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BIG INTERVIEW Alan May EVP and Chief People Officer, Hewle Packard Enterprise

The Digital Culture Reset Organizations striving to pick themselves up and get set to the new normal with new policies, practices, and frameworks must revisit their ‘culture’ as a key priority to weave the social fabric that attracts and holds the best talent together.

SPECIAL INTERVIEWS Mark Stout Corporate Vice President, Global Human Resources, Nissan Vernon Griffith Global Head, HR Service Design & Delivery, QBE Insurance


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

The need for ‘culture’ reset

O

rganizations are starting to trudge up the stairs with plummeting COVID-19 infections and the accelerated vaccine rollout across the globe. However, the “uncertainty” is far from over with new variants of the virus sparking fears of more waves. And this has serious implications for the world of work which is largely in the transition mode. The migration to remote work has had a profound impact on people’s notion about when and where they want to work, forcing corporations to adapt their workplace strategies with an emphasis on well-being, flexibility, and employee experience. Biggies such as Google, Amazon, Ford, and Facebook have committed to offering

| July 2021

greater flexibility, as more workers are pushing back on the return to their desks. In fact, a lot of them are bailing on their jobs; nearly four million people left their jobs in April alone in US, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor. It’s obvious that establishing the future work structure that appeases either side will be an intricate process. But it’s critical for employers to listen to their employees now to be able to reconfigure the work culture that suits them best; if they don't, workers might well vote with their feet. Continuous listening is key, suggest several experts we recently talked to. Engaging with employees to discern their experiences, and make them feel valued and heard will be critical to retain best talents. Those who are ahead of others in devising the work pattern and culture and adapt as per needs will reap more dividends in the new world of work. The pandemic has showed us that nothing is off the cards; anything is possible, and that the success of any business is its people and the foundations of their cultural fabric – values, purpose, and connections. So, the focus for organizations should be their people and a culture of trust built on integrity, competence, transparency, and care. A Korn Ferry survey conducted in early 2020 found that 72 percent of leaders think culture is important, yet almost a third say they’re

struggling to get theirs right. COVID-19 added the extra layer of complexity. You need to find a balance that is going to be fair and equitable, that meets the business, customer, and needs of people. How or what that looks like for different businesses will vary; there is no one size fits all approach. But you cannot let distance erode company culture because culture feeds performance and performance feeds culture. A growing body of evidence shows that corporate culture not only determines whether employees join and stay with a company, it also predicts innovation, customer satisfaction, and financial results. A Wharton survey of more than one thousand CEOs and CFOs found more than 90 percent believe corporate culture influences corporate profitability and also can decrease the odds of illegal or unethical behavior. High-performing workplace cultures stem from highly engaged workers who gain meaningful experiences throughout their lifecycle. If you fail to engage our workforce in a hybrid model, you’re going to lose them. So, how do you create a vibrant culture where the best minds are connected and driven to perform at their optimum? Leaders need to be intentional about reinforcing critical aspects of their culture to create more productive workplaces, aligned teams, deeper connections, and drive better business outcomes. After all, strong company culture


enabling collaboration at all levels within the organization, and identifying the experiences that matter most to them. So who on the leadership team does the CEO turn to for guidance — the CIO or the CHRO? Read a special feature on the CIO & CHRO partnership to find the answer. People Matters BeNext, our cohort-based certification program, launches three new courses. Gender Balance: Promoting Women (July 12th - August 13th); Designing Employee Experience in a Hybrid World (July 19th to August 20th)); and HR Business Partner: Driving Talent Impact in Hybrid (July 26th - August 27th) For enrollment, you can reach out to sumali. purkyastha@gopeoplematters.com 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 Spanish-speaking countries to make the platform more diverse, inclusive, and community-driven. As always, we would be happy to hear your views, comments, and suggestions regarding our stories. Happy Reading!

Esther Martinez Hernandez Editor-in-Chief follow

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

THE COVER STORY (BEHIND THE SCENE)

I want a reset button too! But in a different colour...

From the Editor’s Desk

is developed when each employee’s job is essential to the whole. This month’s cover story digs deep to understand how organizations are re-energizing their work culture in line with their core values? For the Big Interview, we have Alan May, the Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer for Hewlett Packard Enterprise, who shares why organizations will have to continue to find new and creative ways to step up for their workforce when things get hard. It’s not only good corporate citizenship, but it’s just fundamentally the right thing to do. For the Special Interview, we have Mark Stout, Corporate Vice President, Global Human Resources, Nissan, who throws light on recovery from the pandemic and why it’s unpredictable, things that we’ve learned from the pandemic, and more. We also have an interview with Vernon Griffith, Global Head of HR Service Design & Delivery, QBE Insurance Group, who shares his thoughts on his biggest learnings from this pandemic-led transformation in the world of work, how the pandemic brought back the focus on how organizations engage with their people and how will technology unlock new ways of working in a post-COVID-19 world. Building a truly digital workplace means looking at every layer of the enterprise through an employee lens:

Umm...

Love it!

BIG INTERVIEW Alan May EVP and Chief People Officer, Hewle Packard Enterprise

The Digital Culture Reset Organizations striving to pick themselves up and get set to the new normal with new policies, practices, and frameworks must revisit their ‘culture’ as a key priority to weave the social fabric that attracts and holds the best talent together.

SPECIAL INTERVIEWS Mark Stout Corporate Vice President, Global Human Resources, Nissan Vernon Griffith Global Head, HR Service Design & Delivery, QBE Insurance

july 2021 |

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contents

July 2021 volume xii issue 7

Expert Views

52 Rob Rosenberg, Global Head of HR, DHL Supply Chain 55 Donald Sull, Senior Lecturer, MIT Sloan School of

Management

58 Tasha Macknish, Group Manager, OD&HR at Data#3 61 Matt Norman, Chief People Officer, DigitalOcean 64 Tristram Gray, Chief People & Capability Officer,

Kmart Group

68 Jon Ingham, Director, Jon Ingham Strategic HR

Academy

73 Jessica Miller-Merrell, Founder, Workology

C O N TE N TS

75 Anjali Byce, Chief Human Resource Officer, Sterlite

Technologies

By Mastufa Ahmed

cover story

50

Esther Martinez Hernandez managing Editor

Yasmin Taj Editor & New Product Content Strategist (Global)

Mastufa Ahmed Manager - design, photography, and production

Marta Martinez

Shweta Modgil

4

32

For us, rethinking the future of work is more about ‘work that we do’ versus ‘how we work’

Alan May, Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer for Hewlett Packard Enterprise By Mastufa Ahmed

Mark Stout, Corporate Vice

Features Writer

Content Manager and Lead - D&I

Mint Kang

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

| July 2021

special Interview

Leaders need to be cheerleaders for the new ways of working, and early adopters of the resources organizations implement

Drishti Pant

Editor & New Product Content Strategist

University

22

the big Interview

Editor-in-Chief

78 Richard Smith, Ph.D., Professor at Johns Hopkins

President, Global Human Resources, Nissan By Mastufa Ahmed

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

Published at:

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

Sumali Das Purkyastha sumali.purkyastha@gopeoplematters.com

501, 5th Floor, Millennium Plaza, Tower A, Sushant Lok-1, Sector-27, Gurgaon - 122009, Haryana, India. Tel: +91 (0) 124-414 8101 ask@peoplematters.in www.peoplematters.in

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 126 pages including cover


14 CIO/CHRO Partnership

104 I n t e r v i e w

The CIO & CHRO partnership for continuous transformation

Learning health index report 2021

By Anushree Sharma

82

18 Mental Health

Average Learning Health Index for organizations in India stands at 66:

Examining mental health beyond burnout

By Bhavna Sarin

28 The New Workplace

The changing dynamics of work

EdCast Learning Health Index Study 2021 By Shweta Modgil

A case for looking at ‘irrelevant’ work experience

By Dr. Pavan Soni, Innovation Evangelist & Founder, Inflexion Point Consulting

90 Leadership

By Eric Yaverbaum, CEO of Ericho Communications

40 Special Interview

Vernon Griffith, Global Head of HR Service Design & Delivery, QBE Insurance Group Limited By Yasmin Taj 44 Environmental Sustainability

How tech, & the private sector, can help heal our planet

By Wayne Balta, IBM’s Vice President, Corporate Environmental Affairs and Product Safety, & Chief Sustainability Officer 47 Strategic HR

The relationship between technology & the HR function

94 E mployee Experience

We should design work in a way that eliminates inefficiencies

Shubha Shridharan, Group SVP HR – APAC, The Adecco Group By Mastufa Ahmed

96 The New Workplace

Enabling a happier and healthier workforce for tomorrow

By Michelle Leung, Human Resources Officer at Cigna International Markets 96 Talent Management

The changing workforce: remote but country-centric, agile but tech-bound

By Mint Kang

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

04 From the Editor’s Desk

86 Special Interview

06 Letters of the month

Support employees to work in the way that is best for them

Mai Lan Nguyen, SVP, North America Human Resources, Schneider Electric By Yasmin Taj

106 G e n d e r G a p

regulars

08 Quick Reads 13 Rapid Fire 122 Knowledge + Networking 124 Blogosphere

What HR can do to close the gender gap

By Dr. M. Muneer, Co-founder and chief evangelist of the non-profit Medici Institute 110 L e a d e r s h i p

Leadership lessons in 2nd order thinking

By Gulshan Walia, Leadership Coach & HR Consultant 112 The road less travelled

Twinkle, twinkle, leadership star, Can you unlearn what you are?

By Visty Banaji, Founder and CEO of Banner Global Consulting (BGC) 118 T h e N e w W o r k p l a c e

How COVID-19 is shaping the future of work

By Priti Shetty, Head of People at WeWork India 120 T a l e n t A c q u i s i t i o n

C O N TE N TS

The more ‘human’ changes have transformed the world of work for the better

Good leadership in the post-pandemic world: A must-follow guide

‘Organizations will be called to step up, show their softer side as the pandemic evolves’

Pavitra Singh, CHRO, PepsiCo India By Neelanjana Mazumdar

By Paul Salnikow, Founder and CEO of The Executive Centre 38 HR Strategy

Hiring overqualified candidates

By Nrusingh Prasad Panigrahy, Joint Manager-HR, Dredging Corporation of India & Dr. Lalatendu Kesari Jena, Asstt. Professor (OB & HR), School of Human Resource Management, Xavier University, Bhubaneswar 123 T a l e n t A c q u i s i t i o n

Hiring your A-team

By Ankur Hooda, HR Business Partner with RPG Group (KEC International) Featured In this issue Alan May Anjali Byce Caleb Baker Claire Teden Donald Sull Jessica Miller-Merrell Jon Ingham Kate Coath Mai Lan Nguyen

Mark Stout Matt Norman Pavitra Singh Shubha Shridharan Tasha Macknish Tristram Gray Trond Vinje Vernon Griffith

CONTRIBUTORS to this issue Ankur Hooda Eric Yaverbaum Gulshan Walia Dr. Lalatendu Kesari Jena Dr. M. Muneer Michelle Leung Nrusingh Prasad Panigrahy Paul Salnikow

Dr. Pavan Soni Priti Shetty Prof. R S S Mani Richard Hanson Richard Smith, Ph.D. Rob Rosenberg Visty Banaji Wayne Balta

july 2021 |

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Letters of the month

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The best leaders will be leaders who are closest to their teams: Francine Katsoudas

The emerging hybrid working construct indeed demands and requires new types of leaders who put empathy, proximity, and flexibility at the forefront. How leaders navigated the intertwined business and people challenges through March 2020 is instrumental in their top talent choosing to walk away or stay put. Leaders are in a position to play both enablers for well-being as well as stress and burnout. There are no two ways about how difficult the position of a leader is in a crisis, but this crisis has truly brought out what factors differentiate a good leader from a great leader. The circumstances might vary from business to business, but putting people first and thinking out of the box to balance both business and people sustainability without letting either suffer requires the traits of empathy and flexibility — the two most crucial traits of a great leader, as the last twelve months have proven. - Raveesh Jaiswal

Designing for well-being

Workplace design sure impacts elements such as employee productivity and engagement. As hybrid becomes the probable working model moving forward, organizations will need to be conscious of not just the architecture at the office, but will also need to accommodate that conscious outlook towards workplace design across satellite offices as well as work from home infrastructure that they can assist employees with. While their ability to influence the design at satellite offices and employees' homes would be fairly limited; they will have to look into offering personalized work elements that meet their needs, enhance their ability to work effectively, and boost engagement. - Aman Thakker

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june 2021 issue

COVID-19 has allowed us to adjust our view of employees and reinvent our talent landscape COVID-19 has most certainly enabled a shift in the employeemanager relationship. In most cases, how managers responded to employee needs determined the nature of this equation. Several managers did exercise empathy and with the support of timely organizational policies were able to extend needed flexibility and time-off to employees. However, this wasn’t true for all. It is no news that empathy was a critical managerial capability that needed careful consideration in the last twelve months, yet not all were able to deploy this much-needed support from their supervisors. In fact, the lack of it triggered severe stress among employees, especially women. - Nikhil Singh


Interact with People Matters

COVID-19 Exit - are you ready?

- Ankita Kumari

Empower part-time careers with an open mindset and fair treatment Leadership has indeed transformed from being about control to being about knowing what support one’s team truly needs. Speaking of pro-flexibility cultures, it definitely has a lot to do with mindset and recognizing that priorities and goals differ for everyone. It is very refreshing to see how this German firm has been able to not just offer flexibility as a perk but has institutionalized the mindset of respecting individual preferences, without any judgment. - Sridhar v.

Given the uncertainty, leaders should not commit to long-term work policies I completely agree with Amit on creating global guidelines for geographically distributed business units but providing local leaders with the flexibility to fine-tune as needed. The nature of this crisis remains unpredictable, especially as different regions experience the severity at different degrees. While in the medium term ensuring a hybrid and remote working model is crucial to enable sustainability and to shape appropriate people practices, it might still be a little early to determine long-term policies, unless leaders are certain of the impact and consequences of the agreed-upon policies. - Bhumika Panwar

The need of the hour for companies is to stand with their employees: Priyanka Anand

The second wave triggered a massive shift in priorities for several leaders. As in recent months, businesses regained stability, the unexpected second wave caused mayhem, chaos, and grief at a much larger scale. Businesses have had to adapt to significant changes over the last year, however, the disruption caused by the second wave caused a shift in priorities for leaders - making people safety, well-being and needs the first and foremost priority. And these shall hopefully remain the priority in times to come. - Ajesh Kadavil

David Green @david_green_uk Employees will seek out organizations that elevate DE&I as a top priority: @Google’s Brigette McInnis-Day peoplemattersglobal. com/article/divers… by @BMcInnisDay via @PeopleMatters2 #Diversity #Culture #Leadership #HR Digité @DigiteInc Can an #Agile work culture help businesses unlock the true potential of #digitaltransformation? - ow.ly/a5ki50FgseQ - #ArtificialIntelligence #MachineLearning #ML #BigData #DigitalTransformation #DeepLearning Lean #AI #DX - via @ PeopleMatters2 TalBrum HRIS @TalbrumH Humbled by the coverage of TalBrum @ShwetaMod @PeopleMatters2 peoplematters.in/article/hr-tec… Birlasoft @birlasoft .@dkpr will feature alongside other #industryleaders in a panel discussion, sharing insights on #businesscontinuity plans in the #newnormal buff.ly/3xGZ87S @PeopleMatters2 | @RandstadIndia | @ neelmaz06 #leadershipbyexample #leadership #covidtimes #productivity

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

The need for forward planning, risk assessment, and innovative solutions is absolutely nonnegotiable today. As leaders and managers navigate the persistent challenges and endeavor to make hybrid working through the crisis as seamless as possible, it will be crucial to consider the continuity of existing plans and map them against the predictions and risk assessment of the next 12-24 months at the least. While businesses might be tempted to know for sure whether the new normal will be in business or a return to what was once normal will make its way, they will need to prepare for contingencies and ensure that people are taken care of personally and professionally.

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

HRCurator@HRCurator The best leaders will be leaders who are closest to their teams: Cisco’s Chief People, Policy & Purpose Officer peoplematters. in/article/c-suit… @PeopleMatters2 #HR #HCM #HRM #CHRO Jobiak@Jobiak_ai "These past few months have made it clear that the future of work is hybrid. There is a greater need for companies now to be agile and innovative, and this holds true for talent attraction and hiring as well." @PeopleMatters2 #recruitment #hybridwork peoplematters.in/article/talent… follow

M > @PeopleMatters2

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july 2021 |

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Women@Work

51% of women are less optimistic about their career: Deloitte Global study According to a new Deloitte Global report, the pandemic has had a significant impact on women and work, creating a “perfect storm” of more work, increased caregiver duties, and non-inclusive behaviors in the workplace. The global survey of 5000 women across 10 countries reveals that

51% of those surveyed are less optimistic about their career prospects today, noting a 35-point drop in mental health and a 29-point drop in motivation at work compared to pre-pandemic times. Unsurprisingly, these conditions are having a detrimental effect on retention, turnover, productivity, motivation, and overall satisfaction.

Employer Branding

q u i c k

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PeopleStrong expands to Australia & New Zealand

Talent Acquisition

PwC plans to hire 100,000 people over five years

PwC unveiled The New Equation based on an analysis of global trends and conversations with clients and stakeholders. As part of this, PwC firms will invest US$12 billion over the next five years, creating over 100,000 net new jobs across PwC, as well as continuing to develop the skills of PwC’s partners and employees. It combines expertise in audit, tax, and compliance activity with an expansion of specialist capabilities including cybersecurity, data privacy, ESG, and AI. 8

| July 2021

Enterprise HR Technology company PeopleStrong expands to Australia and New Zealand markets with SaaS-based, AI-enabled HR solutions that range from applicant tracking & recruitment technology to talent management. To give direction & purpose to this strategic initiative, PeopleStrong has appointed Philippa Youngman (previously CEO Pivot Software) as their Principal advisor for the region, who will drive the growth strategy in the region. On the expansion, she says "The HR Tech market in New Zealand and Australia is quite fragmented & has a huge potential for us as an integrated workforce & employee experience platform."

Talent Acquisition

The rise of 'work from anywhere' puts 6 Mn UK professional jobs at risk Tony Blair Institute for Global Change has warned that 5.9 Mn "anywhere" workers - from graphic designers to software programmers - are at risk, many of them in London and Southeast England. The jobs at risk also include 1.7 million in finance, research, and real estate. As per the research firm, the outsourcing and offshoring of these roles would have political, economic, and social consequences similar to the loss of manufacturing jobs in the 1970s, that too on an accelerated time frame.


HR Technology

Eightfold AI raises $220Mn Series E Funding led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2

Eightfold AI announced that it has raised a $220Mn Series E funding round, led by SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2. The funds will be used to continue the rapid growth and development of Eightfold's AI-powered

Talent Intelligence Platform and expand its growing partner ecosystem. Additionally,

Eightfold AI will use the funds to continue expanding its India operations, investing in the most talented data scientists and engineers in the region. This Series E funding round also includes investors from previous rounds, including General Catalyst, Capital One Ventures, Foundation Capital, IVP, and Lightspeed Venture Partners.

HR Technology

HR Technology

HR Tech startup Gloat raises $57Mn in Series C funding

Talent Marketplace platform Gloat announced a $57 Mn Series C funding round led by Accel, with participation from existing investors Eight Roads (Fidelity), Intel Capital, Magma Venture Partners, and PICO Partners. With total funding of $92M, the company will accelerate product innovation and market expansion as it aims to bring workforce agility to every enterprise and more dynamic careers to every individual.

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Skillsoft announced that its common stock will commence trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “SKIL” on 14 June at the market open. This follows the completion of Software Luxembourg Holding S.A.’s merger with Churchill Capital Corp II and combination with Global Knowledge Training LLC (“Global Knowledge”) on June 11, 2021, with the combined company now operating as Skillsoft.

q u i c k

Skillsoft debuts on New York Stock Exchange

HR Technology

Workrise raises $300 Mn in Series E Funding Workforce management platform Workrise has raised a $300 million Series E round led by Baillie Gifford, with new investor Franklin Templeton joining existing investors including Founders Fund, Bedrock Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, Moore Strategic Ventures, 137 Ventures, and Brookfield Growth

Partners. The company will use the latest investment to continue to expand into new markets served by its platform. july 2021 |

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newsmaker of the month

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A brewing ‘war for talent’ and flexible working

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W

hen the term “War for Talent” was first coined way back in 1997 by Steven Hankin of McKinsey & Company, it referred to a challenge of talent scarcity caused by demographic factors. Over the years, the term has become familiar in the context of hiring the best talent from top institutions. In 2021, it seems like the "war for talent" will now also depend on a new ingredient —flexibility. Multiple studies over the past several months note that employees are considering leaving their employers for various reasons. Research by The Future Forum, a consortium launched by Slack showed that flexibility ranks only second to compensation in determining job satisfaction. Over 90 percent of knowledge workers say they want a flexible schedule and 76 percent say they want flexibility where they work. The survey also noted that one in five knowledge workers may jump to a new company in

| July 2021

the next year, while 56 percent say they’re open to looking for new positions. A second survey that made similar observations was EY’s 2021 Work Reimagined Employee Survey. According to which more than half (54 percent) of employees surveyed from around the world said they would consider leaving if they aren’t afforded some form of flexibility where and when they work.

Job retention crisis

While the pandemic offered employers the opportunity to go the extra mile, whether it is by addressing issues related to burnout and stress or by introducing additional workplace benefits such as emergency financial aid, the extended lockdowns also provided workers an opportunity to reboot their careers, assess key work and life priorities and align their long term and short term career goals.

A survey by Prudential Financial on the pulse of American workers found that 1 in 4 workers are planning to look for opportunities with a new employer once the threat of the pandemic has subsided. According to the survey, 80 percent of them said they’re concerned about career advancement, 72 percent said the pandemic caused them to rethink their skill sets. Workplace experts suggest a variety of solutions to stop the free flow of talent — from reviewing compensation and benefits, allowing opportunities to experiment with jobs internally, to reviewing brand-centered communication and empowering managers and leadership to motivate people.

The scoop on flexibility

The hybrid workplace — that is set to be part remote and part onsite still remains a black box to companies that haven’t already identified jobs that can be exclusively remote. According to a study by Microsoft, “73 percent workers say that they want more flexible remote work options to continue post-pandemic. But at the same time, a remarkable 67 percent of employees say they also want more in-person collaboration.” And for many knowledge workers, flexible working hours is more important than flexible location. This “hybrid paradox” requires companies to think critically about the complex nature of challenges that their new workplace models need to account for — across people, process, and technology.


Microsoft elevates CEO Satya Nadella as Chairman Microsoft has announced that Satya Nadella is becoming the chair of the company's board replacing John Thompson. Thompson, who took over as Chairman of the software giant's Co-founder Bill Gates in 2014, will serve as a lead independent director. “In this role, Nadella will lead the work to set the agenda for the board, leveraging his deep understanding of the business to elevate the right strategic opportunities and identify key risks and mitigation approaches for the board’s review,” Microsoft said in a statement.

OCBC appoints its head of group operations and technology as new COO OCBC Bank has announced the creation of a new role, Group Chief Operating Officer, for a unified leadership to drive and accelerate transformation. The Group COO will build on the Bank’s strength of innovations and transformation in the use of technology, data and design to develop solutions and customer journeys that meet the changing needs of individuals and businesses. To spearhead the Bank’s next phase of transformation, Lim Khiang Tong, who is currently OCBC Bank’s Executive Vice President and Head of Group Operations & Technology, will be appointed the Group COO with effect from 21 June 2021. Lim will report to Helen Wong, the Group CEO.

