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2021: The Year of Continuous Reinvention

COVID-19 pandemic has expedited a shift in how and where we work putting organizations and their business models, and the mode of work to a test. The year 2021 will see the continuation of the ‘reinvention of work’


FFrroom m tth h e E d i t o r ’’ss DDeesskk 2

The reinvention mandate of 2021

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mid all the stubbornly high unemployment and the uncertainties triggered by the pandemic, there have been reports of stellar productivity of employees working from anywhere. Those are the companies that continued to demonstrate how to unleash teams’ ingenuity and shine when the fear of a virus was rampant, which in fact snuffed out all drivers of productivity. These companies with their leaders managed to keep their employees engrossed while continuously adapting to the changing work patterns. COVID-19 was a real test of leadership that has forced an abrupt shift in how employees work, how customers behave, how supply chains function, and even how businesses operate. Successful leaders have navigated the crisis and delivered strong results by demon-

| APRIL 2021

strating empathy and maintaining a connection with their teams even in times of skepticism and uncertainty. The clear sense of direction and purpose led them to stave off the challenges to a great extent. The road ahead for leaders now will be to sustain that momentum and discover a new permanent state of continuous reinvention to thrive in the long term, as advances in digital innovation reset the path forward. There are several areas that organizations should focus on as they continue their reinvention journey in 2021. With the needs of employers and employees evolving, this is the time to refine organizations’ approach to work and tackle the new challenges. First and foremost, they need to know where they are heading. Is their transformation purposeful? Having a clear purpose statement can help translate the strategy into a clear direction for the workforce. In a pre-COVID-19 world, many organizations already realized the value of being purpose-driven; it’s time for leaders to speak a language of “purpose” that engages employees and customers in new ways, inviting their insights to drive innovation and business growth. 2021 should be about reset —and focus on innovation. Employers and employees should come out of their default settings to reappraise their assumptions and step into the future with agility and flexibility. It is clear by now that remote-first and people-first strategies hold promise. This warrants organizations to reinvent their business and build the organization of the future.

Ensuring that your business model is robust and stable to withstand shifts due to travel and supply chains would be critical. The top challenge for talent leaders today is to develop a profile of future skills needed at the intersection of smart humans and powerful machines. It is vital to develop a comprehensive program focused on recruitment as well as continuous adaptation of the skills needed to win in the future. They should recognize the future skills and work systematically to help the talent learn new digital skills involving data and analytics, AI, etc. These skills will all be critical in a post-pandemic hybrid way of working. The pandemic has thrust the HR function into the spotlight. The pivotal role played by the talent leaders in this pandemic has been phenomenal. HR has thrived during this difficult time in organizations where the function is well-led, has strong senior stakeholder support, has prioritized leadership development, and has already commenced a digital transformation journey. Moving forward, organizations will need their HR functions to not only be the conductor of digital transformation and new ways of working for people-related issues but to put the ''human'' at the center and ensure that workplaces become fairer and more humane. Therefore, it is important that HR functions embrace digital service delivery channels like robotics and chatbots, and endorse design thinking practices that place employees at the center of product design.


For the Big Interview, we have Ruth McGill, Chief Human Resources Officer, ING Bank, who shares the value of being purpose-driven, how to shape a sustainable post-COVID-19 world, the future of innovation, and more. We also have a special interview with Eric Stallworth, Head of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at ISS Facilities Services, North America, who shares insights on why we are failing in our DE&I initiatives, and how do we ensure that workplace diversity initiative survive in a post-COVID-19 era. People Matters BeNext, our cohort-based certification program, launches three new courses on Diversity and Inclusion. The programs aim at complimenting your D&I efforts and accelerating individual and structural shifts within your organization. Diversity, Inclusion & Balance Program: Levelling the Workplace Leading Inclusive Teams (10th May to 4th June); Diversity, Inclusion & Balance Program: Everyone’s Duty Rethinking Men’s ability to lead Organisations towards Gender-Balanced (7th June to 2nd July); and Diversity, Inclusion & Balance Program: Promoting Women (12h July to 6th August). For enrollment, you can reach out to sumali.purkyastha@gopeoplematters.com As always, we would be happy to hear your views, comments, and suggestions regarding our stories. Happy Reading!

THE COVER STORY (BEHIND THE SCENE)

I love lights! But I want to see lights in a dark room...

From the Editor’s Desk

Cyberattacks continue to rise despite higher security investments. IT security should be reviewed to ensure that it is up to date. As a best practice, employees should be required to take the training annually. Data security awareness is an HR responsibility, but the actual security and practice is a team effort and the responsibility of every single employee. A lot of organizations are now using people analytics with the benefits of mining data to yield insights that can support decision-making. While the main application of people analytics seems to be within the realm of talent acquisition and retention, in 2021, organizations can start applying people analytics for decision-making in other areas. Finally, for all this change to happen, organizations will increasingly revisit a lot of practices and policies to facilitate the new mode of working to stay relevant and be the place where top talent wishes to work. The adjustments of policies would apply to a lot of areas and could include flexible working, adjusting information security practices to support remote working, defining the leadership behaviors expected, adjusting the capabilities that are developed, shifting reward frameworks to recognize a more geographically spread workforce, redefining the role of the office and rethinking how to virtually onboard colleagues and swiftly embed them into the organization’s culture. The April 2021 issue of our magazine attempts to find out the reinvention mandate of global leaders to succeed in 2021 and beyond.

Can we go back to white room light!

Yaye!

Esther Martinez Hernandez Editor-in-Chief follow

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

2021: The Year of Continuous Reinvention

COVID-19 pandemic has expedited a shift in how and where we work putting organizations and their business models, and the mode of work to a test. The year 2021 will see the continuation of the ‘reinvention of work’

APRIL 2021 |

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contents

APRIL 2021 v o l u m e x ii issue 4

C O N TE N TS

expert views

Abe Smith, Head of International for Zoom Video Communications

48

Sophie Smith, HR Director for Experian’s Asia Pacific region

51

Kate Barker, Strategic Advisor to His Highness & Deputy Prime Minister, UAE Federal Government, Abu Dhabi

55

Clinton Wingrove, Principal Consultant, Clinton HR Ltd www.clintonhr.com

57

Lori Lewis, Senior Director, Global Talent and Culture, Epicor

60

N. Venkat Venkatraman, David J. McGrath Jr. Professor of Management at Boston University Questrom School of Business

63

Leslie Tarnacki, SVP of Human Resources at WorkForce Software

66

Richard Hanson, Global Head of Data Science, Talent & Rewards, Willis Towers Watson

71

Sarah Davies, Senior Vice President & Chief Human Resources Officer, Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa, Procter & Gamble (P&G)

cover story

42

2021: The Year of Continuous Reinvention Editor-in-Chief

Manager - research & Content

Esther Martinez Hernandez

Anushree Sharma

managing Editor

Assistant ManagerS - Content

Yasmin Taj

Bhavna Sarin | Neelanjana Mazumdar

Associate Editor - Print & Online

Design & Production

Mastufa Ahmed

Shinto Kallattu

Manager - design, photography, and production

Digital Head

Marta Martinez

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

Jerry Moses

Senior Features Writer

Shweta Modgil

Features Writer

Mint Kang

Prakash Shahi General Manager, Sales

Manager - Content

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44

Manager, Sales

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

| APRIL 2021

Manager, SUBSCRIPTION

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

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

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This issue of People matters contains 108 pages including cover


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the big Interview

special Interview

COVID-19 made it vital for companies to know where they are heading

The time has come to lead with inclusion Eric Stallworth, Head of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) at ISS Facilities Services, North America By Yasmin Taj

Ruth McGill, CHRO, ING Bank By Mastufa Ahmed

20 T h e N e w W o r k pla c e

How should you reinvent ‘people’ and ‘work’ in 2021?

By Sujit Sahoo, Vice President, Human Capital at Trianz

74 I NTE R V I EW

We are demanding significant change in everything we do

Minna Rouru, Area HR Director, Asia Pacific, KONE By Mint Kang

24

89 E m pl o y e e B e n e f i t s

Freedom of choice in employee benefits

By Rachael Tay, Regional Head of Benefits (APAC), Employee Benefits (Asia), Lockton 92 T h e r o a d l e s s t ra v e ll e d

28 S k illi n g

India’s skill famine

The magic of ‘Purpose’

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

98 A R E YOU I N THE L I ST

32 I NTE R V I EW

People are key to your digital transformation project

Mark Billington, Managing Director of ICAEW By Mint Kang

82 I NTE R V I EW

Building equitable workplaces for the now and future

Parineeta Cecil Lakra, Country People and Culture Manager, IKEA India By yasmin taj 86 I NTE R V I EW

36 L e a d e r s h ip

Boards must take CEO search more seriously

By Dr. M Muneer, Co-founder of the non-profit Medici Institute and a stakeholder in the Silicon Valley-based deep-tech enterprise Rezonent Corp, & Ralph Ward, Global board advisor, coach and publisher

HR must leverage technology to champion change

Suresh Kumar, Chief Human Resource Officer at Polycab By Jerry Moses regulars

02 From the Editor’s Desk 38 I NTE R V I EW

Sustenance is more important than initiation

Sneha Suresh, VP & Head – Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I), Wells Fargo India and Philippines By Bhavna Sarin

06 Letters of the month 08 Quick Reads 13 Rapid-Fire 104 Knowledge + Networking 106 Blogosphere

India eagerly awaits a sixer

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

People Matters Are You In The List Awards 2021: 10 Years of Excellence

C O N TE N TS

By Moin Qazi, An author, researcher and development professional who has spent four decades in the development sector

78 B u s i n e s s S t ra t e g y

100 B u s i n e s s S t ra t e g y

Building the remote workplace culture

By Mandeep Kaur, Head of HR at LOTS Wholesale Solutions India

102 B o o k r e v i e w

Expert Humans: Critical Leadership Skills for a Disrupted World by Michael Jenkins

By Mastufa Ahmed Featured In this issue Abe Smith Eric Stallworth Leslie Tarnacki Lori Lewis Mark Billington Minna Rouru Neha Pareek Parineeta Cecil Lakra

Richard Hanson Ruth McGill Sarah Davies Sneha Suresh Sophie Smith Suresh Kumar Venkat Venkatraman

CONTRIBUTORS to this issue Clinton Wingrove Kate Barker Mandeep Kaur Moin Qazi Dr. M Muneer Praveen Sinha

Rachael Tay Ralph Ward Ravi Chandran Sujit Sahoo Visty Banaji

APRIL 2021 |

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Letters of the month

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

Driving a KPI Led diversity agenda Several organizations today are simply hopping on the D&I bandwagon without giving thought to the vision, scope, and true impact that they seek to create. For such firms, DE&I remains a number game, rather a tick-in-the-box activity with little to negligible cultural change. These are the organizations that rush to hire without actually pausing to realize if their organizations are actually inclusive enough to accommodate diverse groups, be it culturally, through policies and benefits, or even just how people interact. For organizations that put sincere thought and time into building inclusive workplaces, the suggested metrics are a great place to benchmark where they stand, the progress, and the gaps that demand tailoring strategies to better attain DE&I goals. Given the emphasis on D&I post the pandemic, it is in fact critical to keep track of progress and modify plans on the go to stay relevant and sensitive to employee needs. - Shashank Kaul

'I believe with certainty that the future of work is hybrid'

Very relevant and forward-thinking inputs. The future is indeed hybrid, and any attempts to return to earlier ways of working is almost akin to setting up employees, and the larger team for failure. The world as we know it is not the same, why are some leaders pushing for a return then? Sure certain roles are required to operate from office premises, but there are ways to work around it, instead of summoning all employees to return to the workplace. Arrogance to shift from draconian to agile ways of working will cost firms dearly, and not just monetarily. - Raunak Sapra

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MARCH 2021 issue

Fair is foul - if profit’s the purpose

The business case for diversity and inclusion. That’s what I think about as I flip the pages on this piece. Having to give financial reasoning for acting human, rather than respectfully treating one another, where are we headed? Are financial gains the only grounds to convince leaders across the globe to value diverse thoughts and experiences? Is human value not enough? I wonder what crisis next awaits the remainder of Earth’s inhabitants, and what gains will then decide who comes at the top of the food chain. - Richa bhatia


Interact with People Matters

Make use of this time to reboot learning

We have a level playing field for marginalized groups today

The approach by TCS towards inclusion has been truly commendable. The company has led by example. Public-private partnerships will indeed be critical to hitting the accelerator on the DE&I agenda. Be it in terms of resources or governance, collaboration between corporates and the government will be key to bringing about monumental change going forward. The only way to counter the gap deepened by 2020 in societal and cultural inequities is by bringing forces together to strategize and attack regressive and damaging mindsets, behaviors, and practices. - Sourish Mohan Mitra

- Seelan Nayagam

'The pandemic has exposed inequities like never before'

“As businesses, if we only celebrate how technology brings us together and not address how COVID-19 has also differentially affected those that are disadvantaged, we will have failed.” Makes me feel relieved to see leaders acknowledging and addressing this, however few they might be. Granted every organization had a different experience through 2020, with different capabilities to succeed or struggle through the disruption, nonetheless, it’s high time for employers to recognize that they weren’t alone in facing the struggles. - Rahul Sharma

Getting realistic about achieving diversity and inclusion

Despite years of evidence surrounding the business imperative of DE&I, there persists a gap in recognizing and accepting the fact. It continues to be the right thing to do, and while it gains the attention of a few eyeballs, the rest continue to roll and either do their bit or blame unconscious unrecognizable bias for their ignorance. If we want to see change, we need to get much more serious and not just encourage eliminating bias but showcase the realities consequent to continued ignorance of basic societal, cultural and workplace norms. It indeed is time to get real. - Shailesh Chaturvedi

Mark Stelzner @stelzner Proud to be joining friends and colleagues such as @williamtincup, @jasonaverbook, @JohnWBoudreau and so many speakers for @PeopleMatters2 "TechHR 2021 SEA" event. I hope to SEA you there (clever, right?). :) EY GDS Careers @EY_GDSCareers In a video interview @PeopleMatters2, Mary Elizabeth Porray, EY GDS Client Service Leader and Sreesukhi Sudarshan, EY GDS Global Talent Acquisition Leader shared few best practices applied at #EYGDS for improving women representation in the workforce. spr.ly/6018HSBhG Twitter Singapore @TwitterSG The pandemic has affected all of us, but not equally. Women in the workplace have been hit the hardest. Here’s what @ preet_oG shared in her recent interview with @PeopleMatters2 on how companies can better support individual needs in the organisation

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

With the healthcare sector worried about redundancy and upskilling amid the unprecedented chaos that the pandemic brought on, their focus on learning is definitely a reminder for employers and leaders across industries to not lose sight of the reskilling urgency. Transition to digital for survival is just one phase to stay relevant in the future. For sustained business health, organizations can no longer de-prioritize learning. What they must also cater to through these learnings is the wide array of conceptual, cultural, and collaborative rewiring that is needed to progress together in an equitable, creative, innovative, and well-being focused workplace.

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

Bain & Company @BainAlerts Julie Coffman, our CDO, talked to @PeopleMatters2 about how last year’s events exposed inequities & ignited a necessary discussion about DEI, including the roles that companies can play in addressing these topics internally as well as in their communities. atbain.co/3r0Zy4U siddharth mishra @MishraSpeak The webinar was excellent and I found it very fascinating and insightful. Thanks @warikoo @PeopleMatters2 Prabir Jha @PrabirJha My article in the current issue of @ PeopleMatters2 .. #RethinkingWorkforceStrategies is a huge strategic mindset shift... are we willing to shift ??? #PrabirInsights #Leadership #Transformation follow

M > @PeopleMatters2

{WRITE TO US NOW BY SCANNING THIS CODE}

APRIL 2021 |

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DE&I

q u i c k

r e a d s

More VC firms prioritizing DE&I: Deloitte survey The number of US venture capital firms with either diversity or an inclusion strategy has increased by one-third since 2018, according to the findings of a new survey jointly conducted by the National Venture Capital Association (NVCA), Venture Forward, and Deloitte. Previous

editions of the survey had shown that firms incorporating diversity, equitability, and inclusion (DE&I) into their human capital strategies do in fact have more women and Black professionals, although the numbers remain low—at best, women make up 25 percent of investment profession-

Compensation & Benefits

HR Tech

Uber grants employee status to UK drivers

Uber is granting employee status to over 70,000 drivers across the UK with the effect this week, slightly less than a month after the Supreme Court ruled that the ride-hailing company must treat its drivers as workers and not self-employed independent contractors as it has historically argued. As employees, the thousands of drivers in the UK

als and Black employees makeup only 5 percent. The attempt to improve DE&I is still only nominal, though. While the overall number of women and racial minorities on investment teams has increased, the survey shows that most of the numbers come from the junior levels. Women and minorities are still left behind in terms of leadership responsibilities, whether in originating deals, in representing investment firms on the boards of portfolio companies, or in management company ownership. Only 16 percent of investment partners are female and only 3 percent are Black.

Employment Hero raises US$35m Series D funding will be entitled to the national living wage of at least £8.91 per hour (US$12.37), benefits including paid leave and a pension, and employment rights such as break times and collective bargaining.

of achieving them. The findings show that 85 percent of women 85 percent women not getting promotions due to employees not given gender biases as well as 9 in 10 promotions: Linkedin (89 percent) women state that LinkedIn has launched the Oppor- they were negatively impacted by tunity Index 2021 report to under- the COVID-19 pandemic.India’s stand how people, especially working women still contend the women seek opportunities and the strongest gender bias across Asia challenges that stand in the way Pacific countries.

Sydney-based Employment Hero, an HR tech startup, has raised A$45 million (US$35 million) in a Series D funding round led by employment and education group SEEK, a longtime investor of the company.

Compensation

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This is the largest funding round in Australia this year so far. This latest funding brings Employment Hero's total valuation to A$250 million (US$193 million).


HR Tech

HRtech startup Humaans raises $5 Mn in seed funding London-based HRtech startup Humaans has raised $5 Mn in seed funding to accelerate the development of its employee on-boarding and management platform. The round saw participation from Y Combinator, Mattias Ljungman’s Moonfire, Frontline Ventures, and former head of Stripe Issuing, Lachy

Technology

Virtual platform Hubilo raises $ 23.5 Mn, plans to hire 150 people Hubilo, the global virtual and hybrid events platform has announced a $23.5 Mn Series A investment led by Lightspeed Venture Partners and Balderton Capital, alongside several angel investors and industry experts including John Thompson, Chairman of the Board at Micro-

soft, and Chris Schagen, Former CMO at Contentful. With the expansion in mind, Hubilo is planning to hire 150 more people, taking the tally to 300 by June 2021.

Work-Life

54 percent of insurance professionals would leave the industry for a better work-life balance

r e a d s

Indonesian firms lead in adopting flexible work, but lag in skilling their employees: Report

When it comes to relinquishing control of employee decentralizing work arrangements, Indonesian companies are well ahead of the global average, according to Mercer's 2021 Global Talent Trends report. The Indonesia findings show that 86 percent of companies feel that COVID-19 lockdowns have allowed them to “relinquish central control” of employee behaviors and instead move toward more “unsupervised” work arrangements— above the global average of 77 percent.

q u i c k

Skilling

Groom. Other investors included LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner (via Next Play Ventures), Stripe COO Claire Johnson, Figma CEO Dylan Field, Intercom

Co-Founder Des Traynor, former Workday CTO David Clarke, former Benchmark GP Scott Belsky, Notion COO Akshay Kothari, Qubit co-founder Emre Baran, Evervault CEO Shane Curren and Stripe security engineer Gerardo Di Giacomo. The startup will use the proceeds to double down on product and engineering by bringing in the best talent to help fulfill its vision, increase its reach, drive value for the wider community.

Vertafore’s latest survey of independent agents highlights the need for remote work options, time-saving technology, and an inclusive workforce to attract and retain industry talent. This report by Vertafore on the state of the independent insurance channel workforce brings into sharp relief how the pandemic changed the nature of work in the industry, what insurance professionals value about their work, and what independent agencies can do to support their people now and attract new talent in the future. APRIL 2021 |

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newsmaker of the month

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r e a d s

‘Pay’ in a post-COVID-19 world

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I

t was widely feared that salaried employees may be left behind to ensure business continuity. But data from companies across AsiaPacific suggests that although employers were forced to revise their pay rise budgets, companies are conducting salary reviews across the region based on both performance and business growth. According to a report by Willis Towers Watson on “Salary budget planning survey”, employers in AsiaPacific expect a 5.3 percent increase in salaries for 2021, down from 5.4 percent in 2020. A total of 13 out of 20 markets have decreased their average 2021 pay increase forecast, with India noting the highest drop of the lot (from 9 percent in 2020 to 7.9 percent in 2021. The lowest salary increase forecast is in Japan at 2.2 percent, according to the report. | APRIL 2021

The projected salary increase per market was: 1. Bangladesh: 8.0% 2. India: 7.9% 3. Vietnam: 7.7% 4. Myanmar: 7.0% 5. Indonesia: 7.0% 6. China: 6.0% 7. Sri Lanka: 5.7% 8. The Philippines: 5.6% 9. Cambodia: 5.5% 10. Thailand: 5.0% 11. Malaysia: 4.7% 12. South Korea: 4.1% 13. Singapore: 3.5% 14. Taiwan: 3.5% 15. Hong Kong: 3.5% Speaking about this Edward Hsu, Business Leader, Rewards Data & Software in Asia Pacific at Willis Towers Watson, said: "In emerging markets, many companies are in fast-growth businesses where organizations need to build strong executive and leadership teams. Companies tend to allocate

their salary budgets to hiring and rewarding these executives. With the pandemic, many employers have taken actions to review their workforce and pay effectiveness. The difference in pay gap suggests that companies are prioritizing their salary budget for hiring and rewarding high-performing talent including those at the executive level.” The Talent Trends Report 2021 by Micheal Page said that in India, the average salary increase stood at eight percent in the healthcare sector, 7.6 percent in FMCG, and 7.5 percent in Internet services. The lowest salary increases were in property and construction (5.3 percent) and industrial/manufacturing (5.9 percent). Companies are also optimistic about hiring as they step into a new financial year. Nearly 53 percent of Indian companies intend to hire as compared to 42 percent of APAC businesses. Unlike last year, when close to one-third of the companies in the private sector implemented a freeze in pay increases, this year that number is set to decline sharply, signaling optimism in the year ahead.


HSBC Malaysia appoints new head of global banking HSBC Malaysia has appointed Christina Cheah the head of its global banking division effective March 1, just a few months after previous global banking head Omar Mahmoud stepped down and she assumed the interim position. With Cheah's confirmation to the role, women now make up 40 percent of HSBC Malaysia's executive committee.

Research and Development Officer, effective March 15, 2021. The role is a newly created one, part of the executive leadership suite, and has global responsibility for the company's research, development, innovation, and quality functions.

Deutsche Bank appoints retiring VW CFO to board Deutsche Bank has nominated Frank Witter, Group Chief Financial Officer at Volkswagen AG to its supervisory board. At the Annual General Meeting on May 27, 2021, Deutsche Bank’s Supervisory Board will submit a proposal for the election of Witter as the successor to Gerd Alexander Schütz, Chairman of the Management Board of C-Quadrat Investment AG, who informed Deutsche Bank that he will resign from his mandate on the Supervisory Board at the 2021 Annual General Meeting.

Kimberly-Clark brings on former Coca-Cola CIO Kimberly-Clark Corporation has announced the appointment of Robert Long as Chief

r e a d s

IBM announces senior roles for Managed Infrastructure Services business IBM announced key members of the executive team to lead the independent company that will be created following the previously announced separation of IBM’s Managed Infrastructure Services business (“NewCo”). Elly Keinan has been named as Group President of the new company. Maria Bartolome Winans has been named as NewCo’s Chief Marketing Officer. Both executives are veterans of the technology industry and have held global leadership roles.

q u i c k

DuPont names Christopher Raia new CHRO Multinational chemicals giant DuPont announced that it has appointed Christopher Raia Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, effective March 1. He had stepped in as interim CHRO in January after former CHRO Darrell Ford left to join UPS.

Chubb appoints new country head for ANZ Property and casualty insurance multinational Chubb announced that it has appointed Peter Kelaher Country President for Australia and New Zealand with immediate effect. He succeeds Jarrod Hill, who is leaving the company. In his new role, Kelaher has executive operating responsibility for the company's general insurance business. He will oversee all facets of the business including strategy, product and business development, underwriting and service operations, and profit and loss performance.

