People Matters Magazine September 2021: The Great War for Talent

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The new dealbreakers for top talent


he pandemic changed the norms of how organisations tackle talent scarcity and the conventional norms of talent management in hiring and retention, training programs are not working. Companies globally are scrambling to find skilled talent. They are doubling down on employee value proposition and designing strategies to find and feed high-performing stars. Successful organisations are distinctive in how they recruit, develop and retain their people. But what is crucial is to determine shifts in talent management that would keep on as | september 2021

enduring sources of competitive advantage. Being an employer of choice today amid the ‘great resignation’ is complex and what aspects employees care about most when considering their ideal employer go beyond salaries, benefits, and perks. For employees, the pandemic has provided an opportunity to reassess and rethink their future careers and lives. Wellbeing, job security, work-life balance, shorter commutes, and more importantly the sense of belonging came to the spotlight for them. Keeping up with work proved challenging for workers with rising uncertainty and work burnout impacting their quality of life. So, employees have learned a great deal about their priorities, their employers, and what they really want and need in life post-pandemic. And the pandemic is not over yet and hence they developed the impetus to change as they see the world changing. Even for top firms with great culture and success, they still need to deliver on the expectations people have

regarding working from anywhere and growing their potential. While flexibility is given for employers as they envision the future of work, it’s crucial to give workers the opportunity to reskill and upskill as organisations steer into a future. Talent leaders must ensure that they make investments in tools and training programs to future-proof their workforce and make them resilient. The new employee value proposition must be human, mass-customizable, and purpose-driven. It’s not about bonuses or game rooms. People are looking to their employers to play a role in all of their needs, including financial wellbeing, social, intellectual, emotional growth, and their sense of impact and legacy. This is the moment for leadership to fix the new talent management equation – one that mirrors what employees seek in the changing work environment. With the current crisis reinforcing the value of human capital, HR and talent leaders must up their game to help organisa-

tion program, launches three new courses. Design Thinking & Agile for HR Teams (September 06 - October 08); Women in Leadership: Lead, Influence & Transform (September 27 - October 29); HR Business Partner in the New World of Work (September 20 - October 22) For enrollment, you can reach out to sumali. Our first year has been a tremendous eye-opener on how community and learning is so interconnected. Now we are extending People Matters BeNext virtual learning programs to our leaders in Spanishspeaking countries to make the platform more diverse, inclusive, and communitydriven. As always, we would be happy to hear your views, comments, and suggestions regarding our stories.


From the Editor’s Desk

tions head off the exodus of talent keeping in mind the sophisticated needs of employees. The cover story of this issue takes a look at the larger talent management equation amid the ‘great resignation’ and how organisations can win the war for talent. For the Big Interview, we have Nickle LaMoreaux, Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer IBM, who touches upon some of the most talked-about aspects of the new world of work including the hybrid work conundrum, lessons learnt from the crisis, work-life integration, top priorities of IBM, and more. We have a special interview with Dr Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, organizational psychologist and Chief Innovation Officer at ManpowerGroup, who talks about the new chapter in the war for talent which is intensifying the need to offer flexibility, meaning, and even moral validation for employers. People Matters BeNext, our cohort-based certifica-

LOVE the cover not the colour...


Happy Reading!

Esther Martinez Hernandez Editor-in-Chief follow

M > @Ester_Matters F > estermartinez > september 2021 |



September 2021 volume xii i ss u e 9


How companies attract and retain talent will determine the broader talent implications

Amy Goldfinger, SVP, Global Talent at Walmart 67

Organisations need to master strategic thinking on capability building

Peter Cheese, Chief Executive of CIPD 72

Great Resignation is a movement that will continue for long into a new era of work, in which talent leads

Nell Derick Debevoise, speaker, author, and entrepreneur, and Founder and CEO - Inspiring Capital 76


Mona Cheriyan, President & Group Head, Human Resources at Thomas Cook India 80

Despite the economic carnage wrought by the pandemic, the war for talent is set to intensify in 2021 and beyond. Can you win the impending war?

Supporting employee journey is crucial to retaining talent

Organisations must leverage capabilities and resources through partnerships & collaborations to win the war for talent

Samir Bedi, EY Asean Workforce Advisory Leader cover story



Winning the post-pandemic Hybrid talent race

Richard Smith, PhD, Professor at Johns Hopkins University where he also serves as Vice Dean, Corporate and Global Partnerships at the Carey Business School

By Mastufa Ahmed


Esther Martinez Hernandez managing Editor

Yasmin Taj Editor & New Product Content Strategist (Global)

Mastufa Ahmed Manager - design, photography, and production

Marta Martinez


Bhavna Sarin

Senior Manager - Research and Content Strategy - APAC

Digital Head

Jerry Moses Senior Manager - Research & Content Strategist - APAC

Anushree Sharma Assistant Manager - Content - APAC Assistant Manager - Content Projects & APAC Community Lead

Neelanjana Mazumdar

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‘Great Resignation’ or Great Dismissal?

Clinton Wingrove, Principal Consultant, Clinton HR Ltd.

Content Manager and Lead - D&I

Mint Kang

Drishti Pant

Editor & New Product Content Strategist

Shweta Modgil

Features Writer


Published by

People Matters Publishing Pvt. Ltd.

Prakash Shahi

Owned by

Design & Production

Shinto Kallattu

People Matters Publishing Pvt. Ltd.

Senior Manager - Global Sales & Partnerships

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Note to the readers The views expressed in articles are those of the authors and do not reflect the views of People Matters. Although all efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the content, neither the editors nor the publisher can take responsibility for consequences arising from errors or omissions in the information provided. Reproduction in any manner without prior permission from the publisher is prohibited. This issue of People matters contains 112 pages including cover


the big Interview

In the hybrid world, organisations' focus should go beyond just ‘where’ people work

Human resources was elevated to humane resources, and this should not go away

Nickle LaMoreaux, Senior Vice President and CHRO, IBM By Mastufa Ahmed

Dr Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic,

14 E m p l o y e e W e l l n e ss

Thriving at work & in life

By Drishti Pant

32 T a l e n t M a n a g e m e n t

The hiring, training, & retention of fresh graduates

By Mint Kang

52 i n t e r v i e w

Leaders have to control the controllable and make peace with the rest

Viswanath PS, MD and CEO of Randstad India By People Matters Editorial

Organisational Psychologist; Chief Innovation Officer, ManpowerGroup By Mastufa Ahmed

90 E m p l o y e e A g i l i t y

94 i n t e r v i e w

36 I n t e r v i e w

Nimisha Das, Director HR, Kellogg South Asia By Shweta Modgil

98 T h e r o a d l e ss t r a v e l l e d

40 C o r p o r a t e G o v e r n a n c e & Entrepreneurship

Easing out of family boardrooms

By Dr. M Muneer, Co-founder and chief evangelist at the non-profit Medici Institute, & Ralph Ward, Global board advisor, author and publisher

57 O r g a n i s a t i o n a l c u l t u r e

Do your people say ‘we’ or ‘they’ when talking about their job?

By Jarrod McGrath, Author of The Digital Workforce and CEO of human capital management consultancy Smart WFM

44 i n t e r v i e w

Enabling hybrid work with tech

Jane Brewer, Suncorp NZ’s Executive General Manager Technology Transformation By Drishti Pant

48 i n t e r v i e w

Open up the talent pool, and nurture trust with young talent

Trent Jones, Human Resources Lead in the APAC region for ABB Electrification By Mint Kang

The unforgiving minute

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

104 i n t e r v i e w

Empathy is the starting point to build trust

Virendra Shelar, Executive Officer, President, OMRON Management Centre of Asia Pacific, and General Manager, Global Human Resources Strategy Department By Bhavna Sarin


02 From the Editor’s Desk 06 Letters of the month

EVP becomes the talent magnet for the kind of talent you want to attract


COVID-19 caused people & businesses to pause to reimagine what really matters

Geana Barbosa, Head of Southeast Asia at Asana By Mastufa Ahmed

Have you equipped yourself to survive if you are lost in a jungle?

By Vivek TiwarI, Founder of Pragyan Advisory, a boutique advisory firm


special interview

08 Quick Reads 13 Rapid Fire 106 Knowledge + Networking 108 Blogosphere

Featured In this issue Amy Goldfinger Geana Barbosa Jane Brewer Mohd Farid Shah Bin Mohd Basir Mona Cheriyan Nell Derick Debevoise Nickle LaMoreaux Nimisha Das

Peter Cheese Samir Bedi Dr Tomas ChamorroPremuzic Trent Jones Virendra Shelar Viswanath PS

CONTRIBUTORS to this issue Clinton Wingrove Jarrod McGrath Dr. M Muneer Ralph Ward

Richard Smith, PhD Sarah Galloway Visty Banaji Vivek Tiwary

september 2021 |


Letters of the month

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The rise of the digital workplace

“The workplace has gone from gradual evolution to rapid revolution overnight” - Spot on! The magnitude of shifts that organisations and the workforce alike has been unprecedented, and indeed a rapid revolution. Digital is no longer a destination, as it was until a year ago for some. Today, digital is the way of life, way of working, and no longer about the “future of work”. If you think about it, the war for survival is not done with yet. Companies that continue to delay investments in tech and put their complete focus on calling employees back to the office will remain behind. That said, the need for in-person collaboration is coming to the fore, driving a need for better hybrid working arrangements, rather than the misconstrued return to the office broadcast. That calls for thought through investments in work tech to enable and empower the emerging digital workplace, instead of holding onto older ways of working. - Gurpreet Singh

Navigating talent challenges at an extraordinary time

The pharmaceutical and healthcare industry has been the most exposed to the pandemic. While the same COVID threat applied to pharma employees as well, they risked their lives every day through 2020 in the search for a cure. Kudos to the leaders as well as the workforce in sustaining through the crisis and being there for the rest of us. It couldn’t have been an easy task by any measure for talent leaders to ensure people safety and boost productivity at a time when no one even knew how to fight the virus, beyond basic hygiene measures and certain protective gear. Lots to learn from leaders in this industry in not just quality enhancement but also keeping employee morale high and overcoming several other cultural challenges. - Shashank Kaul


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august 2021 issue

Demand for talent solutions that support workforce agility sees upsurge

The demand for inclusive talent marketplaces and agile career frameworks had been on the rise pre-pandemic as well. However, several socio-economic circumstances and realizations have led to an exponential increase in said demand. The focus has steadily shifted from a number-focused diversity outlook to more meaningful inclusion of individuals. Beyond this aspect, what also saw an exponential shift in the last fifteen months was career pivots. From employees stepping up to do more, to individuals contemplating more suitable and flexible, yet sustainable career paths. This buzzing agility and flexibility in workforce preferences are here to stay. - Vania Manohar

Interact with People Matters

Why Hybrid shouldn’t drive your HR investments

- Sourish Mohan

The most important HR breakthrough is going to be about hiring for potential

Agree. Matching experience with JDs is an ancient approach to hiring. It is the potential of an individual that is relevant today and is indeed the biggest competitive edge they can offer an organisation. Employers today aren’t just hungry for good talent, they are looking at the potential value add that job seekers bring with them. It only makes sense given the focus on upskilling in recent years. It’s not experts who recruiters will be on the lookout for in the war for talent, but experimentative minds and a growth potential that can scale beyond the limitations of their role. - BHUMIKA PANWAR

Our investments in HR tech pre-pandemic helped us navigate the crisis better

Companies that were on route workflow digitization prepandemic have unsurprisingly been better positioned to navigate the crisis. While the pandemic triggered tech adoption for several employers, the user experience and adoption remain a challenge for many. Virtual collaboration has already begun to get the better of employees, leaving them craving for face-to-face interaction. Ensuring a strong infrastructure for engagement and collaboration will be key to ensuring sustainability. It will do well for firms to strategically approach HR tech investments, and build a strong base of digital workflow capabilities before they begin facing severe repercussions in performance and morale. - Rahul Sharma

Solidify inclusion efforts with inclusive managers

It is true that for sustainable inclusion everyone is accountable. However, till the day we get there, it is important for not just leadership but even people managers to assume their role in fast-tracking the vision. It is not just townhalls and touchpoints like hiring and performance reviews where inclusion matters. Everyday conversations, interactions, meetings are where true inclusivity shows up, or not. It is nice to see leaders across the globe unanimously agree to this crucial piece in the D&I journey. - siddharth mishra

HRCurator @HRCurator How #PeopleAnalytics is changing the #HR game — @PeopleMatters2… #HRAnalytics #HR #HCM #HRM #FutureofHR #SmarterHR SAP India @SAPIndia Catch @kulmeetbawa, @Ester_Matters, @C_P_Gurnani, and Dilip Shanghvi talk about how people's agenda has once again become the center of board room concern. Register now: @PeopleMatters2 @SunPharma_Live @ tech_mahindra #SAPHRCONNECT2021 Harshvendra Soin @Harsh_Soin Extreme ownership is at the heart of every transformation. Look forward to the session tomorrow.. #SAPHRCONNECT2021 @PeopleMatters2 @tech_mahindra Tech Mahindra @tech_mahindra Join @Harsh_Soin, Global Chief People Officer & Head of Marketing, @tech_mahindra, at the #SAPHRCONNECT2021 with @ PeopleMatters2 as he shares his perspectives on the talent transformation strategy Register Here - sap-hr-conne… #NxtNow #DigitalTransformation

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

An interesting perspective shared by Steve. While employees appreciate the flexibility, the lack of social connect has started having an impact. Saving on commute time and increase in family time indeed is a benefit, but the blurry worklife boundaries are adding to the already mounting burnout, stress and exhaustion. However, the last 15 months have given each one of us time to reflect on how we like to work, what’s comfortable, what’s unnecessary and what’s absolutely nonnegotiable.

People Matters values your feedback. Write to us with your suggestions and ideas at

Tech Mahindra @tech_mahindra Catch @C_P_Gurnani, MD & CEO, @tech_ mahindra at the #SAPHRCONNECT2021 CEO Dialogue with @PeopleMatters2, to know his views on changing people paradigm in the current times Register here - sap-hr-conne… #NxtNow #ResolveToRISE Gautam Ghosh @GautamGhosh Things Facebook memories throw up! @ AbhijitBhaduri and Harlina of @BelieveIn__ You... seven years ago at @PeopleMatters2 #techhr14 conference follow

M > @PeopleMatters2


september 2021 |


Employee Relations

Amazon extends hybrid work till January 2022

Amazon has postponed the date for employees to rejoin the office from 7 September, 2021 to 3 January 2022. The decision comes after over 19,000 COVID-19 cases were reported among the frontline US workers of Amazon this year. Employees in the corporate and tech segment are at liberty to opt for a hybrid work model

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Employee Engagement


Life & Work

Hybrid creates the strongest connection: Study

According to the report of ADP Research Institute's recent study, employees in a hybrid work structure have reported to possess a stronger attachment with the workplace. The study surveyed covered 9,000 full-time US workers who have not changed jobs during the pandemic To conduct the study, ADP set out to understand employees' perspectives of on-site, remote and hybrid work so employers can decide how to move forward. Though there were perceived opportunities and challenges for both remote work and on-site work, the strongest findings reveal the answer lies somewhere in the middle, with a hybrid arrangement.

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with remote working for at least two days a week. But,1.2 millionfrontline workforce are expected to work on site. Though some elected officials criticised this calling it a health risk for the onsite employees, Amazon's spokesperson revealed that all safety measures such as social distancing and sanitisation, are being taken for such employees.

Senior managers inclined towards work from office model: Study HR Technology

PRO Unlimited to acquire Workforce Logiq Contingent workforce management firm PRO Unlimited announced an acquisition of its competitor, Workforce Logiq which is a notably large deal in a mature industry, and will boost PRO Unlimited's position in the global market. Being competitors, both the companies have the same strategic approaches and a similar platform to cater to the needs of contingent workforce management. The acquisition will add a number of technological options to PRO’s portfolio which has been addressed as ‘16 patented and patent-pending solutions’. More significantly, Workforce Logiq's presence in the EMEA region, particularly the Nordic countries, will help PRO Unlimited expand its international reach.

Talent Solutions firm, Robert Half ’s recent research shows that most US companies are likely to resume full-time onsite work once the pandemic ends. In a survey of more than 2,800 senior managers in the U.S., it was found that 71% of respondents would prefer their employees

returning to onsite work. 16% of respondents said that they will allow hybrid work model. A previous survey indicated employees are not okay with the idea of returning to office. 49% of employees like the hybrid model and want it to continue in the post-pandemic period too. 34% of employees said that they would switch jobs if they are summoned to full-time onsite work.


HSBC to acquire AXA Insurance for USD575 million HSBC Insurance, Asia Pacific, a subsidiary of HSBC, announced a proposition of 100% acquisition AXA Insurance in Singapore worth USD 575 MN. AXA Insurance, Singapore is the fifthlargest property and casualty (P&C) insurer, eighth largest life insurer and has a significant

of existing investors Communitas Capital Partners, Accomplice, Alumni Ventures Group, and Cianna Capital.

As of now, Graphite has raised a total of US$20 million. Graphite was founded with the objective of addressing the major shift in the global workforce towards remote on-demand work. While the company has not released figures Vikram Ashok, Founder, Graphite Solutions stated that COVID-19 has increased the number of people working independently, which would boost the demand for Graphite's platform.

HR Technology

Graphite raises US$15 million in oversubscribed round Outsourcing firm Graphite Solutions, which specialises in helping enterprise companies to find, hire and manage highly skilled remote consultants on demand, has raised US$15 Mn funding. The oversubscribed round was led by Valor Siren Ventures with the participation

HR Tech

HR tech start-up Joonko raises $10 million in Series A funding Israel-based HR technology start-up Joonko raised $10 Mn in series A funding. Vertex Ventures. Joonko’s long-term objective is to provide diverse talents and tools to organisa-

tions to help create an inclusive workplace..Joonko is a talent provider company that aids employers to achieve equity and diversity and inclusion goals by listing pre-approved and prequalified individuals belonging to diminished communities. The company uses an AI-powered algorithm to implement its goals in finding adequate job vacancies matching with relevant talents. The company presently hosts a talent pool of around 100,000 candidates, from various diminished or underrepresented segments of the job seekers’ community.

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policies as HSBC policies and launching a range of investment products.

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share in the health insurance market as well. It was valued at USD 474 MN, annualized new premiums of USD 85 MN and gross written premiums of USD 739 MN. The insurance company recently made a profit before tax of USD 23 MN for last year. With the growth and achievements of AXA Insurance, the merger would become seven largest life insurers based on annualized new premiums. The merger further plans on renaming its

Employee Relations

News Corp Australia cuts more jobs News Corp Australia, Australia's largest media conglomerate, is reducing up to 25 newsroom positions. News Corp is reportedly cutting down 6 roles from NSW and 4 from Victoria. Sydney’s Daily Telegraph saw a slashing of 2 roles and 3 positions will be eliminated from the company’s news network. This is a move to further elevate the company’s strategy to continue to consolidate its business for future growth. september 2021 |


newsmaker of the month

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Lessons from Tokyo Olympics 2020



don't think you realize how dangerous this is on hard/ competition surfaces, nor do I have to explain why I put my health first. Physical health is mental health. It's honestly petrifying trying to do a skill but not having your mind and body in sync," was what Simone Biles, the superstar gymnast of the USA said while explaining her decision to withdraw from the finals of the Tokyo Olympics 2020. Her statement and withdrawal from the finals took the Olympics followers and sports industry by storm and created a buzz around the players’ mental health. Tokyo Olympics 2020 with the motto "Faster, Higher, Stronger - Together" has been a ground for changes in several social aspects including mental health. The picture was vivid when Japanese Tennis Player Naomi Osaka, who has gathered love for normalising mental health

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struggles, lit the Olympics lamp. A deformed mental state grows from the seed of expectations and the scenario worsens with the increased level of expectation with the growing number of achievements. The basic human psychology is to raise the bar of pressure on people when they achieve a great height of success instead of showing compassion when they fail. However, the Olympics has taught us the right meaning of sportsman spirit and compassion, repeatedly through several incidents. Players and athletes have taken the biggest sports event in the world beyond the mere competition. In the 800 meters men’s semifinals, Botswana’s Nijel Amos and the USA’s Isaiah Jewett fell to the ground tangling up, which led to the elimination of both. However, instead of expressing frustration, they were seen leaving the ground

together and smiling, after helping each other stand up. The Olympians teach us to treat each other as fellow players and not rivals. They believe in healthy competition and not enmity. Perhaps, this is why they never fail to win millions of hearts with their acts of compassion. The men’s high jump final ended with an incredible sight of sharing gold medals when Mutaz Barshim of Qatar went up to the officials asking if there can be two gold medals and decided to share the victory with his fellow Italian athlete, Gianmarco Tamberi. In the fight for one gold medal, the players teach us many life lessons. Besides showing us the path of enlightenment they also teach us dedication. The attitude of Dutch runner Sifan Hassan taught us that nothing can be a hurdle between a dedicated person and his/her goals. During the 1500 meters heat, the world champion fell and rolled on the track but stood up on her feet to run and finish the race as a winner. Her ‘never-say-die’ attitude reflects her hard work. Coaches can guide us to our goals with the torch of basic techniques, but dedication and compassion must be born with. The Olympians prove that there is nothing beyond humanity, no matter what, and that we should learn to accept our flaws and work on those instead of building up enmity with our colleagues.

IMF MD Kristalina Georgieva appoints Catriona Purfield as Director of Human Resources International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva announced the appointment of Catriona Purfield as Director of the Fund’s Human Resources Department. Purfield, who is currently Deputy Director of the IMF’s African Department, will succeed Kalpana Kochhar, whose retirement was recently announced. She is expected to take up her position on August 16, 2021.

Mindshare appoints Helen McRae as APAC CEO Mindshare, a global media agency network, recently promoted Helen McRae to CEO of Asia Pacific Region. Earlier she held the

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Procter & Gamble appoints new global COO Procter & Gamble (P&G) has appointed Shailesh Jejurikar as the global Chief Operating Officer (COO), making him the first Indian to take over this role. His appointment is effective from October 1, 2021. This appointment is in line with the change at the CEO level with Vice-chairman and COO Jon Moeller taking over from David Taylor as its President and CEO, effective November 1. Shailesh, who started his career at P&G India and spent over three decades at the firm, will report to Moeller. His successor will be announced at a later date.

US based EV company Workhorse appoints Richard F. Dauch as Chief Executive Officer US-based EV maker Workhorse Group recently announced the appointment of Richard (Rick) Dauch as Chief Executive Officer. Dauch will replace Duane Hughes, ex COO - Corning & JV Rockwell Publishing Inc, and take charge effective August 2, 2021. Hughes, who served the company as a CEO for a period of 2 years, will offer consultancy services to Workhorse through the transition period. Dauch, exCEO of a vehicle propulsion systems maker Delphi Technologies, will also be part of the Workhorse’s Board of Directors.

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Parsons names Susan Balaguer as new Chief HR Officer Parsons has appointed Susan Balaguer as the company’s Chief HR Officer and will also serve as a member of the company’s Executive Leadership Team. Susan is being counted on to deliver on HR capabilities from both strategic and operational perspectives. In this new role, Susan will be working with Carey Smith, President, and CEO of Parsons.

office of Mindshare’s EMEA and Worldwide Team Chief Executive Officer, managing Mindshare’s 26 markets in that region. Acknowledging McRae's prior contributions to Mindshare, and her former experience in Asian-Pacific markets, Adam Gerhart, Global CEO, Mindshare was confident that McRae will be instrumental in applying her deep expertise to accomplish their Western expansion. McRae on her part is excited at partnering with GroupM and WPP in the region. She will soon be moving to Singapore and joining Mindshare's Asia-Pacific team.

