emerging, the challenge for business is to rethink what makes corporations successful. Although most leaders agree that the organization’s purpose should extend beyond shareholder primacy, only 35% deliver on a multistakeholder model today. Empathy sits at the heart of a new mandate. With so many unknowns, how can companies, individuals and society as a whole win? By combining left-brain understanding of commercial realities and their knockon effects, with right-brain skills such as intuition and creativity to find solutions. Only then can we turn our insight and intelligence into inclusive prosperity. Thriving employees are twice as


of what the late psychiatrist Oliver Sacks called the 3B’s: belief, belonging and becoming. That is, at the deepest human level, humans need something to believe in, a strong sense of belonging and to be in a perpetual state of ‘beta’, which means lifelong curiosity and learning. Companies such as games developer King and microblogging platform Twitter report that when empathy is

selves. This is empathy, and it is needed for winning in an evolving world. The C-suite regards scaling empathy as a top talent investment capable of driving business advantage and yet according to Hack Future Lab, just 34% of HR and business leaders are investing in this as part of their future of work strategy. Why? In some part because employees are more likely to feel a strong sense

rated as a strength, employees are twice as likely to say their organization is transparent about which jobs will change, and rank uncertainty last in reasons for feeling burnt out. Employees who work in empathetic cultures are also three times as likely to be satisfied with the company, with no plans to leave. Do you bake empathy into the DNA, strategy and dayto-day operations of the

organization? How do you measure empathy across the whole stakeholder mix from employees, to customers, suppliers, investors, analysts and the media? How is your organization helping its employees to be more empathetic in their daily roles and responsibilities?

What are some of the top questions that leaders need to ask to prepare their workforce for the future of work as we strive to come out stronger from this pandemic? What questions do you want to be remembered for? I believe when leaders are operating at the edge of uncertainty, questions matter more than answers. Questions are like the golden key that can unlock the door to see the world differently and spot better ways of working or making customers’ lives easier. Imagine if you and your team stopped for 4-minutes every day to ask new questions. New questions to old problems and new questions to new problems. That’s 24 hours’ worth of new questions per year. Here are some big catalytic questions for leaders to ask in 2021: • What will it take to win the ‘20s and beyond? • Do we have a culture of silence or a culture of speak up? • Do we have a culture that solves problems? JANUARY 2021 |

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likely to work for an organization that effectively balances EQ and IQ in decision-making — something less than half of companies get right today. Moving the needle on this agenda means putting human and economic metrics side by side, caring enough to place responsibility for long-term futures above short-term gains, and creating space for people to be their whole

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• What are our blind spots as leaders? • How are we elevating human potential alongside machines? • How do we fight complexity? • What steps are we taking to win the race to re-skill? • How do we scale trust alongside growth? • Which old mindsets, mental maps and operating models do we need to eliminate? • Is today’s approach to work and workforce transformation sustainable? • Will our work models attract new generations? • How will we reinvigorate our businesses? • How can we ensure our employee value proposition meets rising health, wealth and career concerns? • Are existing practices agile enough to withstand this and future unpredictable events’ impact on profit? • What’s the bravest question we’ve asked in this meeting?

And finally, according to you, what is that one workplace trend that will rule 2021? Transformation leader. The Brightline Initiative says, ‘transformation has to be top of any organizational agenda. Every company must dedicate itself to change as an ongo34

| JANUARY 2021

ing process, not a one-time event’. The 20th century was about scaling efficiency and doing things right, rather than doing the right things. The winners of tomorrow will scale intelligence, with the race to re-skill and up-skill being a top leadership priority. Every organization says it wants to outpace disruption with capability, which requires the cultivation of a learning mindset at both the individual and organizational level, and another look at goals and the setting aside of both time and financial investment for learning. Today, just one in three leaders says they are investing in future learning, workforce up-skilling, and re-skilling as part of their strategy for the future of work. Data aggregators can help quantify the impact of

emerging technologies on existing jobs, and matching skills from one job family to another to identify transferable skills. Further, the use of digital twins (or “mirror worlds”) and scenario modeling is on the rise to support workforce strategy design and planning. By visualizing scenarios, companies can bring to life the implications of choices on the bottom line and on the workforce. #3 takeaway In 2021, mental

retooling needs to happen at scale throughout the enterprise. Royal Dutch Shell, for example, recently announced it is expanding an online program to teach AI skills. So far, 2,000 of its 82,000 employees have expressed interest or have been approached to participate. Are you in a perpetual state of beta?


Mankiran Chowhan

Tackling and ushering in the ‘new reality’ of remote working Reflections on the expectations of employees on remote work and a few tips that companies need to work on

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What do the employees have to say?

This sudden shift to telework has also taken the employees by surprise. Adapting to this new normal has brought its own set of challenges ranging from lack of dedicated workspace to reduced collaboration amongst team members. A recent study commissioned by SAP Concur, conducted across

Remote work can be a positive or negative development depending on the employee’s home environment

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remote working

OVID-19 has been a truly unique healthcare emergency across the globe. With the disruption in normal daily life, the pandemic has also brought in a slew of transformations that have changed the way how companies function. Undoubtedly, one such major change has been the wide acceptance of remote working. Global workforces across industries have had to adjust and adapt to remote working. Lockdowns being observed across the world in different phases has meant that the workforce could only rely on digital means to connect with each other and ensure business continuity. This has resulted in a huge spike in digital adoption across different departments including finance and HR. Looking at the present conditions, many companies are expected to not ask their employees to return to their respective workplaces before 2021. Even after that, it is expected that a big portion of the workforce would have the option of working remotely. It would be safe to say that remote working is here to stay.

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Asia Pacific, revealed that 88 percent of the workforce in India prefer to have the flexibility of working from home. While this shows promising acceptance among Indians, remote work can be a positive or negative development depending on the employee’s home environment. 69 percent of the Indian respondents said overall they feel more productive working from home, while 31 percent of respondents cited hindered communications with co-workers as one of the

Room for improvement for companies

While companies do not have control over the pandemic, they can certainly choose to take the required steps to help their employees adjust to teleworking better, reduce stress and anxiety levels, and keep up the motivation and ultimately, productivity levels. Here are a few tips that can help the companies: biggest challenges while telecommuting for an extended period.

Employees expect increased support!

Although the majority of employees enjoy the option to work from home, they want to be robustly supported by their organizations when doing so, both in terms of infrastructure and finances. Aspects like a mobile plan, broadband internet, IT peripherals, and dedicated workstations can substantially impact the employ36

ee’s ability to perform while working from home. More than two-thirds of respondents expect their employers to subsidize or fully pay for the expenses needed for a productive working environment at home. In addition to this, employees also expect their companies to bring in the necessary amendments to their HR and financial policies that could help reduce the burden of menial tasks. They also expect their employers to enable easy remote claims and safe integrated travel management, improve collaboration, and provide better IT equipment and services.

| JANUARY 2021

• Align system and tools – Organizations must make their infrastructure and processes conducive for remote work. This includes digitizing paper receipts, allowing vendors to invoice organizations directly for their employees’ purchases, and deploying experience management tools for better collaboration. • Digital transformation – Companies should embrace digital adoption that can automate manual processes and


help employees to cut down on menial tasks and focus on more meaningful and strategic tasks. The manual clunky paper led processes vs. consumer-grade tools like using a mobile to take pictures of the expense receipts and completing the claims request on laptops or mobile devices will speed up the process for employees in addition to simplifying things for managers when approving those claims. Digital applications that are mobile-friendly and offer great user experience go a long way in enhancing the overall employee experience and productivity.

• Better collaboration between departments – It is not a secret that many employees are tense during the current conditions. To ensure that office work does not contribute to this, companies need to improve the collaboration between various departments that the employees frequently deal with – including HR, Finance, and IT. Almost 79 percent of Indian employees strongly link their overall finance and administrative experience and their over-

all satisfaction of working for their organizations.

remote working

• Review policies – Employees will incur certain expenses during remote working that would be different from the usual workplace scenario. Companies need to review their expense policies to ensure staff are properly reimbursed for items or services used to facilitate remote work. This would directly result in better employee satisfaction and increased productivity levels.

Although the majority of employees enjoy the option to work from home, they want to be robustly supported by their organizations when doing so, both in terms of infrastructure and finances

Organizations certainly have shown a new appreciation for remote work. But organizations must also act now to create an ecosystem that will run and sustain under such an environment for an extended period. Employees would definitely need support to meet the expectations under these new conditions and thinking this through right now will provide organizations with an opportunity to smoothly navigating into the new and next normal. Mankiran Chowhan is the Managing Director – Indian Subcontinent, SAP Concur JANUARY 2021 |

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Never underestimate the power of human adaptability Adapting fast was a problem before the pandemic, and with any phase of tech innovation. The only solution is to upskill and reskill and even pre-skill, says Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, in an interaction with People Matters By Mastufa Ahmed 38

| JANUARY 2021


T

omas ChamorroPremuzic is the Chief Talent Scientist at ManpowerGroup, a professor of business psychology at University College London and at Columbia University, and an associate at Harvard’s Entrepreneurial Finance Lab. He is the author of Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders? (and How to Fix It), upon which his TEDx talk was based. Here are the excerpts of the interview.

did, we wouldn't be asking for a different type of leader so often now. If leadership weren't in crisis, we wouldn't demand a different, better, type of leadership during a crisis. Great leaders temper crises, bad leaders create them.

The catastrophic year is coming to an end and we have no idea about when things will get normal. What trends will define the future of work?

For businesses, diversity and inclusion is essential if you want to remain competitive and nurture innovation and critical thinking, but it all starts with inclusive leadership: without it, you will see little ROI to diversity With the pandemic disrupting businesses and causing economic downturns, do you think it’s to reimagine the role of a leader? Is it time to change the perspective? No. We just need competent people in charge and they have always looked the same: smart, rational, unselfish, humble, empathetic, curious, calm, and not in it for themselves or their own ego-mania, but interested in making a difference for others and making others better. But we don't get these types of leaders often. If we

The same trends that were already there beforehand: more fluidity, less structure, more focus on talent and soft skills, less focus on hard skills and expertise, more disruption, more reliance on tech, which at the same time makes the humane aspects of talent and leadership more critical, and artificial and human intelligence collaborating to produce something that should look like progress, assuming we can keep in mind ethics and optimize for many rather than the few. JANUARY 2021 |

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What’s the most striking thing about how businesses and governments responded to the crisis, according to you? What striking is the public and media reaction: surprise, apparently, at the fact that people are usually better off when their leaders are smart, kind, and honest. Who would have thought: leadership matters and competent leadership is quite helpful in difficult times! Perhaps as obvious is the fact that when leaders are incompetent or dishonest, it is a lot harder for them to hide or get away with it when there is a global crisis or real challenges to handle. And yet, it is not all about leadership: followership is perhaps even more important. Cultures that are disciplined, altruistic, collectivist, educated,

and cautious are of course better able to cope with a pandemic, so even if you exported inept leaders to them they will still probably handle things pretty well. For example, I think if you switched Merkel and Bolsonaro it would still be true that Germans deal with the pandemic better than Brazilians. Culture, institutions, and followers are more influential than leaders, particularly incumbent heads of state.

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You have written several books on a range of topics. Can you share some insights for people and talent leaders as they plan for the year 2021 to become more resilient? 1. Get the basics right (if you understand what always worked, and pay attention to science-based recommendations, you don't need to worry about new trends so much). Leaders often obsess over the future to avoid dealing with present problems, don't fall in this trap. 2. If you manage people well and have a strong and fair culture, you won't need to demand so much resilience from your employees and leaders (resilience is a cure to a problem that can be avoided by doing things well, to begin with) 3. You will never get it perfectly right, but you can find better ways of being wrong: the secret to success is to make the best decision you can and then learn to improve, or even change plans when things don't work out. Learning from your mistakes (and successes) is what makes you great in the long run. How important is diversity and inclusion in today’s time given that businesses are struggling with a variety of challenges and shifting business priorities? Does the crisis offer us an oppor-

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| JANUARY 2021

tunity to fix the inequality gaps we see in society? As a moral imperative, it is clearly essential, unless you don't care about a just or fair world, and have no empathy for those who suffer. For business, it is essential if you want to remain competitive and nurture innovation and critical thinking, but it all starts with inclusive leadership: without it, you will see little ROI to diversity. Do you see chaos in the latest tech innovations being leveraged across organizations? Or do you see a synergy? Do you think COVID-19 has forced organizations to leverage data and analytics to make better decisions? How are large organizations making critical decisions? We can criticize technology as much as we want, and it’s always good to be critical. However, let's also agree that thanks to tech, which is the product of human ingenuity and imagination, things have been far more

manageable than they could have been. We may complain about Zoom fatigue but it is really a first world problem, and the fact that we have managed to remain as or even more productive in some areas is truly remarkable so let's take some credit for inventing a super useful tool that has kept much of the world connected and productive and will continue to do so.

The use of technology accelerated by the pandemic has led to a pressing need for organizations to adapt fast. Many businesses may not have access to people with the right skill sets. What’s your advice for them? This was a problem before the pandemic, and with any phase of tech innovation. The only solution is to upskill and reskill and even pre-skill: understand that tech is just a tool and you need the relevant skills and expertise to make the most of those tools or turn them into drivers of progress. What’s your biggest learning from the pandemic? Be it about technology, leadership, well-being, or anything and why it matters? Never underestimate the power of human adaptability. You can find Tomas on Twitter: @drtcp or at www.drtomas.com


Marthin de Beer

From free snacks to employee wellness Traditional company benefits and perks have lost their relevance among the pandemic-induced changes of 2020. It's time to rethink what is truly beneficial and appreciated by employees

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Employee benefits

year ago, when people thought of company benefits, they were often considered niceties that made a day at the office a bit more comfortable—whether it was a stocked kitchen, a game room with ping pong tables or early closure on Fridays. Consider that in 2019 companies were spending roughly $15k per month on office snacks and beverages—with 33 percent willing to spend more, according to one survey by ZeroCater. Fast forward to today and those offices are empty, the ping pong tables are collecting dust and early-out Fridays don’t matter much when you’re starting and ending your work day at home. Very few of the traditional office perks and benefits matter in the pandemic-induced remote work environment—and yet, retaining talent has never been more crucial. Losing and replacing a valued employee can cost a company 16-20 percent of the employee’s annual salary. For an employee earning $100,000 per year, the cost could be more than $16,000 for just one employee! In this environment, HR is scrambling to determine the benefits

that help maintain employee engagement and overcome the remote work challenges of this pandemic.

More important than we might think

Benefits truly matter to today’s employees and have proven valuable in making employees feel recognized, cared for and appreciated. According to the American Institute of CPAs, 80 percent of US employees would prefer to stay in a job with benefits, than take one that offered more pay but no benefits. Many companies have announced employees will remain remote until at least next JANUARY 2021 |

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Employee benefits

summer. With remote work set to stick around at least through 2021—and far more remote working than pre-pandemic coming in the years ahead—it’s time for employers to rethink their benefits offering to focus on what really matters to employees. Today, a critical task for HR is to gain a better understanding of what is occurring in their (virtual) workplace and help reassess company benefits to meet the needs of a dispersed and stressed workforce. During a recent webinar, Ryan Wright, senior director of health and benefits at Willis Towers Watson, discussed the

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Today, it's critical for HR to gain a better understanding of what is occurring in the workplace, and help reassess company benefits to meet the needs of a dispersed and stressed workforce. But what are the benefits that truly matter?

| JANUARY 2021

shift that HR is currently seeing amid COVID-19 and the need for HR teams to realign priorities to meet the needs of today’s workforce. “Do we need to reassess our vendors and are those vendors aligned with our new priorities?” asked Wright. “We’re going to see a reevaluation of the folks that are providing services to employees as companies navigate a new strategy.” But this still leaves HR with the question of what are the benefits that truly matter to their employees? How can HR ensure that my company is maintaining a culture of benefits that drive employee engagement, in an all remote environment?

Less frills, more relevance

Ironically, most of those snack and game-related perks that we now consider staples never really made that much of a difference for employees - and could be seen more as golden handcuffs. The same study by the American Institute of CPAs found that, rather than snacks and yoga classes, more Americans felt that financially-relevant perks, such as contributions to a 401(k) or HSA, were more enticing benefits. Employees value benefits that make them feel more financially secure. In addition to the above data, our own survey similarly found that employees rank financial wellness benefits higher than healthcare, paid time off and definitely the company snack room.


Financial worries are plaguing the majority of Americans today and employers can play a pivotal role in supporting their employees, by realigning their company’s benefits to address today’s real challenges. Financial stress is at an all-time high due to the uncertainty with the pandemic—our data confirmed in October that nearly half (48 percent) of knowledge workers report feeling stressed or concerned about their personal finances, a spike of 9 percent from just three months prior.

Companies have the opportunity to have a meaningful impact in the financial wellbeing of their employees. Our same survey found that companies remain committed to investing in workplace benefits. 83 percent of HR professionals reported that their budgets have remained steady or have even increased. Imagine what can be done when the monthly $15k snack budget can be repurposed towards the financial health and wellness of your workforce. Financial wellness can mean a variety of things. Some companies have taken the route of simply giving cash to employees during the pandemic - an altruistic, but temporary benefit. However, I am of the opinion that financial wellness, as a company benefit, is one that needs to be multifaceted, sustainable and adaptable to the goals of each employee - this means financial education, well-

Losing and replacing a valued employee can cost a company 16-20 percent of the employee’s annual salary. What are the benefits that help maintain employee engagement and overcome the remote work challenges of this pandemic

Employee benefits

Financial wellness needs to be a priority

ness programs, goals based planning, financial life management and much more. Total financial wellness is the goal, or a program that grows with your employees and enables them to achieve financial success at every stage of their life’s journey. HR has the resources and the mandate. It’s time to invest in the benefits that truly matter to employees during these trying times.

Marthin de Beer is the CEO of Brightplan. JANUARY 2021 |

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In t e r v i e w

Businesses have started to see sustainability in hiring gig workers: CEO, Freelancer.com

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In conversation with People Matters, Matt Barrie, CEO, Freelancer.com, spoke about how 2020 changed the game for hiring gig workers, increasing partnerships with NASA as well as corporates to hire freelancers, and shared some trends and advice to kick start 2021 on the right note By Bhavna Sarin

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att Barrie, Chief Executive of Freelancer.com, the world's largest freelancing marketplace, is an award-winning technology entrepreneur and the co-author of over 20 US patent applications, Matt has also been Adjunct Associate Professor in Electrical and Information Engineering at a leading university in Australia where he taught Cryptography and Technology Venture Creation. In conversation with People Matters, Matt spoke about how 2020 changed the game for hiring gig workers, the increasing interests from NASA as well as corporates in hiring freelancers, the changing perception of gig work as a wellaccepted alternate source of income and shared some advice to kick start 2021 on the right note. | JANUARY 2021


Here are excerpts from the interaction.

We are seeing new employers posting jobs on the site - there has been an uptick of around 50 percent over 1st and 2nd quarter of 2020 We think these will continue in 2021.

In your view, how has COVID impacted the perception towards the gig working model? The freelance online job market continues to flourish in spite of global challenges. Towards the very end of Q1 2020 was the start of a deluge of demand and in Q2 2020 and Q3 2020, the number of users that joined our platform, including freelancers and employers looking for freelancers, surged enormously. While COVID19 has been the trigger of the already upward trending freelancer movement, this exponential growth

can also be attributed to the strong desire for individuals to finally start their own freelance enterprise, work on their own terms and supplement their income. These are promising times and positive signs for the gig economy. I think the increase of people joining the freelancing movement both for freelancers and businesses looking for independent workers shows that the perception towards the gig working model has changed for the better.