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Serena H. Huang joins PayPal as Global Head of People Analytics & HR tech Serena H. Huang joins PayPal as Global Head of People Analytics and HR Technology. "On Jan 1st of this year, I had shared my 2021 would be a year of growth, adventures, and self-care. Excited for the new challenges ahead," shared Dr. Huang in a LinkedIn post. Her expertise spans people analytics, HR technology, future of work, and employee experience. Dr. Huang is also a long-time practitioner of mindful-

HP appoints Kristen Ludgate as Chief People Officer HP announced the appointment of industry leader Kristen Ludgate as Chief People Officer. Ludgate will lead HP’s global human resources organization, including employee experience, workforce planning, talent acquisition, people development, compensation, and benefits, as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion. “Kristen’s leadership will be a terrific addition to HP as we continue to execute on our strategy to drive long-term sustainable growth and I look forward to welcoming her to my staff,” said Enrique Lores, HP President, and CEO.

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HSBC appoints David Liao, Surendra Rosha as Co-Chief Executives for APAC HSBC announces that David Liao and Surendra Rosha have been appointed Co-Chief Executives of HSBC Asia Pacific, taking over from Peter Wong with immediate effect. David, formerly Head of Global Banking Asia Pacific, and Surendra, formerly CEO of HSBC India, will share pan-regional leadership responsibilities that include jointly leading regional businesses and functions, embedding purpose, values, and culture, developing leadership and talent, and overseeing risk, capital and liquidity levels.

ness and leads guided meditations in corporate settings to boost employee well-being.

Kyndryl appoints Maryjo Charbonnier as CHRO Kyndryl, the new, independent public company that will be created following the separation of IBM’s Managed Infrastructure Services business, has been on an july 2021 | July

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COO and leading the company’s Worldwide Sales, Channels and Alliances, Sales Operations, and Customer Experience teams.

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appointment spree. In one of the recent developments, Kyndryl named Maryjo Charbonnier as its next Chief Human Resources Officer. The latest appointment marks Kyndryl CEO Martin Schroeter’s ninth executive appointment since March 2021. Charbonnier joins Kyndryl from Wolters Kluwer, where she has served as Chief Human Resources Officer for the global provider of professional information, software solutions and services for professionals since the start of 2015. GroupM appoints new Chief People Officer, South Asia GroupM, WPP’s media investment group has named Madhvi Pahwa as its new Chief People Officer for the South Asia region (APAC). Pahwa, who was previously Chief People Officer at Mindshare APAC was promoted into the role to lead the GroupM India talent team and develop the company's talent proposition for the region. Ferrari appoints Benedetto Vigna as Chief Executive Officer Ferrari announces the appointment of Benedetto Vigna as its Chief Executive Officer. Vigna will join Ferrari on 1 September from STMicroelectronics, where he is currently President of its Analog, MEMS (Micro-electromechanical Systems), and Sensors Group. He is also a Member of the ST Group’s Executive Committee. Riverbed appoints Dan Smoot as President and CEO Riverbed announced the appointment of Dan Smoot to President and CEO. Smoot, who has more than 30 years of experience holding top leadership roles including at Salesforce, Cisco, and VMware, joined Riverbed in June 2018. At Riverbed, he has held several executive leadership roles, including most recently 12

July 2021 | July2021

Virtusa appoints Santosh Thomas as Chief Executive Officer Virtusa Corporation, a global provider of IT services announced the appointment of Santosh Thomas as its new Chief Executive Officer. Virtusa’s Board of Directors appointed Santosh as successor to the company’s founder, Kris Canekeratne, who announced his transition from the business in May 2021. ZingHR appoints Michael Good as its Global Chief Operating Officer ZingHR, a Microsoft Accelerator and a fully integrated cloud-based HRMS platform, has announced the appointment of Michael Good as its Global Chief Operating Officer. Michael will fulfill this role from his base in Brisbane, Australia. Michael is an IT and Business professional with 30 years of global experience. He is also an entrepreneur having run his own SaaS venture in the US, Europe, and Australian markets, and is well versed with all facets of the business of ZingHR. Bitpanda appoints Lindsay Ross as CHRO Bitpanda, the leading European digital investment platform, and Austria's first unicorn welcomes a new chief to its C-suite, appointing Lindsay Ross to the position of Chief Human Resources Officer. In her role as CHRO, Lindsay will be a key factor in leading Bitpanda's most valuable asset, its team members, and will be responsible for all facets of Bitpanda's global HR, including people functions, internal communications, and office spaces, as well as planning and executing the key organizational factors that Bitpanda needs to achieve its short- and long-term business goals.


Rapid-Fire

eleven Questions

interview

Trond Vinje

Chief Human Resources Officer, TietoEVRY By Neelanjana Mazumdar

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1

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?

2

One leader you closely follow and one hallmark of that leader? I strongly admire the passion and engagement of Greta Thunberg

3

What's your mantra to engage your workers (especially ‘remote’)?

Frequent and transparent communication

4

How do you strike work-life balance? Being present at work and being present at home

5

Do you think the role of HR leaders is changing? HR functions and HR leaders have become business enablers and will be driving the change agenda at a larger scale going forward

9

HR leaders have become business enablers who will be driving the change agenda at a larger scale going forward

Your advice for aspiring HR professionals? Be proactive and forwardleaning. Use every occasion as a learning opportunity

10

One question you ask in every interview?

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What’s the hardest thing you have ever done? Why?

The switch to a more agile way of working will be key going forward across multiple industries

Biggest challenges for your industry to solve in 2021?

One trend that will define the future of work after COVID 19?

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What's your learning mantra? Market is never wrong

r a p i d - f i r e

Technology driving collaboration will be important. Machine learning and automation technologies will impact the way businesses operate and live. Augmented reality will also start impacting us soon in a big way

Communication is key

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Talent risk. Both talent retention and talent acquisition. We also need to constantly focus on competency development to reduce the risk of having a competence gap july 2021 |

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CIO/ CHRO Pa rtne rship

The CIO & CHRO partnership for continuous transformation

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Building a truly digital workplace means looking at every layer of the enterprise through an employee lens: enabling collaboration at all levels within the organization, treating your workforce as your best customers, and identifying the experiences that matter most to them. So who on the leadership team does the CEO turn to for guidance — the CIO or the CHRO? The answer is - both By Anushree Sharma

| July 2021


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The need for CIO & CHRO partnership Digital disruption can be an intimidating term, and, perhaps more challenging as it is often a topic leaders know they should be thinking about, but aren’t sure where to start. The “wait and see” attitude is a mindset that needs to be left in the past, or organizations risk being left behind. Digital transformation is the clear mandate for organizations to sustain their growth. In one of the panel sessions during People Matters TechHR SG 2021, Patricia Liu, Chief of Staff at Razer Inc shared, “Over the last 12-18 months, we have been inundated with all sorts of technology we could tag, and hence, we need the right synergy and relationship between CHROs and CIOs to sail through the unchartered territory of technologies.” She added that what she found most helpful while wearing both hats of that of a CHRO

& CIO, were following the following principles to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff: • People • Digital Mindset • Utility of the technology It also works the other way around. Having HR present can help IT define its future skill set requirements, talent gaps, and overall personnel strategies. If there is a constant dialogue between the two functions, IT will have a much better understanding of the technology, overall goals, and objectives. Paul Cobban, Chief Transformation Officer at DBS Bank also acknowledges the fact that HR plays a significant role in unleashing curiosity, bringing the mindset change among people, and building it as a company culture that motivates people and satiates their need to do transformational work. “We have people reaching out to know the secret sauce or magic behind this success and they constantly ask us to “can you show us your

CIO/ CHRO Pa rtne rship

he world we live in has undergone a work revolution the likes of which have never quite happened before. What’s more, this revolution took place more rapidly than just about anyone thought it could or would. The many changes and innovative array of effective new business contingencies that emerged during the global pandemic in 2020 were only possible because of recent technology trends like Internet connectivity, the cloud, and mobile devices. According to a recent research by Gartner, talent management tops CEOs’ list of the top four organizational competencies needed to excel at strategy delivery. The next three competencies are “tech-oriented” and far outside the comfort zone of most Chief HR Officers (CHROs). But they are central to the CIO’s domain. So who on the leadership team does the CEO turn to for guidance – the CIO or the CHRO? The answer is - both.

In order for digital transformation to happen, the close partnership between CIO & CHRO is really important to sift out the wheat from the chaff and to be able to focus on the right technology, processes, and resources - Patricia Liu, Chief of Staff at Razer Inc july 2021 |

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CIO/ CHRO Pa rtne rship

technology architecture?” If you ask me that’s a wrong question to ask, and it is not that we don’t show them our technology. We are open and welcome everyone to look at the technology architecture. However, according to us the right question for them to ask should be, “how did you get your developers motivated to get over the firm’s legacy system and offer them a creative confidence to re-architect the thousands of applications again?” And the answer to that question is, of course, the collaboration between HR and IT,” he shares.

How the synergy can fastpace the transformation? Revisit talent: As investment in technology magnifies, the IT team will require the right talent to manage and lead these new technologies. Although these technologies can dramatically boost the productivity, it requires specialized and sometimes hard-to-find technical talent— AI & ML specialists,

full-stack developers, data engineers & scientists, cloudsecurity engineers, etc. Such talent can be hired externally or upskilled from within. Organizations need to make sure that their current HR policies and approaches don’t limp their digital journey. The basis of performance management and promotion, for example, should be expertise rather than the number of direct reports someone oversees. Supporting remote teams: Another common theme emerging is the widely-held desire to build on the flexibility and diversity brought through remote working. Learning how to maintain productivity— even as we return to office buildings after the lockdown ends, and even as companies continue to automate

activities—will be critical to capturing the most value from this real-world experiment that is occurring. These investments won’t be undone post-crisis, and those that have done so will find themselves in an advantaged cost structure during the recovery. Again, to lead this proactively and effectively requires a great deal of collaboration between HR & IT - to not only make the transition to remote/hybrid working efficiently through these technologies but also manage talent experience using the right set of HR processes and programs. The adaptive workforce: A key roadblock preventing organizations from effectively engaging the rest of the business on new digital initiatives could be the lack of digital culture in

At Ingram Micro, we have been partnering with HR and closely follow HR models to validate our talent decisions. We work closely with HR to set competency and skills metrics, to assess where and how can we find the right talent, what measures we can take to develop the early talent pipeline, and to more critical processes of diversity like attracting and retaining women talent Michelle Wu, Chief Information Officer & Executive Director for at Ingram Micro

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| July 2021


When IT and HR come together to provide their people with great digital experiences, organizations can experience increased engagement, higher productivity, and greater business continuity tions of existing products to conceptualizing new online services and products. Building a truly digital workplace means looking at every layer of the enterprise through an employee lens: enabling collaboration at all levels within the organization, treating your workforce as your best customers, and identifying the experiences that matter most to them. When IT and HR come together to provide their people with great digital experiences, organizations

CIO/ CHRO Pa rtne rship

the organization. Implementing new technologies involves behavioral changes and mindset shifts, particularly for technologies that require the workforce to connect, collaborate and learn in new ways. The need to quickly shift to telecommuting during the COVID-19 pandemic proves that such a change demands as much from IT enablement as it does from a people management perspective. With the rapid shift to online business models, organizations will also need a workforce that is not only adaptive but also innovative, in initiating new digital initiatives from the ground up. Such a digital-first culture will help businesses to accelerate their transition from offline to online channels, from physical to virtual events, from itera-

can experience increased engagement, higher productivity, and greater business continuity. They are also creating the necessary tools to unleash innovation and agility. References:

1. Sharma, Anushree. (2021, May 12). The CIO & CHRO synergy to fastpace digital transformation: Leader views. People Matters. https:// www.peoplemattersglobal.com/ 2. Lay Keng, Kok Yong. (2021, March 24). How CIOs can put humans at the center of their agendas. https:// www.ey.com/ 3. Narisetti, Raju. (2020, August). The Next Normal: The recovery will be digital https://www.mckinsey.com/ july 2021 |

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H e a lt h M e n t a l

Examining mental health beyond burnout

As mental health gains overdue attention from corporates all across the globe, it’s time we shift the needle and stop shying away from addressing mental illness. Employers must make efforts to eliminate the stigma not just surrounding mental health, but also mental illness By Bhavna Sarin 18

| July 2021


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mental illness and mental health encapsulate, the impact of underlying mental health concerns on the day-to-day functioning of the workforce, and exploring the various facets of mental health beyond burnout.

Repeating the same mistake!

Managing mental health sure would lead to enhanced productivity, but that is an outcome, not the purpose of ensuring mental health Managing mental health sure would lead to enhanced productivity, but that is an outcome, not the purpose of ensuring mental health. We don’t ask employees to drive safely to ensure they can show up at work and work efficiently, do we? So why discriminate? Though there are campaigns around mental health awareness, they barely scratch the surface. Conversations at

H e a lt h

Similar to how a large number of employers assume employee engagement to be ‘fun at work’, a large number also believe that mental health is about excessive workload and stress. This mindset reinforces the belief that if the workload is managed efficiently, it would lead to better mental health, and consequently improved productivity.

the workplace still tip-toe and try to find the positives, without delving deeper into the intricacies of mental health - mental illness - and associated concerns. While mental health has been described as "a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and can contribute to his or her community", mental illness, on the other hand, is “a general term for a group of illnesses that may impact a person's thoughts, perceptions, feelings, and behaviors.” An article by an Australian healthcare channel, further states that mental illness can affect working

M e n t a l

hen you catch a cold or fever, do you say you are sick, or that your physical health isn’t good? When an employee isn’t feeling well, do they avail sick leave or physical health leave? But when it comes to not feeling good emotionally and mentally, we want to amplify mental health leave? The global workforce and leadership have been tip-toeing around mental health, with little to negligible focus on mental illness, as well as the many forms of feeling mentally and emotionally unwell, which are beyond the scope of what is covered under clinical mental illnesses. There has been movement in addressing mental health, but not as much on mental health issues. A significant chunk of mental well-being initiatives has been focused on creating awareness and establishing a business case around the impact of mental wellness on productivity, in the hopes to draw sincere attention to this grave concern. And in the process, we lost sight of the need for awareness on mental illness, how individuals cope and co-exist with these conditions and the role of employers in supporting their employees as they battle mental illness. This piece dives into what

and personal relationships, and identifies some of the most common mental illnesses as: • Depression • Anxiety • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) • Panic disorder • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) • Eating disorders • Schizophrenia • Bipolar disorder july 2021 |

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a mental health issue is at play.

Looking beyond burnout

For months now, the global economy has been striving to improve the mental well-being of the workforce, specifically, trying to help employees cope with the stressors of the pandemic and take some time to recoup. That sure is needed, however, more needs to be done for meaningful effect. Are we having conversations on:

M e n t a l

H e a lt h

While the aforementioned conditions are the most commonly known, it is not an exhaustive list. The extent and impact would vary from person to person. In the absence of good mental health, there is a drop in a person’s ability, capacity and drive to function or communicate with any other person. They don’t feel like talking to anyone, don’t respond to messages, cancel plans, and while they might be able to disconnect from personal relationships with lesser challenges, the ability or

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privilege to disconnect from work doesn’t come easy. Why? Because workplaces haven’t yet made room for conversations such as, “I don’t think I have the mental capacity to work today” or even “I don’t feel like working today”. And no, this isn’t about laziness. This is about internal drive and the ability to function rationally, which are likely to be impacted - in some cases become non-existent - when | July 2021

• Pre-existing mental health concerns and how individuals living with them are coping • A spike in anxiety when employees are asked to turn on cameras • Coping with the immense mental strain fueled by the pandemic • Sharing how therapy helped us cope, beyond handing helpline numbers Exhaustion, stress, and burnout, are add-ons for

many professionals all across the globe, with many struggling to minimize the worklife conflict and deal with pressing, pre-existing mental health issues. And organizations are taking steps to deal with the uptick of these add-ons. However, the inability or unwillingness to acknowledge the existence of mental illness is forcing individuals to put up an act of “normalcy” while they feel crushed and remain restless emotionally.

Enabling openness and psychological safety

In a benchmarking poll by Total Brain, 86 percent of respondents stated that they want their employer to build a corporate culture that encourages more candid conversations about mental health and associated challenges. Total Brain cites earlier research by the American Psychiatric Association which showed over half of US workers were not comfortable talking about mental health in the workplace and over a third were anxious about the consequences of bringing it up. “Measuring and benchmarking mental health issues within an organization; bringing conversations to the forefront; and encouraging your employees, especially those in leadership positions, to open up about their own challenges has never been


Mental wellbeing is about the health of an individual, not a stock check on their capabilities and limitations or a function of their workload

H e a lt h

affect people and communities. Policies must support and care for those affected by mental health conditions, and protect their human rights and dignity..." The above was the background to the policy brief on COVID-19 and mental health that was launched by the United Nations in May 2020. A year later, we have made progress, however, are yet to The time to act is now tackle mental well-being for “After decades of neglect everything it encompasses. and underinvestment in There is an urgent need to mental health services, the bring immediate attention COVID-19 pandemic is now hitting families and commu- to a much-needed alteration nities with additional mental in how the global economy stress. Those most at risk are is addressing mental illfrontline healthcare workers, ness and mental health, to have any chance at beating older people, adolescents, and young people, those with the looming psychological pandemic. We must not let pre-existing mental health conditions, and those caught the lines blur and remember that mental well-being is up in conflict and crisis. We about the health of an indimust help them and stand vidual, not a stock check on by them. Even when the their capabilities and limitapandemic is brought under tions or a function of their control, grief, anxiety, and workload. depression will continue to july 2021 | why educating the workforce, as well as leadership on mental health issues, is crucial to drive meaningful change and foster a safe workplace that paves the way for honest conversations, and eliminates the sense of threat to acceptance by peers, job security, and career path in the organization.

M e n t a l

more important,” said Louis Gagnon, CEO of Total Brain. Gagnon added that while many employers and leaders exhibit empathy and understanding, they’re not fully aware of the “range of issues and challenges their employees are facing, nor the fear employees have about coming forward seeking help.” While role modeling conversations is crucial, it would be unfair to expect leaders to open up about their personal challenges, especially in the absence of psychological safety that keeps employees from opening up as well. In such scenarios, leaders being human too, would feel as vulnerable and exposed, as employees. So how do we do it? Among the many ways to foster psychological safety, a key mechanism is to break down misconceptions and educate the workforce. A lack of understanding is a key contributor to the ignorance we often display, which could be unintentional too. This is

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Leaders need to be cheerleaders for the new ways of working, and early adopters of the resources organizations implement: Alan May, Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer for Hewlett Packard Enterprise By Mastufa Ahmed

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I N TERVIEW

Leaders need to be cheerleaders for the new wayS of working, and early adopters of the resources organizations implement: Alan May, HPE’s EVP, HR

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lan May is the Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer for Hewlett Packard Enterprise. In this role, Alan has worldwide responsibility for Hewlett Packard Enterprise development and organization effectiveness, benefits and compensation, staffing and retention, global inclusion and diversity, and HR processes and information management. Prior to joining Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Alan worked at The Boeing Company for eight years, where he most recently led HR for the company’s Commercial Airplanes division. He was also head of HR for July 2021 | july

their Defense, Space & Security business and before that served as the company’s Vice President of Strategy, Compensation, and Benefits. Before joining The Boeing Company, Alan was the Chief Talent and Human Resources Officer for Cerberus Capital Management, a leading private equity firm based in New York. Alan also held a number of senior HR and Business Integration roles over a 15-year career at PepsiCo, culminating with an assignment as Senior Vice President, Human Resources, for the rapidly growing Quaker, Tropicana, and Gatorade divisions. Here are the excerpts.


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I N TERVIEW

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july 2021 |


People have learned a lot about themselves from this pandemic as what is important to them through this crisis. So, flexibility and work/ life balance are here to stay

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I N TERVIEW

themselves as what is important to them through this crisis. That’s why I think that, among other things, flexibility and work/life balance are here to stay. Enterprises will continue to find new and better ways to show up and support their workforce through trying times. And health and wellness are going to be priorities for years to come. If we’ve learned anything from the pandemic, it’s that life is short and can change in an instant.

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Do you think the worst part of this crisis is behind us? And it's time to put the genie back in the bottle? Or the world of work has changed forever? How will the post-pandemic world look like? It depends on where you are. Certainly, some countries such as India are in the throes of very serious outbreaks right now, and vaccine access is very uneven across the globe. But there’s substantial cause for optimism that we did not have at this time last year. I’ve long rejected the idea of a “new normal” – people just won’t tolerate that. They want their lives back. But that doesn’t mean that nothing will change, because people have learned a lot about | July 2021

With uncertainty still abound in countries such as India, what should be the approach of organizations globally to continue to adapt and come out stronger on the other side? If your focus isn’t on your team, you’re doing it wrong. For example, in India, HPE mobilized a huge amount of resources we never contemplated having to procure for our team members: oxygen concentrators, dedicated hospital beds, ambulance services, N-95 masks, and other personal care items that were in short supply locally. We’re not a medical provider, but that’s what our team on the ground was telling us was needed by our people, so we made it happen. Again, I think one big takeaway from this crisis is that organizations will have to continue to find new and creative ways to step up for their workforce when things get hard. It’s not only good corporate citizenship, but it’s just fundamentally the right thing to do. Do you think the toughest leadership test is looming now that


businesses are striving hard to rebound from the crisis? I think that we’ve been in a continuum of leadership tests related to the pandemic, and recovering from it is yet another one of those tests. There was no playbook for how to respond to the pandemic, and there isn’t for how to recover. At HPE, we’ve taken up the motto “assess, address, and adapt” throughout the COVID-19 crisis, because that’s really all you can do in a once in a lifetime event.

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As companies pick themselves up and start trudging on in the COVID-stricken world with new working arrangements, how important is getting work ‘culture’ right especially in the hybrid world of work? Culture is the lynchpin, and to be sure there are challenges in maintaining a strong culture in a

I N TERVIEW

The biggest question for executive leadership today at many companies is envisioning the future of work post-pandemic. Remote or hybrid work is here to stay, as many experts say, but some of the biggies in the corporate world are rallying to get employees back in offices. How do you see this? I think the hybrid work environment is here to stay, at least

for the foreseeable future, because that’s what our team members are telling us they want. 70 percent of HPE team members have told us that they do not want to be at the office five days a week when we come out of the pandemic. Flexibility is an important consideration for candidates, and there’s a war for talent – particularly in tech. Ultimately, employees who feel supported not just at work, but as a whole person, are going to be more engaged and productive. That’s been our experience at HPE, so we’re meeting our team members where they are and building a working model that fits their lives, rather than the other way around.

We’ve been in a continuum of leadership tests related to the pandemic, and recovering from it is yet another one of those tests. There was no playbook for how to respond to the pandemic, and there isn’t for how to recover july 2021 |

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I N TERVIEW B IG 26

hybrid or remote environment. I don’t think you have to adapt your culture as much as you adapt your approach to living it. As we’ve designed our go-forward working model and begin to bring people back to the office, HPE has been extremely intentional about offering programming, tools, and resources that keep people connected and promote collaboration, team building, and culture in both in-person and virtual environments. Our offices are also being reimagined as culture and collaboration centers, with fewer dedicated workstations, designed to attract hybrid workers to the office specifically for meetings and social and culture events.

At HPE, we’ve taken up the motto ‘assess, address, and adapt’ throughout the COVID-19 crisis, because that’s really all you can do in a once-in-a-lifetime event

| July 2021

What should be the role of leaders to make sure their work cultures are adaptable now that it’s harder to solidify shared beliefs with distributed workforce? Can technology help reinvent work culture? Leaders need to be cheerleaders for the new way of working, and early adopters of the resources an organization implements to bridge the gap between physical and virtual office environments. The tone is set at the top, and if employees don’t see their leaders adopting the same mindset they’re asking of others, engagement will suffer. Technology is one of several tools that can be used to promote continuity of culture from office to virtual environment, but it won’t succeed without leadership. Do you think the pandemic has offered an opportunity to get social inequalities, diversity, and inclusion right, now that the pandemic has elevated dispari-


Going forward, my focus is on continuing to drive our culture as we recover from the pandemic, attracting and retaining top talent in a highly competitive environment, and progressing HPE in its journey to be unconditionally inclusive

I N TERVIEW

What have you learned about the best ways to embrace disruption and harness uncertainty as an inflection point for reinvention? What are your priorities at HPE moving forward? At HPE, we take the approach of “assess, address, and adapt.”