AIG brings on top HR exec Lisa Buckingham Finance and insurance multinational AIG announced last week that Lisa M. BuckingAPRIL 2021 |

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q u i c k

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ham has been appointed as Executive Vice President, Global Head of AIG Enterprise Design and Life & Retirement Separation Initiatives. The role is a newly created one, and the appointment is effective April 2021. Her new appointment to AIG's executive team is intended to support the transition as AIG spins off its life and retirement business under the leadership of CEO Peter Zaffino. Visa appoints Michelle Gethers-Clark as Chief Diversity Officer Visa announced the appointment of Michelle GethersClark as Chief Diversity Officer and Head of Corporate Responsibility. Gethers-Clark will join Visa’s Executive Committee and report to Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Al Kelly. In this role, Gethers-Clark will lead Visa’s inclusion and diversity, social impact, and sustainability efforts globally. Among her responsibilities will be ensuring Visa’s organization and culture are truly inclusive and managing initiatives to enhance Visa’s commitment to being a responsible, ethical, and sustainable company. Euler Hermes Asia Pacific appoints ASEAN CEO Euler Hermes Asia Pacific appointed Shan Aboo to the office of ASEAN CEO, effective 1 April 2021. Aboo will be based in Singapore, overseeing Euler Hermes' operations in the ASEAN markets, namely Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia as well as Singapore. He will be reporting to the Head of Region at Euler Hermes Asia Pacific Holger Schaefer. 12

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Ford appoints Brett Wheatley as TransLoc CEO Ford Motor Company announces the appointment of Brett Wheatley as Chief Executive Officer of TransLoc, a transportation software solutions company that's part of the Ford Mobility portfolio. Wheatley will report to Scott Griffith, Chief Executive Officer, Ford Autonomous Vehicles LLC & Mobility Businesses. He will be based in Dearborn. Nokia appoints new Chief Corporate Affairs Officer and member of the Group Leadership team Nokia announces the appointment of Melissa Schoeb as Chief Corporate Affairs Officer and member of the Group Leadership Team, effective from 12 April 2021. Nokia’s Chief Corporate Affairs Officer oversees Communications, Government Relations, Brand, and Sustainability. Melissa will be based in Espoo, Finland, and report to Nokia’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Pekka Lundmark. EX-Goldman Sachs to lead Citi Group's diversity strategy Citi Group has hired Erika Irish Brown from rival Goldman Sachs Group Inc to lead its global diversity strategy. Brown joins Citi as its Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion officer after leading similar efforts at Goldman Sachs since mid-2018. Brown previously worked at Bloomberg in the same role. Goldman named Megan Hogan to replace Brown, according to a staff memo seen by Reuters. The role of Chief Diversity Officer has taken on renewed prominence as corporations work to address inequality and systemic racism roughly one year after George Floyd's death in Minnesota.


twelve Questions

Rapid-Fire

interview

Neha Pareek

Director, Human Resources, IBM ASEAN & Singapore By Neelanjana Mazumdar

1

8

One thing that makes you passionate about HR?

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

The opportunity to resolve real issues impacting real people

Organization enabled selfpaced learning

2

9

One leader you closely follow and one hallmark of that leader

Working with IBMers across the globe and moving countries broadened my horizon and made me a citizen of the world

3

One tech/innovation that will transform HR?

Digitization is transforming HR. One innovation that I hope for is technology to drive simplification. The purpose of innovation should be to simplify and this is very important in HR

4

What's your learning mantra?

Humility and courage to accept what I don't know and the energy and enthusiasm to keep learning

5

Gig Workers or Permanent Employees? Both

Business leaders who understand HR as a core business role to transform people and culture are the ones who can drive success

6

3 key talent priorities for IBM, currently?

Diversity & inclusion, skills and a culture of innovation and growth

7

How do you make decisions when you don’t have all the necessary information? Clarity of thought, use past data and insights if available, crowdsource with experts and watch out for biases

Oprah is my role model leader. Her leadership skills in terms of compassion, optimism, inclusion, ethics, and justice are inspiring. Her hallmark is 'to always do the right thing'. We need more Oprahs in business

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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Your advice for aspiring HR professionals?

Be authentic and be curious to learn - you'll thrive in HR

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One question you ask in every interview? What are you passionate about?

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What do you think about when you’re alone in your car? How am I feeling and what music should I play? APRIL 2021 |

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COVID-19 made it vital for companies to know where they are heading

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I N TERVIEW

Ruth McGill, CHRO, ING Bank

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In a pre-COVID-19 world, many organizations already realized the value of being purpose-driven. As a result of COVID-19, it has become even more vital that companies know where they are heading. Having a clear purpose statement can help translate the strategy into a clear direction for the workforce, says Ruth McGill, Chief Human Resources Officer, ING Bank, in an exclusive interaction with People Matters By Mastufa Ahmed

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uth McGill was appointed Chief HR Officer in January 2020. She leads the global HR function and is the advisor on people matters to the CEO and management board. In view of the priorities following from the Think Forward strategy, she focuses on several large programs including HR Unite and HR transformation, a companywide leadership program, the Continuous Listening program, Global Job Architecture, and the development of talent and organizational capabilities across the bank. Ruth is an international HR professional with more than 25 years of experi| APRIL 2021

ence in HR and organizational change, having previously worked at Standard Chartered Bank (responsible for over 40 countries in Europe, Middle East, Africa, and the Americas), GlaxoSmithKline, and other international and UK companies. She is passionate about working with teams to drive business success through a transformational people agenda. Ruth joined ING in 2015 as senior HR director Challengers & Growth (C&G) Markets to take responsibility for the C&G HR portfolio. In this role she significantly strengthened the HR function within C&G. Ruth introduced people metrics, help-

ing the business to become increasingly more strategic in people planning. Her achievements also included improving job rotation and succession planning among leadership in the region, and significantly increasing employee diversity levels. Aside from her work, travel and experiencing different cultures is her passion. She is based in Amsterdam. Here are the edited excerpts of the interview.

The year 2020 is over but we still have uncertainty. How do you see the current business landscape and how are reinventing your business?


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I N TERVIEW

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Last year, most businesses focused on dealing with the immediate aftermath of the crisis; keeping customers and employees safe. This was of course the same for ING. We have 57,000 employees in over 40 countries – by mid-March last year an average of 80 percent were working from home. In a very short space of time, we managed to set ourselves up to work this way, from IT-infrastructure to fully virtual learning programs and online one-to-one coaching to support managers and leaders to help them with the challenges that they suddenly faced. However, we realized that new challenges arose when people are working from home full time. Juggling work-life balance, not having face-to-face meetings, and not being able to go to the office in some cases for more than a year can have a significant impact on our employees. We have taken action and are providing well-being programs across the world. We are coaching our managers and leaders on how to best respond to this. We are still in the midst of a crisis but at the same time, we are also looking ahead, focusing long-term bearing in mind the challenges that the business is facing. Our role as an HR function is more important than ever. We need to make sure we have good quality talent | APRIL 2021

pipelines in place as well as having the right capabilities to deliver on our strategy.

How can HR organizations uncover new sources of value and shape a sustainable post-COVID-19 world? The sudden changes and restrictions imposed upon us by COVID-19 will change the world forever. The digital revolution has accelerated

The sudden changes and restrictions imposed upon us by COVID-19 will change the world forever. The digital revolution has accelerated at an astronomical speed. This will change the way we work at an astronomical speed. This will change the way we work. Right now we’re looking to learn from these experiences to create a "new normal". What does this mean? We’ll create a new way of working where we look to balance the advantages of working from home and with the advantages of working from the office.

We are taking a measured step-by-step approach to this, testing and evaluating as we progress – to make sure that we’re making the right decisions each step of the way for employees, our stakeholders, and ING as a whole to ensure this is sustainable in the long term. Based on the initial analysis, we anticipate that in the future our employees will work around 50 percent from home and 50 percent from the office. Colleagues will be empowered to work much more flexibly. This is not set in stone but is an indication of our current thinking and our starting point for the "new normal". It will require re-thinking many aspects of the way we work – for instance, office space, collaboration, travel – and we must look carefully at this and test initial conclusions before making final decisions and moving forward with the roll-out. Secondly, I can’t emphasize enough how important the role of excellent leadership is right now. Leaders are the ones that will drive changes within the organization and it’s up to them to help translate our strategy to lower levels within the organization and steer their teams in the right direction. Leaders are the amplifiers of change. Leaders need to guide people in knowing where


For example, we have introduced the big 6 capabilities within ING. These are customer experience, data fluency, leadership, non-financial risk management, cybersecurity, and operations management. We believe we need to improve on these as an organization and encourage all our people to develop in these areas.

on leadership programs and coaching to drive performance through our leaders and help support them to be at their best. At the same time, we cannot lose sight of the mental well-being of our people. From a personal perspective, the crisis has reemphasized to me that it is important we care about

our colleagues. For instance, I really try and be inclusive when it comes to people’s home life. I don’t mind it if kids pop into the screen or if people sit in their meetings in their gym gear because they want to go for a run afterward. We need to be flexible so we can maintain our well-being as this situation may continue for some time to come.

What role will ‘purpose’ will play in the new world of work after the COVID-19 pandemic? What's the role of business leaders to embed purpose into business strategy? How can organizations translate their values into positive action for the sake of the common good? In a pre-COVID-19 world, many organizations already realized the value of being purpose-driven. As a result of COVID-19, it has become even more vital that companies know where they are heading. Having a clear purpose statement can help translate the strategy into a clear direction for the workforce. ING’s purpose is “Empowering people to stay a step ahead in life and business”. This is also supported by our Orange Code, which is our manifesto for how we go about achieving this purpose. It describes what we can expect from each other when we turn up to work each day. These are the principles we collectively strive to live up to. They are APRIL 2021 |

I N TERVIEW

Do you think the toughest leadership test is looming now that businesses are striving hard to rebound from the crisis? Any crisis such as this is a real test of leadership. In my previous jobs, I have had to deal with many different types of crises for instance a health crisis, war/civil unrest, and hyperinflation. Unexpected situations will always arise, and this requires leaders to step it up. This is a long-term crisis that is really going to place demands on our leaders. Again, this is why we focus

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they are heading and what’s expected of them – to provide clear direction and guidance and alignment. It’s also about promoting personal responsibility and accountability within their teams, holding each other accountable, speaking up when things don’t go well, and celebrating and recognizing when they do. We, therefore, equip our leaders with the right skills and capabilities so they can support their teams. They need to guide our people where they are heading and what’s expected of them.

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non-negotiable and designed to make ING an honest, prudent, and responsible bank. We have several leadership and employee programs that are designed to help our people to discover their own individual purpose. An individual purpose is all about what really makes you “tick” as an individual – what are you good at? What motivates you? What really helps driving you? Getting to know yourself better is a first step in looking at how individuals can increase their own performance and align their individual purpose with that of the company. We had around 3000 leaders taking part in our digitized leadership programs last year. The content focused on topics such as psychological safety, microaggressions, radical candor, and sustainable high performance; priming ourselves | APRIL 2021

and our team for high performance. These topics are even more relevant in the context of working from home and the acceleration of change we are all experiencing. In 2020, a total of 840 managers joined one of these programs called Think Forward Leadership Experience. Feedback was positive with an overall peer recommendation score of 4.2 out of 5 and a 4.6 out of 5 score in response to the question: ‘The skills and insights I gained are relevant for leaders at ING’. In the Netherlands, we also had 2000 people taking part in the Purpose to Impact training as we wanted to push it further than just our leaders.

What does the future of innovation look like according to you? ING started digital banking with ING Direct and was probably one of the

first fintechs in the world. Over the past years, we have brought ING’s innovation to a place where it is highly regarded in the industry. Our customer needs and expectations continue to change at an increasingly rapid pace, and even more so now because of the global pandemic. That’s why we need to increase the pace of innovation at ING by improving the execution and effectiveness of our innovation strategy even further. To support our execution on this we also try to ensure that people within ING have an innovative mindset. We support this by using the PACE methodology when we invent new products or services. So far, we have 10,000 colleagues trained on PACE and we use that methodology to create products across the bank. From an HR perspective, we’re also really committed to innovation. Digitization is the way forward. We want to become a more datadriven bank – and a more data-driven HR function. This requires high quality of data, standardize our HR processes, and streamlining our data management. Not only will this give us better insights to increase our effectiveness it will also help us to enhance our employee experience.

Can technology help reinvent workforce learning and


their daily job. As part of our self-driven talent strategy, we encourage all our employees to take control of their own self-development. Ultimately, we give all our employees the opportunity to grow and also give them the opportunity to help others.

As experts say, the role of HR leaders has changed amid all the chaos. How do you see the role of talent leaders evolve in 2021?

selves are empowered – just like we try to empower our clients - to stay a step ahead in life and business and drive their own development. Although we place the responsibility on the individual, we shape the direction of where they need to go. Our Big 6 capabilities for instance give people insight into where we as an organization need to develop and they need to upskill and improve.

The world is moving much faster so we need to make sure we can quickly adapt to change. That’s why we work on having good succession pipelines to ensure we have the right people available for the right roles. In the past, we had the time to develop learning solutions for the bank as a whole, but because we need to act faster now, we take a different approach. In HR we try and create an environment where people them-

We help people drive their own development by reflecting on how they can be the best possible version of themselves now and in the future by encouraging them to complete the individual development plan. This plan helps people to plan for now, plan for the next, and plan for beyond. They can then use My Learning to upskill themselves in the areas they set out. The role of talent leaders is to guide managers and leaders so they can empower their teams. APRIL 2021 |

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The crisis has reemphasized to me that it is important we care about our colleagues. For instance, I really try and be inclusive when it comes to people’s home life. I don’t mind it if kids pop into the screen or if people sit in their meetings in their gym gear because they want to go for a run afterward

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skilling? What’s your advice for L&D leaders to make virtual learning seamless, engaging, and impactful? Yes absolutely. We have really made some important steps in digitizing our leadership programs and graduate programs by making them fully virtually. This is great because people can access it anywhere, anytime – and digital usage brings data that can further help drive improvement. Artificial intelligence can really help us. The data shows for instance which learnings score well and which ones don’t and where we need to improve. One of the most important features is the “channels” with recommendations tailored to you, based on employees with a similar learning history or based on your business group and job role. Our employees can also upload something themselves. So if they have learned something outside of ING that could be relevant for colleagues, they can make a record of their ‘personal learning’. It could be a video, a conference they attended, or training they delivered themselves. My advice for L&D leaders would be don’t rely just on technology. By embracing this and also reinforcing our key learning programs with campaigns we ultimately aim to change people behaviors and learning to part of

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Sujit Sahoo

How should you reinvent ‘people’ and ‘work’ in 2021?

The New Workplace

As sweeping business changes become more frequent, learn how HR teams are rising to the challenge

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he year 2020 was tumultuous. The COVID-19 pandemic caused mass disruption across the world, prompting significant job losses and changes in work patterns. Concurrently, it also earmarked numerous opportunities for business transformation— namely through people rather than processes. As we emerge from the pandemic, it is clear that both remote-first and people-first strategies hold promise. This applies equally to customers and employees, with flexibility taking precedence over physical presence.

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Companies like Amazon have championed this sentiment, proving that remote-first isn’t just viable, in many cases it’s more productive and preferable. People-first and remote-first go hand in hand. This combination is breaking down geographical barriers and increasing the diversity of applicant pools. Simply, if any person can do the work, and do it well, their location is a mere afterthought in the present recruiting environment. The pandemic has proven how talented people across the globe are more within our reach than we thought. Boundaries have been broken, and people themselves take precedence over geographic placement. Going forward, we are likely to see more diverse teams distributed across the globe—achieving great success while replacing the status quo of local recruitment thanks to the widespread adoption of remote collaboration technologies.

Reinventing the workplace

The businesses that have managed to weather the storm of COVID-19 share one thing in common: proactive innovation. These businesses understood that


evolve further into a “digital workplace” that is secure, flexible, and enabled for an individual or a team to manage their dayto-day tasks, self-help capability, and collaborate with teams on projects. It will also allow them to track life and wellness goals, understand what’s happening in the world around them and pull in whatever professional knowledge is relevant to be able to do it well. At Trianz, we have initiated this concept of a digital workplace, aptly named PULSE, that enables all of these, while also giving a top-down view to our CXOs of overall employee wellness, engagement, productivity, and output. Thus, if enterprises wish to adopt a people-first approach, technology should be classed as a prerequisite. In this case, peoplefirst would cater to new requirements around health and safety, and the resulting change in workforce distribution. Those who innovated early, or had a higher digital maturity, have already

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rapid change was imminent, and leveraged technology to adapt to and overcome these unprecedented hurdles. Examples include virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) platforms, and more recently, real-time communication tools such as Slack, and video conferencing platforms like Zoom have become mainstays. Technology companies in particular were well-positioned to withstand this crisis. VDI brought the office computer into the home. Slack and Zoom enabled seamless colleague communications. They already had these remote productivity and collaboration technologies in place, greatly simplifying the switch from office to remote working. Contrarily, many businesses were ill-prepared. The pandemic has exposed the weaknesses in low digital maturity, stifling remote collaboration and business agility. However, what was “the new normal” has now simply become a way of life. We will see this

As we emerge from the pandemic, it is clear that both remote-first and people-first strategies hold promise. This applies equally to customers and employees, with flexibility taking precedence over physical presence APRIL 2021 |

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started reaping the rewards while trailing behind technologically also subsequently trailing in success.

Reinventing expectations around remote working

The New Workplace

The pandemic has functioned as a test environment for remote working. Before, employees were used to the status quo of commuting and attending the office each day. This façade of higher productivity in the office was quickly disproven, followed by increased acceptance and expectation of remote working provisions from employees. Before the pandemic, businesses were skeptical of remote work-

Before the pandemic, businesses were skeptical of remote working. Function managers saw this as “letting go of the leash” and losing the ability to monitor their employees. In fact, the opposite happened ing. Function managers saw this as “letting go of the leash” and losing the ability to monitor their employees. In fact, the opposite happened. This flexibility has given employees a better work-life balance, driving productivity through increased workforce satisfaction. As we exit the pandemic, a hybrid model of remote and office-based work is likely to gain traction—driving the people- and remote-first approach.

Reinventing to face the VUCA world

We keep hearing of change being the only constant in the world we are in, and the rate of change more 22

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rampant. It is getting more volatile and uncertain, even as complexity and ambiguity abound. The pandemic simply kicked all these elements into high gear. As a result, stress is now seen, heard, or felt, in some form or other. HR teams have to be there for employees, not just for ‘morale boosting’ activities, but also to ensure there is readiness for true future-proofing. We in HR have to enable learning that encourages the flexibility to adapt to a new style of working, which drives learning across a cluster of related skills that usher in the new wave. The willingness to learn something new will be the norm, and that is the foundation for innovation. HR can help build the culture of “try small, try fast, fail fast” without fear of persecution, so employees aren’t afraid of trying new things or exploring new avenues. Ultimately, this will lead to reinvented processes, people, and even functions. And what’s more, we will reinvent processes to simplify them. Life is complicated enough as it is, so let automation do the complicated stuff ! Do you really need the status report if the output is clearly visible?

Reinventing the value of people Customer experience (CX) is fast becoming the biggest differentiator between digital companies. It is also poised as the next ''digital battleground'' as we emerge from the pandemic. Customers want to feel a connection to their product or service more than ever, and a good CX creates an emotional attachment that promotes loyalty and repeats purchases. Workforce


Connecting it all together

In summary, the pandemic has severely altered the business landscape. This ‘’tectonic shift’’ in colleague and customer sentiment has exposed a rift in technological capabilities—with only a small percentage of businesses being on the right side of the chasm. This digital divide must be traversed in preparation for yet another ‘new normal,’ as that is the only way

The pandemic has proven how talented people across the globe are more within our reach than we thought. Boundaries have been broken, and people themselves take precedence over geographic placement enterprises can prioritize peopleand remote-first strategies. HR teams will play a significant role in this transition. They are tasked with understanding the people behind the business and preparing them for the future. This understanding will build the culture of innovation through increased employee learning, engagement, and satisfaction. Ultimately, this will drive improvements in employee experience (EX) and in turn, positively influence customer experience (CX).

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satisfaction—often referred to as employee experience (EX)— directly correlates with the quality of CX. If employees have to follow inefficient or unintuitive workflows, becoming frustrated in the process, these negative emotions are likely to translate to customer contact. Workforce culture, salaries or benefits in relation to competitors, and work flexibility all have a similar effect. By contrast, passionate and engaged workers will put more care and effort into customer interactions, directly influencing the quality of CX. Furthermore, EX directly correlates with retention rates. Disgruntled employees are more likely to ''vote with their feet'' and search for alternative work, risking a loss of experience and talent. Employees in training need time to gain experience, and their inexperience while training will translate over to customer interactions. Customers will notice, CX will suffer, and the vicious cycle will continue. Simply put, now is the time to use the employee experience to influence the customer experience, putting people first on all fronts.

Sujit Sahoo is the Vice President, Human Capital at Trianz APRIL 2021 |

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The time has come to lead with inclusion: Eric Stallworth

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In this special interview with People Matters, Eric Stallworth, Head of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) at ISS Facilities Services, North America shares some insights on why having a diverse and inclusive workplace is a critical requirement in 2021, why we are failing in our DE&I initiatives, and how do we ensure that workplace diversity initiatives survive in a post-COVID-19 era By Yasmin Taj

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illions of dollars have been spent on failed diversity & inclusion programs, but still, most of them fail to achieve the desired results. When it comes to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI), just knowing that the problem exists is not enough. In order to initiate true change, we have to move beyond lip service, roll up our sleeves and make inclusion an everyday task for us. For Eric Stallworth, Head of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) at ISS Facilities Services, North America, his mission focuses on the day-to-day work of DE&I because it’s fundamental to a healthy business. ISS is one of the largest private employers with an incredibly diverse workforce. A global workplace-experience and facility-management company, ISS is publishing its D&I strategy online for all to see. This transparency is an open call for accountability. Eric walks the talk. He has spent 25 years of his career focused on diversity and inclusion with Motorola, Rockwell Collins, American Airlines, Exelon, and Kimberly Clark. In this special interview, Eric shares some of his biggest learnings from this pandemic as a


global diversity and inclusion leader, and his insights on how to build and embed D&I in the business strategy, the biggest challenges in embracing diversity and inclusion at a strategic level, and how the challenges can be surmounted. Here are the excerpts from the interview.

Diversity and inclusion concepts and best practices have changed slightly over the years but the general rule for success has, and will, essentially remain the same: lead with inclusion and empathy and treat others the way they want to be treated

in part because employees and customers are speaking up. How can boards ingrain inclusion into their organizational strategy? Boards are a critical driver in fostering real organizational change, establishing a dedicated focus on D&I priorities, and helping to provide structure to a D&I strategic direction. They provide platforms to oversee and assess the effectiveness of the D&I function It's clear that the corporate world is experiencing a and introduce reform when moment of awakening about needed. At ISS, our data-driven their efforts around diverstrategy and analytical sity and inclusion — and it's

approach to D&I guide us in ensuring that we are focused on what is truly important, allows us to accurately measure our success, and consistently monitor and adjust as needed. Our culture is made up of three pillars: lead, grow, and deepen. We lead with inclusion. Inclusion unlocks the power of diversity and leading with inclusion creates an environment where all people feel welcomed and valued. We grow diverse representation and cultivate an inclusive culture. As we create a ‘diverse by APRIL 2021 |

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How do you see the larger diversity, equity, and inclusion dashboard today globally? What are your major learnings from this pandemic as a global diversity and inclusion leader? Can you share some insights? Diversity and inclusion concepts and best practices have changed slightly over the years but the general rule for success has, and will, essentially remain the same: lead with inclusion and empathy and treat others the way they want to be treated. However, the pandemic is forcing organizations to adapt in numerous ways. Inclusive leaders will continue to have the greatest positive impact if they remain curious and listen to learn, remain flexible around how their workforce collaborates, and focus on building cultural intelligence and allyship.

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design’ culture, it is imperative that we look, think, and behave like the people that use our service. We deepen client and community partnerships. In our quest to become more reflective of our community and clients, we will take on a more explicit approach and actively look for opportunities to work directly with clients and community partners in order to gain additional perspective, build trust, and win consistently.

In the post-pandemic world, do you think, we need leadership that recognizes the potential of diverse talent and understands its implications on inclusion and culture? With leaders in every industry working hard to protect employees and build resilience, what according to you, should be their strategy with regard to embedding a culture of inclusion across their organizations? I would contend that leaders with an inclusive mindset would recognize that ALL hired talent is potentially ‘diverse talent’ and it is up to them to create an inclusive work environment whereby all talents are not only heard but recognized, understood, valued, and ultimately engaged in a way that allows their differences to truly make the difference. What, according to you, are the biggest challenges

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in embracing diversity and inclusion at a strategic level? How can the challenges be surmounted? One of the biggest challenges is pushing past the strategy and focusing on solutions. An impactful D&I strategy needs not only ways to leverage diversity but also promote inclusion. At ISS, we lead with inclusion and prioritize it because we know that valued and engaged employees create better results for our clients. Employee retention is increased, and we transform our culture from “a place to work” to “a place where employees do their best work”. There are ample studies that demonstrate a strong correlation between diversity at a leadership level and business results. But not much is changing in the real

world. Why are we failing? I suspect that the root of this correlation lies in the speed at which business is conducted. In a world where deadlines are yesterday, it doesn’t permit time for the creation of meaningful and trusting relationships. In order to tap into the value of diversity, it requires one go deeper than the surface and understand what that difference (diversity) is and how to manage that difference effectively. That requires time; time many of us don’t have. However, we have to begin to ask ourselves - what becomes the true cost of not investing that time? Turnover, disengaged employees, maintaining the status quo, and stagnated diversity programs. What would be some of the pitfalls and predictions on D&I in the new world of work?


The new world of work, whether fully remote or hybrid, creates an opportunity for companies to spread opportunities, provide additional flexibility, and showcase a more empathetic style of leadership. At all levels of an organization, managers and employees alike will need to think about ways to be intentional, proactive about checking in and working together to instill an inclusive company culture where all voices are heard.