Publicis Sapient appointments Arthur Filip as Chief Growth Officer Publicis Sapient, the digital business transformation company, announced the appointment of Arthur Filip in the newly created position of Chief Growth Officer, effective immediately. Based in New York, he will report to Publicis Sapient CEO Nigel Vaz. In his role, Filip will lead the global sales ecosystem, business development and operations for Publicis Sapient’s new and existing clients as well as partner on clients of parent company Publicis Groupe, and will collaborate with teams across the organisation to drive multi-disciplinary expansion. september 2021 |


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Gorillas Technologies appoints Deena Fox as its first Chief People Officer Gorillas Technologies appointed Deena Fox as its first Chief People Officer. It is the US, EU, and UK’s within-10-minute-delivery platform. The appointment has been made following Gorillas Technology’s decision to grow its staff numbers to more than 10,000 people in one year. As CPO, she will be working with the management board of the company. Fox will be reporting to Kağan Sümer, founder and CEO of Gorillas Technologies KPMG promotes James Kergon to New Senior Partner for Scotland KPMG International Limited, recently announced the promotion of James Kergon, former Partner, as New Senior Partner. Kergon will lead KPMG in Scotland, handling and managing a team of over 1300 employees from offices at Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. He will further continue to lead the company's advisory panel as Scottish Head of deal advisory. Kergon replaces Catherine Burnet, former Senior Partner, KPMG Scotland. Burnet is now promoted to the position of Audit Head, KPMG, the UK. Simplilearn adds a new member to their board of directors Skilling platform Simplilearn has announced the addition of Deborah Quazzo to the company’s Board of Directors, a move that comes on the back of the recent investment of $250 million in Simplilearn by private equity firm, Blackstone Group. Deborah will be expected to play a pivotal role in driving growth and transformation in the company. Under her guidance, it would be interesting to see how the company achieves its future goals. 12

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Binance to hire CEO for Asian Financial Hub Binance, a cryptocurrency exchange platform, is in discussion with Senior Singapore bourse executive and former Head of Abu Dhabi Global Market, Richard Teng for the role of Chief Executive Officer in the Asian Financial market. It is reported that the cryptocurrency platform does not follow certain regulations unlike its adversaries such as Coinbase Global Inc. Binance's affiliates in Asia and Singapore are functioning on the grace period, as their license required to indulge in digital payment token services is under review by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). Deanna Grams hired as TuneIn’s new CPO US’s leading audio streaming service, TuneIn announced the appointment of Deanna Grams as Chief People Officer( CPO). She will play a great role in influencing TuneIn’s corporate culture and help in the expansion of the company globally. The appointment signifies Tunein’s commitment towards employee engagement in its bid to create a revolutionary reinvention of radio for a digital-first world. Grams will continue her 7-year long association with the company in the new role of CPO. Prior to this, she was Senior Vice President, People Operations at TuneIn. Grams is expected to continue to build on the impactful work she has done in her tenure. Pavilion Energy names Alan Heng as interim Group Chief Executive Officer Pavilion Energy, a Singaporebased liquefied natural gas (LNG) bunker supplier and a wholly owned subsidiary of Temasek, recently announced the appointment of Alan Heng, as interim Group Chief Executive Officer. Heng's interim appointment is effective from August 26, 2021. Heng has over three decades of leadership experience in the energy industry, business development and management. Prior to Pavilion Energy, Heng worked at ExxonMobil as Regional Manager for Pacific Islands and Oceania.

ten Questions



Mohd Farid Shah Bin Mohd Basir Chief People Officer, MBSB Bank By Neelanjana Mazumdar



Top technologies that will define the world of work in the next 2-3 years?

Best advice you received from any leader during this uncertainty?

Artificial Intelligence, Robotic Process Automation and Big Data

Embrace the uncertainty, when nothing is certain, we can shape the future by creating it



The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the loss of life and presents an unprecedented challenge to the economy and public health in South East Asia. Against the backdrop of this uncertainty, I am following several leaders in the region as they steer their countries on the war against the pandemic


What's your mantra to engage your (including remote) workers?

Unleashing potential, one conversation at a time


How do you strike a worklife balance?

I believe in Life-Work Integration. Life first, and only then work. In life, I have 6F priorities which are Faith, Fitness, Financial Freedom, Family, Friends and Fraternity (Community)

Leadership Development, Learning Agility & Talent Management

HR leaders need to continue to focus on unleashing human potential and enhancing employee well-being


Do you think the role of HR leaders is changing?

Yes. HR leaders are no longer business partners, we are a part of the business. When we talk about business, the economic income is a means to development, rather than an end in itself. As HR is moving towards human development, HR leaders need to focus on unleashing human potentials and enriching employee well-being


Your advice for aspiring HR professionals?

r a p i d - f i r e

Top 3 priorities for you as an HR leader for your company?

One leader you closely follow and one hallmark of that leader?

Embark on T-Shaped Career; have the in-depth HR technical know-how through professional certifications and acquire the business and leadership breadth


One question you ask in every interview? Tell me about yourself


The biggest lesson that you have learned from this pandemic?

Know our priority, Take care of our well-being as well as our loved ones september 2021 |


Employee Wellness

Thriving at work & in life

Employee wellness is no longer only limited to help teams unwind, but more about enabling them to have a balanced work-life. Can digital wellness solutions help? Let’s explore By Drishti Pant


iana logs in at 6:00 AM in the morning for a meeting with a global client. As the meeting gets over, she starts working on her to-do lists to sort out work for the day and looks at her tight calendar. She notices she barely has time to take breaks and have her meals in peace. She was just gasping for breath looking at a crazy day ahead, as a reminder for a yoga class


| september 2021

pops up. But she has another meeting then. The company chatbot is also messaging her asking how she is feeling today. She wonders if she has the time to have that conversation. She drags through the day meeting after meeting and logs out at 8 PM. Before going to bed, as she pays a few bills, she realises how she is low on funds. She thinks to herself, “So much hard work and still not enough mental and

financial stability. No time to meet friends. No time for self-development.” She dreads the next day at work. Diana’s firm is trying to take care of its employees with dedicated fitness sessions, an integrated AI system, and EAP in place. But she still seems to be struggling to strike that work-life balance and take care of her well-being. Does she seem to be on the verge of burnout? What’s missing in the organisation’s employee wellness strategy? Restricted to yoga & zumba sessions earlier, employee wellness now means so much more to the organisations. It has in fact become the Achilles heel of employee experience. However, in a workplace that no longer functions on human interaction, the

Top priority for HR leaders

A WTW report shows a focus on health and well-being is a priority for HR leaders, with the majority of firms prioritizing enhancing well-being programs (40%), followed by healthcare benefits (23%), voluntary benefits, perks or discount schemes (17%) and annual leave (14%). HR leaders from Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines are looking to specifically focus more on mental health. In the last one year, it

Employee wellness is as complex as your workforce. Therefore, we're constantly moving towards a more personalized and asynchronous environment became obvious that people are the nerve center of business and organisations became more concerned about their employees’ health. Not only did they focus on keeping them safe and healthy during the pandemic but relooked at their various people policies to create a holistic wellness experience. Some organisations revamped their insurance and benefits strategy to make it more inclusive and also introduced new care packages. New leaves like Wellness Wednesdays, Recharge Week, and other new leaves were introduced to help employees take a mental break from work. Focusing on the larger picture to promote work life

balance and make a positive impact on employee wellness, some companies are changing the entire approach to work. For instance, Deloitte’s “refreshed” approach to work, called the Deloitte Experience, will do away with core working hours and offer the firm’s staff a paid wellbeing day every year. KPMG, on the other hand, introduced a bouquet of new initiatives including boosted parental leave, offering flexible public holidays, Indigenous leave, and bringing forward an annual promotion scheme. Then, at UOB the focus has been majorly on Mental Health. “With the increase in remote working in the past 18 months, we have been september 2021 |

Employee Wellness

only way HR professionals can ensure employees have a smooth experience is through the adoption of tech tools. These technologies and disruptive digital innovations may have a longlasting impact beyond the pandemic. But the pandemic has blurred the lines between personal and professional, resulting in workplace stress, further impacting employees' efficiency. What can help combat this emerging employee wellness challenge? What role can tech play? What are HR leaders looking for in the digital wellness solutions? How can HR tech solutions providers lead meaningful innovation in the workplace wellness space including employee engagement tools, benefits platforms, and mental health offerings, among others? Let’s explore:


available through the week. “Amongst all the talk about employee wellness, what’s most important for organisations and leaders is to have a humane approach and be empathetic and compassionate towards its employees. The last 18 months has shown that wellness is not only limited to one’s physical health-but also mental, social as well as financial health,” said

health and well-being initiative in 2020 to encompass mental, physical, financial and social well-being.” UBS invested in employee assistance programs and platforms like Headspace that are available for the employees without any cost and ensured the employees have on the go access to medical consultations. They also rolled out memberships to Practo 24/7 online consultation app along with an existing medical support helpline

Rajeev Bhardwaj, CHRO, Asia Service Centres, Sun Life. At Sun Life ASC, in April 2020, Guidance Resources® Online and Guidance Resources were made available as mobile apps ensuring help is just a click away. Under this program, employees and their family members were able to get support from professionals. It offers free, confidential services like: • Behavioral health coun-

Employee Wellness

driving more conversations on mental wellness given the heightened anxiety and isolation that people may be feeling,” shared Dean Tong, Head of Group Human Resources, UOB. Jyothi Menon, Head India Human Resources and Head HR Service Delivery at UBS BSC shared, “To support our employees in their remote working environment we expanded our holistic


| september 2021

selling (about parenting, relationships, work life balance, and more) • Legal guidance • Financial guidance • Support during critical incidents The company also arranged online sessions for employees to help them learn the importance of financial wellness as part of myWellness and educate them about the ways in which they can save for their future. There were sessions on saving tax and securing one’s future. Further it leveraged technology by providing multilingual access to certified medical professionals through the Doctor insta app. It also partnered with ComPsych and offered a digital toolkit to its employees to manage stress in the current crisis. Even though we can observe companies adopt newer technologies to combat employee wellness challenges, how far they have been effective remains unknown. With the ongoing uncertainty, the mental, financial, and social stress continues to persist. There is a need for wellness solutions to further innovate and enable HR leaders to further enhance their initiatives.

Fighting online burnout with digital solutions Technology fatigue is also detrimental to mental

Technology fatigue is also detrimental to mental health. How does one avoid online burnout through virtual solutions is one of the biggest challenges in front of HR leaders

our goal is to foster an open and supportive workplace culture at UOB in which our colleagues feel comfortable discussing the challenges they face and are compassionate about helping one another overcome their struggles,” shared Dean. UOB is dealing with the wellness paradox with initiatives like Mental Wellness Days, Workshops led by psychologists, and personal discussions to address mental distress, among other things. “Employee wellness is as complex as your workforce is and therefore we're constantly moving towards a more personalized and asynchronous environment that organisations should adjust to,” Rokham Fard, Founder & CEO, Psychology Compass shared with People Matters. Rokham believes that personalization is in the DNA of modern technology and technology is the

answer to the employees need for creating real time solutions. “HR professionals should adopt solutions that provide their employees options rather than constraining them to an assumed curriculum. Furthermore, offering employees solutions that are more intertwined in their daily lives (in the form of micro-learnings) is something that has shown far more engagement by users compared to prior alternatives,” added Rokham.

More digital yet human

As per a report, the corporate wellness market was valued at USD 51,120.4 Mn in 2020 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 9.5 percent from 2021 to 2030. Bolstered by the pandemic, the space is growing rapidly with major players scaling up and new startups also emerging. The report highlights that major market players oper-

september 2021 |

Employee Wellness

health. How does one avoid online burnout through virtual solutions is the big question?! “We need to consider different aspects of Wellness when looking at HR Tech Solutions, be it emotional, physical, social or mental. The new-age digital solutions should be able to motivate, track participation, incentivize and deliver behaviors changing campaigns; in order for them to be transformative consistently and over a longer period,” said Rajeev. To ensure that even digital wellness solutions remain more humane, one of UOB’s key considerations is ensuring that their virtual initiatives nurture meaningful interaction and open dialogue among our colleagues rather than serve as a one-way communication channel. “Ultimately,


Employee Wellness

ating in the global corporate wellness market include ComPsych, Wellness Corporate Solutions, Virgin Pulse, Provant Health Solutions, EXOS, Marino Wellness, Truworth Wellness, among others. While it is quite clear that the wellness industry is growing, where it is headed in terms of innovations is yet to be navigated. Let’s understand the changing employees’ wellness needs and industries' response to it.


hensive wellness solutions for their employees like guided wellness events, mental wellness sessions, unlimited doctor consultations, regular health check-ups, and vaccination programs,” shared Abhishek based on his experience of working with the companies. Based on his experience, Rokham, Founder of a cognition coach app PsychologyCompass, shared the focus of the organisations they have worked with:

To increase employee wellness in the hybrid workplace focus on: Results and relationships Sharing his experience of working with HR professionals, Abhishek Poddar, Co-founder, Plum said, “Talent leaders have moved beyond viewing wellness solutions as an afterthought. Today’s talent leaders expect comprehensive and highquality health benefits for their teams. They know that the well-being of their team is critical at all levels. They expect wellness solutions like guided meditation sessions, fitness motivation programs, relaxing music concerts, stress counseling, light comedy sessions, and recently even grief therapy.” “Organisations are going beyond basic health insurance by setting up compre| september 2021

Engagement focused: They fundamentally want solutions that engage the user and make the user want to use the product. Wellness focused: They mainly want solutions that are rooted in science and measurably improve employee's mental wellness. Bottom-line focused: These organisations fundamentally believe economic improvement in the company is a direct indication of employee performance. “The great news is that according to research done by companies such as Deloitte, there's a 3-6X return on investment when it comes to investing in employee mental wellness –

this is a direct impact on the bottom-line of the business,” added Rokham. The various discussions with HR leaders and wellness experts highlight how employee wellness is part of a larger scheme of things and a critical element of an organisation's bigger goal to enhance employee experience. When asked about the expectations from the emerging wellness space, Kirthana Thomas, Global HRBP, Locus shared, “A one-stop solution that has wellness programs, as well as virtual activities, would be great! Something like an EAP(Employee Assistance Program) tool that has everything integrated- Games, gifts, wellness programs, and a marketplace for scheduling sessions with mental wellness coaches and so on.” A well integrated digital wellness solution that enhances and not replaces human interaction is the need of the hour.

Way forward

The randomized, controlled trial of a workplace wellness program found that after three years, observed no significant difference in health outcomes, healthcare spending or retention between employees who participated in the program and those who didn’t. “Employees seemed to value the benefit, had

business perspective as well, it is not only about optimizing costs and reducing employee turnover. In fact, it is crucial that HR uses tech to deliver evidence-based solutions and services that actually work to make employees happier and more productive. Alexander Kjerulf, Chief Happiness Officer, Woohoo Inc said, “Many companies used to think that the key to employee wellness was perks, promotions or monetary rewards. Are employees unhappy? Let’s build a gym in the office. Do we have high levels of stress? Let’s offer them yoga classes. Of course, experience and research shows that none of that works and one positive consequence of COVID-19 outbreak is that this fact has been exposed clearly.”

If you really want to increase employee wellness, Andrew suggests focusing on two things: Results and relationships As for results, you must give employees the tools and support they need to do a great job and then give them positive feedback to show them that their work is meaningful and appreciated. As for relationships, it means showing that you value the employees as human beings, not just as resources. Connect with them, listen to them, take an interest in them and treat them well. With more focus on building human connection and the extra effort put by HR leaders and managers, even Diana’s organisation can save her from burnout and enable her to lead a more balanced work life. september 2021 |

Employee Wellness

heightened awareness of the importance of healthy behaviors and were trying to implement them. If employers are seeking to add benefits that workers value (or attract workers who value those benefits), the programs may be worth it,” wrote the study’s authors, Zirui Song at Harvard University and Katherine Baicker at the University of Chicago. “But if the goal is to save money by reducing health-care costs and absenteeism, or to improve chronic physical health conditions, the evidence so far is underwhelming.” With the pandemic as one of the latest and biggest disruptors one thing is clear: Employee wellness is no longer only limited to help teams unwind, but more about enabling them to have a balanced work-life. From a




In the hybrid world, organisations' focus should go beyond just ‘where’ people work:

IBM’s Nickle LaMoreaux

In an exclusive interview with us, Nickle LaMoreaux, Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, IBM touches upon some of the most talked-about aspects of the new world of work including the hybrid work conundrum, lessons learnt from the crisis, work-life integration, top priorities of IBM, and more By Mastufa Ahmed


he pandemic, which offered an opportunity to reimagine organisational structures and invest in the workforce as the core drivers of long-term resilience, will have profound consequences for the future of work. The reset needed to augment the transition to a fairer and more sustainable world is easier said than done. Human resources executives and business leaders are now called on to get things right and build a better future of work.


september 2021 | September

In this interview, Nickle LaMoreaux, Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, IBM shares some intriguing thoughts on the future of work. Nickle leads IBM’s people strategy, skills, employee experience and services, and global HR team supporting more than 350,000 IBMers across 170 countries. In her 20 years at IBM, Nickle has led HR across organisations ranging from services to software to emerging markets – supporting the company’s

business growth through leadership development, talent acquisition, performance management, and skill-building. As VP of Compensation and Benefits, she led the design and deployment of all compensation and benefits programs globally. She was also responsible for the HR activities associated with mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures, and drove the people side of the Red Hat acquisition. Here are the excerpts of the interview.


september September 2021 |



What defines the new world of work according to you? The flexible working revolution opens up a plethora of questions about synchronous work, collaboration, and work culture. With uncertainty still abound, what's your best prediction about what work will look like? I think we are seeing a fundamental shift in how people do their jobs. There’s a lot of talk about the new world of 'hybrid work' but it’s too focused on arbitrarily setting how many days a week people go to the office. Companies should be focused on more than just where people work – the future of work is also about when people work, when they need to come together, and what they are working on. Teams should focus on outcomes, not activities, and this should drive how work gets done – and when teams should come into the office face-to-face, or when they should work remotely. Not since the industrial revolution have we had such an exciting opportunity to redesign work. Some teams will still predominately work on-site, such as manufacturing teams, certain R&D teams (such as IBM’s Quantum group), and those employees who work at client sites. Others can go to the office to meet with their team as needed. I think of this as | september 2021

being 'intentionally flexible', and it will look different for every company, and probably even every team. It requires managers to become experts at work design, and for companies to create policies that allow for the flexibility that employees are demanding in a postCOVID environment. That’s what we are doing at IBM.

raphy, culture, even individual preferences. What is important as employers and employees navigate this new world? 1. Start with your company’s values and business model. Instead of trying to mimic other companies, employers must stay grounded in their unique values and business

There’s a lot of talk about the new world of “hybrid work” but it’s too focused on arbitrarily setting how many days a week people go to the office. Companies should be focused on more than just where people work Employers are ready to get back to a significant in-person presence but employees aren’t. Even during the pandemic, the productivity of remote workers was the same as or higher than it was before COVID-19. The disconnect has been more profound than what most employers think, and a spike in attrition and disengagement may be at hand. In fact, the great resignation is already here. How can we fill the chasm of how employers and employees see the future? The future of work will not be one size fits all. Points of view will differ by company, industry, geog-

model to continue attracting and retaining the best talent. 2. Embrace flexibility that supports your business. Rather than declaring tops-down if employees should work from home or the office, follow the flow of work in your business model. If some work can be done remotely, enable flexibility in when and where work gets done. New ways of working with tools and technology such as Box, Mural, WebEx, Slack, etc. are also enabling more remote work and collaboration. 3. Communicate frequently and transparently. There will always be different expectations and preferences, but if you can be open and clear about

why working models are the way they are and explain the business rationale behind those choices, that allows you to build trust with employees. The advice about staying true to your values and business model, allowing autonomy and flexibility where possible, and being open and transparent are three pieces of advice that a company should follow as they address any talent challenge.

COVID-19 disruption led organisations globally to bet on automation and other emerging tech-


I believe that companies who can be intentionally flexible, lead and manage with empathy, and focus on skills will open the aperture for more diverse candidates and be able to create more inclusive workplaces.

nologies to boost efficiency, support employee wellbeing, and expedite work outputs. On the other hand, we see a growing emphasis on ‘humanity and emotional intelligence'. How do you view this 'tech-led but human-first' paradox? Tech-led and humanfirst are not mutually exclusive. They are not either/or scenarios. In fact, tech-led enables human first. In terms of automation, our AskHR chatbot is available 24/7 to answer employees’ questions, and if it can’t help, it refers the employee to someone to assist further. We also use robotic process automation in payroll and benefits to drive productivity improvements. These improvements allow IBMers to take care of administrative tasks quickly and easily and free up employees and managers to focus on highervalue work. A prime example of human-first to come out of the pandemic is that employees now expect their employers to take an active role in supporting their physical and emotional health. That means managers must be trained differently to lead their teams. As previously mentioned, specialized training for the 30,000 IBM managers was one of the first programs we launched at the outset of the pandemic. We wanted to help managers create a sense of commuseptember 2021 |


COVID-19 wrought havoc across the globe. But is this the moment, as many experts say, to reimagine all aspects of work —fix broken links, and build a fair and inclusive world of work? Do you see a synergy in terms of how big companies are charting their path forward? There are some lessons learnt from COVID-19 that I do hope we port forward – large companies, in particular, should consider these lessons. • Be intentionally flexible. This flexible approach is particularly critical as businesses seek to create more diverse workforces and specifically bring more women back into the workforce. The pandemic has opened many companies to the concept that if employees achieve the outcomes they are expected to achieve, work can get done on a flexible schedule.

• Lead and manage with empathy. Even though at IBM we have long been focused on the employee experience, during COVID, we had to double down. We wanted to ensure we were doing everything possible to support our employees, especially as work and home life integrated in ways many IBMers had never experienced. We focused on leading and managing with empathy. We trained 30,000 managers at the onset of the pandemic and this has helped create a renewed sense of community around the world. • Focus on skills. Every industry around the world is facing a shortage of tech skills. All companies must open the aperture of where they find skills. In a talent tsunami, focus on the skills needed, not necessarily degrees. This will open the aperture of where to source great talent.




nity and empathy with their teams while also clearly showing career paths in a virtual workplace. Our managers clearly saw the value of conversations with their teams about emotional health, plus frequent individual check-ins with their team members.


Organisations have largely hailed hybrid as the future of work, but some are baffled by the extent to which this blended model is espoused! There are strong arguments against it such as extra cost, erosion of work culture, and data security issues. What’s your vision about this two-track work module? The key word here is “flexibility.” IBM coined the term “work-life integration” 20-years ago, and flexibility has long been at the heart of our workplace. This requires a culture of trust and personal responsibility, which is one of IBM’s core values, along with dedication to our clients’ success, and innovation that matters for the company and the world. In a culture of trust, as long as teams achieve their goals, they can work in flexible ways to account for each other’s personal lives. I want to add that flexibility is also important for bringing more women back into the workforce since, as a recent IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) report | september 2021

Expectations of leaders, employees, and other stakeholders from HR have increased to a great extent today. Interestingly, according to one survey, the demand for HR executives has reached near-epic proportions. What’s your advice for HR and talent leaders to reinvent themselves and deliver on these expectations?

ees know when a company is faking it. Instead of trying to mimic what other companies are doing, be true to who you are. Secondly, adapt to change and co-create with employees. Everything shouldn’t be top-down from corporate headquarters; you can engage your employees transparently on the specifics. And finally, as companies return to the workplace, be flexible. Flexibility will be key to attracting and retaining top talent now and in the future.

Employees used to select companies based on factors like pay and benefits. Now companies are being judged on their culture, the potential for meaningful work, and company purpose. This changes the game for attracting talent. I advise HR leaders to stay grounded in their values because employ-

The crisis of 2020 has uncovered how some companies view diversity, equity, and inclusion as a nice-to-have rather than a core value. The onset of the pandemic saw businesses shedding jobs across industries including jobs related to diversity roles. But recent data shows that the hiring

confirmed, they’ve been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

What have you learned about the best ways to use disruption as an opportunity? What are your larger priorities and top challenges at IBM? There was already a worldwide tech skills shortage before the pandemic, and now it’s accelerating given the wave of transformation across industries. Companies must open the aperture for skilled job applicants to provide more opportunities. For some roles, it doesn’t matter if people got their training from a coding bootcamp, a previous job, or the military, as long as they can do the work. At IBM, this is

what we call 'new collar' employees. In fact, we’ve removed college degree requirements for half of our U.S. job openings. We’re also investing to create the workforce of the future. IBM has a robust apprenticeship program, where people can “earn while they learn” in hot areas like cloud, cyber security, and AI. We just announced a program with the American Council on Education (ACE) where IBM software engineering apprentices can translate their 12 months of 'earn-while-they learn' training for up to 45 credits, or roughly three semesters of college coursework, from participating academic institutions. And we continue to support P-TECH, a STEM education model created by IBM. There are about 260 P-TECH schools worldwide, including many dozens across Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Mainland China, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand.