As HR leaders dive into workforce strategy for a hybrid workplace, what are some norms that can foster a JANUARY 2021 |

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Can you share some of the 2020 trends that you believe are likely to continue in 2021? In the first quarter of 2020, Freelancer.com saw the emergence of the COVID19 pandemic, and the world began a global “work online� experiment. Data from Freelancer.com clearly showed the disruption as businesses transitioned to work from home, followed by a marked uptick in activity as the global workforce settled into a new way of doing things and was forced to work online. Based on Freelancer.com’s last coronavirus survey (May 2020 - sent to 44+ million users worldwide), in terms of business, 44 percent said their business has experienced a significant impact from COVID-19. In terms of income, job market in general, and the economy, 72 percent said their personal income has fallen as a result of COVID-19. In terms of remote work, the freelance economy, and future of work, 71 percent said they will be increasing their use of freelancers rather than hiring full time staff. Of those respondents who previously had employees working in an office, 71 percent said they will continue to allow some or all of their employees to work from home, even after the pandemic is over.

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more productive experience for the gig workforce? For HR leaders diving into workforce strategy for a hybrid workplace, here are some norms that can foster a more productive experience for the gig workforce: - They can work with skilled freelancers locally or from around the world online. - They can work with freelancers of their choosing. They can post projects for freelancers to bid on. Shortlist bidders, and award who can best deliver their project’s needs. If they need to get the work done offline, they can also post projects, and work offline with them. - Take advantage of Recruiter Service provided by freelancing online marketplaces if they need help in selecting the right freelancer. The Recruiter Services from the platforms can help connect them to the best freelancer for their project, and invite bids from more qualified freelancers. - Directly hire freelancers. Instead of inviting bids by posting projects, they can directly hire freelancers if they are looking for something more specific to be delivered. - After choosing a freelancer to work with, alternatively they can also hire | JANUARY 2021

a Project Manager who can help with monitoring their project’s progress. Their Project Manager will keep in touch with their freelancer regularly on their behalf, ensuring that the tasks are clear and there are no delays in the delivery. - They can also start contests. Receive ideas from several freelancers right away by starting a contest. Crowdsource what they need to be done from competing freelancers, and pay only for the winning entry or entries. This is ideal for designrelated work. - Project success is dependent on effective collaboration. What needs to be done has to be clear to both parties. Consider asking questions (similar with offline interviews

with candidates) to their freelancers to help ensure their project’s completion.

As organizations revamp their operating models, sustainability is a key factor in bringing in new changes. Do you see employers addressing sustainability for gig workers as well? Based on our experiences at Freelancer.com, we have teamed up with major clients to help crowdsource solutions. One of them is NASA. Freelancer. com and NASA have teamed up to crowdsource the most complex problems being faced by astronauts on the cutting edge of space exploration since 2015. NASA even reported to us that they had the experience of extraordinary cost-savings (80-99%) when compared to traditional methods,


How has digital acceleration and disruptions to the world of work impacted your working model? Did you feel prepared or did you encounter surprises along the way? COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the world of work and working models worldwide. For us internally, it impacted the working model for our employees. Although we have policies

Businesses have started to believe in hiring digitally and using gig workers to get their projects done. They have started seeing the cost-effectiveness in doing this that support working from home or remote work for our employees, still there have been some adjustments needed as we have seven offices worldwide and most of our employees worked from our offices. Since COVID-19, most of our employees have been working from home. As we provide a freelancing platform, tools and services that encourage remote working, the adjustments we had to make were not many internally. For our users worldwide, digital disruption has impacted them positively as we have spread the idea

of remote work since the beginning. Businesses have started to believe in hiring digitally and using gig workers to get their projects done. They have started seeing the cost-effectiveness in doing this.

What can global leaders do to ensure they start 2021 on the right note? There will be a permanent step-change in both working from home and the use of freelancers by businesses. Global leaders need to start utilizing the digital disruption for their business growth and expansion by hiring freelancers. JANUARY 2021 |

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97% across a wide range of federal space programs. In June 2020, Freelancer.com jointly won the US$25Mn NASA Open Innovations Series 2 tender. In 2020, The US Department of Energy (DOE) and Freelancer.com teamed up to help crowdsource solutions to increase manufacturing energy productivity in the US. Other clients in 2020 that have teamed up with Freelancer.com in finding freelancers are Airbus, Novo Nordisk, Deloitte, Arrow Electronics, IBM Technology, Facebook, and many more. Yes, we have seen clients or businesses realize sustainability of gig workers compared to the previous belief where the concern businesses had in dealing with gig workers was that they didn’t see the sustainability. But since they keep partnering with us, we believe they have more trust in hiring freelancers now.

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Trends that will define work, workplace, and workforce in 2021 By Mastufa Ahmed

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he year 2020 has been catastrophic. The pandemic has changed the world and the world of work. With the COVID-19 crisis, lockdowns, and a global recession, organizations are busy reimagining the “new workplace”. Some of the abrupt changes the coronavirus brought to the fore may stick around forever. And these changes have huge implications for businesses and talent leaders as they plan for 2021. The digital transformation initiatives that businesses have embarked on will continue for years. While we don’t have a clear indication of when the virus will go away, organizations are trying hard to make the most of this uncertain time as we move toward the year 2021. From the spread of new-age tech innovations to the need of creating adaptable and sustainable business models and workplaces, the gamut of transformations talent leaders need to embrace is multiplying day by day. So, what would be the key trends you should closely keep your eyes on in 2021? Well, there could be many — from the hybrid workplace to the uprise of flexible work schedules to enhanced focus on employee training to employee well-being to the acceleration of digital transformation to a renewed focus on innovation. As we head into 2021, what should you expect in the context of work, workplace, and workforce? The cover story Powered by SAP SuccessFactors, deeps dive into what lies ahead in every function from recruitment to rewards across industries. We bring you all that you need to watch out for in your industry to make the most of the year 2021.

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ndoubtedly, 2020 was ‘The Year’ for HR, and the role of HR became more indispensable than ever. In 2020, companies worked proactively to create a sense of stability and safety for people, and the role of HR is expanding more and | JANUARY 2021

more to fill this need. The role of HR has gone beyond the necessary functions to keep the engine running – keeping people physically protected; managing staff exhaustion and the stress that comes from the pressure to perform during a crisis; keeping the staff

The COVID-19 pandemic changed the world forever and has had multiple implications on the world or work as well. While 2020 saw a major upheaval at work, talent, and technology, what does 2021 have in store for us? Here is a look at some emerging trends that will define the workplace in 2021 By People Matters Editorial Team

connected and supporting them in isolation; devising and mapping new roles and job responsibilities as the business models change; and future proofing the workforce as layoffs and job elimination become a norm as we enter the next normal. While 2020 saw a major


Advancing the emphasis to enhance work-life balance and personalize employee-related services, the role of human resources will continue to evolve in 2021. From mere gatekeepers of an organization, HR is seeking to become the consciencekeepers of its strong workforce

The hybrid workplace

2020 was a year where work from the office went on the downward slide. While work from office is not completely out, it’s clear that it is also not 100% in. People still find it important to meet faceto-face — just not every day, in the same office. And this

The rise of HR

“HR always fought for a seat at the table and now it’s HR that’s setting

the table,” stated Kartik Krishnamurthy, Managing Director, Cornerstone On Demand Asia in a recent interaction with us. And rightly so. 2020 was indeed the year of HR’s resurrection, where HR rightly got its due importance. In this unprecedented crisis, it was the HR department that led the recovery from the front, because most of the issues had to do with people. From safety to remote management to making tough decisions like giving furlough to some workers and growing the roles of others to engagement to learning to performance management, HR held the fort to keep work going as usual. Thought leader and global industry analyst Josh aptly stated at Perspectives 2020 when he said, “For us in HR, it is really time to be the heroic leaders of the response.” In the second year of the pandemic, expect the big acceleration of the transformation of HR to continue as the way we work JANUARY 2021 |

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has made companies rethink working models. So while earlier, everyone was high on reducing office space and offer more flexibility to employees, now companies are beginning to experiment with mixing remote and office work — or what we know as hybrid working. 2020 was the year of hybrid work. Employees are keen on a hybrid workplace model, where most of their time is spent in the office but they have the flexibility and freedom to work from home when it works best for them. In the second year of the pandemic, expect hybrid work to dominate our world of work.

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upheaval at work, talent, and technology, what does 2021 have in store for us? Advancing the emphasis to enhance work-life balance and personalize employeerelated services, the role of human resources will continue to evolve in 2021. From mere gatekeepers of an organization, HR is seeking to become the conscience-keepers of its strong workforce. In coming years, HR will enjoy the Veto Power at the high tables of the organizations. With senior management highlighting the need for employee loyalty, the often ‘overlooked’ workforce is in for a treat. What is even more heartening to see is the willingness of HR to use technology to accentuate this transition. Here are some key HR trends to look out for in 2020:

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continues to transform and HR’s role to spearhead and manage that transformation smoothly gains greater importance.

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Decentralized global workforce/larger talent pool

As remote working became the “new normal” and employers began to develop effective, reliable virtual recruitment methods, it became clear that recruitment no longer needs to be tied to the location of the physical workplace. Companies now have access to talent from literally anywhere around the globe, without needing to physically relocate the people they hire. What’s more, remote and flexible work is accessible to groups of talent who are otherwise not considered for

location-based work: such as parents, caregivers, or those with disabilities that make it difficult to work from a typical office. This benefits both employers and employees alike: by opening up the talent pool, improving diversity and inclusion, and making new jobs and markets available. In 2021, we can expect to see more companies hiring beyond the boundaries of where they operate, and broadening their view on who can be considered for a given job.

Innovation will make or break

The year 2020 is said to be the year that accelerated transformation, digitization, and prompted organizations to go beyond and adopt to new business models. Innovation was at the core to business continuity

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and it will continue to be a fundamental expectation to respond to the never ending challenges, demands, and opportunities posed by the new code of world. For years, we have been hearing examples like Kodak, Blockbuster which refused to innovate and failed to respond to the demands of consumers. Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better. The quote is taken from the book, Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. What really makes this quote the most powerful quote in today’s time is creating a truly rock-solid culture that always looks at innovating, and disrupting themselves will withstand the unpleasant vicissitudes of business and unexpected events powerfully when they arise.

Acceleration of digital transformation

“There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks when decades happen,” Vladimir Lenin once said. In the world of HR, this statement holds


It has almost been a year since the COVID-

flexibility, especially those with long commute times. However, there are some flip sides to it as well like blurring of lines between work and personal life, impact of mental wellbeing, decreasing human interaction, etc. Given these pros and cons, organizations have to rethink their working arrangements and develop a hybrid model. It can be safely said that the pandemic has normalized remote work and it is here to stay!

Uprise of flexible work schedules

One thing that has come out as a game changer for the year 2020 is the rise of the flexible work schedules. A flexible working culture is built on trust, communication, collaboration, and connect, just as in a regular office set-up. Organizations must take into consideration the readiness, impact on client service, and the investment required. Needless to say technology is the backbone of the flexi working culture. Flexible work is no longer only for gig workers or freelancers; many JANUARY 2021 |

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Enhanced adoption of remote working

19 pandemic struck and changed the world forever. It has had multiple implications on the world or work along with the undeniable impact it had on global economies and healthcare. The immediate questions for organizations and leaders to ponder upon are: How will we work, live and thrive in the postpandemic future? How is Covid-19 reshaping our world – potentially, forever? What the future of work would entail is still very ambiguous, but one thing's for sure that it will be hybrid in nature with a combination of people working remotely and office goers. Employers expect to move about 44% of workers to work from home during the pandemic, according to the World Economic Forum Future of Jobs Report 2020. Organizations like Facebook, Twitter, Google and Square have already announced their plans of having their employees work from anywhere even in the future. What is interesting is the fact that organizations that used to shy away from allowing employees to work remotely are adopting it with much gusto now. During this year, one big lesson that we learnt was the fact that we can accomplish most tasks remotely without a significant drop in productivity or quality. Most employees appreciate

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true for HR technology and digital transformation. As companies that could move into a remote working environment closed their physical offices in the interest of business continuity, it was technology that served as the bridge between employees and employers. Those companies that had already embarked on a digital transformation journey were better prepared to manage the unforeseen crisis. And those companies that hadn’t yet adopted technology were left with no choice but to accelerate their journey. In fact, even companies that were at the forefront of enabling technology turned to newer tools and upgrades - including those that could help measure employee pulse continuously, help support the mandate for physical and mental wellbeing of the employee and help organizations adapt quickly in a fast-changing talent marketplace.

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“traditional” employers are also offering flexible schedules to their employees now. This has indeed become an important part of the hybrid model of work. Employers who completely stayed aloof from this concept, are now embracing it with utmost ease. The employees are being given the options to work from home as well as work from the office. It is true that a lifestyle change has taken place and people might feel overwhelmed at times. But let's look at the larger picture. The productivity across industries has seen a huge rise. Overall, flexible hours at work let you manage things at your own pace.

More focus on training and up-skilling

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“Tell me and, I forget, teach me and, I may remember, involve me and, I learn," said Benjamin Franklin. These words turned out to be the biggest reality in 2020, as the pandemic came with sheer suddenness and put us in a difficult situation. In 2019 global giants like Amazon, JPMorgan Chase, and Walmart pledged massive | JANUARY 2021

investments in re-skilling programs. The pandemic highlighted the need for such programs and a large number of organizations shifted their focus on learning that will benefit them in the long run. We can easily say that the year 2020 was the year of learning for employers and employees alike. The year 2021 should continue on the same path, It's time for leadership to reimagine the work their people do in partnership with intelligent technology. It is time to ask themselves the true questions about their readiness of the organizations to compete with any upcoming crisis. The employers need to allocate a handsome budget to up-skill and re-skill the employees that will lead to a strong foundation of learning. According to a Degreed survey ‘State of Skills 2021: Endangered’ that surveyed 5,000+ workers, team managers, and business leaders, the demand for technological, social and cognitive skills will soar in 2021.

With remote work becoming the new normal, we should accept that we need to learn things that have never been learnt before. Lastly, the role of L&D professionals will now lean towards coaching employees to develop a growth mind-set around continuous professional development. Driving a growth mind-set culture by highlighting the importance of learning from failures and taking risks, and encouraging self-directed learning will be the key.

Employee health and mental well-being

With the health crisis dominating 2020, the importance of wellness came to the forefront. However, what many didn’t expect was the looming

As remote working became the “new normal” and employers began to develop effective, reliable virtual recruitment methods, it became clear that recruitment no longer needs to be tied to the location of the physical workplace


2021 is an opportunity to walk the talk on inclusion, equity and belonging. The year when we step beyond the number of diverse hires, and proactively foster inclusion in the cultural fabric of an organization ensuring both wellness and productivity.

More focus on D&I

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The last year was of great significance when it comes to diversity and inclusion be it the unrest triggered as an outcome of unaddressed systemic racism, leading to the Black Lives Matter Movement, or the setback to advancement of rights and access to workplace opportunities for women, in light of the rising inequalities in distribution of work at home, or members of the LGBTQIA+ community being exposed to threats as a result of being isolated with unaccepting families and no community support. The grave hits to years of progress and deprioritization, consequent to the crisis, has ushered in

an urgent need to reimagine the diversity agenda. So what does 2021 have in store? 2021 is an opportunity to walk the talk on inclusion, equity and belonging. The year when we step beyond the number of diverse hires, and proactively foster inclusion in the cultural fabric of an organization. The year when corporates, those that hope to be sustainable and attract the best talent, realize that the only way forward is together. Organizations have an opportunity to break boundaries and make an impact in even the homes of their workforce. Beyond engagement activities with families, here’s an opportunity to engage with the community beyond the borders of the office and create a platform for some much needed conversations on change. Be it sensitization sessions on dividing responsibilities equally, or through interactive sessions that bring down the walls between generations and mindsets. 2021 is the year to step up inclusion. JANUARY 2021 |

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mental health crisis to follow suit. With the sudden shift to remote working and inability to draw healthy boundaries between work and home, over and above personal challenges faced by families globally, mental well-being grabbed attention. Yet, not enough has been done to address it. With the aggravated stress and burnout, individuals with existing mental health concerns have also experienced a setback, given the inability to keep up with coping mechanisms, or accessing in-person therapy or even being able to socialize. Isolation, uncertainty, and anxiety have accelerated the advent of a global psychological pandemic. In these times, while some employees are able to push themselves, some suffer in silence and are able to do more than they can, but yet made to feel it isn’t enough.The constant need to push oneself to prove their contribution, under such extraordinary circumstances, has only worsened the current state of wellness. With the rising concerns and awareness on addressing mental health, and industry wide conversations on prioritizing employee well-being, 2021 is likely to see an imperative and non-negotiable change in the way work is done,

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Humans will remain central to any advancement in technology and digitalization:

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Dr. Frank-Jürgen Richter

Dr. Frank-Jürgen Richter, Chairman of Horasis and Former Director of the World Economic Forum, shares his views on the outlook for the second year of the pandemic and how the role of people will never be diminished By Shweta Modgil

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he COVID-19 pandemic has irrevocably changed the world and the world of work. With the COVID19 crisis, lockdowns, and a global recession, organizations are busy reimagining the “new workplace”. Some of the abrupt changes the coronavirus brought to the fore may stick around forever. And these changes | JANUARY 2021

have huge implications for businesses and talent leaders as they plan for 2021. The digital transformation initiatives that businesses have embarked on will continue for years. While we don’t have a clear indication of when the virus will go away, organizations are trying hard to make the most of this uncertain time as we move into 2021. So, what would be the key trends you should closely keep your eyes on in 2021? In an exclusive interaction with People Matters,

Dr. Frank-Jürgen Richter, Chairman of Horasis - a global visions community dedicated to inspiring our future and Former Director of the World Economic Forum, shares his views on the outlook for the second year of the pandemic.

What are the key trends that you think will accelerate in the long term in terms of work? What gaps have COVID-19 brought to the fore? Some key trends that have emerged due to COVID-19 and will impact the future of


results are there for all to see. The need of the hour is to move from unilateral actions to multilateral ones.

What are some of the top questions that leaders need to ask to prepare its workforce for the future of work as we strive to come out stronger from this pandemic? The most critical questions that leaders need to ask are around the longterm sustainability of their respective businesses. Are we future-ready to withstand another shock of this nature? Given the rapid evolution of tech, are we equipped to adapt to chang-

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The pandemic will be an impetus for innovation in times to come, as many experts say. What have been the biggest lessons this pandemic has highlighted in terms of the culture of innovation? Even well before the pandemic, the culture of innovation was critical. COVID-19 has just hastened the process of tech adoption. Now, the adoption and implementation of tech is imperative for governments, businesses and societies at large. One big lesson that the pandemic has highlighted is that a culture of innovation results in greater resilience. Another lesson is that effective leadership func-

tions on facts, science, data, clear communication and solutions as opposed to rhetoric. The manner in which some countries in Asia have handled COVID-19 is an example. And there are many such examples even at the organizational and individual levels during the pandemic to draw inspiration from.

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work are: the greater adoption and use of technology across industries; remote work becoming a reality with some organizations even opting for all-remote teams; surge of the gig economy; and the necessity to upskill/reskill to build resilience against future shocks. Many gaps have been laid bare due to the pandemic – the biggest relate to inequalities stemming from the pandemic. COVID-19 has truly highlighted once again that the world needs to unite across disciplines to first address the menace of inequality. The gaps between rich and poor people in countries, and between rich and poor countries have come to the fore and will determine how well we emerge from this crisis. Another great gap seen due to the pandemic is the failure of states to collaborate and cooperate, even in times of crisis. Almost every country around the world took unilateral actions to stop the spread of the virus – and here we are. No consultation, no collaboration, no cooperation and the

One big lesson that the pandemic has highlighted is that a culture of innovation results in greater resilience JANUARY 2021 |

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rial, and I see no reason why this crisis will be any different. I believe we will learn and come out stronger from this crisis and adapt to the so-called ‘new normal’. But I believe effective organizational leadership is imperative to prepare the workforce for the future, both mentally as well as in terms of the skills they possess.

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The most critical questions that leaders need to ask are around the long-term sustainability of their respective businesses. Are we futureready to withstand another shock of this nature? ing technologies? Are we reskilling/upskilling sufficiently to keep pace with technological changes and the new, hybrid future of work? Work is likely not going to be the same ever again, so the big question is whether we can adequately prepare ourselves.