The pandemic has put an unprecedented strain on individuals and companies alike and it has showcased, in many ways, that we need D&I more than ever. When organizations put their people at the center, they can create environments where diversity can thrive Will workplace diversity initiatives survive in a post-COVID-19 era? How do organizations ensure that they do? The pandemic has put an unprecedented strain on individuals and companies alike and it has showcased, in many ways, that we need D&I more than ever. Companies with diverse teams have been found to have stronger employee engagement and able to produce larger reve-

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How do you unleash talent, ensure that your organization has representation from multiple points of view, and can leverage diversity and inclusion practices as a sustainable competitive advantage for your company? Can you share some insights on how ISS is looking at this? At ISS, we have multiple touchpoints to optimize our D&I strategy and to ensure our organization has representation from multiple points of view and can leverage diversity and inclusion as a sustainable competitive advantage for our company. We optimize our D&I strategy through a number of inclusion-first touchpoints including community awareness, recruitment, onboarding, training, career development, evaluations, and off-boarding to ensure success in achieving our D&I goals.

nues from innovation - both critical attributes for businesses to emerge from the pandemic successfully. ISS has always been a people organization, working with a strong belief that great people and their wealth of perspectives and experiences, can and do make all the difference. When organizations put their people at the center, they can create environments where diversity can thrive. APRIL 2021 |

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Moin Qazi

India’s skill famine

In an age of skyrocketing unemployment, it is integral to incorporate marketable and real-world skills within the education system

Today, knowledge is ubiquitous, constantly changing, growing exponentially…Today, knowledge is free. It’s like air, it’s like water… There’s no competitive advantage today in knowing more than the person next to you…What the world cares about is what you can do with what you know S k i lli n g

– Tony Wagner, Creating Innovators

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he amount of change the world economy has witnessed in the last two decades and the rate at which it has occurred is staggering. Everyone will inevitably have to deal with a significant degree of professional change. This shift

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could be seismic, to the extent that the very nature of a trade or profession is transformed forever. Skill development holds the key to India’s ability to tap the vast potential of its youth for achieving inclusive growth and for evolving as the hub of the global financial system. However, much thought needs to be invested in designing the right training methodologies. It should focus on learning by doing rather than rote classroom learning. India’s education system leans heavily on theoretical learning while practical training aspects involving “working with hands” and “learning by doing” take a backseat. Bookish knowledge is rarely supplemented with industrial training in the country. We have inadequate infrastructure for imparting industrial skills to the students who are dropouts of the educational system, particularly in rural India, or those who cannot continue their studies due to financial constraints. This is one of the main reasons for India’s demandsupply mismatch where the industry lacks a skilled talent pool and youngsters cannot find jobs. The mismatch between academic training skills and employment has widened, lead-


skilled human resources but also for skills development that fosters inclusive growth. The focus must be on improving the quality and relevance of skills while also strengthening the inclusiveness of skills training so that economic and social growth covers all citizens we have to build a new national apprenticeship to enable young people acquire and practice those skills that are relevant for the new world.

Skill development holds the key to India’s ability to tap the vast potential of its youth for achieving inclusive growth and for evolving as the hub of the global financial system. However, much thought needs to be invested in designing the right training methodologies

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ing to a situation where, on one hand, the youth are unable to find employment and on the other, employers are unable to find people appropriately trained for jobs they have on offer. Technology is advancing faster than we can adapt, upending the job market and delivering unimaginable shocks to both our values and pattern of thinking. Most children entering school today will do jobs that don’t exist yet. Many of these children who are still being educated in the old system will find the new norms, institutions, and patterns of working alien to their ways. The tools of most jobs are in a state of extreme flux. For example, spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, and other boardroom documents have all been changed by the cloud, and sharing and group editing are the new norms. Technology empowers but will render millions of jobs obsolete, as smart machines take over repetitive tasks. Many of the schools and universities are structured on the old, hierarchical elitism of colonial times and consider students as empty vessels that simply need to be filled with bookish knowledge. As a consequence, such educational institutions are disempowering students through their outdated teaching methods. A better way would be to treat students as creative, entrepreneurial problemsolvers and give them the skills, resources, and power to generate and drive change both while learning and after they graduate. The need of the hour is not only for producing appropriately

Students can best be empowered by bridging the gap between theory and practice. Today’s graduates must be both intellectually and technically savvy to succeed beyond the classroom environment. It’s no wonder that a growing number of universities are enriching their curriculums with real-world knowledge and empowering students with a practical learning experience. Universities will have to increasingly infuse practical elements in learning systems and culture. The life cycle approach to teaching soft skills Our skill program is churning out unemployable skills, and not employable skills, for which APRIL 2021 |

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there is a huge shortage. The private sector has no incentive to impart skills to workers who may then use their resulting higher bargaining power to obtain work elsewhere. In this context, the German system of apprenticeship makes it mandatory for the private sector to impart skills to workers. The need of the hour is not only giving adequate skills but also developing them in such a manner that it fosters inclusive growth. We should focus on the “one lifecycle” approach which

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Our skill program is churning out unemployable skills, and not employable skills, for which there is a huge shortage. The private sector has no incentive to impart skills to workers who may then use their resulting higher bargaining power to obtain work elsewhere

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encompasses all aspects related to skill training, including employability. Adopting this approach will ensure that the kind of skills imparted to trainees are marketable and linked with jobs. It is also important to ensure that specific skills are not scaled across multiple areas in the same region as this saturates the market with limited opportunities for those who are trained. If everyone is trained in becoming a blacksmith, there will be too many blacksmiths and not enough jobs. Imparting locallyrelevant skill sets like repairing bicycles, two-wheelers, solar lamps or mobiles, running a poultry unit, and the like, make families self-sustaining. To this end, Governments should boost investment in lifelong learning to retrain, retool, and reskill. For example, Governments could provide training grants throughout the life of a worker. Governments should also reinforce the supply of skills by strengthening incentives for educational institutions to harness the power of digital technology and new business models. While we continue our efforts to provide training in more advanced skills, it is also necessary to strengthen the ecosystems for basic subsistence skills in smaller communities. We can design new-generation skills for para-veterinarians, health workers, solar engineers, water drillers and testers, hand pump mechanics, artisans, designers, masons, accountants, technicians, and computer programmers who support their fellow villagers in


Envisioning the bold future

We require a more coordinated and collective impact approach from the various stakeholders if we want to enlarge the network of training programs and ensure that training is closely aligned with specific demands of the industry. It requires developing a clear common agenda around the entire ecosystem of workforce training. Education will have to be made available in more flexible and innovative forms to enable lifelong learning and deepening of skills and re-skilling as old occupations disappear and new ones

evolve. It will also not have to be restricted for jobs that might be on offer, but ones that would stimulate them to see the possibilities for innovation and even the creation of own jobs for them. We require a more coordinated approach from various stakeholders if we want to enlarge the network of training programs and ensure that training is closely aligned with the specific demands of the industry. It requires intervention at four levels: Quality trainers, market-aligned curriculum, assessment of learning outcomes, and effective matchmaking between the youth and jobs.

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building and sustaining collective livelihood projects and increasing their economic and social resilience. In an age of skyrocketing unemployment, it is integral to incorporate marketable and realworld skills within the education system. A system that integrates skills and education can go a long way in ensuring that the youth are better equipped to handle a challenging employment market. Employers need to interact with education providers. Both can benefit from strong reciprocal relations, with employers advising educators what skills they need (and even assisting in designing curricula and extending faculty support) and educators providing students with practical training and hands-on learning. There are compelling economic benefits in rebalancing the labor market; conversely, the human costs of failing to do will be enormous.

Moin Qazi worked for three decades at the State Bank of India. He served as a Member of the National Committee on Financial Inclusion at NITI Aayog. He was a Visiting Fellow at the University of Manchester. He received UNESCO World Politics Essay Gold Medal, Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar Gold Medal from Dalit Sahitya Academy, and Rotary International's Vocational Excellence Award. APRIL 2021 |

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People are key to your digital transformation project: ICAEW's Mark Billington Businesses should not expect a “big-bang” style change overnight but instead, strive to accomplish small and continuous improvements over time, which will provide greater agility for organizations to respond to changes, says Mark Billington, Managing Director of ICAEW, while talking to People Matters about purposeful transformation By Mint Kang

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ransformation of various kinds is a popular buzzword, especially in times of change. But transformation is an intensive, comprehensive effort that involves the entire organization from people to processes to policies to culture. What are the key components to take into consideration? People Matters asked Mark Billington, Managing Director of ICAEW International, for his perspective on transformation and innovation. ICAEW is a global professional body for chartered accountants, and he also shared some thoughts on how a profession can be involved in, affected by, and respond to transformation.

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Businesses need to ensure they cultivate a long-term shift in internal behavior and culture to embrace learning, change, and experimentation. Organizational leaders must play an important role in communicating this vision and inspiring employees to be a part of this change work for the organization. No matter what technologies are integrated and introduced into business operations, people are the key to enabling successful digital transformation. This means that businesses will need to ensure they cultivate a longterm shift in internal behavior and culture to embrace learning, change, and experimentation. Organizational leaders must play an important role in communicating this vision and inspir-

ing employees to be a part of this change. This fundamental shift in mindset and culture needs to happen across all levels for digital transformation to be sustainable. Businesses should not expect a “big-bang” style change overnight but instead, strive to accomplish small and continuous improvements over time, which will provide greater agility for organizations to respond to changes in technology, and APRIL 2021 |

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Digital transformation was a mega-trend last year, but for many businesses, digitalization stopped at introducing new software. What are your thoughts on how businesses can leverage the changes already made for a more purposeful transformation? The increasing accessibility of data and emerging technologies has accelerated the digital transformation that is fundamentally changing businesses, economies, and societies. While digital transformation was a growing trend even before the pandemic hit, it has been especially critical in helping businesses to respond and recover, in the face of uncertainty. Most importantly, businesses need to recognize that digital transformation is not just about adopting technology, but also rethinking talent management and processes within the organization, and ensuring people have the skills to be able to use the technology. In certain finance functions, employees may be primarily focused on transactional work such as manually entering data and checking for data anomalies. But our research has highlighted the potential for digital transformation to take over laborious, transactional work to free up professionals’ time to carry out higher-level commercial, operational or strategic

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encourage learning and reflection over transformations that have been made.

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Going deeper than the surface implementation of tools, what are some ways businesses can revisit their policies and processes for greater effectiveness? While there are common lessons and challenges when it comes to digital transformation, every organization's journey is different, as it is shaped by the specific needs of the business, its current culture, and leader-

Businesses that lead the pack in the new digital era will be the ones who can identify their digital transformation pain points and build plans to chart their next phase of sustainable and resilient growth ship. For greatest effectiveness, business priorities and agendas for digital transformation need to be adjusted for specific business contexts, as a one-size-fits-all approach will not work. Business leaders need to first create a clear digital roadmap that articulates a strategic vision, outline a plan considering the current and future needs of their organization and its stage of digital maturity, and set actionable goals tailored to different functions.

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People are the key to enabling digital transformation, so business leaders will need to place their employees at the heart of their digital roadmaps. Steps should be taken to equip employees with technology and data analytics skills to help them succeed in an increasingly digital environment. This can be done by raising awareness of technology trends, developing new learning management systems, and supplementing training courses with knowledge-sharing sessions

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among peers and managers to cultivate a digital-first culture. Another way to encourage change for the long-term will be to create building blocks for digital transformation, with a focus on process standardization. For example, a lack of trust in technology can be a reason for companies continuing to rely on manual processes. To overcome this, business leaders should cultivate trust within their organizations by instituting modes

of communication such as weekly or quarterly townhall meetings to address concerns, and even nurturing “change champions” to facilitate positive conversations around technology.

Could you share some thoughts on what makes innovation crucial to your business growth today? Many businesses in the Southeast Asia region have done well in responding and adapting to the pandemic by leveraging past investments in their digital infrastructure and adopting technologies to run operations remotely and continue serving customers. From moving to the cloud to adopting software to enable flexibility for remote work, these innovations have contributed to business continuity during an unprecedented time. At the same time, more emphasis should be placed on the long-term use of such innovations. With the effects of the pandemic expected to persist, the next step for businesses should be to evaluate the innovations they’ve put in place, starting with how well their employees are adapting to the new normal. Our recent survey on the future of work highlighted that nine in ten chartered accountants, who work with businesses around the world, believe that working life will continue to look different after the pandemic,


and the merits they bring to organizations, as well as considering the ethics and accountability of data, Artificial Intelligence, and other technologies, and what they mean for privacy and autonomy, social mobility, and inequality.

As a professional body, ICAEW focuses on building practitioners' skills and values. What are the skills and mindset that practition-

ships or going the extra mile by sending care packages to employees to boost morale. Besides, the businesses that will lead the pack in the new digital era will be the ones who can identify their digital transformation pain points and build plans to chart their next phase of sustainable and resilient growth. This will include assessing the risks of emerging technologies

ers today need to contribute to transformation efforts? According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2020, there will be a significant shift in tasks, jobs, and skills over the next five years, with accounting and auditing being in the top four areas impacted. With the acceleration of digital transformation in many organizations, the need for accountants

with data analytics skills is more important than ever. As organizations move forward with accelerated digital transformations, the role of data translators, who can understand raw data and put it into actionable insights that can be applied across the organization, is crucial. Regardless of the industry, they are in, practitioners should consider developing technical skills in areas such as programming, statistics, and other specific technology areas depending on the needs of the businesses that they are in, to better inform and guide business decisions. Nonetheless, this will not dilute the value of ‘’soft skills’’ such as problem-solving, communication, and critical thinking. Alongside adding robust digital skills to their existing expertise, finance teams will have to become more diverse, creative, flexible, and collaborative. Skills such as being able to communicate and collaborate effectively as a team member or leader, analyze a problem, generate options, and make recommendations to arrive at the best solution will continue to be crucial skills for all professionals. This is especially true for accountants and finance professionals, who are trusted advisors to businesses and must be champions of corporate governance and transparency. APRIL 2021 |

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with challenges such as engaging new clients and building new relationships, maintaining staff morale, and maintaining productivity. With these challenges on the horizon, businesses should look at putting in place new programs and initiatives to help employees make the best of their new work reality, such as setting up in-person meetings with clients to maintain relation-

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Boards must take CEO search more seriously

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Here’s how boards can make better outcomes from CEO search committees

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By Dr. M Muneer & Ralph Ward

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ne of the major headaches for the board of directors has always been putting a succession plan for the successful running of the enterprise it serves. Ensuring leadership stability by replacing an existing CEO with a capable successor is always on top of the agenda every few years. Let’s just say the time has come to consider leadership change in the company. Perhaps it is part of a planned succession. Or, maybe the CEO is retiring, or he or she just surprised the board with a new “opportunity” (or maybe the incumbent CEO “just didn’t work out”). Let us assume that the choice of a new chief is not a done deal and that the board wants to do a | APRIL 2021

proper job of the succession. That means designating a board “CEO search committee.” How good are boards in doing CEO search? Remember there have been many failed attempts even by blue chip boards. Have you forgotten Tata Sons, Infosys, and many others? Here’s how boards can make better outcomes from CEO search committees. For starters, designating a distinct committee of the board to manage chief executive search offers many advantages over an ad hoc or full board approach. It shows good governance – you are telling investors and employees that sound CEO succession is a board

priority and that it will be handled properly. Membership can be handpicked to assure board members with time, expertise, and independence for the task. And the board can write a charter for the committee that spells out timelines, priorities, and role of the committee versus the full board (and you can set a discrete budget line item for its needs). Keep committee size compact – 3 or 4 members. A big search committee proves both political and unwieldy. Evaluate if it is good to add the CEO succession agenda into the portfolio of an existing committee. It has its own advantages. Since the tasks and needs of


For starters, designating a distinct committee of the board to manage chief executive search offers many advantages over an ad hoc or full board approach your executive talent development structures? Since even the best CEO committee cannot do the legwork all by itself, it sets the plan and parameters and then engages specialists for the actual headhunting and vetting. Usually, this will be an outside search firm, and the search professionals we spoke to advise consulting them early in the process. Even if the committee has candidates in mind, the search pros will know what questions to ask, how to dig for a deep reference check, and what real-world, current

pay and benefits packages look like. Typically, there is never “enough” time for the CEO search, but a rushed project often leads to eventual regrets. If the current CEO announces a planned retirement, a year to 18 months is ideal to form a committee, set parameters, and strategy, work with a search firm, interview candidates, and bring a final recommendation to the full board. In a pinch, the process can be done in 6 months, but that’s far from ideal. The COVID-19 lockdown has made virtual interviewing of candidates the norm, but in some ways has actually fast-tracked the process. Now, 90 percent of CEO candidates are either internal or known to the board. Finally, ensure that the committee members will have time to devote to the work involved – it is more time and labor-intensive than you think. Also, fill the committee with directors who will be around for a few years – definitely not someone who is soon to retire from the board. You want members with more skin in the game, who will actually have to work with the CEO they select, and not merely sticking to the assigned duty.

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the committee will overlap with executive pay setting, the compensation committee is often designated to handle CEO search. The membership will already be independent, and likely include some skills in HR and talent search. The comp committee chair is a natural for chairing the search committee, even if you have formed a separate group. With either of the approaches, membership should be finetuned for the role at hand. The independent chair or lead director should also be a member, as should the chair of your governance or nominating committee. Many board members ask us this question: Should the incumbent CEO be a part too? We don’t think it is a good idea. The outgoing chief will have too powerful of a say, and suck all the air out of deliberation. All this fussing over CEO search committee membership is vital because this core group is doing far more than coming up with a name. It is crucial for the committee to get a strategic focus on what success factors they should have without compromise. What strengths and weaknesses did recent CEO evaluations reveal? What new changes in the company’s strategic plan will push you to “lead the target” in identifying tomorrow’s ideal CEO? How will your top succession plans fit in with the rest of

Muneer is co-founder of the nonprofit Medici Institute and a stakeholder in the Silicon Valley-based deep-tech enterprise Rezonent Corp. Ralph is global board advisor, coach and publisher. Twitter @MuneerMuh APRIL 2021 |

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Sustenance is more important than initiation: Wells Fargo's DE&I leader

In this exclusive conversation with People Matters, Sneha Suresh, VP & Head – Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I), Wells Fargo India and Philippines, talks about the biggest pitfall for LGBTQ+ inclusion at the workplace, the emerging relevance of technology in DE&I, and more By Bhavna Sarin

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neha is a Vice President and heads Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) for Wells Fargo India and the Philippines. She leads and drives the inclusion strategy across Gender, LGBTQ+, People with Disabilities, and Veterans, and coaches senior executives on embedding DEI within their businesses and in their role as inclusion champions. An experienced DE&I professional in the financial services industry, Sneha has strong expertise in building inclusive cultures, talent strategies, and employee engagement. Here are excerpts from the interview.

What does a day in the life of a DE&I leader look like? Not like yesterday and not like tomorrow. Each day is unique because we primarily work with people and culture, which is ever-evolving. Be it leadership coach38

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Given your strong background in the diversity, equity, and inclusion vertical for top players in the financial services industry, what are some key learnings that have shaped your outlook? The lens that I keep in mind when thinking about strategies is typically three things: • Never underestimate the power of visible and vocal advocacy, especially at the top. Leadership advocacy plays an integral role in building the culture of inclusion itself. That's something I learned and use as a guiding principle. • The organization is obviously a microcosm of the environment. So, how are we enabling the envi-

ronment to support our microcosm? I find asking myself some questions always helps: How are we building a grassroots talent pipeline? How are we enabling entrepreneurship at the grassroots level? Enabling each other's environment and ecosystem is something that guides a lot of my thinking. • I'm personally also focused on the sustenance of an initiative. It's very easy to run initiatives and programs, but the effort is to establish a self-sustaining culture and ecosystem of inclusion. Therefore, I value consistency and sustenance more than initiation. Because what you're hoping for is a multiplier effect. You touch one life, and that one person touches five more. That's

going to work only if they genuinely believe in it.

Wells Fargo was recognized as a top employer in the bronze category of the 2020 Workplace Equality Index. What are some key practices that led to this accomplishment? We are very excited about the recognition as it reaffirms the direction of our strategy, especially since we recently started our journey in the space. Leadership commitment at the top definitely sets the foundation for our efforts. Some of them from a policy and infrastructure perspective include genderneutral policies, same-sex partner benefits, gender affirmation surgery insurance coverage, genderneutral restrooms, etc. We are also continually focused on building an inclusive

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ing, inclusion strategies, or advocacy, the lens that we apply to each of these is distinctive. The spectrum of my work includes developing diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies for India and the Philippines. This involves a plethora of efforts such as enabling individuals to bring their most authentic selves to work; building equitable workspaces; driving external advocacy; and equipping managers as inclusion champions and leaders. What I feel most lucky about my role is that no two days are alike because no two people are alike.

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environment for LGBTQ+ professionals through awareness-raising sessions and workshops. We are very proud of also being able to demonstrate our commitment to LGBTQ+ inclusion through displaying a huge Pride flag outside our building premises during Pride month. This is an ongoing, long journey and we are happy to have made a good impact in the first year of the same!

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How are you mapping the progress made towards LGBTQ+ inclusion at the workplace? What are some milestones and pitfalls that remain critical in the journey ahead? I look at measuring the impact of a particular strategy in terms of how equipped the overall ecosystem of that strategy is. In the space of LGBTQ+, it becomes even more important because of the cultural nuances, because of the environment, and the framework in which we operate. I define clearly what the end goal for us is: for example, are we looking at attracting these professionals, hiring them, developing them, and so on. For all these things to happen, we need to have a whole structure in place. Then, we tackle the next set of questions. Do we have the right policies, infrastructure, and benefits? Do we have the right culture to | APRIL 2021

2020 threw a lot of light on micro-inequities in the broader society and startling inequities in the environment. I view 2021 as a year of opportunity support individuals from the community? Are we communicating that we are advocates for LGBTQ+ inclusion externally and internally? If you look at the impact, you have to look at it holistically. The biggest pitfall that you could encounter in the LGBTQ+ space is to look at only one part of the employee lifecycle in isolation. You can't just look at hiring, because you need to think about the support mechanism that is also in place. Neither can you think about only external advocacy, if you don't have an internal mechanism to support LGBTQ+ individuals? From a milestone perspective, it's important for us, especially in India, to bear

in mind and celebrate incremental progress. We work against many years of culture and societal influences, so celebrating even the smallest of wins is crucial. My biggest personal/professional achievement is the first time somebody came out to me, and I was the second person in their whole life that they shared their story with. At that point in time, I felt like I must have done at least something right that they trust me with their story. We need to keep in mind that it’s not the number of individuals you have in your organization, it's how you impacted an individual's life authentically. And organizationally, if that individ-


ual has trusted me to come and share their story, there are better chances for me to retain that individual because they feel safe. So it's really a mutually beneficial relationship.

communicate our broader DE&I strategy and touch individuals in a meaningful manner, technology is very helpful.