With employees leaving and switching jobs in droves globally, what aspects of talent management do you plan to improve or imple-

ment in the coming days? What’s your advice for fellow talent leaders to win the war for talent? This gets back to what companies offer employees, the “employee value proposition.” Employees want to do work that matters to them and to society, they want a welcoming, inclusive environment, and they want a company with 'purpose' that they admire. That’s why people want to work at IBM. Our company is more than 100 years old and yet we remain at the cutting edge of transformative technologies like quantum computing, AI and cloud. Last year more than three million people applied for jobs at IBM.


of diversity chiefs is now at an all-time high. So, the question is how do we fix the diversity equation and leverage DE&I practices as a sustainable competitive advantage? Last year the combination of racial injustice and the pandemic pointed to the need for faster, meaningful progress from society and business. While IBM has a long history of diversity and inclusion leadership, we take our responsibility for action very seriously. Advancing D&I takes specific actions, not just platitudes. We continue to commit to education, skills, and jobs to create opportunities for diverse groups around the world, and we advocate for specific change in diverse communities. We provide allyship training and support to help every IBMer be inclusive, and we provide employee experiences such as our Be Equal initiative that support every employee to thrive and bring their authentic selves to work. Finally, we are doubling down on accountability that harnesses data transparency and AI to increase diverse representation and inclusion at every level of our company.

What’s your mantra to achieve work-life balance? I never judge myself on any one day, one week, or even one month. I look back over a 90-day period. If after 90 days I realize either work or home life is out of balance, then I take steps to course correct. I also give my team the same advice. september 2021 |


Human resources was elevated to humane resources, and this should not go away: special interview

Dr Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic


We are seeing a new chapter in the war for talent which is intensifying the need to offer flexibility, meaning, and even moral validation for employers, shares Dr Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, Organisational Psychologist; Chief Innovation Officer, ManpowerGroup By Mastufa Ahmed


r Tomas ChamorroPremuzic is an international authority in people analytics, talent management, leadership development, and the Human-AI interface. He is the Chief Innovation Officer at ManpowerGroup, Co-founder of Deeper Signals and Metaprofiling, and Professor of Business Psychology at both University College London, and Columbia University. He has previously held academic positions at New York University and the London School of Economics and lectured at Harvard | september 2021

Business School, Stanford Business School, London Business School, Johns Hopkins, IMD, and INSEAD, as well as being the CEO at Hogan Assessment Systems. In an exclusive interaction with us, Dr Tomas throws light on the big differentiators for companies to win the talent war in the face of the great resignation. Here are the excerpts of the interview.

We should acknowledge that for many people the crises will have provided an opportunity to reassess, rethink, and make bolder decisions vis-à-vis their careers and lives really want and need in life postpandemic. While the pandemic is not over yet, they are moving fast because they developed the impulse or impetus to change as they see the world changing.

special interview

Four million people left the US workplace in April 2021, which some economists have dubbed the ‘Great Resignation’. How do you see this never-before trend? Mostly, as the delayed accumulated effects of nearly no movements during the previous 12-months. So, some of this is structural or temporal, like the economic rebound that follows any crisis, or any compensatory phases in a cycle that has been slowed down or postponed. You can see it as social thermodynamics or physics, in the sense that whenever pressure builds up, or some force is contained, it will come out or be liberated more potently when the barriers are moved. That said, we should also acknowledge that for many people the crises will have provided an opportunity to reassess, rethink, and make bolder decisions visà-vis their careers and lives. When we are pushed out of our comfort zone and our version of normality is disrupted, we have the conditions for courageous changes to emerge. Finally, I think a lot of people have learned a great deal about their priorities, their employers, and what they

The larger employment landscape is flickering at warp speed with organisations vying for the best talent after the great layoffs of millions of workers in the early days of the crisis. What could be the big differentiators for companies to win the talent war? During the first and second wave of this pandemic, the emphasis was on showcasing empathy and looking after people’s wellbeing. To get people’s september 2021 |


special interview

trust and keep them sane and healthy you needed to show them that you cared about them as human beings rather than productivity machines. Now we are seeing a new chapter in the war for talent which is intensifying the need to offer flexibility, meaning, and even moral validation for employers. Basically, even if you are a top firm with great innovation and success, or a desirable brand, you will still need to deliver on the expectations people have regarding work-

ing from anywhere, helping to make the world a better place, and not just applying but also growing their talent and potential. And these expectations have risen. Since the pandemic has shown a K-shape recovery, with the war for talent intensifying for those who were already in-demand and hyper-skilled in the knowledge economy, now this segment of the job market is demanding more privileges, as well as ethics – shown in the rise of ESG – in order to commit to hard work and 28

| september 2021

bring their talents to a potential employer.

With the current crisis reinforcing the value of human capital, how can HR and talent leaders up their game to help companies head off the exodus of talent? Can you share some insights for HR leaders? HR can capitalize on this crisis because it has the expertise and tools and data to help leaders make their organisations a better place to work. We saw it last year, when legal and health questions were the priority concern for most companies, and when every organisation had to learn how to adapt to a new reality, primarily in their management of people. I think human resources was elevated to humane resources, and this should not go away. Going forward we can expect even more blurred boundaries between people’s work and personal lives, and in uncertain times people will look to their employers for guidance on how to adapt to the world, which goes beyond simple job or career matters. But fundamentally, employees will evaluate very carefully how their employers treat people, how they behave in difficult circumstances, and whether they truly care about them as humans. All the talent and productivity stuff is there, it will always be there, but we cannot make it a priority while there is so much suffering and anxiety in the world. In essence, organisations will realize that it is often harder to be kind than smart, but that the premium and competitive advantage in the war for talent will increasingly shift towards kind-

ness, empathy, consideration – smart is a hygiene factor, kindness is the true virtue. There has never been the worst time to be greedy or fail to keep our pathological ambition in check.

Can technology and digital innovations help organisations and their people leaders manage talent better during this time with uncertainty still abound? Within HR or human capital, technology is a fundamental tool to capture data. And we also have the human skills (and AI) to trans-

To get people’s trust and keep them sane and healthy you needed to show them that you cared about them as human beings rather than productivity machines. Now we are seeing a new chapter in the war for talent which is intensifying the need to offer flexibility, meaning, and even moral validation for employers

september 2021 |

special interview

Do you think large organisations are utilizing this moment to fix broken links and create more sustainable work environments, increase employee retention, build loyal customer base, and move toward a fairer and healthier postCOVID-19 world? The best organisations will. In fact, they have the advantage that they had been working on this before the crisis, even when they didn’t have external pressures to do so. I think courage is always about making decisions you don’t really have to make, at least for practical reasons, and even making decisions that will be impractical or counterproductively to you in the short term. Courage implies risk, which is why people are already skeptical of employers who are catching up on these employee-centered or “people first” measures simply because of external pressures. It is moral for us humans to demand not just the good deed, but also the good deed driven by genuinely good motives. If there is a clear business case to ESG, then that’s great because more employers will engage in benevolent and prosocial behaviors – and good for people to push them, in a grassroots society way, in this direction. That said, unless we can be convinced that organisations truly want to drive positive changes, and are really able to make

certain sacrifices to commit to the welfare of others, these efforts will backfire – and rightly so.


special interview

late that data into meaningful and important insights, including insights that can help us make the world of work more talentcentric, meritocratic, and fair. But not every organisation, not every leader, manager, employee, is willing to act on those insights, especially when they challenge their own instincts and intuition. Technology is a commodity, data is becoming commoditized, and the insights are getting easier and cheaper to buy: but the humility, curiosity, and vision to fundamentally change the way you oper-

Organisations will realize that it is often harder to be kind than smart, but that the premium and competitive advantage in the war for talent will increasingly shift towards kindness, empathy, consideration – smart is a hygiene factor, kindness is the true virtue ate and make decisions in order to be evidence-based, is still the exception rather than the norm, and a rare skill found only in the best leaders and organisations. We are only in the beginning of this era but I am a firm believer that we can, will, and should use AI to expose and overcome human biases and mitigate the toxic influence of nepotism, elitism, and politics in organisations and society. Part of the resistance against AI is coming from the status quo, the very people who have little to gain from being exposed as powerful but incompe-


| september 2021

tent, and whose success is down to privilege rather than talent.

Can corporations leapfrog legacy practices and build new approaches that enable highly qualified women to succeed in these dynamic markets? Humans are the most adaptable and versatile species on the planet, at least according to humans. In seriousness, we have the ability to change dramatically, even while our biological configuration and instincts remain the same. Radical changes are always influenced by culture – the formal and informal rules of interaction that reward certain behaviors and sanction others. And finally, culture does not come out of the blue, it is the product of the values and behaviors of leaders. Leadership is always a force for change, and good leadership is a fundamental force for progress. This always happens through teams, large groups, and institutions, which are embedded in the grammar and syntax of old cultures and traditions. This is why, as my colleague Gianpiero Petriglieri at INSEAD says, leadership is an argument with tradition, with the past. What we will see in the next few years is what we have seen in the past, namely some leaders standing out for their ability to reshape the dynamics of work and improve things for their organisations, and society. And the others, well, they will try to resist but risk becoming defunct or obsolete in the process. Even the Vatican has decided to reform and went for a disruptive leader. If the Cath-

Leadership is always a force for change, and good leadership is a fundamental force for progress. This always happens through teams, large groups, and institutions, which are embedded in the grammar and syntax of old cultures and traditions

Creating a work culture built on trust, transparency, and empathy is what makes employees feel safe to show up as their authentic selves. In the hybrid world, how can we create that culture with a distributed workforce? I don’t know what people mean when they talk about their authentic selves, but perhaps this is my own fault or bias after spending many years of training in psychoanalysis. What I do know is that work will always require us to bring the best version of our professional personas, make an effort to adjust to the dominant social norms and etiquette, and pay a great deal of attention to how we manage our reputation. This does not need to

september 2021 |

special interview

olic Church can do it, so can an 80-year old for-profit corporation – they for sure have more pressure and fewer barriers to achieving this.

go away, and we can still unleash our uncensored and unfiltered selves during family reunions or vacations, ideally far away from our bosses, colleagues, and bosses. That said, it is also true that very few people would like to work – or spend 1/3 of their adult lives – somewhere where the culture is in stark contrast with their values, or where they are forced to act in ways that are inconsistent with their beliefs, or where their professional work persona is someone they have little spiritual or moral connection with. The hybrid issue is more complex, because fairness is always harder to ensure when everyone is in a different situation, and location, and we have uneven information of what people are doing. But the opportunity to give people more freedom, flexibility, to trust them and learn to evaluate what they actually produce and deliver, that is a golden opportunity not just for HR, but for organisations and society.


Talent Management

The hiring, training, and retention of fresh graduates Every company will have its own approach for evaluating new, recently-graduated candidates, and for onboarding and training them to get the best results. One thing is consistent throughout, though: a great deal of patience and hand-holding By Mint Kang


| september 2021


teering projects, involvement in activities outside school. These can stand in as opportunities for candidates to have picked up and demonstrated skills such as communications, teamwork, leadership, initiative, flexibility, and so on. Secondly, recruiters can get a sense of candidates' behavioural attributes and general attitude through situational interview questions. Some important attributes to look out for are ability to get along with others, work ethic, willingness to learn, adaptability in different environments, agility when situations change, and Talent Management

ear after year, they enter the workforce: fresh graduates and interns, young talent who have just completed their studies and are stepping into the world of work for the first time. Some organisations value them enough to actively prioritise hiring them; others are more conservative, preferring candidates with at least a year or two under the belt. Whichever the case, fresh graduates present certain challenges in hiring and retention. To begin with, they are difficult to differentiate. In terms of skills, their technical skillsets are for the most part very similar and distinguished mainly by academic performance – which is not necessarily the best indicator of work performance. Their professional skills will mostly be rudimentary. Their nonacademic knowledge is hit and miss. So how should recruiters and hiring managers choose from within this large group of more or less identical candidates?

Assess them by soft skills and culture fit

HR leaders, recruiters, and hiring managers agree that in the absence of professional experience, it's important to be more open-minded about assessing graduate candidates. For this group, three specific areas are good indicators of whether someone will be a good hire: soft skills, culture fit, and potential for growth. Soft skills can be evaluated by looking firstly at a candidate's non-academic performance: co-curricular activities, volun-

a reasonably good sense of judgment. All these add up to whether the candidate will be a good culture fit with the organisation.

Select them by potential

As fresh graduates will not have a track record of previous workplace performance, a better way to evaluate them is by gauging their potential to perform well in the role, the team, or the organisation generally. KC Wai, Head of People at Deliveroo in Hong Kong, told People Matters that he looks at these september 2021 |


Talent Management

factors among others: “Can the candidates take on the role independently or rise through the rankings? Would you like to hang out with this person after work? To me, work is no longer strictly transactional or an individualistic role. We must look at the potential of teamwork and consider the applicant beyond office hours.” This requires some amount of forecasting on the hiring manager's part: how might this candidate do after six months in the job? It also requires HR leaders to have a system and structure in place for career development, with benchmarks and expectations that can be adjusted to fit candidates with no previous work experience.

In the absence of professional experience, it's important to be more open-minded about assessing graduate candidates. Try looking at intangible factors instead: things like soft skills, culture fit, and potential for growth Train them in workplace norms

When onboarding a fresh graduate who's entering the workplace for the first time, HR leaders and managers need to be aware of important things: firstly, the new hire is likely to be unaware of workplace norms, and will not be able to gauge, by themselves, whether their working environment, their interactions with the 34

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team, or even their own performance is normal for the organisation. Secondly, fresh graduates may lack the confidence to speak up if they need assistance or if they have a contribution to make to the team. And thirdly, they may not realize the importance of certain activities not directly related to their work, such as networking or mentorship. What all this means is that managers will have to invest considerably more time and effort in getting these first-time employees integrated with the team and the organisational culture. They will need to pay additional attention to the new hire's needs, possibly by arranging for regular oneon-one meetings for feedback, relationship building, and some level of coaching until the person is settled in. If necessary, they may even need to train the rest of the team on how to work with the new hire – if only by encouraging more experienced team members to take the input of this most junior member seriously. A structured program is most effective for this, according to many HR leaders. Sally Elson, Head of People Advisory & Talent at MYOB, told People Matters: “The essential aspects of a good early career development program are to give them a sense of belonging, help them to feel confident enough to learn and ask questions, and clear on what is expected of them in their program.”

Give them what they don't know to ask for

Besides assimilating them into the

Managers mustn't forget: there will always be gaps in these young employees' knowledge. Don't demand too much of them too early and approach to accommodate the limitations faced by these young candidates and employees. This includes viewing them through the lens of their potential rather than their past performance: developing them along the lines of what they need to grow and succeed, and most importantly, exercising extra patience and empathy where needed. HR leaders must set the tone; recruiters and managers must put it into practice. Soon enough, the challenges and limitations will give way to the realization of that potential, and if the young employee has been well treated and well assimilated into the organisation, at that point retention will be significantly less of a concern. september 2021 |

Talent Management

organisation, the training and development for fresh graduates should be designed to fill in certain gaps in their knowledge – areas that more experienced people might take for granted. These include an understanding of the organisational structure, including reporting lines and the responsibilities attached to various levels of seniority; the ability to make full use of the workplace tools they are provided; the ability to work in a diverse and globalized environment, one that may span cultures, geographies, and time zones; and of course the ability to network and make themselves visible beyond the organisation and even the industry. On top of these gaps, COVID19 has imposed a number of disadvantages upon first-time employees within these few years. The shift to remote work has deprived many fresh graduates of the opportunity to learn through watching their co-workers, and the intangible skills that would otherwise be communicated by example and instantaneous feedback in a physical setting are difficult to convey in the virtual environment. Similarly, the critical ability to network and build relationships is even harder to develop when people cannot meet face to face in a less formal setting unmediated by technology and schedules. At the end of the day, those who are responsible for the recruitment, development, and retention of this demographic need to adjust their expectations


COVID-19 caused people & businesses to pause to reimagine what really matters: Geana Barbosa of Asana i n t e r v i e w

The best companies globally put employees first and the pandemic has only reinforced this as a winning formula, says Geana Barbosa, the Head of Southeast Asia at Asana, in an interaction with People Matters


By Mastufa Ahmed


OVID-19 has changed the world for good. It has resurfaced the gaps and inequalities that we have ignored for far too long. The crisis has shone a spotlight on DE&I, the rising skills gaps, the importance of purposeful transformations, the culture of innovation, and more. But on the other side, some corporations and top leaders are trying to put the genie back in the bottle. They say, the archetype of how business is done stays the same and so is the leadership style. The truth is, there is a clear lack of synergy across corporations and governments when it comes to leveraging this moment as an opportunity and fix broken links. This is important because the future depends on a lot of unknowns.

| september 2021

To find answers to all this, we have Geana Barbosa who is the Head of Southeast Asia at Asana, a leading work management platform. Prior to Asana, Geana has held several senior sales and management roles at leading global companies including LinkedIn, Euromonitor International, Evalueserve, and Unilever. Here are the excerpts of the interview.

Flexibility and compassion are key. Since I started leading Asana in Southeast Asia in March 2021, we’ve been in a mix of WFH, hybrid, and back to WFH. All these changes have occurred in a window of four months and all our employees have obviously struggled to maintain worklife balance. Given the changing time, you just cannot demand your team to be in their peak performance. We need to support and empower them. Our Anatomy of Work Index 2021 revealed that

With the continuing uncertainty triggered by the pandemic, recalibrating our path forward calls for a focus on awareness, intentionality, and clarity on what is important and what is not. Five years from now, if we catch ourselves again asking “should I look after my loved one or accept this 10 PM meeting?” I am sure we will have learned a lot from the time we are living now to enlighten the response to that question.

You are passionate about the unknown and the future depends on a lot of unknowns. How do you see the implications of those COVID-19-led unknowns in the context of the world of work?

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How do we decode the larger picture of the new world of work today and recalibrate our path forward? I don’t believe there is a new big picture. COVID19 has allowed us to look at our world more deeply and purposefully. As human beings, our needs remain the same. However, the need for psychological and social well-being just became more evident. The disruption of this crisis caused people and businesses to pause, reevaluate priorities and reassess what really matters, and what is needed to live and do business well. Recalibrating our path forward calls for a focus on awareness, intentionality, and clarity. COVID-19 has taken a heavy toll on me. I have lost my family members, neighbors, and close friends. It has been almost two years since I met my family. The pandemic has definitely been challenging, to say the least. From a business

perspective, I saw a major restructuring in place. In my previous organisation, I saw several team members being laid-off and their lives changed in a split second. All this gave me a new perspective and a refreshed outlook on how I prioritize what to care about. On the other hand, conversations I have with colleagues at work, family members, and even friends became deeper. For me, the way forward is about being self-aware, aware of others, designing life and business with intention, and being very clear

workers in Singapore are more likely to experience imposter syndrome, with nearly three-quarters (74%) experiencing it in the last year. As a newly onboarded leader during this period, I am sure imposter syndrome held me back in the last few months along with many of my teammates. On the other hand, I know we’ve had the luxury to be onboarded in a forward-looking organisation. We aspire to build an environment where we can all be real and approach every situation with heartitude; one september 2021 |


of our core values at Asana that stands for making space to express our feelings and having empathy for each other. That is a big implication of the unknowns of COVID-19. Tough conversations require flexibility and compassion not only from employers but also from employees.

taking care of our employees. Here are some measures that are top of mind for me: • Commitment to our unlimited PTO policy, mental health, and sabbatical programme • Supporting managers with guidelines on how to manage distributed teams • Addressing imposter syndrome and burnout, and identifying signals for employees that are potentially at risk of these I love these initiatives. They address both ICs and also support managers on

The world’s best companies are putting employees first. When employees come first, customers are also taken care of well automatically, and that is a winning formula. At Asana, we aspire to reject false tradeoffs. Therefore, we believe we can continue our impressive growth trajectory while

how to respond to the changing times more effectively and compassionately. At the same time, the leadership community needs to lead by example. Although we have an unlimited PTO policy, I can recognize that I need to get better at this myself. If your team sees you following a strong pattern of rest,

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Do you see a synergy in terms of how the best companies are rallying to lead their organisations out of the crisis? How do you characterize the patterns?


| september 2021

they will also feel inspired to do so.

For the post-pandemic world, do you think the archetype of a successful leader will have to be reimagined? Is there something called 'Good Leadership' that seemed to have emerged during this pandemic? All leaders needed to adapt during this crisis. I am naturally very present. If you speak with my teams, they would probably say that is a key strength in my leadership style. In the distributed workforce scenario with individuals facing their own battles balancing conflicting personal and professional priorities, a present manager isn’t necessarily something they always need. I quickly realized that I needed to balance when to jump in and when to give space. At Asana, we're looking for ways to reduce distractions. Giving space and respecting quiet times are important for us. At the end of the day, I believe good leadership will still follow the principle of understanding individuals in their individuality rather than applying a formula for all. What aspects of the new ways of working should we unleash for the long-term? What’s your best bet on the future of work arrangement? Office, home, or anywhere? Will the new

What’s the best thing that you have learned on tackling corporate challenges vis-à-vis workers challenges? With so much stress and fear, workers

managed to stay productive when life has been turned upside down. Our Head of Diversity and Inclusion, Sonja Gittens Ottley, shared some compelling advice with our team that has stuck with me. She highlighted that leaders need to be brave and empathetic enough to ask people what they need while modeling to express their own needs. We cannot assume what people need. We need to ask them. As organisations, leaders, and individuals struggle to make sense of this new normal, what are the missing links? A more sustainable and productive way of working is needed. And it was needed even before COVID-19. Our Anatomy of Work Index 2021 highlighted that although employees have invested

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workplace be as flexible as we hoped for? The best formula will be the one that aligns with your values and business needs. At Asana, when we share our best practices with our customers, we always emphasize the importance of the following: • Setting intentions aligned with values and business needs • Prioritize a model that best enables collaboration, inclusion, and personal and professional growth In our case that translates to an office-centric hybrid model with synchronized focus time in the form of two days WFH.

more hours into work, the impact has reduced with 26% of deadlines being missed per week on average. When I was onboarded at Asana, a new way of working and a new way of managing were introduced to me. The power of not needing to spend time on emails, having clarity on my priorities and the priorities of my teams, plus the enablement of asynchronous collaboration opened my eyes to a new era. Prior to Asana, I was used to having a four-hour block on Thursdays each week to prepare business updates. Now I can use that time on strategic thinking, team engagement, and customer value prioritization. So, I feel more productive and more fulfilled. Enabling that same experience across the board is a big win. I recently witnessed one of our clients saying that when he feels ‘languishing’ he goes to Asana and checks his accomplishments of the day. That reaffirms to him that despite these weird times, he keeps accomplishing a lot. That is a win for him, for his leadership, and his company. I would love to see more companies realizing this reality and empowering employees for success. This success is dependent on an aligned vision of awareness, intentionality, and clarity, and to enable it, work management remains key. september 2021 |


Easing out of family boardrooms History has witnessed the fall of many well-built business empires while trying to serve every family member’s plate equally. How such familyowned enterprises segregate frontline leading positions of the company is a process to learn Corporate Governance & Entrepreneurship

By Dr. M Muneer & Ralph Ward



ith scams and family feuds galore, many family-owned businesses have started taking corporate governance much more seriously today than ever before, not just because of regulatory mandates. Yes, they are still reluctant to let go of male dominance and power, going by the resistance to the Kotak Panel reforms. There are many silver linings though: Crompton Greaves

| september 2021

Consumer Electricals has set the pace by relying on both internal referrals and external headhunters for independent directors. Harsh Mariwalla of Marico has revamped the CEO evaluation metrics to include succession planning. Many family-owned companies have started inviting potential board successors to attend board meetings either as observers or invitees to assess their capabilities to work with the family business culture. Indian

Family businesses have always offered endless opportunities for drama and disputes, all the way from Shakespeare’s King Lear to the telenovelas such flashy power battles than through long-term, simmering unresolved issues. One popular venue for these squabbles is the shape of the family business board. Enough has been written on shaping a good board for the family firm, nurturing family governance skills, seeking outside independents, and so on. Less discussed, but a common sore point, is traffic out of the boardroom – when, why and on what terms do family members rotate off the board? One problem we see is that it is difficult to impose family business board term limits. It is a challenge to get grandparents to leave the board. The generational rotation september 2021 |

Corporate Governance & Entrepreneurship

promoters are finally embracing transparency, perhaps? How these businesses will implement the requirements of separating chairman and MD roles, and including women board members will be interesting to watch in the coming year, as the extension will soon be ending. Hitherto these companies were inducting female members from the family as directors. Thyrocare promoter had inducted his daughter who was just 27. Godrej and Reliance have done the same with children. Will SEBI disallow this practice when the amendments come to stay? What will such powerful people do? Their children may not qualify for board positions but may be appointed as executive directors. The dilemmas such as these will cause a lot of headaches for the family boards soon. Perhaps pandemic may delay the reforms but for the sake of minority investors, let us hope SEBI stands firm on no more extensions. If the promoter’s child is not suited to become the CEO, will he or she be interested in continuing to create more value? The promoter will retire and fade away like the Mahindras are planning? Making this transition is a tough one but the right thing to do especially when the family is big with many ambitious members. Family businesses have always offered endless opportunities for drama and disputes, all the way from Shakespeare’s King Lear to the telenovelas. Those who actually own and manage family enterprises, however, know that problems arise less often from


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is often a concern. The parents’ generation just doesn’t want to get off the board. The downsides of this can be subtle, but obvious – uncertainty, assumptions of entitlement, and a rising generation frustrated that they don’t get to sit at the “grownup’s table.” What can be done? As an analogy, wait forever like Prince Charles or get lucky like Stalin? Formal, written board policies and procedures benefit any business and are valuable for family board tenure. As part of upgrading the board’s housekeeping on meetings, agendas, information, etc, add the issue of board election procedures. Board terms and nomination rules are often vague in family enterprises. Promoters may assume they can stay on board until their funerals for the valid reason that proper board election terms don’t exist. Push to spell these out in a structure everyone can accept. Once the rules are formalised for getting on the family busi-

ness board, step two is to discuss sunset rules. A firm limit of a specific number of terms may be a harder sell than just requiring members to rotate off after some years, with the option to re-nominate later. Age limits on the board are even more contentious. A survey by American family business boards found that less than 10% impose a hard retirement age. A better approach might be this: Blend retirement into a solid board succession and talent plan, gently asking members when they plan to retire so the needed skills and generations can prepare to join. Get them to think about the subject. Other approaches could be “director emeritus” or “ambassador” status. Ask members past a certain age to form an advisory emeritus council for the company, or serve as a representative in dealing with customers or employees. The latter can actually work well – major clients may appreciate having a retired

Not being able to hand over the MD baton to a son or daughter is a painful situation for a promoter, but this has to be accomplished for the larger goal if professional management is more desirable for the business | september 2021

• Implement democratic principles. Decision-making could be made more participative and appointments to the board can be based on democratic principles to eliminate nepotism and discrimination. • Bring clarity on management and leadership. Who will succeed the promoter after his demise/retirement has to be planned well in advance to avoid confusion and turmoil. • Draw a line between business and family. Communicate clearly to the board members on the roles and responsibilities as a business director and family member. Any familyrelated decision will have to be taken by the head of the family while the business-related decisions should be left to the CEO/ MD.