You can’t control outside forces like a pandemic. You can survive and thrive in spite of them if you’re committed to finding the opportunity. The last year has given us the opportunity to rethink the employee experience and drive engagement and trust in leadership, which are now at the highest levels in the history of the company. And with respect to our business, COVID-19 has really validated our strategy to meet customers where they are in their digital transformations by offering our entire portfolio in a flexible, consumption-based as-a-service model. Going forward, my focus is on continuing to drive our culture as we recover from the pandemic, attracting and retaining top talent in a highly competitive environment, and progressing HPE in its journey to be unconditionally inclusive. Those priorities are the same as they were before the pandemic, but how we deliver on them has been changed.

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ties and gaps? What questions should businesses ask for a better future of work? I think the pandemic has certainly shone an even brighter light on social and racial inequities. Everyone is in a different place in their diversity, equity, and inclusion journey; so I’d say it depends on the organization. At HPE, unconditional inclusion had been part of our culture well before the pandemic, although it is a process of continuous improvement for us and we’re always striving to be better. What the disparities we witnessed throughout this ordeal have caused us to do is strengthen our resolve in this space.

july 2021 |

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Paul Salnikow

The changing dynamics of work

In many ways, the dynamics of work is shifting toward a compassionate human-centric approach. After all, a stronger and more united workforce provides organizations with more agility and business resiliency no matter what the future holds for us all

The N e w Workplace

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he dynamics of work are constantly changing according to the social development of the zeitgeist and the demands of productivity. Above all, success depends on the people behind the work — human factors. Inevitably, the progress and advances of modern technology also play a massive role in setting the cultural trend of the time. For instance, the invention of the computer replaced mechanical typewriters, which in turn displaced hand copying and increased productivity, changed the dynamics of work, and even contributed towards the rise of white-collar and knowledge workers. Naturally, amidst the pressures of the global pandemic, the way we work and the dynamics of working culture has moved toward one that is more human-centric —taking into account the needs of the individual in the context of a team which in the grand scheme of things is the | July 2021

workforce of an individual company.

Work from anywhere

In the early stages of the pandemic, the popular belief was that the future of work was working-fromhome, and indeed during the peak of the global pandemic, it did seem like a reality for most office workers. However, very quickly, we have seen many challenges to this arrangement, such as disruptions at home, difficulty setting boundaries,

and feelings of isolation after a long period. The solution to this that is now being championed is the concept of work-from-anywhere as it encompasses remote working and flexible working arrangements. However, at The Executive Centre (TEC), we believe that for professionals to embrace the concept of “work-fromanywhere", they need a network of touchdown spaces accessible across central-business districts (where their clients and


The home, the office, and the hybrid mode

Through COVID-19, corporations have had to shift their attention from pushing profits and revenue to one of retention and survival of their workforce. As a result, businesses have been forced to introspect and restructure their organizations for efficiencies throughout the pandemic, from dealing with uncertainties and the possibility of scaling back,

In the early stages of the pandemic, it was all about working-from-home, and indeed during the peak of the global pandemic, it did seem like a reality for many. What is now being championed is the concept of workfrom-anywhere as it encompasses remote working and flexible working arrangements to investing in resources for their teams to perform remotely. For the first time, even executives have been forced to work from home, and workplace changes have been made collectively instead of rules set by the hierarchy. With this humanistic approach to the future of work, the workplace is evolving to consider employee's well-being, access to resources, and even internet security and privacy.

The N e w Workpla ce

partners are) that matches the standards and excellence of work that they are in. As productivity turns toward one measured by results and quality, rather than one based on time spent in the workplace, employees at all levels are empowered to make choices that affect their day-today operations and performance. Combined with the work-from-home arrangement, many top-level executives are reflecting on what resources their employees require in order to work well. While it is true that much of the work we do today can be achieved through steady connectivity and a portable computer or smartphone, some occasions demand a workspace, meeting room, or event space. Working-From-Anywhere is not so much about the 'where' as it is about the "what" resources one needs to do work well.

With an emphasis on optimizing the agility, mobility, and reactivity of the workers, traditional industries and businesses have begun realizing the advantages of incorporating elements of flexible workspaces into their portfolios. By adopting remote work practices and flexible workspace solutions, companies gain contractual flexibility, which makes scaling up or down their business presence easier. Tradijuly 2021 |

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The N e w Workplace

tional leases typically have an inflexible lock-in period of 5-10 years, which causes expansion and relocation to be costly as there are often repercussions to breaking leases. Moreover, traditional leases only provide access to that one space which is also unfurnished and not serviced; this means more capital expenditure costs for businesses when growing and scaling back their footprint and inventory. For these reasons, flexible workspaces have provided corpo-

As productivity turns toward one measured by results and quality, rather than one based on time spent in the workplace, employees at all levels are empowered to make choices that affect their day-to-day operations and performance rates and workers with an option and cost-efficient pathway to accessing corporate real-estate stability without unattractive longterm lock-in leases. Moreover, flexible workspaces like TEC come fully serviced with a team of professional Engagement Associates to handle the front-of-house administration and operational costs of upkeeping a center and workspace. Moreover, in terms of the professional development

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and retention of employees, it is always in the company's best interest to nurture talent and provide opportunities for mentorship, growth, and team building. For this, the office space will continue to be relevant. In many regards, opportunities for promotion are often dependent on recognition by peers and seniors. For junior workforce talent, which includes Millennials and Gen Z, it is at the office where their working habits, ethics, and conduct

| July 2021

can be recognized. It is also at the office where they can receive mentorship and receive invaluable information for their professional development from their seniors, which is particularly pertinent in the early stages of their career path. These seemingly small interactions cannot be entirely replaced by technology as they are fundamental human interactions. So, while the dynamic of the workplace is changing, these

aspects will remain essential to the future of work and why many organizations are looking toward hybrid work models as a corporate real estate solution.

How we navigated the pandemic

Unlike any other global economic crisis that we’ve faced in the last 27 years of doing business in Asia Pacific, COVID-19 has transformed the way we socially interact and conduct work. Success in the future of work inextricably demands businesses today to be sympathetic and compassionate to their clients as individuals, to teammates as colleagues, and businesses as networks of people as opposed to lucrative financial partnerships or deals. At TEC, we have always applied this through our signature "Members First" humanistic approach to business development. In many ways, it is a culture of constantly innovating and rethinking our products, services, and hospitality to find opportunities to do better. When we saw that COVID19 would mean office workers would be working-fromhome more often (at least in the short term), we saw the opportunity to reimplement our services and resources to better support our members' access to their flexible workspace ameni-


programs to support their peers and gain more knowledge in anticipation for when the global economic situation turns around again. We are navigating the pandemic with a commitment to retaining and uplifting our staff. Rather than simply waiting for better days to come, we are actively challenging our teammates to reflect, audit, and propose solutions to hypothetical scenarios or future opportunities. We are listening to these suggestions, taking them on board, and consequently diversifying and strengthening the flexible workspace offerings we provide. We have formed more robust bonds with our teammates by providing them with the security and stability needed in these times of uncertainty. As a result, in the last year,

we have grown from a prepandemic Community of 27,000 Members to a global network of over 32,000 Members. And this success comes down to our humanistic and demand-driven approach to growth because we believe that when we invest in people, we will undoubtedly see a positive return. In many ways, the changing dynamics of work is also shifting toward this compassionate humancentric approach, after all, a stronger and more united workforce provides organizations with more agility to scale, capacity to be flexible and reactive, which means more business resiliency no matter what the future holds for us all.

The N e w Workpla ce

ties, despite being physically unable to come into our Centres. We achieved this through holding open dialogue with our teammates across various functions such as our Engagement and Community Teams; and we quickly discovered the benefit to the members of our coworking, private office, and enterprise solution plans by extending the remote services. This led us to provide additional resources and training to re-skill our teammates, implement flexible working arrangements and policies that would help them better support our Members with services such as virtual meeting room set-up support services, callhandling, and mail handling assistance. Beyond the teammates that are at the front lines of our day-to-day center operations, we also challenged our sales and business development teams to relook at their strategies as COVID19 has fundamentally shifted the way the global workforce will socially interact. We provided our teammates with more internal training and webinar coaching, gave them more marketing and communication assistance as they may seek best practices to engage new prospects through telecommunication and social media channels, encouraged them to participate in mentoring

Paul Salnikow is the Founder and CEO of The Executive Centre july 2021 |

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s p e c i a l In t e r v i e w

For us, rethinking the future of work is more about ‘work that we do’ versus ‘how we work’: Mark Stout, CVP, Global HR, Nissan

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One of the many things that we’ve learned in the pandemic is that balance is key. Different organizations, different teams, and different employees have different needs. There is not a one-size-fits-all approach, says Mark Stout, Corporate Vice President, Global Human Resources, Nissan By Mastufa Ahmed

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ark Stout is Corporate Vice President, Global Human Resources. In this role, Stout is one of Nissan’s top global HR leaders and oversees all aspects of Nissan’s regional HR operations outside of Japan, Global HR business partners, and global talent management and development. Stout began his career at Nissan in 1989 as an HR representative at the company’s vehicle assembly plant in Smyrna, Tennessee. He has held a number of domestic and global HR positions of increasing responsibility. Stout attended Middle Tennessee State University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in public administration and economics. | July 2021


Here are the excerpts of the interview.

non-manufacturing staff primarily working in an office setting and the other is employees in our manufacturing plants or parts distribution centers (PDC). Both groups have different job requirements. Employees at the plants and PDCs have a very important role in the business and due to the nature of their work. The virtual office isn’t available to them. They’ve been resilient and committed to working during the pandemic to assemble vehicles for our customers and deliver parts to dealers, respectively.

The pandemic has affected all of our families, so people leaders must have an employee-first mindset to offer support for what individuals may be managing personally outside of work Remote or hybrid work is here to stay, as many experts say, but some major corporations are rallying to get employees back in the office. How do you see this? One of the many things that we’ve learned in the pandemic is that balance is key. Different organizations, different teams, and different employees have different needs. There is not a onesize-fits-all approach. For instance, look at Nissan, an organization that has two employee populations globally – one that is

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Do you think the worst part of this crisis (pandemic) appears to be behind us? How do you see the current scenario? There have been signs of progress over the last several months with the pandemic. The surge in cases appears to be slowing and there is greater access to the COVID-19 vaccine. And, while the pandemic may not be completely behind us, the recovery phase has begun in many parts of the world. From a business perspective, the sign of progress is seeing the rollout of return to the office. At Nissan, like several other companies, returning to work has required significant changes that will affect our workforce for the future. First, for example, we have enhanced several of our manufacturing and non-manufacturing workplace policies to help ensure the safety and welfare of employees. Second, the pandemic has challenged the traditional ways of working, which I believe Nissan and other organizations are leveraging for some needed updates and changes. Unfortunately, the pandemic had to happen for us to realize some positive work practices for the longterm, supporting a more flexible, agile, and open approach.

Overall, recovery from the pandemic is unpredictable given we haven’t previously experienced anything like COVID-19 (personally or professionally). Every country is in a different phase of recovery – the U.S. and Europe are showing consistent progress, but there are still pockets of concern in other countries. That said, a full recovery, globally, will take some time for communities and businesses. Nissan will continue to do what we can to support the well-being of employees and society to help flatten the curve.

For non-manufacturing employees, a flexible hybrid model in most locations is a solid approach as employees return to the office – it helps to ease the transition back. This approach also allows individuals to meet face-toface and encourages collaboration, team building, and brainstorming. Hybrid is a good first start and then we can begin evaluating how the process is working and determine where we need to make improvements going forward. Finally, flexible hybrid july 2021 |

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work. If you don’t have proper systems and technology, leaders must work to improve it to allow employees to get work done without roadblocks.

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work also shows employees that companies care about their ability to juggle commitments and responsibilities outside of work, which helps to attract and retain talent.

health agency guidelines. 2. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. More than ever, we should enhance communication to employees to explain the company’s direction and expectations and alignment to the business. As leaders prepare their That can be done one-toworkforce for a future that one during face-to-face or is flexible and hybrid, how virtual discussions, staff should they cultivate a culture meetings, town halls, or that motivates employees to other employee engagegive their best? ment sessions. Another I see three key ways to critical part of commucultivate a culture that motinication is motivating vates employees: the workforce and recog1. Ensure that you have clear nizing employees for the guidelines and expectawork being done. tions from the company. 3. Try to remove (and Leaders should reduce reduce) complexity ambiguity by providing and enhance systems clear and transparent support. Make sure that guidelines (with flexibilyou streamline processes ity) that are well managed as much as possible and with effective governance. get the work done without Additionally, and critical, a lot of bureaucracy. And, is to ensure that the highby all means, ensure that est level of health and your systems and techsafety standards are met, nology can support the in accordance with proper | July 2021

What traits will distinguish highly successful companies in the transition to the postpandemic workplace? A few necessary behaviors and traits come to mind when considering how companies can successfully transition the workplace post-pandemic. For starters, top management has to be very clear on what are the strategic plans and priorities for the workplace and what they want to accomplish. Leaders must listen to employees at all levels, evaluate best practices, and provide clear direction. Then, and this is very key, they must ensure that this direction is ultimately articulated very well, both internally and externally. Agility is also key for companies to respond quickly and streamline decision-making. This all helps to better meet the demands of the market and the customer. Speaking of the customer, their expectations have been changing and this was accelerated during the pandemic. We’re seeing an increase in technology and people spending more time online, especially to make purchases. That’s


one of the reasons that Nissan doubled down on our approach to Always think of the Customer. We advanced our eCommerce strategy, in multiple regions around the globe, to give customers another channel to complete the car buying process digitally. All companies – no matter the size – must continue listening to their employees and customers. Those organizations that can quickly adapt will be the most successful post-pandemic.

tions to the business. We are doing this through new vehicle milestones and the start of production recognition events that are (safely) happening around the world at some of our locations in Japan, India, and the U.S., among other countries. Recognizing employees makes a difference and companies must take the time to show them that they’re valued, especially those frontline workers. In the end, it’s not only about having strong health and safety practices but strong engagement as well. We’re all looking at this process, together, with fresh eyes as it happens, so we don’t have to have the postpandemic equation solved right now.

As experts say, the role of HR leaders has changed amid all the chaos. How do you see the role of talent leaders evolve in 2021 and beyond? I see five areas for evolving the role of talent leaders in the future. 1. Enhance the focus on business results and challenges. Ensure that HR has human capital and employee engagement/ experience strategies that positively support and impact the business results. 2. Ensure that HR enhances their skills and competencies for the future. HR digital, july 2021 |

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The pandemic has taught us that we don't need to be sitting at an office desk for long hours to be productive. But work from home has its own downsides. How do you see this equation pan out in the post-pandemic days? Again, it comes back to balance. As we have evaluated and begun implementing our return to work plans at some locations for our office employees, we want to ensure that clear guideline and plans are in place, and create an environment of “flexibility and focus” as we work together to meet the challenges and demands of the business. Again, as I stated, it is not one-size-fitsall. The new world of work “is here” and our approach is to keep an open mind. Also, it’s not only about flexibility. It’s important for managers to remain empathetic and understand-

ing towards their teams as we move to a recovery period. The pandemic has affected all of our families, so people leaders must have an employee-first mindset to offer support for what individuals may be managing personally outside of work. One of the best ways to demonstrate compassion is through personal interactions. When the teams are ready, leaders should find ways to safely get them together, based on local health and safety guidelines, for meaningful engagement. At the beginning of the return to work phase, I realize that in-person meetings may not happen as frequently as we’d like. However, it’s something that I believe companies will build on to encourage the connections that are difficult to maintain virtually. Promoting connection has been a priority for Nissan during the pandemic and we will continue to focus on this post-pandemic. Something that we’ve done for our frontline manufacturing and PDC employees, whose jobs require them to come into work, is give managers the tools and resources to stay in close communication with their teams. A part of that connection and communication with this specific employee population are regular touchpoints to acknowledge and recognize their contribu-

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HR technology, business acumen, change management, employee engagement, and experience are key when considering the evolution of skills of talent leaders. 3. Organizational planning. HR professionals have to work with business leaders and advise them on organizational strategies to support “fit for purpose” – whether that’s a hybrid or streamlined model. I call this

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workers have been working from home, which has its own challenges. We have all survived a lot, so I believe that it’s important for HR professionals to work with teams to provide the support mechanisms needed to enhance the resilience of the workforce.

What are the top challenges facing organizations globally today amid this transition? Can organizations

For us, the future is about listening to and engaging the workforce and reinforcing our employee value proposition (for non-manufacturing, manufacturing, and PDC teams) through career development, reward and recognition, and flexible work fit-for-purpose organizational planning. 4. Talent. You have to build the bench, retain the bench and ensure you have the diversity of leadership among teams. 5. Investing in the resilience of the workforce. The last year has brought a lot of change. Frontline employees have remained committed to physically showing up every day to do their jobs as they try to keep themselves and their loved ones safe. And, office | July 2021

commit to long-term policies? The pandemic has been a challenging period, so without question organizations are experiencing some of the residual effects (or challenges) as we transition into a recovery phase. There are many challenges, but some key areas that come to mind are: • Technology is rapidly changing and industries must respond. The workforce has to maintain a transformational mindset and be very nimble and open to change in order to

remain sustainable and keep up with the evolution of the digital world. Commodity costs are escalating and this is a significant challenge that is being seen in several areas of business. Managing those cost structures quickly, effectively and with agility is going to be critical during this period. We’ve had culture shifts because of the pandemic and what’s happening in societies all over the world. The global culture transformation is important and affecting businesses, so companies have to be able to lead through the challenges that come with this change. Environment, Society, and Government (ESG) complexities vary around the world. Companies are required to have the right leaders and teams in place to make sure that there is a deep understanding of ESG (in-market) to better exist and thrive based on the regional ESG expectations and demands. Also, all within a strong commitment to ethics and compliance. Overcoming any challenges related to Diversity and Inclusion is critical as companies must continue making this area a significant part of the business strategy going forward.


• A continued top priority will be the health, safety, and welfare of the workforce. We are seeing progress around the world of people returning to their daily lives, whether that is working or having dinner with friends and family. However, there are still big challenges. Organizations must remain diligent in their efforts to maintain a safe environment for all employees.

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In terms of establishing long-term policies and plans, organizations don’t have a choice. In fact, I believe that organizations also need short-and-mid-term plans that ladder up to support the long-term vision. If I speak to our business, we must have a long-term plan in place given Nissan’s goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. And within that goal, we’ve set another milestone to have a fully electric vehicle portfolio by the early 2030s in our key markets. With this in mind, we have to develop the strategy and complete the due diligence as we march toward our carbon neutrality and electrification objectives. Yes, we will make adjustments along the way. However, we have to commit to staying focused on the long-term plan because that’s what will be good for the business and key stake-

of the automotive industry, and Nissan is committed to delivering the excitement and benefits of electrified vehicles to our customers as we journey together toward a more connected, sustainable, and resilient world. This strategy requires us to approach talent development and reskilling of the workforce differholders like employees, ently, and it requires us to shareholders, dealers, suppli- update old legacy systems ers, and customers. so that employees have the hardware and software to The biggest question for do their jobs. These are executive leadership today at all important pieces of many companies is envision- Nissan’s future that will allow us to enhance our ing the future of work postpandemic. How are you reim- brand and deliver the vehicles and technologies that agining the future of work at bring the most value to Nissan? customers. That’s the question that Through it all, we are many business leaders and optimistic about the future HR professionals are trying of work. The pandemic has to answer, not just at Nissan forced us to address some but at other companies as traditional ways of working well. and thinking. At Nissan, we For us, the future is about listening to and engaging the will continue learning from the past, seek to be nimble workforce and reinforcing and flexible in the future, our employee value propoand embrace this return to sition (for non-manufacturing, manufacturing, and PDC the work transition period teams) through career devel- and what it means for differopment, reward and recogni- ent markets around the tion, and flexible work. world. In the end, employThe other piece of our ees are a company’s most future has nothing to do with important asset. Nissan has the pandemic’s effect on our committed to have a peoplework environment. It’s more first mentality and remain about the work that we do flexible and connected to versus how we work. I’m help teams make a smooth specifically talking about our and, most importantly, safe electrification strategy. Elec- transition back into the tric vehicles are the future office.

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Dr. Pavan Soni

A case for looking at ‘irrelevant’ work experience Innovators actively look for ‘irrelevant’ work experience; people who could bring more than what meets the eye and what the resume suggests

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ere is a short introduction of Ken Kocienda, the software engineer who worked with Steve Jobs on the Apple iPhone and iPad projects. Ken Kocienda was a software engineer and designer at Apple for over fifteen years. After graduating from Yale [Bachelor of Arts], he fixed motorcycles, worked in the editorial library of a newspaper, taught English in Japan, and made fine art photographs. Eventually, he discovered the internet, taught himself computer programming, and made his way through a succession of dot-com-era start-ups, before landing at Apple in 2001, where he worked on the software teams that created the Safari web browser, iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Now, you might wonder what is an arts major and a self-taught computer programmer doing at Apple, and that too as one of the 25 members who designed the ground-breaking iPhone? It’s the classic round peg in

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a square hole, and yet the profile of Kocienda is typical of folks at Apple, and elsewhere at innovative organizations. Innovators actively look for ‘irrelevant’ work experience; people who could bring more than what meets the eye and what the resume suggests. In the words of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, “We need not just value differences but also actively seek them out, invite them in. And as a result, our ideas will be better, our products will be better, and our customers will be better served.” Our evolution has taught us one thing that we humans are the agents of creation and not the engines of

productivity. But does this realization reflect in our hiring strategies? Sadly, no. We still hire for predictability and not serendipity. We look at consistency and not variance, and, this way, we inadvertently still value productivity over creativity, often to our own undoing. If you are more likely to seek relevant work experience, you are missing out on the most important insurance against your corporate irrelevance? You need to bring more variety into the mix of innovation if you wish to heighten your odds of relevance in the fast-changing social, economic and technological milieu. And this article tells you how. According to research from McKinsey and Deloitte, the companies that attract, foster, and retain diverse teams tend to outperform their peers on critical business matrices. They have up to 20 percent higher rate of innovation and 19 percent higher innovation revenues. They demonstrate a greater ability of spotting


and operational freedom. For that, an organization must have few and clear guidelines and routines that can take care of human variations. If you don’t want to hire talent which behaves predictably, have routines that can increase the predictability of the outcome, while letting employees experiment. Finally, there’s a need for both experience and expertise, but also “deliberate amateurs” who can connect seamlessly across domains to generate new ideas. As Frans Johansson, the author of The Medici Effect, notes, “Too much expertise… can fortify the associative barriers between fields. At the same time, expertise is clearly needed to develop new ideas, to begin with.” We need a few experts and the rest as T-shaped employees, those who can span domains with ease. So, the next time you look out for talent, try to discount the similarity between what you have and what the candidate brings and seek for unique attributes, the upside that the person could bring, for machines can take care of the rest, and rather cheaply.