What does 2021 look like for you from the lens of diversity, equity, and inclusion? I view 2021 as a year of opportunity. 2020 threw a lot of light on micro-inequities in the broader society and startling inequities in the environment. The last year also taught us a lot of things in terms of access to resources within equitable populations. Understanding what our role is in bridging that gap became important in 2021. In the middle of a pandemic, in the middle of a global crisis, the need to belong to space, to a group of individuals, is essential. As organizations, can we provide those safe spaces? Can we provide those opportunities where people feel valued? 2021 is also an opportunity for us to reiterate the business case for inclusion. It is imperative to understand that inclusion isn’t about altruism. It makes business sense to have a diverse workforce and, as studies have shown time and again, investing in inclusion enhances productivity, team performance, innovation, and just is a business smart decision. In 2021, and from here on, we cannot forget that fact. APRIL 2021 |

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Beyond hiring, how do you see the role of technology in fostering inclusion? Technology is definitely a boon in this space. Having said that, we'll have to be mindful of the regulations around it as well. For example, some applications screen certain traits that are more prone to bias. I'm curious to understand who designed that program. If it's a man, will that application be free of stereotypes that his life experiences exposed him to? Similarly, if it were developed by a woman, I would ask the same questions. Who makes a product/tool is as important as how it is made. This

is the conversation around AI and biases; how do we govern that sort of opportunity available? Technology has opened up talent channels in a manner such that assistive technologies are available for people with disabilities. So that's proven to be a boon. In the learning space, there's also a great opportunity because it provides a voice to conceptual learning. For example, in interactive learning and game design. Game design is fantastic for DE&I training because it puts you in a situation and gives you options to choose from. That’s a safe space for a learner, it's between them and the AI; the AI is not judging them. In the learning space, technology also provides the opportunity for scalability. Especially with the kind of increase in workload currently, for us to be able to

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2021: The Year of Continuous Reinvention

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COVID-19 pandemic has expedited a shift in how and where we work, putting organizations and their business models, and the mode of work to a test. The year 2021 will see the continuation of the ‘reinvention of work’ By Mastufa Ahmed

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cal role by helping organizations weather the storm and preparing them to shape a sustainable post-COVID-19 world. Investors and multinational corporations have made pledges to integrate sustainable development at the heart of the recovery process. The pandemic also offered an opportunity for organizations to revisit policies and practices to get work done more efficiently. This makes the role of HR even more strategic in today’s time. The sphere of HR has evolved from being limited to employee satisfaction to a larger impact on the company’s overall growth. The ongoing transformation of the corporate world due to COVID-19 will make the role of HR even more central to organizational success. Finally, the continuous reinvention needs to address learning and skilling as COVID-19 has accelerated the need to acquire new skills because there is a clear mismatch of skills that the workforce has and what businesses are looking for. The April 2021 issue of our magazine will attempt to find out from global leaders how they are reinventing their business to stay future-proof. APRIL 2021 |

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shape the future of work. As companies continue to adapt to changing times with their transformation initiatives and make steady progress, we see organizations embracing “purpose”. Digital agendas of several organizations now reflect ''purpose'' which connects with quantifiable goals and objectives that can be measured. They know long-term value is created only when you stay true to your organization’s purpose and meet responsibilities to society as a whole. Hence, leaders must pay attention to how their leadership is experienced, and whether the processes and digital technologies and techniques are making their stakeholders including employees, feel more valued. The continuous reinvention should encompass innovation and sustainability measures for businesses to come stronger on the other side. Given today's market conditions, innovation is a survival strategy. Everyone wanted to innovate before the pandemic, but now everyone needs to innovate. 2021 will see organizations strive to maintain the spirit of innovation as they try to create a healthy remote/virtual culture. Tech companies are playing a criti-

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he long awful year 2020 is over but we are still in the dark. The year 2021 will be crucial for leaders globally to reinvent the new world of work as we come out COVID-19 crisis. Straightening out the nittygritty of business —amid the ongoing chaos —including settling into the new mode of work, redefining processes and policies, embracing the new virtual culture, and tackling new challenges warrant radical transformations. Understandably, companies are at different stages of this reinvention. However, some trends are already in action. Remote or hybrid work for instance has gained widespread adoption led by large companies such as Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Microsoft. And the overriding priority for the majority of organizations today is increasing support for remote and hybrid working configurations. While “remote is the future of work” is still being debated, it has opened up avenues for leaders to think beyond the horizon and opened our minds to new ways of working in the future. As we move forward and get used to the new normal, the biggest question is how this experience will

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Many companies see hybrid work as a permanent fixture: Abe Smith, Zoom Video Communications

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Zoom in 2019 to accelerate revenue growth while delivering happiness in all markets outside of the USA and Canada. Abe graduated with the highest honors from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst where he studied Political Science with a certificate in International Relations.

In an exclusive interaction with us, Abe Smith, Head of International for Zoom Video Communications, shares how the pandemic has shown businesses the possibilities of a future of remote and hybrid work, with more productive employees, who are working the same or fewer hours and enjoying better work-life balance By Mastufa Ahmed

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be Smith is the Head of International for Zoom Video Communications. An industry-decorated technology executive, Abe is recognized for building high-growth global teams at leading enterprise cloud companies such as Oracle and Cisco where he held senior roles. Bring| APRIL 2021

ing almost two decades of experience in SaaS, Smith is an authority on scaling operations in Europe, Asia, and Latin America. Drawing on over 8 years of leadership at WebEx, where he was responsible for pioneering the web-conferencing category across emerging markets globally, Abe joined

The year 2020 is over and but we still have uncertainty. How do you see the current business landscape and organizations’ rebound strategies? The pandemic has shown businesses the possibilities of a future of remote and hybrid work, with more productive employees, who are working the same or fewer hours and enjoying a better work-life balance. With vaccinations enabling us to shift into a post-pandemic world, it’s clear that many companies see hybrid work as a permanent fixture – HSBC announced long-term plans to halve its global office space, while Twitter has allowed employees to work from home indefinitely. We believe that workplaces across different verticals like finance, educa-


sive, equitable culture for employees throughout the organization – regardless of location. After all, the ability to work remotely is fast becoming a key consideration for new employees, and productive remote workers will leave organizations that do not implement processes and systems that enable effective collaboration and have new measurements of success that reflect the next normal of work.

How can HR help leaders create transparent, inclusive, diverse, and psychologically safe workplaces built on trust, equity, and a sense of belonging? What’s new for HR they should focus on this year? Pushing for Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) is incredibly complex work, and there is a need to approach it with both the head and heart. Particularly in data-driven organizations where there

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their offices for a safe return to work, experiment with a permanent shift to hybrid work, and its implications on office culture. To transition successfully, companies need to look into recalibrating their offices and investing in technologies that enable an effective, safe hybrid workforce. For example, solutions such as video-conferencing technologies and hardware allow employees to work and collaborate from anywhere, anytime, and across any device. Our Zoom for the Home category of software and hardware devices was developed to support remote work cases, as we recognized the need for users to select the hardware they need to create the perfect workfrom-home communications experience. Businesses also need to commit to building an inclu-

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tion, and healthcare will be able to seamlessly transition to hybrid work by utilizing video-conferencing platforms such as Zoom. Looking at finance, an industry that relies heavily on human interaction, firms are utilizing digital tools such as video-conferencing platforms to build a network of partners and external advisors for video banking and wealth management. For education, 2020 showed us the potential of hybrid learning and how technology can enhance the learning experience, drive interaction and encourage real-time collaboration no matter where students dial in from. Additionally, with telehealth growing in prominence due to the pandemic, its emergence will help to strengthen public health systems and equity, with underserved populations enjoying increased access.

Do you the toughest leadership test is looming now that businesses are striving hard to rebound from the crisis? With the vaccinations heralding an end to the pandemic, business leaders can no longer sit on the fence when it comes to hybrid work, which is fast becoming part of the very fabric of how businesses are run. Consequently, many now have to grapple with what the new normal of work will look like as they prepare APRIL 2021 |

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tends to be a heavy focus on quantitative numbers for D&I and a primary motivator for behavioral change, there needs to be equal focus on the ‘heart’. Organizations need to recognize that building a diverse and inclusive workplace takes time, and cannot be rushed. Developing a transparent, inclusive, and psychologically safe workplace starts with the creation of safe spaces for employees to discuss D&I concerns openly, and feel supported at work. Leaders also need to be intentional about mentoring and developing all team members – as we transition to a hybrid workforce, they may face greater barriers when thinking of someone beyond their immediate network of go-to people. They can increase the transparency of opportunities by asking the whole team for volunteers, and also experiment with new ways to allocate opportunities and expand their circles.

Priorities of businesses have been shifting, and Purpose is becoming increasingly recognized as a “mustdo” for corporations. Can you share your thoughts on how to put your purpose to work in 2021? At Zoom, delivering happiness has been a core tenet from Day 1. It’s something we embody every 46

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day for our customers, employees, and the broader community - and this has paid off for us. We pride ourselves in always listening to our customers, relentlessly focusing on building quickly to serve their needs. This is why when there was a sudden need for video-conferencing, we saw a whopping 30-fold increase

With the vaccinations heralding an end to the pandemic, business leaders can no longer sit on the fence when it comes to hybrid work, which is fast becoming part of the very fabric of how businesses are run in our user base as we transitioned from enterprise app to household name in a matter of months. By rallying our employees behind the notion of creating the best product that we can, and always having our finger on the pulse, we’ve been able to drive our explosive success in recent years. This commitment has resulted in fantastic growth for our company, with a 367 percent increase in revenue year-on-year for Q3 FY21. We were also named a Leader in the 2020 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Meeting Solu-

tions for the fifth consecutive year, as well as a Leader in the 2020 Magic Quadrant for Unified Communications as a Service, Worldwide. However, we’re only able to offer that level of service because we’re able to provide a productive, inspiring work environment for our employees, managers, and executives - we consistently come in the top for workplace surveys on happy employees.

Employees now have the autonomy to decide where they want to work. A trend like this has implications for employee policies. Ensuring data security is one. What kind of policies and practices should organizations revisit in 2021? We are seeing three core focus areas as businesses update their employee policies for the new normal of work. Namely, the importance of ensuring technological readiness, securing data across multiple workspaces, and ensuring an even playing field for remote/hybrid workers. 2020 saw businesses scrambling to invest in IT solutions that could support a remote workforce. Technological readiness should be a key component of future business continuity plans, as it will help to reduce friction. Moving forward, companies should also understand the infrastruc-


a huge pressure cooker for workers, who found themselves dealing with increased stress, anxiety, and burnout as they learned how to navigate uncertainty. The pandemic has shone a spotlight on ensuring the mental and physical wellbeing of employees, and the human cost that comes with breakneck innovation and growth. Companies are starting to realize that sustainable development includes having a respectful and inclusive environment

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Do you think the year 2021 will see businesses focus on sustainable innovation? Between rising numbers of COVID-19 cases, unpredictability around business operations, and the economic fallout – 2020 was

The pandemic has also made businesses realize they can now tap into global talent pools due to the rise of the remote worker, and as more adopt a hybrid workforce - companies are likely to revisit policies around hiring, employee advancement, and culture

for employees to thrive. The pandemic has also underscored the need for collaboration to meet global challenges. Businesses, governments, and individuals rallied together to help their affected local communities, donating time, money, and supplies to protect their health and safety. At Zoom, we recognize that every company has an effect on the world, and we care about making our impact as positive as possible. This is why we introduced Zoom Cares in 2020, our philanthropic entity that strives to create a future where people and the environment are cared for. We are focused on creating a meaningful and lasting difference in three core areas: education, social equity, and climate change. Just last year, education was a huge focus for us as the pandemic threatened access to education, in particular for students from under-resourced communities. That’s why we provided our education service to over 125,000 schools in 25 countries for free during the pandemic. We also provided training and resources to help 35,000 educators teach remotely on Zoom, and invested over $1.5 million in back-to-school remote learning grants for organizations all over the world to ensure students are connected, safe, and learning during these times.

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ture and software needs required to ensure a smooth transition to remote/hybrid work. There is also the issue of shadow IT - many employees turned to free, user-friendly solutions that were not approved and difficult for IT teams to track and manage, jeopardizing company data. Now is the time for businesses to understand what employees really use regularly - and adopt a “best of breed” strategy that ensures team members can access their apps wherever, whenever, and however they need them. This is why we are working on introducing Zoom Apps - it helps employees to choose apps that best meet their needs, while powering their workflows before, during, and after meetings enhancing productivity. The pandemic has also made businesses realize they can now tap into global talent pools due to the rise of the remote worker, and as more adopt a hybrid workforce - companies are likely to revisit policies around hiring, employee advancement, and culture.

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Organizations need to refine a lot of practices to stay relevant: Experian APAC’s HR Director

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There is a newfound sense of perspective emerging with many organizations and employees reflecting on the unique value they bring to the world, says Sophie Smith, HR Director for Experian APAC, in an interaction with People Matters By Mastufa Ahmed

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ophie Smith is HR Director for Experian’s Asia Pacific region. She is a member of the Global HR and APAC Executive Leadership Team. Sophie is accountable for the APAC region’s people and culture strategy and has co-led Experian’s global Future of Work strategy which will result in adjustments to where, when, and how work is performed in the organization. Sophie has 15 years of HR experience in multiple sectors (engineering, financial services, private equity, and data technology) and geographic regions (UK, EMEA, and APAC). Here are the excerpts of the interview.

What role will ‘purpose’ play in the world of work after the COVID-19 pandemic? The purpose of an organi48

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zation and an employee’s role within it have always been important. Purpose provides employees with a clear reason, direction, and motivation to deliver great work. Purpose also ensures an organization’s resources and time are allocated to what matters most. The pandemic has elevated the significance of understanding, articulating, and authentically operating in accordance with the stated purpose. There is a newfound sense of perspective emerging with many organizations and employees reflecting on the unique value they bring to the world. Organizations will need to ensure their purpose aligns with their product portfolio, performance metrics, people strategy, and decision-making frameworks. Employees will increasingly reflect on whether their core values are aligned with

There will be an increased focus on hybrid working where colleagues blend working from an office and their home. Hence, preserving culture in a hybrid model will be critical their employer’s purpose. "Purpose" if clearly woven through the employee life cycle can enable an organization to differentiate itself and therefore attract and retain the best talent.

What role do business leaders have in embedding purpose into the business strategy? A purpose statement carries no value and is seen as inauthentic if it is just


What kind of practices and processes do you think organizations will revisit in 2021? Organizations may need to refine or radically adjust several practices in order to keep relevant and be the place where top talent wishes to work and thrive. Such adjustments are wideranging and could include; introducing flexible working policies, adjusting information security practices to support more remote working, defining the leadership behaviors expected, adjusting the capabilities that are developed, shifting reward frameworks to recognize a more geographically spread workforce, redefining the role of the office and rethinking how to virtually onboard colleagues and swiftly embed them into the organization’s culture.

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What’s fuelling hybrid-work strategies in 2021? How will the role of the office and work culture evolve in line with hybrid working? Home has become the workplace of most people over the past year. We know people have benefited from the increased flexibility working remotely has given them, especially colleagues who had long commutes into an office and many people wish to preserve the ability to work from home post the pandemic. Therefore, the purpose of the office will adjust. Offices will increas-

ingly become a place for collaboration and cementing relationships and connections. There will be an increased focus on hybrid working where colleagues blend working from an office and their home. Preserving culture in a hybrid model will be critical, HR functions need to consider how to equip leaders with the capabilities to inclusively lead and engage a team where some are physically with them and others are remote. Thought also needs to be given to infusing the organization’s culture into all areas of a virtual employee life cycle so the lived experience of those working in an office is comparable to those who have embraced a more remote way of operating. It will be important to avoid a split culture where those in an office experience a preferential culture to those working predominantly at home.

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words on a page. Purpose needs to be woven through the organization in a very authentic way and employees, customers, and society need to observe purpose in action. Leaders cast a long shadow in an organization with employees looking to them for cues on how to act, think and behave. Therefore, leaders play a key role in cementing purpose through hard coding it into processes, governance frameworks, performance metrics, the behaviors which are incentivized and rewarded as well as which innovation or investment options are given priority and which are declined. Ultimately leaders need to walk the purpose talk, and if they role model this successfully a culture shift will take place across the organization.

How can employees be more collaborative and

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productive in a virtual world? We’ve seen measures of employee productivity increase during COVID19 and our people have reported feeling more productive. That said, we are aware some people have struggled to switch off and place a distinction between their work and home lives. Collaboration has become more virtual with the increased use of technology platforms to connect, share ideas and co-create new products and strategies. Technology has also been an enabler for keeping the social fabric strong amongst teams through virtual happy hours, team quizzes, and celebrating moments that matter in people’s lives. Many office interactions can take place virtually if the right technology and mindsets are in place and people are helped to develop new | APRIL 2021

skills which enable them to influence, connect and collaborate without being physically in the same place.

What do you expect this year in terms of digital innovations and employee engagement strategies? Digitalization and personalization of the employee experience are becoming key for driving enhanced engagement. Employees want a tailored experience that respects their persona (i.e their needs, wants, and desires) and they seek consumer-grade experiences within their organization. Therefore, it is important HR functions are forwardthinking and embrace digital service delivery channels like robotics and chatbots, endorse design thinking practices that place the consumer (the employee) at the center of product design

and amplify the care and support they provide for employee wellbeing. The pandemic has shifted the importance of wellbeing in all its guises and organizations are becoming accountable for the physical and mental wellbeing of their people. The significance of inclusion has also increased in driving employee engagement, with organizations playing a stronger role in shifting government and public sentiment on topics such as race, disability, and gender balance.

With businesses striving hard to rebound from the crisis, do you think new leadership challenges are looming in the virtual world of work? The best leaders have navigated the pandemic and delivered strong results by demonstrating heightened vulnerability, showing empathy and connection with their teams, and providing a crystal clear sense of direction and purpose. They’ve also embraced virtual leadership and taken time to preserve the cohesion of their physically distant team. These skills will all be required in a post-pandemic hybrid way of working. The leadership traits that organizations seek to attract, develop and reward have shifted and HR functions need to redefine what ‘great leadership’ looks like.


A new era for HR to build the organization of the future As the world of work is radically shifting, so begins the era of reinvention By Kate Barker

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that organizations can perform major transformations in days, mobilize teams in new ways never imagined, and pivot products and services to changing demands. Secondly, that people are capable of the most extraordinary innovations under the pressure of a crisis; and our well-being is of paramount importance and we have the remarkable ability to adapt, learn and grow. The challenge for many now will be to sustain that momentum to discover a new permanent state of continuous reinvention to thrive in the long term, as advances in technology constantly reset the path forward. The pandemic has thrust the human resources function into the spotlight. The pivotal role played by the CHRO in this crisis has been likened to no other. HR has APRIL 2021 |

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izations had to respond to a sudden, unforeseen crisis, rethink outdated views and establish a new set of possibilities. As the world is radically shifting, so begins the era of reinvention. Organizations have by and large met the challenges of this crisis moment. But as we move toward imagining a post-pandemic era, a management system based on old rules—a hierarchy that solves for uniformity, bureaucracy, and control— will no longer be effective. COVID-19 has proved two remarkable truths. Firstly,

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ver the past 12 months, we have witnessed COVID19 disrupting global economies, viewed communities expressing opinions on the socio-political views, and experienced profound and immediate changes to how we live and work. It has underscored the urgency for organizations around the world to radically adapt to new ways of working, redesign new business models, and accelerate digitization and automation to meet changing individual and organizational needs. Organ-

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thrived during this difficult time in organizations where the function is well-led, has strong senior stakeholder support, has prioritized leadership development, and has already commenced a digital transformation journey. Companies need their HR functions as they’ve never needed them before – not only to be the conductor of digital transformation and new ways of working for people-related issues but to put the ''human'' at the center and ensure that our workplaces become fairer, better, and more humane. All eyes are on HR and undoubtedly HR has a unique role to play.

Where should we begin?

If 2020 has shown us anything, it’s that leadership matters more than ever. The pandemic is a challenge

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for CEOs unlike any they have ever faced, forcing an abrupt shift in how employees work, how customers behave, how supply chains function, and even what ultimately constitutes business performance. Confronting this unique moment, CEOs have shifted how they lead in expedient and ingenious ways. The changes may have been birthed of necessity, but they have great potential beyond this crisis. Leading effectively under pressure, communication that demonstrates emotional agility and empathy, and putting people at the heart of an organization’s decisions pays off in the ability to adapt, innovate and stay ahead of disruption. However, putting that ability into practice entails thinking about new dynamic business models, new humancentric skills, and the

integration of new technologies to build an organization that can continuously reinvent in an unpredictable environment with an unknown future. During the pandemic, many organizations have accomplished what had previously been thought impossible. The Dubaibased company, Majid Al Futtaim, a leader in shopping malls, hotels, and cinemas found that attendance at movie theatres fell (as a result of governmentmandated closures) while demand for its online supermarket soared; in two days, the company retrained 1,000 ushers and ticket sellers to work for the online grocer. Without the crisis, that speed and magnitude of reskilling to leverage talent across MAF’s portfolio of

To build an organization that can continuously reinvent now hinges on the ability for leaders to create an organizational culture based on a shared sense of purpose that mobilizes people to pull strongly in the same direction as they face the organization’s current and future challenges


choice over the work they do to align their passions with organizational needs. And they should embrace the perspective that reimagining work is key to the ability to achieve new and better outcomes in a world that is itself being constantly reimagined. The next ten years will bring fundamental changes to our working world, and to adapt, employees in almost every role and industry will need to acquire new skills. The COVID-19 crisis has only accelerated these

success over the next 12–18 months, but only 10 percent say they are very ready to address this trend. From the boardroom to the classroom, leaders are wrestling with developing talent at a previously unknown pace, building complex initiatives and systems to support workforce transformation. However, we now need to think about this entirely differently.

Empowered learning

The most important way that organizations can unleash employees’ potential is to

shifts. In the face of rapid and continuous change, the need to reskill and upskill entire workforces is one of the most significant challenges we face today and for the foreseeable future. World Economic Forum recently declared a reskilling emergency as the world faces more than one billion jobs transformed by technology. Global labor shortages of 85.2m skilled workers are projected by 2030, 74 percent of organizations say reskilling the workforce is important for their

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COVID-19 has earned many HR organizations the right to be bolder in orchestrating work throughout the organization. To seize this opportunity, HR needs to reorient its mission and mindset towards shaping future success by taking the lead in re-inventing work

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companies would never have been contemplated. In four days, Singapore Airlines assigned 1300 former airline workers to become ''care ambassadors'' to care for patients in hospitals. These “care ambassadors” were assigned to low-risk wards, helping with basic caregiving, nutritional care, and patient service management. Before COVID-19, only 29 percent of Executives were focused on reimagining work. Today, that number has skyrocketed to 61 percent, showing that many organizations are ready to reinvent themselves, according to the Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report 2021. To build an organization that can continuously reinvent now hinges on the ability for leaders to create an organizational culture based on a shared sense of purpose that mobilizes people to pull strongly in the same direction as they face the organization’s current and future challenges. Leading effectively in this environment requires a very specific combination of leadership capabilities. Some leaders have stepped up and performed exceptionally during this crisis. But others have faltered, illustrating a widening gap. Leaders need to trust people to work in ways that allow them to fulfill their potential, offering workers a degree of

empower them with choice over what they do and foster a culture of lifelong learning in the context of declining demand for certain skills, the emergence of new ones, and the requirement for talent to continuously learn, unlearn and relearn. We’ve lived in a world where we assumed organizations knew best what skills workers needed to bring to the table. But the pandemic taught us that potential comes to fuller fruition when workers are allowed to take more initiative. APRIL 2021 |

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work and think can help teams pursue new ideas and achieve better outcomes.

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Re-inventing work

While the pandemic has taught us how organizations can perform major transformations in days and that people are capable of the most extraordinary innovations under the pressure of a crisis, the challenge for many now will be to sustain that momentum to discover a new permanent state of continuous reinvention to thrive in the long term Workforce potential is not about what workers were recruited to do, or what they are certified to do, or even what organizations or leaders want them to do next. It’s about giving workers more freedom to choose how they can best help tackle critical business problems.

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Weave automation and technology more naturally into the way people work, strengthening human skills and leveraging machines. Thoughtful use of technol| APRIL 2021

ogy can change the nature of work so people can focus their time and energy on what interest them the most. People and technology truly working as an integrated team with complementary capabilities can enable organizations to re-architect work so that it is more efficient and satisfying for people, often with better results for the organization. From collaboration tools for better teaming to AI that helps people make more informed decisions, technologies that are genuinely in sync with how people

COVID-19 has earned many HR organizations the right to be bolder in orchestrating work throughout the organization. To seize this opportunity, HR needs to reorient its mission and mindset towards shaping future success by taking the lead in re-inventing work. These may include shifting the focus of work from outputs to outcomes to doing what is needed to pursue better results, approaching workforce development with a focus on uniquely human capabilities such as complex problemsolving, and social intelligence. Also, integrate wellbeing into every aspect of the employee experience, and think to personalize the solution and finally, anticipating changing social, economic, and political forces that bring an opportunity for organizations to radically step-up efforts on diversity & inclusion and to promote a sense of purpose and belonging in the workforce. Kate Barker is the Strategic Advisor to His Highness & Deputy Prime Minister, UAE Federal Government, Abu Dhabi. She is a highly-regarded HR Futurist with 30 years of experience and a passion for advancing the Future of Work. She is currently serving to advance Fortune 500 companies and Governments around the world giving clients confidence in their future on how to stay competitive & minimize risk through leading-edge future of work strategies.


2021 – A year in which HR can excel

HR now has an opportunity to excel, to build on the credibility that 2020 has given us, and to strike out a new path on the journey to achieving management excellence By Clinton Wingrove

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mance management and remuneration systems, all predicated on a relatively stable state. Yet, the companies who have survived best even benefited from, the current turbulence, are those that previously invested in management excellence. They had clear long-term goals and strategies. But, they underpinned these, not with unrealistic long-term operational plans, but with: • Many very specific shortterm goals supported by highly tactical plans which they reviewed and adapted routinely to address rapidly changing demands and evolv-

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ver the past few months, we have all been bombarded with predictions of what is going to happen during 2021. Many of those predictions are preposterous, some are interesting, and a few potentially useful. But, all of the authors are on safe ground. Nobody knows what is going to happen – 2020 has certainly taught us that. We don’t have any modern-day Nostradamus! And, by the time we know what did happen, we will have forgotten or lost

the articles that all got it wrong. Yes, the authors are on safe ground. So, why am I bothering to join the motley crew of futurists? Because I believe we should work on the basis that we don’t know what is going to happen, and not over-invest in trying to predict it. Instead, we need to equip ourselves to excel in the face of unpredictability. For many organizations, it was their obsession with planning for what they believed would happen (and believing it!) that made them less agile. Despite this, so many organizations are still setting annual goals and tweaking out-of-date perfor-

I believe we should work on the basis that we don’t know what is going to happen, and not over-invest in trying to predict it. Instead, we need to equip ourselves to excel in the face of unpredictability APRIL 2021 |

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ing circumstances. This approach enabled them to maintain operational businesses and gave them sustainability. • Rolling risk analyses. These forced them to think through worst-case scenarios and to prepare for their potential occurrence. Did many predict a pandemic? No (even though we have known for over a decade that one was extremely likely). But, many did predict potential major supply change disruptions and global market crashes and so prepared their businesses to cope with them. • A cadre of managers who understood that their sole role was to optimize the development and performance of their employees, through whom they achieve their results. Those managers also had proven skills at doing that – they had a skill-based, not a hope-based strategy. And, organizations with highly flattened structures and people-management as a bolt-on to “your real job” have paid the price of reduced staff loyalty. As we come out of lockdown they may well see significant levels of attrition. The pandemic has placed a huge burden on HR professionals, to which most have 56

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responded exceptionally well. Across the globe, HR has led the way in ensuring that staff have been looked after. Could some have done better? Of course. But, the evidence is clear. HR has stepped up to the plate and added value to organizations of all sizes and sectors in ways never before seen. But, what now? This is the end of the start, not the start of the end. We must now learn from this experience.