Corporate Governance & Entrepreneurship

promoter as their liaison with the company. It is not easy to get promoters to step aside, and forcing anyone to let go of power never worked in Indian politics too. There are a few exceptional organisations that have ushered in some progressive governance changes. Mahindra, Bajaj, Dr Reddy’s, Emami, Murugappa and TVS are some of the family enterprises that have adopted family constitution to segregate issues of governance and family. They have been able to align family valued with business growth issues. Disputes within the various factions of the family are addressed differently from the business. Not being able to hand over the MD baton to a son or daughter is a painful situation for a promoter, but this has to be accomplished for the larger goal if professional management is more desirable for the business. There are a few steps family boards can embrace for long-term success:

Muneer is co-founder and chief evangelist at the non-profit Medici Institute. Ralph is a global board advisor, author and publisher. Both are committed to driving board alignment at all types of companies. Twitter @Muneermuh september 2021 |


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Suncorp NZ’s Jane Brewer on enabling hybrid work with tech

It is important to ensure that you’re advocating for continuous investment into your tools and platforms and keeping them up to date in the hybrid world of work to make sure the wheels don’t come off in a crisis moment, shares Jane Brewer, Suncorp NZ’s Executive General Manager Technology Transformation By Drishti Pant


fter experimenting with it for a few months, leaders are now getting real about hybrid work models and redesigning policies, challenging the current practices and working norms, and accelerating the work tech adoption to create a more collaborative and 44

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efficient workplace. The wave of change was driven not only by the pandemic and ongoing restrictions in Australia and few other countries, but also by the shifting talent priorities and their demand for flexibility. With 47pc of New Zealand workers likely to resign if not

We’re seeing different organisations approach this trend in different ways. At Suncorp NZ we’re using the Nutanix platform to enable a hybrid model of cloud and server-based technology. But other organisations are taking different approaches to how they host data and manage their infrastructure based on their budget, risk appetite or other factors. There doesn’t seem to be any real pattern but what we think is important at Suncorp is to maintain a really strong focus on what we’re trying to achieve – that our workforce are able to collaborate seamlessly irrespective of where they work – and ensure that our technology infrastructure will support that.

Hybrid working is definitely an ongoing trend, and it has been building up from many years in one way or another. At Suncorp New Zealand we have a dispersed workforce with team members in many locations within New Zealand as well as partners offshore and our parent company based in Australia. COVID-19 may have exacerbated the need for flexible working, but we have been working towards seamless connectivity and consistent experiences for a dispersed workforce for some time.

As organisations invest in new technologies to improve connectivity for the hybrid work model, what are some things they should keep in mind before investing? I think the most important thing is staying nimble enough to shift your approach, and keep up with the latest offering. In technology there’s always the next thing, the next leap forward and it’s an industry that sees massive acceleration in change compared with many others. Our infrastructure is based on technology that is quite modular,

In technology there’s always the next thing, the next leap forward and it’s an industry that sees massive acceleration in change compared with many others

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offered flexibility on working hours and work-from-home arrangements, working with cloud company Nutanix to bring in additional digital capabilities such as Clusters – a multicloud extension tool between public and private cloud environments – Suncorp NZ is setting itself up to reposition work from a fixedlocation to a consumable activity, accessible anywhere at any time for the long-term. In an interaction with People Matters, Jane Brewer, Suncorp NZ’s Executive General Manager Technology Transformation shares how organisations are building a sustainable hybrid organisation with the help of technology. If those working remotely are not effortlessly connected with those in the office, there will inevitably be disparities, silos, and knowledge loss. To ensure seamless connectivity organisations are heavily investing in technology. How are you witnessing the trend shape up?


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so we can keep adding nodes or removing them to scale things up and down. That’s quite important in a big business because change takes a long time, and you need to ensure that you’re not over-investing, while maintaining the ability to keep up with change. Another really important thing to keep in mind is that you have to match your investment in technology with investment in the capability, behaviour and culture of your people. In today’s businesses, making any technology successful is not just about putting the platform in place – it’s about transitioning your team to new ways of working and it’s important not to underestimate the impact that technology changes can have on your employees.

How can HR leaders tackle the tech adoption challenge and make sure their investments are empowering both business and people? Technology and people are so tightly coupled and it’s critical

| september 2021

that those teams and leaders work closely together. At Suncorp New Zealand, Ways of Working is one of the focus areas for our strategy and we have a programme in place that brings HR and tech together to make decisions. This enables us to continuously improve our people's experience and support our people and leaders to get the most out of the technology we have on offer.

How are you at Suncorp NZ enabling people, processes and business with tech and ensuring that the entire organisation is well connected even in the hybrid work model? Which areas across the entire employee lifecycle have you particularly invested in? Keeping up with the pace of technological change requires continuous investment and uplift every year. But making the most of your platforms requires them to work well with your physical space and ensuring you’ve invested enough in your people – communicating with and upskilling them to use the technology we have to deliver value. One of the things that we’ve identified is a real opportunity to upskill our leaders to help them support a dispersed workforce. We’re now offering new training, coaching and support to leaders to help them to maintain connection and collaboration and ensure consistent experiences for their teams, even when those teams are working with various degrees of face to face connectivity or working in dispersed locations. This is a new skill that hasn’t typically

been a focus for leaders and is a really critical part of building a successful hybrid work culture.

any urgent changes to our technology infrastructure or suffering the productivity loss that we could have faced if we hadn’t done that successfully.

In the next six months, how do you plan to improve better coordination of work across teams? What would be your key priorities? Some of our focus in this area is in technology, but mostly it’s about ways of working. For example, as part of our technology work we are now rolling out Microsoft Teams to create greater functionality and collaboration, and we’re also beginning a roll out of equipment to support people to work from home in a more standardised way. But a bigger focus is how we plan and collaborate. Suncorp New Zealand has developed a scaled agile delivery model that will improve the way we identify and prioritise work and support our people to focus on delivering value to our customers faster. september 2021 |

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What challenges do you face in building a digital workplace and how did you overcome them? One of the biggest challenges at the moment is fatigue. The environment, with COVID-19 and high levels of uncertainty, is exacerbating fatigue and resistance to change globally. Hybrid working does seem to make that change harder to cope with for some people and increase the resistance to new platforms, and ensuring our people feel connected, and helping them understand how the new technology or new way of working will better enable them and make their job easier, is one way to combat that. Another challenge in the technology space is that so much of success comes from underlying infrastructure – but that’s something that many people don’t notice or care about until it doesn’t work. Ensuring that you’re advocating for continuous investment into your tools and platforms and keeping them up to date is really important, to make sure the wheels don’t come off in a crisis moment. For example, when New Zealand went into lockdown in March last year, we had 48 hours to get all of our people equipped to work from home. Our technology was already in place to allow that, so we could focus on supporting our people’s wellbeing and providing them with equipment rather than needing to make


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Open up the talent pool, and nurture trust with young talent: ABB's Trent Jones Look beyond the typical industry talent pools; train and develop talent across business functions; set up young talent for success, to gain their trust and loyalty. Trent Jones, Human Resources Lead in the APAC region for ABB Electrification, shares some strategies that work in a highly competitive landscape By Mint Kang

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he engineering industry knows a lot about the war for talent: firms have been competing not only among themselves but with other industries, to get the people they need for at least the last 20 years, says Trent Jones, Human Resources Lead in the APAC region for ABB Electrification, a division of global industrial engineering company ABB Engineering. | september 2021

What is it like attracting and retaining talent, especially young talent, in a huge industrial firm that has global operations but at the same time isn't as wellknown as its consumerfocused counterparts? Trent shared some insights with People Matters.

What does the talent landscape in the engineering industry look like? Could you share some of the challenges in finding talent of the quality and numbers you need? The talent landscape for the engineering industry is highly competitive and this has been the case for the

The current huge imbalance in the demand and supply for tech talent means that firms are now having to compete outside their industry for talent. What strategies are working for you?

Looking for people outside typical industries has long been part of our human resource strategy. We focus on finding synergies that different fields might have, looking for adaptable skill sets, and aim to train and set our talent up for success in their roles. For example, some of our designers may be chemical engineers by training. Opening our talent pool has been doubly important after the pandemic. Industry knowledge and exposure continue to be highly sought-

and between functions such as Sales & Marketing, Product Management, System Engineering and Research & Development. This initiative gives our new talents access to mentorships from worldclass professionals, offering them ample opportunities to grow their business acumen and network. This program sets the stage for career growth both within or outside of ABB, where many have proceeded to become top talents within our business or to take up equally amazing roles in consult-

It’s important to start the relationship on the right note, with authenticity as its core. instead of embellishing a role to get them through the door, expectations must be aligned for the hire to be sustainable after skills in talent, but we also make sure to consider the bigger picture in forming holistic and strong teams. We value people with complementing skill sets and highly encourage crossindustry and cross-business function learning. We have a formal early talent program which allows fresh graduates to rotate not only between different departments but also between business arms such as Electrification, Motion, Process Automation, Robotics & Discrete Automation

ing or management outside of the organisation. Such initiatives help us to build stronger brand awareness and word of mouth outside of just electrical engineering, as these young talents that undergo our program share their experience with their own networks. Another key aspect we consider in our strategy is being agile and moving from being reactive to proactive in workforce planning. We can no longer get away with thinking about what skills we need for tomorseptember 2021 |

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last couple of decades. As a global industrial engineering company, we are competing for the same talent as tech giants. The global pandemic has only made the situation more challenging. In pre-COVID times, we had the option of sourcing the right talent from across the globe, especially larger markets such as the US, EU, and India. Key talent from these markets could be moved to other countries where support is required. With borders closed, it is no longer as easy to transplant talent which poses a challenge especially for small markets which have an even smaller pool of engineering talent. Another gap we always have to address is the preference candidates may have for specific types of work. For example, Computer and Aeronautical engineering is currently a hot industry with many future opportunities. In comparison, other engineering fields such as mechanical engineering and electrical engineering – which are equally important and valuable – may not see the same level of popularity in applications.


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row – it’s now about having a plan for next three years or even five years down the road. If you’re only thinking about 6-12 months down the road today, you’re probably already late to the party.


Often, firms are able to attract good quality talent but then face difficulty holding onto them, especially fresh graduates. What works to stop this churn? What we see with fresh graduates is that they are always looking for the next opportunity. They want work that is purposeful and fulfilling – so it’s a battle of being agile to come up with opportunities quick enough for this group. We focus on matching our talent with the right managers who can train, nurture and mentor them. I remember a young female graduate who was introduced to our business through the internal program. She was bright, motivated, and inquisitive. We matched her with a particular manager who had a real passion for nurturing young talent and giving them excellent opportunities to learn more about the business. Under his mentorship, the fresh graduate was quickly assigned to a very large service project where she had to work crossfunctionally across many different divisions: sales, project management, service, and systems teams. This | september 2021

made some a little nervous as this project was with one of our biggest clients at the time. However, the graduate rose to the challenge and really did a great job. Over a period of around 5 years, she has grown with the company and held some great positions from graduate engineer to technical consultant, full control systems engineer, and then on to lead the digital and product marketing team for a large business unit.

from these functions, we developed a creative concept where our internships run more similarly to project teams in school. For example, a marketing student would be paired with an engineering student, and they would be presented with a business problem to solve such as a technical product that the team needs to market to a certain country. This change has been met with great feedback from employees and students

In an earlier conversation, you mentioned challenges with the business functions specifically, such as finance and marketing. Why do you think it's particularly hard to attract people to these roles? As an industrial company, ABB operates in a space that’s a little more niche due to our B2B nature. Some fresh graduates may naturally feel more attracted to big consumer or household names. To address this obstacle we face in attracting talents

alike, underlining the importance of thinking outside the box for HR initiatives to connect and better resonate with bright young talents.

What do you see as the main attraction and retention factors for younger talent today? Have their expectations changed over the years (give or take the pandemic)? Firstly, it’s important to start the relationship on the right note, with authenticity as its core. Instead of embel-

ness activities through the form of business update webinars, online training and virtual team bonding exercises to provide a holistic experience for our young talent.

Could you share a bit about how ABB develops its pipeline of talent to meet business goals? Balancing talent development and allocating resources with business goals and the bottom line may not be easy, but we

We value people with complementing skill sets and highly encourage crossindustry and cross-business function learning know how critical it is to create a sustainable organisation that is set for future growth and success. When it comes to talent development, everyone’s requirements can be different. We try to focus on a number of key skills or knowledge base areas where we can evidence the competency that we are seeking to develop in the day-to-day work. In many cases, we build custom development plans for an individual, so

the plans grow and change as the individual does. We also have a number of structured development pathways in ABB, such as the ABB Competence Development Program. This framework looks at building a strong people culture, offering the opportunity to enrich cross-functional knowledge, improve collaboration and open up new career paths. The program has four components: • Basic training: Understand the role and gain knowledge of the appropriate tools and processes • Coaching: Work with a designated coach who will help you transition into this new role and reach your goals • On the job training: Learn the skills required on the job, while adding your own unique perspective • Networking: Grow your network outside of your function/organisation

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lishing a role to get them through the door, expectations must be aligned for the hire to be sustainable. If we sell an opportunity and don’t deliver on it, the emotional contract and trust with these talents is instantly broken. The younger generation also looks for flexibility, purpose, and meaningful work. They strive for the next challenge and want opportunities to work in different areas. On this end, the pandemic has pushed the boundaries for old-school industrial thinking and kickstarted change. It’s now no longer about how long you’re seated in the office in front of your boss, but about the output and value each individual brings. We’ve had to embrace technology and the new way of things. This flexibility and empowerment have been well-received by young talent, but we also know that we can’t compromise on the human element and having face time with team members. For employees first starting out in their careers, the shared experiences and exposures are harder to create online. To ensure our interns and fresh graduates do not feel isolated in this period, we have formalised engagement activities such as creating “virtual” meeting rooms for employees to mingle and chat. We also organised well-

Finally, we appreciate the value of having diversity. Not only in gender, but also in thought and inclusivity. We recently launched a new “Global Diversity & Inclusion Strategy 2030” through which we will work towards doubling the proportion of female managers worldwide over the next ten years. With this step, ABB aims to increase the share of women in senior management positions to 25%, up from the current 12.5%. september 2021 |


Leaders have to control the controllable and make peace with the rest: Randstad India’s MD & CEO i n t e r v i e w

There are times when we need an isolated space to focus and concentrate, and there are times when we need to hang out with colleagues in person. And this is what the future of physical workplaces will be all about, says Viswanath PS, the MD and CEO of Randstad India By People Matters Editorial


iswanath PS (popularly known as Vishy), who was the CFO at Randstad India, took over from Paul Dupuis as the MD and CEO of Randstad India recently. Vishy is a business and finance veteran with over 28 years of experience across multiple industries. Vishy joined Randstad India in 2014 as the Head of the Shared Services Centre (SSC) and became CFO in 2016. A Chartered Accountant from the Institute of


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Chartered Accountants of India, Vishy is unsurprisingly a certified black belt in Six Sigma. He is also a keen fitness enthusiast who enjoys running, yoga and cricket. Here are the excerpts of an interaction with Vishy where he shares his thoughts on people strategy, new work culture, and the future of work.

The structure of work, workforce models, and work execution models – all of them have drastically changed and will continue to do so. As a leader in staffing services, how will Randstad India bring in the agility to address this disruptive environment? COVID-19 clearly drove the necessity and compulsion to drastically change work models, and accelerate the future of work. We’re being propelled into a new future of work – one that takes us from hierarchical and centralized authority to a fluid network of teams; from a ‘command-andcontrol’ leadership to increased autonomy and trust; from applying technology to the task at hand to building super teams of people and intelligent machines; and from a focus of health and safety to amplifying a holistic meaning of well-being. And here’s where the crisis has created a great opportunity and license for organisations to test and experiment with new ways of working. They can choose which lessons to embed in their near and mid-term future, and how they will define their standards in this new reality. september 2021 |

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You take charge at an unprecedented difficult time across the globe. In these difficult times, what are your priorities as a leader? Yes, indeed, these are very difficult times across the world – and more so for India, as it is still experiencing the devastating impact of COVID-19’s second wave. One valuable lesson I’ve learnt with the course of my career is that, during a crisis, leaders have to control the controllable and make peace with the rest. And so, our first priority will be the safety, health and emotional well-being of our people – our own employees as well as the people we place. We owe this to our people, and hopefully, you will agree, a healthy workforce is a productive workforce. The next priority is to do even better than what we’re doing so well today. At Randstad India, we aim to reinvent the staffing sector so that we’re unbeatable, and to achieve this, we will embrace excellence of execution. Finally, we will speed up our digital development, so that we stand taller in our own league. We will be more digitised in terms of client servicing and talent management keeping human intervention in place.


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So, our mission is to see how Randstad India can be a driving force in this future, which is all about employee experience and autonomy. We will look at configuring and rearchitecting work models for our diverse clients – embedding the hybrid model that will leverage the best remote and onsite work for them so that they can unlock the impactful autonomy and flexibility of their workforce. An equally important objective is to create a strong fabric of culture amidst the new shared rituals, symbols and behaviors required in this new future of work. How can we prevent career regression and ensure timely career development milestones of offsite workers, so that the out-ofsight aren’t out-of-mind? How can we ensure that the line between personal and professional lives is not blurred? I am excited about the key role Randstad can play in building new work models to enable our clients to remain agile and competent.

Externally, people are your purpose. Internally, people are your strength. What are the noteworthy strengths of your people that create


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a superior organisational culture at Randstad India? Frankly, over time, we have built Randstad India with the best people who live and breathe the Randstad values and business principles – to know, to serve, to trust, simultaneous promotion of all interests and striving for perfection. I personally love and admire the enthusiasm, the creativity, the discipline and the ‘human forward’ commitment our people bring to work every day. This is our unique value proposition and our secret weapon that none of our competitors today have, or can match. When it comes to performance, everyone at Randstad India has a burning ambition and desire to excel. This is one team that is always proud but not satisfied with the status quo. Randstad India has supported clients seamlessly to recover during the COVID-19 crisis last year. How is the company going to partner with them to grow and thrive amidst the existing challenges? Our mission is to be the most valued partner to our clients. We will continue to drive this agenda in greater measure as we go along. For example, we launched the

‘Randstad Cares 2.0’ initiative specifically to help our clients during these challenging times. Randstad Cares 2.0 hinges on three ‘I’ approaches: The first is Introduction, where we connect with our clients to inquire about their well-being, that how they are dealing with the crisis, and whether we can help them. The second is Inform, where we talk about the steps we’re taking to safeguard talent working for them, the vaccination program, and other measures. And for the clients who want to bring back their employees to work, we help with safety protocols and other guidelines to ensure safe and productive workplaces, through our ‘safely back to work’ handbook. Finally, the third is Inquisitiveness about their preparedness for the future, and that how we can step up to help them leverage opportunities.

will continue to be a key enabler for us in our ‘Tech-for-Touch’ strategy.

With the world moving to a ‘digital only’ compulsion, what are the major investments in technology Randstad India will make? We embarked on our digital transformation journey a couple of years ago and will continue to invest significantly in technology to keep us agile and nimble. We have implemented some interesting and exciting technology projects on the staffing front and in the permanent hiring area. In addition, we’ve invested in a stateof-the-art HRMS, which will be of huge value for our teams and have launched our brand new global intranet - ‘CONNECT’. We’re also looking to invest in applications and for sure, digital

I challenge myself to step out of my comfort zone, and a good example of this is me taking up the role of the CEO role and transitioning into it. I set the bar high and try to vault the height. I’m also curious and passionate, and always asking questions. There’s a little bit of a dreamer in me too, and I keep asking myself the all-important ‘What if ?’ question. Most importantly, I love engaging with people and learning from them. If I have to share my top three strengths, I rate them as my continuous pursuit of personal discovery, my steadfast professional will, determination and ambition, and the trust and credibility I exude. I use these strengths

How do you continue to grow and develop as a leader? And what is the one strength as a CFO you hope to bring into your new role? I believe that the sky is the limit when it comes to learning and thus, I’ve committed myself to continuous learning. As we grow in our careers, we need to develop a repertoire of skills. So, I continue to look at what more skills I need to develop, and how I can acquire them.

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Client servicing and employee engagement will definitely be more digitised in the future but the need for human intervention will co-exist


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In future, the workplace will be a purposeful space that will maintain a balance between work and social need for collaboration and celebration to live in the ‘here and now’, even as I paint a picture of the future – and to influence and enable people and organisations. As a CFO, one strength that I will bring into my next role is my strong ability to make data-driven decisions that are more rational than purely by gut feel. This makes me what I call ‘inspirationally irritating’ – inspiring to get the best out of people, and irritating enough to draw out even better performances!

What are your thoughts on the future of work and the future of physical workspaces? One of the biggest epiphanies that many organisations have experienced is in how workspaces are looked at. Workplace is no longer a mere place where people go to work, but where work actually is – or comes to. As complete a turnaround as it seems, it is actually a simple tweak of how 56

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work needs to be looked at. In the emerging situation of ‘anytime, anywhere’ work, the physical aspect of work takes on a totally different dimension. I feel excited to view the workplace as a ‘borderless liquid hub’, which is not just a location but a network of collaborative energy and interactions. The flexibility of interaction is the key idea of the future of work. In the last 18 months of remote working, we have been more conscious of the reality that people do different things at different times. There are times when we need an isolated space to focus and concentrate, and there are times when we need to hang out with colleagues in person to feel human-centered at work. And this is what the future of physical workplaces will be all about. It will be a purposeful space that will balance the pressure of work with camaraderie, and the push for productivity with the social need for collaboration and celebration. While the future of work will go digital and technology will be a powerful enabler for this shift, I do believe that it is equally about bringing a cultural transformation. How can we provide the right space that is respectful of our people’s needs? How can we create an environment that inspires them to be happy and work together to co-create transformation? As leaders, we should make the future workplace give positive and motivated impetus to plug into work every moment of every day. At Randstad, this is our ‘Human Forward’ DNA and approach, and we practice it with great commitment.