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bigger the picture, the more unique the potential human contribution. Our greatest strength is the exact opposite of narrow specialization. It is the ability to integrate broadly.” On how a diversity of experience is more valuable when faced with complex problems, Epstein contends, “facing uncertain environments and wicked problems, breadth of experience is invaluable. Facing kind problems, narrow specialization can be remarkably efficient. The problem is that we often expect the hyper-specialist, because of their expertise in a narrow area, to magically be able to extend their skill to wicked problems. The result can be disastrous.” It seems that narrow specialization and relevant work experience is doing us more harm than good. There are three broad suggestions for human resources functions and organizational leadership. Firstly, actively seek talent which is different such that the organizational vitality could be improved and so could be its survivability. Think of mutation, the same force that helps the more versatile species survive the cruel selection process of nature. The more diverse an organizational workforce is the greater are the chances for the firm to survive the uncertainty. Secondly, foster a culture of risk tolerance

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and reducing business risks and consequently, they are 25 to 36 percent more likely to outperform on profitability.1 And yet diversity is mostly tolerated instead of being invited. There are three reasons why most leaders and HR professionals actively seek relevant work experience and most shy away from giving off-beat profiles a fighting chance. Firstly, a relevant work experience promises a faster time-toproductivity and low learning expenses for the organization. Secondly, a relevant work experience (falsely) indicates valuable expertise, a realization that comes late and costly. Thirdly, ready roles aren’t available for talent that is deviant or not from the mold. So, why struggle with somebody different, rather it’s wiser to settle for the tried and tested, and that’s where we are stepping into the shoes of machines. If it is about solving a known problem with predictable accuracy, who’s better: man or machines? I guess it would be machines and by a fair margin. In the humanmachine symbiosis, one must understand Moravec’s paradox: machines and humans frequently have opposite strengths and weaknesses. Machines are better at handling tactics such that humans can focus on strategy and the big picture. As David Epstein, in his book Range, offers, “The

1 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion 4.0. June 2020. http://www3.weforum.org/docs/ WEF_NES_DEI4.0_Toolkit_2020.pdf

Dr. Pavan Soni is the Innovation Evangelist and Founder, Inflexion Point Consulting. july 2021 |

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The more ‘human’ changes have transformed the world of work for the better: QBE’s Vernon Griffith In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Vernon Griffith, Global Head of HR Service Design & Delivery, QBE Insurance Group Limited shares his thoughts on his biggest learnings from this pandemic-led transformation in the world of work, how the pandemic brought back the focus on how organizations engage with their people and how will technology unlock new ways of working in a post-COVID-19 world By Yasmin Taj

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Vern is the founder and curator of the news website www. machinesinsuits.com. In this exclusive interaction, Vern talks about some of the biggest learnings he has had from the pandemic as an HR leader and how technology will unlock new ways of working in a postCOVID-19 world. He shares that though there has been a lot of discussion around the digital acceleration that has happened during the pandemic, it’s probably the more ‘human’ changes that have been compelling for him. Here are the excerpts from the interview.

Please take us through your career journey so far? Did you always want to be an HR professional? What triggered this change for you and what encouraged you to become an HR professional? Like many folks in this profession, I think HR chose me rather than the other way around! I studied Mechanical Engineering for my first degree, but I didn’t really warm to the prospect of working on engines as a

career. On leaving university, I didn’t know what I want to do. So, I briefly worked in Marketing, before joining a small IT consultancy specialising in SAP. Of all the modules we were trained in HR was the most appealing to me, perhaps because I could relate to people more than widgets. Nearly 25 years on, and with more than a few HR transformation projects and a Master’s degree in International HR Management under my belt, I’m fortunate enough to be the Global Head of HR Service Design and Delivery at QBE.

The past 1.5 years have been the one most unprecedented times we have ever seen. What have been your biggest learnings from this pandemic-led transformation in the world of work? There’s been a lot of discussion around the digital acceleration that has happened during the pandemic. And that has certainly been the case. However, it’s probably the more ‘human’ changes that have been compelling for

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he world of work has undergone a drastic transformation since the COVID-19 pandemic sent the entire world into a tizzy. It not only accelerated the digital transformation journeys of organizations, but also brought back the focus on people and on creating an ideal employee experience in these uncertain times. For HR leaders, it has be an equally transformative time. They had to plan for these transitions overnight and had to put their best foot forward to ensure that they maintained business continuity while keeping people at the core of it. As the Global Head of HR Service Design & Delivery for QBE, one of the world's top 20 insurance and reinsurance companies, Vernon Griffith leads a team of 60 people - from HR service specialists in Manila to business analysts in Sydney - to support more than 12,000 employees in over 30 countries. Vern proudly steals techniques from Marketing and Manufacturing to deliver a tangible difference in HR. Prior to QBE, Vern worked in large-scale HR transformation programs at some of the world’s bestknown global companies, including Shell, BP, British Telecom and Deloitte. As a curious watchman of the rise of Artificial Intelligence in HR and the workplace,

There have been so many learnings and changes since the pandemic struck. But the biggest shift for me is the erasure of the pre-pandemic notion that working from home is an exception; it is now the norm july 2021 |

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me. Changes like the general acceptance that people can be trusted to work from home, the examination and unbundling of the purpose of the office, and the development of ‘offline’ (asynchronous) working. I strongly believe that they have transformed the world of work for the better.

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has continued largely interrupted online, but also realized that a being ‘always-on’ is not great for well-being. There have been so many learnings and changes. But the biggest shift for me is the erasure of the pre-pandemic notion that working from home is an exception; it is now the norm.

How will technology unlock new ways of working in a post-COVID-19 world? I believe that postCOVID-19, we will see further adoption of automation and augmented intelligence across all areas of the organization. Soft robots or automation will be utilized to carry out rulesbound activity and deliver The pandemic brought back The pandemic accelerated higher levels of quality (as the focus on how organizathe digital transformation jour- we’ve seen with hard robots in manufacturing), while tions engage with their people neys of almost all organizaand how important employee tions. In your experience, what augmented intelligence will be used to unlock hidden experience is. The role of tech- have been the biggest techpatterns in data, leading to nology has also become critinological shifts that you have new insights and better decical in doing this in a remote/ observed in this time period? sion-making. However, to We have all witnessed hybrid working model. What huge shifts in how we collab- paraphrase William Gibson, are your thoughts on that? What has particularly changed orate using technology, with a science fiction writer, the future won’t be evenly the rise of Zoom, MS teams in your view? distributed. As has always and others as platforms to Employee experience can been the case, we will see support connection and be thought of as a combidifferent levels of technolinteraction. There’s also an nation of physical, cultural ogy adoption and maturity increased focus on the adopand digital experiences. All across organizations. tion of solutions to support three have been brought employee well-being and sharply into focus during Can you share some examautomation to handle repetthe pandemic: Physically, ples of how QBE Insurance itive tasks. I’ve also heard we’ve had to adjust to workhas leveraged technology about the increased use of ers working from anywhere to enable a smooth working employee monitoring soluand what ‘return to office’ tions through the pandemic, environment in the remote might mean in terms of as some organizations building occupancy; Culturand hybrid working model? We are currently in the look to digitally track their ally, as we onboarded new employees’ work and provide process of rolling-out an colleagues remotely, we had AI-enabled skills-based screenshots and action logs to consider what’s imporlearning platform which to their managers at intertant in our culture and will support remote learnvals throughout the day. how we share it, when so ing. This solution uses While not a new phenommuch of it (artefacts, ritumachine learning to idenenon (IT departments have als stories, etc.) have been tify skills and skill levels had access to similar usage bound into the building in from a person’s job profile. data), I’m not a fan of these which we worked; Digitally, Each skill level is then we’ve embraced collabora‘big brother’ surveillance tion and listening (survey) solutions as I feel they erode linked to relevant learning content. The platform platforms meaning that work trust. | July 2021


then provides an employee with a clear indication of the skills expected for their role and personalized learning recommendations. This is our first step in the skills journey. I’m expecting skills development and talent mobility to be an increasing area of focus for QBE in the coming years.

QBE has started a program to introduce intelligent automation (digital workers) alongside human colleagues. Can you tell us more on how this journey is progressing. What are the benefits and challenges of integrating a digital and human workforce? In QBE HR, we have started to increase our use of automation for admin tasks. As an example of this, we’ve developed 6 bots to automate ‘fit and proper’

scratching the surface, but I can see a huge opportunity for this type of technology ahead.

What advice would you give to HR leaders who are working on transforming their HR function and enabling digital transformation at their organizations? eeply explore and understand the needs and priorities of your customers (employees and HR) to ensure that real business needs will be met through any transformation activity (avoid SOS – Shiny Object Syndrome!).

The adoption of new technology will require a commensurate build of digital skills across the organization. With the half-life of many of these technical skills only expected to be 5 years, the need for learning, unlearning and relearning will continue to grow in-line with the pace of change The adoption of new technology will require a commensurate build of digital skills across the organization. With the half-life of many of these technical skills only expected to be 5 years, the need for learning, unlearning and relearning will continue to grow in-line with the pace of change. HR clearly has a key role to play in ensuring that our people are not only able to survive but thrive in this kind of future. With this, I expect well-being to continue to be a key area of focus, as

compliance activity in our UK organization. Just one of these bots has reduced the time needed for the preparation of compliance certificates from 2 days to 28 minutes, with no errors. My colleague described the bots as, “Christmas come early!” We’re also introducing more automation in our global HR shared service function to support activities such as query management and contract generation. It’s still very early days for us in HR in terms of embracing automation, we’re only just

Be curious and build your personal and team’s knowledge around the opportunities that smart technology can present. You can do this by partnering with IT and your existing HR technology vendors, attending industry events, and reading about new developments. Finally, find the sweet spot that is the intersection between customer needs and what the technology can deliver, while being thoughtful about your future needs, technology integration and the employee experience. july 2021 |

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How will technologies like AI, robotics, and automation impact the HR function? According to you, how will these change the way peoplefocused roles function five to ten years down the line?

some struggle to adapt to the demands of this way of working.

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Wayne Balta

How tech, & the private sector, can help heal our planet

Environmental Sustainability

Over the past year, more companies expressed their commitment to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions within a specific period. The commitment to act now needs to be a key deliverable for corporate leaders

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irst, the bad news: The world has already lost 80 percent of its forests, and we’re continuing to lose them at a rate of 375 square km per day. At the current rate of deforestation, up to 10 percent of tropical forest species will become extinct every decade. We have an island floating in our oceans – the size of India, Europe, and Mexico combined – consisting primarily of discarded plastic. Those statistics come from Denmark-based environment data aggregator The World Counts. “We are using up 50 percent more natural resources than the Earth can provide,” the agency reports. “At our current population, we need 1.5 Earths, which we do not have. Up to 27 percent of our coral reefs have been destroyed. If this rate continues, the remaining 60 percent will be gone in 30 years.” That makes for grim reading on this World Environ| July 2021

ment Day. The pandemic has also added a layer of uncertainty, with millions being pushed into poverty, growing inequalities among people and countries, and scarce resources diverted to fight COVID-19. “We’re witnessing a triple environmental emergency of climate disruption, biodiversity decline, and a pollution epidemic that is cutting short some nine million lives a year,” the UN Secretary-General António Guterres noted in his video

message earlier this year. “This is a critical year for us to reset our relationship with nature. Governments and people need to understand that all environmental, social, and economic challenges are interlinked in their very DNA – and they must be tackled together.”

The two questions

Given all of this, two questions need to be asked: How can technology help alleviate some of the damage the Earth has suffered? And


“We’re witnessing a triple environmental emergency of climate disruption, biodiversity decline, and a pollution epidemic that is cutting short some nine million lives a year,” said UN SecretaryGeneral António Guterres

IBM is also integrating United Nations Environment Programme's (UNEP) data into a central repository to better visualize plastic waste across the world’s coastal oceans.

And speaking of oceans...

Oceans make up to 70 percent of the mass of the Earth. According to the UN Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change, the oceans are warmer, more polluted, depleted, and more unpredictable than ever. Every year, an estimated eight million metric tonnes of plastic go into the seas, infiltrating food chains and threatening marine life. By absorbing excess carbon dioxide created by human activity, the oceans are growing ever more acidic, impact-

ing some species’ biological development and destroying important habitats like coral reefs. There are severe consequences for life on land too. While the global importance of the Amazon rainforest is well known, the ocean, and oxygen-emitting phytoplankton that live in it, may, in fact, the “lungs of the planet,” producing about half of the air we breathe. The economic value of marine and coastal industries is worth about US$3 trillion a year. How can tech help monitor the oceans? The growing maturity of autonomous technologies offers a potential path. ProMare, a marine research organization, uses advanced technologies on the Mayflower Autonomous Ship (MAS). Named after another famous ship from history, the Mayflower will use machine learning (ML) and solar energy to traverse the oceans, gathering and transmitting information to help us understand vital ocean health.

Environmental Sustainability

can governments alone bear responsibility for ensuring the health of our planet? The good news is that today's transformative information technologies can help in profound ways if they become increasingly applied to environmental problems. Here are a few initiatives that might serve as inspiration: Agriculture: IBM is helping Yara International, a global crop nutrition company based in Norway, build a digital farming platform. It leverages AI, blockchain, hyper-local weather data, and knowledge about crops to give "smallholder" farmers recommendations tailored to individual fields to increase production, save water, and decrease the amount of fertilizers and pesticides needed. Energy & Climate: In Europe, IBM is working with Eqigy, a consortium of four electrical grid operators TenneT, Terna, Swissgrid, and APG - to help assemble a platform to balance the supply and demand of electricity across electric grids. (IBM is applying blockchain technology to underpin it). Recycling & Oceans: IBM is building a platform for the Alliance to End Plastic Waste that can consolidate baseline data about plastic generation, consumption, and waste in order to improve opportunities for reuse and recycling.

Corporate responsibility What can companies do to perpetuate environmental sustainability? Over the past year, more companies expressed their commitment to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions within a specific period. The number of such “net zero” pledges has doubled. july 2021 |

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The pandemic has added another layer of uncertainty, with millions being pushed into poverty, growing inequalities among people and countries, and scarce resources diverted to fight COVID-19 However, this commitment to sustainability can only be successful if it entails more than just a corporate social responsibility (CSR) approach. All of us, including businesses and citizens, must play a part in environmental restoration and sustainability. We need to integrate the planet’s health throughout our plans and policies. Although more than 50 percent of global GDP depends on nature, the world’s capital bound up in nature has declined 40 percent in just over 20 years. This has led the World Economic Forum to list | July 2021

biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse as one of the top five threats humanity will face over the next decade. “The economics are clear,” Guterres says. “The urgency for action has never been clearer. We must generate a global will for action and transform of our relationship with nature.” According to the New Climate Institute, only nine percent of pledging companies have a roadmap to reach those goals. It needs to go from the static piece of paper that’s rolled out once a year to actually being embedded in everything companies do on a day-to-

day basis. Compliance is the first step, but companies must move to create different values, and change the business model, among other initiatives. A big challenge? Being able to grasp the full scope and complexity of the process. “The environmental challenges are very complex because they cut across many stakeholders, many organizations, and even many industries,” says Jacob Dencik, global economic research leader at the IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV). “You need transparency into what goes on through a whole value chain across many different organizations and many industries.” The commitment to act now needs to be a key deliverable for corporate leaders. For instance, in 2019, IBM became a founding member of the Climate Leadership Council, supporting its bipartisan plan for a carbon tax – with 100 percent of the net proceeds returned to citizens as a carbon dividend. While the current environmental outlook is daunting, there are nevertheless increasing signs of collective resolve. What's essential is to sustain sustainability, not just on World Environment Day, but every day - transparently and authentically. Wayne Balta is IBM’s Vice President, Corporate Environmental Affairs and Product Safety, & Chief Sustainability Officer


Richard Hanson

The relationship between technology & the HR function COVID-19 pandemic has shown in numerous ways how technology and the HR function can enjoy an extremely positive relationship

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have enabled us to shift to remote working arrangements while minimizing lost productivity. Perhaps even more so post-pandemic, we will be looking towards technology to support organizations in changing and adapting to the fabled “new normal”. Trends such as moving to the cloud and wider digitization of processes are generally accepted to be inevitable. However, the impact of technology will stretch well beyond specific HR technologies when it comes to building safer workplaces

and adopting new working models. Technology presents opportunities for efficient and accurate health screening at work, the sanitization of workstations, not to mention the management of all the additional data generated by these new processes. Whilst COVID-19 has showcased the relationship between technology and the HR function at its best, it’s only fair to observe that this positive interaction started a long time ago. The use of artificial intelligence (AI) for sourcing and screening talent, as well as video platforms for conducting interviews, are recognized examples that promote the benefits of adopting technology within the HR function.

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o matter how any organization might evolve in the future, it is difficult to envisage an evolution that is not, at least in part, driven by both its people and its technology. Furthermore, the HR function will be the driving force for many of these initiatives. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown in numerous ways how technology and the HR function can enjoy an extremely positive relationship. Virtual meeting platforms and the capability of collaboration tools

A complicated relationship

With all that said, it would be tempting to consider the relationship between technology and the HR function as somewhat of a love affair. For certain, during the pandemic, technology has been a major catalyst july 2021 |

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in empowering CHROs and their teams to accelerate the shift of the HR function from a service to a strategic function. However, the truth is that things can be a little more complicated. For instance, the application of technology (often in the form of AI or Robotics) in automating tasks previously undertaken by humans will undoubtedly eventuate in job losses within certain organizations. This drives the need for reskilling or upskilling programs even more.

During the pandemic, technology has been a major catalyst in empowering CHROs to accelerate the shift of the HR function from a service to a strategic function. However, the truth is that things can be a little more complicated These programs are likely to sit largely within the HR function. Given the scale and strategic efforts required for the transformation to succeed, this would certainly present multifaceted logistical, financial, and people issues. Here then, technology is directly creating a change, which may not be understood immediately as a positive one as far as human capital is concerned. At the same time, this change generates

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complex new challenges for the HR function. Having outlined scenarios where technology is directly solving a critical challenge for HR, and also instances where technology is directly causing new challenges, do we have to accept that technology drives binary outcomes for human capital - either positive or negative change? On the one hand, if we recognize technology as the driving force behind the impact of automation on the workforce, we must

| July 2021

also recognize its role in enabling organizations to implement the different types of reskilling and upskilling programs that are needed to adapt to the changes caused by automation. Paradoxically, the same machine learning technology powering software to augment or substitute human tasks can also be found in powering algorithms which help to personalize the most effective learning and development

programs. These paradoxes do not reside within the HR function alone. The highest levels of business management, as well as the boardroom, are also grappling with the similar paradox of technology putting pressure on certain business models and revenue streams, whilst at the same time creating new ones. We are left with somewhat of a virtuous circle then. Technology is either creating positive or negative outcomes for human capital, yet is noble enough to provide the HR function and business leaders with opportunities to successfully adapt to change. The key thing to understand here is exactly how noble technology really is. Technology not only facilitates a reactive approach to change but can also drive a proactive response if leveraged in the correct manner. Consider the opportunities to leverage analytics in predicting the success of new hires; predicting and preventing turnover; modeling future demographic shifts, as well as the impact of automation on the workforce. With the foresight of potential changes, the HR function can engage with key stakeholders well in advance, armed with new data-driven visibility on incoming challenges. This will lead to more compre-


hensive strategic planning and optimized execution blueprints for the response to change. This benefits not only the organization’s human capital but the HR function itself. Advanced knowledge of future challenges enables HR to transform itself accordingly. This could mean upskilling the HR function with more agile and tech-savvy capabilities, or transforming the work done by the HR function in testing new working models. There would be advanced planning capacity for developing reskilling and upskilling programs and deploying new HR technologies, or

creating a better employee experience as the expectation for purposeful work increases. The latter should not be underestimated given that companies demonstrating a strong employee experience (EX) consistently beat their sector on average by a clear margin of two to four percentage points across key performance metrics, including return on assets and equity, one-year change in profitability, and threeyear changes in revenue and profitability. Ultimately, if the relationship between technology and the HR function truly flourishes to its maximum potential, we may no longer

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Whilst COVID-19 has showcased the relationship between technology and the HR function at its best, it’s only fair to observe that this positive interaction started a long time ago

even be looking for technology to empower “change” at all. We might instead be pursuing a state of “consistency”, in which best-in-class EX is delivered in each and every moment that matters between an employer and employee. The HR function will play a major role in creating a compelling and meaningful EX and we should expect technology to be a critical ally in its delivery. Even now, EX platforms are emerging as a key component of the HR technology ecosystem. Technology can create positive and negative situations, drive solutions, provide opportunities and inspire entirely new ways of thinking and doing. While technology can empower change, it can also support consistency. The best outcome is likely to be one where HR leverages technology for both reactive and proactive solutioning. Appreciating the nuanced relationship between technology and the HR function is an important step for HR professionals and business leaders in crafting the organizations of the future. This will deliver meaningful outcomes not only for the bottom line but for their people and society as a whole. Richard Hanson is the Global Head of Data Science, Talent & Rewards, Willis Towers Watson july 2021 |

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Organizations striving to pick themselves up and get set to the new normal with new policies, practices, and frameworks must revisit their ‘culture’ as a key priority to weave the social fabric that attracts and holds the best talent together 50

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force through innovative use of technology to create more productive workplaces, aligned teams, deeper connections, and drive better business outcomes. After all, a strong company culture is developed when each employee’s job is essential to the whole. Hence organizations need to embed trust and transparency in the virtual working environment. Some organizations try to monitor workers ceaselessly and put them on a tight leash more than they did in prepandemic times. However, employees crave transparency as a crucial cultural factor and COVID-19 has offered organizations, hitherto not transparent, the opportunity to spruce up their policies and reset aspects of culture by sustaining trust and openness. Remember, holding onto the best talent is about relationships, not perks. The onus of creating a remote culture should not land straight on the shoulders of technology leaders. Building a robust culture is a leadership challenge. As a matter of fact, the onset of the pandemic has tightened the partnership of chief tech officers and people leaders and this will only mature in the coming days. As companies pick themselves up and start trudging on in the COVIDstricken world with new working arrangements, how are organizations revamping their work culture in line with their core values? How are leaders (including HR) making sure their cultures are adaptable now that it’s harder to solidify shared beliefs with distributed workforce? How are organizations integrating technology in a way that strengthens culture? The July 2021 issue of our magazine delves deep into all this questions to find answers.

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he COVID-19 pandemic changed numerous aspects of how we live and work. The pandemic has been a significant catalyst that has transformed our outlook about “people” and “work”. The new world of work warrants agility, adaptability, innovation, and customer-centricity as the key components of work culture. Remote and hybrid mode of work has shifted how leaders and coworkers connect. With uncertainty still abound — and hybrid work set to be planned by the majority of employers over the coming months, a new culture-building approach is imminent to uphold more inclusive ways of communicating with remote workers. Employees are no longer anchored to their desks; they are increasingly mobile, locationagnostic, and demand more flexible work arrangements. For leaders, all this calls for a whole lot of rethinking as the needs of employees are getting complicated. So, how do you create a vibrant culture where the best minds are connected and driven to perform at their optimum? Organizations are betting on digital innovations — HR tech tools, collaboration tools, engagement, and productivity monitoring platforms, digital whiteboards, smartphone chat groups, to reach out to employees and build meaningful relationships. Top organizations solicit feedback and drive purposeful dialogue with their workers in a way that builds trust and makes employees feel heard. The path forward is to build a culture of engagement, ownership, and accountability among the workforce. Leaders need to be intentional about reinforcing critical aspects of their culture for their dispersed work-

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How technology can drive a winning culture

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HR organizations have had to wrestle with challenges –in addressing employee concerns and in creating a positive and engaging environment with limited face-to-face interaction between colleagues amid this pandemic By Rob Rosenberg

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rior to the onset of COVID-19, technology was already transforming our workplaces – with advances in automation, artificial intelligence, and other innovations impacting all areas of a business, from the frontlines to the back office. As much activity was forced into remote working and social distancing protocols came into play for other areas of essential work, the adoption of many new technologies was inevitably accelerated by the pandemic. However, these two devel| July 2021

opments – the onset of a global pandemic and the emergence of new technologies – have also been the source of much anxiety among many workers. The disruption that COVID19 brought to many sectors of the economy – shutting down production lines, wreaking havoc within supply chains, distorting consumer demand, and creating concerns over personal safety – left people in many areas of the economy fearful about their ability or willingness to gener-

ate an income. Longer-term, some have also questioned whether technology will have a detrimental impact on employment prospects, either through replacing people or through other more insidious effects, such as fears of more intrusive monitoring of work activity. For their part, HR organizations have also had to wrestle with challenges – not only in addressing the concerns and anxieties mentioned above but also in creating a positive and engaging environment despite limited face-to-face interaction between colleagues. A lot of attention has been paid to these potentially negative aspects of technology. At the same time, beyond the benefits touted by many executives in the area of increased productivity and efficiency, many emerging technologies bring clear advantages in terms of the relationship between companies and their employees and arguably the most important competitive differentiator: culture. I see positive impacts in four principal areas:

New engagement opportunities Virtual conferencing technologies have – quite liter-


our online learning offering, giving us significantly more reach with consistent training and development approaches. In fact, through virtual instructorled training and e-learning, over 50 percent of our Certified in-house training and development curriculum can now be delivered without having to wait on face-toface opportunities. The technology that is now available to support virtual training has been very well regarded by participants without compromising on the quality of the content.