Traditional processes for preparing individuals for peoplemanagement positions, selecting them, and ensuring continuing personal development did not work, do not work, and will not work Now, we have to build organizations to face a future characterized by: • Rapid unpredictable changes; • Decreased staff loyalty; • Greater value being placed on the employee experience and less on tangible benefits; • Demand for increased productivity to recover lost liquid assets; • Surplus people-power but top-talent shortages;

• Demands for increased healthy and ethical workplaces; • Pressure for evidenced inclusion, not merely diversity. Our HR challenge now is to ensure that each of our organizations equips itself to: • Focus on developing flexible, adaptable, and sustainable business models; • Analyse the risks it faces and determine how to cope with, mitigate, or avoid them; • Make effective principlebased decisions with speed at all levels; • Innovate – not to try to emulate or be distracted by others, rather create our own futures. Traditional processes for preparing individuals for people-management positions, selecting them, and ensuring continuing personal development did not work, do not work, and will not work. Traditional processes for managing performance and rewards have also been shown to be flawed. HR now has an opportunity to excel, to build on the credibility that 2020 has given us, and to strike out a new path on the journey to achieving management excellence. Clinton Wingrove is the Principal Consultant, Clinton HR Ltd www.clintonhr.com


Time to gear up to step into the future with agility & flexibility: Epicor’s Global Talent Director

Here are the excerpts of the interview.

How do you see the new world of work? What's your take on the rebound strategies of businesses? I don’t view this as a rebound so much as it is an impetus to lean in even more to what we know amplifies the employee experience and positively impacts company performance. More than ever, employees want to feel included, valued, and recognized. We have a variety of programs in place to support this, including manager/ employee quarterly checkpoint discussions (instead of one annual review) that empower employees to have a stronger voice in goal setting while simultaneously providing a stronger connection with the compa-

As we engage with current employees and potential hires, they want to know that their work makes a difference. And that has never been more evident than in the past year

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ori Lewis is a senior human resource professional with nearly 30 years of experience driving business results while making the employee experience a priority in both the professional services and high tech industries. She is Senior Director for Global Talent and Culture at Epicor, a global software leader that provides flexible, industryspecific solutions designed around the precise needs of its manufacturing, retail, distribution, automotive, and lumber customers. At Epicor, Lori leads Talent Development, Employee Engagement, Internal Communications, and Learning & Development, all while focusing on building and motivating global virtual teams.

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The primary lesson we’ve learned this year is that listening and empathy are important and that a one-size-fits-all approach fits no one. We'll need to apply this lesson to how we approach hybrid-work, says Lori Lewis, Senior Director, Global Talent and Culture, Epicor, in an interaction with People Matters By Mastufa Ahmed

ny’s larger vision. We also aim to encourage employees and foster a sense of team spirit with our employee STAR recognition program that is tied to our company values. When we invest in our employees and keep them at the center of everything we do, that care is passed on to our customers.

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What's the role of business leaders to turn purpose into strategy? Over the last year, many of us have had time to reflect and think about what’s important to us personally and professionally. As we engage with current employees and potential hires, they want to know that their work makes a difference. And that has never been more evident than in the past year. Epicor is proud that we get to enable a world of better business and serve as the essential business partners

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health, but they pivoted to create large breath shields for machines and donated PPE equipment to hospitals and care providers.

the last year, and they will drive us going forward as we continue to foster a collaborative team environment and an engaged, unified culture that reflects our customers. When it comes to how to make this happen, I think the primary lesson we’ve learned this year is that listening and empathy are important and that a one-size-fits-all approach fits no one. We'll need to carry this lesson with us and apply it to how we approach hybrid-work.

What's fuelling hybrid-work strategies in 2021? How will work culture evolve in 2021? What’s your take on enabling employees to be more collaborative and productive in the virtual world? I believe that what’s fueling hybrid-work strategies this year is the desire to get on with our “new now”. What do you expect this 2020 was a long year, and it year in terms of new digital forced everyone out of their innovations and employee engagement strategies? It’s time to focus on developing our future I anticipate that we’ll see a leaders with new ways of creating expesignificant increase in collaboration tools (e.g. Yammer, riences that encourage team members to Slack) that enable employdevelop their leadership muscles ees to chat, share ideas, and innovate within and across teams within organizations. comfort zone and to reconto the world’s most essenWe’ll also see recognition tial businesses. For example, sider their assumptions and tools that are integrated with one of our manufacturing their status quo. We've all collaboration tools and social customers, which provides learned a lot, and employplatforms. People want – and medical supplies for blood ees and employers are now need – to feel like part of the testing, was able to leverage eager and ready to step into community and be confident the scale and flexibility of the future with agility and that their voice is heard. flexibility. Epicor solutions to support the increase in orders of While the energy for the vital products in demand future is here, I do believe How will the learning and due to COVID. Other manuthat for most companies, skilling scenario change in facturers are also using soft- their core values and the 2021? What have you learned ware to rapidly shift from culture will not change but so far? one product line to another instead be magnified and If we learned anything or to entirely alter the type translated to the “new now.” over the last year, it’s that of product they make to At Epicor, our core values things can change on a dime. meet needs. One of our are teamwork, excellence, It’s not practical to spend manufacturing customers in service, passion, innovation, months developing or deliverthe UK traditionally makes and integrity. These values ing training. It may be obsomedical devices for vision are what carried us through lete or irrelevant at the point | APRIL 2021


of use. I anticipate that we’ll see a shift toward bite-size, real-time learning and skill development that is focused on outcomes and transferrable skills.

could be tax implications associated with “working from anywhere.”

With businesses striving hard to bounce from the crisis, What do you think is the future of leadership in a virtual world? I think the biggest leadership challenge is developing our future leaders. Most leaders today are where they are due to talent, opportunity, drive, and visibility. In a hybrid work model where in-person meetings in an

How ready is your organization to reinvent toward building a sustainable future? What’s great about Epicor is that the service we provide to our customers is more relevant than ever. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel, but we are changing the way we communicate.

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The year 2021 will see a shift toward bite-size, realtime learning and skill development that is focused on outcomes and transferrable skills

office will be less common and people potentially only come into an office setting a few times a week at most, we will need to be more deliberate – and creative – about where and how we get visibility to and assess leadership capabilities. It will also be important that we create opportunities for future leaders to learn from and interact with seasoned, successful mentor leaders. We’ll need to come up with new ways to create experiences that encourage team members to develop their leadership muscle. c o v e r

Trends like work-fromanywhere have implications for HR policies. Ensuring data security is one. What kind of policies and practices should organizations revisit in 2021? This is such an important topic because data security is always a concern and priority. If it’s not already part of the required training, IT security awareness training should become part of the required curriculum. And if companies already have IT security awareness training, it should be reviewed to ensure that it is up to date. Additionally, as a best practice, employees should be required to take the training annually. Data security awareness is an HR responsibility, but the actual security and practice is a team effort and the responsibility of every single employee. We all need to hold each other accountable, and we all need to be on guard against threats. With respect to HR policies and work-fromanywhere, taxation issues are top of mind for me. From an employee perspective, work-from-anywhere sounds perfectly reasonable. It shouldn’t matter whether I’m working from

my home office or a second home in another state or country. Unfortunately, it does matter. These situations could result in tax liabilities for the employee and the employer. As a practice, organizations should require HR approval of any extended remote work arrangements that are in a location other than the employee’s home address. And, while organizations are not expected to be tax advisors, they should let employees know that there

How is Epicor preparing for a post-pandemic world? Can you top three priorities for the company? Last fall, Epicor gained a new partner in Clayton, Dubilier, and Rice (CD&R). They share our vision for the future, and we’ll be investing heavily in innovation and growth as well as focusing on our 1 Epicor culture and continuing to keep our customers at the center of everything we do. APRIL 2021 |

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2021 should be about reset and restart: N. Venkat Venkatraman In an exclusive interaction with us, N. Venkat Venkatraman, the David J. McGrath Jr. Professor of Management at Boston University Questrom School of Business, shares how companies must now ensure that the fundamental building blocks are in place to respond quickly and effectively to the inevitable uncertainties By Mastufa Ahmed

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although some sectors will find it slower than others. Some find that COVID-19 has been a tailwind—e.g., at-home delivery, online education, and media streaming. Others have felt the headwind of Covid— commercial real estate, conventions, live-sports, gyms, and sports clubs, hospitality, airlines, and so on. Most companies feel that the new normal will not be the old normal as individuals and companies readjust to areas where they feel safe and healthy.

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rofessor Venkat Venkatraman is the David J. McGrath jr. Professor of Management at Boston University Questrom School of Business. He has previously taught at MIT Sloan School and London Business School. He is the author of The Digital Matrix: New Rules for Business Transformation Through Technology, LifeTree Media (2017). He is one of the most-cited research-

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ers in strategy and digital business and has won prizes for his research. He has consulted and/or lectured all over the world. Here are the excerpts of the interview.

How do you see the current business scenario and organizations’ bounce-back strategies? In March 2021, there’s a sense of optimism that the economies will recover

Will the year 2021 see organizations trying to uncover new sources of value and shape a sustainable postCOVID-19 world? What are the keys to reinventing organizations for a sustainable future? I think 2021 should be about reset and restart first and foremost. Ensure that the business model is robust and stable to withstand minor shifts due to variants or geopolitical shocks about travel and supply chains. Companies must now ensure that the funda-


mental building blocks are in place to respond quickly and effectively to the inevitable uncertainties. In 2022, companies should be in a better place to plan for the next normal by recognizing the different trajectories of shifts in consumer behavior and business practices.

How do you see the new ways of working? How will organizations unlock

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What does the future of innovation look like according to you? I think the future of innovation is brighter than ever before. This is because we now have new needs—how best to work from anywhere, learn from anywhere, interact with anywhere, and so on. At the same time, we have shown how we can accelerate healthcare innovation when it comes to the discovery, testing, manufacture, and distribution of vaccines. We are in the early stages with AI and ML, robotics, AR, VR, 3D printing, cloud, autonomous drive, etc. Next five to ten years promise to be the golden age of innovations at the convergence of all these different technologies.

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Do you think the toughest leadership test is looming now that businesses are striving hard to rebound from the crisis? The toughest leadership test is not acknowledging that the new normal will be different from the old. The toughest leadership test is making the employees and customers believe that we are somehow going to go back to the old ways. The toughest leadership test is projecting a sense of calm assured confidence and rally the organization to move forward.

business leaders to embed purpose into business strategy? How can organizations translate their values into positive action for the sake of the common good? “Purpose” is becoming more and more central along multiple dimensions as corporations look at a broad set of stakeholders beyond shareowners. Take employees as an example: they do want to work for companies whose purpose aligns with them. And this is where even concern for societal goals (e.g., environment) is now becoming more important than ever before. Then, there is more recognition accorded to social, diversity, inclusion, and equity themes. Pure shareholder maximization will be seen as being narrow-minded by the younger generation of employees and customers.

What role will ‘purpose’ will play in the new world of work after the COVID-19 pandemic? What's the role of

Leaders must simply figure out new ways to foster new ways of creating and evolving organizational culture that recognizes the inevitability of mixed modes of working APRIL 2021 |

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Ensure that the business model is robust and stable to withstand minor shifts due to variants or geopolitical shocks about travel and supply chains

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hands-off. Now, they need to be more hands-on and actionlearning oriented.

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new ways of working in a post-COVID-19 World? Is the remote mode of work sustainable? Overall, the nature of work has already changed. Most expected WFH to impact productivity but that has not been as severe. We will go forward with a hybrid model with flexible schedules. F2F meetings will be for collaboration and brainstorming and virtual work will be for focused work. How best to develop organizational culture will be a major challenge. But, I do not think that this is insurmountable. Leaders must simply figure out new ways to foster new ways of creating and evolving organizational culture that recognizes the inevitability of mixed modes of working. Purely remote work for all employees may not be sustainable; it may not even be required but companies | APRIL 2021

should look to develop flexible modes. The best philosophy is to experiment, learn, iterate and adapt.

Can technology help reinvent workforce learning and skilling? What’s your advice for L&D leaders to make virtual learning seamless, engaging, and impactful? L&D dealers must define the new strategy and approach for learning. Gone are big conferences or participation in University-run programs—at least for the immediate two to three years. Learning must be online and personalized with actionable projects that managers execute in small teams. External coaches help facilitate learning and internal coaches help managers to apply the learnings to the organizational context. Previously L&D leaders selected the programs and were mostly

How do you see the role of talent leaders evolve in 2021? The #1 challenge for the talent leaders is to develop a profile of future skills needed at the intersection of smart humans and powerful machines (read: AI & Machine Learning). Talent leaders should ensure that the company is well-positioned in the talent marketplace. They should develop a comprehensive program focused on recruitment as well as continuous adaptation of the skills needed to win in the future. They recognize that future skills are different from the current set of skills and work systematically to help the talent step out of their comfort zone—e.g., learn new digital skills involving data and analytics, AI, etc.


It’s unlikely the world of work will ever return to its pre-COVID-19 state: Leslie Tarnacki

In an exclusive interaction with us, Leslie Tarnacki – SVP of Human Resources at WorkForce Software, shares with us why continuous reinvention is the need of the hour and how organizations can encourage employees to exercise intellectual curiosity By Shweta Modgil ing the ever-changing world of work this year, and ultimately redefining the way work gets done from this point forward.

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he world may have vaccines in 2021 but it still needs the ability to respond and adapt to change continually. No wonder, just like 2020, 2021 will be another year marked by continuous reinvention, transformation, and adaptation. Companies will need to focus on purposeful transformation to tide over the vulnerabilities and create plans for managing a global workforce. In an exclusive interaction with us, Leslie Tarnacki – SVP of Human Resources at WorkForce Software, shares with us why continuous reinvention is the need of the hour and ways in which HR will be critical to manag-

2021 will call for continuous reinvention. What are some of the ways you are reinventing the workplace at Workforce Software? Like many organizations, we could not have anticipated how the sudden shift to 100 percent remote work was going to impact our employees, customers, and partners. Although it is not without challenges, we found our team was able to adapt and we see few signs that productivity was impacted. Because our customers are going through

the same thing, we are fortunate to have been able to maintain contact, keep projects moving and maintain our customers’ service expectations. It’s unlikely the world of work will ever return to its pre-COVID state. At WorkForce Software, we see many opportunities for more employees to shift to full-time remote work or a hybrid work setting in roles we may not have previously offered this option. Even though we have always worked to support a good work-life balance at WorkForce, we also learned many positive lessons about increasing flexibility, which was a necessity during COVID. These types of poli-

Variations in the availability and timing of vaccinations, variations in the easing of social restrictions, and variations in attitudes toward returning to preCOVID activities all indicate that 2021 will require a continued ability to rapidly adapt and respond APRIL 2021 |

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cies will endure moving forward. This shift to a hybrid working model will drive changes to work at WorkForce Software and we anticipate that we’ll learn even more as we continue to adapt and change in line with the ''new normal'' With more confidence in our ability to get work done remotely, we can adapt hiring practices, our use of collaboration tools and even the design of some of our office spaces to accommodate the changing nature of work.

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Purposeful transformation is the need of the hour. How do you think companies need to do that in the second year of the pandemic? As a global employer, it’s clear that 2021 will continue to be another year of change. Variations in the availability and timing of vaccinations, variations in the easing of social restrictions, and variations in attitudes toward returning to pre-COVID activities all indicate that 2021 will require a continued ability to rapidly adapt and respond. Many organizations learned how vulnerable they were and how difficult it was to support their global workforce when the sudden lockdowns occurred in locations all around the world. We know that many organizations struggled to communicate with their employees consistently - especially | APRIL 2021

for deskless employees who make up approximately 80 percent of the global workforce. Plant openings and closings, COVID safety measures, and adjustments in shifts and schedules were challenging for many large employers. In 2021, these companies will have to make plans to address those weaknesses. Creating plans for how you manage a global workforce in order to continue to adapt to change will be critical in the second year of the pandemic.

What are some of the policy and process changes that your organization has brought about to reinvent the workplace after the pandemic? With a diverse global workforce, we’ve implemented a number of policy and process changes to accommodate the needs of our employee population.

Investments in improved productivity for in-home offices, flexible work hours, support for workers with young families or aging parents, finding new ways to engage employees with virtual events, storytime, and impact groups like our equity and diversity teams. We’ve spent more time on collaboration tools and adding educational resources to help employees with real-life challenges. Many of these are here to stay as we continue to learn what benefits and options are valued by our employees most - now and into the future. Keeping employees engaged, encouraged, and productive is more challenging with a remote workforce but also more critical than ever. We’ve added some new programs and made enhancements to a number of policies and plans in


support of our employees’ physical and mental wellbeing since there is a direct correlation between employees seeing their employer making this a priority and their level of engagement. There will also be revised policies introduced as we return to a hybrid work model to continue to ensure employees are healthy and safe as we begin to enjoy in-person office time again.

Encourage employees to exercise intellectual curiosity and create opportunities for new teams to work together to expand input and perspectives

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ees to participate in sustainability efforts at work. For instance, offering time off to volunteer in the community (with the option to volunteer with an environmental entity) contributes to an organization’s practice of sustainability, and also supports corporate social responsibility. While it may seem difficult to implement other sustainable practices while working remotely, encouraging these practices is still possible. As employees return to work, companies should encourage sustainable transportation to and from work (and even provide stipends for those who take part), promote a paperless system, and initiate a recycling system in the office. For those compa-

How do you see the role of HR getting transformed and reinvented this year? Throughout 2020 as offices sent their workforces remote, HR leadership and teams became integral parts of businesses everywhere. This year will be no different. As many organizations determine how they will initiate a return to work, HR will ultimately lead this conversation and drive the process for a safe re-entry to the workplace. HR departments are no longer simply the place to go for your W-2 or onboarding paperwork. Instead, these teams are accelerating and leading change in the workplace. HR will now be responsible for finding the best tools and technology to support hybrid/remote workforces, designing an office that is proven COVID safe, enabling greater collaboration despite location, as well as communicating these changes to workforces of all sizes. HR will be critical to managing the everchanging world of work this year, and ultimately redefining the way work gets done from this point forward.

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What are some of the ways in which innovation and sustainability can be encouraged by organizations? Innovation and sustainability can be encouraged by organizations in several ways. With respect to innovation, companies must recognize and reward innovation initiatives to create a culture of continuous ideation, trial, and learning. Encourage employees to exercise intellectual curiosity and create opportunities for new teams to work together to expand input and perspectives. Enabling your workforce to engage in mentally stimulating conversations and/ or brainstorms will not only lead to employees that are more likely to stay engaged, but also has the potential to generate positive outcomes for the business. When it comes to sustainability, organizations should implement programs to make it easier for employ-

nies still remote, HR teams might also consider implementing office-wide sustainability challenges that push forth an environmental mission, while also introducing a fun cultural element into the mix.

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More organizations will use people analytics for data-driven decision making: WTW’s Richard Hanson

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ichard Hanson is the Global Head of Data Science in the Talent & Rewards business at Willis Towers Watson. He is responsible for data science and solutions, and oversees delivery of data-driven insights for WTW’s clients, and explores opportunities for innovative software design and development to bring these insights to life. With more than 15 years of experience in Human Capital consultancy across Europe and Asia, Richard has acted as a trusted advisor to MNCs, progressive SMEs, and government agencies, covering a breadth of subject matters with a focus on Talent Analytics, Skills Development, and the Future of Work and Rewards. He is currently based in Hong Kong. Here are the excerpts of the interview.

For most organizations, the important thing is to build on a solid foundation and start applying people analytics for decision making in areas beyond talent acquisition and retention says Richard Hanson, Global Head of Data Science, Talent & Rewards, Willis Towers Watson, in an interaction with People Matters By Mastufa Ahmed 66

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What do you see in the world of work in 2021? What do you expect to change this year? So much is going on in the world of work in 2021. To a certain extent, the magnitude of change this year will depend on how quickly the world can emerge from the pandemic. Certain changes over the past year have undoubtedly been driven by the pandemic. For example, we are all now experts at virtual meetings and less familiar with business travel. It will be interesting to see whether these changes will continue or revert to normal as the crisis subsides. The outcomes may be mixed and changes in the workplace are likely to stay, adapting to the needs of the organizations. Some of these changes have been underway for some time, but the pandemic has been an accelerator. Well-being would be one area that will likely see contin-


Digital agendas of several organizations now reflect ''purpose'' which connects

with quantifiable goals and objectives that can be measured. How can business leaders embed purpose into their business strategy? The digital agenda of an organization forms a crucial aspect of the business strategy, both as an individual business objective, but also as an enabler for achieving other objectives. In addition, organizations are looking for a level of stability at a time of continuous change a ‘North Star’ so to speak. This can be provided by an organization’s purpose stating why an organization exists and what it aims to deliver to stakeholders and society as a whole. Obviously, ‘purpose’ is something aspirational - it

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ued investment after the pandemic and throughout 2021, with a specific focus on personalization of wellbeing to better address individual needs where possible. Many key strategic priorities have been part of the HR agenda long before the pandemic. These will need to be re-evaluated in the light of any learnings from the past year but will almost certainly be back at the forefront of HR thinking. Inclusion and diversity, as well as employee experience, are also two priorities that will progress further throughout 2021 and beyond.

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The movement that we will be seeing in the post-Covid-19 world will be the number of organizations being comfortable with the concept of hybrid work given the potential to use technology in optimizing communication and tracking productivity

should, by its very nature, provide perspective and generate energy. This is why companies are focusing on ‘purpose’, to provide a sense of direction, cohesion, and alignment of all talent within their organizations. Today, it is more possible than ever before, to measure how an organization is performing in achieving its purpose. This can be done by actively measuring against the organization’s values and assessing its current and aspired culture. Providing insights on progress towards achieving its purpose, allows a company to take targeted actions to improve and accelerate towards its goals. This is where digital can play a decisive role, and we can see this happening with the vast array of new digital solutions used for collaboration, customer engagement and to promote better employee experience. Nevertheless, organizations need to be cautious not to try and reverse ‘purpose’ into the organization in a disjointed manner. The ideal scenario would be to have your ‘purpose’ in place and articulate this clearly, which in turn drives the business strategy and objectives. It should answer the questions of – Why do we exist? What do we want to achieve and in what way? How do we do this? ‘Purpose’, therefore, should be at the root of an organization’s existence and

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starting point in its strategic thinking. Digital and technology can be key enablers in achieving that ‘purpose’, which is why they must go hand-in-hand.

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with the concept of hybrid work given the potential to use technology in optimizing communication and tracking productivity. They are also increasingly cognizant of the benefits which What's fueling hybrid-work hybrid work can have on inclusion and diversity. This, strategies in 2021? How will in turn, can generate workwork culture evolve in line with hybrid working this year? place benefits to organizations, and shape the company COVID-19 is absolutely culture to be more inclusive. an accelerator towards A hybrid-work strategy also hybrid-work strategies in tends to lend itself well to 2021. However, the desire project-based collaboration, for hybrid working already so we may start to see this existed pre-pandemic for impact culture in the future some organizations. - possibly around the differFrom an employee point ent cultural considerations of view, the main drivregarding small team or ers behind hybrid working project work. remain relatively consistent. These include the need According to Mckinsey, for flexibility and improved work-life balance. The move- companies that invest in innovation through a crisis outperment that we will be seeing form peers during the recovin the post-Covid world will ery. Do you see the focus on be the number of organiinnovation is accelerating? zations being comfortable

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In general, innovation has always been among the major priorities for most large organizations. The COVID-19 crisis is different from past crises, in the sense that the impact has been first and foremost on human health and safety. Although there have been financial effects, this pandemic wasn’t directly a financial crisis. I see ''investment in innovation'' through the pandemic being more around enabling the continued operation of existing innovation structures and initiatives, rather than about the choice to continue financial investment. So, organizations that had Centers of Excellence, R&D Hubs, Innovation Labs, and so on, have been challenged to keep those productive during the crisis given the operational difficulties presented. Those that succeed, will thrive. On a related topic, last week, a colleague shared an interesting quote with me, from Klaus Schwab, the Founder of the World Economic Forum. Schwab said that “Capital is being superseded by creativity and the ability to innovate — and therefore by human talents — as the most important factors of production. If talent is becoming the decisive competitive factor, we can be confident that capitalism is being replaced by ''talentism''. In my view


that is a very insightful perspective and tends to agree. Whilst I think it is a fair statement to say that a focus on innovation is accelerating, what that really means is that competition for talent is accelerating too.

zations are now using people analytics with the benefits of mining data to yield insights that can support decision-making. I still see the main application of people analytics to be within talent acquisition and retention. For most organizations then, the important thing is to build on a solid foundation and start applying people analytics for decision making in other areas. For the early adopters, who are already applying analytics to a broader range of people aspects such as performance management, learning and develop-

and cutting-edge employeecentric services and experiences, as well as provide high strategic value to businesses.