Jarrod McGrath

Do your people say ‘we’ or ‘they’ when talking about their job? Gone are the days of a corner office in the ivory tower, an expense account and the secretary that brings fresh pastries and coffee just the way you like it every morning. Now it is time to rethink and restructure office culture with new sets of employee well-being and recreation policies

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hat makes people tick and stick around in the workplace has changed since the pandemic. The long known traditional office culture is now ancient history. Even financial compensation itself – the rule of thumb in economic theory that is outdated and heavily relied upon – is just one element of what people seek from their workplaces in 2021. Today, people prioritise flexibility, social interaction, collaboration, and overall deeper meaning from their jobs. It is more so for Asia, where only 7% of the workforce is willing to commit to an absolute onsite work arrangement. The majority of Asian employees expressed a preference for a hybrid working model, with two to three days of remote working weekly. We’ve been pushed to completely restructure the workplace. It is no longer a physical place, rather, it’s simply an environment that empowers people to do their best work and influences the way they feel at work. Employers’ first consideration now is to tap into prevailing trends and shifts in atti-

tudes to create a feedback loop about those feelings—and the second consideration is to take ownership of those feelings in how the business operates.

Flexibility is no longer just a defining factor – it’s a prerequisite Technology vendors and recruiters are highlighting the importance of workplace flexibility, and more companies in Asia are allowing their employees to work from anywhere indefinitely, positioning it as an “employee perk”. However, that’s is just a prerequi-

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site. It's the modern equivalent of businesses providing their people with an internet connection and other reimbursements. It doesn’t really break any rules not to do it, but the expectation is baked in and resolute. In tandem, staff who must remain onsite for the bulk of their work, such as nursing home workers, should be offered flexible work schedules and potentially be allowed complete admin work on the move or at home. The COVID-19 disruption has given employees more freedom in choosing when and where they work from. Employers need to take a closer look at the deeper, harder-to-measure characteristics to build a long-term desire for people to stick around. As Albert

The rate of death due to stroke and heart attacks pertaining to excess workload has increased by 42% which indicates major failure in ensuring employee well-being

Einstein put it, “not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.”

Building a culture of trust and transparency

Trust and transparency are the key areas that the business leaders need to build up. Trust is a relative element– you might trust an organisation to compensate you, but in a world where the gap in wealth distribution between those who work and those who own the work and assets is widening, you might not trust it to fairly compensate you.

Trust and diversity

It is not just about inviting the right mix to the party, but including their dance in the organisational culture. What are your people’s passions, and do you care enough to weave them into the very fabric of your organisation?

Trust and employee well-being Is it a concern? According to a recent report by the World Health Organisation (WHO), the number of deaths from heart disease due to long working hours increased by 42% and from stroke by 19%. These numbers clearly indicate that most leaders are failing to ensure employee well-being.

Trust and technology

Trust in technology will be yet another major factor, as advances in artificial intelligence (AI) continue to cause genuine and justified fear over job security. Are you planning to use technology to ‘free up’ staff to do more as most 58

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People perception matters

Many HR teams across Asia conduct engagement surveys but they do so with little thought or follow up—negating the point of any meaningful results from the activity. In fact, research shows that only 22% of companies are getting good results from them. However, there are simple, independent ways to temperature check how your people are doing on an ongoing basis. For example, the eNPS (Employee Net Promoter Score) asks how likely are you to recommend our product and services to clients, new team members, your family and friends? It’s a sister enterprise to the better-known Net Promoter Score (NPS) which asks customers whether they’d recommend the organisation’s products/ services.

Companies with a high eNPS have shown to perform better on absenteeism, turnover, and profitability, enhancing the business. Anecdotally, there are other ways to evaluate. For example, Observe that how do your people speak about your company when they discuss it around the dinner table, \or anywhere else with others where the topic of work comes up? While not scientific, observing the pronoun that they use during the discussion may signify their thoughts and insights. During such discussion, ‘we’ implies that they feel like they’re part of a team and relate themselves to the company policies. ‘They’ implies that they might be feeling like outsiders and their passions and skills don’t make a space in the company policies or where the company is heading. This is a good time for leaders to re-think and transform. Asia has just leapfrogged years of transformation in the space of one. What could be a better time to reacknowledge that people are at the centre around whom every policy revolves and companies are taking real steps to address that.

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organisations at least say they will? Are you communicating with your staff about your tech plans, and addressing their potential concerns about them? These are key considerations that carry weight.

Jarrod McGrath is the author of The Digital Workforce and CEO of human capital management consultancy Smart WFM

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Despite the economic carnage wrought by the pandemic, the war for talent is set to intensify in 2021 and beyond. Can you win the impending war? By Mastufa Ahmed


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in five men. Over 60 percent of women are planning a major career change post-pandemic. This happens at a time when businesses have been found highly focused on forwarding diversity and equity. Interestingly, the pandemic-led layoffs started with diversity officers across the globe. So, the larger employment landscape is flickering at warp speed with organisations vying for best talent after the great layoffs of millions of workers in the early days of the crisis. On the other side, while the pandemic has demonstrated to be one of the most trying times in history for corporations and their workers, there are opportunities as we evolve to this instable situation, to regain operational efficiencies, drive business growth, and strengthen the brand value and all stakeholder experience. This is the moment to fix broken links and create more sustainable work environments, increase employee retention, build loyal customer base, and move toward a fairer and healthier postCOVID-19 world. With the battle predicted to intensify significantly going forward, organisations are trying hard to get a lot of things straight and prepare for the post-pandemic period. This includes redeploying talent to new priorities, fixing skill gaps, rethinking location strategy, betting on diversity, equity, and inclusion, and remodel roles for flexibility. Having said that, fixing the new talent management equation is easier said than done. What should be strategies to elevate employee value proposition to mirror what employees seek in the changing work environment? With the current crisis reinforcing the value of human capital, how can HR and talent leaders up their game to help companies head off the exodus of talent? Finally, how can employers grab this opportunity to plan for the long term? The cover story attempts to find answers to this post pandemic talent conundrum.


est talents remain elusive irrespective of the market dynamic. After the great round of layoffs led by the pandemic, organisations are scuffling to win the war for talent. Salaries, benefits, flexibility, and perks don’t hold water anymore to attract young workers today. Given the extraordinary pace of change with the ongoing uncertainty with skills expiring fast and changing business priorities, managing talent has become a critical issue for leadership. The world of work has changed and pre-pandemic ways of working aren’t something workers are ready to go back to. Workers are quitting or switching jobs in droves which some economists have dubbed the ‘Great Resignation’. A colossal 95 percent of workers are up for shifting to new jobs while over 90 percent are primed to trade industries to find the jobs of their choice, according to One of the key drivers is the fear of losing flexibility workers gained during the pandemic; they want to be compensated for their work not just with money, according to PwC. Four million people left the US workplace in April 2021. Employees took the stressful time to assess where they are and where they wanted to be. Well-being. work-life balance, shorter commutes, and more importantly new set of ‘values’ especially the sense of belonging came to the fore for workers. There have been reports on erosion in trust between company and employee during the crisis. COVID-19 crisis was unprecedented. Many survived and thrived it successfully, others were off-guard and were not equipped enough to lead through the great remote work phenomenon. The on-screen fatigue, leadership response, and over-monitoring of employees led to this heightened trust deficit. The pandemic has had a significant gender effect as well. According to McKinsey, one in four women are considering leaving the workforce or downshifting their careers versus one


How companies attract and retain talent will determine the broader talent implications: AMY GOLDFINGER Amy Goldfinger, SVP, Global Talent at Walmart throws light on how to streamline talent management strategies to attract and retain the best possible talent in the face of the great resignation By Mastufa Ahmed


my leads global talent at Walmart, the Fortune #1 company. Previously, she co-led the Global Human Resources Advisory Practice at Heidrick & Struggles, where she advised clients in the areas of executive search, HR transformation, talent management program strategy and execution, and onboarding. Prior to joining the Firm, Amy was a Product Director at Dun & Bradstreet, managing a portfolio of risk management products and services. Earlier, Amy spent six years at Booz Allen Hamilton, specializing in the design and implementation of leadership development programs and compe-


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tency-based human capital systems, including selection and recruitment, and postmerger integrations for both public and private organisations. Amy earned her MBA from Columbia Business School and a BA in Psychology with a minor in Business from the University of Rochester. She is a Certified Professional in Human Resources Management and has a certificate in executive coaching.

In an exclusive conversation with us, Amy shares strategies to streamline talent management strategies to attract and retain the best possible talent in the face of the 'great resignation'.

Why are employees leaving and switching jobs in droves amid this crisis? How do you see the larger talent movement scenario and its implications?

skills and experiences and connect to the right partners to find employment, gain education, or grow their businesses. The talent implication here is to hire and create high-quality experiences through the platform that brings all the resources together to advance their economic opportunities and well-being in so many ways.

What can organisations do to streamline their talent management strategies to attract and retain the best possible talent? Is it only

about getting customer and employee ‘experience’ right? Streamlining talent management strategies starts with gathering and analyzing the data. Organisations can extract insights from their data to determine what processes are achieving their goals and whether those processes are solving problems. The data also shows what opportunities exist to improve processes that would attract and retain the best talent. Secondly, organisations can survey and talk to their september 2021 |


Streamlining talent management strategies starts with gathering and analyzing the data. Organisations can extract insights from their data to determine what processes are achieving their goals and whether those processes are solving problems


The last year has presented many challenges and opportunities for employees. The COVID-19 pandemic prompted many people to think about their goals, what matters to them, and how they want to move forward. For some, this means changing careers to align with their interests and passions more closely. Attracting and retaining talent is more important than ever, and how companies do that will determine the broader talent implications. At Walmart, for example, we took the next step to serve veterans and military spouses and build relationships across this talent community. We launched a “Find-a-Future” site to help them achieve their goals, whether early career, midcareer, or experienced professionals. The site enables them to audit their current



Investing in an employee’s longterm success through learning and growth opportunities is one talent strategy to attract and retain the best possible talent current employees, especially newly onboarded and front-line employees. Listen to employee feedback about what worked and didn’t work and what could be better. These recommendations could help strengthen your employee experience, which in turn creates an even better customer experience. Investing in an employee’s long-term success through learning and growth opportunities is one talent strategy to attract and retain the best possible talent. We recently announced 100% paid college tuition and books for eligible associates | september 2021

at Walmart through our Live Better U education program. Employees can earn college degrees or learn trade skills without the burden of education debt. Walmart’s nearly $1 billion commitment over the next five years in career-driven training and development helps create a path to grow their careers at Walmart.

Given the frantic pace of mass exodus, do you think CEOs should change their mindset to realign their vision around talent management? Managing talent well is what helps drive organi-

sations forward. Walmart’s founder, Sam Walton, used to say, “our people make the difference,” and that is still true today. We create opportunities for employees to find their purpose, grow their skills, and discover their career journeys because we want them to stay at Walmart and create the best workplace. CEOs and leaders need to have a mindset that listens and values employees while creating an inclusive environment of belonging where everyone wants to work. They need to help employees learn, grow, and advance in their careers. Being curious and inquisitive, adaptable to situations, and flexible in how people work in an era of COVID-19 can help CEOs and leaders succeed through talent.

What are your strategies to elevate employee value proposition to mirror what they seek in the changing work environment? How are you measuring the impact? We learned communication is one of the most effective ways to elevate our value proposition. Listening to our employees and acting on their feedback ensures we meet their needs and address their pain points. Moving quickly, being agile, and innovative has helped us meet the moment in today’s changing environment where employees’ attitudes and behaviors

Walmart, we believe building a workplace for everyone is how we can become an even better Walmart and influence the world for good.

What are the top differentiators for Walmart when it comes to the talent war? Our top differentiator is that we believe our people make the difference. Every day, our associates help our customers save money so they can create a better life for themselves and

Listening to our employees and acting on their feedback ensures we meet their needs and address their pain points. Moving quickly, being agile, and innovative has helped us meet the moment in today’s changing environment where employees’ attitudes and behaviors shift rapidly

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Can corporations leapfrog legacy practices and build new approaches that enable highly qualified women to

succeed in these dynamic markets? The simple answer is yes. Corporations need to explore their current legacy practices and determine whether they foster inclusion, equity, and diversity across the enterprise. Find out what talent is succeeding or not and why that’s the case. Figuring out the why can help create an innovative, new approach or practice that enables highly qualified women to flourish. At


shift rapidly. We continue to measure the impact by looking at the data, surveying our employees, and ultimately assessing whether we achieve business goals. For example, Walmart recently wrapped up its largest internship class ever, with 600+ interns representing 47 of the 50 U.S. states. We hosted more than 88 program events, including an executive speaker series, an excursion to Bentonville, AR, and Walmart’s distribution center and museum tours to elevate our value proposition through experiences. These experiences provided insights on how Walmart’s work environment is changing and where they can make an impact.



CEOs and leaders need to have a mindset that listens and values employees while creating an inclusive environment of belonging where everyone wants to work their families. They bring our values to life by acting with integrity, respecting one another, striving for excellence, and serving the customer. They are the reason why our culture is strong and why communities across the U.S. and the world continue to choose Walmart as their shopping destination.

Are you utilizing this moment as an opportunity to fix broken links and plan for the long term? Can you talk about any such initiative? Over the last year, we saw an opportunity to stream66

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line and strengthen our hiring process, so we could help people find meaningful jobs. In 2020, we hired more than 500,000 new associates globally to meet the surging emergency demands of shoppers. We trimmed the two-week hiring process into a 24-hour turnaround by leveraging existing technologies and gaining efficiencies wherever possible. We are planning for the long term through innovation, tracking the experience by continuing to attract people of all backgrounds who can thrive in an ever-changing, multichannel environment.

What’s your take on HR today? How can they add value to the business with new responsibilities being added to them including ensuring team member safety and well-being? In HR today, showing humanity, humility, and compassion is even more essential. At Walmart, we’ve always had that in our DNA and well-being in our culture. The events of 2020 demonstrated we need to keep the human connection strong as we do more things digitally and differently. How you add value to the business is just as important as what value you add. The how is central to our roles as leaders. We can express that with empathy, understanding, and being respectful to one another as we work through new workplace safety responsibilities.

Organisations need to master strategic thinking on capability building: Peter Cheese


eter Cheese is the Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). He writes and speaks widely on the development of HR, the future of work, and the key issues of leadership, culture, and organisation, people, and skills. Peter is a Fellow of the CIPD, a Fellow of AHRI (the Australian HR Institute), and the Academy of

Social Sciences. He’s also a Companion of the Institute of Leadership and Management, the Chartered Management Institute, and the British Academy of Management. He is a visiting Professor at the University of Lancaster and sits on the Advisory Board for the University of Bath Management School. Here are the excerpts of the interview.


By Mastufa Ahmed


We should train managers across levels in how to manage more diverse teams and ways of working, to maintain connections and to demonstrate empathy, as well as fairness in how people are treated, says Peter Cheese, Chief Executive of CIPD

Workers globally are making it clear that they want more from their employers. In fact, millions of employees are hunting for better opportunities leading to an intensifying war for talent. How do you see this phenomenon? There has been much talk of significant movement of people across jobs, and what some have termed the ‘great resignation’. Several things are happening. The economic impact of lockdowns has affected different sectors in very different ways, some booming and others struggling. That creates differing demands for people and as job protection schemes unwind in those sectors with reduced demand, more are likely to find themselves without a job and seeking new opportunities. There could be some significant shifts of people across sectors, and employers should be looking beyond their own sectors in terms of experience as they seek to recruit. The time of the pandemic has also been a time of a lot of reflection for people, including about their jobs september 2021 |



and circumstances. Expectations have been raised about how employers should be treating their staff, in areas like well-being, fairness, and opportunities for more flexible working. So, whether through re-evaluation of career choices, or where employees don’t see what they expect from their employers, there will likely be more people on the move. However, there are also significant skills shortages. Not only areas like tech skills, but also in many jobs such as drivers, construction workers, social care, and hospitality. Some shortages have been exacerbated by people moving away from jobs, but also by the accelerating need for organisations to adapt and invest, particularly around technology. Finally, reduced migration through Brexit and as a result of the pandemic, but also other wider geopolitical shifts, has made accessing migrant talent harder. All these issues are concerning many organisations in the ability to attract and retain talent. Forward planning, accessing more diverse skills and talent, and ensuring that the workforce is well supported and looked after will be essential.

Creating a work culture built on trust, transparency, and empathy is what makes employees feel safe is a lesson we have learnt 68

| september 2021

Expectations have been raised about how employers should be treating their staff, in areas like well-being, fairness, and opportunities for more flexible working from this crisis. In the hybrid world, how can corporations create a ‘culture’ with distributed workforce? Culture has many dimensions. Trust, transparency, and empathy all come from individual and collective behaviours wherever people work. Many organisations have had workforces working in many different ways and locations in the past, so culture does not just come from physical proximity, even though that may allow us to observe more behaviours directly. With all the changes that have happened over the last 18 months, organisations

must reassess their cultures, their stated values and the way people feel about working with colleagues, and how well they feel supported. From this, we can be clearer on what really makes the difference in cultural connections, and even where people are working remotely, to better understand the actions and interventions that reinforce positive cultures. More hybrid working and flexible ways in which people can work can be a positive change for so many, but it is more challenging than managing people who we see every day. We will need to better train all our manag-

ers at every level in how to manage more diverse teams and ways of working, to maintain connections and to demonstrate empathy, as well as fairness in how people are treated. These are critical to positive working cultures, and the tone will need to be set from the top.

talent along with Gen X and the millennial workforce are increasingly unwilling to adapt to the traditional workplace. Many surveys over the years have shown how particularly the millennial generation and now Gen Z have different views and expectations of the workplace and their working lives. They will experience more a life of jobs instead of jobs for life and even several careers as the nature of jobs, organisations and opportunities change, particularly from the impact of technology. The younger genera-

However, the administration and management is more complex as more variations and combinations of benefits are supported, so good processes and support systems will be needed. Openness and transparency with employees will also be vital to help reassure on issues of fairness.

How would define the post-Covid workforce? Top


We will need to better train all our managers at every level in how to manage more diverse teams and ways of working, to maintain connections, and to demonstrate empathy, as well as fairness in how people are treated


How can organisations rethink perks and benefits in the COVID-19 era and figure their flexibility mantra to keep and attract top talent? According to a study, In the fight to keep and attract top talent, 96% of HR agrees reward & recognition is vital. Pay and reward is clearly vital, but it is far from the only factor that attracts and retains people at work. Purpose and all the factors that make up job quality are equally important, and it is good to see more debate and focus on these issues as we think about the future of jobs and work. For most people what matters about the reward is that it is fair, understandable, and equitable. However, most also see benefits and perks as part of the ‘job deal’ and these are now under much more scrutiny as organisations have seen the different demands that employees are placing on benefits or support that best suit their needs. This can be seen as a general trend towards personalisation or indi-

vidualisation of the world of work, much as has happened more and more in the consumer world. The pandemic will accelerate that and creates new expectations in giving people more choice about how they work. That says there is an opportunity for organisations to rethink their benefits systems, to open up more choices and allow people to tailor more to their particular needs. These can become very meaningful in being seen as an open and flexible employer and important parts of the employee value proposition.

tions tend to be driven more by wider work-life balance, by strong sense of purpose, but also flexibility and adaptability in what they do. They also clearly want to have a voice and degrees of autonomy in how they work – working hours, places of work, or times when they can do something different for a period of time. The pandemic has reinforced some of these trends. september 2021 |




For many, there is less certainty in the future, so adaptability and being able to try different things can become a necessity as well as a valuable experience. Flexible ways of working, and the expectation of having a voice, being supported and shown compassion and empathy from bosses and colleagues are all part of positive adaptations we have seen. These should be some of the key lessons learned from these times.


Becoming an agile leader has never been more important. Can you share some insights on how top global leaders are winning the war for talent? An agile leader is essentially a leader who can deal with uncertainty and paradox, lead for change, and demonstrate qualities such as the ability to listen, to keep on learning, and show

| september 2021

compassion and humility. Leaders also need to be able to make the calls and the tougher decisions, and they need to demonstrate confidence even when times are hard. For any successful business, it always comes down to the people. Attracting and retaining the right talent and capabilities within their organisation has for some time been in the top 3 or 4 issues for most business leaders. But too often, there is a lack of strategic thinking or insight on what capabilities are needed, what options to source those capabilities are, and how to develop the leadership and the supportive culture needed at all levels. These are all elements of people strategy which in any business is as important as any other part of the strategy, perhaps never more so than now.

Understanding and assessing options for capabilities include not just the ability to attract and retain diverse talent but also seeing learning and development as a strategic need and differentiator. Thinking through operating models, where capabilities might better be brought in through partnering, or by contracting, or where and how automation and technology can really drive greater agility and reshape how existing skills can be used. These are all part of approaching the people issues from a strategic perspective – sometimes simplified to build, buy, borrow or bot.

How can employers grab this opportunity to plan for the long term? Is HR ready to handle war for talent given that they have now additional responsibilities? It has never been more important that HR plays its role at the front and centre of organisational strategy and thinking. We need to have the insights built from good data and analysis, the ability to work with the business to understand strategic priorities and need, but also to influence around all elements of people strategy. HR’s role extends beyond the core activities of talent management into organisation design and development, and learning and development, and these

The pandemic has demonstrated to be one of the most trying times in history for corporations. As we evolve to this unstable situation, can companies take this moment as an opportunity to regain operational efficiencies, drive business growth, and strengthen the brand value and all stakeholder experience? As with any time of significant change or crisis, there are many challenges and dangers, but also real opportunities. Crises act as great stimuli or catalysts for change, and we have been going through the most significant crisis of our generations. On top

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a fundamental role to play in shaping those changes, helping to make work good for everyone, and supporting the delivery of responsible business strategy and outcomes.


disciplines need to come together to shape future direction. Some capabilities need to be built out further – areas like OD and analytics – but HR has been stepping up as a function, particularly through the pandemic, and business leaders are seeing and understanding much better the wider role of HR in business. It is important therefore that as HR practitioners we invest more in ourselves, our own learning and development which has too often in the past has not seemed to be a priority. Building skills, professional competence, networking and learning from others are all part of what makes a professional and helps to give us the confidence to operate in challenging and changing circumstances, and at the highest levels of business. We are seeing great changes happening and HR has such

of that, the need to address the climate crisis, to build more responsible business with greater transparency and trust, are vital to all our futures. The businesses that come through a crisis stronger are those that have the agility and adaptability to see opportunity and to adjust. They are also the businesses that keep their focus on all their stakeholders – not just financial stakeholders, but their people, their customers, their suppliers, and the communities of which they are part. By recognizing how all their stakeholders need to be supported even in the toughest times, is what builds trust. Trust is the most important element of brand value and of employee value, and it has been greatly tested. Those organisations that came into the crisis with high levels of trust, because they focused on all their stakeholders, are also the most likely to come out of the crisis positively. And those organisations that were able to make hay as their particular products or services had huge demand during the pandemic, must make sure they act responsibly going forwards. Products and services can be displaced or replaced. Trust is a more enduring commodity, but as the saying goes in Dutch, trust arrives on foot but leaves on horseback.


Great Resignation is a movement that will continue for long into a new era of work, in which talent leads:



Nell Derick Debevoise


Leaders should integrate an approach of purposeful leadership throughout talent strategies, beginning with recruiting —to win the war for talent, says Nell Derick Debevoise, speaker, author, and entrepreneur, and Founder and CEO Inspiring Capital

By Mastufa Ahmed


ell Derick Debevoise is a thought partner to purpose-driven leaders, as well as a speaker, author, and entrepreneur. Debevoise's guidance helps CEOs and CHROs expand their impact, grow their businesses, and build powerful legacies. She has lived and worked on 4 continents, and collaborated across sectors with Japanese executives, Palestinian community leaders, French high school students, and Mozambique education ministry officials among others. Debevoise also studied leadership, innovation, and intercultural dialog | september 2021

at Harvard, Cambridge, Universita di Roma, and Columbia and London Business Schools. In 2011, she moved to New York and founded Inspiring Capital, a certified B Corp that designs and delivers purposeful leadership development to

accelerate the movement of business as a force for good. She is the President of the Purposeful Growth Institute, a not-for-profit with the mission to align professionals' skills with the needs of their communities. Debevoise's first book, Going First:

Find the Courage to Lead Purposefully and Inspire Action is an International Best Seller.

compromised their physical or mental health. Second, the power dynamic has shifted from employers to employees. Technology leads to transparency and levels the playing field for communication. Employees know more about what their companies are doing and how they do it and can comment publicly on it. We have seen several examples of employees dictating company strategy, for example demanding the cancelation of contracts with the military or immigration authorities. Particularly as unemployment falls to struc-

tural levels, and freelance options become more and more feasible and widespread, the power balance will continue to shift toward individuals. Employees have their choice of employer, and employers must qualify to earn their time and effort, not the other way around. This movement will continue throughout this decade into a new era of work, in which talent leads. Companies must Care to Do Better, as Accenture put it in an insightful report about the elements of successful employers in this new age. The mandate september 2021 |


The CEOs who are performing best in this moment, in the wake of the many crises we’re living are clear that they are operating from a people-first perspective


Is the 'Great Resignation' thing real with employees leaving and switching jobs in droves? How do you see the larger talent movement scenario and how is it going to unfold in the coming days? The Great Resignation is real, but it’s a mistake to look at it as a moment. This is a movement, emerging from two underlying themes. First, people’s relationship to their work has changed. We are no longer willing to subsume everything – family, hobbies, wellbeing, sleep – to our employers’ demands. This shift was underway in the 2010s, with the rise of contract work and portfolio careers, employees’ demands for flexible workplaces and times, and understanding of the importance of well-being. Then the shift was accelerated by the crises of 2020. With a global pandemic, health couldn’t be our first concern. The murder of George Floyd and subsequent awakening to the extent of race-based injustice and violence forced the issue of employers being aligned – or not – to people’s sense of humanity. And adequate government unemployment benefits allowed people to cover basic needs without doing work that


for leaders is to show people why working for you matters to them, in terms of the financial, intellectual, social, and emotional rewards of the work.