Better working conditions

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Digital tools and technologies are enabling better working conditions in two areas in particular – more flexibility and more fulfilling work. Aside from the flexibility afforded by

virtual conferencing and collaboration technology, allowing more people to perform their tasks remotely where appropriate, there has been a proliferation in recent years of software applications that allow for more flexible working models in other areas. Our company has, for example, piloted innovative scheduling tools that allow hourly workers to select shifts and sites that meet their needs. This flexibility – enabled by technology – is a distinct competitive advantage as workers, particularly younger generations, increasingly seek a balance on their own terms between their work and private life. Technology is also contributing to a more fulfilling work environment. Robots, for example, are supporting increased

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ally – become household names over the last 18 months. They have allowed employees to continue to exchange, collaborate and co-create from their own homes. And while many companies are looking forward to renewed opportunities for brainstorming, mentoring, and the “creative collisions” that come from face-to-face interaction, the experiences of remote working have equipped companies with new tools and approaches for engaging and training a more broadly distributed workforce. As we return to in-office, hybrid, or remote working models, all companies that value engagement will have developed new best practices in leveraging these technologies to communicate more effectively across their organization. DHL Supply Chain, for example, has significantly increased its use of video technologies and mobile devices as alternative means of communication to engage on a more timely basis with 155,000 employees around the world. We have also enhanced

Digital tools and technologies are enabling better working conditions in two areas in particular – more flexibility and more fulfilling work july 2021 |

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productivity within the logistics industry by either taking over routine tasks, allowing people to focus on more complex, valueadding work, or by providing support for physically demanding activities. In an environment of low availability of labor, such as we see in the United States today, for example, they are also offsetting some of the challenges in finding workers to keep supply chains and production going and support further economic growth. At DHL Supply Chain, we have recently

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ties. In essence, innovations like this will lead to a more fulfilling work environment, which is a key ingredient for a motivated workforce and a strong, positive culture.

More diverse, equitable, and inclusive workforce

One – possibly unintended but very welcome – consequence of more flexible and fulfilling work is that it will contribute to a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace. The removal of some physical demands from within industrial facilities, for example, can

One – possibly unintended but very welcome – consequence of more flexible and fulfilling work is that it will contribute to a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace committed to increase the number of LocusBot collaborative robotics within our warehousing operations to 2,000. These robots alleviate the physical burden of warehouse work by carrying orders between picking stations, significantly reducing walking time. Other robotic and autonomous material handling equipment can take on much of the demanding heavy lifting within the warehousing and industrial operations, freeing up employees to focus on other solutions that solve problems for customers and increase business opportuni| July 2021

create more equal opportunities for women and people with disabilities to contribute their skills and expertise in new areas. More flexible working options, enabled by software and potentially underpinned by insights from artificial intelligence, allow companies to reach new demographics and groups that may be eager to work and earn money, but during non-conventional or shorter working hours, due to childcare or parental care requirements, for example. By broadening their appeal to a more diverse workforce and creating an equitable

and inclusive environment, companies can significantly strengthen their culture.

Improvement of recruitment

Arguably the least obvious impact of new technologies on culture is in the area of recruitment, but it is potentially the most significant. Each of the above benefits of technology, if harnessed in the right way, has the potential to increase the appeal of employers, as well as creating a more competitive playing field for employees. Additionally, the improved insights provided by data analytics and artificial intelligence should lead to improved connections, and a better fit, between potential candidates, company roles, and even cultures. Enhanced recruiting and onboarding tools will make it easier for new recruits to secure jobs and reach their full potential earlier, and also to transition between roles and – on occasions where the fit is not there – even to other companies. This development will be win-win for both companies and employees, contributing to a more competitive, healthy labor market and an opportunity to build even stronger, winning cultures at those companies that can take advantage. Rob Rosenberg is the Global Head of HR, DHL Supply Chain


Culture will remain crucial to corporate success: Donald Sull of MIT The big question is how companies can achieve their desired culture with more employees working remotely, says Donald Sull, Senior Lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management By Mastufa Ahmed

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formation and implementation at MIT Sloan. He has been identified as a leading management thinker by The Economist, the Financial Times, and Fortune which named him among the ten new management gurus to

Do you think COVID19 has changed the world of work for good? How will it look like in the postpandemic days? The reality is that no one knows for sure -- the move to remote work has been an unprecedented natural experiment. My best guess is that remote work will be more common, with many white-collar employees working from home 1-2 days per week on average. Collecjuly 2021 |

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onald Sull is a Senior Lecturer at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Sull is a global authority on executing strategy in volatile markets and teaches courses on strategy

know. The Economist listed his theory of active inertia among the ideas that shaped business management over the past century. He has published six books, including Simple Rules (with Kathy Eisenhardt, 2015), The Upside of Turbulence (2009), and Why Good Companies Go Bad. Sull has also written over 100 book chapters, case studies, and articles, including several bestselling Harvard Business Review articles. Prior to academia, he worked as a consultant with McKinsey & Company, and as a management-investor with the leveraged buyout firm Clayton & Dubilier on the Uniroyal-Goodrich Tire Company deal. Sull has taught entrepreneurship at the Harvard Business School and strategy at the London Business School, winning teaching awards at both schools. Here are the excerpts.

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tively that represents a large shift in the total percentage of workdays delivered remotely, by some estimates a four-fold jump.

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On one side, organizations are increasingly embracing remote/hybrid mode of work, a large chunk of workers across several organizations are reluctant to return to their desks over the fear of losing flexibility gained during the pandemic, on the other? Isn’t it complex? A recent survey of more than 22,000 US employees found that on average they wanted to work two days per week remotely, but employers prefer they work one day per week from home. My hunch is that most knowledge workers will settle between 1-2 days, depending on the nature of their job and the relative bargaining power between employer and employee. As companies start reopening across several parts of the globe with renewed vigor, how important, according to you, is getting work ‘culture’ right especially in the hybrid world of work? Culture will remain crucial to corporate success. A growing body of evidence shows that corporate culture not only determines whether employees join and stay with a company, it also predicts innovation, | July 2021

A Wharton survey of more than one thousand CEOs and CFOs found more than 90 percent believe corporate culture influences corporate profitability and also can decrease the odds of illegal or unethical behavior customer satisfaction, and financial results. A Wharton survey of more than one thousand CEOs and CFOs found more than 90 percent believe corporate culture influences corporate profitability and also can decrease the odds of illegal or unethical behavior. The big question is how companies can achieve their desired culture with more employees working remotely.

With a distributed workforce, what’s the best way to ensure ‘work culture’ is adaptable and aligned with organizational goals? Again, we're in the early days of figuring this out. One important lever to reinforce corporate culture among remote employees has become clear--frequent communication. We conducted a study of how employees rated their employer's culture before COVID-19 and during the first six months of the forced remote work. Surpris-

ingly, the average culture rating (measured by Glassdoor reviews) for large organizations actually increased during COVID-19. The biggest driver of increased culture ratings was frequent communication by senior executives. Employees especially valued frequent updates from the CEO that included an interactive component. Savvy leaders will, I suspect, continue these frequent interactive sessions to help employees feel connected to the company even when they are working remotely. It’s also important to understand that some of the organizations that take culture most seriously, like Goldman Sachs or Netflix, are insisting employees return to the office. Reed Hasting is adamant that culture is crucial to Netflix's success and that employees need to interact with each other in person to build and reinforce a healthy culture. The importance of frequent face-toface interaction to transmit and reinforce culture, in my assessment, is a compelling argument in favor of limiting employee's remote work to one day per week.

In the digital world, how can tech innovations help organizations reinvent and strengthen their work culture? The most important innovations will allow leaders to rigorously measure corporate


data into actionable insights that drive business results. We believe that CHROs, CEOs, and CFOs will increasingly demand data to inform the most important decisions: Who gets hired? Who gets promoted? Where are the toxic subcultures in our organization that could lead to legal risk from discrimination or unethical behavior? Who are the hidden heroes that might be overlooked due to leaders' implicit biases? Data is great, but it only matters when it is translated into actionable insights that

Employee feedbacks are typically the richest source of insight into corporate culture. The people who live the culture day to day describe, in their own words which elements of the culture are working, which are not, and what concrete actions leaders can take to improve culture and spends $25 billion per year on R&D. The company administers a survey to all employees once per year and collects detailed free-text responses. How does this tech giant make sense of all that rich data? One person in the company reads less than one percent of free text reviews and tries to manually identify big trends. That's absurd! My academic research at MIT and my start-up CultureX applies cutting-edge natural language understanding technology to help leaders translate free-text

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How are service providers in the HR space evolving their products and solutions

to meet changing demands of organizations? How do you see the vendor landscape today? Right now, most companies are focusing on collecting employee feedback through pulse surveys, passive listening, and other tools. The bigger question, however, is what do you do with all this data? I had a call with a people analytics executive at one of the world's largest and most respected tech companies in the world. This company spends employees nearly 20,000 engineers

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culture. It is surprising how many managers still rely on anecdotal evidence or poorly designed surveys to measure culture. When leaders are flying blind in terms of corporate culture, it opens the door to implicit bias in crucial people decisions. There has been an explosion in free text data that sheds light on corporate culture. Employees describe what's working and not on employee reviews on Glassdoor and similar job review sites; in the open-ended questions in internal engagement and pulse surveys; and 360 reviews on individual leaders. Employee feedbacks are typically the richest source of insight on corporate culture. The people who live the culture day to day describe, in their own words which elements of the culture are working, which are not, and what concrete actions leaders can take to improve culture. To give a sense of the magnitude of this goldmine of free-text data--one of our clients has 60,000 pages of free-text data including company reviews, engagement survey responses, and manager reviews. That is fifteen times as long as all the Harry Potter books put together! And that's just one year's worth of data.

improve not only employee engagement, but also revenue growth, profitability, and innovation.

How do you see the role of talent leaders evolve in 2021 and beyond? What have you learned? Unfortunately, I don't have a crystal ball to predict the future. But I certainly hope that leaders will continue to recognize the importance of corporate culture and harness the power of people analytics to build healthier cultures. july 2021 |

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COVID-19 has heightened the need to reassess ‘culture’: Tasha Macknish of Data#3

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In some ways the disruption has united us as a business like we have never been united before, says Tasha Macknish, Group Manager - OD&HR at Data#3, in an interaction with us By Mastufa Ahmed

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o business can succeed without its people, and Tash is passionate about people. She firmly believes in adding value and commercial success by creating an environment that supports and nurtures employees and having worked within human resources in the IT industry for over 20 years has shown that this is a winning formula. Tash started on this path working in project and contractor coordination with Dimension Data in 2001, moving to Data#3 in 2008. Here she held various roles with a strong focus on people. She started with managing talent acquisition and retention for the business, moving to partnering with key business units to provide end-to-end employee experience and human resources services, and ultimately moving into the role | July 2021

of National and then Group Manager OD&HR, starting in 2014. Tash’s leadership style mirrors the value she places on the people. She thrives on supporting, motivating, and coaching people and the challenge of aligning the needs of individuals and teams to business strategy. Here are the excerpts.

Do you think COVID19 has changed the world of work for good? How will it look like in the postpandemic days? None of us could have ever predicted the year that has unfolded. No one had time to prepare for the transition that was thrust upon us, yet we all adapted to the situ-

ation that was presented. I think the goalposts really haven’t shifted but in some ways, they have disappeared. The parameters for the new ways of working have and will probably continue to shift for the coming months if not years. I think creating the change in whatever format that works for your businesses will need to have some level of flexibility for the foreseeable future. From an HR perspective, I think it’s important for leadership teams to continue to take their people on the journey with them. At this current time, we can’t fully plan or predict the future, there is still so much uncertainty and leaders will continuously be required to consider several factors including employee fears, family losses, working preferences, organizational culture, customers, and further outbreaks/restrictions. I recently read an article where the difference between change and transition was referenced. “Change” is the physical shift that goes on around us, while the transition happens inside us, in our thoughts and there are


The pandemic has showed us that nothing is off the cards; anything is possible, and that the success of any business is its people and the value-based foundations of their organizational culture all approach. The approach should be flexible and continually reviewed with input from key business stakeholders.

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With more offices opening up their doors in the increasingly remote/hybrid world of work, a lot of workers across several organizations are hesitant to return to their desks. What's your view on this? I believe that continuing to engage our people in these decisions is a key element to how we move forward as a business. We need to find a balance that is going to be fair and equitable, that meets the business, customer, and needs of our people. How or what that looks like for different businesses will vary depending on their culture, their go-to market, their customers, there is no one size fits

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a wide range of emotions attached to it and this is different for everyone. Some of our people will find the transition easier than others. I believe to help our employees with this transition to new ways of working, we need to be transparent, honest, engaged, agile, and inclusive. It's ok to call out that we don’t have all the answers and that what it looks like today may shift or change tomorrow. However, that we will continue to seek their feedback to define the business expectations and communicate openly. I don’t think it will be one size fits all approach, I think we will need to build hybrid models that can provide the flexibility for our people and our business to optimally perform. I do think over the coming years the focus is going to be on building hybrid work environments/hubs, flexible working hours, process automation, building skills that support hybrid working, and most importantly helping our teams build new and improved behaviors around resilience, adaptability, creativity, and problem-solving. I think the pandemic has showed us that nothing is off the cards, anything is possible, and that the success of any business is its people and the valuebased foundations of its organizational culture.

As companies start reopening offices across several parts of the globe, how important is reinventing ‘culture’? What’s the best way to ensure ‘work culture’ is adaptable and aligned with organizational goals? Culture is so important to the success of business, especially our business. Culture is listed as one of the top three reasons why we retain our staff. Leaders and managers through technology have had the opportunity july 2021 |

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to build genuine relationships and connections to get to know “their” people due to increased connectivity locally and globally during COVID-19. We as a business have seen a positive increase in engagement trends as a result of care, transparency, open communication, trust, flexibility, empathy, and attention to wellbeing during COVID19, transformation, and change. Moving forward, the role of technology will continue to evolve and adapt for business needs. As an HR leader, though, I think we need to be careful to get the balance of technology and people connectivity right. The business of culture and digital culture go hand in hand - again it comes back to “balance”. The water cooler talk, the storytelling, jokes, being able to read body language can all be disguised through the eye of | July 2021

a camera. The culture of an organization is best felt firsthand. Don’t get me wrong technology enables us to perform our roles, but people enable us to belong and when there is so much uncertainty in the world at the moment, people are looking for somewhere they feel safe and offer an element of belonging.

What are your major learning from this pandemic? What are your key focus areas at Data#3? Disruption has enabled us to reprioritize and adapt quickly because we have had to – there was no other choice. Disruption has sped up rolling out those collaboration projects, training, implementing processes. Disruption has enabled us through technology to connect on different levels with different groups.

Disruption has heightened the need to assess and reassess our Digital Culture. In some ways, the disruption has united us as a business as we have never been united before. The key moving forward will be ensuring we stay connected, we don’t let go of those communication initiatives we implemented during the pandemic, we don’t stop reaching out and checking in on our people. Our customers, our people, our partners, our community have always been a priority and that will not change moving forward. We need to stay connected, understand their needs, remain agile, and continue to provide support to ensure engagement across all of our stakeholders.

How is the role of HR leaders changing amid this uncertainty? Businesses will need to build a leadership culture to enable honest discussion, psychological safety, a willingness to respectfully challenge and hone the ability to pivot. The changes aren’t limited in duration; as new working models continue to emerge, organizations also need to finesse their transition and change management abilities. Whilst technology allows us to work effectively and efficiently from anywhere at any time, the human element is one that our people still crave.


Organizations need to align culture with the larger goals: DigitalOcean’s CPO Companies need to make sure culture and goals are representative of each other. Culture should inform company goals and goals should inform company culture. Any disconnect will result in misalignment, says Matt Norman, Chief People Officer, DigitalOcean, in an interaction with us By Mastufa Ahmed

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transformed people teams, injecting a business mindset into structure, processes, and systems, continually looking to find alternatives to improve, reach further, and drive success. Prior to joining Denihan, Matt held senior human resources positions at Gilt Group, Conde Nast, Universal McCann, DoubleClick (a division of Google, Inc.), and Honeywell. Here are the excerpts.

How do you see the world of work today and how is it going to evolve in the coming days? The pandemic was a seachange moment. It’s not how the world of work will change. It’s how it already

did. For many of us, things will not go back to the old way. The good news: this could actually help make things better. As a company that was largely remote before the pandemic, DigitalOcean has always empowered its employees with a high level of flexibility and autonomy. Now, employers globally are realizing the importance of this flexible work model. Moving forward employees and managers will need to personalize their work relationships and how they get things done. Not every employee will want to go back into a traditional office, and many will want to keep flexible hours to better accommodate their personal and family responsibilities. july 2021 |

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s Chief People Officer, Matt Norman leads the global people team and is responsible for building DigitalOcean’s people strategy to support the company’s continued growth, culture, innovation, and profitability. In this role, he oversees talent acquisition and development, compensation and benefits, diversity and inclusion, facilities, and employee engagement programs. Matt has broad experience leading multiple functions across vast global locations, with his most recent role as EVP, Human Resources at Denihan Hospitality Group where he was responsible for creating and executing global human resources administration, integration, and strategy over the course of seven years. Matt has

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What’s your take on remote or hybrid work with a large chunk of workers across several organizations reluctant to return to their desks as offices start reopening? Personalization will be key - both for workspaces and work cultures. There will be no one-size-fits-all solution. The more flexibility and bespoke work arrangements employers can provide the better they can attract, retain, and effectively help employees manage their personal and work requirements. This includes working with employees individually, but also putting systems in place to support the employee population as a whole. At DigitalOcean, we provided home office and Wi-Fi stipends to help employees set up a comfortable and productive working environment. We plan to extend this benefit beyond the pandemic to those who still wish to work from home.

culture. These things are not dissociated from one another. Building a culture is tough, maintaining it is harder, and building and maintaining a culture in a pandemic takes extreme diligence and attention to detail. In these times, we cannot let distance erode company culture or an organization’s commitment to its values. Onboarding is extremely important to ensure alignment, as is hiring the right people who will uphold the culture and values.

As companies start marching on in the COVIDstricken world, how critical is getting work ‘culture’ right especially in the hybrid world of work? Getting culture right is the first imperative always. An organization cannot be successful unless it has a strong foundation in place. Culture feeds performance and performance feeds

The workplace has undergone significant changes ever since the pandemic has struck businesses and economies across the globe. With a distributed workforce, what’s the best way to ensure their work culture is adaptable and aligned with organizational goals? The climate within which we work always has the potential to change. The

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The way we work will continue to evolve. Hence, it is imperative to establish a culture that endures and holds true to its values and business goals no matter what the world, economic or organizational climate may be at the time

pandemic is one major example. While the way we work may evolve, the key is to establish a culture that endures and holds true to its values and business goals no matter what the world, economic or organizational climate may be at the time. First and foremost, companies need to make sure culture and goals are representative of each other. Culture should inform company goals and goals should inform company culture. Any disconnect will result in misalignment. Next, companies must invest in building a highperformance culture. This is achieved through better channels of communication, clear objectives, and a strong culture of accountability. Finally, companies must take a hard look at their leadership. The culture of an organization is only as strong as its worst leader. Especially in distributed work environments, companies must ensure managers are living the company values and supporting employees in achieving their goals. Investments in management training can go a long way in helping organizations thrive.

In the digital world, how can organizations exploit tech innovations to reinvent and strengthen their work culture? It’s important to remem-


Technology can be extremely helpful to help support and feed into the culture. It can facilitate better communication and camaraderie. It can help recognize when the culture and values are being lived and when they are not What have you learned about from this pandemic? What are your top priorities today? Our priorities remain unchanged. Our strategy is focused on three key imperatives: Grow faster, grow smarter, and grow together. We are focusing on optimizing our execution, building efficiency as we scale, and investing in everyone at DigitalOcean. While our priorities have not changed, we have learned a lot about managing our organization

through change. Growth comes with change and change can breed uncertainty. Therefore, it’s critical to help employees be more comfortable with change. This is where communication is critical. We must ensure our employees understand what we are driving towards and take time to understand and listen to their questions and concerns. We must all speak up when we have something to say and listen when others do. We also need to make sure that all of our actions are rooted in our values.

How do you see the role of talent leaders evolve in 2021 and beyond? Talent leaders need to take a step back and think like an employee. The world has changed and will continue to evolve beyond the pandemic. Meanwhile, organizations are asking more and more of their staff. While change is inevitable, it’s the role of talent leaders to think about what their employees need to be successful personally and professionally. Flexibility and a deeper understanding of what employees really need will be the true benchmarks of a successful talent leader in 2021 and beyond. Keep it simple, listen to employees, analyze the data and stay focused on building a better more personalized work experience for all. july 2021 |

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What traits will distinguish highly successful companies in the transition to the post-pandemic workplace? The companies that will be most successful after the pandemic will be the

ones who listen. The world has changed for a lot of people, and we can’t ignore it. Companies cannot move forward without a deep understanding of their customers and employees. Only then can they anticipate the evolving needs of their customers, while supporting their employees' success.

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ber that technology can’t come before culture. Culture is the foundation that everything is built upon and should be established early on, not as an afterthought and not driven by an algorithm. Technology can be extremely helpful to help support and feed into the culture. It can facilitate better communication and camaraderie. It can help recognize when the culture and values are being lived and when they are not. It can also unearth valuable data to provide a deeper understanding and inform better decisions across the organization. As an example, our team uses technology to track key employee data such as time-off requests. A few months into the pandemic, we noticed that people were no longer taking vacations. We realized this could lead to higher stress levels and negatively impact our employee morale, so we decided to implement “recharge days”. These are company-wide days off throughout the year to ensure employees are taking the necessary time to relax and unplug.

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We are looking for new ways to build & amplify our culture: Kmart Group’s Chief People & Capability Officer

Hybrid working is here to stay, however, it is about balance — face to face working in an office environment will still be an important element for organizations from a cultural and engagement perspective, says Tristram Gray, Chief People & Capability Officer, Kmart Group, in an interaction with us By Mastufa Ahmed

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ristram joined the Kmart business in February 2018 as the General Manager of Human Resources. Upon the establishment of the Kmart | July 2021

Group in January 2019, Tristram was appointed to Chief People & Capability Officer for the Kmart Group globally and leads the People & Capability function which spans across Kmart and Target (Australia and New Zealand), Kmart Group Asia, Anko International and recently acquired Australian online retailer Catch. Tristram is responsible for the Kmart Group’s People Strategy with key focus areas on Talent, Culture, Leadership, People Systems, and Future of Work for over 50,000 team members.

Prior to Kmart, Tristram was the Vice President and Head of Human Resources for Ericsson Southeast Asia, Oceania, and India where he led an award-winning team based in over ten countries, covering 40 markets and approximately 17,000 employees, and was responsible for Ericsson’s People Strategy in the region. Tristram held other senior HR roles within Ericsson and several senior HR and Employee Relations roles with some of Australia’s largest national retailers as part of the Coles Group. Tristram commenced his career as an industrial relations specialist in the construction industry. Tristram’s career has spanned more than 25 years, in complex, varied business environments, cultures, and industries – ranging from those experiencing rapid growth to those which have required a fundamental business turnaround. Here are the excerpts.