What do you expect this year in people analytics? Is it more important than ever? As Head of Data Science, people analytics is definitely more important than ever. Depending on where the organizations are positioned along their analytics journey, there will be a difference in the various aspects of people analytics. For instance, most organi-

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Whilst I think it is a fair statement to say that a focus on innovation is accelerating, what that really means is that competition for talent is accelerating too

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The pandemic offered an opportunity for organizations to revisit policies and practices to get work done more efficiently. This makes the role of HR even more strategic in today’s time. What’s your take on this? I do not think that the pandemic has automatically made the role of HR to be more strategic, but it certainly has provided the opportunity for them to be. With the pandemic affecting business operations and profitability, more organizations are beginning to adopt technology to reinvent jobs and tasks, as well as use a wider talent ecosystem to deliver work cost-effectively. Jobs are being redesigned to deliver higher value-add to manage economic pressures, demographic shifts, and workforce expectation for purposeful work. To deliver on these expectations, the HR function in an organization plays an important role and will need to embrace technology on a large scale to enable businesses to transform. In a study that Willis Towers Watson has conducted last year on the impact of technology on HR

jobs and skills, we found that as technology trends become more prevalent, the HR function across industries and organizations of different sizes and stages of growth will be impacted. However, the magnitude and pace of change depending on the complexity of each organization’s operations including, the size, the number of countries that the organization operates in, and so on, as well as the maturity of its HR function. At the same time, the adoption of HR technology will also enable the HR function to deliver more seamless

ment, and employee experience, there is an increased opportunity to leverage new analytics capabilities such as predictive analytics. The important thing for them is to continue investing in technology and capability. Lastly, for those organizations where people analytics has not yet made the agenda, the important thing would be for them to start their journey. That might simply mean – thinking about the types of data within the organization that could be leveraged or the questions that can be answered with APRIL 2021 |

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data insights. I’m confident we will see even more organizations use people analytics and that data-driven decision-making within HR will become standard. 2021 will be another milestone on the way to that outcome.

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Is workforce learning and skilling undergoing a reset? How are organizations improvising their workplace learning strategies this year? I see developments within workforce learning and skilling as something opposite to ‘reset’ - more like

Although, COVID-19 has forced the cancellation of many learning and development initiatives due to a combination of reasons, the desire for advancement within learning and skilling will not fade away rapid evolution and acceleration. Although COVID19 has forced the cancellation of many learning and development initiatives due to a combination of financial and logistical reasons, the desire for advancement within learning and skilling will not fade away. Organizations have both the duty and desire to adapt their approaches to workforce learning and skilling, and we can already see clear evidence of this. Virtual learning has been adopted and this may indeed become the norm. Certainly,

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there will be greater reliance on technology as an enabler for learning and skilling going forward. This trend dovetails nicely with an increase in remote working. Since many organizations are not planning to return to their office until 2021 or later, having the ability to participate in eLearning will be crucial in meeting development goals. So, this is an area that is sure to see continued investment. Any cogent discussion around the ‘Future of Work’ should also include consid-

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erations of upskilling and reskilling. It is well recognized that as technology increasingly enables the automation or augmentation of human work, the traditional designs and structures of work may need to undergo a reinvention of sorts. Ultimately, no matter which organizations choose to approach this challenge, a greater reliance on technologies means that employees must be trained to work with them effectively and efficiently. Then optimal human-machine interaction is a goal worth aiming for.

What are the keys to reinventing your organization and building a sustainable future? How ready is your organization to reinvent? Can you share the top three priorities for the company? Some of the areas we are advising clients to consider are also essential elements for our own advancement at Willis Towers Watson. To my mind, three pertinent ones which build towards a ‘sustainable future’ would be Inclusion and Diversity, Innovation, and Employee Experience. Aside from strategic priorities, it will be difficult for any organization to build a sustainable future without some form of stable foundation in the first place. At WTW, we actively consider our core values such as client focus, teamwork, integrity, respect, and excellence as our foundation. When faced with such a fast-changing and increasingly complex world of work, these values provide essential anchors around which we can create and deliver our solutions and services. They also aid internal stability and alignment, which in turn leaves our organization to be battle-ready to help our clients meet their own challenges head-on. This is something I know my colleagues and I are excited to be doing as we progress through 2021 and beyond.


The new ways of doing business are here to stay: P&G’s Sarah Davies Sarah Davies, Senior Vice President & Chief Human Resources Officer, Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa, Procter & Gamble (P&G) talks about the role of digital innovation, the new mode of working, the virtual work culture, and more in an interaction with us By Mastufa Ahmed

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When times are tough, it’s even more important to double-down on our fundamental business strategies, The year 2020 is over but we still have uncertainty. How for example, serving do you see the current busiour consumers with ness landscape and organiza- superior brands and tions’ strategies to adapt to the products new normal? Inclusion, including parental leave, flexible work hours, mentoring, and career development programs.

the pandemic. When times are tough, it’s even more important to double-down on our fundamental business strategies, for example, serving our consumers with superior brands and products. We expect some of our new ways of doing business, for example, with greater use of virtual collaboration tools, to remain for the longterm. At the beginning of the pandemic, P&G declared three critical priorities that have helped us navigate the dynamic situation and are still important today. First, we will prioritize APRIL 2021 |

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While the pandemic is not yet behind us, we are optimistic for the future. Our strategies have served us well before and during the pandemic, and we expect them to serve us well after

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arah Davies is the Senior Vice President and Chief HR Officer for P&G Asia Pacific, Middle East, and Africa. Her career with P&G has spanned 17 years and multiple countries including Canada, the U.S., and Singapore. Sarah is passionate about leadership development and coaching and is responsible for leading P&G’s Human Resources Function for over 17,000 employees. She is a vocal and active advocate for workplace policies that enable Equality and

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the safety, health, and wellbeing of our people. Second, we will continue serving our consumers when they need us most, especially given the importance of our health and hygiene products in today’s environment. Finally, we will step up to support our communities as a force for good. Having these three clear priorities as an organization was critical in ensuring we could respond to the pandemic with resilience and agility.

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How will new digital innovation unlock new ways of working in a post-COVID-19 world? How will work culture evolve in line with hybrid working this year? There is no doubt that digital technology and innovation has accelerated throughout the COVID19 pandemic. Our technology strategy is designed to support our core organization priorities, and at P&G our people’s safety and wellbeing continue to be the top priority. Our employees need to be able to work confidently knowing that the company is here to protect them at all times. As an organization that already offered Work from Home (WFH) arrangements for our employees preCOVID-19, P&G has been well prepared in transitioning to a full WFH arrangement. We had the right infrastructure and tools to help | APRIL 2021

While we are daring and decisive in trying out new ideas and processes, we also make use of available tools and resources to garner our employees’ feedback and sentiments, evaluate them, and put them into action

to online learning platforms throughout the last 12 months, to ensure there has been no impact on our talent pipeline and leadership development. We have hosted online careers fairs, virtual internship onboarding programs, and we even created an app for our newly hired managers so they could stay up to date with P&G policies and training online. We recently announced a new digital capability program called ''iFuture'' to further accelerate digital innovation in Singapore which is also supported by Singapore’s Economic Development Board (EDB). As part of our iFuture program, we will accelerate P&G’s digital transformation across marketing, sales, and operations and further enhance the digital capability of our colleagues.

How do you see the current digital transformation of learning? Is it actually accelerating in 2021? We are finding that our consumers and our employees are embracing digital solutions with far more ease than before. In response, we have been continuously strengthening our investment in technology and upskilling our people to drive business growth. Our recruitment and development programs have all seamlessly transitioned

With employees now having the autonomy to decide where they want to work, what kind of policies and practices should organizations revisit in 2021? Our colleagues are empowered to lead with a growth mindset. This means continually testing, learning, and adapting to new styles of working that best meet the needs of their teams, within the regulations and rules of their country or home jurisdiction. We always create digi-

our employees seamlessly transition to remote working and could equip them with the necessary technical support to continue working collaboratively from home. We have leveraged the full strength of our digital technology to ensure our priority activities can continue in any circumstance while maintaining the safety of our people.


new ways of working and increased safety protocols – yet we cannot afford to be complacent. We will also continue investing in creating a vibrant, diverse, and inclusive workplace culture, and an agile and empowered organization. Secondly, we will continue serving our consumers and customers to ensure our critical health and hygiene products can remain available where they are needed most. This means having a robust and agile supply chain, with superior brands and products that delight our consumers and meet their evolving needs. We are also responding to new trends in e-commerce that define how our consumers are discovering and purchasing our brands. Last but not least – we will continue actively supporting communities and consumers as a force for good. APRIL 2021 |

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innovate to meet the evolving needs of the marketplace. We greatly value our employee feedback and perspectives. This means that while we are daring and decisive in trying out new ideas and processes, we also make use of available tools and resources to garner our employees’ feedback and sentiments, evaluate them, and put into action what we think will bring the most value to our employees and eventually our business. We encourage a spirit of resilience, to learn from mistakes What are the keys to reinventing your organization and quickly, and try again. building a sustainable future? How is P&G preparing for At P&G, we believe in a post-pandemic world? Can “constructive disruption” – you name the top three prioriinnovating to drive growth and create value for the ties for the company? Our priority will remain people we serve and for our protecting the health, safety, organization. We keep our people and our consumers at and well-being of our people. We are proud of how well the heart of everything we our people have adapted to do and aim to continually

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tal solutions with employees at the center and ensure they are part of the development process. For example, as employees are gradually returning to the office in some markets, while others remain working from home, there has been a need for more video facilities in our offices. Another top priority is evolving employee engagement programs and work culture, to continue meeting the needs of our employees and developing them. This is especially important for us at P&G because we are committed to developing our people and growing the next generation of P&G leaders so that we win today and in the future. We continue to host virtual events, training colleges, town halls, and award ceremonies because we believe in the importance of our people and their value as our greatest assets. These will continue in a hybrid workplace so that we deliver on this important commitment to our people.

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We are demanding significant change in everything we do: KONE's Minna Rouru The reinvention and transformation of an organization is always complex which involves responding effectively to changes while predicting and preparing for the next great wave of change, says Minna Rouru, Area HR Director, Asia Pacific, KONE By Mint Kang

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n order to keep up with the speed of change, organizations with forward-thinking leadership regularly reinvent themselves. They may look at rethinking work, or revisiting priorities, or launching new initiatives created in response to the global environment. From the perspective of an organization that undergoes such purposeful transformation, People Matters asked Minna Rouru, Area HR Director, Asia Pacific, KONE Corporation, to tell us a little about the company's

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recent evolution. Finlandbased KONE, one of the global players in the elevator and escalator industry, follows a schedule of regular four-year strategic periods, and just launched its latest four-year strategy, described as ‘’Sustainable success with customers’’, this January. Here's what Minna shared.

Just like the digital revolution, the sustainability revolution promises to change everything,” according to WEF. At KONE, we strive to “radically rethink” and be part of this next wave of innovation well-being of our employees. This way, people’s lives and goals outside of work are also well supported.

As a company supporting essential services worldwide, what were some new ways of working from last year that you felt succeeded well enough to carry over into 2021? The COVID-19 pandemic brought about a dynamic change to the way we work the past year. We needed to rethink the way we hire, onboard, build skills and new required capabilities, and coach employees. As remote working was encour-

aged, processes and ways of working were reviewed and simplified in many ways, and we plan to continue these new ways of work in 2021 and beyond. The health and safety of our people have been always important at KONE. Our safety practices, governance, and behavior have since been dramatically revised due to the pandemic. As an example, we have carefully followed the necessary safety protocols, created procedures, and offered personal protective equipment for our essential workers such as field technicians where they are needed to be APRIL 2021 |

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Now that we're a year out from 2020's upheaval, what do you see as the greatest change in the workplace? The post-pandemic era is a chance for HR teams to rethink the way we work. New technologies are making virtual collaboration easier, allowing us to adopt new and more agile ways of working. Yet, the greatest change is our attitude towards flexible working. Flexible work is no longer something for only gig workers or selected employees. It is the new normal and something that many candidates and employees expect. We now understand that flexibility contributes positively to the physical and mental well-being of the employees, this, in turn, can help to reduce absenteeism and increase productivity. We believe that creating flexibility in where, when, and how we work, will help us engage and retain our people. With flexible working, we can increase the diversity in our teams as well as improve the

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are progressive. With this, we aim to improve the proportion of women to men in operations and management positions. We believe that nurturing an equal opportunities environment to not only empower our employees but also aid in their career development. As we look into recruiting competent professionals from diverse industries, this will ultimately drive a big part of sustainability, progressively empowering people from different walks of life.

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on-site to provide services for customers, especially at hospitals and quarantine centers Another example is weekly Safety/Crisis meetings. These meetings gather up cross-functional and cross-border leaders to discuss, follow-up, and make decisions on the ongoing well-being and safety matters of our employees and customers. Beyond keeping people physically protected at sites and in the office, a large focus has also been placed on the mental and emotional health of our employees. Employee Assistance Programs have been implemented in various Asia Pacific countries, and mental health talks were organized to increase the awareness of where to find information, guidance, and support. As we move forward in 2021, we seek to continue to support our employees with a range | APRIL 2021

of global and local wellbeing programs.

KONE's new strategic period just started this year: could you share a bit more, from the HR perspective, about the "Empowered people" initiative and how that's evolving? Creating a diverse and inclusive workplace has always been a key priority at KONE as we believe that this will be key to building a sustainable culture within our internal and external ecosystem. The “Empowered people” pillar is a chance for KONE to advance workplace equality, and narrow the gender gap, where we believe this is the first step towards reducing disparity. Unfortunately, gender stereotypes still remain prevalent in technical fields, making it important to ensure that our internal diversity and inclusion practices and policies

With innovation and sustainability now being a strategic focus, what are some ways you plan to lead the HR function to support this direction? With sustainability being our strategic focus, we are demanding significant change in everything we do, and we all have a role to play in it. A World Economic Forum article said that “just like the digital revolution, the sustainability revolution promises to change everything”. At KONE, we strive to “radically rethink” and be part of this next wave of innovation. Our new strategy brought us refreshed culture and values. KONE culture is the foundation for everything we do, and it’s built on our core principles and values. Core principles are areas we never compromise on and they include safety, quality, and


decisions, acting with integrity in everything we do, and most importantly acting as the role models in sustainability to our teams and employees, every day. We are already acknowledged for our Sustainability actions in APA HR. HR Asia recognized KONE Malaysia as one of the best companies to work for – 2020, KONE Singapore awarded the GOLD for Excellence in employee engagement – 2020, and KONE India was recognized among the 100 best companies for women for the fourth time – 2020. We will continue to lead and build our HR function and organizations upon our strengths, understanding that the world

We needed to rethink the way we hire, onboard, build skills and new required capabilities, and coach employees. And we plan to continue exploring new ways of work in 2021 and beyond

has changed and what got us here won’t get us there.

Finally, what are your thoughts on driving purposeful transformation throughout the organization, at a people level? As the regional HR lead, I always encourage my team to make a conscious effort to practice what we preach. Being a strong believer in the ‘People First’ culture, people are at the heart of our strategy. We aim to listen to our employees and take action based on the feedback. Raising levels of internal communications by maintaining open channels of communication facilitates better collaboration, keeps employees engaged, enhances productivity, and most importantly, allows us to listen and respond, showing that we care. With this, we have advised managers to check in with their team members regularly, making sure everyone feels trusted, valued, and connected. Investing in upskilling our employees is also another aspect we emphasize for our employees. In recent years, we have invested heavily in learning and development across the region. We want to make sure our people feel empowered to learn and have access to the right tools and online learning to increase the capability and resilience of our organization, driving transformation. APRIL 2021 |

I N TERVIEW

sustainability. Our values define who we are and what we aspire to become, where innovation and sustainability are embedded here. My goal for the HR function is to act as Culture and Values ambassadors, facilitate employee meetings, events and bring the new values and culture alive. KONE is defining Sustainability as something we choose every day and it includes not only environmental, but safety, quality, ethical and compliance, and diversity and inclusion aspects. For HR this can mean various things; attracting and engaging diverse employees, being fair and inclusive, making ethical

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Praveen Sinha

The magic of ‘Purpose’ Purpose prompts organizations to think ‘why do they exist'? This question may seem simple, however, finding a durable answer needs a huge amount of soul searching and also societal confirmation for it to sustain meaningfully

S Business Strategy

ome thirty-five years ago, a series of deadly explosions destroyed Chernobyl’s reactor No. 4. It was reported that several hundred employees and firefighters tackled the blaze which burned for about ten days and emitted radiation around the world. More than 50 emergency workers and people engaged in nuclear reactor lost their life in the immediate aftermath. However, the traumatic experience did not end here. Currently, many re-settlers are unemployed and it is believed that they have little control over their own lives.

Further, as a result of resettlement and voluntary migration from the affected areas, a large proportion of skilled and entrepreneurial people left the region which has hampered disproportionately the chances for economic recovery. The Chernobyl disaster clearly sent a strong and clear message to the world that businesses must integrate the interests of their current and future stakeholders —and there will be a place only for “purpose” driven organizations. The conscious citizens of the world are making two observations: • Who is making the shift to a stage enabled by a company’s purpose? • Who is integrating meaningfully the new driving force (purpose) for engagement of stakeholders to continuously transform, innovate and grow? It means, today “purpose” — more commonly, “values” and “meaning”, are being considered as a strategic resource and a must for organizational agility. It is said that “purpose” becomes a North Star, a guiding force in a good or

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Today ‘purpose’ — more commonly, ‘values’ and ‘meaning’, are being considered as a strategic resource and a must for organizational agility project to benefit the community as a whole.” It is also important that we talk about organizational agility to enhance organizational agility i.e. their capacity to adapt and respond to an increasingly uncertain, dynamic, and complex micro & macro business environment. The engagement of stakeholders is becoming increasingly significant for innovation and driving sustainable business growth. One of the finest examples of engagement of customers in business is Stitch Fix, an online personal styling service in the United States. It uses recommendation algorithms and data science to personalize clothing items based on size, budget, and APRIL 2021 |

Business Strategy

difficult time. Nelson Mandela’s North Star was about liberating people from the continuing bondage of poverty, suffering, gender, and other discrimination. Similarly, purpose prompts organizations to think “why do they exist”? This question may seem simple, however, finding a convincing and durable answer needs a huge amount of soul searching and also societal confirmation for it to sustain meaningfully. Today the senior leaders are speaking a language of “purpose” –that engages employees and customers in new ways, inviting their insights for innovation and business growth. This is clearly indicating an emergence of a new era of ‘’opensourced value creation’’ – promoting shared values that invite the stakeholders --employees, customers, suppliers, regulators, and others to recognize a stake in the growth path of an organization, more like an outside-in approach. In this context, let us look at Red Hat, an American multinational software company founded in 1993 and it is the largest opensource company in the world. The philosophy of Red Hat is quite interesting: “We build and support open source products from open source projects. We give back to the projects and communities we engage in. With open-source, we equip our customers for success. We take community-built code and harden its security, add features, and make it enterprise-ready and scalable. Then we push these improvements back out to the original

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style. The company was founded in 2011 and had an initial public offering in 2017 with a valuation of $1.6 billion. Their advertisement on the internet reads like this – “Get style that’s 100 percent inspired by you. Tell us about your one-of-a-kind style, fit & price range in your quiz. We’ll curate pieces for you and listen to your feedback—so you always look and feel your best.” While discussing stakeholders’ engagement, the subject of ‘’employee engagement’’ becomes quite vital. In this context, we may look at what W.L.Gore & Associates (an American multinational manufacturing company specializing in products derived

Senior leaders today are speaking a language of “purpose” that engages employees and customers in new ways, inviting their insights to drive innovation and business growth from fluoropolymers and it is best known as the developer of waterproof, breathable Gore-Tex fabrics). From 1984 to 2017, this company appeared in Fortune magazine's annual list of the U.S. "100 Best Companies to Work For”. An important factor in this recognition is Gore's unique culture. It slowly evolved from the company's success with small teams during its formative years. As described, W.L. Gore’s approach to business was

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based on Bill Gore's long and successful experience with "task force teams" while he worked at the DuPont. Such groups were created at DuPont on an ad-hoc basis to attack and solve complex problems and issues; usually multidisciplinary and operated for short periods outside of the company's formal hierarchy, and that made the team so effective. When Satya Nadella took the helm as CEO of Microsoft in 2014, he instituted a “Growth Mindset” strategy, emphasizing the importance of a cultural obsession with customer satisfaction and a commitment to lifelong learning. This is simply about the company’s engagement with customers as one of the key stakeholders. Microsoft has also stated its mission which talks about stakeholders’ engagement – their mission is ‘to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.’ To accomplish this, CEO Satya Nadella has asked each of Microsoft’s employees to take responsibility to fulfill this mission by becoming more ‘’customerobsessed’’ in a way. The mission statement is an appeal to employees to engage with customers… the very ‘’purpose’’ of Microsoft. Let us turn the page and look at a management model. Successful organizations (very much like successful leaders) are normally high on self-awareness—but how do they know if they are really seeing their 'self'' clearly? How do they build self-awareness into their DNA? We may use Johari Window Model to reflect on this and let us see HOW – it is simple.


Known to self

Not known to self

Se lfdi sc ov er y( Ex pl or e)

Hidden (Consciously determined)

In the above model, ‘’purpose’’ driven organizations may substitute - KNOWN TO SELF with

KNOWN TO THE COMPANY & KNOWN TO OTHERS with KNOWN TO STAKEHOLDERS – and open

dialogues and discussions with stakeholders (individually or in a combination of multiple stakeholders) on issues concerning employees, customers, products, markets, channel, vendor & suppliers, compliances, risk management, the interest of communities, sustainability, etc. A very powerful method of purpose-driven engagement of stakeholders. NASA very much includes in their ‘’purpose’’ statement the safety of human beings. Yes, they engage them in science and research but at the same time, take complete responsibility to

Business Strategy

Unknown to others

Blind spot Feedback (Ask)

Disclosure (Tell)

Known to others

Open / public

Unknown (Untapped potential) return them safely back to their family and society. President John F. Kennedy had announced on May 25, 1961, to ‘’Perform a crewed lunar landing and return to Earth’’…Apollo Lunar Module Eagle landed humans on Moon on July 20, 1969, and splashed down safely in the southwest of Hawaii on July 24, 1969, with Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin aboard. To sum up, it’s crucial today to redefine an organization’s identity which is embedded in the outwardfacing declaration. It reassures the stakeholders about their engagement in decision making which may relate to business models, strategy, market, talent management, etc. And finally, ‘’purpose drives profit’’ is on the watch list of all the stakeholders.

Praveen Sinha is the Ex- Head-HR Center of Excellence, Escorts Ltd and Co-Founder, People n Planet Fora APRIL 2021 |

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Building equitable workplaces for the now and future: IKEA India’s Parineeta Cecil Lakra I N TERVIEW

In this exclusive interaction, Parineeta Cecil Lakra, Country People and Culture Manager, IKEA India shares her views on how the global crisis impacted the role of women in the workforce and how the pandemic has offered an opportunity to get social inequalities, diversity, and inclusion right By Yasmin Taj

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he COVID-19 pandemic changed many things for us. While it brought to the fore many challenges, it was also a big eye-opener in terms of where the gaps were. While remote working and upskilling were key factors in this changing world of work, diversity and inclusion too came into the spotlight. Of the many things, this pandemic highlighted social inequality. And it became crucial for organizations to set it all right, as it was not just about it making business sense, but also about bringing change at the larger level. In this exclusive interaction, Parineeta Cecil Lakra, Country People and Culture Manager, IKEA India brings upon the focus on how

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How has the global crisis impacted the role of women in the workforce, according to you? How do you see the role of women’s leadership in responding to the pandemic and gearing up for a more equitable recovery?

The global crisis has been quite demanding for women in the workforce across industries. Retail was no different. Balancing the responsibilities towards home, towards work, towards family, and toward self has been a challenge. Women and not just women leaders have played an equal, if not stronger, role with resilience and determination during these times. Despite all the ever so demanding commitments, we have seen women across the organization literally leap in to

Women and not just women leaders have played an equal, if not stronger, role with resilience and determination during these times. We have seen women across the organization literally leap in to lead and contribute to business restart and recovery

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the role of women went through a significant transformation as a result of the pandemic, how women leaders manifested themselves in this time of crisis, and how the pandemic has offered an opportunity to get social inequalities, diversity, and inclusion right. Parineeta has a strong experience in Human Resources of over 15 years, the majority of which has been in the retail industry. From leading HR in units to set up functions from scratch in new companies, this has been part of her overall experience. She has been a part of IKEA India’s startup journey since 2014, contributing to & delivering to the people strategy, setting up of the people and culture function, developing and growing teams, and furthering the people agenda for IKEA India year on year. Her motivation and passion is the same as when she joined IKEA India years ago – to grow, develop and contribute to a brand that has the same value system as her, has a strong culture, and which is a socially conscious, responsible, and sustainable brand that not only cares about business and customers but keeps its people at the heart of everything. Here are the excerpts from the interview.

lead and contribute to business restart and recovery. Whether it has been coming back to operations in our retail units or distribution centers or construction sites, we have seen them come back strongly, despite the circumstances.