Yes, there have been job losses and there will be more job losses in many current roles. However, there will be many more jobs created due to the advancements in technology. And therefore, upskilling/reskilling will be critical in the ‘future of work’.

Given the kind of job losses and the increasing role of new-age technologies, where do you see the man-machine equation in the near future? I have mentioned this before as well. I do think humans will remain central to any advancement in technology and digitalization. | JANUARY 2021

What would the future of work mean to you as we come out of this crisis? How will the work and workforce change? Many are saying that we will never go back to the ‘earlier normal’. I think the human race has adapted and evolved since time immemo-

COVID-19 seems to be accelerating digital transformation in the workplace across industries. Do you see a new tech infrastructure in the making that will help economies rebound after COVID-19? Tech infrastructure is something that will vary from nation to nation. I think what will help economies rebound is the culture of tech adoption and the culture of innovation. We must be able to reap the benefits offered by the digital economy and exploit it to its full potential to drive a global economic recovery. One key learning for you from this crisis and why is it important? That the role of people will never be diminished. It is people who will adapt, become resilient, change things and create a better world. It is important because most of the talk is about tech and other things. I think the human element is the most important.


Innovation is a survival strategy in today’s times: SAP’s Kulmeet Bawa

companies to innovate faster and play a larger role in helping businesses large and small prepare for the road ahead. In this exclusive interaction, Kulmeet Bawa, President and Managing Director, SAP Indian Subcontinent talks about the COVID-19 triggered trends in the tech industry that will last for the long term; the increased focus on agility, adaptability, and sustainability of businesses; and some of the trends that will shape the workplace in 2021. Bawa is the chief architect of SAP’s growth and innova-

tion strategies for the Indian Subcontinent. He is responsible for delivering bold transformations and exceptional SAP experiences to customers across the ecosystem, as well as guiding businesses in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to adopt a digital-first mindset. Over his 25 years of cross functional experience, Bawa has orchestrated business revolution by providing proven business outcomes for organizations across various industries and portfolios. With a relentless focus on driving customer experience Bawa believes JANUARY 2021 |

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he COVID-19 pandemic entirely altered the way we looked at work and accelerated the digital transformation journeys of organizations. What would usually take years is now being done in a matter of a few days. The way technology players pivoted to this changing world and technology demands has also been commendable and it is the perfect time for these

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In this exclusive interaction, Kulmeet Bawa, President and Managing Director, SAP Indian Subcontinent shares some insights on the COVID-19 triggered trends in the tech industry that will last for the long term; the increased focus on agility, adaptability, and sustainability of businesses; and some of the trends that will shape the workplace in 2021 By Yasmin Taj

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in nurturing and mentoring team members, promoting design thinking, creativity and innovative culture. He also actively contributes towards social initiatives which focus on education and women empowerment. Prior to his corporate avatar, Bawa spent 12 years with the Indian Armored Corps as a Cavalry officer. During his tenure with the Indian army, he was Aide de Camp to the Governor of an Indian State and taught Strategy at the prestigious Armored Corps Centre and School. Bawa is a graduate from the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad and an alumnus of the prestigious National Defence Academy. Here are the excerpts from the interview.

What does the COVID-19 triggered ‘big reset’ mean for you? Is it about the increased focus on agility, adaptability, and sustainability of businesses? How should businesses gear up for this? Despite posing businesses continuity challenges, COVID-19 pandemic has also created a new wave of opportunities for businesses to digitize processes and manage data. It has unified us as we take this opportunity to deepen our engagement with our customers, be empathetic towards our stakeholders, take note of their challenges and help them sail through. | JANUARY 2021

India continues to remain one of the fastest-growing economies. The rise of an Experience Economy in India is yet another big opportunity, thanks to a hyperconnected young population. Today, enterprises want us to help them innovate faster and become more agile to serve their end-customers better. Our core strategy has been around the customerfirst approach that is driven by a committed workforce, and we are continuously doubling down on this by: • Providing an integrated suite of applications and a robust platform to support end-to-end business processes • Accelerating our customers’ move to the cloud • Sharing best practices in industry and Lines of businesses based on our years of experience of partnering with the best globally

What are the key COVID-19 triggered trends in the tech

industry that you think will last for the long term? What specific gaps, blind spots, and opportunities has COVID-19 brought to the fore? What existing trends have been accelerating and why? The pandemic has affected the way customers and businesses interact with each other. As we move forward, enterprises cannot realize digital transformation without customer experience being an integral part of their business transformation strategy. Customer experience is not only about the way you serve the customer, it is about having a two-way interaction that provides unique insights on the changing requirement, market, competition, and quality of the product. The new ways of doing business have resulted in digital footprints, which if stitched together and analyzed properly, will provide a competitive advantage to the enterprises. With more


than 435,000 customers globally and 12,000 customers in India, SAP has the responsibility to help the enterprises embrace this change with the help of technology. We are focused on delivery quick time to value by presenting the most comprehensive customer experience outcomes powered by a suite of applications that provide them the right visibility and recommendations.

Can you throw some light on how top organizations are leveraging HR tech – people analytics, talent acquisition tech, RPA, blockchain? Amid the challenges, one thing that comes to the forefront is how organizations will align their business strategy with people strategy. As the workplace becomes more dynamic, the

young startup ecosystem by embedding intelligence in recruitment, learning, and performance management. With our offerings in RPA, we have enabled organizations in automating various processes that resulted in leveraging the workforce for more productive activities needing human intervention.

The global health crisis is shaking up the normal ways of work and upending businesses like never before. What does it mean for businesses as

future of work demands a constant cycle of up-skilling and behavioral skill training for all generations of employees to make for a smart and inclusive workplace. Like in any other line of business, technology has played a critical role in this very important function. With a comprehensive set of Human Experience Management solutions and Intelligent technologies (eg. AI/ML, RPA, IoT), SAP has been constantly innovating in this space along with a

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The pandemic has affected the way customers and businesses interact with each other. As we move forward, enterprises cannot realize digital transformation without customer experience being an integral part of their business transformation strategy

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COVID-19 accelerated digital transformation in the workplace across industries. Do you see a new tech infrastructure in the making that will help economies rebound after COVID-19? I am a firm believer that cloud technologies are instrumental for businesses in processing Big Data and developing new business models. The need to be digital, and doing it with agility, is imperative more than ever. With a strong history of innovation for close to half a century, SAP is at an inflexion point of becoming a “True Cloud Company” which is most critical in today’s context. Our success stems from our ability to nurture, educate and grow an ecosystem that meets the country’s needs. SAP is positioned very well to support and enable enterprises of all sizes by helping them embrace digitization on the cloud, focus on upskilling their

workforce and enhancing overall business value by supporting employees and customers with what they need the most, and more!

they plan for the year 2021? What are some of the trends that you think will shape the workplace in 2021? 2021 will witness a shift in workplace mindset that is focused on how businesses can thrive in a new normal. This creates an opportunity to redesign work practices creating simple but significantly long-lasting changes to boost employees’ productivity, engagement and holistic well-being in 2021, and beyond. It will also create an opportunity for enterprises JANUARY 2021 |

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A hybrid workplace setting will be an accepted norm forever, thanks to the pandemic that acted as a catalyst. Organizations have come to realize that a flexible working structure will have a positive effect on the productivity and efficiency levels of employees to be more sensitive towards the impact on workplace diversity, gender neutrality, and mental health which the global pandemic has brought to the fore. I believe that a hybrid workplace setting will be an accepted norm forever, thanks to the pandemic that acted as a catalyst. Organizations have come to realize that a flexible working structure will have a positive effect on the productivity and efficiency levels of employees.

Given the kind of digital transformations organizations are going through, do you think, it's time for big | JANUARY 2021

tech companies to innovate faster and play a larger role in helping businesses large and small prepare for the road ahead? Innovation is no more a competitive advantage, it’s a survival strategy in today’s market conditions. I am glad to see enterprises embedding innovation into their processes, and in their ways of thinking. We have seen big tech companies helping organizations of all sizes during the pandemic to help them weather the storm, and to prepare them for the road ahead. Earlier this year, SAP opened the procurement platform to help the small enterprises. We have ena-

bled hundreds of small businesses go digital with our ‘Global Bharat’ program. Additionally, all the large enterprises served by tech companies were enabled to help their ecosystem of suppliers, partners and customers in an effective manner. They should continue doing the same to help stabilize and grow our country’s economy. Most importantly, for us to emerge victorious once this crisis is over, we all must stay empathetic while working towards a shared vision.

Do you feel confident in your business post-COVID-19? What are your top priorities moving forward in 2021? Customer success is a top priority for us - now more than ever. We need to elevate the experience of our enterprise customers by making it easier for them to consumer our tech solutions on the basis of realizable business value thereby helping them run better. We have been at the front and center of driving digital transformation across enterprises. Another priority for us is the well-being of our 13,000+ strong workforce in India who continue to work remotely, serving customers and adding value to their businesses. We will continue to foster a culture of inclusion driven by empathy. After all, our people remain our biggest asset!


CEO Agenda for 2021: The business of health

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s we start 2021, government and health organizations continue to grapple with both the needs of those affected by COVID19 and the plans for vaccinations all over the world. We were all shocked that 2020 was a such a catastrophic year in terms of the toll on human lives and economic progress—yet the experts were warning us about a pandemic for years. On 18 September 2019, CNN reported the rising risk of a global pandemic citing

the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board which is under the charter of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Bank. The dangers were clear and they warned that the world was not prepared. Back in 2017, the WHO called for world leaders to take action along with the US Center for Disease Control as they

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2020 showed us that public health is no longer just a governmental responsibility. Business leaders, with their resources and influence, and their close investment in their employees' wellbeing, have a major stake in the business of health—and an equivalent role to play By Richard R. Smith, Ph.D.

cited the global risk of local outbreaks spreading globally. Even earlier in 2011, the WHO warned of the potential risk and called for action with a guide that focused on a Pandemic Preparedness Framework. With all these and other warnings, how was the world not prepared by 2020? Why were business and human capital leaders not involved and advocating for pandemic preparedness? Many view public health as a governmental responsibility, but let’s consider the role of business leaders related to health. After all, if we rely on humans as employees, customers, suppliers, and contractors, it does seem that we are all involved in the business of health in some way. When a business sets up operations in a new country, the leaders are likely to make sure that the needed resources such as power supply, communications connectivity, supplier networks, port access, and

Because we rely on humans as employees, customers, suppliers, and contractors, we are all involved in the business of health in some way. And business leaders carry strong influence on government actions and serve as a significant force in the national human capital agenda JANUARY 2021 |

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infrastructure are in place. Negotiations with local government may involve tax incentives, job creation, regulatory approvals, and other financial issues. Seldom do we find business leaders asking about the development and care of one of the most significant resources: Human Capital. At the same time, business leaders carry strong influence on government actions and serve as a significant force in the national human capital agenda. Employee health and wellness have long been a common agenda for human capital leaders, but only recently has population health become an issue within the scope of business leaders. The CEO Council on Health and Innovation described how companies might improve the wellness of individuals, improve the health of communities, and improve health care systems in a report published in 2014. Prior to the pandemic, several global businesses were starting to take a more holistic perspective on public health in some countries. Recent studies in the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice highlight how businesses are now taking new initiatives to address community health. I will highlight five new trends that are emerging as part of the 2021 business leader agenda: | JANUARY 2021

1. Reviewing metrics on health behaviors— taking the time to understand the metrics associated with human health can serve as an important first step for business leaders. These metrics can include healthy lifestyle such as diet and exercise as well as behaviors related to health risks such as smoking and transportation safety. In some locations, this may include access to adequate hygiene and drinking water to avoid the strain on public health systems. Reviewing the current situation and risks with public health can be regular part of business risk planning and business continuity provisions. 2. Collaborating across sectors – this can include innovation and ideas related to health systems,

providers, and nonprofits that support the sector. As the technology sector takes more interest in healthcare, we may see new levels of awareness and new perspectives on health. This was evidenced by the recent collaboration by Apple in Singapore to provide financial incentives for citizens to use the health applications on the Apple Watch. Proactive health monitoring can have longterm benefits in public health. 3. Advocating for policy changes – when there is need for changes in either society health behaviors or with the healthcare systems, business leaders can serve as powerful advocates in the local communities. Of course, the economic development can play a key factor as


shown by health system metrics. Some countries (Japan and S. Korea) have an average of 12+ hospital beds per 1000 people, while others (India and Brazil) have less than 2 beds per 1000 people. Following the pandemic, business leaders will have an increased level of awareness of the impact of health and may be in a strong position to affect change.

and business leaders providing strong support to non-profits or taking an active role with solutions. For example, Tata Trusts, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and others. Regardless of business size, it would be great to see more business leaders taking an active role—especially related to healthcare. As we start the new year, let’s take the lessons from the pandemic and think differently about the business of health. Our global experience in 2020 highlighted the interdependen-

The CEO and business leader agenda for 2021 will likely be focused on recovery and defining a new normal following the impact of COVID-19. Let’s make sure this new agenda includes a focus on the business of public health so we are prepared for what happens next. With our increasingly connected global economy and human interactions, we are all in the business of health.

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5. Providing support to non-profits in healthcare – to make direct impact, sometimes businesses can give of their resources, whether in the form of financial or in-kind support. We often see successful businesses

Employee health and wellness have long been a common agenda for human capital leaders, but only recently has population health become an issue within the scope of business leaders. How can companies improve the wellness of individuals, the health of communities, and health care systems?

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4. Promoting city or country-wide health initiatives – the review of health policy and practices could often benefit from a business perspective. Business leaders and their organizations can be a powerful force for change by promoting new initiatives, supporting shifts in community behavior, or advocating for collective actions. In countries facing significant impact due to aging populations, businesses are working together to help develop new solutions and support new community initiatives. It would be great to see more collective action supported by businesses.

cies between government policies, health care systems, and business risks. While business leaders have been active in supporting community activities and engaging in corporate social responsibility, the focus on community health has not typically been included. Over the last year we have all learned that we are in the business of health in some way.

Richard R. Smith, Ph.D. is a Professor at Johns Hopkins University where he also serves as Vice Dean, Corporate and Global Partnerships at the Carey Business School JANUARY 2021 |

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Organizations will not succeed if employees are not engaged:

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GlobalLogic’s CPO

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In this exclusive interaction, Amy Hanlon-Rodemich, Chief People Officer, GlobalLogic shares that you cannot take your foot off the accelerator when it comes to employee engagement and outreach in times of crisis. It is the most critical factor in your continued success By Anushree Sharma

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mid the COVID19 crisis, our professional (and personal) futures started feeling more uncertain by the hour. Businesses are experiencing unimaginable disruptions, to the point where some are worried about their very survival. Organizations that serve downstream supply chains are no exception. None of us is immune to the current state of our world, our towns, our companies, and our teams — and frontline workers, most at risk in a number of ways, maybe even more aware of the uncertainty than their leaders when times get tough. | JANUARY 2021

conversation with Amy who touched upon some of the biggest learnings from 2020 and on the biggest trends she expects to emerge in 2021.

From in-person to virtual: Connecting with people have changed and for better

Business and HR leaders must double down now on the few things that can help employees stay informed and updated, feel like they’re being seen and heard, and keep focused and on track. Amy Hanlon-Rodemich, Chief People Officer, GlobalLogic shares that rethinking how we connect and engage with employees has been the biggest reset by the COVID19. Here are some of the excerpts from the exclusive

We used to be very much an “in-person” team that worked together on site and now that we are working from home, that has changed our interaction quite a bit, some for the better! She gives an example from her routine stating that she used to travel a lot and would get out to the company’s regional offices but only be able to spend time with a handful of people. Now she can interact with all 5 offices in one country at the same time. Amy shares, “For me, it has made it easier to engage with our employees on a 1:1 basis in a

For us, we are focusing on remaining agile so we can pivot as quickly as possible as we need to while keeping our employee engagement levels high. We are right now focusing on how we may work in a post-COVID-10 world and allow greater flexibility for our workforce


more efficient way. I do miss traveling and seeing our teams in person but we are making it work.”

The big reset for GlobalLogic in COVID-19

When asked about some of the trends that she foresees getting prioritization, Amy reflected on three key trends – reimagining workplaces, learning, and engagement. Here is what she has to say: - Reimagining workplace: We really need to

reimagine what we mean by the “workplace” and start reversing our thinking from, “what jobs can be done from home/anywhere” to “what jobs CAN’T be done from home/anywhere” and combine that with employee sentiment. We have found that the vast majority of our people either want to continue working from home or want a flexible work arrangement where they can come in when they want to/need to. Also, employee benefits offerings need to be explored. I have noticed that a lot of people with children

are really struggling with trying to work and manage the homeschooling of their children. Childcare, especially for younger children is a major concern. In the broader economy, we are hearing alarming statistics about the numbers of women leaving the workforce because they struggle to manage their work-life and childcare needs. I think it would be wonderful if the childcare industry can come up with some creative ways to solve this problem in conjunction with insurance and perk providers. I honestly don’t know JANUARY 2021 |

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The evolving HR landscape in 2021

We really need to reimagine what we mean by the “workplace” and start reversing our thinking from, “what jobs can be done from home/anywhere” to “what jobs CAN’T be done from home/ anywhere” and combine that with employee sentiment

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Amy sees agility as a driving factor to stay relevant for all businesses and people’s success. She says, “For us, we are focusing on remaining agile so we can pivot as quickly as possible as we need to while keeping our employee engagement levels high. We are right now focusing on how we may work in a post-COVID-19 world and allow greater flexibility for our workforce.” Amy feels confident about GlobalLogic’s business post-COVID-19 stating, “GlobalLogic is an amazing company filled with passionate, innovative people. Whenever there is a challenge, we rise and come up with great creative solutions. We are continuing to build out our internal infrastructure to best support our employees and their individual career growth paths.”

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what the ultimate solution is, but I do think that companies should be thinking about enhancing their childcare benefits, even if it is a discount to a babysitting or tutoring service. - Reimagining learning: We are reimagining HOW we deliver learning to our people. We work on so many different types of projects that we are in constant delivery mode where we have to quickly pivot and reskill people based on project needs. Today, because of COVID19, we can’t offer in-person training so we are looking more and more to virtual learning platforms and learning libraries that can be delivered in real-time. - Reimagining engagement: Start with a pulse of your employees and then dive deeper to understand what has and has not worked for them | JANUARY 2021

during this time. What is the best possible scenario for them to work in, both from a productivity standpoint and an engagement one? What resources do they need? Then align this to what the business needs. There will be roles that can’t be done from “anywhere” long-term. If you choose to go with a hybrid or work-fromanywhere model, make sure you are using Herculean efforts to engage your remote workers so they don’t get forgotten or left out. Lastly, I would highly advise creating a “tiger team” of employees from across the company to come up with creative solutions. Some of the best ideas come from the employees themselves. Concluding the conversation, Amy shares that one big lesson she has learned is that one really needs to be

prepared for the unexpected. You need a contingency plan to protect your employees and your business. Something like COVID-19 can absolutely happen again and will and companies need to be able to continue their operations from anywhere. So how do you prepare for the next big challenge? “Invest in digital strategies, invest in virtual communities to keep employees engaged, keep a pulse on employee sentiment, and don’t drop the fun factor, “ shares Amy. She adds, “At GlobalLogic, we worked very hard to keep our employees engaged by communicating with them as much as we could and hosting a variety of fun events and learning activities. It has worked well for us and our employees rallied to keep the company going and we are so grateful for their hard work. You cannot take your foot off the accelerator when it comes to employee engagement and outreach in times of crisis. It is the most critical factor in your continued success. If your employees are not engaged, it doesn’t matter what your product is – it will not succeed without them.”


Aadesh Goyal, CHRO, Tata Communications

on navigating through 2021

spent 16 years in a variety of roles including Global Head of HR, CEO of its BPO Business, and Head of the Gurgaon centre. In this interview with People Matters, he shares his views on how Tata Communications has come through 2020 and where he believes the future of work is taking us.