What can business leaders do to ensure that their recruiting processes and overall strategies are truly maximizing their organisation’s ability to attract and retain the best possible talent amid this crisis?

vidual and the other individuals they interact with (Me); on the team and the broader business (We); and on the extended stakeholders - the people and planet beyond the company’s direct engagement (World). By connecting these dots, and helping the employee to understand how their work matters in these three dimensions, you will get the most aligned, engaged, innovative, and collabora-

What should be strategies to elevate employee value proposition to mirror what employees seek in the changing work environment?


Employee value proposition today must be human, mass-customizable, and purposedriven; it’s not about bonuses or game rooms We recommend integrating an approach of Purposeful Leadership throughout your talent strategies, beginning with recruiting. This means considering the impact of your behavior, choices, and processes in the Me, We, and World dimensions. From the job description, you must speak to the impact that a given role will have on the candidate as an indi-


operating from a people-first perspective. They partner closely with their CHRO to ensure their people are taken care of, physically, financially, socially, and emotionally, first and foremost. So that those people can do their jobs, and take care of the business. This must be a decisive and immediate switch, not a five-year change management plan.

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tive people to fill each seat in your company.

Given the pace of mass exodus, do you think CEOs and top leaders should change their mindset to realign their vision around talent management? Absolutely – the CEOs who are performing best in this moment, in the wake of the many crises we’re living are clear that they are

The employee value proposition must be human, mass-customizable, and purpose-driven. It’s not about bonuses or game rooms. People are looking to their employers to play a role in all of their human needs, including financial well-being but extending far beyond that to include social, intellectual, emotional growth, and their sense of impact

and legacy. Humans share these needs, but our individual approaches to each are different, and so the solutions cannot be one-sizefits-all, they must offer the chance to pick and choose or shift benefits between different categories. Finally, all elements of the value proposition must be linked to purpose: some cause larger than the financial gain of the company or employee. Without this coherence, no amount of benefits will entice employees to stay.

We all have past experiences, beliefs, biases, and preferences that influence our perspective and behavior, for better and worse

Given the pace of mass exodus, how can CEOs and top leaders change their mindset to realign their vision to talent management? While this work is not easy, it is often quite simple. The Golden Rule, or as I like to call it, the Grand-

mother Rule is useful to keep close at hand. In other words: would you be proud to tell your grandmother the choice you made today? Another lens is asking yourself how you would like to be treated if you were the employee. All of this work requires the ongoing work of self-awareness by leaders. We all have past experiences, beliefs, biases, and preferences that influence our perspective and behavior, for better and worse. If we are not deeply in touch with that unique lens we carry, it’s impossible to be an effective steward of a healthy and fair work environment. september 2021 |


be siloed in the HR function. That is the role of every single employee, whether they have direct reports or not. And so ALL employees’ leadership capacities need to be developed so that they have the knowledge, skills, and confidence to contribute to the critical goal of attracting, engaging, and developing the best teammates.


How can employers grab this opportunity to plan for the long term? Is HR ready to handle war for talent given that they have now additional responsibilities? Becoming authentically people-first and purposedriven is absolutely a longterm strategy for this era of work. And so beginning immediately in this moment of crisis will become a competitive advantage. More is being asked of HR teams than ever before, which requires expanded capacity. This capacity will come from two sources. First, direct investment. HR teams need to be expanded, getting more talent in terms of bandwidth, technology tools, outsourced solutions and support, and senior hires, to effectively deliver on their new mandate. Second, the people management element of HR cannot


Supporting employee journey is crucial to retaining talent: President & Group Head,



HR, Thomas Cook India

Majority of the businesses suffered for parting ways with long time employees. It’s important for leaders to explain the future roadmap of the organisation and make sure the vision stays clear and gets buy-in from key stakeholders, says Mona Cheriyan, President & Group Head, Human Resources at Thomas Cook India By Mastufa Ahmed


ona Cheriyan is the President & Group Head Human Resources of Thomas Cook India Ltd. She is responsible for the Strategy, Leadership Development, Employee Engagement and other HR


| september 2021

functions at the Group level. With a varied experience of over 35 years across different roles such as Employee Engagement, Global Policies & Processes, Leadership development, Diversity & Inclusivity, Compensa-

tion & Benefits, HR Audit & Process automation, she has been a significant part of NHRD, NASSCOM and BMA. She is a global influencer over the enactment of D&I and other behavioural sciences. She is associated with TISS, Symbiosis, SP Jain, IIFT, Welingkar etc., as a guest lecturer, and a recipient of ‘Super Achievers Award’. A keynote speaker, Mona's passion is to design, develop and deliver initiatives to help to build confidence and capabilities for women in Corporate India. Here are the excerpts of the interview.

Four million people left the US workplace in April 2021 which some economists have dubbed the ‘Great Resignation’. How do you see this never-before trend? Despite the logical predictions about how the COVID19 pandemic would negatively impact the economy, many industries managed to sustain the negative impact and even grow sustainably. The pandemic has, I believe, led to an unprecedented shift in rethinking

map for the organisation and make sure the vision stays clear and you get the buy-in from key stakeholders within the company.


The larger employment landscape is changing fast with organisations competing to hire and retain best talent. How can organisations revamp their talent management strategy to win the talent war today? Talent Management is a critical component to the performance of any organisation. Finding and retaining talent is one thing, but the challenge is to ensure that talent is growing, adapting, and improving over time. The key is to ensure that you keep the process structured and organized and break the talent management strategy into distinct areas to make it easier. 1. Invest in defining the company culture. It is

good to first outline what your company culture needs to look like. What do employees value? What do you want to put emphasis on? What part of your culture directly affects performance? It is important to ensure everyone is on the same page before any investment is made in execution. 2. Relook at the benefits that your organisation has to offer the employees. Redefinition of a benefits package doesn’t always mean having to spend a lot of money. Offering workplace flexibility, or even suppressing a culture of attendance and clockwatching in favour of selfmanagement can help increase employee’s sense of ownership over their day. 3. Highlight or create growth opportunities in your organisation. Often, employees see no chance for growth opportunities in the organisation. This is a turnover danger zone.


work-life balance providing new possibilities for freelancers working from home, along with an influx of remote jobs through new businesses making the leap forward. One broadly unexpected phenomenon is the global exodus of talent across organisations small and large. The onus is on organisations to shape the work dynamics around retaining talent but, a vast majority of the businesses suffered the consequences of parting ways with long-time employees. Rebuilding departments and catching up on core knowledge takes time. It is time for the leadership to have internal meetings openly discussing the global phenomenon with the team. Assure them that the business is prepared and now in its growth phase and it is a transitional period for the world. Explain the hiring plans and the future road-

Not financial compensation but peer and professional camaraderie affect employees’ decision about future with the company september 2021 |



A lack of growth opportunities often tops the list of reasons employees choose to leave an organisation. The good news is that there is often only a perceived lack of growth due to poor communication. Leaders need to have regular career planning meetings perhaps as a part of performance reviews to ensure their workforce knows about internal growth opportunities. 4. Focus on providing the tools and equipment employees need to deliver superior performance. Over 25% of employees do not have the tools to be successful in their jobs. Facilitating employees’ needs is the core responsibility of leaders. A culture that encourages feedback will help your entire workforce realise what their performance roadblocks exist and these can be worked on together with the managers.

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5. Show the employees that they are valued. Studies show that a small number of employees feel highly valued at work. The solution is simple; make recognition part of everyday dialogue. Yes, it should be every day. Far too many leaders let a job well done go unnoticed daily. This has been known to negatively impact productivity, engagement, and motivation, a few things that are connected to financial performance. 6. Encourage friendships among your team. Peers and professional camaraderie are the #1 reason employees apply discretionary effort at work - not financial compensation. 7. Peer-to-peer assessment tools are far more important in talent and performance management. Not only do these assessments give employees the chance to celebrate one another, but they

also create a more realistic picture of the overall performance of every employee. Who better to judge performance than those who are with you 48+ hours every week? A manager can’t see everything or be everywhere at once. Having things such as peer-to-peer assessments make it easier for you to get an inside look while also providing your employees with some much-needed praise or criticism. No matter the current state of talent management at your organisation, regularly revisiting and evaluating your processes will benefit your organisation in the long term.

Can technology and digital innovations help organisations and their people leaders manage talent better? Businesses of all shapes

Irrespective of the current status of talent management in your organisation, revising the evaluation process regularly can benefit your organisation in the long run

Can corporations leapfrog legacy practices and build new approaches that enable highly qualified women to succeed in these dynamic markets? The newer companies, which have a much younger and vibrant workforce, have taken into consideration the various challenges faced by women and created solutions such as the introduction of flexi timings, extended maternity leave and pick and drop facilities. Today, they too have realised, that men too need flexibility in the workplace, especially those who have a working spouse. Many have introduced re-skilling and upskilling and other employee engagement initiatives, especially for women, to mentor them for leadership roles. Skill development facilitates high productivity, increased employment opportunities, and higher income. september 2021 |


internal talent marketplace approach where skills, profiles and the capabilities of employees are matched to the future needs of the organisation. The CRM helps in dealing with the internal customer (the employee) much the same way that you would deal with an external customer and giving the same value of service to the internal customer. The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in many organisations releasing themselves from location-based team and workplace norms so that they can open up their internal and external talent pools. The acceleration of the virtual approach to work has facilitated this, and while there is little doubt many organisations and employees have been pushed too far, too fast, there are more innovative work practices incubating in this environment.


and sizes are increasingly leveraging new technologies to improve diversity in the workplace, enhance the employee experience, retain and attract employees, increase staff engagement, drive productivity, and more. Although businesses have been using talent management systems and applications for years, they’re more important than ever in today’s remote and hybrid workplace. The pandemic has also brought into sharp focus the importance of communicating with, connecting to, and supporting employees’ journeys especially in the midst of a crisis. Organisations are starting to apply some of the principles of external sourcing and customer relationship management (CRM) strategy to internal populations of talent and are moving away from reactive processes to an


Organisations must leverage capabilities and resources through partnerships & collaborations to win the war for talent: EY’s Samir Bedi



ing and manpower planning to job redesign and the future of work. Other areas include creating differentiated reward programs, developing a high-performance culture, integration of performance and reward and talent programs, as well as HR process review and audit. Here are the excerpts of the interview.

Companies must go beyond their own efforts to buy or build capabilities. They will need to intentionally consider how to best tap on existing ecosystems to leverage capabilities and resources through partnerships and collaborations, says Samir Bedi, EY Asean Workforce Advisory Leader By Mastufa Ahmed


amir is EY Asean Workforce Advisory Leader, with extensive consulting experience in helping organisations to develop business strategies linked to people-organisation dynamics across Southeast Asia. He has worked on numerous


| september 2021

competency, performance and rewards design and implementation projects for public-, private- and thirdsector clients. His experience covers all aspects of human resources consulting, ranging from organisation structur-

What’s your take on what some economists have dubbed as 'Great Resignation'? Given the pace of mass exodus, do you think CEOs and top leaders should change their mindset to realign their vision around talent management? With economists projecting signs of recovery across the globe, organisations are keen to drive growth and seize opportunities. To compete successfully in the new economy and landscape, organisations are reframing their business strategies and realigning their workforce policies to meet their new business needs.

ability and future relevance is a key concern for the employees in the long run. Organisations must also break-free from a silo mindset and go beyond their own efforts to buy or build capabilities. Instead, they will need to intentionally consider how to best tap on existing ecosystems to leverage capabilities and resources through partnerships and collaborations.

What can business leaders do to ensure that their recruiting processes, overall strategies, and their employee value proposition, can attract and retain the best possible talent amid this crisis? What

Therefore, organisations must find other ways to bridge the skills gap, through upskilling and reskilling the existing talent. Building a learning culture with opportunities for continually upskilling will also help to boost the employer’s attractiveness given that lifelong employ-

could be the big differentiators for companies to win the talent war? Beyond adopting a skillsbased approach to talent management and investing resources to set up structures, tools and policies that support lifelong learning, business leaders will need to evolve their relationship

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Beyond adopting a skills-based approach to talent management and investing resources to set up structures, tools and policies that support lifelong learning, business leaders will need to evolve their relationship with their employees from a transactional to people-centric model

with their employees from a transactional to peoplecentric model. There is a growing appreciation of the importance of mental health and well-being, which have been thrown in the spotlight by the discussions around safe workplace practices and reports of employee burnouts amid the COVID-10 crisis. As flexible work arrangements are becoming the norm in a postCOVID-19 normal, employees are increasingly looking for organisations that prioritize health and wellness through the provision of tools that support collaboration and effective remote working arrangements, as well as organisations that deliver engaging employee experiences. According to the EY 2021 Work Reimagined Employee Survey that canvassed the views of employees globally, including 1,037 respondents across Southeast Asia (Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Philippines), organisations are already transforming their workplace practices such as establishing meeting and email-free times (49% of respondents) and instituting clear working hours for work-life balance (44% of respondents). As the future workplace could be any location, the challenges to develop a sense of belonging will increase. That is where CEOs play a critical role in galvaniz-


To keep up with the changing professional world, it is necessary to have the right people, with the right skills, and at the right places. This raises the question: Whether you buy the talent you need, or you build or borrow it? Organisations will need to plan differentiated strategies depending on the market availability of required skills. In a tight labor market like that of Singapore, talent with in-demand digital skills are highly valued and sought after. The loop on talent regeneration has almost been closed pertaining to the ongoing border restrictions creating inbound talent scarcity issues.


proved that transformation is not limited to organic evolution. In fact, the greater the disruption in the environment, the more significant the opportunity to leapfrog. This requires an open and innovative mindset that is best nurtured in a diverse and inclusive workplace, which means that organisations need women in the workplace more than ever. COVID-19 has created both ing employees around their review their relevance, they challenges and opportunities purpose and embedding must stay centered on their for building a more equitapurpose-driven objectives purpose. ble workplace. On one hand, across the business. For example, today compathe normalisation of remote nies are planning their working and an outcomelearning and development How can employers grab focused approach to talent this opportunity to plan for the initiatives. Whereas, earlier, management has allowed organisations used to rely long term? companies to reach out to on past budgets and iterate Organisations that different work profiles and from past initiatives. Today, survived the disruptions hire from otherwise, untapped caused by COVID-19, demon- organisations with future labor pools such as ‘stay-atstrated agility and rapidness plans begin the exercise by home moms’ who prefer partin decision-making. As indus- first identifying the future time work engagements. On try boundaries continue to be skills needed by their organ- the other hand, women in the isation, current and future redefined and with business workforce have also quit jobs salary premiums required, models still in flux, organito serve the caregiving obligasations need to shorten their and assessing the investtions or were made redundant ments required in learning planning cycles and embed as companies hit hard by the flexibility in their approach. and development to bridge pandemic closed. Leaders will need to embrace these skill gaps. This futureOrganisations need to focus a fundamental mindset shift back approach ensures that on three key areas to build organisations are spending and reorient their organisamore equitable workplaces. tions to embrace continuous the critical amount of budget Firstly, they need to extend to meet their goals. transformations in order to access to affordable and highgenerate sustainable growth quality childcare. Secondly, and deliver long-term value. Can corporations leapfrog they must create a workEven as leaders work legacy practices and build place and an economy that on adopting a continuous new approaches that enable acknowledges the demands of transformation mindset, highly qualified women to caregiving. Thirdly, they must their transformation trajecsucceed in these dynamic provide return-to-work politory must have purpose as markets? cies that create a glide path a central guide. As organiOrganisations that thrived to return for people who have sations explore the future as digital disruptors during been out of the labor force for and work backwards to the COVID-19 pandemic a while. | september 2021



As flexible work arrangements are becoming the norm, employees increasingly look for organisations that prioritize wellness through the provision of tools that support effective remote working arrangements, as well as organisations that deliver engaging employee experiences


Winning the post-pandemic Hybrid talent race Winning the talent race will warrant organisations to consider the new work patterns that may be offered as part of the employee value proposition and evaluate how they manage a hybrid workforce to ensure future success By Richard Smith, PhD

Identifying new work patterns

Rather than rushing back


patterns that may be offered as part of the employee value proposition. Second, we evaluate how we manage a hybrid workforce to ensure future success.



s vaccines roll out, business leaders are starting to emerge from their pandemic hideaways and prepare to go back to the office. This may require some people to re-learn how to wear a necktie or heels as we re-engage in corporate office life. As businesses across sectors start to ramp up initiatives and growth activities, new waves of hiring and quests for talent are already in full gear. In many countries, we see pent-up demand for career changes or job shifts that were put on hold during the pandemic. Thus, it appears that we are on the verge of a post-pandemic talent race! How do we prepare for this talent race and what must we do to retain and attract the talent we need for our organisation? First, we consider the new work

to the same work patterns and practices, many might suggest that firm leaders have an opportunity to rethink the assumptions for how, where, and when is done. There are several considerations when evaluating new work patterns. • Not available to Everyone - While this may be true in some cases, many work environments such as manufacturing and consumer services require a physical presence. In other cases, the capital expense of real estate, equipment, or access to resources would naturally limit the portability or flexibility of work.

• Alternative Locations - However, some firms will have the luxury to

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As people begin to head back into the office, many will sit at their desks all day and wonder why they made the trip when they could have been working from home


rethink work practices. In these cases, likely knowledge work and back-office processing work, firms do have the opportunity to reimagine work in some ways. This might include moving to more distributed locations such as satellite clusters in suburbs or more flexibility to live in alternative locations with occasional travel to the office or client sites.

• Fewer Travel Requirements - Many businesses will have the opportunity to rethink business travel. For professional services firms and many multinational organisations, the cost savings of business travel has been a hidden help during the pandemic. While video meetings may not entirely replace in-person gatherings, | september 2021

reducing travel costs and time can provide significant business benefits.

• In-person Innovation - Collaboration and casual interactions from in-person experiences have been shown to support innovation. New ideas are often fuelled by the socialization of people in clusters that are comprised of diverse groups. We note that new ideas build upon other ideas or adjacent concepts as people explore challenges or new tools. Most modern offices foster collaboration and teamwork, which can open doors for diverse ideas and opinions. Of course, office places with closed doors and isolated workspaces would not likely be conducive to idea generation or innovation.

• Differences in Global Location - As new work practices emerge, we can expect that there will be variations in this based on regulatory and cultural expectations around the world. For example, Asian countries with cultures that place a high value on relationships and hierarchy are more likely to continue with practices of coming into the office. On the other hand, some European countries with a culture that values task orientation and direct communication may be more inclined to have people work from home. It is also important to note that the local housing infrastructure may also be a factor in some urban locations (i.e., workers living with their families in small apartments in Hong Kong or Tokyo may be eager to work from a desk in an office building).

Managing the hybrid workforce

coffee breaks, social interactions, cross-functional meetings, and other types of engagement are needed to make the in-person time at the office meaningful in the hybrid work model. Consulting firms have been doing this for years as consultants work on client projects four days a week and then come into the office on Fridays for networking, meetings, learning and social engagement.

• Creating Higher-level Social Engagement – as people begin to head back into the office, many will sit at their desks all day and wonder why they made the trip when they could have been working from home. To capture the benefit of hybrid working, companies must arrange and encourage social interactions on the days that people are in the office (and potentially encourage common in-person office days). Hosting


Many businesses will have the opportunity to rethink business travel. For professional services firms and many multinational organisations, the cost savings of business travel has been a hidden help during the pandemic


Some experts argue that the focus on the hybrid work model is a bunch of hype and that we will be back to our old patterns of commuting and office work soon. However, there are two key factors that we must consider: First, the duration of the pandemic disruption which has allowed enough time to shift behaviours and expectations, and second, the global reach of this disruption which has created what we call a “Cohort Experience” in the current generation of the workforce around the world. While we may see some of the old patterns of office work re-emerge in the future, the evidence suggests that new flexible work models are here to stay. Therefore, it is likely important for most businesses to determine how to make hybrid work. In a review of these work practices, five key management actions emerge: • Enabling Tech and Process – perhaps it is obvious, but enabling offices with facilities that allow seamless connections between onsite team members and those working remotely is a critical first step to making the hybrid model work, in the long run. If meeting spaces are not conducive for

hybrid meetings, then companies will likely revert back to everyone coming to the office for meetings – or taking up the rule that all meetings are done individually (Zoom from your desk) to create an equal participation level. For example, several tech firms are allowing people to come into the office, but require all meetings to be done individually to ensure equality and inclusion.

• Ensuring Employee Well-Being – the pandemic has been difficult for most of us, and returning to offices may also pose challenges. While working from home, we often found ourselves getting to know our colleagues in new ways as we were talking to them in their living rooms or watching them juggle kids or pets while on camera. As firms move to a hybrid model, the challenges associated with family obligations, september 2021 |



the stress of balancing commitments, and the changes associated with our work day should not be under-estimated. Spending time to understand employee challenges, providing space to get accustomed to the new patterns of hybrid working, and creating an environment of learning together how to make it work can be important. Many firms are now frequently surveying employees to gather feedback and check in to understand how the work models are affecting wellbeing. • Practising Inclusive Leadership – in the hybrid work model, the time together in offices is abbreviated and may not allow managers to check in with all of their people regularly. When in large


| september 2021

meetings (either remote or hybrid), the group dynamics may allow some people to dominate and others to feel left out. Inclusive leaders will work to ensure that everyone has a voice and is valued. Inclusive leaders will also check in with others, hold occasional skip-level meetings and work to make sure that people feel connected with leadership. • Fostering Psychological Safety – many organisations are considering a hybrid model to provide flexibility for employees while also having the benefit of in-person interactions that can foster innovation, ideas, and learning. While this is a great intent for the in-person interactions, people must

feel comfortable and confident in asking questions, sharing ideas, or providing alternative perspectives. Psychological safety, feeling free to openly contribute without fear of criticism or retribution, can be a challenge in some organisation cultures and team environments. Organisation leaders can help set the tone and expectation when it comes to valuing diverse opinions and alternative perspectives. Fostering psychological safety is an important prerequisite to finding value in the hybrid work model. In most businesses, the events of the past year have been taken a toll on managers and HR leaders as organisations have worked tirelessly to adjust to the changing events around the world. As we plan to emerge from our pandemic battles, we are likely to face an escalating talent race. Those who have taken the time to reflect on our learnings, consider the emergence of new work patterns, and plan for managing a hybrid workforce will likely be out in front.