Do you think the pandemic has offered an opportunity to get social inequalities, diversity, and inclusion right, now that the pandemic has elevated disparities and gaps? What questions should businesses ask and act on for a better future of work? APRIL 2021 |

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Gender equality is good for business and has a positive impact on talent recruitment and retention, as well as brand trust and customer loyalty Of the many things, this pandemic highlighted social inequality. At a fundamental level, the underrepresentation of women in the industry has posed itself as a challenge most companies wish to overcome. Over the years, addressing gender equality has started to become a priority. The need to have more women in the workforce in India for a more equal society continues to be amplified. However, what businesses need to see is to not make it a mere number exercise and truly commit to building genderbalanced workplaces, with equal representation and inclusion. At IKEA, for instance, it is nonnegotiable for us to have a 50/50 gender balance across all levels. Today, more than 60 percent of | APRIL 2021

our senior leaders and close to 48% of our co-workers across all units are women. To be a truly gender-inclusive workplace, we need to have the same playing field – with this thought since 2014, we have worked with a multi-dimensional approach to have an equal platform for our coworkers from recruitment, to equal development opportunities to equal benefits – like unique 6 months’ parental policy in IKEA India for both men and women, to internal development and culminating in commitment to have Equal Pay. This year IKEA received the UN Women WEP award both at India and Asia Pacific level for promoting gender equality in the workplace.

What are some of the challenges and opportunities for women as we adapt ourselves to a new world of work? What’s your advice for women to move forward strong and even stronger in the post-pandemic world? The demands from towards home, towards work, towards family, and toward self will continue to be a challenge. As an organization and as women coworkers, we are aware of this and have support set up – whether it's flexible hours, focus on physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing, time off, and balanced working hours. We, also as a society, need to stop glorifying long unbalanced working hours and imbalanced participation of gender at home. Gender equality is beyond the workspace and important in everyday life at home. This month, globally, we launched the Fifty-


Fifty campaign highlighting the importance of equality in life at home, especially during the pandemic. Reports show that spending so much time inside our homes has put stress on relationships. More time at home means more responsibilities, and it's often women who take on the extra work. An equal every day is a better every day.

If you have leaders or promoters recognizing the need for it and committing to it, you will realize that there is a growing community, who are collaborating in a fantastic way to move this topic – as it is not just good for their business but for society at large

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Organizations continue to report that they are highly committed to gender diversity but the proportion of women in their organizations barely budges. Despite the fact that the business case for gender diversity is clear, the overall women's progress at work remains stalled. As a woman leader, do you think it's time for corporations to take bold steps to balance the scale? Yes absolutely, in this topic of creating gender-balanced workplaces, there is no tipping in. We need to be all in for equality for the long term. At IKEA, we see gender equality as equal to basic human rights – we do not see it as optional; we see it as mandatory. In India, this has been one of the key commitments we have been working with – to build and grow a gender-balanced organization. There is no function where we have not found amazing inspiring women to be part of our journey, from forklift operators to real estate, to logistics. We are very humbled at what we have achieved and sit with a huge sense of responsibility to continue towards our ambition of 50-50 gender balance and to keep it there.

What’s your take on leadership especially at a time like this and how can organizations make ethical and diversity-centered decisions? Research shows that companies with gender diversity in leadership positions have better financial performance and heightened customer satisfaction. Gender equality is good for business and has a positive impact on talent recruitment and retention, as well as brand trust and customer loyalty. Attracting and retaining the right competence and talent is essential for us to reach our busi-

ness growth ambitions. Breaking stereotypes requires a mindset change, commitment, and investment, especially from the leaders. Breaking the glass ceiling does take time and effort. It can bring a lot of generational shifts, but if you have leaders or promoters recognizing the need for it and committing to it, you will realize that there is a growing community, who are collaborating in a fantastic way to move this topic – as it is not just good for their business but for society at large. APRIL 2021 |

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HR must leverage technology to champion change: Polycab’s CHRO In an exclusive conversation with People Matters, Suresh Kumar, the Chief Human Resource Officer at Polycab talks about how the company adopted HR technology in a phased approach By Jerry Moses

I N TERVIEW

expectations of future technology solutions. Here are excerpts from the interview.

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uresh Kumar is the Executive President and CHRO at Polycab. Previously, he was the President – Strategy and Human Resources. Prior to Polycab, Suresh worked in various HR roles at companies like Mafatlal, Polycab Wires, Hindustan Unilever Limited. In a conversation with People Matters, Suresh talks about Polycab’s journey towards HR technology adoption, key challenge areas, navigating the COVID19 pandemic, and his | APRIL 2021

Can you talk about the journey of deploying the HRMS? At Polycab, we were looking for an integrated HRMS system for over a year. And our focus was to identify a system that was both – integrated and employeefriendly. As a company, our goal was to move away from manual work and our thought process then was to make the HR department into a paper-less function by the upcoming financial year. And the HR technology system had to support the company’s growing vision. It needed to address the concerns that employees already had – whether it was providing seamless support and giving employees the information that they needed. Adrenalin was chosen with that intent.

According to us, it had the capabilities which matched our expectations.

What were the top challenges in your journey to integrating technology into your HR function? And how did you overcome it? The biggest challenges we faced in integrating technology in our HR function were • Managing the transition – HR is a very sensitive function. It contains critical information such as payroll and employee performance records among others. Accurately migrating such confidential data was a herculean task. • Maintaining compliances – We operate in a highly regulated business environment. It was important for us to ensure internal and external compliance to meet audit requirements. • Training the staff to adopt the new module – This was compounded by the recent COVID – 19 pandemic that disrupted us all. Fortunately, we have an able workforce that knows how to overcome adversity. Our employees showed great


character during these testing times and put in their efforts to maintain business continuity. Our HR team went to great lengths to thoroughly understand this module. Despite being limited in our interactions, we managed to connect digitally, sharing ideas and suggestions on how to make the system more user-friendly. We organized regular testing modules, exploring and familiarizing ourselves with the system before implementation.

confidential people metrics. We sent regular broadcast messages, highlighting the merits of this new system and conducted periodic training interventions to adapt the module. This helped convince the employees about the effectiveness and potential of the new system. Such a profound transition can only be accomplished through regular dialogue with all the relevant stakeholders.

Could you talk about how you chose the HR technology partner for this journey? We wanted to implement an all-encompassing HR module that helps propel our business forward. As a nation, we are progressing to

a more agile workforce that demands real-time data and a holistic approach to people matters. Automation is a key differentiator. We needed a service provider that can help us in this transition without any compromise. Adrenalin assured us of a platform that can enable it and shared our vision to combine the key functions of HR under one roof. Though it is still early days, we are optimistic about our association.

Could you talk more about the launch and the modules you chose to focus on? The launch was done in a phased manner. The first focus area was payroll – for the staff and management. APRIL 2021 |

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What steps did you take to align the culture of the company to ensure the adoption was a success? And how did you bring about the mindset shift needed to embrace new technology at the workplace? Polycab as a company has always embraced the latest technologies. However, this was the first time it adopted such a comprehensive HRMS module. The management was open to its implementation. It was important to acclimatize the employees with it. We conducted weekly discussions where business/functional heads would express their views post consultation with their respective departments. Feedback was encouraged and we ensured that relevant input was factored into the system. Naturally, employees were initially apprehensive at first, as change, more often than not, is met with resistance, especially, one that pertains to

The biggest challenges we faced in integrating technology in our HR function were managing the transition and ensure internal and external compliances

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The second phase was the performance management system and the third phase was the workers' payroll. In the fourth and fifth phases, the focus was on training and e-learning. Once we complete that, we will be working towards a 360-degree feedback mechanism and off-roll employees. The Adrenalin team was very helpful in customizing the product according to our needs. The goal is to complete all roll-outs by February, so we can start the financial year with the integrated products in place. Shortly after the COVID-19 induced break, the process had to be re-energized.

What are the key lessons you have learned from implementing a complete HR digital transformation exercise? What were the interventions that were necessary to make the journey successful? The key lesson learned is the importance of perseverance. Despite the COVIDinduced lockdown, we were able to connect digitally with our peers and associates to first understand the module. Also, as discussed earlier, any change is met with some sort of apprehension. Our employees, the HR team, in particular, exemplified the resilience needed and left no stone untouched to implement the system. For us to successfully implement the system, we | APRIL 2021

needed to first motivate our employees during the lockdown. We have an in-house magazine – Sparsh which encouraged employees to express their ideas. It was also released during the lockdown to keep employees abreast of what was going on in the organization and with their colleagues. Our Radio service also played a big factor in keeping our employees engaged. Our CMD gave an impas-

enable business leaders to get a better perspective of people metrics. Employees can highlight their training needs, set goals and track their progress. The PMS module has been specifically designed to factor in all the variables while assessing employee performance. This will no doubt lead to just and equitable organizational culture. Needless to say, employees are eagerly anticipating it.

My advice to leaders and the HR fraternity in general, is to champion change. We must embrace & adopt the latest technologies to develop the biggest resource in any economy – people sioned speech, convincing us to weather this storm. Since employees' morale was uplifted during this difficult time, they were better prepared to maintain business continuity and accept the transition.

What is your one advice to leaders and HR teams embarking on an HR transformation exercise? My biggest advice to leaders and the HR fraternity, in general, is to champion change. Manufacturing, Finance, and Supply Chain What has been the experiare functions that have made ence of employees at the HO great strides in adopting the and plant, post the shift to digi- latest technologies in India. tization? What do they have to We must not leave ourselves behind. HR functions will say? play a major role in driving The employees have been economies forward, espevery enthusiastic about cially in a post-COVID-19 this recent transition. The world. We must embrace and current module has helped adopt the latest technolointegrate the core facets of gies to develop the biggest HR namely payroll, recruitresource in any economy – ment, training, and PMS people. under one roof. This will


Rachael Tay

Freedom of choice in employee benefits The world of employee benefits has been gradually changing over the last few years, but like many aspects of corporate life, the pace of change has been accelerated by the impact of COVID-19

E

Employee Benefits

vents over the past year have not only shifted where and how we work but also caused employers and employees alike to rethink the importance and relevance of employee benefits. Employers may expect lower premiums for employee medical insurance but that lower-than-average medical trend rate would correct once deferred or elective medical treatments are sought and lifestyle changes lead to new health risks. As the physical and mental impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to reveal themselves, employees are increasingly looking for employee benefits that go beyond medical to cover “wellcare” – rather than just sick care. In addition, employees are looking for opportunities to personalize the benefits offered to them. Taking these forces and factors into account, HR practitioners must be thinking about their employee benefits offering and how they can meet the needs of

current and future employees.

The importance of choice

Traditionally, most organizations have tended to “prescribe” benefits packages for their employees on a company-wide compulsory basis. Benefit levels are decided by referencing market or industry norms. Save for differing local or regional practices, this one-size-all approach is often the norm across organizations. However, progressive employers have started to see the benefit of letting

employees select their own benefits – particularly as employee expectations are often influenced by the wellpublicized behavior of the global tech giants in offering employees a more holistic approach to their health and well-being. COVID-19 is also further driving the move towards a more flexible approach to employee benefits by highlighting many changes in preferences and lifestyle choices, as well as the whole context of workplace culture and practices. This has therefore further APRIL 2021 |

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spurred companies to realize that defined-benefit solutions may not be the answer to keeping employees feeling well-protected and taken care of. When considering what benefits are truly relevant and useful, an employee may take into account aspects like their family structure, work hours, place of work, their current and expected future state of health, their stage of life, as well as other societal and cultural factors. With so many factors in play, the traditional concept of having medical coverage as the main employee benefit will just not resonate with many employees. For those naturally blessed with good physical health, they are unlikely to take advantage of the medical coverage provided by their employer and, while that’s good news for the employer on several levels, it’s not great for those employees. As a society, we are becoming more aware that prevention is better than cure. Employee welfare, stress and disease prevention, and wellness have increased in importance alongside the requirement for sick care. With stress, pressures, and disruptions being more prevalent during COVID-19, mental health has become a key area of focus for employers and employees alike. It is also | APRIL 2021

worth noting that fitness and wellness activities have become a way of staying away from requiring medical care and a key driver of physical and mental wellbeing. Delving further into this, wouldn’t it be better if employees are enabled and encouraged by their organization and benefits to stay fit and healthy, as compared to only supporting them financially if they fall sick? This change in mindset may then lead to fewer medical

The act of giving choice when it comes to employee benefits shows that the company truly cares about the overall well-being of prospective talent. This point is further highlighted with senior hires, where a significant portion of them will have specific needs and the freedom to customize their benefits will be an edge for the company looking to recruit and retain them. Richard Branson neatly summed it up by noting that “if you take care of your employees,

As the physical and mental impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to reveal themselves, employees are increasingly looking for employee benefits that go beyond medical to cover “wellcare” – rather than just sick care claims, which will in turn make premiums for medical insurance more sustainable. As such, companies should start prioritizing "wellcare" and preventive care over sick care, build resilience and create more flexible benefits offerings for those employees who may prefer to have more solutions around mental health, wellness, and physical health and fitness. The level of employee benefits choice that is offered may also be a factor that will attract and retain talent within a company.

they will take care of your clients”. By giving a choice to employees in determining their benefits, it shows that the organization cares.

Harnessing technology for employee benefits

With most employees now selecting benefits online through a system or portal, technology is needed to facilitate a seamless user experience on the benefits platform and also play a starring role in making customizable solutions a possibility. For employers, there are several ways of doing


information and facilitating choice for employees, technology also plays an important role in ensuring employee engagement is not compromised by COVID-19. We are familiar with how communications technology has bridged the gap in employee engagement during COVID-19, where the majority of the workforce has adopted a hybrid model and this also applies to employee benefits where employee engagement is the key enabler of feedback for the company,

employees need to be able to clearly evaluate the available solutions and weigh the pros and cons of the various choices to make the most informed decision. Technology can facilitate decision support and promote healthy behavior with data analytics, machine learning, and artificial learning now a part of our everyday lives. Besides acting as a key element to providing better

as well as the insurer providing the solutions. In the ideal scenario, a company has its finger on the pulse of employee needs and if circumstances and market conditions have changed, that may then warrant an improvisation or change of their benefits. When face-to-face scenarios aren’t possible, technology will provide the medium for such feedback and con-

versation to take place. Technology, therefore, needs to be utilized creatively to enhance the richness of conversations in organizations, which will then spur further improvements of employee benefits through a robust feedback channel. In essence, both technology and information can now work in tandem faster than ever before, enabling innovative and tailored solutions to be part of the equation for employee benefits. The world of employee benefits has been gradually changing over the last few years, but like many aspects of corporate life, the pace of change has been accelerated by the impact of COVID-19. For employers, employee benefits is now one area where they can demonstrate that they are committed to a more holistic approach to their employees’ well-being. Employees are after all consumers, well accustomed to demanding and having personalization and choice. HR practitioners who can leverage this can help their organizations drive change in employee benefits, moving from sick care to "wellcare" and giving the freedom of choice, all of which will ultimately help to set their organization apart in the war for talent.

Employee Benefits

this depending on their size and their offering and many larger companies may have their own platform where they can bring the benefits together, alongside offers from partners. For smaller businesses, it might make sense to bring in a whitelabeled platform that allows them to customize it to their business and their offering, alongside a corporate membership concept for various partners. Regardless of the platform or option being used,

Rachael Tay is the Regional Head of Benefits (APAC), Employee Benefits (Asia), Lockton APRIL 2021 |

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Visty Banaji

India eagerly awaits a sixer Several organizations have moved to longer working days and many more are thinking of doing so. They are misled by ephemeral gains, while the damage to people and performance can be deep and lasting

The road less travelled

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he two armies fought a fierce battle that lasted the entire day. At the end of it, the invaders had overcome the well-positioned defenders and killed their king. There are many causes attributed to this outcome but the (contested) one we shall choose is the relatively exhausted state of the defending army, because of the hard battle they had fought and won against another invader just a few days earlier. If the loss of England in 1066 is not enough to warn you against tiring your employees by extending their working hours, I don’t know whether the rest of my augments will. But let me try anyway. My financially minded friends never tire of searching for quick (and sometimes dirty) ways to obtain more work with negligible cost increases. This was the thinking behind the old game of dropping in huge dollops of overtime in the hope of avoiding the fixed cost of additional manpower. It backfired badly when people found | APRIL 2021

ways to benefit from the overtime without making a significant increment in output. Seasoned HR hands still laugh about the many times workmen resorted to round-robin absenteeism or goofed off during regular working hours to ensure they got overtime without overwork. The current generation of get-profits-quick smart alecs are more focused on getting the same output at a significantly lower cost. Their first opportunity came with the Work From Home (WFH) imposed by

COVID-19. Why not make an emergency measure permanent and save hugely on office space and overheads by using employee homes instead, on an effectively rent-free basis?1 Progressive organization have thankfully swerved their corporate vehicles away from hitting the trust and performance damaging WFH cliff. Yet, now some of them are perilously close to falling into the ravine of the Longer Working Day (LWD). The argument that these longer workdays are made up through extended weekends


Long hours never bothered me

"Many of us have worked like that," growled a senior HR friend when I bemoaned the unhealthy trend that seemed to be starting. And he is right. Even today, most CXOs and several levels of upper and even middle management put in twelve-hour days regularly and much more when the occasion demands. Senior and staff people, however, have three major advantages that elude the larger part of the workforce. Senior managers put in additional hours voluntarily. At least theoretically. The line of limousines leaving within half an hour after the CEO’s every evening throws some doubt on the volun-

tariness but those hours for displaying dedication are not usually work-filled. More important, their output is not tracked closely: certainly not on an hourto-hour or daily basis. This non-measurement lifts a huge amount of pressure and the consequential stress of additional hours from the person. Lastly, the more senior the manager, the greater the freedom to determine the day’s schedule. Even when it is other-determined, the nature of most managerial

self-directed senior executives cannot avoid. Taken together, they raise a red flag over double-digit hour days except during short emergency conditions. The first of these handicaps affect women most and is, therefore, a body blow to any effort to bring about gender diversity at the levels that matter. The LWD is one of the most devious and devastating ways to discriminate against women climbing the upper reaches of the corporate pyramid.2 Even if women don’t self-unselect

Epidemiological studies have shown the negative effects of long working hours on the risks of cardiovascular diseases including chronic fatigue, stress, depressive state, anxiety, etc activity permits self-pacing. For instance, it is very much up to a meeting participant (unless s/he is put on the spot for something) to decide how actively to participate or whether to indulge in mind-wandering to less stressful subjects. Attending to emails is another major and acceptable time-occupier that can be prioritized and speedily completed or dawdled over while distracted by other thoughts – wholesome or 'un'. Despite these attenuators, there are some LWD liabilities that even the most

from trying for hour-hungry echelons, assessors will make the decision for them, especially if they have families and children. Before male executives smile too smugly at this nontariff barrier for women let me present a hurdle that’s blind to gender. Few would dispute the need for much above-average creativity for existing or aspiring occupants of the C-suite. Well, creativity and the LWD do not make good companions. "When you examine the lives of history’s most creative figures, [and] look APRIL 2021 |

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or longer vacation-time is unconvincing, even if the additional hours worked are exactly compensated – which isn’t always the case. This is both because the substitutes (especially lapsable vacation days) find ways of vanishing due to exigencies of work or Parkinsonian home commitments and because the damage done by LWD cannot be undone at the end of the week, month or year. Starving for four days and gorging the next three would be a disastrous lifestyle choice. Work ''binging'', whether voluntary or forced, has scarcely less deleterious effects.

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closely at their daily lives, they only spent a few hours a day doing what we would recognize as their most important work… Their towering creative achievements result from modest 'working' hours… Everybody focuses on the most obvious, measurable forms of work …. This is how we’ve come to believe that world-class performance comes after 10,000 hours of practice. But that’s wrong. It comes after 10,000 hours of deliberate practice, 12,500 hours of deliberate rest, and 30,000 hours of sleep."3 There is one more set of damages caused by crazy work-hours, that again is not dependent on level or gender: truncated family time and inadequate exercise and sleep. The pride in getting the ''slogger'' tag becomes gossamer-light when destroyed marriages, maladjusted children, and physical as well as mental ailments are put in the other pan of the balance.

The plight of the measured many Far greater costs await those who cannot adjust their own schedules and who cannot intersperse rest and recreation (even if unofficially) into long hours. For the majority of people in a modern organization, the output is closely tracked and shortfalls get converted into unpleasant consequences. 94

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Their LWDs are unremitting, monotonous, and damaging to body and mind. There are reams of reliable and repeatedly replicated research that have reached near unanimity over decades about the ill effects of long working hours. Here are the findings of a recent meta-study. "Epidemiological studies have shown the negative effects of long working hours on the risks of cardiovascular diseases; chronic fatigue,

indirect health consequences of the COVID-19 crisis, 1 any upward movement in the hours worked (whether on a daily or a weekly basis) can be extremely debilitating if not fatal.5 While much of the research deals with weekly hours, excessive daily hours cannot be compensated by extended weekends even if those did not fall prey to official or family demands on what appear to be windfall days, that appear too good to

stress, depressive state, anxiety, sleep quality, all-cause mortality, alcohol use and smoking; and self-perceived health, mental health status, hypertension… Similar results have been found for long working hours by other studies, for instance, myocardial infarction, poor physical health, and injuries, alcohol consumption, smoking, physical inactivity, and depression."4 Coming so soon after the upheavals and

be squandered on rest and recovery. The human body and mind conform to the circadian rhythm – not a circaseptan (weekly) one. It is for this reason that experts find that: "[T]he shortening of daily workhours may be more effective for improving life-style than increasing the number of regular weekly holidays or paid holidays."6 Far more lethal can be the impact the extended workshift has on safety. A recent


all important for organizational performance, are also candidates for an inverse relationship with excessive work hours. If organizations remain myopic about their own long-term interests and put the well-being of their employees so far down in their priority lists, there is no option but to restrain them through regulations.

Longer working day affect women most and is, therefore, a body blow to any effort to bring about gender diversity at the levels that matter Legal limits

Even countries that intervene least in the contracts and interactions between employers and their people find it necessary to specify limits for the hours that can be worked in any day or week or both. Let me start, however, with the justifications used by countries that have few such restraints. When I commenced my stint in France, offices, and factories were agog with the implications of the 35-hour week that had been launched by the coalition government of Lionel Jospin. "The idea of work

sharing as an employmentcreation policy is simple: if the production of goods and services in an economy is fixed, then a reduction in hours can redistribute the fixed amount of work across more people, increasing employment."10 This wasn’t so different from the solution (with certain caveats) that Keynes anticipated for the problem of technological unemployment."11 Unfortunately, this reasoning didn’t quite work out in practice and, whatever might have been its other consequences, the impact of the 35-hour week on unemployment remained uncertain. All the same, it would take a Quixotically courageous and ignorant economist (or bureaucrat), to project that additional working hours would generate employment. Quite apart from employment generation, however, just as the Government regulates other facets of industrial safety, it owes it to the working population to prevent any steps that would massively impair employee health. And thus it needs to do even if the people concerned have fallen for the lure of (elusive) longer weekends or vacations that accompany these workextending measures. "Governments should clearly recognize the importance of maintaining the health of workers because the productivity of the workforce is APRIL 2021 |

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study found that "… risk increased in an approximately exponential fashion with time on shift such that in the twelfth hour it was more than double that during the first eight hours."7 Some of my contemporaries would like to see young professionals today suffer the same harrowing work schedules they themselves had, decades back. They nostalgically talk about the unremitting twelve-hour days and six-day weeks we used to put in. Politeness prevents me from reminding them how eagerly they jumped off that ship as soon as a boat with saner working hours hove into view. Forcing today’s generation to go through what we did would be like insisting patients undergo operations without anesthesia simply because it didn’t exist in their parents’ time. Polonius-like pronouncements such as, "Young people can take it," ignore consistent findings8 that the young incur at least as much if not more (especially when they are newly establishing families which also demand peak attention) LWD-damage as everyone else. We have viewed the LWD problem from the perspective of employees’ plight. However, quite apart from deteriorating safety levels (mentioned above), productivity,9 engagement, and management of medical costs/liabilities, which are

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what sustains the development and enhancement of society and the economy… If no maximum working hours or standard working hours have been established, the health of workers is threatened by the negative health effects of long working hours."4 When people talk airily about the 'freedom' to work twelve-hour days as long as there are (theoretically) longer weekends or vacations, they are perhaps unaware of the fierce battles that had to be fought to

We mean to make things over, we are tired of toil for naught With but bare enough to live on and ne'er an hour for thought. We want to feel the sunshine and we want to smell the flowers

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Hitting a sixer

So much palaver just to defend the eight-hour day? Not exactly. Keynes wasn’t slipped into the column just to justify Jospin. His solution to a future where some people are unemployed (and hence unpaid) while those having jobs are forced to put in ridiculous hours of work, was to distribute equitably the work available after These long and sometimes technological innovation had done its most (or worst). bloody battles culminated in He concluded: "Three-hour "[t]he first international lashifts or a fifteen-hour week bor standard, the ILO Hours may put off the problem for a great while".11 Admittedly, this is an endpoint that’s far beyond us today. In the meantime, we can certainly look at countries where six-hour days have been rolled out with considerable success and satisfaction. One of these is Sweden, where an increasing number of companies are moving away (in the right of Work (Industry) Condirection) from the centuryvention, 1919 (No. 1), [that] old eight-hour standard. And enshrined… the eight-hour they seem all the better for workday, into international law, alongside a 48-hour week- it. Here’s the report from the ly limit on working time…."13 CEO of one such enterprise: "The biggest response that I Do we really want to regress couldn’t foresee was the enand surrender the territory ergy level I felt with my colgained over years of strugleagues… They were happy gle? We shouldn’t forget that the greatest impact of such a leaving the office and happy retrograde step will be borne coming back the next day. They didn’t feel drained or by the precariat consisting of contract and GIG workers fatigued. That has also helped who have little chance to avail the workgroups to work better together now when we see of compensatory vacation less conflicts and arguments. days and are in the weakest People are happier."14 position to protest.