What has changed for the company amid this pandemic? What are the lessons you learned? Share a few insights. The pandemic has made one thing clear—going forward everything will be virtual. Organizations that embrace digital and trans-

form themselves are the ones fit to survive. Interestingly, while organizations have always looked at digital transformation from a customer perspective, now they need to look at it from an employee perspective— prioritizing digitization, automation, and innovation for the employee experience. At Tata Communications, over the years, we have built an intelligent digital platform for enabling HR operations such as on-boarding, induction, learning, career development, workforce planning, hiring etc. and all of this is now seamlessly managed virtually. We have hired employees across the globe during the lockdown JANUARY 2021 |

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adesh Goyal, Chief Human Resources Officer for Tata Communications, has over 25 years of experience in P&L Management, Human Resources, Operations, Information Technology, Corporate Communications and Program Management and has held global leadership roles in these functions across multiple geographies. He joined Tata Communications in February 2010 from PeopleStrong HR Services where he was the Chairman and CEO. Prior to PeopleStrong , Aadesh was part of the start-up team of Aricent/Hughes Software Systems where he

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The future of work will be flexible in nature, says Aadesh Goyal, Chief Human Resources Officer, Tata Communications. In a conversation with People Matters, he shares his predictions for the coming year and how he plans to navigate 2021 By Mastufa Ahmed

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period. The entire process right from on-boarding to inducting the new hires and assimilating them into their teams and culture of the company is being performed digitally.

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How do you think this crisis will change the way we work? Will more of us be remote? Every crisis offers an opportunity for change and COVID-19 is one such catalyst that has redefined the future of work. Though remote working practices have gone from being an exception to the norm across a spectrum of industries, the immediate implications of this crisis differs greatly across sectors and the medium to long-term outlook for productivity and the nature of changing working practices will be just as varied. Some indus-

| JANUARY 2021

tries, such as tech firms, consulting, call centers, financial operations are able to embrace remote working in a way that is simply not possible for sectors, such as manufacturing, construction, production, R&D. For a range of office-based service businesses, a reduction in floor space rental is a likely outcome of the crisis as firms integrate remote working for a rotating segment of their teams. But the future of work will be quite flexible in nature. Only a limited proportion of employees will work from the office full-time. Most employees will have a remote working arrangement and work from both, home and office. As such, offices are likely to be redesigned for collaboration and innovation. Offices are also likely to leverage technology like IoT

or detection units to manage human density at specific office spaces and maybe even to detect microbes or possible health threats. Overall, the sum total of all these transformations will create a work culture that is flexible and responsive to necessity; one that is customizable and has the ability to evolve and reconfigure in order to manage the larger problem at hand.

Can you share some insights on some of your initiatives around employee wellness, productivity, and engagement? With the majority of the population working from home, it is very important to spread positivity and promote a good work-life balance. The main objective now is to not only keep the workforce engaged and involved but also to make sure that every employee is appreciated, motivated, and able to deal with the stress of the current circumstances. Some of our early initiatives include live mindfulness sessions beginning from March itself, when the outbreak spread. This is really well received across all our regions, with most sessions being overbooked. In fact, given the success of these sessions, we extended it to other Tata companies, in addition to running sessions for some of our partners as well.


offered through partnerships with Coursera and various training partners on our Tata Communications Learning Academy platform. Technology has played such a crucial role in the working environment that the entire organization design is being re-imagined We need to think of the organization like an online marketplace, that is intelligent and functions like a platform. One that is designed to support the needs of all stakeholders. For example, an organization would need people who can play the role of a product manager, they need people who are savvy in technology—not just someone who has a good understand-

ing but someone who can leverage technology. Multiple functions need to come together to provide a seamless experience to users. We are also focusing on creating a consumer grade experience at the workplace. Most of the human capital management platforms that have been built so far do not have a consumer grade experience. And hence it is important that HR teams become better technologists and leverage technology to drive meaningful engagement and experiences for employees.

With tech changing the workplace, what skills should leaders learn to prepare people for the future? JANUARY 2021 |

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Do you feel confident in your business post-COVID-19? What are your top priorities moving forward in 2021? On the employee front, we have commenced work on building a talent base that is equipped to be relevant and ready for the future needs. We encourage a culture of learning and curiosity. Employees have the opportunity to learn new skills, upskill or learn supplementary skills through a broad range of training courses

Going forward, everything will be virtual. Organizations that embrace digital and transform themselves are the ones fit to survive

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Recently, we also launched our ‘TCare program’ to help our employees build the right skills and internalize wellness habits. The TCare program offers a host of well-being initiatives for employees across the globe with the aim to support them in their efforts towards achieving holistic well-being, inclusive of physical, mental & emotional health and wellbeing. Furthermore, to uplift employee experience and to facilitate employees with everything instantly and from one place, we launched Eva, an all-in-one app. Eva provides COVID-19 related information as well as allows employees to conduct their learning sessions from there. We also have an employee assistance programme in place that gives employees access to professional counseling services which are completely confidential.

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The growing influence of technology will enable hyper-personalization and there will be more focus on employee experience. With remote working becoming the new global reality across industries, advances in AI, cloud and other technologies will help increase connection and collaboration within teams and organizations. These are skills that the workforce of the future should be well equipped with. In addition, across industries, we are seeing four distinct types of workforce emerge. Today, you can have talent on demand, with more flexibility and a sharper edge. Organizations need to recognize these new streams which consist of 1. Full-time employees 2. Part time employees 3. Freelancers 4. Gig workers When companies are experimenting or innovating or undergoing a transformation, they require expertise which the existing team may not have or cannot afford, or the company’s needs could be sporadic. In such instances, an organization can look at each of these streams and the value they will bring to the table. A welldefined workforce planning platform benefits both an organization and the worker.

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The work culture of the future will be flexible and responsive to necessity; customizable and has the ability to evolve and reconfigure in order to manage the larger problem at hand The pandemic has taught us that disruptive change will only continue to increase in the years ahead. What is the biggest opportunity that COVID-19 presents? How can businesses seize this opportunity? The current times have forced organizations to rethink their strategies and become more agile and creative in order to survive and thrive. It is hence important for organizations to review their employee policies, ranging from remote working, employee benefits to personal time off. This is where a peoplefirst approach matters. At

Tata Communications, we have always been driven by our larger organizational purpose of serving our people and the communities in which we operate. As employees around the world get used to working from home and using new technologies to collaborate better and come together virtually, it will change the way organizations operate. If done correctly, with the right level of employee engagement and enough collaboration within the teams and the company, this could have a significant positive impact on productivity.


Reimagining the future of work and the workplace

Remote work will become a lot more commonplace, but the office is far from dead

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he year 2020 has been eventful, to say the least. The COVID19 pandemic has upended work and office life, becoming a powerful catalyst for workplace change. According to JLL’s Asia Pacific (APAC) “Home and Away” report, conducted at the height of COVID19 in June, an average of 68 percent of employees surveyed in the region worked from home at the time. Now, with many offices in the region opened or starting to open, how will

employees feel when they walk into the workplace again? Will they be rejoicing or struggling with collaborating in-person again? Or, will they still opt to work from home if given a choice? What does this all mean for the role of the office in our daily lives?

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Now, with many offices opened or starting to open, how will employees feel when they walk into the workplace again? By Helen Snowball

In the same survey, 61 percent of the same respondents working remotely said they missed going to the office and would favor a hybrid model combining more flexible work arrangements in the future. In the past, for a lot of companies in this region, the assumption has been that many jobs cannot be carried out unless you are physically in the office. We have not seen many deliberate efforts to develop a culture and environment that are remote work friendly. However, this pandemic has shifted employers’ perceptions, and some corporate cultures have become more accepting of remote working. That said, working from home does not present a sustainable and optimal long-term solution for all corporates. In APAC, work-

The future of work, workforce, and workplace will be different from what we used to know. Flexibility, variety, and the choice will be paramount to employees, but so will opportunities to switch off – which can be hard to do when working from home JANUARY 2021 |

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For businesses around the world, attracting and retaining talent is the number one factor driving success. People are what makes a business successful, and a fantastic working environment is what makes them stick around ing from home is less effective for most people. Some must struggle with smaller apartment sizes, multigenerational families, or poor internet connectivity – factors that affect the APAC region to a greater degree. In Singapore, we found that 54 percent of local respondents missed the office while working from home. Young people, including millennials, have found it easier than all age groups to work from home because they embrace technology,

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but they are also the group that most wants to return to the office. Why? Because the office is an extension of their personal lives. They want to get that sense of belonging and community back, which a remote home environment cannot offer.

Emotional engagement is at risk, giving rise to a new employeremployee relationship With the overnight shift to working from home, we cannot expect compa-

nies to keep functioning the way that they always have. While technologies have enabled collaboration and kept the lights on, we have started to see how the impact of working remotely is impacting company culture. This is manifesting very specifically through the social ties that people maintain with their colleagues and their sense of connection and inclusion, being part of a bigger purpose, and even trust. For businesses around the world, attracting and retaining talent is the number one factor driving success. People are what makes a business successful, and a fantastic working environment is what makes them stick around. What has been done in the past is to organize work in a way that has always been quite transactional, and the employee has not had much say. Our “Human Experience� report conducted in October found that in APAC, the crisis has driven employees to rethink their priorities and given them a renewed focus on the quality of life, human interaction, and personal values. Work-life balance (71%) has overtaken securing a comfortable salary (69%) in terms of importance postpandemic. This requires employers to adapt to these evolving needs and demands to


attract and retain future talent. As we start to see work increasingly integrated into our home lives, we're going to have to reimagine the employeeemployer relationship. This means being more engaged and showing more care for the workforce. A company creates value in the world, and its corporate mission and purpose have been built into workplaces, and, by extension, this change in the relationship will herald new real estate decisions. The office will be reimagined – as a social hub, as an irre-

placeable source of human connection and inspiration, and a place where conditions are ripe for innovation.

The renewed purpose of space Post-pandemic, physical workplaces will be more important than ever, and will simply embrace a different role and purpose than they once had. They will be reinvented to leverage the best of in-person and remote work. At this stage, major occupiers are telling us that they are planning 82 desks per 100 employees, versus

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The biggest takeaway from the pandemic is that the future can be anything. The best decision that any company can make is to plan for all forms of reality. It’s not one future of work we should be preparing for – it’s the future of work

91 desks per 100 employees pre-pandemic. From the employee perspective, our “Human Experience” report noted that APAC respondents would delight in having access to: advanced food services like wider food choices (76%), well-being and health services (both at 75%), followed by sports services (68%) and services that “make life easy” (65%). In addition, the top three spaces that would significantly boost one’s experience in the office are spaces dedicated to focus work (like concentration pods or telephone booths), socialization, and learning and development spaces. The future of work, workforce, and workplace will be different from what we used to know. Flexibility, variety, and the choice will be paramount to employees, but so will opportunities to switch off – which can be hard to do when working from home. The biggest takeaway from the pandemic is that the future can be anything. The best decision that any company can make is to plan for all forms of reality. It’s not one future of work we should be preparing for – it’s the future of work.

Helen Snowball is the Head of Human Resources, Asia Pacific, JLL JANUARY 2021 |

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What it means to create a connected workplace in 2021 and beyond

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Being physically apart means that businesses will have to innovate and explore new methods of preserving employee well-being and maintaining steadfast bonds within the team By James Lester

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OVID-19 has transformed our ideas about how and where we work - placing flexibility, adaptability, and technology at the heart of the workplace. This shift in the way we work is just the beginning of change. As we move into 2021, it is evident that we have only begun to scratch the surface of adapting to the new working landscape. Those leading employee development and engagement efforts will have to step into the new year with a fresh perspective and a bold willingness to set new gears in motion. | JANUARY 2021

Strong leadership remains key, but the way we carry ourselves and interact with team members has become more critical than ever before. More importantly, leaders have to set a team’s culture and are responsible for fostering an environment of connection and cohesion, regardless of where everyone is located. In light of the pandemic, people world-wide were suddenly requested to work

from home overnight. With remote work implementation, we have been physically separated, missing out on casual hallway conversations, the quick desk huddle, or ad hoc whiteboard sessions. Thus, leaders must ensure inclusiveness to keep the team connected is front of mind. In the absence of physical closeness, leaders must endeavor to assert their presence in a way that reassures, rallies spirits, and make employees feel valued by their organizations. To that end, I believe that the most important leadership skill to possess, especially when it comes to a remote workforce, is communication. Communication as a leader should be consistent and regular for certain things, like performance discussions. Even so, personal touch matters a great deal. For example, ad hoc conversations can be left up to the relationship I have

As a leader, making sure that the team has a clear purpose is of utmost importance. Continuous, ambitious, and achievable goal setting allows every team member to visualize how their part contributes directly to the outcome


with the individual and their personal needs and style. Despite remote working, technology has offered us a more personal glimpse into our colleagues’ lives, as we are introduced to each other’s partners, kids, pets, and homes. The connectivity provided also allows us to try harder to keep those relationships strong. The recent months have been a reminder that the connections we make with our co-workers are real, and these links are genuine no matter the distance.

Remote work arrangements need to be tailored to every individual as work flexibility differs in meaning for every person. Furthermore, tomorrow’s workplace will likely no longer be tied simply to the office or home, but a hybrid of the two As a leader, making sure that the team has a clear purpose is of utmost importance. Continuous ambitious and achievable goal setting allows every team member to visualize how their part contributes directly to the outcome. Personally, I consider how realistic the goals are by analyzing the business climate and checking in with my team members. I strongly believe in the human touch and

Remote work arrangements need to be tailored to every individual as work flexibility differs in meaning for every person. Furthermore, tomorrow’s workplace will likely no longer be tied simply to the office or home, but a hybrid of the two. For the leaders, this means regular check-ins to evaluate their teams’ needs and taking a fresh look at the organization to adjust work policies accordingly. Aligned with this, Telstra has always been supportive of flexible and remote working. The COVID19 restrictions have only reinforced this. Top-notch collaboration tools will also be key in maintaining a close connection. In particular, technologies that help team members stay connected no matter where they work while affording them the freedom to be mobile and productive whether in the office, at home, or in their favorite café.

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On that note, being physically apart means that businesses will have to innovate and explore new methods of preserving employee wellbeing and maintaining steadfast bonds within the team. Here at Telstra, we have introduced a few initiatives to keep our team feeling connected. These initiatives include launching a series of webinars sharing how team members can connect and look after their well-being while working from home. Tips were shared on how one can manage emotions at home. Such sharing has imparted knowledge on how we can implement self-care. We also arranged several virtual workouts to stay active and connected while looking after our physical health.

The hybrid workforce is here to stay – supporting the new worker will call for a tech refresh and policy re-think

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Fostering connectivity and care with our teams is an emerging mandate

having social interactions that make people feel valued – regardless of the nature of our profession or the industry we work in.

James Lester is the Country Managing Director, Telstra, South Asia JANUARY 2021 |

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What a year – last & next!

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not take a rocket scientist to make some reasonable predictions, for example:

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As difficult as 2020 has been, it also presented us with multiple opportunities to learn, improve, and better prepare ourselves for the uncertainties of the future. What are the most important trends we need to look out for and, more importantly, act on? By Clinton Wingrove

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hat a year 2020 turned out to be! The global pandemic has changed the face of business; changed the face of society; even changed the very hopes, fears, and values of individuals across the globe. And, we have only just started to see a glimmer of the longer-term effects. We can only guess at whether this is the first, last, or the only such catastrophic situation we will have to face. 2021 could be worse. Nobody knows. Literally, nobody knows! Despite that, we have to face 2021 and beyond. So, | JANUARY 2021

more people will be working remotely than ever before; organizations will have to focus on rebuilding their liquid assets; growth plans are largely shot—many organizations need survival plans; employee wellness, including mental health, will remain a top issue; managing performance will become even more challenging. as HR professionals, what should we do? Many experts are revealing their apparent psychic powers and, in the spirit of Nostradamus, telling us that: Empowerment and remote working will be the theme; Stop managing processes; focus only on output; Mentor and harness the power of those in your team; That way you may well achieve the maximum throughput. Sure, in this renewed age of space exploration, it does

Indeed, there is serious learning on which we need to capitalize and trends that we need to watch out for. First, some of the learning that we have gained: 1. Never say, “Never.” How many organizations claimed that working from home would “never” be acceptable to them? How many organizations said, there will “never” be a pandemic in our country? How many companies said that they could “never” collaborate with competitors. Most of our “nevers”

We have learned that investing in important tasks such as risk assessment and contingency planning is not an academic nice-to-do. It is the very essence of excellent management


have now been disproved time and again. 2. We have long known that the significant differentiator of a sustainably successful organization is the quality of their management and leadership. Those organizations that have weathered the pandemic best, even improved their businesses through it, already had excellent management. They had invested in people-management skills i.e., high levels of skill in terms of:

Personal Effectiveness— Optimizing personal contributions and impact; Business Acumen— Demonstrating the knowledge, skills and aptitude to operate in a complex and changing environment. We have learned that investing in important tasks such as risk assessment and contingency planning is not an academic nice-to-do. It is the very essence of excellent management.

Management—Optimizing the use of resources to deliver the vision in line with the mission, strategy

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3. Novelties wear off and after-effects kick in! Initially, there was great excitement about using

Zoom and the many other platforms. But the novelty of remote and virtual working has evaporated and we are now seeing the consequences of cognitive disconnect and emotional distance. As with most changes, we need to monitor closely and look out for unexpected consequences. Some organizations are crashing ahead with single-source tech platforms to manage every aspect of team interactions, without giving due consideration to whether this is the optimal solution or the inevitable dependency, cost escalation, and lack of control that arises with singlesource solutions.

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Leadership—Creating a vision of the future, bringing it alive, and securing the commitment and resources to deliver it;

and values; making things happen;

The global pandemic has changed the face of business; changed the face of society; even changed the very hopes, fears, and values of individuals across the globe. As HR professionals, what should we do? JANUARY 2021 |

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4. Many staff want to learn and develop. Time saved by not commuting has often been invested in online learning. Unfortunately, much of this learning has been ad hoc, unplanned, and thus more interesting than it has been useful. We must equip our staff to accu-

with which we can equip managers. So, what might some of the trends be that we need to watch for? 1. Despite the inevitable reduced levels of employment, talent shortages could well increase. As organizations seek to

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Agility, resilience, and empathy, whilst not sufficient on their own, have proven to be extremely useful managerial skills in a crisis. These are skills with which we can equip managers rately diagnose their specific learning and development needs, and to identify and select learning options to meet those needs. Random access to a wide range of interesting materials probably does not advance the individual’s or the organization's capability. 5. Agility, resilience, and empathy, whilst not sufficient on their own, have proven to be extremely useful managerial skills in a crisis. These are skills

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clearly not everyone is convinced—sales of software to monitor remote performance is one of the fastest growing tech sectors. Let’s hope that the trend to rely on technology, for what really should be an interpersonal process, does not continue. Let’s hope that organizations will demand excellence from people manag-

| JANUARY 2021

survive, and to rebuild their liquid assets, the demand for highly skilled, highly motivated, and highly independent staff will probably escalate. We will need to excel at attracting, assessing, selecting, recruiting, on-boarding, developing, and retaining those who fit our needs. 2. Performance management will continue to attract attention. Sure, many staff can be expected to work well remotely. But,

ers, resource them to work in a virtual world, and only appoint those who truly want to do the job, not just those who excel at something else. 3. We have experienced a few decades of self-interest and individual motivation to acquire “things.” Much of this has been driven by largely western capitalist thinking and, for example, a belief in the incentive effect of individual pay-for-performance. With the combined effect


of COVID19, high levels stress and mental health issues, renewed attention to climate change, and increasing litigation related to “equal pay” rather than “fairer pay”, we may need to rethink our recognition and reward strategies before we are forced to do so.