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

‘Great Resignation’ or Great Dismissal? It’s time organisations take a more strategic approach to the future, to ensure management excellence and create talent pipelines to maintain it By Clinton Wingrove

september 2021 |




period. Employees may not remember what a company may have offered in the contract when they joined, but their future plans with the company get affected he pandemic has by the behaviour of the brought about dramatic employer during a crisis. changes in the profesDespite leveraging the flexsional world, and numerible hours of remote work ous studies show that a large and using new collaborative number of employees intend tools, many employees did to leave their current employ- not feel valued, but isolated. ers and even switch indusThere was a lack of clartries to do so. A study by ity about what was expected put the figure of them, they did not feel at over 90% - the so-called, trusted, and were anxious “Great Resignation.” about their functions. The Given the recent high employee-employer relalevels of unemployment; tionship of trust and loyalty given that employers rapidly shattered into pieces. implemented remote workThis ‘emotional distance’ ing; why are so many consid- is still being provoked and ering leaving? Questions amplified by the virtual arise on the factors driving platforms – ironically, mass resignation despite the what enabled remote workflexibility offered by remote ing. Through diminuand hybrid work structure tion of body language and that has been in place since facial expressions, and the last year. replacement of one-to-one What an employer casual conversations with perceives of its employees more formal one-to-many is revealed during a crisis virtual meetings, relation-

ships are rapidly weakening and cognitive disconnect is increasing. Organisations must work hard and fast to recover the lost faith. While fair pay is still one of the key considerations, employees’ needs and demands are now more complex and volatile. Climate change, pandemic, the DI&E agenda, and other global issues have broadened their expectations. Today, individuals seek to work with organisations that prioritise mutual respect. As me and Dr Marciano revealed in our book, ‘Super Teams’ ‘employees want to feel respected’. The ‘Great Resignation’ issue does not lie solely with the employees. Too many organisations have dismissed the need to invest seriously in ensuring management excellence –such as frequent one-to-one interactions, disciplined risk identification and management, and rigorous and continuous reviews of the working process. HR departments of such organisations deserve the credit, along with those who have stepped up and provided tactical solutions for circumstances, that the line management had not prepared for.




Can HR fix the ’Great Dismissal’ error?


Prior to the pandemic, over 2/3rd of the resigning employees cited some or the other issue with the managers, that triggered their resignation. That factor continues to exist. Three decades ago, we started realising that managerial behaviour has a causal relationship with employee engagement and disengagement! Just those two facts equipped excellent managers to foresee the edge of the talent attrition cliff - with or without a pandemic to shove them towards it. Those organisations which understand that “the significant differentiator of sustainably successful organisations is the calibre of its management and leadership,” will continue to invest in the strategic imperatives - the “IMPORTANT not yet URGENT,” as described by the Eisenhower Model of prioritisation. So, we are all now faced with a choice of where we focus e.g., Necessities, Strategic Imperatives, Distractions or Waste. What choice will your organisation make? Perhaps: Just the NECESSITIES - the “IMPORTANT and URGENT” • e.g., doing everything to retain as many employees as possible and attract new ones to replace those who leave | september 2021

Those that focus exclusively here will battle it out against their competitors with tactical solutions such as hybrid working, adjustments to pay and benefits, new collaboration and employee support tools and services, employer branding campaigns involving social and global responsibility, and global recruiting into roles that can be exclusively virtual. A STRATEGIC IMPERATIVE - IMPORTANT not yet URGENT • e.g., designing and implementing a robust ‘attraction to exiting’ talent pipeline

with staff changes, I have never met half of my team. I have no idea how some go about their work or what they are capable of.” Some organisations are realising that ‘talent measurement’ is complex and that many attempts to simplify have merely produced trivialisations. So, they are now defining all the elements very precisely and training managers on how to assess them remotely. - What is the shelf-life of any talent assessment method? Roles and working methods change quickly but people change less frequently. The concept of ‘A job for life.’ Organisations choosis almost outdated and now, ing to focus here will grapit is not surprising to see ple with complex issues and people changing jobs every make extensive use of data 18 months to 3 years! Almost to produce robust solutions. They will ask tough questions every organisation relies on technology to create datasuch as but not limited to: bases of live talent metrics, - What does it mean to and even equipping employbe employed here? Could ees to maintain their own we have flexible resourcing? portfolios of evidence to For example, some organisupport changes to their sations are creating talent talent profile. pools of individuals who bid Managers are expected to for assignments in any or maintain the assessments multiple parts of the busiup-to-date perpetually so that ness rather than filling one the data can be queried at ongoing role? They thus any time. have highly developmental, Assessment is a daily activchallenging, and exciting ity and, annual reviews are work experiences and bring no longer significant today. expertise right to where it is AI will further advance needed. such approaches by updat- How do we measure talent? Recently, in a conver- ing assessments as well as computing rolling risk sation with an executive, he assessments for recruitment told me, “I have to review and deployment to address. our talent in October. But,

Today individuals seek opportunities with organisations which prioritise mutual respect - Ensuring that any individual considering management is trained and given experiences that enable them to make a reasoned judgement as to whether it is really for them; - Designing ways to recognise, challenge, and reward top individual contributors who are not suited to or interested in managing others, without encumbering them with responsibility for staff; - Enabling individuals to self-nominate for assessment of managerial capability and development against comprehensive skill profiles. One such profile is

the Quaternion Profile which encompasses 52 skills categorised into four domains - Leadership, Management, Business Acumen, and Personal Effectiveness; - Only promoting into management those who have already been suitably trained, assessed, and validated against a comprehensive competency profile; - Providing active mentoring, buddying, and oversight during each new manager’s first 120 days to ensure early success; - Placing most value on the development and performance of the staff, not merely on their own outputs, in each manager’s performance reviews. In short, many organisations are being faced not with a “Great Resignation” but the realisation that they have inadvertently executed a “Great Dismissal.” A large section of their staff believes that their feelings have been dismissed. And, no amount of evidence will shift those feelings. But organisations have the opportunity to take a more strategic approach to the future, to ensure management excellence, and to create talent pipelines to maintain it. By so doing, they will equip their organisations to predict, manage, and even capitalise on the next crisis.


We have experienced decades of flattening structures, widening spans of control, shortening decision lines, empowerment, collaboration technology, communications technology. Yet, in most organisations, real productivity has plateaued, engagement has stagnated, and attrition is rising! Even then many, if not all, organisations still promote individuals into management for excelling at something quite different! So, they pay a premium for sub-optimal capability and have managers who then view unleash-

ing the potential and transforming the performance of their team as a bolt-on to their roles. But, over the past few years, we have learned so much about how the human mind works and the immense importance of great people management. More and more organisations are now enlightened and, for example: - Assessing new recruits for management potential right from day zero;


- From where do we source talent? Fully remote working enables recruitment from a wider pool and geography. But, as employees view employment as a series of experiences, and not a single experience, some organisations will realise targeting selected prior employees is also of interest. Many outgoing employees believe that the grass is greener on the other side. It often isn’t and, after experiences elsewhere, former employees or boomerang employees can prove to be valuable recruits - bringing back market intelligence, a broader skillset, and a new perspective. Perhaps, another STRATEGIC IMPERATIVE - IMPORTANT not yet URGENT • e.g., ensuring management excellence

Clinton Wingrove is the Principal Consultant, Clinton HR Ltd.www. september 2021 |


Vivek TiwarI

Have you equipped yourself to survive if you are lost in a jungle? Employees excel within the comfort zone, but their agility is tested by a changing ambience. Adopting agility and facing new challenges under such circumstances becomes a lifetime experience for them

Employee Agility



asked this question to one of my ex-colleagues to open up the possibility of having a discussion in an interesting and challenging area. The background to this discussion was the decision of his organisation to go ahead with a certain number of job cuts. Considering the volatile world that we live in and the uncertainties created by the pandemic, a large number of professionals must ask themselves this question honestly and initiate actions to prepare themselves for today and tomorrow. Business cycles are an acceptable phenomenon and with the integrated nature of global work order, any impact usually gets cascaded and at times amplified. In the 2000s, the comforting idea that growth is going to continue in its current form and therefore there is a certain degree of certainty linked to jobs, careers, salaries, was harboured by a generation of professionals working in India. This certainty which provides a | september 2021

sense of comfort and safety, at times clouds our judgment and therefore acts as an obstruction to accept and act when circumstances start to change. My profession as a coach and a consultant allows me to be in the company of amazing professionals. I realized that some are great working in a small organisation, some do really well in a large set-up, some in certain global corporates and some in Indian companies, each one has a sweet spot and

certain a degree of flexibility which creates a range in which they operate very well. Then there is the other category of professionals like entrepreneurs, founders, people who work in boutique firms, freelancers etc, this category is distinct with respect to not only skills but also mindset. There are a growing number of professionals who can easily and successfully toggle between these two arenas but in my experience, that’s still a rela-

the first category is of folks who are adept and wants to be a part of a big growing (or stable) megacity with adequate (at times more than adequate) resources, governance, scale and a set of rules and roles that are agreed upon and followed by most of the citizens of that city, which gives it a sense of stability and order to a certain degree. The second category gives their best when they are on an adventure trip in a jungle with limited resources, unfamiliar terrain, unaccounted dangers that can emerge from anywhere, rules and roles are fuzzy, dynamic. Considering the volatility in the world in general and business in specific, the psychological job security associated with big corporates is now questionable. Situations, where folks working in mid to

large organisations facing retrenchment are and quite likely, will continue to be a reality. Usually, job cuts first impact folks who are at senior to mid-level and the challenge is that if one has devoted his/her life for a long duration in a certain kind of setup, then most likely one has built skills and acquired mindset that is required to be successful in that particular set up. Imagine you have always lived in a megacity and one fine day you go out trekking in a dense forest with your friends and you lose track, you have no clue how to handle yourself and fend for your survival. God forbid if the rescue party takes a long time and you have to spend a night or a few nights, what do you do? That’s the question that all professionals who prefer to stay and grow in a certainly organ-

Employee Agility

tively small percentage. So, if I have to create categories at an extremely broad level, I would say there are professionals who would enjoy, contribute and grow in what we term as organisations in a traditional sense and then there are others who are in rhythm when they are a part of a working set up that is relatively more flexible, open, extremely dynamic and highly and quickly susceptible to environmental influences. Psychologically the second category is highly aware of the uncertainties as they have to deal with it frequently and in areas that can be termed as hygiene factors in a corporate set up e.g., the uncertainty of income even for a shorter duration of timeframe. When I talk to these two categories of professionals the visualization that it generates in the case of

This certainty which provides a sense of comfort and safety, at times clouds our judgment and therefore acts as an obstruction to accept and act when circumstances start to change september 2021 |


interim arrangement (which in some cases becomes the next career journey- that’s when you start thriving in a jungle!), keeps you meaningfully occupied with certain financial inflows. So just to take our jungle analogy forward, when you realize you are separated from your group and you don’t know your way back, you are not petrified as time elapses, night sets in and there is no clue of any rescue mission.

(all the right steps) and if it does not result in any tangible progress then what next? Mostly, professionals do more of the same. If in your career journey as a corporate professional, you have been able to acquire entrepreneurial skills and mindset to launch yourself in the other arena (entrepreneurship, free-lancer etc) it opens up a whole new world of possibilities and can act as an

You know how to safely perch on a branch, create a shade using natural cover, pluck a few edible fruits etc. If I take the liberty of generalizing the professionals falling in the above mentioned two categories, few things are worth highlighting: Category one folks are accustomed to certain money coming into their account on a fixed date, they usually have strong association and identifica-

Employee Agility

ized set-up, must deal with, proactively. Else when the HR team calls and shares the news, it may result in long periods of denial, grief, shock etc which in most cases then results in frantic job search applying on all job sites, connecting with executive search firms, creating a powerful resume, connecting with old and new friends, colleagues, well-wishers etc calculating and readjusting the finances


| september 2021

tion with a brand (organisation name and designation), they leverage and rely and at times even depend on a whole set of infrastructures, resources that are available, they usually have experience and exposure in certain function(s), quite often manage programs and people or teams, at times quite far away from the end consumer and the market. A lot of times the middle layer in big setups is managing the processes and also the visibility with the right folks who at the end of the year are responsible for major decisions linked to themselves and their team’s success. Category two folks are usually comfortable in multiple areas that are required to run or be a part of an independent and relatively smaller setup. They are skilled in reaching out to a wider network, doing soft or hard business development in their own ways, they definitely have expertise in one or two areas. They are relatively more independent and if required, can do a variety of work on their own, which a manager in a large setup may have quit doing years back e.g., writing a code or making ppts etc, they are persistent and usually do not over-index on an organisational brand with respect to their professional worth. They are relatively more

ance, outplacement services are all great initiatives but as organisations, are we teaching professionals how to employ oneself in case there is downsizing and permanent jobs with other organisations aren’t available for a longer duration? this becomes relevant as no organisation in today’s world can guarantee job security and at the same time alternate work models are gaining prominence. This may also be in some way a step towards becoming Atmanirbhar at an individual level. Also, not all sectors in an economy get

There are professionals who would enjoy, contribute and grow in what we term as organisations in a traditional sense and then there are others who are in rhythm when they are a part of a working setup that is relatively more flexible, open, extremely dynamic and highly and quickly susceptible to environmental influences

adversely impacted at one point in time, so there are always opportunity areas that can be leveraged, even if the organisations in safe or growth zone do not want to immediately add fulltime employees. I think building basic entrepreneurial skills and mindset is the need of the hour irrespective of whether we prefer or not to become an entrepreneur in a classical sense. Professionals and organisations need to be candid and honest and not become comfortable by simply communicating ideas like intrapreneurship which at times are nothing more than old wine in a new bottle (though there are a few exceptions). In my view, the working professionals must prepare themselves and demand from their organisations to equip them to navigate in choppy waters. The need to discover one’s purpose, core/differentiated capabilities and build basic entrepreneurial skills is critical. Otherwise, when one finds oneself lost in a jungle, unprepared, one feels lost, demoralized and incapacitated and that must change.

Employee Agility

comfortable with uncertainties at every level micro and macro e.g., markets, clients, pay-outs, cash flows. The above two categories don’t exist in isolated compartments, the idea of presenting them as two distinct categories is to highlight certain fundamental points (even the analogy of jungle and megacity is to create a visualization and not to categories or rate professions and professionals). The big question is are we ready to accept the new emerging realities, are we comfortable in owning our professional development from a wider perspective (not just career paths and career lattice within a company), are organisations ready to develop folks to brace up for the challenge in case of an eventuality, are professionals ready to re-calibrate their needs and wants, when they consider switching from one professional orbit to another? Providing sever-

Vivek Tiwari is the founder of Pragyan Advisory, a boutique advisory firm. He has earlier worked with organisations like Amazon, PwC, American Express and HCL september 2021 |


EVP becomes the talent magnet for the kind of talent you want to attract: Nimisha Das, Director HR, Kellogg South Asia i n t e r v i e w

Flexibility was more forced than organic last year; it is now time to put a structure around it so that it’s sustainable, believes Nimisha Das, Director HR, Kellogg South Asia


By Shweta Modgil


s we continue to wage a war on the virus, another war is creeping upon us. The war for talent. Best talents remain elusive irrespective of the market dynamic. After the great round of layoffs led by the pandemic, organisations are scuffling to win the war for talent. Salaries, benefits, flexibility, and perks don’t hold water anymore to attract young workers today. Given the extraordinary pace of change, the hastening shelf life of skills, and changing business priorities, managing talent has become a critical issue for leadership. Given that pre-pandemic ways of working aren’t something workers are ready to go back to, how | september 2021

can fix the new talent management equation to win this war? In an exclusive interaction with us, Nimisha Das, Director HR, Kellogg South Asia, sheds light on the critical imperatives for employers seeking to attract, retain and engage top talent and strategies that organisations can bank upon to win the war for talent.

What as per are those broken links in the current work structure that need to be fixed by organisations in order to create sustainable work cultures? I think the pandemic and the way things have moved have given the industry an opportunity to rethink ways of working. The

i n t e r v i e w

Workers are quitting or switching jobs in droves which some economists have dubbed the ‘Great Resignation’. In such a scenario, what are the critical imperatives for employers seeking to attract, retain and engage top talent? The way I look at this, the experience is not uniform across organisations and industries as certain industries are more insulated than others. Up till May this year, most organisations had put a stop on talent hiring. And this was equally true from the side of the candidates, where people were a little more cautious to switch as they were probably seeing comfort over growth. So there has been a sort of pent-up demand from both sides. Much of the change is on account of that, which is also validated by the attrition numbers as well, which flattened out last year. In all this, companies that stepped up as progressive employers showing concern about their employees’ wellbeing and financial health, are still insulated from this flux and have low attrition. So for attracting and retaining top talent, the basics remain the same as earlier. The piece that has started mattering more to

employees is how companies can offer more flexibility. They are looking at how many organisations are weaving the temporary flexibility that came into effect due to COVID in the work policies and are making choices based on that. In addition, the last four-five months have been really tough where people have been hit by the escalation of the medical cost. So the cost of medical, access to healthcare is impacting the whole piece around benefits that organisations are offering. So these things have started to matter more above and beyond the basics of growth, learning, and career. Lastly, is the piece around organisational culture which supports empowerment, flexibility and if it supports hybrid work.

Technology enablement to design for flexibility is the key; reaching out to your own employees to capture their likes and preferences very frequently is important; and then assessing how that flexibility will come into effect for different pools of employees is where the focus needs to be september 2021 |


i n t e r v i e w 96

entire expectation of getting out of your home for work, making it through traffic, reaching your office- was established much before technology systems were not there to support hybrid work. The uptake of how technology can enable work has been seen in the context of the pandemic where many companies who did not think remote work was feasible, came around. If we waste this opportunity, it would be a shame. These are the broken structures. The pandemic, though devastating, has offered an opportunity to reexamine the entire setup for flexible working. The rules of the game have changed because earlier technology was not involved enough to support remote collaboration. Hence it will have implications for how do you design for diversity for a team, half of whom are sitting in a room and half are working remote. It will have an impact on the pay structure, policies, and the kind of

| september 2021

office spaces that we would have. Hybrid working is a huge piece that needs to be explored because you will have different strokes for different folks. For instance, our supply chain teams were working throughout the lockdown period. Similarly, the sales team went back into the field as things opened. Then you have the backend office supporting them, who have a little more flexibility when it comes to where they can work from. So when we are looking at devising a policy, it has to be fair, empowering, and has to suit different employees. Flexibility was more forced than organic last year; it is now time to put a structure around it so that it’s sustainable.

What should be strategies to elevate employee value proposition to mirror what employees seek in the changing work environment? We just launched our EVP last month ‘NOURISH YOUR GRRREAT’ to help employees realize true potential by providing opportunities to thrive. What I strongly believe is that EVP should be rooted in authenticity and not just be a creative communication exercise. Because people would see through it. It has to be based upon what people experience within the organisation and that’s the process we followed-by taking feedback from employees from different locations. Organisations need to be very vocal about what talent needs and speak to your prospective talent about it. There is a lot of clutter and noise out there-hence the strategy should be to use authen-

tic voices, build a proposition which is based on actual experiences and what differentiates the organisations versus it just being a creative exercise. If you do it authentically, you will also understand what really matters to people.

What is your take on how organisations should approach rethinking location strategy and remodeling roles for flexibility to retain top talent? The easiest answer for that is asking the people. The strategies that really work for consumers work for internal employees as well. We are part of an organisation globally which understands the fact that different people will

For attracting and retaining top talent, the basics remain the same as earlier. The piece that has started mattering more to employees is how companies can offer more flexibility

i n t e r v i e w

What do you think would be the top big differentiators for companies to win the talent war? I have a different take on war for talent. I don’t think I want to win a war for common talent. For me, winning the war for talent is ensuring that the talent we are aiming for, we are able to convert them. I think EVP becomes the filter or the talent magnet for the kind of people we want to attract to Kellogg. Kellogg stands for being the real you, making your mark and doing a world of good, and we are vocal about it. So for me, it is less of a war for talent but actually being able to target the kind of talent we see will be relevant for Kellogg. Ultimately, the package that you offer to a person is the entire piece on the culture that you have, the growth path, and the kind of careers you can develop.

have different priorities. You need to design a system which addresses this versus one size fits all. So you have to build personalization of experiences where employees can choose to come to the office as they want. Technology enablement to design for flexibility is the key; reaching out to your own employees to capture their likes and preferences very frequently is important; and then assessing how that flexibility will come into effect for different pools of employees is where the focus needs to be. It will translate into different things for different people, but the starting point for me is insight and listening to your employees. september 2021 |


Visty Banaji

The unforgiving minute Worthwhile creation demands concentrated work carried out in substantial chunks of interruption-free time. How can corporates cultivate deep thinking in the age of instant communication and other attention-fragmenting distractions?

The road less travelled



have scheduled my work-morning perfectly. A couple of to-dos from yesterday should get the dwindling greys in fettle for a sustained stretch of thinking to create a radically different leadership development model for an emergent sector. But, "Hello, hello, what’s this?" Some unread WhatsApp messages are screaming silent siren-calls at me. As soon as I turn to them, I am struck by the most virulent pandemic known to modern man: Instantisis. There is no known vaccine or cure for this STD (Smartphone Transmitted Distraction). That is, of course, till this column appears. Instant messaging access is only the first symptom. Now that the device lies open, glancing at the attractively AI-arranged news snippets is the most natural next step. Oops. That took a lot longer than anticipated. Boy, am I lucky to have seen these email alerts! There are a couple of midnight messages from s/he-whomust-be-obeyed. S/he will

| september 2021

be pleased with my EMPATHY (Early Morning Promptness And Tactfully Humble Yesmanship). Might as well also reply to a clutch of plaintively pleading colleagues in distress and swat down a couple of others who have snapped the last straw. And how can one refuse to give warehouses full of wisdom to youngsters (who have only sought advice to butter their job reference requests)? How the time I had set aside for focused thought has flown! It’s already time for the major time-sink of the day: the monthly review

meeting. Fortunately, remote working makes it possible to continue checking my emails and replying to instant messaging while pretending to look at the zoom screen. Multi-tasking, as we all (should) know, is a myth.1 So it’s really the quick-responding WhatsApp friends’ group that monopolizes most of my attention. Today promises to be a regular day full of the new SNAFU (Situation Normal – All Frittered Uselessly). If we cannot understand and reverse the insidious (if pleasurable) drain on the productivity of

the modern workplace, we also stand to lose the benefits of serious reading, deep contemplation and those cultural pursuits that make us civilized.

To be Everywhere is to be Nowhere2

The internet and the ubiquitous hand-held devices through which we can now access it delivers a particularly potent potion to modify neural pathways and keep us hungering for more of the same. Gary Small, who has spent years studying such brain changes, explains: "The current explosion of digital technology not only is changing the way we live and communicate but is rapidly and profoundly altering our brains. Daily exposure to high technology – computers, smartphones, video games, search engines… – stimu-

Technology is far too useful and integral a part of our work and home lives to excise from them totally. However, we can modify it to negate its addictiveness and run it to our advantage neutral and just slaves to our bidding. "Our conventional response to all media, namely that it is how they are used that counts, is the numb stance of the technological idiot. For the 'content' of a medium is like the juicy piece of meat carried by the burglar to distract the watchdog of the mind."8 Since then, of course, we have a much clearer understanding of the material malleability of the mind and the extent to which it is shaped by the media we use and the methods we adopt for doing so.

The road less travelled

Archimedes, who (according to one version) was murdered by an impatient Roman soldier whom he ignored while lost in solving a problem,3 is perhaps not the happiest example of the popularity concentration commands but he can surely be a poster boy for how much can be achieved by focus.4 Intense thought, in continuous chunks of time, without distractions, is the prerequisite for learning, problem-solving, substantive contribution and creative endeavour. Despite its universally admired value both for creating value and realizing our own potential, most us are losing this ability to stretch our minds to their limits. Technology has played a major part in this debility but, as we shall see, it has been aided by the way our workplaces function and our growing dependence on dopamine delivering distractors.5 In the thousands of years that have elapsed since protohumans split off from the proto-chimp line, there have been just five major revolutions in the media we use to communicate with each other – and we are living through the last of them.