Is the worst part of the COVID-19 crisis behind us?


tive. This will be especially important in roles where high levels of collaboration and innovation are required, or there is a high importance on customer interaction and relationships with colleagues is required. At Kmart, we are encouraging full-time team members to be in the office at least three days per week for this purpose and are finding a lot of employees have been keen to return.

are you reinventing your culture? As mentioned previously we feel a reasonable level of face-to-face connection and relationship building is required to both nurture and develop our culture. We are not looking to reinvent our culture or our aspirations for it, rather we are looking for new ways and opportunities to build it and amplify it in a post-COVID-19 world.

How can organizations continue to prioritize creating a work ‘culture’ that promotes change and innovation post-COVID-19? How

The pandemic has taught us that we don't need to be sitting at an office desk to be productive. But work from home has its own downsides. How do you see this july 2021 |

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According to several experts, remote or hybrid work is going to stick around for long, but some of the biggies in the corporate world are rallying to get employees back in offices. What’s your take on this? I agree that hybrid working is here to stay, however, it is about balance. I believe that face-to-face working in an office environment will still be an important element for organizations from a cultural and engagement/connection perspec-

A reasonable level of face-to-face connection and relationship building is required to develop our culture. We are not looking to reinvent our culture or our aspirations for it, rather we are looking for new ways to build and amplify it in the post-COVID-19 world

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Or the world of work has changed forever? I would like to hope that the worst of the COVID-19 crisis is behind us. However the virus is very unpredictable and in recent months it has mutated into many variants, so I think it will be with us and impacting our lives, businesses, work experiences, and travel for some time to come. To this extent I think the world of work has changed forever, and in a lot of ways for the better. The acceleration of hybrid working and increased team member flexibility has been a positive for employees, and the rapid adoption and advancement of video communication tools such as ZOOM and Microsoft teams have enabled remote working in a productive and positive manner like never before and this will not change.

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equation pan out in the post-pandemic days? Working from home has many positives. It reduces wasted commute times, enables a closer connection with family and friends, provides increased amounts of “concentration-time”, free of interruptions, and a quieter environment than open-plan offices which have become the norm in recent years. However, there are several downsides. These include a feeling that team members are working longer than they used to previously and there is no natural break from work

to home life, in fact, work is just around the corner 24/7 in the home office, kitchen, or whichever room the employee utilizes to work from home. This, in my view, has led to higher levels of fatigue, an inability to switch off and backto-back zoom/Microsoft teams meetings especially in environments where there have been limited opportunities to leave the home due to government imposed lock downs to minimize the spread of COVID-19.

The role of HR leaders has changed! They have to deal

Working from home has many positives including reduced commute times, increased amounts of ‘concentration time’, and a quieter environment than open-plan offices. However, WFH leads to higher levels of fatigue because of a heavier workload

with a whole lot of complex issues —including employee support, leadership development, and pay and benefits? What’s your advice on getting all this right for an HR leader? I think it is all about focusing on the fundamentals and prioritizing your time and resources in your team onto the big challenges that have a high value for both team members and the organization. When we entered the COVID-19 pandemic period, at Kmart, we put in place three guiding principles or objectives and we have anchored our focus as a leadership team around achieving these objectives. Our objectives were: 1. Keeping our customers and team members safe 2. Remaining open in whatever form was possible – click and collect, online, or open physical stores with appropriate social distancing and capacity constraints, to make sure we were there for our customers and able to meet their needs for the products that we sell 3. Take decisions and make plans to ensure we emerge from the pandemic as a stronger organization in the long term – from a financial, customer, team member, and reputational perspective. What are the top challenges facing organizations

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The current situation demands leaders to be curious, openminded, and futurefocused to leverage the opportunities this crisis has provided

The biggest concern for leadership at many corporations is reimagining the future of work postpandemic. How are you reinventing the future of work at Kmart Australia? For the vast majority of our team members who work in our 500 plus stores helping make everyday living brighter for our customers, the future of work will remain reasonably similar in the next few years I think, with one notable exception - the increased digitalization and automation of many aspects of their work. This will ebb everything from how the customer navigates within

How do you see the world of work evolve in the next 2-3 years? Are leaders going to act on the major lessons that emerged from the crisis? I think that leaders who are curious, open-minded, and long-term future focused will embrace the benefits this crisis has provided, learn from the challenges, adapt their organizations, customer propositions, and team member experiences and work practices to not only survive but thrive. The leaders and organizations that can do this will be the winners in a post-COVID-19 world. july 2021 |

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and now reactions to the market as this will allow for innovation, adaptation, and flexibility in the way these long-term policy objectives are executed and achieved.

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globally today amid this transition? Can organizations commit to long-term policies? I think the top challenges that organizations are facing today are related to talent. How to attract key talent, develop key talent and importantly retain key talent. The talent pools that used to provide organizations with access to global talent have now dramatically shrunk due to border closures, lack of travel, and potential candidates not wishing to relocate overseas or even within countries. This is going to place even greater pressure on organizations' EVPs and remuneration policies and practices. I think organizations can commit to long-term policies however these need to be well thought through and based on fundamental principles, rather than tactical

our stores, the way our team members manage inventory flow from supplier to shelf, how they leverage technology, data, and automation to ensure our stores are simple and easy to run, and we are able to know our customers, their needs and preferences in a way that team members have not been able to previously.

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We need to find better ways of talking about what we mean by ‘culture’: Jon Ingham

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The best way we can develop organization effectiveness is to focus on creating the organization outcomes we need – the qualities of our people, the organization and the connections between the people, as well as the expectations of our people, says Jon Ingham, Director of the Jon Ingham Strategic HR Academy By Mastufa Ahmed

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on Ingham is an analyst, trainer, and consultant on people and digital transformation. He is also the Director of the Jon Ingham Strategic HR Academy. Jon provides insight and provocation enabling companies to innovate their people and organization strategies, better fitting the new digital world of work and also their own | July 2021

strategic needs. He has been a co-author with Dave Ulrich on the future of HR and is the author of ‘The Social Organization’. He is based in the UK but works globally, including by providing training through his digital Strategic HR Academy. Here are the excerpts.

How is the world of work going to look like on the

other side of the pandemic? Are leaders on the right track to make the future of work better –diverse, more equitable, and tech-savvy? The pandemic has mostly just accelerated changes that were already underway, at least in organizations that knew what they were doing. A more people-centric approach, greater use of digital technologies, even remote working, were all already increasing in adoption before COVID-19. Leading these changes does require a different leadership approach from that traditionally in use. Again, that isn’t actually that new. For example, MIT’s 2020 leadership playbook identified emerging leading styles as including being purpose drive, nurturing passion, demonstrating authenticity and empathy, and making data-driven decisions – all things which we’d associate with the digital, hybrid new normal environment today. Similarly, the build I’d make on these behaviors now is the same one I was making before the pandemic. Due to the increasingly collaborative nature of work (also acceler-


challenged by the different experiences of those living privileged and precarious lives and between those working mainly remotely and those in an office or location most of the time. We can deal with these challenges by responding to individual needs for office-based working, alongside the needs of the teams, communities, and networks these employees work in. And by organizing around the needs of remote workers first, putting in place additional networks to partly compensate for the office-based communities they may be missing out on.

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In today’s digital world, how important is a datadriven culture and data literacy skills, and what’s your advice on how to best leverage insights from the pool of data organizations produce?

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outcomes we need – the qualities of our people (human capital), the organization (organization capital), and of the connections between the people working in the organization (social capital), as well as the expectations of our people. These should be supported by clear principles which articulate how we’re going to achieve the outcomes and employee expectations we’ve identified. Once we have a longerterm vision of what we want to create, developed with our people, we can start to work towards this in an agile, incremental way. That will As companies start march- create the right organizaing on in the COVID-stricken tional environment and the ‘culture’ will change as we world with renewed vigor, how important, according to do this. And yes, organization you, is getting work ‘culture’ effectiveness has been chalright especially in the hybrid lenged by the pandemic and world of work? Culture has become really hybrid working. Organizational cohesion has been important, in fact, so important, that we now need to find better ways of talking about what we mean by culture. I don’t use this word. I think what you probably mean by it is either the type of organization that leads to business success, or possibly the organizational approach which employees find compelling. If either of these is the case then clearly, yes, these are very important. The best way we can develop organization effectiveness is to focus on creating the organization ated during the pandemic), leadership increasingly needs to focus on groups, not individuals. And that as these groups are quite varied, incorporating teams, communities, and distributed networks as well as functions, that leadership needs to be varied too. That is, the leadership approach we use needs to link to the type of group we’re leading. So, I do think leaders are generally on the right track now but are often some way behind what’s required, especially if they didn’t start making this change before the pandemic.

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Having an organization that uses data appropriately is important, yes. However, most of this is about using appropriate technologies which generate data through their use and then analyze this data to provide insights we can use. Video interviewing is a good example. We might use this because of the flexibility it provides, as well as the need to interview remotely. However, many of these technologies gather data on the way candidates answer questions and use AI to infer which of these people may make a better recruit. The data is important, but we don’t really need to worry about this too much. A more important need is to be clear about our strategic objectives for managing and organizing our people. This includes the business results we need to align behind, the organization outcomes we need to support and inform these results, and the HR, management, and organization activities we need to undertake to create these outcomes and lead on to the required results. Once we’re clear about these objectives we can identify how we’re going to measure them and collect data against these strategic measures. This data, which may be more qualitative and subjective than in our workforce technologies or HR system, are likely to much more | July 2021

useful in guiding our strategic actions than focusing on the data that we currently have to hand (typically things like headcount changes and sickness absence rates which are important, but won’t guide our strategy at all.)

What traits will distinguish highly successful companies in the transition to the post-pandemic workplace? Organizations have to be more remote, or at least

We need to give people more flexibility in the times they are working as well as the location they work from, and do more work asynchronously take a hybrid approach to remote working. Given this is the case, we need to work more asynchronously too. Even before the pandemic, we spent far too much time having meetings, and now we’re often just carrying on doing the same thing but having those meetings using Zoom or Microsoft Teams, etc instead. We need to give people more flexibility in the times they are working as well as the location they work from, and do more work asynchronously, eg via collaborative documents rather than always getting

people together at the same time in the same room or Zoom. This also opens the door to recruiting and employing people from all over the world meaning that organizations will become much more heterogeneous, not just in terms of traditional protected categories of workers, but in broader differences such as national culture. These new ways of working together with this more diverse workforce will accelerate the existing trend away from hierarchical, vertically focused, functional organizations to more use of horizontal teams, communities, and especially distributed networks where people can connect with others across the whole organization. Therefore, successful companies will need to be heterogeneous, asynchronous, remote, and distributed (organizationally as well as geographically). This leads to a new approach to managing and organizing people I sometimes refer to as ‘HARD’ HR.

With the rise of the machine, it is more important now than ever before to build human connections at work. How can we leverage tech to build a humancentric world of work? Yes, digital technologies should influence everything


What have you learned about the best ways to embrace disruption and harness uncertainty as an inflection point for reinvention? What are your priorities today? I think this is about understanding what you need to do and then finding an agile and incremental way in which to do it. Let me give you an example. I’ve been providing a lot of training for HR practitioners over the last decade. Most of this is through daylong courses in London and other cities (I used to come out regularly to Singapore). But about five years ago I started to think that in today’s digital age this was a poor investment of my time, and a poor learnjuly 2021 |

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for you, or is it the way they co-operate and collaborate together? For most organizations, it’s the second of these today. So why do we still manage, measure, develop and reward the performance of individuals if what we need is performing teams? It’s because we’ve not connected the value chain I spoke of earlier – linking our activities to the required outcomes which will support and inform our business result. In terms of your question, yes, the role of the machine is important here. New technologies like Virtual Reality offer the hope of connecting people remotely much more effectively than we’ve been able to do before. But we also need to use the systems we have access to today more effectively too. I’m thinking in particular

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we do these days. However, we live in the age of the human, not the age of the machine. And as I suggested earlier, the human-centric approach which is required isn’t just about focusing on individuals, but also on the collaboration between these people, so social as well as human capital. Social capital is about the value of the connections, plus the relationships and conversations taking place between our people, or the value of the way people work together in teams, communities, and networks. In most organizations today, it is the most valuable organizational outcome we can provide. Think about your own organizations – what determines its success or failure the most – is it the skills, engagement, diversity of the people who have working

of our social technologies like Microsoft Teams and Yammer. Teams adoption has shot up but the same hasn’t been seen for Yammer which is Microsoft’s distributed networking tool. The consequence of this is that our strong ties, the connections we have with the people we work with closely, have been improved during the pandemic. But our weak ties, the people we know but don’t know well, have deteriorated badly. These are going to be crucial to innovating through and beyond the pandemic, and we should be using our technologies to redevelop them.

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Successful companies will need to be heterogeneous, asynchronous, remote, and distributed. This leads to a new approach to managing and organizing people I sometimes refer to as ‘HARD’ HR ing experience too and that what I should be doing is building a digital learning system where I only had to record my sessions once and people can then access this flexibly and asynchronously. I would then flip the focus, so instead of getting people together to talk at them, our valuable time together would be spent in the most valuable way, through discussion about the training content. I never made this shift because I was so busy delivering face-to-face training. This is the typical innovator’s dilemma – that you have to back off what you’re doing, and even cannibalize this work, to develop what | July 2021

you need to be doing in the future. But at the start of the pandemic, all my face-to-face training stopped. Therefore, I took the time to develop my Strategic HR Academy which is now supporting practitioners' capability development much more effectively, with members from all around the world. I’m pleased I’ve made the change, but I should have started it much earlier. I think this need to understand the future and begin making moves towards it applies to larger organizations than my own in a very similar way.

The role of HR leaders

has changed in the new people-first world. How do you see the role of talent leaders evolve in the postpandemic days? People are at the center of business strategy. HR is therefore the people who provide our organizations’ competitive success. We need to live up to this opportunity by creating people-based business strategies – strategies that lead the business forward through what we do to manage and organize our people. And we need to inform as well as support the rest of the business. Ensuring we offer our businesses the opportunity to set more stretching business goals, not just support the business objectives they have today. This requires us to focus much more on organizational outcomes and to take accountability for creating the outcomes our organizations need, across a particular organization. The opportunity doesn’t come from focusing on the business. Yes, we do need to understand and focus on the business, but our organizations already have lots of people who already focus on the business. We also need to understand and focus on technology and the data it provides. But again, that’s not the difference that makes the difference in our roles.


If we don’t have the skills to 'engage' workforce in the hybrid world, we'll lose them: Jessica Miller-Merrell

Do you think COVID-19 has changed the world of work for good? Yes. A lot of people have been financially impacted and many have lost family and friends, but I believe

the pandemic has forever changed the workplace. We’re seeing that now with the employees who are creating boundaries between their personal and work lives and saying “I want to work remotely.” I think that’s the good that will come out of it.

A whole lot of workers across organizations are reluctant to return to their desks over the fear of losing flexibility. What could be the implication of this? This will be a challenge for managers in particular because they will have to learn how to be good lead-

ers and managers in person as well as remote. I don’t think we have equipped new managers with the tools and support they need to be able to lead a hybrid team. More employees working remotely with flexible schedules and asynchronous work mean we need a different level of intentionality.

As companies start reopening across several parts of the globe with renewed vigor, how important, according to you, is getting work ‘culture’ right especially in the hybrid world of work? I think culture is incredjuly 2021 |

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essica Miller-Merrell (@jmillermerrell) is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer, Jessica is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and host of the Workology Podcast.

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The culture is dictated by the mission and vision of the organization, but it’s really created and fostered by employees. If we don’t have the skills to engage our workforce in a hybrid model, we’re going to lose them, says Jessica Miller-Merrell, Founder of Workology By Mastufa Ahmed

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workplace leaders to find them and get managers and team leaders to adopt them and think about how we work differently. We really have to look at selection, training, and technology adoption and how change management from the top down in an organization supports this. We don’t know what we don’t know, so workplace leaders are going to have to make time to learn about the different tools and tech, imagine what the possibilities are, and we’re kind of in uncharted territory.

disruption as an opportunity? What are your priorities? That’s what Workology. com is all about - supporting the disruptors and innovators in the HR space. The disruptors are the ones that catapult us forward and we need visionaries like that so we understand what is and what is not possible. I feel like my mission is to provide the resources and support for HR leaders to help them be their best selves and support their organizations.

Talent leaders are going to be more involved in larger business and executivelevel conversations, not just because we’re investing in more technology, but because in the past year we’ve had to move very quickly

How do you see the role of talent leaders evolve in 2021 and beyond? What have you learned? Talent leaders need to be flexible, agile, creative. And we also need to be experts on organizational development and change management. I think we need to make sure we have a better relationship with our senior leadership and the customers we serve. Talent leaders are going to be more involved in larger business and executivelevel conversations, not just because we’re investing in more technology, but because in the past year we’ve had to move very quickly. Talent leaders need to be part of the conversation where business decisions are being made to support business growth.

ibly important. I’m a fan of the culture add as opposed to the culture fit. The culture is dictated by the mission and vision of the organization, but it’s really created and fostered by employees. If we don’t have the skills to engage our workforce in a hybrid model, we’re going to lose them.

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With a distributed workforce, what’s the best way to ensure ‘work culture’ is adaptable and aligned with organizational goals? It starts with the people. We’ll have to be intentional

about our conversations with our people. That means surveys, virtual one-on-one meetings, virtual team meetings. Managers have to make this a priority, even if they have larger teams, so it will change how manager responsibilities are distributed.

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In the digital world, how can tech innovations help organizations reinvent and strengthen their work culture? I think there are cool HR technologies, tools, and services out there that support a hybrid workforce, but it can be a challenge for | July 2021

How are service providers in the HR space evolving their products and solutions to meet changing demands of organizations? How do you see the vendor landscape today? We’re going to have to create customized solutions to meet the needs of employees, especially with global organizations. Your HRIS, your ATS, your Slack channel won’t change, but providers are developing integrations that do meet what we need today. What have you learned about the best ways to use


Distributed workforce makes it imperative to build ‘adaptable culture’: STL Tech’s CHRO

Motors, Allianz Bajaj Life Insurance Co, Cummins, and Thermax.

With uncertainty still abound, how do you see the world of work today, and how is it going to evolve in coming years? The world redefined by COVID-19 depicts how businesses and society may evolve over the next three to five years as the world grapples with the potential long-term consequences of global contagion. Still, both people-first and remote-first are inseparable. This combi-

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s STL grows exponentially, Anjali and her team are building an agile and culturally strong organization by running strong programs on talent, culture, values, and diversity. Anjali has handled multiple-functional excellence areas including strategic HR, industrial relations, organizational development, learning and development, corporate social responsibility, health, safety, and environment and administration. Anjali Byce has been named as one of the 100 most talented Global HR Leaders by CHRO Asia and currently co-chairs The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) HR & IR Council in Pune. She has previously worked with Tata

nation is breaking down geographical barriers and broadening the applicant pool. Moreover, because of the widespread adoption of remote collaboration technologies, we are likely to see more diverse teams distributed across the globe achieve great success while replacing the status quo of local recruitment in the future. Proactive innovation has helped industries to survive the sudden outbreak of the COVID-19 storm. Organizations recognized that rapid change was on the horizon and used technology to adapt to and overcome these unprecedented challenges. However, what was once referred to as "the new normal" has become a way of life. We will see this evolve further into a "digital or hybrid workplace" that is secure, flexible, and allows individuals or teams to manage their day-to-day tasks, self-help capability, and collaborate on projects with other groups. It will also enable them to track their life and wellness goals, understand what is going on in the world around them, and draw on whatever

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We focus on the 3 C's – Connect, Care and Capability. Staying meaningful and relevant to a rapidly changing context is at the core of our people strategy and culture, says Anjali Byce, Chief Human Resource Officer, Sterlite Technologies By Mastufa Ahmed

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professional knowledge is necessary to do it well. What should be the priorities of HR leaders with the majority of organizations embracing remote or hybrid work, as offices start reopening across several countries? HRs play a critical role as a business partner; this became center-stage as companies attempted to regain some semblance of normalcy during the pandemic. The second way of COVID in India delayed the reopening plans of corporates. In my view, the top-most priority of HR and talent leaders is the health and safety of employees. 'When' and 'Who' returns to the workplace will need to be thought through. Even though the number of cases is reducing, caution cannot be thrown to the winds. Care needs to take that expectant mother or those caring for the elderly are brought back to work only when they feel ready. We will definitely see distributed workforces or hybrid working, as businesses seek to reduce risk and reap the benefits of remote working. Companies will need to provide convenient locations, cuttingedge collaboration technology, and adapt to changing circumstances to ensure continuity and productive output. We will see a lot more companies creating groups of employees with | July 2021

a common skill mix and bringing them sequentially to mitigate the risk of critical skills being impacted in case of an infection. This is prudent for both employee safety and business continuity.

As companies start reinventing their organization with new policies, practices, and frameworks in the digital world, how can leaders get work 'culture' right? Businesses around the world are coming to terms

with doing business in the new normal. However, the situation remains far from average, and the threat of virus resurgence looms large. Business operations have resumed, albeit many of them in a hybrid or distributed workforce format. This further emphasizes the importance of companies to ensure their company culture is adaptable to this new normal while being aligned to meeting organizational goals. A good litmus test ensures

that organization values form the fulcrum for all people policies, practices, and frameworks. Anchoring on values will sustain the culture irrespective of operating in varied work models. At STL, we start every Executive committee meeting by recognizing peers on values we have seen them display over the month. What a great way to "live our values". Employee Connect is another powerful approach for leaders to ensure work culture is aligned to organizational goals. At STL, we accelerated the number of town halls during the COVID lockdown; we instituted pulse checks and skip levels. Everything that could help us stay connected and navigate towards a common goal.

In the new digital world, how can organizations exploit tech innovations to reinvent and strengthen their work culture? Digital technologies are an essential facilitator and enabler of putting these values into action. As the world becomes more and more virtually connected, technology has become the backbone of any industry. While our lives have shrunk between video conferencing tools, but our reach and horizons have expanded. It is no longer necessary to be present at


tion to the post-pandemic workplace, the ability of employers to hire, develop, and retain critical talent will continue to determine organizations' success in the future. A critical differentiator, however, will be having policies and work practices that are agile and meaningful to a cross-section of working models. No longer can policies and practices be "one for all" but instead need to be "something for everyone".

How are you building a culturally strong organization, and what initiatives are you taking to make a

july 2021 |

STORY

What attributes will separate highly successful companies in the transition to the post-pandemic workplace? The ongoing health crisis has taught businesses the importance of operating with minimal resources and maximum optimization. To ensure growth in a technologically driven future, leaders will need to evaluate and reassess their people strategy. Agility and flexibility will be the key mantra for success. As organizations transi-

As organizations transition to the post-pandemic workplace, the ability of employers to hire, develop, and retain critical talent will continue to determine an organization's success in the future

people-centric culture at STL? How do you measure the impact of your initiatives? People Centricity is at the heart of STL's purpose of transforming billions of lives by delivering digital networks. Our culture is an embodiment of this sentiment. We focus on the 3 C's – Connect, Care, and Capability. Staying meaningful and relevant to a rapidly changing context is at the core of our people strategy. We use a multitude of approaches to stay connected with our employees ranging from town halls, to skip level meetings, quarterly reflections, and pulse checks. With a move to mass remote working, we leveraged technology to stay in touch. Care is another element at the heart of our people strategy aligned to our values. During the pandemic, we honored every commitment and virtually onboarded more than 300+ STLers (Stellars as we call ourselves!) around the world. Health and mental well-being too became paramount. The lockdown did not deter us from building future capabilities and empowering employees to perform at their best potential. Building people-centric culture also anchors on our pride of becoming 'multipliers'enabling others.