We will need to excel at attracting, assessing, selecting, recruiting, on-boarding, developing, and retaining those who fit our needs that before because the quality of much of the raw data about individuals, such as performance, potential, likelihood of attrition, aspirations, etc was of highly questionable quality. Now, with increased remote working, and the cognitive disconnect and emotional distance that this causes, we have lost the background noise of ad hoc data, anecdotes, etc that used to inform our formal talent reviews.

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5. For the past three decades, Talent Management (managing a sustainable talent pipeline from recruitment to retirement or exiting) has been the poor relation. Many organizations have invested in technology to create databases of information about critical roles, critical people, ready now successors, etc. But, now, we have the perfect storm! On the one hand, given current economic outlook, we must make excellent decisions about all appointments. We struggled to do

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4. Inclusion looks to continue to be a high priority area. We already see high levels of litigation related to employment discrimination. Reduced levels of employment, greater attention to wellness and mental health, and pressure on training and development budgets will probably sustain sensitivity to true inclusiveness or the lack of it.

Like Nostradamus, I claim no prophetic power myself. I merely state what I observe happening right now. And, just like COVID19, those who pay acute attention to what is happening and act on their observations will be far more successful than those who cling to tradition, deny contra-evidence, or use hope as a 2021 strategy.

Clinton Wingrove is the Director of

www.ClintonHR.com.

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Employee wellness will be a top priority for companies

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In 2020 mental health and well-being has become front-ofmind. Looking ahead, it is crucial that we recognize the importance of building one’s mental resilience as a key component in achieving positive health outcomes, says Michelle Leung, HR Officer, Cigna International Markets By Abid Hasan

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orking closely with the International Markets CEOs, US and Country HR teams, Michelle is responsible for developing and executing people strategy to support the accelerated growth of the international business and to ensure a clear focus on organizational design, talent and leadership development, succession planning, workforce effectiveness and employee engagement across 15 different markets. Michelle has over 20 years of international business and HR experience. Prior | JANUARY 2021

to joining Cigna in June 2011, Michelle has spent 11 years at Goldman Sachs Asia holding a variety of roles. The most recent one being Asia Head of Wellness and Global Ventures. In this role, she managed operations, business-continuity, and crisis-response planning and managed all HR-related due diligence and processes relating to acquisitions, divestitures, and new office openings. Michelle developed an integrated Wellness Strategy which included onsite case management for critical illnesses and occupational health, managed the opening of the first childcare center for Goldman Sachs Japan office and she served

as one of the founding members of the Asia Wellness Forum – an organization that encourages large corporations to exchange best practices and become advocates for corporate wellness. Prior to Goldman Sachs, Michelle held management positions at 3Com Asia, a global networking company based in Hong Kong, where she managed the Global PeopleSoft implementation project across Latin America, Asia, and Europe. Michelle is also a qualified accountant and has worked at a variety of firms in the UK before switching career path to Human Resources. Here are the excerpts of the interview.


public to access, aimed to help them manage teams, balance home and office work, and protect their general well-being. In 2020 mental health and well-being has become frontof-mind. Looking ahead, it is crucial that we recognize the importance of building one’s mental resilience as a key component in achieving positive health outcomes.

What are some workplace barriers to implementing employee learning during these volatile times? What's your plan to overcome them? Given that we are almost a year into the pandemic, we find that digital fatigue has become an increasing norm. As we are on video calls more than ever before, many are increasingly finding it exhausting. This could be a challenge for organizations in implementing employee learning

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While we are increasingly seeing new-age technologies such as AI and chatbots taking up jobs that were conventionally done by humans, we believe this would also create new jobs that will support the automation economy

stressed. Well-being has also reached record lows in most of the 11 markets we looked at. In 2019 we launched See Stress Differently, which was the first-ever initiative that enabled people to visualize their stress. We launched this because we want people to understand the impact of stress on their overall health, both physical and mental, and recognize that our stress is personal to us. Over the course of this year, we have expanded that, to our Check-In initiative, which had helped people support one another during the pandemic. This program sought to empower people to take control of stress through a range of online tools, insights, and expert advice created specifically for employers and individuals. The tools, which were available for the general

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Can you take us through the most impactful restructuring exercise/initiatives the company has undertaken in recent times in the wake of the pandemic? COVID-19 has revolutionized the way we view healthcare and the New Normal means that people are taking a more engaged approach to their health cover and being more motivated about ensuring that they have access to the best care, should they need it. They also want access to information and resources that help them manage and improve their health and well-being on an ongoing basis. Take stress, for instance, the fourth edition of the COVID-19 Global Impact Study released in December, reported that stress levels continue to remain high with 87 percent of respondents saying that they are

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as the associated fatigue that employees experience on video conference calls may cause them to lose focus. To ensure success in employee learning initiatives, tailored learning, and development tracks should be created based on the longterm skills that employees want to learn or skills they need for cross-training. Aside from tailored programs, offering employees a choice will make them feel valued which boosts engagement and retention in the long-term. While training can no longer always be done in-person and in big groups, we believe that digital learning should also enable a level of collaboration with features such as polls, surveys, and quizzes. Such collaboration builds community and having that community spirit builds self-motivation to learn. Finally, another way to combat this fatigue is to make training sessions shorter and more structured. With most of the working population still working from home and subject to environmental factors such as children home-schooling, it is easier to have shorter sessions so that employees can fully focus for a shorter time and thus better retain the information.

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As we emerge from the crisis, leadership means continuing to prioritize the whole health of employees. It is key to adapt leadership to the new ways of working. As leaders, we have to develop a set of practices to be able to communicate clearly with employees and stakeholders new-age technologies, where do you see the man-machine equation in the near future? While we are increasingly seeing new-age technologies such as AI and chatbots taking up jobs that were conventionally done by humans, we believe this would also create new jobs that will support the automation economy. Humans offer a level of intuition and creativity, which far outweighs what AI-led technologies can offer. However, that being said, as we move towards an increas-

ingly augmented global workplace, it is crucial that the workforce is equipped with multiple skill sets. Only if employees continue to upskill themselves in the face of such transition can they remain in demand in today’s automated world.

What would the future of work mean to you as we come out of this crisis? How will the work and workforce change? The future of work would be one where employee


they want more well-being support from employers. In the latest edition of the same report released in October, 56 percent of respondents said they wanted to continue working from home at least half of the time. As HR leaders, we play an increasingly pivotal role in the transition to a post-pandemic environment and we must recognize that investment in effective workplace wellness programs as well as having flexible work arrangements will help employees become healthier and more productive. In the report, we launched in November, ‘Health and Wellness in Workplaces: What Works? - ROI analysis of Health and Wellness Interventions’, we found that programs with middle management support averaged an ROI of 10x the initial investment and the most successful programs

could give up to 60x ROI. With talent leaders being the bridge between employees and the upper management, actively involved in the design and implementation of workplace wellness programs should be a priority in the year ahead.

Given the digital fatigue, how can employers foster the morale of their employees and keep productivity intact amid this uncertain time? One of the key takeaways that we have found, having gathered data on people’s responses to the pandemic throughout the year, is that family and friends remain a main source of resilience. This insight shows that it is crucial for employers to encourage employees to be flexible with work arrangements so employees can spend quality time with their loved ones, rather than simply focusing on work outcomes. While employers certainly have a critical role to play in employee wellbeing, it is equally important that people assume personal responsibility for keeping themselves well – physically and mentally. An easy first step in fostering a greater sense of wellness is to disconnect: to literally put the phone down and spend more time interacting with friends, family, and co-workers. JANUARY 2021 |

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How do you see the larger HR landscape evolve in 2021 and how should talent leaders reimagine workforce management in 2021? We have seen from our COVID-19 Global Impact Study that employees said

With talent leaders being the bridge between employees and the upper management, actively involved in the design and implementation of workplace wellness programs should be a priority in the year ahead

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wellness becomes a priority. One positive impact of the global pandemic is that it has allowed mental health and well-being to rise up the corporate agenda and employers now realize that looking after their workforce's health goes well beyond simply providing a traditional health insurance package. They recognize that employee mental health can make a huge difference to work performance and productivity and we can help them by providing them with the tools and means to support their employees. As we emerge from the crisis, leadership means continuing to prioritize the whole health of employees. It is key to adapt leadership to the new ways of working. As leaders, we have to develop a set of practices to be able to communicate clearly with employees and stakeholders. This can include looking at what has worked over the past few months, along with the lessons that the team has learned, and then applying it to this ‘set of practices’ in the post-pandemic environment.

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Patriarchy in the region has not gone away: UN Women’s Naciri Throwing light upon the post-pandemic threats to women upliftment, Mohammad Naciri, Regional Director of UN Women for Asia and the Pacific, revealed some startling statistics that highlight the current state, the gap in GDP attributed to women unemployment numbers and suggested how corporates can work toward diluting the gender divide reinforced by the pandemic By Bhavna Sarin

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mong several setbacks that 2020 brought to life, a significant setback was the hit to the decades of progress made towards the advancement of women in the global society as well as in the corporate world. Women were tasked with several challenges that impacted their well-being, access to jobs, education as well as how the community perceives their role through gender-associated responsibilities. The need to work with a progressive outlook supported with adequate infrastructure, policies, and cascading the criticality through the right global platforms is crucial to not lose momentum on the efforts made to date. Throwing light upon the post-pandemic threats to women upliftment, Mohammad Naciri, Regional Director of UN Women for Asia | JANUARY 2021


Can you tell us your top three realizations from 2020 that left an impact on you and drove your ideas and work during the year and going forward? Thank you very much for this question. It’s quite a pertinent one, I have to say that one of the first realizations that came to my mind is that this pandemic is not going to be the last. We hope that it will be over by 2021 with the vaccinations coming in. However, with the human race tampering with the ecosystem globally over the past 60 or 70 years, means that many pandemics will be

coming our way. So we need to be ready for that. The second realization is that pandemics are exacerbating existing inequalities. And one of the most striking facts that have come from the isolating effects of quarantine and lockdowns is how we’ve seen an increase in violence against women everywhere around the world. Women who are already among the most affected by the pandem-

Due to the socio-economic effects of the pandemic, we’ve seen inequalities worsen in many areas, threatening to reverse the small gains achieved so far ic’s socio-economic crisis, are suffering from a second “shadow pandemic,” as the Secretary-General puts it, of violence. For many women, social distancing during lockdown means being trapped in their homes with their own abusers. Along with physical violence, we have also seen the rise of online violence against women and girls. This is the first worldwide pandemic of the social

media age. And these same digital technologies that offer so much promise can often turn them into dangerous tools of oppression, discrimination, abuse, and surveillance. It’s a complex issue, not only due to its relative newness, but eliminating online violence against women and girls requires political will, expertise, and collaboration among internet intermediaries, technology communities, civil society, and constituents. Our research also demonstrated how this pandemic has been the source of a mental health crisis among women, not only physical health. We were the first organization globally that has gone to do sex desegregated surveys, right after the pandemic, and we reached 27 million people in the Asia-Pacific region. We found out that the emotional labor needed to endure the situation has been ending up and unduly falling on women’s shoulders. In most countries, the totality of unpaid work, jobs, and income loss has sparked higher rates of stress and anxiety among women across the board, particularly in younger women. In Thailand, the country I sit in, it is disheartening to see that 84% of women say their mental health has been adversely affected since the virus first began to spread. JANUARY 2021 |

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and the Pacific, spoke to People Matters about some startling statistics that highlight the current state, the need for a gender lens in government-led stimulus packages, and suggested how corporates can work towards diluting the gender divide reinforced by the pandemic. Prior to joining UN Women, Mohammad was the Deputy Country Director of UNDP in Yemen, where he supported the country in the formulation of its Gender Strategy and the Gender Responsive Budgeting process. He has worked in Kuwait, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Cambodia, dealing with issues from human trafficking to ethnic cleansing.

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Several reports have highlighted how the year 2020 and the circumstances it created resulted in threatening years of progress in women's upliftment. Is it really just the crisis or rigid mindsets that resulted in women facing the brunt of it all and having to stretch both at home and work? I actually would not call it rigid minds. I would call it, simply, patriarchy. And the simple answer is that it is both. Patriarchy in the region has not gone away. And in some ways, the consequences of the pandemic have only calcified it. In much of Asia and the Pacific, gender-based discrimination has improved somewhat over the decades. But there are still major gaps in the quest to realize gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. No country here or worldwide has realized these goals. In South Asia, only a small percentage of political leaders are women, far lower than the global average. Although, it is fair to point out that some of these numbers have been improving over the years, including in India. And so, it is crucial to create and expand spaces for women leaders and women’s organizations to continue to take part in the decision-making processes of the COVID response plan. Evidence across sectors, including economic planning | JANUARY 2021

and emergency response, demonstrates without question that policies that do not consult women or include them in decision-making are simply less effective, and can even do harm. Yet, due to the socio-economic effects of the pandemic, we’ve seen inequalities worsen in many areas, threatening to reverse the small gains achieved so far. Strict patriarchal values often begin even before the birth of the child, and the inequalities persist from there. Whether that be gender-based or intimate partner violence, sexual harassment, and the lack of women’s participation and leadership roles, are only intensified during crises and conflicts. It is something we have seen time and time again. Yet, we are committed to addressing the underlying issues that perpetuate these social ills. And why we can and must address the symptoms, it always comes down to the mindset or the patriarchy, as I call it. If these values and norms don’t change in the long term, it makes it that much more difficult to face the challenges of shortterm crises such as COVID. I believe that existing gender bias, gender stereotypes, and deeply ingrained, outdated social norms are a root cause of why we are still years away from reaching gender equality. And we

are not going to reach equality and change the mindset unless we tackle four main issues, as I always say: first, education; second, media; third, cultural norms; and fourth, the religious narrative.

From progressive to regressive, that's the shift in a majority of households across the globe. As work and home lines blur, is there something that corporates can do to reverse the damage borne by employees at home? I’m really very grateful that you’re asking these difficult questions because they are definitely not easy to answer. A major issue in the business world is that women’s jobs are less secure. The crisis has hit women’s unemployment rates hard, especially in the most vulnerable economies, including retail, hospitality, and tourism, where women are overrepresented. Many women work in the informal economy with little or no social protection. The situation is particularly dire in low-income countries. One of the bright sides we’ve seen in this area, where working from home is increasingly relevant, is that many stakeholders from the business world have been responding to their needs. We’ve never seen so many companies signing up to the Women’s


and artificial intelligence when appropriate. That could come in the form of identifying which healthcare and other public services are overloaded, track and counter the spread of misogyny, xenophobia, and misinformation, and measure the impact of the crisis on vulnerable populations, showing where help is most needed. It is also crucial for organizations to take steps to bring more women into senior leadership roles. Diversity in leadership is not only good for business, but it ensures that companies are responsive to the needs of the female employees, as well as the communities they work with.

How do you see the role of women, male, and non-binary leaders in shaping the way forward for sustainable inclusion and equity? This ties back to the need for a change in mindsets a

couple of questions back, not only in the corporate sphere but among political leaders as well. It comes down to the recognition that inclusion and equity carry benefits, not only for those most affected but for the world at large. Consider some of these projections: By 2021, for every 100 men aged 25 to 34 living in extreme poverty, there will be 118 women, and this gap will rise to increase to 121 women per 100 men by 2030. In fact, the 2020 Global Gender Gap Report showed that South Asia’s gender gap is the second-largest among the eight other regions of the world, with East Asia falling in the middle. According to a recent McKinsey study, global GDP growth will be an estimated $1Tn lower in 2030 than it would be if women’s unemployment matched that of men if no corrective measures are taken now. JANUARY 2021 |

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Empowerment Principles in the Asia-Pacific. This year, we’ve welcomed more than 300 newly joined Women’s Empowerment Principles signatories, making a total of over 900 signatories registered in the AsiaPacific region. Small- and medium-sized enterprises in Asia make up 96% of all businesses, and women, for example in Thailand, play a key role in business accounting, for over 40 percent of all small- and micro-enterprises in the country. However, women persistently get less credit and face difficulties accessing credit and funding. To demolish these barriers, companies have the responsibility to promote more gender-inclusive workplaces, whether in the office or at home, by providing a safe space for all employees to address the challenges they may be facing. From an individual perspective, individual business leaders can use their power in the field of marketing and advertising by mobilizing their company’s assets and network to disseminate the message on gender equality and pay attention to other existing platforms and movements to create synergy. One way that the private sector’s innovation can contribute, to respond to the pandemic and promote gender equality and human rights, is to apply big data

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Conversely, taking immediate action, deliberate counteractive measures could add US$13Tn to global GDP in 2030. Delaying these measures until the pandemic stabilizes could risk 5Tn dollars of those potential gains. It is crystal-clear that the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic should be considered a oncein-a-generation opportunity to fix key structural obstacles to women's participation in the workforce.

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Have you observed any demographics related impact of the damage brought on by COVID-19? Are there any particular pockets that you sense require greater focus in bringing back the lost progress? Absolutely. The research that we’ve done earlier in the year shows that migrants, especially low-skilled, undocumented and temporary migrants and refugees in South Asia and Southeast Asia, have been particularly vulnerable in the context of the pandemic as their living conditions limit physical distancing and other protective measures. In terms of the increasing gender violence against women, it is particularly hazardous for women living in conflict areas, living in IDP camps, and those affected by humanitarian crises and who are already among the most vulnerable. | JANUARY 2021

Within our region, there are several countries where conflict is still ongoing, like in the Rakhine, and other areas of Myanmar, as well as in Afghanistan. Hundreds of thousands of women also live in refugee camps in Bangladesh. While it is difficult to collect the exact data on the rise of violence against women in these areas, the COVID crisis is not making

By 2021, for every 100 men aged 25 to 34 living in extreme poverty, there will be 118 women, and this gap will rise to increase to 121 women per 100 men by 2030 things easier for women in those places. This demonstrates the continued need for more data and research. There is still a lack of sexdisaggregated data on the impact of COVID in many nations, which is a key step in identifying those most at risk.

Now that remote work is here to stay, do you think more women can join the workforce while taking care of their families as well? Absolutely, it is definitely

possible, but only if we address the fact that unpaid domestic work is still not addressed. Unpaid care work has become even more of an essential service in the context of COVID. But it remains a duty increasingly borne by women, and for more hours. COVID has increased domestic responsibilities for many women, particularly migrant women, as a result of the closure of schools, kindergartens, and other public and social services. Unpaid care work – which women perform at four times the rate of men – has increased, owing to the care needs of children and older persons, exacerbating mental and emotional health concerns. This extra burden of unpaid care work on women must be addressed as part of a comprehensive response to the pandemic, something UN Women has been stressing through our interactions with governments, development banks, and civil society organizations. But this also comes down to changing social norms, and realizing that everyone plays a part, which means raising awareness. We were proud to see that UN Women’s #HeForSheAtHome challenge campaign, which seeks to inspire men and boys to help balance the burden of care in their households, has made more


than 14 million social media impressions, with help from influencers in the region. Among those is Cindy Bishop, UN Women’s newest Goodwill Ambassador.

negative consequences on jobs, livelihoods, and wellbeing. But a lot more needs to be done. And all social and economic measures must be grounded in human and women’s rights. This means strengthening cooperation on sex-disaggregated data collection to better inform national and regional recovery policies. It means promoting gender-responsive budgeting to ensure accountability and transparency towards gender goals. It also means encouraging gender-responsive procurement to enable more women-owned businesses to access markets, working closely with both private and public sectors to develop tools and knowledge to focus on gender equality in their businesses and investment decisions. And it means ending gender-based violence, one of the pandemic’s most destructive consequences.