Even countries that intervene least in the contracts and interactions between employers and their people find it necessary to specify limits for the hours that can be worked in any day or week or both bring down the inhumane hours of work that accompanied the industrial revolution and down to the 19th and early 20th centuries. The most popular labor song in the US in the 1860s, '70s, and '80s was 'Eight Hours' and this is how it opened.

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We are sure that God has willed it and we mean to have eight hours; We're summoning our forces from the shipyard, shop, and mill. Chorus: Eight hours for work, eight hours for rest Eight hours for what we will; Eight hours for work, eight hours for rest Eight hours for what we will.


Notes:

Happiness, though crucially important, is not the only likely benefit. Physical and mental ill-health, that suffer under LWD, obviously improve in the positive direction with the six-hour workday. Equally importantly, people are encouraged (even forced) to eliminate wasteful effort, meetings, web dawdling, and pointless time-fillers. Of especial interest to those undertaking intellectual and creative tasks should be the possibility of fitting the shortened workday around that part of the circadian cycle when the brain is at its active best. This would result in better problem-solving and higher innovation in the limited time available.15 Steve

Glaveski sums it up well. "By cultivating a flow-friendly workplace and introducing a shorter workday, you’re setting the scene not only for higher productivity and better outcomes, but for more motivated and less-stressed employees, improved rates of employee acquisition and retention, and more time for all that fun stuff that goes on outside of office walls, otherwise known as life."16 So which CEO, in this cricket-loving country, will make history by being the first to lead an Indian company to hit daily working hours for a six? And what better way could there be to attract the best talent for that wonderful place to work?

The road less travelled

So which CEO, in this cricket-loving country, will make history by being the first to lead an Indian company to hit daily working hours for a six?

1. Visty Banaji, 'Working from Home is NOT a piece of cake', People Matters, 25 January 2021, (https://www.peoplematters.in/blog/life-at-work/working-fromhome-is-not-a-piece-of-cake-28247). 2. Sylvia Ann Hewlett, Executive Women and the Myth of Having It All, Harvard Business Review, April 2002. 3. Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less, Basic Books, 2016. 4. Kapo Wong, Alan H S Chan and S C Ngan, The Effect of Long Working Hours and Overtime on Occupational Health: A Meta-Analysis of Evidence from 1998 to 2018, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 13 June 2019. 5. J Johnson and J Lipscomb, Long working hours, occupational health and the changing nature of work organization, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, Vol. 49, No. 11, 2006. 6. Soichiro Maruyama and Kanehisa Morimoto, Effects of long workhours on life-style, stress and quality of life among intermediate Japanese managers, Scand J Work Environ Health, October 1996. 7. S Folkard and P Tucker, Shift work, safety and productivity, Occupational Medicine, Vol. 53, No. 2, 2003. 8. Sungjin Park, Hyungdon Kook, Hongdeok Seok, Jae Hyoung Lee, Daeun Lim, Dong-Hyuk Cho and Suk-Kyu Oh, The negative impact of long working hours on mental health in young Korean workers, PLOS ONE, 4 August 2020. 9. L Golden, The effects of working time on productivity and firm performance: A research synthesis paper, Conditions of Work and Employment Series No. 33, International Labour Office, 2012. 10. Marcello Estevão and Filipa Sá, The 35hour workweek in France: Straightjacket or welfare improvement?, Economic Policy, July 2008. 11. John Maynard Keynes, Economic possibilities for our grandchildren, Essays in Persuasion, Harcourt Brace, 1930. 12. P S Foner, Eight Hours, American labor songs of the nineteenth century, University of Illinois Press, 1975. 13. Jon Messenger, Working time and the future of work. ILO Future of Work research paper series, 2018. 14. Adele Peters, Why Sweden Is Shifting To A 6-Hour Workday, Fast Company, 29 September 2015. 15. Clément Fournier, Are Shorter Working Days The Secret To A Happier, Healthier And More Productive Life?, Youmatter, 25 September 2017. 16. Steve Glaveski, The Case for the 6-Hour Workday, Harvard Business Review, 11 December 2018.

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

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ARE YOU I N THE LIST

People Matters

Are You In The List Awards 2021: 10 Years of Excellence People Matters Are You In The List Awards, which is in its tenth year of running, has been the beacon to recognizing emerging future HR leaders

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and beyond, People Matters Are you in the List 2021? is the right stage-as it has been for the last 10 years, identifying the emerging HR beacons of tomorrow who can rise to the challenges of the future.

19,200+ applications, 147 emerging HR leaders

In the last nine years, we have received more than 19,200+ applications, out of which more than 147 emerging HR leaders have been recognized till now. What makes this initiative stand out is the fact that participants have to go through a 6-stage rigorous process that separates the wheat from the chaff. This rigorous process of selection has ensured that the awards spot those courageous HR professionals who are anticipators of workforce and talent trends relevant to the business. But this legacy just does not end at spotting these future leaders. The fact that many of these HR professionals have now made their way to the top rung of management as HR Heads/Function Heads is a testimony to the fact that the awards are not just merely corporate awards but recognition par excellence. People Matters has been presenting these most awaited awards every year since 2012. The award journey was conceptualized in 2012 in collaboration with Development Dimensions International (DDI) which is the Presenting Partner for this year as well.

Meanwhile, AuthBridge is the Authentication Partner for this year. Last year, in August, the 9th Edition of People Matters Are You In The List 2020 saw 10 finalists being crowned as the future 'Emerging HR Leaders'. This year too, the awards will endeavor to identify a handful of such talent powerhouses who have it in them to successfully chart the course of the future for their organizations amidst all the crises and disruptions that will ensue in the future. The jury for this year consists of eminent leaders such as Rohit Kapoor, CEO - India & South Asia, OYO; Kamal Bali, President and MD, Volvo Group India; Venkataraman S. V., Managing Director, ANZ; Shiv Shivakumat, Group Exec. President- Corporate Strategy & Business Development, Aditya Birla Group; and Aruna Jayanthi, Managing Director, Asia Pacific, and Latin America, Capgemini. Do you think you are one of those torchbearers who can go through the grind and emerge victorious as the leader of tomorrow? Do you think you are the answer to this quest of a future leader who can lead the change in 2021 and beyond? Then here’s your chance to show it to the world. Join us to be a part of the coveted Are You In The List 2021? Awards to find whether you have it in you to make it to the list.

ARE YOU I N THE LIST

hile we do not want to look back at 2020, but as we do, we realize that it has been a watershed year in the history of people, work, and most importantly HR. The year not only brought about a radical shift across all facets of business and companies but also catapulted HR to that coveted table it has been vying to get a seat at, for many decades. As HR leaders played a pivotal role in spearheading their organizations through the uncertainty, stress, and change, they developed and defined a new core set of skills which is going to be a prerequisite of emerging HR leaders in the second year of the pandemic and beyond. It is these very visionary and talented HR leaders that the People Matters Are you in the List 2021? Awards which is in its 10th year of running aims to recognize- the new generation of HR leaders who rose to the challenge of 2020 and became the answer to the challenges in the People and Workspace and have redefined HR for the future HR leaders. The awards will endeavor to identify a handful of such talent powerhouses who successfully charted the course of the future for their organizations amidst all the crises, risks, and disruptions that ensued in the year of the pandemic. For leaders who think they are the answer to this quest of a future leader who can lead the change in 2021

The last date for applications is 6th April, 2021. APRIL 2021 |

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Mandeep Kaur

Building the remote workplace culture I see a shift in the job seekers' mind-set from the monetary compensation to work culture, becoming the principal reason for a job change

Business Strategy

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he COVID-19 pandemic has completely flipped the way we work. While economies continue to grapple with lockdowns and unlock phases, it is evident that remote working is here to stay. Employees continue to adjust to this new way of working, even though the onus is still on the team leaders and human resource managers to think of innovative ways to reinvent and bolster workplace culture. When you cannot meet employees face-to-face, how do you keep them motivated? How do you kinder and sustain the team spirit? How do you ensure their well-being? There's another reason why building a vibrant and empathetic remote work culture is crucial. Over the years, I have observed a shift in the job seekers' mind-set. The focus is moving away from monetary compensation to work culture, becoming the principal reason for a job change. So then, how can we build a boom| APRIL 2021

Building a thriving and people-first company culture when teams are scattered across locations is not an easy job ing environment that helps employees blossom, as well as takes the company's vision to fruition? Quite frankly, there is no magic mantra as there cannot be a one-size-fits-all solution to this scenario. However, the following tips can be a great way to start. Create a trust culture: Transparency and trust are two elements of utmost

importance to create a thriving remote working culture. Since everyone is working from home, ensure there is accountability in their work. There are multiple project management tools available such as Trello and Asana, to track and monitor progress. At the same time, inspire team leaders to demonstrate trust in their reportees. The pandemic


another and ensure necessary support is available to help them overcome their difficulties. This could be in the form of counseling sessions or support groups. Build smaller groups to build a sense of community: This is especially critical in larger organizations. There is a high chance that the employees may feel disconnected from their team. Create smaller groups – may be just two to three

Working in their pajamas has a dark side as people tend to work longer hours and feel guilty about taking a break or a day off people. Encourage them to connect in their time to create a connection. They could start by just sharing how their day went and then take it from there. Identify employees who have a common interest, such as video games, books, or pop culture, and enable virtual meet-ups for them to bond. Make overall well-being a part of the culture: Going beyond the employee efficiency and productivity, focus on their mental health. It will be wise to avoid assuming that they have

a better work-life balance simply because they are working from home. Working in their pajamas has a dark side as people tend to work longer hours and feel guilty about taking a break or a day off. Help them deal with the current situation by facilitating casual calls after work hours and wellness programs such as online yoga and meditation. Enable regular management connections: Lastly, ensure the top management is not working in silos and is connected to the workforce. Facilitate strategy meetings so they can empower the top leadership, as well as strategize together. Additionally, they must make efforts to be present and address all employees regularly through townhalls so they can share their goals, and the entire company works cohesively to achieve the next level of growth. Significant business benefits and now proven success of the working-from-home model will ensure that it is not going away anytime soon. In this state, it is of paramount importance that human resources professionals focus and invest in building a robust and more empathetic work culture to bond with the employees in a workplace setting (from a distance).

Business Strategy

has debunked the myth that work only happens in the four walls of the office. Studies have shown that people are more efficient, sincere, and productive when working from home. Showing trust can help build a happy and thriving climate. Communicate, communicate, communicate: Effective communication is the foundation to building a strong workplace culture. When employees are working from home, it is imperative to regularly touch base with them to check on them, as well as keep them updated on company happenings, team achievements, plans, vision, and more. This helps in building a sense of belonging to the organization. Equally important is to nurture communication among team members by providing them the tools they need to collaborate and brainstorm. Encourage them to video chat as that is the closest to face-to-face interaction possible under the given circumstances. Dial-up on empathy: These are challenging times for everybody. You may not know what the other person may be going through. They could have personal challenges hampering their productivity, dealing with a chaotic environment with kids being at home or coping with staying alone, and so on. Encourage team members to be kind to one

Mandeep Kaur is Head of HR at LOTS Wholesale Solutions India APRIL 2021 |

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Expert Humans: Critical Leadership Skills for a Disrupted World by Michael Jenkins By Mastufa Ahmed

radical rethink of leadership will require all leaders, no matter what their gender, to embrace those qualities that ordinary people want to see – namely altruism, compassion, and empathy. But that’s just the start. Above all, we need leaders who are competent and can actually do the job they are paid to do. You might be the kindest, most thoughtful leader ever – but if you are unable to plan, to communicate effectively, to be consistent, and to act quickly and decisively – then your chances of success are likely to be significantly diminished.

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he unprecedented nature of the COVID19 pandemic has set in motion one of the most abrupt disruptions in decades giving rise to a lot of new trends while accelerating some existing ones. The crisis has been a brutal reminder of how fragile our world is and how vulnerable our civilization is to global disruptors like the COVID-19. The risk to global health is just one of the global disruptors that author Michael Jenkins looked at in his book Expert Humans. Michael also delves deep into some very pertinent pointers including sustainability, digital transformation, inequality, and the erosion of trust in institutions worldwide. While no vaccine can save the environment, writes Michael, on the positive side, COVID-19 has thrown into sharp relief our capacity as human beings to care for others and to show altruism, compassion, and empathy. The big question is: will our awakening around these crucial human attributes continue in the post-COVID-19 era? This is a very valid question that has put leadership to a test. It’s time for a radical rethink of leadership, argues Michael. There is a growing

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Purpose and sustainability demand for a different kind of leadership for the postCOVID-19 era -– one which transcends generational differences, according to him. We're seeing a confluence of frustration across the world arising from several sources of which one, in particular, is the persistent inequality that we see in all countries of the world. Gender inequality is a clear inhibitor of human progress: we have incontrovertible evidence that societies benefit hugely when women can enjoy access to educational opportunity – and power – of the kind already enjoyed by men. Hence, the

The issue of purpose and sustainability has suffered in terms of focus, writes Michael. For some companies, sustainability has been part of their corporate strategy for a significant period of time already, so these organizations continue to make (some) progress even in the grip of the pandemic. In Expert Humans, Michael made the point that purpose and sustainability have to go hand in hand: employees need to be reassured that their top leaders – the CEO and other C-level leaders – are authentically behind the sustainability drive and that their words


digital appointment-making, digital consultations, and so forth are becoming the norm. Successful organizations at the forefront of digital transformation are also the ones with their finger on the pulse of what it means to be human – and these will, he believes, continue to enjoy success. So what happens next? What do we need to stop, start or continue as we come out of this pandemic? We should be asking ourselves, says Michael, how altruistic, compassionate, and empathic are you prepared to be even as we come out of the pandemic? Are you aware of what you need to stop doing, what new behaviors you might need to adopt, and also, are you clear about all the great things you already do that are working and that you would like to continue? And just how far are you really willing to go to compromise or change your behavior in the service of others? Michael concludes with the importance of practicing selfawareness, self-compassion, and compassion for others. Overall, Expert Humans is a good read which encapsulates some of the most pertinent questions that leaders need to ask themselves and prepare for, as we come out of this crisis, to develop more human workplaces and a better world.

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of emotional intelligence (of which ACE is a component) with artificial intelligence. For the first time in history, we have at our disposal a vast array of digital tools and support systems that not only make our lives way more liveable but also open up the possibility for us to develop “digital weak-tie networks” – ways for us to connect with people in a techdriven yet deeply human way. Tech is also providing us with a way to connect with people in what he would call “the Middle Distance” – those outside our “strongtie networks” but with whom we have stronger links compared to the links we have with people in our weaktie networks. This is where Michael thinks we can expect interest in ONA (Organisational Network Analysis) to surge and concomitant with this, a huge debate around ethics and privacy. So the potential for us to use AI for good, especially if we can merge it with altruism, compassion, and empathy, holds rich possibilities. This is particularly true when we consider the growing importance of EX (the employee experience) and the positive impact that AI can have on shaping this. With year-long digital transformation compressed into months and weeks, it's certainly breathtaking to see the changes that have come about as a result. One only has to consider the strides made in healthcare to see that

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and deeds are aligned with organizational and individual purpose. Bringing out all this change warrants a mindset change. The ‘‘Expert Human’’ mindset is one that embraces some of our under-utilized human capabilities, namely altruism, compassion, and empathy (ACE). These human attributes, Michael says, are entirely “developable” and that techniques and approaches exist that can help us all to develop these qualities. He has included hints on how to get started in terms of developing these attributes. This includes the role of HR leaders to be able to support the implementation of more ACE behaviors by modeling them themselves. Michael shares some outlines that organizations can follow to cultivate a culture as they seek to transform themselves for the better: 1) Develop policies and practices that open up lines of communication. 2) Consider cross-generational leadership training, as more employees today believe that empathy can be learned. The book also talks about the much talked about co-existence of humans and AI and the key elements of a humancentered AI. Organizations of the future will be able to benefit hugely from what we might call “human-centered”AI – something Michael often thinks about as the “EI-AI balance”, namely the co-existence and complementarity

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Past Month's events

Knowledge + Networking

Unpacking the role of leadership in a hybrid workplace People Matters & Skillsoft 17th March, 2021 Online From building resilient business models to equipping employees with the right skills, and focusing on a future that will continue to be disrupted by technology, –the new learning mandate has changed the role of business and HR leaders. Today’s leaders need to ensure their workforce has access to the right tools for continuous learning and they need to ensure that it is mapped with practical experience and a growth mindset. In the second of a series of webcasts, we brought together a leading expert to help us understand the role of leaders and leadership in executing the new learning mandate.

How to build the People Analytics Infrastructure for a hybrid world of work People Matters

& Oracle 11th March, 2021 Online As technologies evolve, it has a direct impact on the potential of companies leveraging them. The continuous evolution of people analytics has led to a new generation of analytics – that uncovers hidden patterns in data and suggests data enrichments. As companies prepare for a new world of work, they need to have an in-depth understanding of what lies ahead. From new business priorities to new opportunities they need to be able to architect the analytics infrastructure that is aligned to their business needs. But how does one do that? In this webinar brought to you by New Workplace Operating Oracle and People Matters, Models expertsin inHR the space of people analytics shared how to go about building analytics to suit the needs of your HR team and how to align a team to help support the business.

EX for a High-Performing Distributed Workforce People Matters & ServiceNow 11th March, 2021 Online As employers strive to enable work, productivity, and well-being in the new now of work, experience remains the center of it all, to ensure sustainable recovery and exponential growth. People Matters and ServiceNow hosted a Virtual Roundtable to take stock and gear up as the world of work builds up a plan of action to return to the workplace. Leaders discussed how leaders can build a smooth and seamless experience focused on empowering a distributed workforce across a hybrid workplace.

People Matters LnD SEA Conference People Matters 4th March 2021 Online Theme: 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 104

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future digital skills, reimagining training at a scale in a distant world, and bringing on an experimentative mindset is the base to rev-up growth for individuals, organizations, and economies. This conference brought our community together to 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 sought clarity, shed light, and uncovered a new roadmap to build the foundation of a capability-driven business strategy for growth.


Upcoming events Virtual Coaching: Effective One2One Conversations

People Matters 5th May, 2021 Online With everything disrupted, considering going back to the old ways of working is not at all a winning strategy. Companies have accelerated their business agility & speed by adopting new ways of working. People Matters TechHR 2021’s theme, The Great Emergence will answer the question that stares us in the face - WHAT NEXT? It marks the beginning of reimagining the possibilities presented by our new reality. A perfect opportunity for you to network with 2500+ delegates and discuss how HR continues its quest to become more digital, data-centric, and businessdriven than ever before, with execution being at the core.

People Matters EX - A Virtual Conference People Matters 10th June, 2021 Online People Matters EX Virtual conference is a fullday event that will feature two virtual tracks and will take a deep dive into different aspects of the EX with keynotes, case study sessions, panel discussions, and dedicated virtual exhibition space for service providers to showcase their latest offerings. It will cover the foundations of EX to

maximize business success, accelerating the development of a consumer mindset to solving people & work challenges to attract and retain future talent, bolster productivity and ultimately build happier workplaces, which makes more business sense in the long run. So Come, Learn, interact, and network virtually with over 2000+ delegates and explore how EX translates in every decision in the talent strategy.

HR transformation Strategy in the New World of Work People Matters & SAP SuccessFactors 14th May, 2021 Online The pandemic has put forward a new reality in the HR transformation strategy. Organizations are responding to the crisis by accelerating their HR practices and strategizing digital transformation. Aligning with the thought, People Matters introduces an exclusive panel discussion on 'HR transformation Strategy in the New World of Work'. Delving deep into the conversation, we thought of bringing together industry leaders from 2 different economies and let our community/ audience learn from insights and opportunities from global organizations.

People Matters TechHR India 2021: The Great Emergence

Knowledge + Networking

People Matters BeNext 17th March - 17th April, 2021 Online One-to-one conversations are the foundation of trust, relationships, and tapping individual potential. People Managers who can adapt coaching behaviors to everyday conversations can create win-win relationships that make work meaningful, purposeful, and a lot more enjoyable. Whether your organization will continue remote or move towards hybrid and distributed teams, this course will help you build confidence, skills and provide you with ways to help your team members achieve their potential.

People Matters TechHR SEA 2021: The Great Emergence

People Matters 4th - 6th August, 2021 Online With everything disrupted, considering going back to the old ways of working is not at all a winning strategy. Companies have accelerated their business agility & speed by adopting new ways of working. People Matters TechHR 2021’s theme, The Great Emergence will answer the question that stares us in the face - WHAT NEXT? It marks the beginning of reimagining the possibilities presented by our new reality. APRIL 2021 |

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Blogosphere

>> Ravi Chandran

Making remote hiring effective and result-driven

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Remote hiring has turned out to be a convenient, flexible, efficient, costeffective, and time-saving option for recruiters and candidates

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ith remote working becoming a new normal in the postCovid world, remote hiring has become a common phenomenon in contemporary HR practices. Face-toface interviews were the erstwhile norms of talent acquisition. But, Covid has disrupted that age-old practice and made virtual meetings with the prospective candidates as well as usage of online AI-enabled talent management platforms a common affair. The initial purpose for which companies adopted remote hiring was to ensure the safety of the candidates as well as recruiting staff amid the pandemic. Although the times are uncertain, growth-focused companies require talent to drive growth and achieve targets. Hiring managers of those companies are always on the lookout for mid-level | APRIL 2021

and senior-level positions. Remote hiring has turned out to be a convenient, flexible, efficient, cost-effective, and time-saving option for recruiters and candidates. It has opened a huge spectrum of talents cutting across geographies. As full-time remote work has become a reality, remote hiring is here to stay. Several research reports have already indicated that a majority of

the recruiting managers prefer to continue with the remote hiring mechanism. The recruiters or the hiring managers must ensure the effectiveness of the remote hiring to make it produce the desired results. Here are few ways one can make remote hiring result-driven. • Develop a strong employer brand online reputation: Strong employer brand is criti-


mandated to hire candidates in remote settings can go for an advanced applicant tracking system to streamline the hiring process, recruitment marking software to promote employer brand to attract talents, candidate assessment, and testing software to evaluate the skillsets of the candidates. • Intensify talent scouting on social media: Social media presence helps a hiring manager build the foundation for effective remote hiring i.e., to identify quality talents and estab-

develop positive opinions among prospective candidates. • Evaluate candidate’s remote working compatibility: The hiring manager must structure the recruitment process in such a way that it becomes easier to assess whether the candidate is in the proper frame of mind to work remotely. Instead of one-to-one online interaction, the hiring manager can set up a twoor-three-member interview panel to assess the spontaneity and body language of

The hiring managers need to adapt to the changed realities and the best way to adapt to the evolved hiring dynamics is to become empowered with new technologies and thought-process lish contacts with them. Online networking sites like LinkedIn offer ample opportunity for HR managers to connect with the right candidates. However, one needs to have a targeted approach while building a presence on social media. The hiring managers can use the right hashtag to target the candidates of desired profiles and locations. They can spark off discussions on social media on their companies’ unparalleled work culture and employee benefit programs. Such visibility will help hiring managers

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cal for both remote and traditional recruitment processes. In fact, it’s even more critical for remote hiring because in that case, candidates develop opinion on a specific company based on its online or digital presence. A strong and attractive online employer brand fuels the aspiration among the employers to join that company. A company can build a strong employer brand by projecting the culture of the company on its social media pages and website. The HR head of a company can post employee testimonials, achievements of various employees beyond the worksphere, acknowledgments at renowned employee experience platforms to send the message of inclusive workculture, personal and professional growth, and work-life balance. • Leverage the right technology: The underlying theme of any successful remote candidate hiring and onboarding process is to offer a candidate a great journey and experience. A smooth talent acquiring and onboarding process can become a part of an effective employer brand of a company as well. There are several digital recruitment tools available to facilitate remote hiring and some of them are truly useful in acquiring some great talents. A hiring manager

a particular candidate. The online interview must be followed up with an assignment to evaluate the skillsets of the candidate. The hiring managers need to adapt to the changed realities and the best way to adapt to the evolved hiring dynamics is to become empowered with new technologies and thoughtprocess.

Ravi Chandran is the Head of Indian Operations and Non-US Territory Sales at SecureKloud Technologies Ltd. APRIL 2021 |

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RNI Details: Vol. XII, Issue No. 4, 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

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