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the office to complete the work. Instead, businesses have realized that employees can be equally productive from home as well. While technology empowers firms and employees to ensure business continuity, it also enables employees to deliver at scale, with speed at their best potential! There is an array of tech enablers that can be leveraged. At STL, we focused on Bots to 'simplify' employee transactions, gamification to make onboarding fun and inclusive, and moved online for peer recognition and wellness! Technology enabled us to hire 300+ employees around the world, including a vibrant batch of graduate engineer and management trainees. Technology helped enhance our culture, built inclusiveness, and reach for impact.

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Building digital-ready culture

As firms plan the future of work with an eye toward digital connections and virtual work, it will be important to build social cohesion and casual relationships in some way By Richard Smith, Ph.D.

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he rapid change to digital and remote working in organizations around the world has been a great test of human spirit and resilience. Yet, over the weeks and months of meeting and engaging people through cameras and microphones, many have noted that “Things are not quite the same.” While we have replaced the formal physical meetings, the paper-intensive processes, and the auditorium townhall meetings, many are | July 2021

missing the informal interactions, the social connections, the spontaneous discussions in the day-to-day digital work life. The traditional business handshake has all but disappeared from the planet and many are wondering if it will ever return! This subtle difference between physical and virtual presence has raised questions related to innovation, social well-being, and organization culture. While most organizations have been able to sustain digital operations quite smoothly, one must recall that most have a solid foundation of pre-pandemic relationships and an expectation of cultural norms. In addition, employees with close relationships are more likely

to have spontaneous phone calls or chat to share viewpoints or even just laugh. As firms now plan the future of work with an eye towards digital connections and virtual work, it will be important to build social cohesion and casual relationships in some way. If our digitally-enabled work arrangements are here for the long-term, how might we re-think the ways of sustaining and building our organization culture? Culture plays an important role in the employee experience and can provide a strong sense of affiliation and social capital in an enterprise. As we think about the organization culture, it is helpful to turn to the work of Edgar Schein, a former professor


As we move to the post-pandemic operating models, it will be critical to consider how we manage hybrid meetings to create an equitable experience and connection for everyone in a manner that is consistent with the desired culture

STORY

tion messages, organizational mantra, organization structures, and how work is organized. • Basic Assumptions – This includes shared, but not actively defined, beliefs regarding interactions and behaviors. These assumptions can be embedded due to the industry, company history, or office dynamics that can be hard to recognize or articulate. Often people might say, “That is how we do things around here.”

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at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Schein identified three levels of organizational culture as shown in Figure 1: • Artifacts – This includes identifiable, physical, tangible elements in an organization. Firm artifacts can include the architecture of the office, location of workplaces, the furniture, office layout, dress code, and other visible elements. Generally, these are easily identifiable by visitors to an organization and may reflect clues about what is important in the organization. • Espoused Values – This includes the company mission, vision, and shared values as a starting point. Other signals of values can be found with slogans, marketing, brand positioning, communica-

Considering this wellaccepted model for organizational culture, we must consider how we address these elements in our new digitally-enabled workplaces. If we are not in a physical office, then how do we consider the artifacts or signals of culture? If we are not together in person, how do we understand and pick up the clues on values as well as the assumptions for ways of working? When Schein researched organization culture in the 1980s, we did not have digital tools in place. As such, work was generally an in-person experience. As we

Schein's Triangle Model on Organizational Culture Artifacts Espoused Values Basic Assumptions

What you observe (See, feel, hear) What you are told What people take for granted july 2021 |

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now consider organization culture, perhaps it is time to re-examine and reset our ideas for shaping an organization culture in this digital era. Upon reflection, we might refresh Schein’s model to be more digitally oriented. As organizational leaders consider how to shape their future culture in a more digitally enabled enterprise, there are a few areas that emerge:

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Artifacts: In addition to the traditional physical artifacts in an office environment, organizational leaders must address the digital artifacts as well. This may include: • Digital pathways for meetings – As we move to the post-pandemic operating models, it will be critical to consider how we manage hybrid meetings to create an equitable experience and connec-

| July 2021

tion for everyone in a manner that is consistent with the desired culture. • Collaboration tools – Sharing files, posting ideas, and team workspaces are not new, but relatively few groups spend the time to establish norms and expectations on how to optimize their digital working toolset. • Informal connections – The use of chat mechanisms and other messaging services are often set up with close colleagues, but not everyone is always included. It is a good opportunity to reset usage patterns and ensure that the use reflects the desired culture. • Anchoring mechanisms – Once it is safe to gather physically, it may be important to create in-person gatherings to serve as cultural anchors and collective experiences

to reinforce social cohesion while fostering a sense of affiliation. Espoused and posted values: In addition to the stated values and the traditional ways of working in the office, leaders must address the digital manifestation of values. This may include: • Emphasis on unifying events – With people working in remote locations, many firms may opt to create regular physical as well as digital gatherings. Consulting firms have managed this way for decades to help solidify the culture and reinforce values. • Equity and inclusion – While many digital interactions may level the playing field in terms of equity in some organizations, we all need to take care to evaluate work operations for unintended consequences. • Shared learning experiences – In many organizations, shared experiences and learning events can provide unifying opportunities as well as a way to reinforce firm values and ideals. • Purpose and Affiliation – One of the great ways to align employees to values is through a common sense of purpose. When people are proud of the brand and the brand


Basic assumptions: While assumptions permeate both the physical and digital worlds, the move to a hybrid or remote working mode can create new opportunities to shift assumptions. This might include areas such as: • Trust – Building trust can take time and may be limited to people working in close proximity. With digital connections leaders can demonstrate and build trust more readily and in wider circles. This can be an important

ingredient in reshaping culture. • Transparency – Without the limitation of physical distance, digital connections and sharing can elevate levels of transparency in sharing information and ideas. While this typically is effective in trusted relationships, transparency can help reinforce cultural expectations and norms. • Social Cohesion – Over the period of the pandemic, digital bridges have been created between workgroups and there might be new opportunities to reinforce these in the new

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promise, they will also feel a sense of loyalty and affiliation.

While we can manage clear processes, update our learning, perform administrative functions, and analyze data through remote virtual work, we must take care to determine how we also encourage the physical work environment to reinforce the desired culture. Innovation, collaboration, and informal connections that create spontaneous ideas and breakthroughs are important cultural elements that are hard to replicate in our digital world. As for me, I am ready to trade some of my screen time for a few oldfashioned business handshakes in our physical world and experience the culture of others.

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Innovation, collaboration, and informal connections that create spontaneous ideas and breakthroughs are important cultural elements that are hard to replicate in our digital world

work modes while finding ways to expand the social networks in organizations. • Coaching – While many have delayed performance discussions and put coaching aside during the pandemic, it may be time to refresh and redefine mentoring and performance expectations. Regardless of physical or digital formats, it is important to agree on how to redefine expectations, measures, and feedback processes in our future of work modalities.

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

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learning & development

A BRAND REACHOUT INITIATIVE

Average Learning Health Index for organizations in India stands at 66 :

EdCast Learning Health Index Study 2021 The EdCast Learning Health Index Study 2021 covered 124 leading organizations across industries and reveals that the average Learning Health Index (LHI) for the organizations surveyed stands at 66 as compared to 67 in 2020 By Shweta Modgil

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dCast has launched the second edition of the EdCast Learning Health Index (LHI) Study 2021 in India, throwing light on the Learning Health Index of corporate India and identifying key opportunities to power the L&D community in their endeavor of building smart and healthy learning organizations. The study covered 124 leading organizations across industries and reveals that the average Learning Health Index (LHI) for the

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organizations surveyed stands at 66 as compared to 67 in 2020. The study is based on a Learning Health Framework built on eight primary dimensions of learning that contribute to an organization’s learning health. These include Learning Strategy and Business Planning, Impact and Measurement, L&D Policies and Processes, L&D Portfolio, Learner Experience, Learning Culture, Tools and Technologies, and L&D Competence. There are


This year corporate learning has become more important than ever, forcing companies to up their game. This year’s LHI analysis shows that 69% of companies now have highly aligned training teams, and CEOs and CHROs are deeply involved

learning & development

Five Stages of Learning Health built into each of these dimensions, namely- Ailing, Coping, Developing, Nourishing and Thriving. The Learning Health Index is an aggregate of scores on each of the eight dimensions of learning health across a 5-point scale. Josh Bersin, Founder and Dean, Josh Bersin Academy stated, “This year corporate learning has become more important than ever, forcing companies to up their game. This year’s LHI analysis shows that 69% of companies now have highly aligned training teams, and CEOs and CHROs are deeply involved. As the world recovers from the Pandemic, as many as 25% of all workers are changing jobs, demanding companies to invest in all forms of development.”

Josh Bersin, Founder and Dean, Josh Bersin Academy Here are some highlights from the study:-

Highlights from the EdCast LHI Study 2021 • With greater executive sponsorship for skilling and L&D professionals bullish on budget increases despite the onset of the pandemic, learning

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learning & development

in organizations still remains largely underserved and underutilized. The study reveals that 7% of organizations are ‘Ailing’, 29% ‘Coping’ and 36% ‘Developing’. Over 65% of organizations, as compared to over 75% in 2020, are yet to make a real shift from using traditional learning technologies. While we have seen improvements since 2020, this remains an area of weakness and opportunity. Learning is aligned to business requirements and integral to business success in 69% of the organizations, as compared to 82% in 2020. L&D functions are responding with agility, readjusting learning priorities based on changing business needs. 88% of organizations, as compared to 91% in 2020, do not consistently personalize learner journeys to accommodate individual goals, preferences and styles of the learner. With upskilling and reskilling a priority for organizations, the role and expectations from the

L&D function are fast evolving. 52% of organizations, as compared to 44% in 2020 report that L&D professionals are not adept to meet the growing demands being placed on them.

Industry-wise LHI across Dimensions in Corporate India When it comes to breaking down LHI industry-wise, the Travel and Hospitality Industry bags the top spot with an LHI of 74, followed by the Conglomerates and Telecom industry at 73, and Insurance, Manufacturing, and Media & Entertainment at 71. Here are a few more industrywise insights• 100% of the organizations in the Travel & Hospitality, Media & Entertainment and Telecom sector have very agile L&D functions capable of frequently adjusting priorities based on business strategy. • 56% of the organizations in the Healthcare & Pharmaceuticals sector report that they leverage

Industry-wise LHI Across Dimensions in Corporate India Industry Health Check

Travel & Conglomerate Telecom Hospitality

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Insurance Manufacturing

Media & Healthcare Automotive Banking Entertainment & Pharma& Financial ceuticals Services

IT/ITes

Retail, FMCG & FMCD

Education Engineering, Professional Construction Services & Utilities

Others


The report also highlighted that there are visible shifts taking place in the L&D tools and platforms marketplace. There is a clear move away from the LMS as being the core learning platform to those that are dynamic, promote self-directed learning and personalized learning experiences that employees are looking for (Learning Experience Platforms - LXP, micro-learning platforms, etc.). Learning in the flow of work, personalized learning experience, social learning, use of gamification, use of AI, and mobile learning are the top six tech trends identified by the study. Mobile Learning emerges as the top Tech Trend in 2021 with 64% of the organizations already implement-

ing it and 15% planning to implement it within the next year. The report highlights a few key lessons to take away from COVID-19. A sustained effort of reskilling the workforce for employees to succeed in their jobs in a remote work environment is a must. The Pandemic clearly highlighted the problem of employee stress, fatigue, and burnout with organizations realizing its negative impact on efficiency and bottom-line. L&D teams are paying greater attention to building resilience, agility, empathy, mental and physical wellness in their employees. Finally, the post-Covid job market requires organizations to build a competency-based learning

L&D needs to act urgently and adopt a whole-system approach to build a comprehensive solution that addresses the systemic challenges and learning disabilities in organizations ecosystem driven by an agile competency-based credentialing system, a standardized approach for identifying and recognizing competencies, and micro-credentials as building blocks for bundled credentials. With upskilling and reskilling as a mission-critical priority for organizations, and with the growing importance being placed by employees on career and development opportunities, an urgent and systemic response is needed. L&D needs to act urgently and adopt a whole-system approach to build a comprehensive solution that addresses the systemic challenges and learning disabilities in organizations. july 2021 |

learning & development

a sophisticated suite of tools and technologies to streamline the flow of knowledge and provide learning at the point of need. • 67% of the organizations in the Telecom sector report that they make most modes of learning accessible at flexible timings within and outside office premises. • Rewards & Recognition emerges as the weakest aspect of Learning Culture across all industries with Conglomerates at 70 and the Manufacturing sector with a weak LHI of 58. • 63% of Conglomerates report that the competencies and skills required for meeting L&D priorities are clearly defined with most members of the team qualified to execute the L&D mandate.

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Support employees to work in the way that is best for them: Schneider Electric’s Mai Lan Nguyen s p e c i a l In t e r v i e w

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In an exclusive interview with People Matters, Mai Lan Nguyen, SVP, North America Human Resources, Schneider Electric shares some insights on how HR leaders can prepare for their return-to-office journeys and come up with a sophisticated approach in terms of offering tailored responses to employees' challenges and managing workers' overall experience as organizations enter the next phase By Yasmin Taj 86

| July 2021

s the impact of the pandemic is slowly withering away with vaccination drives running in full swing across countries, business leaders have been planning for various return-to-office scenarios and new ways of working. What becomes extremely crucial for organizations and leaders is to ensure they are able to carve out the ideal employee experience for their people in this new hybrid work scenario. In this exclusive interview, Mai Lan Nguyen, SVP, North America Human Resources, Schneider Electric shares her views on how organizations can better prepare themselves for a smooth return-to-office journey and ameliorate employee experience as they recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. She also shares some insights on Schneider Electric’s recent initiative that provides flexibility for


With organizations struggling to recover from the effects of the pandemic and increasingly embracing the hybrid mode of work for their employees, how can they invest to ameliorate employee experience? There will be an interesting shift of values within the workforce over the next few years as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. Employees are now asking themselves, “Do I like how I’m being treated here?” and “Do I want to stay here?” We know that employees have high standards on who they want to work for and that they have other options, so we need to keep them engaged and happy. To bolster the employee experience, businesses need to offer the whole package to employees and even prospects, too. It is about championing the right value

proposition which goes way beyond the financials. It is about working for a company that has a meaningful purpose, a competitive set of benefits, the right work culture, a flexible schedule and more. The things that we are doing, the intangibles like removing roadblocks to make things less stressful for employees or creating a workplace that respects their various needs, are very important for loyalty and to combat attrition. Our mantra is ‘let’s win the hearts and minds of our employees’ by putting their hearts first. So far, the efforts are working as our turnover has been fairly stable.

The pandemic made it clear that supporting workers in their personal lives effectively allows employees to have better lives and contrib-

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s p e c i a l In t e r v i e w

women and men to balance both their professional and personal life. Nguyen is Senior Vice President of Human Resources, North America Operations for Schneider Electric. In this role, she leads the HR organization strategy, planning and execution to drive business success and growth through best in class people programs, processes and policies. She is a member of the North America Executive Leadership Team. Mai Lan defines herself as a global nomad and has been with Schneider Electric for 15 years, during which she spent 8 years working in China and Brazil. Throughout her tenure she has held several key roles of increasing responsibility. She is credited with transforming the company’s talent acquisition and mobility functions, helping drive executive recruitment and on-boarding programs, and creating high-performance teams. She is a global nomad, half French - half Vietnamese and is a passionate data-driven HR enthusiast inspired by future oriented and innovative businesses. She loves challenges, being part of a high performing team and helping create inclusive and people-centered organizations. Here are the excerpts from the interview.

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ute more to the organization with a higher level of performance. How can HR leaders come up with a sophisticated approach in terms of offering tailored responses to employees' challenges and managing workers' overall experience as organizations enter the next phase? We drive continuous listening of our employees via our annual engagement survey with strong action planning, upward leadership feedback, and ongoing recognition within all levels of the organization. These all provide insights on the

desires of our employees. We also continue to benchmark against other organizations and evaluate how we can focus on the future needs of our employees and what we call ‘’moments that matter”, meaning important career milestones such as onboarding, changing of roles, promotions, and departures to name some examples. The emerging future HR trends along with feedback from our employees point us in the appropriate direction.

Knowing the pandemic caused many women to leave

We continue to evaluate how we can focus on the future needs of our employees and what we call ‘’moments that matter”, meaning important career milestones such as onboarding, changing of roles, promotions, and departures to name some examples

the workforce to take care of family at the onset of COVID19, Schneider Electric created the New Ways of Working initiative to provide flexibility for women and men to balance both their professional and personal life. Please tell us more about this initiative. We created the New Ways of Working initiative to provide flexibility for women and men to balance both their professional and personal life. Each one of us has a unique life and work situation and I believe in work/life integration versus balance. The initiative focuses on ensuring successful hybrid working environments by providing employees with an ergonomic home office package including a standing/sitting desk and emergency backup care for their family and pets. Additionally, benefits such as part-time work, COVID-19 paid time off, and job sharing were offered to ensure our employees were afforded the flexibility to manage their professional and personal schedules. This program is already paying off, with preliminary data showing that our voluntary attrition rate for female employees decreased several points through Q1 2021. Please share some insights on Schneider Electric North America’s return-to-office journey as 45% of its 30,000

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vaccination status, will continue on with the COVID19 safety protocols including mask wearing, social distancing and personal hygiene. At each facility, employees and visitors must still undergo temperature screening and a health declaration upon entry, and capacity limitations will still apply for offices and meeting rooms. Our responsibility is to ensure our employees feel comfortable with returning to the office when they are ready to do so.

How do you see the future of employee experience postCOVID-19? Schneider Electric plans to keep our progressive programs and benefits intact, How do you see technoleven in a post-pandemic ogy and data transforming the world, while also looking for office of the future, especially additional ways to expand concerning employee experi- flexibility in the future as we prepare for more of our ence? employees to return to the As we determine how to office and in some cases, to operate in the new normal, continue to work in a hybrid the office of the future will environment. We want to be a place for collaboraensure our employees feel tion. Head-down work will supported to work in the way be done at home or at an that is best for them. offsite work site. Our techjuly 2021 |

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employees have already returned or are preparing to return to the office and what the company is doing to keep them safe. Starting June 1st, we reopened all our offices in the US and allowed all employees to return to the office based on their personal choice. Consistent with our new ways of working practices, returning to the office is an elective choice and employees are still empowered to work remotely. We are currently adapting our COVID-19 safety protocols following the new CDC guidance for vaccinated people and updating our mask and social distancing requirements. Starting from July, we expect to allow vaccinated employees who voluntarily disclose their vaccination status to stop mask wearing and social distancing. Unvaccinated people, or those who choose not to disclose their

nology—Teams as one example—will enable our employees to work collaboratively with one another, with others in other organizations, and with customers without unnecessary travel. Technology allows us to live out our green and sustainability efforts while supporting our employees’ desires for more balance. They can meet with a customer on a project and then make it to their child’s soccer game that afternoon. We’re also leveraging Artificial Intelligence (AI) with our Open Talent Market tool where AI matches an employee’s interest with a potential opportunity elsewhere in the organization. This enables the employee to continue to develop themselves professionally and make valuable contributions to the organization, while also staying motivated and engaged.

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Eric Yaverbaum

Good leadership in the post-pandemic world: A must-follow guide

L e a d e r s hi p

If we’re going to be a team, then we must be a team together, and that means being in it together

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eing a good leader is about acting with integrity, being open and honest, and staying positive. That’s always been true, but it’s especially important during challenging times. Early in the pandemic, in March 2020, I was diagnosed with COVID-19—sick for 3 months, I ran my company from my bed for 30 days and had to work through longhaul symptoms for an additional 60 days after that.

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Almost a year to the date later, I got sick again, this time with one of the COVID19 variants. While the pandemic has been terrifying enough, your boss getting COVID19—not once, but twice— could easily intensify fear for both employees and clients. Each time I was sick, I was completely transparent; I informed my employees and my clients, updated them regularly on how I was doing both mentally and

physically and made sure that all concerned knew how my work and the company would be impacted. We have used this extremely challenging year+ to create stronger personal relationships, and I always invite my employees and clients to be open about what they’re going through, how they’ve been impacted, and how they’re doing. Through it all, I stayed hopeful and conveyed positivity about my health, my business, and the outcome of the pandemic. This mindset and deep inner strength saved me and my company and will continue to serve us as the world changes yet again post-pandemic. The second time I was diagnosed with COVID19, all of the positivity I had originally shared was returned many times over and it was heartwarming when my employees checked on me and offered words of encouragement. I know that my never-wavering confi-


Panicking: Any time there is a crisis, a good leader will be there to ground and take Failing to act with integcare of his employees and rity: A good leader’s words clients. They will instincwill always match their tively look to leadership and actions. Otherwise, their word is essentially meaning- if your reaction is alarmed or uncertain, then that will less and just that: words— be theirs as well. Remember nothing more. Acting with integrity and honoring your your reaction suggests what you believe the outcome will word is essential for both be, so you have to make sure building and maintaining your words and actions are relationships with employaligned and communicatees and clients. It is imposing a message of positivity sible to build meaningful or lasting relationships if some- and hope. This doesn’t mean one does not know if you will sugarcoating the truth or lying—it’s about the mentaldo what you said you would ity with which you approach because there is no foundation on which to build them. the situation. It is possi-

Mistakes to avoid postpandemic

Acting with integrity and honoring your word is essential for both building and maintaining relationships with employees and clients Lacking transparency: Not being transparent will always be problematic, because employees and clients, especially those with long-standing relationships, instinctively know when something is off. Trust is too essential for relationships to risk compromising it by being opaque. If you aren’t open and honest in every aspect of your company—especially your relationships—you're planting seeds of distrust that will undermine your relationships and as a result, your business goals.

L e a d e r s hi p

dence the first time, eventual recovery, and positive outlook in general, had really helped them to feel more assured. Making the conscious decision to be hopeful and using that positivity like a life preserver allowed my employees, my clients, and my company to weather the storm of the pandemic. There’s also a silver lining in there that far too many have missed: if we’re going to be a team, then we must be a team together, and that means being in it together. I am convinced more than ever now that it’s leadership's job to share calm. Not chaos, because chaos is so easy to find—turn on the news and you'll find more than anyone could want. A good leader can recognize the moment they are in and does what it calls for: see their people through. Despite all the challenges of the pandemic, I know that our best way forward now, in this new world, is always with transparency, compassion, human understanding, and hope. As a leader, don’t be afraid to encourage your employees and thank them for all of their hard work. Know and remember that they are doing their best through unprecedented hardships and challenges. And make sure they know you aren’t going to leave them behind—your team really is stronger together.

ble to acknowledge hardships and challenges without succumbing to panic and fear. So be honest and do your best to remain positive. The pandemic has brought to light what was always true—the future is completely unpredictable. A good leader realizes that fear of the unknown exists in everybody's mind, and does their best to alleviate it wherever possible for both their employees and clients. A good leader also is aware that control is only an illusion and that the future july 2021 |

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always will be unknowable. This is why understanding that you and your team are in it together and making the conscious choice to go forward with hope is so essential. Post-pandemic does not mean an automatic return to the world before the pandemic, but regardless of the challenges that lay ahead, your team can lean on each other and lift one another up.

L e a d e r s hi p

How leadership can move past the pandemic with integrity Clear and effective communication is essential: When I was diag-

Trust is too essential for relationships to risk compromising it by being opaque. If you aren’t open and honest in every aspect of your company— especially your relationships—you're planting seeds of distrust nosed with COVID-19 (both times!), the only way my company survived was because I used clear and transparent communication. Each time, I was sure to let my team and my clients know about the diagnosis, how I was feeling and kept them updated so that they knew about any effect my illness would have on my work. By doing that, my employees and clients

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could make informed decisions about their needs and communicate those with me as well. Honesty: In some ways, it would have been easier to not be so transparent and honest with my employees and clients about my diagnoses. Disclosing health and medical issues often isn’t done in a professional setting, at least not traditionally. Also, by being so open, concerns arose that understandably needed to be addressed, even though I was very sick. However, by being honest initially, both my team and clients knew I would be truthful

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going forward, and that if I said something, I meant it— my words and my actions were in line with each other. So while being open about my COVID-19 diagnoses may have caused some initial concern, in the end, it also helped alleviate it because my employees and my clients knew they could count on me to be honest, even when it was the harder thing to do.