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As governments across the globe have been relentlessly working on new stimulus packages to sustain the economy through the ongoing crisis, what role can they play in fostering a more collective effort towards advancing women’s rights globally? As of June 2020, at least 152 countries had put in place a fiscal response to COVID, adding up to roughly $10.3Tn. But an initial review of these packages shows that few if any were designed with a gender lens. It is thus urgent that governments embed gender equality into fiscal stimulus packages. We of course applaud any efforts by states to address these urgent issues. UN Women Asia-Pacific recently held a high-level meeting where leaders from the region and around the world reignited the vision for the Beijing Platform for Action, firming their commitments to realizing gender equality. And in September, in concert with the Asian Development Bank, UN Women Asia-Pacific announced a new collaboration aiming to protect women and girls in the region from the pandemic’s

What is the one thing you most look forward to in 2021? Hmm. That’s an interesting question. Because I really want to be hopeful, but I don’t want to be overly optimistic as well. If we find this pandemic coming to a close in 2021, as many are hoping, I would like to see a new year’s resolution for a new and better normal for women and girls in the post-COVID recovery. And we encourage all governments and development partners to make resolutions in putting gender equality front and center of this recovery. The UN was founded in the recovery of two devastating global wars 75 years ago, with the intent to protect all human life and dignity. But the influenza pandemic of 1918 killed even more people than when World War I did. This pandemic was followed by a period of economic, technological, and cultural recovery known as the Roaring Twenties, which saw, among other things, changes to women’s welfare and independence, bringing more women into the workplace and higher education, and a worldwide expansion in women’s voting rights in many countries, India included. It would be great to see the next decade bringing a bold, progressive era for women and for human rights. JANUARY 2021 |

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Visty Banaji

'Working from Home is NOT a piece of cake'

The road less travelled

CEOs adopting Work From Home as a permanent work mode (whether for reasons of personal convenience or cost saving) are no less deluded than Marie Antoinette

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EO Maruti Anandnath (no, not Marie Antoinette) looked contentedly at the sea through the picture window in his airconditioned study at home while cutting a large slice of Mille-feuille. He loved the life of enforced home working that COVID-19 had brought in its wake, not least because he could get up an hour later and save on the Mercedesensconced bother of his daily commute. He wished he could operate from his home-cocoon forever. But that would just not be possible. Or would it? He looked across at the pewter plaque on his table. It said: 'The difference between impossible and possible lies in a man’s determination'. Maruti called his CHRO and asked what he thought of working from home on a permanent basis. The CHRO hadn’t reached his position without being able to recognize when an “ask” was a “tell”. He | JANUARY 2021

glanced for a moment at the coffee mug which the CEO had given to his CXOs at the last top management retreat. Inscribed on it, in large bold letters, was: “I only want people around me who can do the impossible”. His support for the permanent work from home idea was unequivocal and total. He went around making it clear to his colleagues and the HR team that “Stay Home – Improve Productivity” (HR loves these acronym games) needed immediate

proselytization. The rest, they say, is history. You, smart readers, realized from the start that this is a fictional account. Which self-respecting CEO would slice his own Mille-feuille? Needless to say, the reactions from the less luxuriously housed employees of the (purely fictional – really?) firm described here were far less thrilled about the cyber-wave that had struck their CEO. Even if he (though certainly not his CHRO) can be excused for neglect-


ing to take the interests of employees into account, he cannot get off so lightly for the lasting damage his decision will cause to the organization itself. Surely, I exaggerate. Haven’t we seen virtually every organization switch into virtual mode soon after the COVID-19 pandemic was called and, barring a few initial hiccups, all of them seem to have managed the transition perfectly satisfactorily?

There are three reasons COVID-triggered remote working hasn’t surfaced the organizational issues Working At Home Permanently (WARP) will cause: • Pre-existing teams that had been formed and worked together while they were co-located had accumulated a stock of trust and ‘’common ground’’ between members. "If team members have a lot of shared past experience, have worked together before, share a common vocabulary, etc. it is easier for them to work through remote media without a lot of clarification."1 This fund will deplete over time and particularly as fresh members are added or new teams need to be formed.

• Very likely, many of the critical decisions and directions that required close, intensive interaction (such as agreeing on a strategic plan for the business) may have already been in place when people stopped going to their offices. Such "tightly coupled work has a number of ambiguities that must be worked out among the team members and lots of interaction and negotiation. It is very difficult to do tightly coupled work at a distance."1 At each level in the organization, tightly coupled activity is required, at least periodically. Even people engaged in the most routinized, loosely coupled tasks need to step into a tightly coupled mode when they seek to make improvements (e.g. Kaizen). For a limited period, such interactions can be put off without significant damage. However, these processes cannot be indefinitely deferred without degrading organizational capabilities and, when they

are attempted through remote interactions, the quality of the decisions is likely to be sub-optimal. • The clincher for the WARProtagonists seems to be that productivity has been maintained or even enhanced under the new work conditions. Most of these claims turn out to be premised on the common confusion between output (the volume of goods or services delivered) and productivity (the efficiency i.e. the ratio of output to input). Under conditions of extreme job insecurity (which the economic stress of the pandemic has brought in its wake) it is not surprising that many employees have started putting in prodigiously higher effort, usually clocking work hours far in excess of their door to door absence in earlier times. Even abroad, "… research suggests the working week has stretched by as much as four more hours"2 and I have no doubt the figure is far higher among insecure JANUARY 2021 |

The road less travelled

It all seems to be working well

Paradoxically, the more virtual an organization becomes, the more its people need to meet in person –which is not to say trust can never be developed in a virtual setting

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Indians. This can hardly be a sustainable way of working as employees and company reputations start burning out under the stress.

The road less travelled

They may not realize it but companies switching to WARP mode are running on battery power. When it drains beyond recovery, both organizations and people can show a steep fall in effectiveness and even sustain lasting damage.

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The problems for organizations

Many glib conclusions have been drawn about how new technologies (particularly video interactions) have dug the grave of distance as an impediment to work effectiveness. Several behavioral scientists "believe differently. To paraphrase Mark Twain, the reports of distance’s death are greatly exaggerated. Even with all our emerging information and communications technologies, distance... affect[s] how humans interact with each other. There are characteristics of face-to-face human interactions … that the emerging technologies are either pragmatically or logically incapable of replicating… Distance is not only alive and well, it is in several essential respects immortal. There are several broad reasons | JANUARY 2021

why distance will persist as an important element of human experience… Some distance work is possible today, but some aspects of it will remain difficult if not impossible to support even in the future."3 Let’s examine a few reasons why this should be so. Effective working teams are the beating heart that pumps the lifeblood through a modern corporation. There are several ways in which distance and virtual working can clog this flow. At its core, each successful team is held together by trust. But 'trust needs touch'. Charles Handy went on to explain this memorable phrase: "...high tech has to be balanced by high touch to build high-trust organizations. Paradoxically, the more virtual an organization becomes, the more its people need to meet in person."4 Which is not to say trust can never be developed in a virtual setting. Just that the process is far longer, riskier and more likely to need resets to zero. Similarly, there are conceptual disjunctions caused by the fact that new members do not share the mental models5 which permit smooth team functioning and it is the rare corporation that invests in the training necessary to attain such congruence.

One of the main reasons common mental maps take much longer to develop in virtual settings (compared to co-located teams) is the lack of non-formal meeting time – the preand post-meeting chats, the conversation around water coolers and coffee machines or the casual bumping into one another in corridors. In fact, these peripheral and seemingly non-productive interactions are what make the difference between teams that have been 'run-in' and those which will incur friction and heat damage (from as yet unmated parts) if they are revved up to heavy-duty performance. The lack of such ties also prevents incipient tensions from getting smoothed out and instead lets them burst out in full-scale conflicts that further impair team functioning.6 Another trigger for ill-feeling is rewards being administered in the old way – with an individual focus. In co-located teams, differential rewards are accepted because special contribution and diligence are plainly in sight as are gaming as well as anti-team and freeloading proclivities. The problem is aggravated because the employee is behind the veil of virtuality for the supervisor as well. Conventional leadership skills and the usual amount


of time and energy leaders devote to non-task matters are inadequate in a WARP environment. In fact, counterintuitive as it may appear, "as dispersion increases, the positive influence of transformational leadership on performance decreases, because members … increasingly doubt leaders’ transformational leadership behaviors (idealized influence, inspirational motivation, individualized

to cases where employees voluntarily chose to work from home. A typical finding shows "that when employees opted into WFH policies, their productivity increased by 13%... This suggests that people should probably determine for themselves the situation (home or office) that fits them best."8 A very different situation and recommendation than the forced WARPs being announced or contemplated.

consideration, and intellectual stimulation) as being authentic."7 A cruder way to put it: Management By Walking Around can’t be substituted with Management By Squawking Around! We have already pointed out that what passes for productivity is actually enhanced effort with its constantly accumulating potential for burnout and dissatisfaction. Even assuming real productively were rising, most reliable research is limited

The (bigger) problems for people

By now it should be apparent that mandatory WARP can lead to large and worsening declines in team and organizational performance. The impact on individuals is even worse and could grow to be devastating. The human mind takes time and expends energy to adjust between each scenario it encounters. The home to work and work to home adjustment is a steep jump in the

JANUARY 2021 |

The road less travelled

A typical finding shows 'that when employees opted in to WFH policies, their productivity increased by 13%... This suggests that people should probably determine for themselves the situation (home or office) that fits them best'

mind-set change demanded. The daily commute helps ease this transition either way. For people who are not blessed with separate studies at home and a bevy of domestic help to insulate them from other home demands, the workhome adjustments must be managed dozens of times a day with the attendant disorientation, stress and time loss in regaining trains of thought. It is not surprising then that engagement is down and illness is up. "A sobering 71% of workers at home have reported a new or worsening ailment since the outbreak."2 The problem is hugely exacerbated for women, whom much of Indian society will not let off the hook for home and child management or elder care, even though they may have at least as demanding WARP schedules as their husbands. Unfortunately, this is not true only in India 9 though I suspect it may be much worse here. Those who are physically or technologically challenged have further mountains to climb: the latter problem being more aggravated for the older part of the workforce. With most communications going via company servers the possibilities of surveillance (whether for productivity monitoring or

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even less kosher reasons) are infinite. 10 I have yet to see beefed up data privacy guidelines from any corporate, clearly eschewing the data-mining or other use of the additional formal and informal interaction recordings that will now become available in huge quantities as a matter of course. What is even more threatening is what eversmarter Artificial Intelligence (AI) programs can make of this huge windfall of people interaction information. Over the medium term, it can provide the quickest route to the annihilation of increasingly complex jobs. For this reason, if no other, thinking employees and fair employers should seek to revert to the status quo ante as soon as it is safe to do so. In the midst of the strains and threats to which WARP exposes employees, I am less than thrilled to see some Gecko-ish proposals floating around. For the windfall gain of putting their mental health at risk, disrupting their home lives and, possibly, losing their jobs to AI, people are being asked to accept pay cuts by some employers while a bank even proposed "that remote workers should pay a tax for the privilege." 11 I can only say those making such suggestions have their heads screwed on the wrong way and possibly | JANUARY 2021

attached to the wrong end of their torsos.

Engage computers, prepare for WARP

However many problems it may cause, working from home will be a part of our lives for the medium term. How do we minimize its adverse impact? There are five key action steps which need immediate

Mandatory Working At Home Permanently can lead to large and worsening declines in team and organizational performance. The impact on individuals is even worse and could grow to be devastating attention by all organizations that have work from home underway. They will become even more vital for those that choose to go in for WARP, hopefully only in the very distant future. 1. Socialization and cultural renewal: Both for forming teams initially and for renewing them periodically, intensive face-toface sessions will be

required. For reasons of safety, these will have to be conducted in spacious venues (there go the rent savings!) with specially reworked team-building processes. While it heads our logical sequence, this step can be deferred till the current stock of pre-Covid teams with their earlier bonding is still relatively intact. Obviously, such leeway would be unavailable to start-up businesses or sub-units. 2. Leader and team training: All supervisors (and HR) will need to spend substantially more non-task time with individuals in the remote workforce. Apart from maintaining an emotional connect with each employee, they should able to give honest reassurances about job security and straight answers regarding compensation and other likely changes that cause worry. Besides they need to pick up new tech tools for remote work tracking and integrating synchronous as well as asynchronous communication methods. First time workfrom-home employees have an even steeper learning curve to climb. This is one area where I see progressive organizations have already


3. Rich and on-tap nontask interactions: This is the tech substitute for the water cooler, the parking lot and all those other places where we got to know and like and tease our team-mates. Clearly, these need to be outside the confines of recording and other protocol checks. 4. Designing and funding home workstations /equipment: Special equipment and seating can make all the difference between a tolerable indefinite work-at-home experience and a maddening one. Here’s a chance to demonstrate that all those crores spent on Design Thinking workshops were not in vain. 5. Data privacy and non-

automation commitments: A lot more information from and about each individual will be available for recording and (mis) using. New data privacy policies will be needed to assure employees that it will not be used to monitor them more closely than heretofore and none of it will be analyzed with a view to job elimination. Just as the "[h]orse was already in the heart of the Trojans" 13, some CEOs have let the lure of real estate and other cost savings take over their hearts though they justify it with fancy terms like Business Continuity Planning. However, universalizing a solution meant for meeting the current crisis will only make us more fragile when we encounter the next. 12 For instance,

Notes:

1. Judith S Olson and Gary M Olson, Bridging Distance: Empirical Studies of Distributed Teams, Chapter 5 from 'Human-Computer Interaction and Management Information Systems: Applications. Advances in Management Information Systems', Routledge, 2006. 2. Pilita Clark, Working from home is starting to pall, Financial Times, 2 August 2020. 3. Gary M Olson and Judith S Olson, Distance matters, Human-Computer Interaction, Volume 15, September 2000. 4. Charles Handy, Trust and the Virtual Organization, Harvard Business Review, May-June 1995. 5. James M Schmidtke and Anne Cummings, The effects of virtualness on teamwork behavioral components: The role of shared mental models, Human Resource Management Review, January 2017. 6. S Morrison-Smith and J Ruiz, Challenges and barriers in virtual teams: a literature review, Springer Nature Applied Sciences 2, 2020. 7. Julia Eisenberg, Corinne Post and Nancy DiTomaso, Team Dispersion and Performance: The Role of Team Communication and Transformational Leadership, Small Group Research 50(3), February 2019. 8. Prithwiraj (Raj) Choudhury, Our Work-fromAnywhere Future, Harvard Business Review, November-December 2020. 9. Pilita Clark, Pandemic reverses progress on workplace equality, Financial Times, 7 October 2020. 10. Visty Banaji, Brave new corporate world: On employee data protection and privacy, 17 April 2018, (https://www.peoplematters.in/article/ employee-relations/brave-new-corporate-worldon-employee-data-protection-and-privacy-17999). 11. Jim Reid, Global Head of Fundamental Credit Strategy and Thematic Research, Deutsche Bank, What we must do to rebuild, Konzept # 19. 12. Visty Banaji, Is HR too fragile?, 12 May 2020, (https://www.peoplematters.in/article/ strategic-hr/is-hr-too-fragile-25630). 13. Charles de Leusse, "Cheval était déjà dans le cœur des Troyens", Extracts from 15 books © of quotations.

The road less travelled

put training modules in place.

should the next black swan take the form of a cyber grey-out (whether because of a hostile attack or other catastrophes) and bandwidth has to be rationed for minimal essential use, none will be available for video connectivity and other rich media, especially to and from individual homes. If, by then, we have made it impractical for people to physically assemble for work, we shall find ourselves truly oarless in a sewer pond.

Visty Banaji is the Founder and CEO of Banner Global Consulting (BGC) JANUARY 2021 |

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'Unearth instances of D&I violation as they are counterproductive' In conversation with People Matters, Dr Parul R Pandey, Director HR APAC, Director Diversity & Inclusion Global, Oxford University Press, talks about the need to unearth instances of D&I violation and recommends short-term and long-term strategies to help corporates become inclusive, especially in a postpandemic workplace

Workplace Dive rs ity

By Bhavna Sarin

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r Parul R Pandey is Director HR APAC, Director Diversity & Inclusion Global, Oxford University Press (OUP). She partners with Country Heads across Asia to support employees in OUP's locations throughout the region. As the Global Head of D&I, she leads the agenda for OUP across all countries globally. In her last 25 years of experience as an HR professional, Parul has played multiple roles in HR, with the last one being Director of Talent Management at Diageo India. Prior to that she held senior roles in Microsoft and Deutsche Bank. Besides her corporate roles, she has also been an entrepreneur for almost a decade and has been active in various social initiatives, holding many executive positions in that field. | JANUARY 2021

In conversation with People Matters, Parul talks about how 2020 shaped D&I globally, the business case for employers to invest in D&I consulting, and shares short-term and longterm strategies that corporates can build on in their journey of becoming inclusive, especially in a post-pandemic workplace.

Can you tell us about your top three realizations from 2020 that left an impact on you and have driven your ideas and work during the year? Our workplaces have changed significantly because


The pandemic has developed a new interpretation of inclusion. We have become much more sensitive towards time zones, individualism, cultural and linguistic nuances, family requirements, and living situations the development of new organizational policies and frameworks, hopefully for the better.

With a change in how the world essentially functions, do you see inclusion in a different light? What does inclusion mean to you today? With online platforms like Zoom, Teams, Meets, and Skype, the world of work has expanded beyond geographies, time zones, languages, and cultures, far more than ever before. From the everyday employee experience perspective, on one hand virtual meetings

offer a level playing field to all team members, making inclusion inherent; on the other, people also experience a loss of serendipity, and chance meetings with leaders, colleagues, and friends at work. Inclusion in this context definitely means much more conscious effort and nuanced attention. At the strategic level, we should leverage this new opportunity to be more inclusive of how we attract talent that would otherwise stay under-leveraged, such as women who have taken a break for maternity or men who have taken off due to caring responsibilities. JANUARY 2021 |

Workplace Dive rs ity

of the pandemic and some of these changes are here to stay. My biggest realization has been that a huge percentage of our work can be done from anywhere. Simply put, a large proportion of our jobs are location agnostic. With people working from their homes, our workplaces have also become more humanized. We know more about each other’s families, homes, pets leading to a much better understanding and consideration for personal circumstances. Secondly, the role of the employer has significantly expanded to now include not just the financial but also physical and emotional wellbeing of employees. Organizations today have a greater responsibility towards their staff and are expected to be extra considerate on the parameters of overall wellbeing. Lastly, every organization needs to shift towards being more resilient and responsive to the external environment. Adapting to unexpected changes allows every individual to constantly evolve and harness their creative side. I think in future years there will be a near equal focus on building resilience and grit along with being more efficient. Once we get back to our earlier ways of working, either in part or in full, these factors will continue to impact our thinking and

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Workplace Dive rs ity

Finally, the concept of inclusion is interlinked with creating a more equitable work environment. It is about recognizing and appreciating the unique nature and ways of living which may differ based on family situations, geographies, regions, infrastructures, personal responsibilities; and helping employees create a balanced work environment as they work from home, while also ensuring that they have the organizational

unprecedented effect on the daily lives of everyone in the world. However, research suggests that some communities have been hit more hard than others. LGBTQ+ people—in particular, those in older age groups—are more likely to be socially isolated and may lack contact or support. Equally, LGBTQ+ people and women are more likely to experience domestic abuse during lockdowns. Additionally, BAME groups and women are more

We need to create secure feedback mechanisms that unearth instances of D&I violation as they are counterproductive to the genuine efforts being made in the space support through these times. Being inclusive also implies extending this consideration to contractual staff, vendors, business partners, and the wider ecosystem.

How can HR leaders build a business case for an economically viable investment in the D&I space today, given the continued focus on cost control? ‘Diversity & Inclusion’ has to be embedded in business. There is significant research showing that diverse and inclusive organizations perform better than those that are not. According to 100

a recent 2020 PwC survey, 76 percent of organizations believe that diversity is a definite value area to grow; Catalyst published a recent report saying that Fortune 500 companies with more female board directors outperform by 53 percent and researchers from McKinsey & Company discovered that executive teams ranking in the top 25 percent for racial and ethnic diversity were 33 percent more likely to reap financial returns.

| JANUARY 2021

While D&I is a responsibility for the larger good, it is also good for business. If our employees represent the markets we serve, and our leaders represent our employees, we know we’re in a good place.