According to Marshall Poe these five are: Speech, Manuscripts, Print, Audiovisual Media and the Internet.6. Each revolution has had major implications for the way we interact, love, work, fight, organize and think. Our plastic brain7 has itself changed markedly after each such upheaval, with implications for our literature, science, politics, productivity and even happiness. Marshall McLuhan, in his uniquely gnomic fashion, was among the first to debunk the comforting notion that media are

lates brain cell alteration and neurotransmitter release, gradually strengthening new neural pathways in our brains while weakening old ones… As the brain evolves and shifts its focus toward new technological skills, it drifts away from fundamental social skills, such as reading facial expressions during conversation or grasping the emotional context of a subtle gesture…"9 While we struggle to concentrate, the masters of the net universe are out to maximize just one parameter – the amount of september 2021 |


as we spot them is not helping in the battle for our minds. When e-communications first freed us from the tyranny of 'trays' we were all delighted with the freedom to respond when and from where we liked. The initial rebellion against the regimentation of traditional working styles was justified. Like all revolutions, however, this one threatens to eat its children and bring the entire edifice of effective organisational working crashing

have had their islands of tranquility submerged by the Work From Home wave. Remote work deprives people of visual and other cues of individual busyness that are available when people work in sight of each other and thus invites much higher than normal volumes of electronic communication with far lower than usual levels of usefulness.11 Our spontaneous tendency to respond to emails as soon

down. There is no gainsaying that the Taylorean template, prescribing a single best way of doing a job and organizing a work-day, stultified initiative and engagement. We are now grappling with the other extreme – particularly in those non-manufacturing organisations where scientific management had really made no inroads and where, therefore, the counter-movement met no resistance – becoming an orthodoxy of

The road less travelled

our time they can monopolize. The business models of all such platforms are supported by "a thousand people on the other side of the screen whose job it is to break down the self-regulation you have."10 What generates revenue for them, unfortunately, spells disaster for our mental health, productivity and ability to innovate. Even those who had worked out individual regimens for distancing themselves from these platforms periodically


| september 2021

the disorder itself. Since those are also the sectors where the new technologies have made their greatest inroads, they suffer most from the de-protocolization of work while being least aware of it. Ironically, while we have sometimes excised even the retainable principles of Taylorism from much of knowledge work, we lap it up with unnatural eagerness when it is guised behind our favourite platforms and tech aids. "After Taylor, the laborer began following a script written by someone else… Conscious craft turned into unconscious routine. When we go online, we, too, are following scripts written by others – algorithmic instructions that few of us would be able to understand even if the hidden codes were revealed to us… These scripts … mechanize the messy processes of intellectual exploration and even social attachment…. Rather than acting according to our own knowledge and intuition, we go through the motions."12 Small wonder then that true breakthroughs emerge most often in garages and start-ups where the t-shirt culture conceals a fanatic focus. Such disruptive innovations are themselves rudely disrupted once idea-factories are ingested in large mega-corporations that have incessant, insistent and imbecilic demands for responses, reports and reviews, with little concern

site direction, falling into denial and total avoidance of the problems attacking him..."15 Surely this cannot be an acceptable future face of work.

Time Regained

To regain mastery of our time, we need to counterattack the same trio of technology, flawed work organisation and distraction. Here are some ideas for doing so.

Large employers, who wish to make a dramatic difference in their people productivity, need to demand or commission new (or heavily modified) platforms for commercial use Technology is far too useful and integral a part of our work and home lives to excise from them totally. However, we can modify it to negate its addictiveness and run it to our advantage. We should expect the tech giants to be as cooperative in this endeavour as Superman would be to a request for binding himself in Kryptonite chains. Only by maximizing the amount of time we spend on our devices

can they continue sucking in the virtually effortless returns that have been flowing to them. This is where the combined might and paying power of large corporates, worried about a failing tech model, needs to step in. Large employers, who wish to make a dramatic difference in their people productivity, need to demand or commission three new (or heavily modified) platforms for commercial use: • Templatized E-communication Administration (TEA): Organisation-wide and level/function-specific scheduling and prioritizing 'wizards' that, while permitting some degree of customization, force all employees to specify slots for asynchronous e-mail access. Naturally there would be immediate notifications of messages from a limited number of IQs (Important Queue-breakers) like the boss or critical customers. After all, we did run organisations without constant e-chatter interruptions and were, consequently, far more focused on each activity when we turned to it. We can use technology to become more effective than we were without becoming its Skinnerian rats! • Synchronous Executive Access (SEA): What TEA does for e-mails, SEA would do for bunching real-time communicaseptember 2021 |

The road less travelled

for leaving thinking time intact. Having pilloried technology and the declining discipline and method in organizing work, let’s turn our gaze inward at our attenuated attention ability. Half a century back, long before the juiciest apples from the tree of IT were in our garden, Herbert Simon spoke presciently: "In an informationrich world, the wealth of information means a dearth of something else: a scarcity of whatever it is that information consumes. What information consumes is rather obvious: it consumes the attention of its recipients. Hence a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention."13 Thus the third nail in the coffin of getting real value from our time is distraction.14 Flitting from task to task (with surreptitious social media glances in between) hugely impairs productivity and sustained thought. Edward Hallowell calls this the Attention Deficit Trait (ADT) and vividly describes what it can do to a manager. "He is robbed of his flexibility, his sense of humor, his ability to deal with the unknown. He forgets the big picture and the goals and values he stands for. He loses his creativity and his ability to change plans… [H]e is prone to melting down, to throwing a tantrum, to blaming others, and to sabotaging himself. Or he may go in the oppo-


The road less travelled

tion demands. Phone and other platforms would be automatically video/voicemailed for response in blocks of time set aside for the purpose (see section on protocols below). Once again there would be a few IQ exceptions. • Programmable Executive Assistance (PEA): An Executive Assistant, that once was the signature accessory signalling very senior executives, was also a wonderful device for guarding their time and a reliever from time-consuming tasks that didn’t require personal attention but couldn’t be delegated down the line. AI can make this remarkable position available virtually to every manager. • Technology-based focussing and distractioncutting tools can only be enablers. For them to yield any time capitalization, organisations have to reshape their ways of working radically. Telenor has made tremendous progress in this direction and their guidebook on Workfulness16 would be a wonderful starting point for any firm embarking on the journey. These three changes will require the most effort: • Protocols and Processes Facilitating Flow: To maximize the "… moments … when a person’s body or mind is stretched to 102

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its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile"17 organisations need to guide several systems that have been left to impulse and individual whim. Training and getting people accustomed to focussing and using just certain, limited (off Circadian peak18) parts of each day for meetings or getting e-mail responses are a few examples of what each firm needs to recast. Ideally, TEA and SEA times should be the same for each geography. • Culture Conducive to Concentration and Craftsmanship: This is not a plea to make work less demanding but to value quality over quantity, craftsmanship19 over 'turbo-fan work' (highvolume bypass ratio) and relationships over ruth-

lessness. Each of the latter choices is fatal to concentration. • Skilling Instead of Willing: If we recognize that people’s impulses cannot be ordered or willed away, the kind of training we impart will be quite different. "[T]he question is how to limit the harmful behavior caused by impulses situated primarily in the limbic system... Besides encouraging the use of technical solutions for managing and sorting incoming calls and messages, the training consists of learning how to resist the temptations from the phones. We replace unpreferred behaviors with preferred behaviors that we repeatedly practice until we automatically behave in the preferred way. They become automated, and we do not have

to actively think about them."20

The Devil Finds Work for Busy Hands to Fail

To make this transformation work, one more vital element is needed: the respect we have for the time of our fellow employees. Isn’t it curious how the most courNotes:

1. Eyal Ophir, Clifford Nass and Anthony D Wagner, Cognitive control in media multitaskers, Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 106(37):15583-7, September 2009. 2. Lucius Annaeus Seneca, Letters from a Stoic, Penguin Classics, 1969. 3. Plutarch, The Complete Works of Plutarch, Delphi Classics, 2013. 4. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz is quoted as writing: "He who understands Archimedes and Apollonius will admire less the achievements of the foremost men of later times." in Uta Merzbach and Carl Boyer, A History of Mathematics (third edition), John Wiley & Sons, 2010. 5. Simon Parkin, Has dopamine got us hooked on tech?, The Guardian, 4 March 2018. 6. Marshall T Poe, A History of Communications: Media and Society from the Evolution of Speech to the Internet, Cambridge University Press, 2012. 7. P Voss, M E Thomas, J M Cisneros-Franco, and É de Villers-Sidani, Dynamic Brains and the Changing Rules of Neuroplasticity: Implications for Learning and Recovery, Frontiers in psychology, 8, 1657, 2017.

teous of people behave like infants, unable to defer gratification for another minute when an electronic device for initiating communication is in front of them? But timing is not the worst of it. It is the sheer casualness or craftiness that lies behind such requests. Particularly in group e-mails or messages, you can be ambushed by people who write (or speak) to create an image of being foresighted and perspicacious while simultaneously showing you up as lacking these. In the process, your target achievement is blocked till you respond with a hugely disproportionate expenditure of time

8. Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, Routledge, 20001. 9. Gary Small and Gigi Vorgan, iBrain: Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind, William Morrow, 2009. 10. Tristan Harris, quoted by Adam Alter, Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked, Penguin, 2017. 11. Visty Banaji, 'Working from Home is NOT a piece of cake', 25 January 2021, (https:// working-from-home-is-not-a-piece-ofcake-28247). 12. Nicholas Carr, The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, W W Norton & Company, 2011. 13. Herbert Simon, Designing Organisations for an Information-Rich World, in Martin Greenberger (ed.), Computers, Communications, and the Public Interest, The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1971. 14. Maggie Jackson, Distracted: Reclaiming Our Focus in a World of Lost Attention, Prometheus Books, 2018. 15. Edward Hallowell, Overloaded Circuits:

compared to that which went into the seemingly innocent query or comment. In the new world of efficient, excellent and enjoyable work that we are contemplating, people need to be aware of, measured on (a vital 360º feedback parameter, going forward) and penalized for making pointless encroachments on the time of colleagues or rewarded for making their communications limited, purposeful and constructive. After all: you ARE your brother’s (and sister’s time-) keeper!

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

The road less travelled

Once our organisational and technology enablers are in place for doing the heavy lifting, the demands on selfregulation and discipline should be entirely manageable (though not easy) for most employees. There are several attention-fixit books that can aid the process. For instance, 'Deep Work', by Cal Newport, has several sensible suggestions and the Rhythmic Philosophy of Scheduling that he describes meshes well with the technological and organisational changes we have considered above.21

Once our organisational and technology enablers are in place for doing the heavy lifting, the demands on self-regulation and discipline should be entirely manageable for most employees

Why Smart People Underperform, Harvard Business Review, January 2005. 16. Telenor and Katarina Gospic, Workfulness: a guidebook for companies aimed to create a healthy digital working environment, 2015. 17. Mihaly Csikszentmihaly, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2008. 18. Visty Banaji, India Eagerly Awaits a Sixer, People Matters, 15 April 2021, (https:// 19. Visty Banaji, In Praise of Craftsmanship: Past Perfect – Present Imperfect – Future Tense, 8 June 2018, (https://www. in-praise-of-craftsmanship-past-perfectpresent-imperfect-future-tense-18481). 20. Carina Guyard and Anne Kaun, Workfulness: governing the disobedient brain, Journal of Cultural Economy, 11:6, 535-548, 2018. 21. Cal Newport, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, Little, Brown Book Group, 2016.

september 2021 |


i n t e r v i e w

Empathy is the starting point to build trust: Virendra Shelar, OMRON


Virendra Shelar, Executive Officer, President, OMRON Management Centre of Asia Pacific, and General Manager, Global Human Resources Strategy Department, spoke to People Matters about how OMRON is enabling empathy, inclusion and digitization in a postCOVID workplace

• Renewing the initiatives that we must continue irrespective of what the world or business environment looks like, and • Refreshing the practices & policies via bringing in changes in the form of optimization and value-addition.

By Bhavna Sarin


irendra Shelar is the Executive Officer, President, of OMRON Management Centre of Asia Pacific, and General Manager, Global Human Resources Strategy Department at OMRON. Shelar joined OMRON in 2014, as General Manager – HR with 20 years of experience in leadership development, talent management, competency assessment and business performance management. Earlier, he led learning & organisational development initiatives for companies like International Rectifiers, Schneider Electric

| september 2021

and Sony Electronics across Asia. Here are excerpts from the interaction.

Several focus areas including experience, empathy, wellbeing, inclusion and belonging came to the fore post the shift to remote work. How did OMRON adapt to this?

Driven by ORMON’s Value – “Respect for All”, we put in our best efforts to adapt to the shift by deploying a “3R” (REVIEW, RENEW & REFRESH) approach last year. • Reviewing our existing practices – whether they are in sync with the changing times

This helped us develop new agility for the organisation. Health & safety of our employees became the topmost priority. We did everything to ensure all our employees stay safe. For some aspects, like hybrid work arrangement, there were no defined policies and we made quick decisions driven by what is right for the employees and their families. Alongside, we continued to implement various virtual initiatives for development of Human Capital which included project assignments, job rotations, training, coaching, employee engagement surveys and most importantly two-way, more frequent communication & wellness orientations with all of them to take care of their mental wellbeing. As the pandemic

What are some microaggressions that leaders must

Prepare for the future with available resources and continue to move forward

place empathy in order to foster employees who further drive management and business. Business leaders need people with future-oriented perspective. which can happen only when the leader empathizes & resonates with them. By using empathy and address in the virtual working understanding the mindset of your team members, a leader environment? We do observe that employ- is able to determine their ees start feeling more isolated weaknesses and encourage them in raising their capaand lonelier after prolonged bilities and improvement. It work-from-home. It creates is one of the most desirable stress and fatigue leading traits for successful teamto miscommunication & perceived aggression. Compa- work. Leaders must undernies start observing that once stand that this work environa sense of connection and team spirit is lost,the employ- ment is different from that of an office. Being away on ees start feeling more disengaged. Their quality of work a virtual chat does not mean the employee is not working. suffers and they start lookIt could be that they are talking for change. Hence, keeping to a key customer on the ing employees fully engaged phone, preparing for the next is going to be one of the next call or taking time to stratekey challenges for managegize. Leaders need to trust ment. We have started the conver- their teams now than ever sation about “Psychologically before and empathy is the starting point to build that Safety” in the workplace to create a safe environment for trust. everyone. This helps employIf you could offer one piece ees raise their concerns of advice for leaders in the openly without any fear and new world of work, to enhance let management know their feelings. We have also started experience, accelerate incluhaving virtual sessions on sion and scale capabilities, managing stress and workwhat would that be? ing effectively in a virtual The future is uncertain environment to support our and we may not have past employees. experience for references . So, prepare for the future How crucial is it for leaders with available resources Please don’t wait for things to to focus on workplace empabecome normal, just continue thy today? Leaders must follow work- to move forward. september 2021 |

i n t e r v i e w

situation still remains uncertain, this year also our team embraced the “3C” (COMMUNICATE, COLLABORATE & CHALLENGE) approach. “Communicate more” is our direction to the entire team as we have been working remotely for a long time. It could make employees feel disconnected and lonelier than we think. The best way is to initiate more casual conversations than before. Collaboration on projects helps them interact with each other and keeps the mind engaged. It also helps to create more value for the business. Our team has done complex project implementations this year, all done through virtual collaboration. Challenging ourselves is one of the values of OMRON. We continue to challenge the status quo by asking what is important for our employees & business. This year, we are challenging ourselves to create a new “Workstyle” for everyone, and investing in a new office that would create more opportunities to communicate and collaborate as employees start returning to the office. Work from home may become the default and we will have a CoCo Office (Communication and Collaboration). With no dedicated seats even for senior management, we are challenging ourselves to prepare for the future.


Knowledge + Networking

Past Month's events


LinkedIn Live - Adapting EX for the Now & Next of Work

Virtual Event | APAC Transform 2021

People Matters 25th August, 2021 Online The last 18 months have forced organisations to seriously relook at employee experience, to tune up and listen empathetically to employees and act fast. The changed work realities mean old ways are passé and organisations need to pay attention to the culture they are building and the experience they are going to deliver in the second year of the pandemic. What is next for employee experience? How can we redefine it and adapt it for our new world of work, a big part of which has transitioned to hybrid work?

People Matters & Workplace from Facebook 25th August, 2021 Online Hybrid workplace. Distributed workforce. Rapidly changing business expectations. Enhancing employee experience. And more. HR & Business leaders have too many milestones to cross. As you all work on transforming your workplace for the now & next of work, there are a lot of opportunities to learn from each other. Our esteemed partner, Workplace from Facebook has one such learning opportunity for all the HR and business leaders.

Unlocking business value through skilling People Matters & Coursera 12th August, 2021 Online As the new world of work awaits to unleash new challenges, opportunities, and innovations, ensuring companies have the right skills mix to thrive in this new world of work has become a priority. Upskilling is emerging as a core to many firms’ talent strategies. Hence, in the coming years, the speed and scale of upskilling and reskilling human capital. In this virtual session by People Matters & Coursera, we will look at what has been the major skills gap in organisations that they are looking to solve?

| september 2021

People Matters TechHR India 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 answered the question that stares us in the face WHAT NEXT? It was a perfect opportunity for all the leaders to network with 3200+ 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.

What’s the next curve for a hybrid workplace? People Matters 19th August, 2021; 3:00 PM AEDT Online As organisations look ahead to “what’s next” after the pandemic, many have landed on the hybrid approach as the way forward. Business leaders who take steps to ensure that they’re making hybrid arrangements as effective and fair as possible will be well-positioned to succeed in the post-COVID era. And the sooner employers devise a hybrid plan that works for everyone, the sooner we can all begin a smooth transition into this “new normal”.

People Matters TechHR India 2021: The Great Emergence People Matters & Disprz 29th July, 2021 Online To Win in the 20s, organisations need to keep pace with today’s environment. One in which we are expected to pivot repeatedly toward new ways of working, and hence, there is a clear mandate for organisations to reinvent themselves to be agile, flexible, and aligned to customer needs. Reinventing as a next-generation learning organisation. As a part of this webcast series under People Matters and Disprz, “Winning in the 20s” this first session discussed how the role of frontline workers evolved to deliver on business when business models have changed.

Upcoming events People Matters Are you in the List Awards

People Matters 9th September 2021 Online People Matters EX APAC Virtual conference is a full-day event that will feature four 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 1000+ delegates and explore how EX translates in every decision in the talent strategy.

Skillsoft Perspectives 2021 Skillsoft 22-23 September 2021 Online If we’ve learned anything in the past year, it’s that change is the only thing we can count on. And — more importantly — that learning is the single best way to make sure that you and your workforce are ready. Ready to adapt. Ready to grow. Ready for whatever comes next. Join us at Perspectives Unleashed 2021 for an array of sessions all focused on the following topics and themes: From Skills Gap to Skills Revolution: Transforming Today’s Workforce for Tomorrow’s Economy | Who Owns the Skilling Agenda? | If the Future of Work is Now -What Now -- is the Future?

september 2021 |

Knowledge + Networking

People Matters 3rd September 021 Online As HR leaders played a pivotal role in spearheading their organisations 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 recognizethe 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 People Matters Are You in the List 2021 awards in association with DDI is the right stage for you-as it has been for the last 10 years, identifying the emerging HR leaders of tomorrow who can rise to the challenges of the future.

People Matters EX APAC Virtual Conference



>> Sarah Galloway

Sustainability and the C-Suite: The 5Ps of sustainability b lo g o s p he r e

Many organisations have set bold targets for their sustainability transformation, far fewer have delivered on these ambitions to date


orporate purpose and the relationship between a company and its stakeholders has quickly risen to the fore of many leaders’ agendas, driven by the disruptive events of the last 18 months and the realization that companies must do more to earn the trust of their employees, customers and investors. While many companies have set bold targets for their sustainability transformation, far fewer have delivered on these ambitions to date. In our work with many of the world’s largest and most complex

companies, we see firsthand the challenges and opportunities that such transformation can present. Many wrestle with questions around where to focus, who to involve and how ambitious to be in setting their sustainability strategy. Companies that have effectively embedded sustainability across their strategy and operations – those that go beyond the empty promises of “greenwashing” to truly transform their operating model – apply a sustainability lens across five dimensions of their business to identify both risks and opportunities for creating social and financial value:

People: The skillsets, organ-

isation structures and leadership culture required to support a sustainable, diverse and inclusive business Biosciences company Chr. Hansen embeds sustainability into its hiring processes by asking hiring managers to assess whether candidates “uphold ethics and values, encourage organisational 108

| september 2021

Companies that have effectively embedded sustainability across their strategy and operations to truly transform their operating model apply a sustainability lens across five dimensions of their business

Products: Creating new prod-

ucts or redesigning existing ones to make them more sustainable or to address previously unmet market needs After witnessing elderly cotton farmers in China laboring to work with heavy pesticide tanks strapped to their backs, XAG CEO Peng Bin decided to reorient the company’s focus from consumer drone technology to AgTech, to increase the quantity and quality of crops produced while lessening the strain on smallholder farmers. Rebranding from Xaircraft to XAG, the company’s products enable farmers to use less pesticide, reduce carbon emissions and physical strain on workers,

and farm previously inaccessible or unprofitable land.

Process: Reconfiguring opera-

tional practices and processes to reduce waste, promote transparency and include stakeholders IT equipment manufacturer TES has invested in circular solutions to its manufacturing processes in order to increase the recovery rate of raw inputs such as cobalt and lithium. Their facilities employ innovative recycling processes and equipment such as auto-punching machines, shredders, separators and chemical treatments to recover commodity elements safely with no harmful emissions. Recycling capabilities are vertically integrated with reuse and re-purposing to build "2nd life" battery energy storage systems that extend product life and achieve even higher environmental outcomes with improved, more sustainable economics.

b lo g o sp he r e

and individual responsibility towards the community and environment.” The change in hiring practices has been instrumental in the company generating more than 80% of revenue from products that have a direct, positive contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Partners: Building relation-

ships with suppliers, clients september 2021 |


b lo g o s p he r e

and other collaborators that share sustainable values As part of its commitment to reuse and recycle 1 million metric tons of plastic by 2030, chemical company Dow has partnered with Indian startup company Lucro to “close the loop” by creating new products and packaging with the recycled inputs. Dow provides material science, application development expertise and testing capabilities at its Indian facilities, enabling Lucro to develop and manufacture new products using post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastics. The partnership enables

Without intentional effort to embed sustainability into the C-suite, companies’ sustainability initiatives will remain stalled, no matter the authenticity of their commitments Dow to reduce its environmental footprint through a revenue generating joint venture.

Profits: Embedding a sustaina-

bility lens into decisions around capital allocation, investments and corporate strategy PepsiCo incorporates environmental sustainability criteria into its Capital Expenditure Filter, which is applied to all capital expenditure requests over $5 million. Each request is reviewed not only against business financial metrics and value to advance the business strategy but also for the impact (positive or negative) that it will have on environmental perfor110

| september 2021

mance, including energy use and GHG emissions, and its contribution to the company’s efforts to achieve its climate goal. Yet simply identifying the myriad ways that a company can embed sustainability is not enough – companies must also possess the talent and expertise to deliver on these opportunities. To better understand what differentiates business leaders who have driven successful sustainability transformations, we partnered with the United Nations Global Compact to study pioneering sustainability leaders for our joint whitepaper, Leadership for the Decade of Action. The research identified four unique attributes of sustainable leaders: • Multi-level systems thinking: Sustainable leaders recognize the interconnectivity of the ecosystem in which the business operates. They are naturally curious, with high levels of ambition and result orientation. • Stakeholder inclusion: Sustainable leaders do not just manage stakeholders, they include them. These leaders consider a wide range of viewpoints to drive decision-making and value creation and demonstrate high levels of empathy and authenticity. • Disruptive innovation: With the courage to challenge traditional approaches, sustainable leaders seek out the best available science but are comfortable not having all the answers. They identify novel solutions that do away with the tradeoff between profitability and sustainability.

Importantly, these attributes must be combined with a sustainable mindset: the purpose-driven belief that business is not a commercial activity divorced from the wider societal and environmental context in which it operates, and that to be successful in the long term, leaders must innovate and manage across commercial, societal and environmental outcomes. Many leaders possess one or more of the four attributes above, but it is only when activated by a sustainable mindset that these competencies can be channeled towards outcomes that drive both social and financial value creation. Despite their bold commitments towards change, companies are not yet delivering on their sustainability promises. We believe that the growing gap between what companies say they

want to achieve when it comes to their sustainability agenda and what is actually being achieved is a result of the fact that sustainable leadership is rarely a selection requirement in senior leadership positions. In a recent analysis of nearly 4000 executive placements, we found that only 4 percent included sustainability experience or mindset as a candidate requirement. It is clear that—despite genuine commitments towards sustainable practices—companies have not yet integrated these priorities into how they identify, assess and select their senior leaders. While roles such as chief sustainability officer are becoming more common, the scale of change required necessitates that senior leaders across the organisation bring a sustainability lens to their decision-making, not just those with a dedicated remit. Without intentional effort to embed sustainability into the C-suite, companies’ sustainability initiatives will remain stalled, no matter the authenticity of their commitments.

b lo g o sp he r e

• Long-term activation: Sustainable leaders set audacious goals and rigorously drive concerted action and investment. They possess the courage and resilience to stay the course in the face of setbacks or internal resistance.


Sarah Galloway is a Consultant at Russell Reynolds Associates. september 2021 |


RNI Details: Vol. XII, Issue No. 9, R.N.I. No. HARENG/2010/33504. Published and Owned by People Matters Publishing Pvt. Ltd. Published at 501, 5th Floor, Millennium Plaza, Tower A, Sushant Lok-1, Sector-27, Gurgaon - 122009, Haryana. Editor: Esther Martinez Hernandez

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

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