Within diversity there are several segments, however, often the most spoken about are gender, LGBTQ+, PwD, and people of color. How has COVID impacted the progress in these individual segments? What are some areas of diversity that you sense need greater focus? The pandemic has had an

likely to have lost their jobs during the pandemic. There’s a lot that organizations can do as part of their D&I work going forward. There is an opportunity to look at employee and leadership demographics in terms of representation based on sex, color and ethnicity. There is also a case to hold functions and departments accountable that may not demonstrate high levels of diversity and inclusion, even if that is not by design. And finally, we need to create secure feedback mechanisms that unearth instances of D&I violation as they are counterproductive to the


genuine efforts being made in the space.

I look forward to embracing the opportunities that technology offers in enabling more equity due to remote working as an organization we have a valuable societal role to play in helping people to make sense of the world around them but sharing the voices and perspectives of others through everything we publish. We want to continue to open people’s minds to ideas and information, to inform conversations and thinking, and to drive progress in the wider society. Considering this, I would recommend organizations to take a bottom up, listening approach and identify quickwins that will make a lasting difference. Then in the longterm, they should reflect on their future ambitions and vision, and then identify the

key steps they need to take to reach that point.

What is the one thing you most look forward to in 2021? I look forward to embracing the opportunities that technology offers in enabling more equity due to remote working. This pandemic has taught us that we can work as effectively remotely as we do in the office. Managers are now more equipped to support and lead a team remotely. We all have unique living situations and working patterns, and I look forward to exploring an inclusive environment where all employees can work in a way that suits them. JANUARY 2021 |

Workplace Dive rs ity

What are some short-term and long-term strategies that corporates can build on in their journey of becoming inclusive, especially in a postpandemic workplace? The pandemic has developed a new interpretation of inclusion. We have become much more sensitive towards time zones, individualism, cultural and linguistic nuances, family requirements, and living situations. Looking at our own shortterm goals for D&I, we created a safe, bottom-up channel by listening to what our employees want, connecting employees’ own ambitions for D&I with leadership goals, identifying areas where we need to direct our efforts, and achieving some quick wins such as moving our Global Inclusion Program online, and developing growth opportunities to support our diverse population into leadership positions. Talking about long-term, our vision is to create a truly inclusive culture, and a diverse talent pool, and support D&I within our wider industry too. We want to reach a place where we no longer need focused efforts to support specific groups, and where we have a pipeline of diverse talent, right from entry-level roles, to the most senior roles in the organization. On a more global scale,

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Human capital trends that will rule 2021: Report Deloitte has released its latest study on the global human capital trends for 2021, highlighting the five key workforce trends shaping the emerging outlook towards work and insists to make a “fundamental mindset shift: from a focus on surviving to the pursuit of thriving� By Bhavna Sarin 102

| JANUARY 2021


D

The Deloitte survey on Designing work for 2021 Global Human Capital well-being: The end of Trends rightly captured, work/life balance “As we all learned the hard The Trend Organizations way, an environment The in end of work/life balance are taking well-being beyond that can shift from moment work/life balance by startCO-AUTHORED BY JEN FISHER, DELOITTE US CHIEF WELL-BEING OFFICER to moment, the paths and ing to design well-being into time frames to achieving work—and life—itself. one’s goals must shift as WHILE EXECUTIVES HAVE LONG RECOGNIZED THAT WELL-BEING IS IMPORTANT, THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC • Surviving: Supporting well. Having a plan to deal BROUGHT HOME HOW SIGNIFICANT IT REALLY IS. ORGANIZATIONS SUDDENLY FOUND THEMSELVES well-being through with the TO unexpected, as PHYSICAL AND MENTAL WELL-BEING AS A MATTER OF SURVIVAL, AS CALLED UPON PRIORITIZE WORKERS’ programs adjacent to important it is, isn’t all THEIR STRESS BECAME CRITICAL TO OPERATIONS. WORK AND PROTECTING THEIRas HEALTH AND ALLEVIATING work. LIFE, HEALTH, SAFETY, AND WELL-BEING BECAME INSEPARABLE. RECOGNIZING THE INEXTRICABLE LINK AMONG organizations need in such • Thriving: Integrating OUR WELL-BEING, OUR WORK, AND OUR LIVES HAS LED MORE ORGANIZATIONS TO THINK DEEPLY ABOUT an environment. Even more well-being into AND work WAYS THEY CAN DESIGN WELL-BEING INTO WORK ITSELF SO THAT BOTH WORKERS THE ORGANIZATION necessary is to make a CAN THRIVE MOVING FORWARD. through thoughtful work fundamental mindset shift: design from a focus on surviving to the pursuit of thriving.” “The incorporation of Enabling organizations Shifting realities study, with 80% of our nearly 9,000 survey well-being into work must respondents identifying it as important or very to reset, redesign, and be done symphonically, Well-being was rising on the organizational agenda important to their organization’s success. Against thrive in the uncertainties by COVID-19 leaderstookathold, the even before the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, well- championed that backdrop, when that lie ahead, Deloitte's intheevery being was the top-ranked trend for importance in every crisis level cast newand light on importance of welllatest survey onHuman 2021Capital Global our 2020 Deloitte Global Trends being and made us acutely aware of a the function if it is to make Human Capital Trends meaningful difference,” the highlights the five workforce report said. “As technoltrends re-architecting the ogy becomes ingrained in 12 human capital landscape in every aspect of how people 2021. work, technology leaders Read on for highlights will face a growing responfrom the survey. sibility to work with HR and

Designing work for well-being

JANUARY 2021 |

human capital

isruption. Unprecedented. Crisis. Sustain. Survival. Recovery. Growth. Transform. Adapt. 2020 is less than three weeks away from bidding adieu. With all that the year brought, what it bids us goodbye with is the need to stay resilient, centered, and in a state of continuous learning and growth. There were a lot of unexpected challenges and losses that global economies had to pull through - health crisis, recession, unemployment, to name a few. Yet over time, a shift in perspective took place that encouraged leaders to put on the lens of opportunity and innovate, while also prioritizing people safety and business continuity. As we now approach 2021, we are preparing not just for the future of work, but instead the now of work, which has in itself experienced paradigm shifts. Ensuring not just survival but success in these dynamic times, it is crucial to reflect on the year that has gone by, gather our learnings, explore what's shaping the global economy, understand what the workforce needs to stay healthy, productive and engaged, evaluate technology with an open and constructive mindset, and recognize the synergies of these individual elements.

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Workers prioritize transforming work for well-being more highly than executives What are the most important outcomes you hope to achieve in your work transformation efforts in the next one to three years?

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Note: n=4,738 (3,630 executives + 1,108 individual contributors). Source: The 2021 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends survey.

the business to ensure that those technologies, and the workflows and processes that complement them, are designed and executed in a way that promotes worker well-being.� When it comes to wellbeing, the report encourages leaders to have a threefold approach - individual, team and organization - by bringing about a change in five environments: • Cultural: Building well-being into social behaviors and norms • Relational: Fostering well-being in relationships among colleagues • Operational: Including well-being in | JANUARY 2021

management policies, processes, and programs • Physical: Designing the physical workspace to facilitate well-being • Virtual: Designing new technologies and virtual workspaces for wellbeing When addressing wellbeing, a critical factor today is to incorporate sustainable workplace practices, given the expected longevity of remote work, even in the scenario of a hybrid workplace. The Deloitte report has identified key elements, based on the responses, critical to designing sustainable remote work practices:

The top factors in making remote work sustainable were related to work design What are the most important factors in making remote/virtual work sustainable?

Note: n=3,630 (executives). Source: The 2021 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends survey.


Beyond reskilling: Unleashing worker potential The Trend Organizations

According to the report, “In the months of extended crisis recovery, executives have reflected on the challenging road ahead as they attempt to prepare their businesses and ecosystems for an era of continuous disruption. That preparedness depends on workforce potential." Executives have identified “the ability of their people to adapt, reskill, and assume new roles” as the top-ranked item to navigate future disruptions, with 72% selecting it as the most important or second most important factor. Gone are the days when organizations suggested

suitable upskilling opporabout giving workers more freedom to choose how they tunities for employees to choose from. In the present can best help tackle critical day, employees recognize business problems as organiWhere work happens the need to learn continuzations and ecosystems evolve.” ously, boosting their ability DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC, ORGANIZATIONS DOUBLED DOWN ON TEAMS AND TEAMING AS A SURVIVAL to comprehend, adapt and STRATEGY TO ENABLE ADAPTABILITY AND SPEED. LEADERS NOW HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO USE WHAT THEY elevate their performance Superteams: Where HAVE LEARNED TO CONSTRUCT “SUPERTEAMS” THAT PAIR PEOPLE WITH TECHNOLOGY TO RE-ARCHITECT and contributions. Espework happens WORK IN MORE HUMAN WAYS. BY AMPLIFYING HUMANS’ CONTRIBUTIONS TO NEW AND BETTER OUTCOMES, cially, allowing themselves to SUPERTEAMS CAN PLAY AN INTEGRAL PART IN AN ORGANIZATION’S ABILITY TO GROW AND THRIVE. COVID-19 The Trend shift from linear growth to a has taught organizations more horizontal and multithat teams are even more dimensional growth, moving important to thriving amid Shifting realities lines in its manufacturing facilities to shift from away from career ladders to making hybrid car batteries to than tens of thousands of constant disruption In early 2020, the escalating COVID-19 pandemic ventilators. Teams, newly forming, growing, and career passports. they might have thought forced organizational leaders to quickly reset reconfiguring, were supercharging organizations’ As the report rightly before. business and workforce priorities. The pandemic’s ability to pivot and get work done amid turbulent points out, “We’ve lived in Using technolscale and severity forced organizations to challenge • Surviving: and demanding conditions. atheir world where wewas assumed views about what work essential to ogy asbecame a tool Teaming a lifeto raftmake for talentteams and deliver to their customers, shareholders, organizations knew bestand organizational strategies during COVID-19 because more efficient. stakeholders during a prolonged period of teams are built for adaptability rather than what skills workers needed • Thriving: Integrating heightened uncertainty. To rapidly reorient their predictability and stability. Teams can learn and to bring to the table. But the adapt faster than individual workers alone, since goals and operations, we saw organizations turn to humans and technology teams of motivated individuals will challenge each pandemic taught usunitthat teams and teaming as the go-to for into superteams that use other to come up with better, more creative ideas. organizational performance. Forfuller example, Ford potential comes to their complementary As organizations shift from a focus oncapaefficiency to formed special teams and set up new production fruition when workers are bilities to re-architect work allowed to take more initiain more human ways. tive. Workforce potential is 24 not about what workers were The report highlighted recruited to do, or what they that as the world emerges are certified to do, or even from the pandemic, organizawhat organizations or leadtions have an opportunity to ers want them to do next. It’s use what they have learned JANUARY 2021 | 105

Superteams

human capital

need a workforce development approach that considers both the dynamic nature of work and the equally dynamic potential of workers to reinvent themselves. • Surviving: Pushing training to workers from the top down, assuming the organization knows best what skills workers need. • Thriving: Empowering workers with agency and choice over what work they do, unleashing their potential by allowing them to apply their interests and passions to organizational needs.

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Both human capability and technological capability are critical to transforming work What are the most important actions you are taking or will take to transform work?

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106

Note: n=3,630 (executives). Source: The 2021 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends survey.

to multiply the value of teams even further. “The next frontier in teaming is superteams: combinations of people and technology leveraging their complementary capabilities to pursue outcomes at a speed and scale not otherwise possible.� “Superteams have yet to take hold as a widespread organizational strategy, in part because many organizations still tend to view technology as a tool and enabler rather than as a team member and collaborator. Most respondents to our 2020 Global Human Capital Trends survey, for example, said they view artificial intelligence (AI) mainly as an automation tool—a substitute for manual labor—rather than a way | JANUARY 2021

to augment or collaborate with human capabilities. However, this view may be slowly starting to change," stated the report. Executives responding to the 2021 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends survey recognized that the use of technology and people is not an “either-or� choice but a “both-and� partnership.

Governing workforce strategies: Setting new directions for work and the workforce The Trend Organizations

are looking for forwardfacing insights about their workforce that can help them quickly pivot and set new directions in the face of uncertainty. • Surviving: Using metrics and measurements that

describe the workforce’s current state. • Thriving: Accessing and acting on real-time workforce insights that can support better, faster decisions based on an understanding of what the workforce is capable of in the future. In the 2020 edition of Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends survey, 97 percent of respondents stated that they need additional information on some aspect of their workforce. “Only 11% of organizations said they were able to produce information on their workforce in real time—a statistic that was staggering even before organizations were forced to make a series of immediate pandemic-driven decisions about their workforce.â€? As organizations grow to realize the urgency and relevance of real-time data to carve dynamic and adaptable workforce strategies that are inclusive yet standardized, the focus on tapping into tools that provide such insights is taking center-stage. With the emergence of several players in the HR tech space globally, and the accompanying uptick in investments in this market, it goes to show how critical such services are, and not just today but for any such unprecedented circum-


to re-architecting work throughout the enterprise. • Surviving: Having a functional mindset that focuses on optimizing and redesigning HR processes to manage the workforce. • Thriving: Embracing an enterprise mindset that prioritizes re-architecting work to capitalize on unique human strengths.

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stances that an organization A memo to HR: Accelis likely to face. erating the shift to “As disruption becomes re-architecting work the new normal, organizaThe Trend Thanks to their Setting directions tions new are being forced tofor work and the workforce handling of COVID-19’s constantly reassess and challenges, HR organiza'RQ W VWRS reimagine their work, work-WORKFORCE STRATEGIES USING RETROSPECTIVE COVID-19 WAS A RUDE AWAKENING THAT GOVERNING METRICS tions have6859Ζ9( earned the KHUH AND MEASUREMENTS THE WORKFORCE’S force, andDESCRIBING workplace strate- CURRENT STATE SEVERELY LIMITS AN ORGANIZATION’S right to expand HR’s remit ABILITYgies. TO SURVIVE DISRUPTION, LET ALONE THRIVE IN IT. ASKING AND ANSWERING DIFFERENT QUESTIONS— This calls for leaders QUESTIONS THAT PUSH LEADERS TO CONSTANTLY CHALLENGE THEIR APPROACHES TO WORK AND THE to fundamentally shift their WORKFORCE—CAN HELP ORGANIZATIONS MEET CONSTANT CHANGE WITH THE CONFIDENCE THAT COMES workforce governance pracFROM THINKING AND LOOKING AHEAD. tices by collecting real-time, 2SWLPL]H 5HGHVLJQ forward-looking data at the 7+5(6+2/' 7+5(6+2/' intersection of economic Shifting realities retention. And a dramatically intensified focus on ([WHQG ZHOO EHLQJ IURP value and social values. :HOO ,PSURYH HPSOR\HHV{ social and racial injustice in the United States—and KHDOWK DQG VDIHW\ DQG HPSOR\HHV WR DOO ZRUNHUV But collecting data for its EHLQJ WKHLU DFFHVV WR WRROV DQG The need for organizations to better understand its widening ripple effect—is drawing significantDQG DOO DVSHFWV RI SURJUDPV IRU UHPRWH ZRUN ZRUNIRUFH ZHOO EHLQJ own sake isurgent not pressure the goal," their workforce is under from attention to companies’ diversity, equity, and unprecedented, once-in-a-lifetime health, inclusion (DE&I) efforts and results. the report stressed, adding ,PSOHPHQW QHZ OHDUQLQJ %H\RQG $FFHOHUDWH VNLOO WHFKQRORJLHV DQG WDOHQW economic, and social challenges. The COVID-19 GHYHORSPHQW SURJUDPV that data-driven insights PDUNHWSODFHV WR EXLOG UHVNLOOLQJ pandemic is raising critical health issues around These challenges IRU KLJK GHPDQG VNLOOV have exacerbated an employerQHZ VNLOOV DQG SURYLGH can enable organizations DQG UROHV employee well-being and safety, as well as remote workforce information gap that our research HPSOR\HHV FKRLFH to constantly challenge the work and alternate workforce arrangements. The identified more than a year ago. Ninety-seven LQ GHYHORSPHQW pandemic’s economic fallout is forcing employers percent of respondents to our 2020 Deloitte Global actions they are taking and ,PSOHPHQW DQG PDQDJH )RFXV RQ EXLOGLQJ 6XSHU to make tough decisions about staffing levels, Human Capital Trends survey stated that they need help determine whether and FKDQJH DURXQG ZRUN |VXSHUMREV} WR DXJPHQW worker and team redeployment, and worker additional information on some aspect of their ZRUNHUV{ VNLOOV WR LPSURYH WHDPV DXWRPDWLRQ how they can shift those WKHLU SURGXFWLYLW\ ZLWK WHFKQRORJ\ actions at need. "The challenge is to avoid getting caught up in the mechanics 29 *RYHUQLQJ ,PSURYH WKH JHQHUDWLRQ ([WHQG WR WKH IXOO RI DQG DFFHVV WR KLVWRULFDO ZRUNIRUFH HFRV\VWHP ZLWK ZRUNIRUFH HPSOR\HH GDWD of collecting data when the DQDO\VHV WR LPSURYH SHUIRUPDQFH HVWDEOLVK VWUDWHJLHV focus should be on using it EHQFKPDUNV DQG LGHQWLI\ LVVXHV to inform meaningful action toward new outcomes."

Governing workforce strategies

human capital

“The 2021 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends survey showed that the proportion of HR executives who were very confident in HR’s ability to navigate future changes doubled, from one in eight in 2019 to nearly one in four in 2020. Confidence in HR among business executives also increased, and the propor-

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JANUARY 2021 |

107


well-being, reskilling, superteams, workforce strategies, and the role of HR, readying work and

The 2020 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends

workers for uncertain futures depends on building

report called on organizations to look at work and

the human element into everything an organization

the workforce through these three lenses to

does. To do this, we believe that organizations

transcend a perceived conflict between humans

must embrace three attributes—purpose, potential,

and technology. This year, having seen how

tion that were “not confident� in HR dramatand perspective—that allow dropped them to humanize work toically create lasting value26% for their from inworkers, 2019 their to organizations, and society at large. 12% in 2020.� Purpose grounds organizations in a set of values

Leading forward: which sit at the intersection of economic, social, Leading the shift from and human interests, serve as a benchmark survive to thrive against which actions and decisions can be that do not depend on circumstance. Those values,

While the findings above provide a pathway, the only are steadfast their purpose are able infuse wayinto translate theto workmeaning into work to mobilize workers around force trends into actioncommon, meaningful goals. able insights is through Potential encourages organizations to lookleadermore timely and informed dynamically at what their people are capable of. ship. Several leaders who When the task is to prepare for the familiar, responded to the survey have organizations can rely on defined job descriptions, brought outprograms the imperative career paths, and learning to access and build workforce capabilities. But in a world where need of leadership buy-in, organizations must constantly prepare for the advocacy and enablement unknown, leaders must understand workers’ to accelerate transformation. The transformation here is not only about digital 44 transformation but work transformation in essence, which unfolds several other parameters that become key pillars to building a sustainable, inclusive, transformative and high-performing work design. In this direction, leaders are undertaking

Confidence in HR among business executives has increased, and the proportion that were “not confident� in HR dropped dramatically from 26% in 2019 to 12% in 2020

organizations are making their way through the COVID-19 crisis, we suggest that these three

attributes are essential for organizations to move more quickly from survive to thrive in a world of perpetual disruption.

weighed. In the face of circumstances that are

human capital

difficult to predict and plan for, organizations that

critical decisions, as listed in the figure below: “I’m leaning in with everything I’ve got to reform, reshape, and reimagine the future without any interest in harvesting the past, because I truly believe we will never go back to the way things were before the pandemic,� commented ServiceNow CEO McDermott. “We’re in a world now

Both workforce capability and technological capability are critical to transforming work

What are the most important actions you are taking or will take to transform work? %XLOGLQJ DQ RUJDQL]DWLRQDO FXOWXUH WKDW FHOHEUDWHV JURZWK DGDSWDELOLW\ DQG UHVLOLHQFH

%XLOGLQJ ZRUNIRUFH FDSDELOLW\ WKURXJK XSVNLOOLQJ UHVNLOOLQJ DQG PRELOLW\

ΖPSOHPHQWLQJ QHZ WHFKQRORJLHV

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%XLOGLQJ SRUWIROLRV RI KXPDQV DQG PDFKLQHV ZRUNLQJ WRJHWKHU

Note: n=3,630 (executives). Source: The 2021 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends survey. 108

| JANUARY 2021

that’s all about people. We’re in a truly human moment where any connection that doesn’t absolutely lean into people will go nowhere,� he added. The transformation fuelled by the crisis isn't just limited to one segment of work, it isn't just about adopting technology to enable smooth workflows. It is about making informed decisions today to re-architect the finer nuances that hold the work, workforce and workplace together. In his book "Atomic Habits", the author James Clear says, "If you can get 1% better each day for one year, you'll end up thirtyseven-times better by the time you are done." Tweaking this learning in the context of workspace, if we begin making those 1% changes across the pillars of work - be it culture, technology, workflows, engagement, wellness, among others - to align, adapt and co-exist with the demands of the existing circumstances, the consequent impact on the ability of an organization and its people to shift from surviving to thriving, over a period of time will be exponential.


I want people to stay engaged: Ann Marr, World Wide Technology In 2021, HR will be more of an enabler than ever before, says Ann Marr, World Wide Technology's Executive Vice President of Global Human Resources—for employees, for teams, and for leaders By Mint Kang

P

What role do you see HR playing in 2021? I think we're going to become much more of an enabler. We are already enablers now, but I think our role is going to be even more critical in the coming year because of the remote nature of work. We're going to find ways to enable people to stay connected—through communication, through pushing out updates, through information that we're giving to our leaders, through ideas for how we should invest in technology to make that connection happen. JANUARY 2021 |

D i v e r s i t y

eople Matters asked Ann Marr, Executive Vice President of Global Human Resources for World Wide Technology, for her thoughts on what 2021 will look like from a HR perspective and what might be most important in the year to come. Ann has been with WWT for over two decades and in her present role oversees all human resources functions, which include talent management, policy development, benefits administration, training, leadership development and employee relations as well as managing the company’s supplier diversity program. Here's what she shared.

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D i v e r s i t y 110

In times like this, HR needs to step up to the plate. We need to pivot and build on whatever we did before that worked, but in a world that's digitized. And this is something that's in the DNA of our profession, because everything we do is about enabling and orchestrating change. Think about how many times something gets dropped in our lap, how often we are needed to help resolve an issue. We are always prepared for the unknown. And so this is our time. We want to make sure that the leaders know we're here. We are here to partner with you. We are here to help you get to the next level.

Where do you see HR's priorities in the coming year? Upskilling individuals is definitely going to be required, because of the rate at which we are leveraging the power of technology. People need skills to deal with the new tools, and that's something we should invest in. Flexibility will be very important. You have to lead with a sense of empathy and compassion for what people are going through—you can't expect people to just not tend to their families because they're working. So, if people need to spend time with their children during the day, we have encouraged them to do that; and then they can catch up on their work for a couple | JANUARY 2021

of hours in the evening. We need to give them that flexibility. Another thing that has really come to light is the whole idea of mental health and mental well being. Because going remote is stressful. You don't have the same ability to connect with people. And so we have to find ways to continue to conduct fun activities and we've tried to do some of those things, worldwide. And communication is critical. Our CEO has been very diligent about having regular company updates with our employees, and all of us on the executive team have pushed that as well: the message that the responsibility is for us to make sure we are staying connected with our teams, in whatever way works for the teams. It could be calls, or emails, or sending words of encouragement, but you need to make sure you have that connec-

tion, and that employees are still as engaged with the company as they were when they were physically in the workplace.

Could you share a bit more about the support you've been able to provide the business leaders in the past year? I think leaders always look to HR for a different perspective. Because when you have a situation with your team, it's your issue— it's personal. But because we are not that close to the situation, we can take a higherlevel view and be very objective. This is something HR professionals can do even in the midst of the challenges we are facing right now: helping the business leaders work through their problem, finding alternative solutions. In the US, when we had racial issues this past summer—what happened to George Floyd, the demon-

When you have a situation with your team, it's your issue—it's personal. But because we are not that close to the situation, we can take a higher-level view and be very objective. This is something HR professionals can do even in the midst of the challenges we are facing right now: helping the business leaders work through their problem, finding alternative solutions


ization have been fortunate to be in a position where our company has done well and a lot of companies were not so lucky. I think about that every day—the industries that have really suffered, airlines, hotels, restaurants. We are one of the lucky ones, and we need to take advantage of the opportunities that we have. We have to take advantage of the disruption to make a change for the better.

strations that followed—a lot of people looked to HR for advice. Although the leaders had been tracking the situation, when it really happened, they couldn't be sure what to do. Sometimes, people won't know what to say; they don't know how to start the conversation, they're afraid of saying the wrong thing. And so our response was: “I don't know what to say, but I'm sympathetic or empathetic to what you're going through. I don't have all the answers, but I just want you to know that I'm here.” And people appreciated that insight, because it's authentic, and it's genuine. That's one way we can offer support.

What's the biggest lesson you've carried away from 2020, that you'd like to put to use in 2021? Sometimes the very best plans just don't work out. You always have to be able to be creative and pivot, because who would have predicted the situation we're seeing now? That's really driven the lesson home that you have to be open minded. You have to be empathetic. You have to be creative, and you have to really listen to what's going on. You have to keep your mind open to what employees have to say. That's the only way you will be able to make the best changes for your organization. Thinking about it, we as an organ-

What's the number one thing you would like to do to make 2021 better for everyone? Over the past year, we've brought out so many different and creative ways of trying to keep things upbeat. But the one thing that sticks with me is how to find new or innovative ways to stay connected. Of course we have access to tools and technology, and some teams manage it better than others, but I wish there was a silver bullet that I can use for everyone, so that all employees feel connected. And that's my biggest challenge and the biggest opportunity I have going into 2021, because I really do want people to stay engaged. I want them to feel that even though they're not physically together as a team, there's still a heightened level of collaboration and support. JANUARY 2021 |

D i v e r s i t y

We want to make sure that the leaders know we're here. We are here to partner with you. We are here to help you get to the next level

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HR must argue for strategic salary hikes Companies often confuse pay reductions with cost reduction. But contrary to popular opinion, pay reductions are more likely to drive costs up or profits down instead. There are other, better ways of achieving the same objective By Jeffrey Pfeffer & M Muneer

E

Employe e re lations

nterprises, and even governments, often seek to hold down the pay of employees in an effort to reduce costs. This effort to reduce costs by cutting pay long predates pandemic “lockdownomics” and won’t disappear when the pandemic ends. Post 9/11, when the airline industry experienced a large decline in demand for travel, almost all US airlines except for Southwest not only had layoffs, but obtained large wage concessions from their workers. When

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US-based automakers struggled to turn a profit, they negotiated two-tier wage structures where new employees would make less money. The recession of 2008 accelerated this trend. According to the NYT, pay cuts, sometimes the result of downgrades in rank or shortened workweeks, are occurring more frequently than at any time since the Great Depression. Pay for the average worker remains constrained today, possibly one explanation for the worldwide ongoing financial stress and political turbulence. But contrary to what many leaders, analysts and HR professionals seem to believe, employees’ rate of pay is not synonymous with labor costs (which reflect not just the rate of pay but also productivity). Moreover, labor costs have little bearing on competitiveness or profitability. Many companies in the IT industry pay very well, but, because of their business models, are extremely profitable. But lower wages do lead to ill health and financial stress, indicators of diminished well-being.


Evidence suggests that if companies paid more, not only would they help their employees but also they would actually help themselves. Here’s the logic.

Higher pay for higher productivity

Employees’ rate of pay is not synonymous with labor costs, and moreover, labor costs have little bearing on competitiveness or profitability. But lower wages do lead to ill health and financial stress, indicators of diminished well-being

Employe e re la tions

In 1914, Henry Ford introduced a $5 per day wage at the Ford Motor Company, more than doubling the prior rate of pay. According to Robert Lacey’s book, Ford: The Men and the Machine, the move aroused the ire of The Wall Street Journal, which accused Ford of “economic blunders if not crimes.” The result of the higher pay: diminished turnover, higher quality workers and higher productivity and profits. About 100 years later, Dan Price, CEO of Gravity Payments, generated mammoth publicity— and skepticism from Fox Business—when he announced a $70,000 annual minimum wage for Gravity’s employees. The much-talked-about move drove customer leads through the roof, and Gravity, a relatively small company of about 200 employees, received thousands of employment inquiries. Profits have never been higher. These are not just interesting examples. They’re consistent with fundamental ideas in economics. The principle of efficiency wages refers to paying above market to improve workers’ productivity levels. As economist Lawrence Katz explained, “High wages can help reduce turnover, elicit worker effort, prevent worker collective action [unionization], and attract higher quality employ-

ees.” Evidence suggests that with more motivated and higher quality workers, less supervision is required because the employees are less likely to shirk responsibilities and are more qualified, thereby saving on supervisory costs. Because of the profit-enhancing, cost-reducing effects of higher wages, in the end, paying more might actually reduce labor costs. Higher wages can, therefore, actually pay for themselves. A contemporary illustration of this phenomenon can be seen in University of Colorado professor Wayne Cascio’s detailed

comparison of Costco with WalMart’s Sam’s Club. As Cascio documented, Costco pays higher wages and offers more generous benefits than Sam’s Club, making its labor costs higher. But turnover at Sam’s Club was 44 percent, while it was only 17 percent at Costco, saving literally hundreds of millions of dollars on replacing employees. He went on to explain that, “Costco generated $21,805 in U.S. operating profit per employee, compared to $11,615 at Sam’s Club,” meaning that Costco’s more experienced, more JANUARY 2021 |

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Employe e re lations

productive workforce more than offset its higher cost. While similar detailed studies could not be found in India, a quick study of private sector banks revealed some interesting aspects unique to India. HDFC has the highest per employee revenue among all banks and its critical job families driving the business have higher wages than the industry average. ICICI Bank, a comparable private sector bank, has higher overall wage bill but less productive, perhaps because it didn’t look at the concept of strategic job families, typically 10 percent of all employees, who are most essential to driving the strategy.

In the IT industry, an analysis of top 5 players revealed that Infosys paid higher to employees and led per employee revenue as compared to the next two high productivity firms—Wipro and TCS. Unlike in the banking sector, the direct correlation between higher wages and higher productivity is evident here. In labor markets, as in many other markets, you get what you pay for, it appears. Minimizing employee costs should not be a company’s primary objective. In many instances, even in contract manufacturing, labor costs are a relatively small proportion of total

The principle of efficiency wages refers to paying above market to improve workers’ productivity levels. Evidence suggests that with more motivated and higher quality workers, less supervision is required because the employees are less likely to shirk responsibilities and are more qualified, thereby saving on supervisory costs. Higher wages can, therefore, actually pay for themselves costs, unless it is in the knowledge economy companies. Spending a lot of time trying to reduce costs of something that accounts for a small proportion of total costs is misplaced emphasis. Companies are much more interested in maximizing their profits, the difference between revenue minus expenses. Profits come from product and service innovation, productivity and outstanding levels of customer service that generate customer loyalty—all things produced by

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What can HR do?

HR executives should take the lead in bringing these higher wage arguments and the associated evidence to senior management so that companies can make more sensible decisions concerning pay levels. It’s also worth noting that the arguments about holding down wages somehow never apply to the C-suite, where the ratio of CEO to average employee pay has soared over the past few decades. However, the importance of recruiting and retaining talent extends beyond executives to the entire workforce, which is why paying more can pay off, and HR teams should be championing this notion. To be fair, high pay is only relative compared to what competitors are offering, which is why if every company tried to put this advice into practice, it wouldn’t work. But given the overwhelming tendency to think that simply reducing

labor costs will increase profits, this is not a concern we would worry about. After all, few auto companies followed Ford’s lead, and we don’t see lots of payment processing companies emulating Gravity Payments. HR can also examine the HDFC or Southwest model of identifying strategic job families and paying them higher than industry average to attract and retain the best talent who will drive higher per employee revenue. Since the strategy of every company will be different, the concept will hold well for most, if done right. As economic research has reported for decades, paying people more is good for them and also for business. That’s why some of the companies that pay— and treat—their employees well have the best financial results.

Employe e re la tions

a workforce that is engaged and cares. So what happens when those factors are missing? The airline industry, with its almost omnipresent wage reductions and conflict with employees, serves as a cautionary example. Joe Sharkey, the former New York Times travel columnist reported that a survey by the Travel Industry Association “found that the consensus among travelers was that air travel was bad and getting worse.” As a result, fed-up fliers deferred 12 million business trips and 29 million leisure trips, costing the airlines the revenue from these 41 million foregone journeys.

Dr Pfeffer is chair professor of organizational behavior at Stanford Graduate School of Business, and Dr Muneer is MD of CustomerLab and Co-Founder of the nonprofit Medici Institute. JANUARY 2021 |

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Past Month's events

Knowledge + Networking

Creating new value for business through skilling

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People Matters & Harappa 15th December, 2020 Online The year 2020 was nothing but a rollercoaster ride for all organizations across various industries. The dependency on technology and automation will keep on increasing. But many find it a little difficult to plan their way out.

Creating new value for business through skilling People Matters & Coursera 9th December, 2020 Online Businesses across the globe had to take new initiatives or revamp their existing plans in order to survive in the new normal. Skilling has been the most important aspect in the organizations for all. Take a look at how it can create new value for businesses through new and improved learning initiatives.

Harnessing the Power of Women: Building Highperformance teams People Matters & Momenta 2nd December, 2020 Online This webcast in collaboration with the Momenta Group, delved into the measures that can be taken by organizations to arrest the latest trends, leveraging flexible and virtual teams to harness the power of women in building a high performing global workforce for tomorrow and the role which futuristic talent models can play in building high-performance teams. JANUARY 2021 | january

Reset workplace experience – How to prepare for a hybrid world of work People Matters & Microsoft 1st December, 2020 Online This virtual roundtable with Microsoft discussed the required parameters for preparing for a hybrid world of work and seek from industry experts/ leaders about their experience in helping them up their game amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The digital workplace of 2021 and beyond SAP SuccessFactors & People Matters 3rd December, 2020 11 am- 12:15 pm Online The leaders discussed how organizations unravel the digital workplace trends in 2021 and can improve the digital resiliency of the workforce.


Upcoming events Preparing for the upcoming 'Skills Shift'

People Matters & Degreed 14th January, 2021 Online (SEA) The new world of work that we are catering to is seeing new shifts everyday. Organizations need to be all armed for these shifts and ensuring that it does not affect business continuity and employee productivity. Keeping the employees updated with the current skills set requirement is the need of the hour. But are organizations game for it?

People Matters Talent Leaders Confluence Malaysia People Matters 21st January, 2021 Online It is half-day virtual interactive sessions for an exclusive group of 80- 100 senior HR and talent leaders, passionate about people & work that come together to network, learn and contribute on topics which are most apt as per the talent trends the HR leaders are seeing emerge in their respective countries. We have some star speakers joining us from organizations like Axiata, S P Setia Berhad, TDCX, and more.

Knowledge + Networking

People Matters & Degreed 13th January, 2021 Online (India) The new world of work that we are catering to is seeing new shifts everyday. Organizations need to be all armed for these shifts and ensuring that it does not affect business continuity and employee productivity. Keeping the employees updated with the current skills set requirement is the need of the hour. But are organizations game for it?

Preparing for the upcoming 'Skills Shift'

People Matters LnD SEA Conference People Matters 4th March, 2021 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 will bring our community together 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? In that exchange, we will charge up clarity, shed light, and uncover a new roadmap to build the foundation of a capability-driven business strategy for growth.

JANUARY 2021 | january

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Blogosphere

>> Ben Zachariah

Boosting engagement in the pre-onboarding process

With the shift to voice-enabled mobile apps becoming a norm, a voicebot is an intelligent way of communication that can be easily integrated into various devices

T

b lo g o s p he r e

he HR function, like many other functions in the past, has continued to deploy technologies with embedded AI in automating low-value and repeatable administrative tasks in segments like recruitment, onboarding, training, retention, etc. However today with the application of smarter technologies the HR function can solve more complex business challenges like boosting performance, development, and employee engagement. Gallup’s surveys with

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employees around the world find that 85 percent are either not engaged or are actively disengaged at work. Creating a workplace culture that focuses on employee needs by keeping them engaged to drive a high-performance culture is something that many organizations strive for. However, most of them overlook the fact that engagement begins even before they join the organization. A 2019 survey in the US by a global staffing firm, Robert Half shows that around 28% of candidates had backed out of an offer after accepting it. The statistics for India, especially in the IT/ ITES segments are much higher. One of the primary reasons for post offer backouts is the lack of engagement among the new hires with the organization that has offered them. A feasible solution to this problem would be a pre-onboarding process that uses technology to engage new hires from offering acceptance to their first


Balanced use of AI and analytics tempered with human interventions can indisputably advance a superior employee experience during the pre-onboarding phase and would pave the way for creating a sense of belonging and creating an engaging environment when the employee joins

b lo g o sp he r e

day on the job. The HR function can leverage analytics and AI to better the employee experience during the pre-onboarding phase. With the shift to voice-enabled mobile apps becoming a norm, a voicebot is an intelligent way of communication that can be easily integrated into various devices. A voicebot is an artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language understanding (NLU) based voice channel for communication, that works by converting audio to text format. The older bots were simple programs with a limited database of questions and answers, while the current ones enhanced with the acumen of new AI technologies like Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning (ML) can handle complex questions easily. NLP helps in understanding a request and structuring an appropriate response, while ML helps the bots in learning and enhancing their database with every interaction. Apart from assisting in mundane tasks of onboarding like providing a checklist of documents, filling out forms, providing updates on their joining formalities, etc., a voicebot can also help in handling queries on policies and benefits and handling the entire pre-onboarding engagement effectively. To scale up your engagement with the new hires, here are some of the areas that you can work on, which would be pertinent to their professional interests. • The senior management/ clients talking about your

organization’s partnership, the employee’s contribution, and how that would help influence the lives of people. • Communication with reference of your organization’s work in media/public forums, social media handles events, etc. This would also serve as a method of employer branding. • Insights on the account that the hires may work for, the work that they would do, their contributions to the society, media presence, links to their social media handles, etc. (information which is accessible in the public domain) JANUARY 2021 |

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b lo g o s p he r e

Businesses must recognize that an organization’s vitality and capacity for organic growth is inextricably tied to the everyday experiences of its employees • Reinforcement of your organization’s employee value proposition (EVP) • Various aspects of the hire’s career growth and development. For e.g. a candidate may pose a query on his career path/learning path based on the role/technology that he is being hired for. • Insights into the available technical/engagement forums & activities, company values & culture. • Conduct office tours (virtual), send invites for hackathons, tech/social events, etc. All of the above is possible, provided, the information needed to manage the desired queries/

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requests are available in your database, information, and/or knowledge base, and the same is available in a structured form using application programming interfaces (APIs). You could also start with what is available, and build as you progress, to increase the efficacy of the solution. Balanced use of AI and analytics tempered with human interventions can indisputably advance a superior employee experience during the preonboarding phase and would pave the way for creating a sense of belonging and creating an engaging environment when the employee joins. As the Gallup report states “Businesses must recognize that an organization’s vitality and capacity for organic growth is inextricably tied to the everyday experiences of its employees”. ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Ben Zachariah is the Global HR Head at Fulcrum Digital


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The need for innovation, brainstorming & peer-2-peer interaction has become vital. As we build the people & work practices of the future, we must accelerate HR’s reinvention as a vital business function that solves problems across the organization. People Matters Sandbox provides access to inspiration and learning to accelerate your team's transformational process of agility, business impact and innovation.

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RNI Details: Vol. XII, Issue No. 1, 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

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