Cultivate inner peace: The real goal and the true measure of success is creating inner peace. Being happy with yourself and your life will help you to seek and cultivate the good in others. While having money in the bank is easier than not, it can’t buy you anything that truly matters—love, happiness, or good health. Realize this sooner rather than later, because life will teach you this lesson eventually— what matters most is just not for sale, and it never will be. Inner peace and knowing yourself, your strength, your resilience, and your principles is also what allows you to navigate all of life from a place of calm and integrity—you have survived the hard times before and you know that you will again. While being able to gingerly speak about a post-pandemic world feels encouraging and better than when we were in the darkest days of the pandemic, the truth is, life has permanently changed, and your employees and clients will continue to need you to be the light in the storm. The hope and positivity from your inner peace can easily and generously be shared with employees and clients to help them when they need it the most, which they inevitably will in this new unpredictable world. Eric Yaverbaum is the CEO of Ericho Communications.


We should design work in a way that eliminates inefficiencies: Adecco Group’s SVP HR – APAC

But creating an environment where people feel positively compelled to be at work is not easy, says Shubha Shridharan, Group SVP HR – APAC, The Adecco Group, in an interaction with People Matters By Mastufa Ahmed

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pragmatic leader with extensive experience in business HR partnering, organizational strategy execution, managing/leading complex culture change projects, organizational design, and team effectiveness leadership/executive

How do you see the larger EX scenario today where COVID-19 has changed the whole equation of how people work? Providing an enriching and amiable experience for employees has taken a center stage in the minds of every HR leader for over a decade now. In the past 4-5 years the topic has only intensified further. If you think about it, as an employee, we are becoming increasingly transparent and responding to more pulse surveys, attending feedback sessions, participating in crowdsourcing forums when it comes to sharing our experiences

around company culture and what truly makes us happy at work. This has all been part of the evolution of EX. When I joined The Adecco Group a few months ago, I witnessed the seriousness with which the principles of EX are being actioned here in reality. Conversations around EX are integral to the way we conceptualize and design everyday work. COVID-19 in that sense has given us a whole new definition of EX, especially in the manner how we augment it. The effort to create a differentiating work experience where employees feel healthy, happy, and productive will remain in focus forever from now in my view.

Employe e Expe rie nce

development, Shubha Shridharan oversees all HR interventions in the APAC region across 11 different countries. Before joining The Adecco Group, she had worked with Signify (Philips Lighting) as the Global Head of Learning & Leadership Development and has led various people and leadership transformation initiatives at ING Group.

Amid all the continuing uncertainty, can organizations elevate the work experience of virtual workers while struggling to get things on track? This is a very tough ask and is also quite contextual. We need to be sensitive, thoughtful and continue july 2021 |

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to prioritize this activity, particularly during these times of chaos and uncertainty. Within APAC, I see several variances of how, at a country level and a company level, people are coping with the overall pandemic. But regardless of how it is done and which magnitude, enabling fundamental safety to our employees is at the top of all minds. That's the starting point. Now, also here we go back to Maslow’s hierarchy – safety first, i.e. as a company

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ing a better experience and I think these are fundamental. Once you have crossed that bridge of basic health safety, we then start to look at work from home (WFH) arrangements. Offering support with decent technology, agreement of behaviors around virtual working, being respectful of people's time (at all times, not just beyond "work hours") is all part of creating a good WFH experience. The next level is for the locations where the threat from COVID is rela-

The effort to create a differentiating work experience where employees feel healthy, happy, and productive will remain in focus forever we take utmost measures to ensure our employees within the work premises and also outside to whatever extent possible are being protected from not getting infected. From an EX standpoint at this basic level, it accounts for measures like - acting without panicking, providing clear communications, clarifying the protocols on all the “what-if ” scenarios as much as possible, having a regular dialogue at all levels keeping track of health and well-being, sending basic supplies like masks & shields to home if possible these are all part of creat| July 2021

tively controlled, and return to work is resurfacing, at those places you start to think about how you design the hybrid working model. Overall, it is challenging, but this situation is also several opportunities that we are tapping into. For me, the whole notion of becoming more human is a big reality. I take many of my calls from my kitchen and I have stopped shooing my kids away if they happen to come on the screen occasionally when I am in meetings. It is all ok and accepted and that acceptance accentuates my experience when a lot of things are not in my control!

I don't "dress-up" in a deeper sense and I like that...

With more companies planning to shift to remote/ hybrid work post-COVID-19, what’s your advice for leaders to meet the evolving needs of employees? I have been a remote worker doing an intense global HR leadership job for over 4 years, this was even before COVID-19. Based on my first-hand experience my advice to leaders and employees would be to strive for a balance. For the majority of jobs, going entirely virtual without human touchpoints is a recipe for disaster in my view. It will work for a handful of roles but for the greater majority, a healthy hybrid work construction would be ideal in my view. We should design work in such a manner that we eliminate inefficiencies including traveling back and forth to the office every day. But at the same time, we should not miss out on preserving faceto-face human interaction. I believe we are essentially at our best when collaborate and co-create with our people, which spark innovation and creativity. We should not make the mistake of taking that out of the work equation. Having said that, we should also not feel obliged to be locked inside the office for long hours. We focus on designing work in


such a way that employees yearn to come to the office rather than on mandating the number of hours people need to be at work and monitoring that! But creating an environment where people feel positively compelled to be at work is not easy.

Can you give us an overview of how service providers are innovating to help organizations meet the shifting

There’s a clear realization that when employees at large are happier the company is set to perform better. And focus on EX helps to create a happy work environment analyze, and sequence the data into actions it further enhances the EX. So, we need simple and sensible tools to manage this, and as much as possible it needs to be self-serving.

What are the triggers to this rising focus on employee experience? Is it primarily because of the upcoming war on talent? War on talent will always be a reason. I don't see that

going away; attracting the right people is only going to get more challenging. A well-designed EX mirroring the purpose and the unique fabric of the organization will help immensely to attract the right talents. Now beyond attraction and retention, I see that companies are increasingly beginning to focus on the holistic well-being and upliftment of the employees. There’s a clear realization that when employees at large are happier the company is set to perform better. And focus on EX helps to create a happy work environment.

How are organizations measuring the impact of their employee experience programs? What all metrics do they follow? How do you devise your EX programs? I think we are all rapidly learning and advancing in this area. At The Adecco Group, we put a lot of emphasis on designing the experience of our employees based on the principles of our New World of Work philosophy. This structurally embodies the elements around hybrid & agile working, smart planning, wellbeing along with delivering results. We have defined the New World of Work commitments and created a universal framework for the company. Each pillar has examples, actions, and metrics. july 2021 |

Employe e Expe rie nce

How are the roles of HR and talent leaders evolving amid the crisis especially the mandate on redressing employees’ experience? It is a huge opportunity for the HR fraternity. As HR practitioners we are closer to the pulse of the employees. Therefore, our function can play the role of being the chief architect when it comes to designing and curating EX. As HR professionals, we are typically well-versed in crafting an ideal organizational design correlating with the business model of how we serve our customers. If we can infuse design thinking and create personas mirroring the job roles; we can start to outline the overall work experience. Then we get closer to the EX creation journey. This needs to be based on data, aggregation of several qualitative inputs, seeing patterns, correlations, etc, and making decisions on the choice and appropriate use of technology.

expectations of enterprises including fixing the broken EX equation? It is massive! With more avenues for creating feedback, there’s also an increasing need to address those inputs coming in. Giving instant responses and solutions to avoid delays that can result in poor experience is a big challenge. And it is again all about data. When you get to aggregate,

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Michelle Leung

Enabling a happier and healthier workforce for tomorrow Business and HR leaders now have the responsibility to

The New Workplace

ensure that the workspace is safe, positive, and conducive for employees. But how can we achieve this?

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ith vaccines rolling out and economies reopening, now is the time for businesses to reimagine the future of work. Choosing the right work arrangement can help businesses foster better team collaboration, preserve the workforce’s physical and mental well-being and save funds. The pandemic has forced millions of businesses globally to shift their workforce to work from home (WFH) to safeguard and preserve their health and well-being. With the vaccine rollout gaining pace and economies reopening, businesses are now finding themselves in the novel position of re-evaluating their work arrangements. So how do we, as HR leaders, redesign our ways of working and the physical spaces we work in, to ensure the happiness and health of our employees? Deciding on an arrangement that balances the needs | July 2021

of the business and employees’ preferred work environment has its challenges. For some companies, the nature of the work they do means that working from home just isn’t an option, others with a traditional mindset just prefer to have everyone back in the office. Interestingly, many employees actually want to head back to the office to some extent, despite the advantages that come with WFH. According to Cigna’s COVID-19 Global Impact

Study series, in mid-2020, at the end of the first wave of the pandemic in most markets, data from Asia, UAE, UK, and the US showed an overwhelming preference for remote working globally, as people enjoyed the flexibility and family time it offered. By the end of 2020, this novelty began to wear off and many people began to crave a return to some form of normality, with 53 percent of people surveyed now wanting to work from


Deciding on a new work arrangement that balances the needs of the business and employees’ preferred work environment has multiple challenges this space focused and purpose-driven, companies can incorporate new design elements, such as removing cubicles and partitions to create more open communal areas and meeting rooms, to transform the office into spaces that will encourage collaboration, relationship building, and social interaction. For companies that allow flexible work arrangements, the impact can be further augmented, as the different but complementary functions of the office and home working environment can be more distinctly reinforced. As we near the 18-month mark since COVID-19 swept the globe, most employees have set up a suitable “office” space at home, which would help facilitate a more permanent transition. • Rethinking your businesses’ real-estate

strategy: Traditionally, companies compete fiercely for prime realestate in city centers. However, the landscape today has changed dramatically with the potential for huge costsaving. Having been forced to work remotely during the pandemic, companies are realizing that employees can not only work outside of the office, but studies have actually reported an increase in productivity for remote workers. This has encouraged many businesses to adopt or at least consider adopting a hybrid working model, which means that there will be fewer people in the office on any given day. This allows companies to downsize their office space and save valuable funds. In Asia and in Europe where A-grade office spaces are particularly expensive, july 2021 |

The New Workplace

the office at least 80 percent of the time. The key reasons stated for this were more effective communication, better team collaboration, and better productivity. But what does this mean for employers and HR professionals, and how can we ensure we meet the needs of our employees in the postpandemic era? When deciding on a work arrangement, business and HR leaders have the responsibility to ensure that the workspace is a safe, positive, and conducive environment for employees. We can achieve this through: • Redefining the purpose of office workspaces: Businesses can take this unique transition time as an opportunity to redefine the use of the office space. Going to the office does not have to be a mundane daily practice that is just “part of the routine”. Instead, to make the time spent in

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businesses can take this opportunity to reconsider their real-estate strategy. The pandemic has accelerated predicted trends in the flexible workspace sector and has changed how office spaces are being utilized. By downsizing office space, funds can be freed up and redirected into other business areas such as enhancing IT support and infrastructure, thereby ensuring employees have the right tools to work from home.

Businesses can take this unique transition time as an opportunity to redefine the use of the office space. Going to the office does not have to be a “part of the routine”. Instead, time spent in the space should be focused and purpose-driven Funds can also be used to create more leadership programs for talent development or to provide enhanced employee benefits packages. These changes can have a positive impact on attracting and retaining talent, whilst also giving employees the opportunity for the hybrid work experience that many desire. At Cigna, we’re already making changes to our realestate strategy by reducing our office space by 40 percent in Europe. In Asia, we have been focusing

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on redesigning our office spaces to promote innovation and drive collaboration among our teams. The associated cost-saving has allowed us to redirect funds to finance our employee benefits program, ultimately helping to promote overall better whole health in our workforce. • Reviewing and enhancing employees’ benefit programs, particularly critical areas such as mental and physical

| July 2021

wellness that impact productivity: The sudden shift to WFH and the fact that countries have experienced several rounds of lockdowns due to the pandemic, have contributed to high-stress levels among employees. We saw that overall global stress levels remain high with 83 percent of people saying they are stressed, and this has remained consistent throughout the pandemic, according to Cigna’s COVID19 study. The “always-on” working rates have also

remained high, with 79 percent of people reporting they are checking emails and being constantly available after office hours or over the weekends, up from 76 percent in Q1 & Q2 of 2020. As such, businesses must review employee benefits to provide support where needed most, paying attention to mental and physical wellness. For example, businesses can consider rolling out mental well-being programs such as virtual coaching sessions to impart stress management skills, arranging weekly one-onone conversations with colleagues to check in on them, or organizing fitness challenges that can be carried out at home. At Cigna, we have offered our employees additional leave days related to COVID19, to allow them to take care of themselves or their loved ones should they need to quarantine or go to the hospital, so that they can focus solely on recovery without worrying about work. We also encourage our employees to access our collection of on-demand virtual wellness programs to take a break so that they can feel rejuvenated and ready to work. In addition to these “hardware” opportunities, companies can explore HR-related, “soft” skills-based aspects that must be addressed to optimize the impact of the


company’s efforts and to create an effective workforce. For example: • Educating leaders to adopt new leadership styles: To establish a strong corporate culture and encourage employees to adopt any new policies or ways of working, it is important for management to lead by example. However, many senior leaders today are used to having daily face-to-face

As a result, many leaders may not know how to connect with their team members who are based remotely, or worse unintentionally falling into the “out of sight, out of mind” trap. Such leaders will miss out on critical opportunities to connect and foster a rapport with their employees. To avoid this issue, HR

• Talent onboarding and retention: Despite the pandemic, Cigna has remained committed to hiring the best new talent but we have had to adapt our hiring and onboarding processes in many markets where it has been impossible to meet face-to-face or come into

the office. Companies must pay attention to new hires made during the pandemic and ensure that they are nurturing them through these uncertain times. Employers need to ensure a continued focus on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). Remote working situations have only magnified the need for inclusive leaders to create and foster new environments where

employees can be productive and connect with their colleagues in different ways. HR teams should develop a standard protocol to ensure that all employees are properly integrated into the company so that they understand how to live the company’s values as well as to make them feel part of the business, which will ultimately improve talent retention. Just as important is retaining existing talent. We are seeing that employees do not feel like they are being properly evaluated and rewarded while working remotely. To mitigate this risk, management – especially, direct line managers – should ensure that they schedule regular 1-on-1 check-ins with their team members. To sum up, finding the right work arrangement for your workforce will have a huge impact on employees’ overall physical and mental well-being, which leads to better collaboration, innovation, and productivity. As the pandemic evolves, so will the needs of your employees so flexibility, regular checkins, and active listening are essential to adapting work arrangements effectively, and your employees will be happier for it.

The New Workplace

interactions and have found it difficult to adapt to new ways of working.

can offer different skillsbased training or tools that can help its leadership team close any gaps.

Michelle Leung is the Human Resources Officer at Cigna International Markets july 2021 |

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The changing workforce: remote but country-centric, agile but tech-bound What might the changing workforce look like? Country-based operations, remote hires, and management strategies, and diversity and inclusion as the key to successful upskilling: these are some suggestions by talent management experts from the Will Group Talent Management

By Mint Kang

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he pandemic has changed, perhaps permanently, the way many organizations see hiring and even the way they structure their workforce. After a full year of layoffs, hiring freezes, cutting back of operations, withdrawals from markets, and many more forms of business contraction, not to mention the sweeping changes brought about by accelerated digitalization, the workforce is starting to look very different, and so are many jobs. People Matters spoke to three experts in the talent management and HR technology industry to get a better understanding of how the workforce is evolving. What they shared about today's market for talent is paradoxical, but also logical given the changes in today's business environment. | July 2021

Caleb Baker

Managed by country, hired across geographies Caleb Baker Managing Director for Strategic Growth, Technology and Talent Solutions at HR solutions group Will, shared that he has observed regional organizational structures being challenged by the pandemic, essentially leading to more, and possibly smaller, leadership teams.

Claire Teden

Kate Coath

“Demand for regional leadership roles is softening,” he told People Matters. “We’re seeing that multinationals, both western and Asian, are implementing a country-based organizational structure where in-country leadership and client-proximity are needed to drive effectiveness in the absence of travel.” He raised two potential signifi-


the restrictions are lifted— geographical isolation or simply lack desirability as a working location. Claire Teden Managing Director of Ethos BeathChapman in Australia, shared that in Australia specifically, developing new and diverse talent pools has been challenging. “With Australia having limited migration, we are seeing a significant skills shortage. The benefit for the talent pool is that employers are now more accepting of remote-based candidates and job seekers are becoming more flexible with time zones and training programs,” she said.

Flexible workforces: new opportunities and challenges The shift towards a more flexible, agile workforce is manifesting itself not only in remote hiring but also in

what Baker described as a “measurable regional shift” towards contracting. Citing a 17 percent slowdown in Will's permanent recruitment and executive search businesses, he said that in comparison, contract revenue went up 8 percent year on year during the pandemic and that the increase is expected to continue. “Demand for contractors has always been strong within technology, financial services, and fintech, and will continue to grow at an accelerated rate,” he said of this trend. “Over the past year, we’ve also witnessed contract demand support services within the healthcare industry that grew in response to COVID-19. Job types that are easily executed remotely are also the ones more likely to see this shift towards contracting.” He also pointed out that the present demand for july 2021 |

Talent Management

cant challenges: firstly, an increase in organizations’ cost base as more leadership hires will be needed, and secondly, how global leadership is to manage this more distributed structure. “It is proven that less collaboration and leverage is achieved in such a structure,” he noted. “However, the opportunity, of course, is clientintimacy, as mentioned earlier—this structural strategy and in-country investment enable organizations to get closer to their customers.” But even as leadership structures become country-centric, hiring is crossing boundaries, enabled by technology and by a greater acceptance of remote teams arising from the forced flexibility of pandemic lockdowns. “With the growing confidence that productive work can be done remotely, roles are no longer confined to geography,” Baker observed. “This has expanded talent pools, allowing employers to reach more diverse and possibly more qualified candidates. In the same way, job seekers are benefiting from new opportunities made possible through remote work, without the need for relocation.” This, it turns out, can be a real boon for locations that are suffering manpower shortages from travel restrictions, or—even after

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Talent Management

contracting is at least partly fuelled by the onshoring of jobs that had been previously offshored. For example, call centers in Australia are bringing jobs back into the country and seeking contractors to fill the positions.

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Kate Coath Chief Operating Officer of Melbourneheadquartered DFP Recruitment, corroborated this: “In Australia, we have seen stronger hiring sentiment with an increased demand for contractors,” she said. “Clients are indicating that

they are still grappling with the global instability and economic uncertainty and prefer the flexibility of a scalable workforce. There is also feedback in relation to the longer-term strategy around job design and geographic location, and engaging contractors provide an interim solution. There are also significant transformation projects that have a defined timeframe requiring skilled and highly specialized project capabilities.” This shift, although a significant opportunity for

Employers are now more accepting of remote candidates. Job seekers are becoming more flexible with time zones and training programs, and leadership capabilities have to evolve to properly manage hybrid teams in the workforce of the future

| July 2021

employers to broaden their talent pool and to offer flexibility as an engagement tool, does bring its own challenges, Baker cautioned—in particular, how to cultivate a culture within a mobile workforce. “Employers need to strengthen their talent experience and develop a strategy that not only attracts and engages talent wherever they are in the world but also provide the tools to onboard and enable them to succeed,” he said. “In short, employers must put job seekers at the center of the talent experience, build trust and bring them across a technology-enabled hiring process.” Employers also need to be additionally mindful of the leadership capabilities they look for, he pointed out. Even as they source leaders for country-based teams, they have to ensure that those leaders are able to manage not just the in-country teams and team members, but those who are remote as well. And job seekers, of course, will have to polish a whole new set of skills: making a good impression and building rapport digitally, and demonstrating their ability to work remotely reliably but with a degree of independence. “It will be important for job seekers to demonstrate to their potential


employers the flexibility to work remotely, self-start, and be present on different time zones,” Baker recommended.

jobs are not new per se— they are existing jobs that have suddenly gained prominence in industries where they traditionally played much smaller roles if any. “I would define a job as 'new' when technology and/ or automation enables it to become more meaningful and unlocks new avenues of professional growth for the individual,” Baker noted. Both he and Teden cited examples from their own

listed a few. “We are also seeing the trend of roles traditionally regarded as “non-tech” that now require tech, digital or data fluencies. These are roles requiring hybrid skillsets which can include lawyers specializing in data privacy and cybersecurity and customer service officers needing social media community management and chatbot administration experience.” Teden similarly pointed

‘New’ jobs with existing skill sets

to roles in cybersecurity, privacy, or risk analytics as jobs that are not exactly new but have simply gained prominence. “These roles have existed for a few years, however, we have noted a growth in this job sector and as such, these roles have evolved,” she said.

The path forward: inclusion and skilling

So, what does it take to keep abreast of these changes and evolutions? The immediate solution is, of course, a stronger talent management strategy—recruitment to acquire the skills organization lacks, training to develop the skills internally, and engagement to retain those skills. But in the long term, Baker believes that the way to bridge the gap between the old and the new workforce lies in one particular shift that gained traction in the last year: the growing emphasis on diversity and inclusion. “Besides training and reskilling the workforce, organizations must consciously build working groups that are truly diverse in thinking, age, experience, and skills to give employees the opportunity to close the gap,” he said. “Research has proven that this is the most effective way to upskill and future-skill the workforce.” july 2021 |

Talent Management

The need for new skill sets is endemic today, with digitalization popularly cited as creating millions of new jobs worldwide. But from what the industry experts have observed, these new

firms, where jobs emerged within their operating models that did not previously exist within the function. “These are not new jobs, but jobs that are new to our functions because of digitalization. Some examples include technologists, data analysts, process improvement managers, marketing and communications specialists who are new to the HR function,” Baker

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‘Organizations will be called to step up, show their softer side as the pandemic evolves’ In a way this evolving pandemic has forced all companies to put employees and their well-being ahead of everything else, believes Pavitra Singh, CHRO, PepsiCo India By Neelanjana Mazumdar

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s the new wave of coronavirus sets us back one year yet again, how are organizations gearing up to sail through the uncertainty? How are they relooking at their continuity plans and employee support schemes? In an exclusive interaction with us, Pavitra Singh, CHRO, PepsiCo India, shares her take on how organizations should sail through these uncertain times and what the future entails.

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How do you see the seismic shifts in the world of work induced by COVID-19? | July 2021

The two worlds – be it of home or work, they can never be the same again. We have seen and shall continue to witness a big change in the mindset of employees, senior management, and society. The pandemic has made consistent communication from a leader all the more crucial, empathy being of utmost priority, health and safety being paramount, and collaboration and agility as key table stakes. Also, digital acceleration has happened with consumers being digital savvy and companies adopting technology and digital way of work-

ing. The pandemic has also brought about its own set of challenges like the increase in mental health issues, webinar fatigue, and lack of interpersonal contact which is most wanted by us all.

COVID-19 has upended how we work, and the future is neither the death of the office nor a return to the way things were. Instead, organizations are moving toward a hybrid mode of work. What’s your take on this? I think the decision on the model will depend on each industry and the team’s way of working. While there will


be situations where the team needs to be together, there will be the option to pass on the work baton digitally, thereby ensuring more flexibility. Sometimes, issues that need intense debate and brainstorming would require face-to-face conversations while for a function like sales, one-to-one chemistry is still very important. Hence, we will see a hybrid model evolving however cannot speculate on the proportions of the hybrid model currently.

Where do you see the world of work in 2-3 years? • Collaboration in remote working will become a key capability. • I think we will see more automation in hazardous workplaces. • We will see the head office How do you see the changdoing more of strategy ing role of HR? What are the and coordination. top challenges for HR and • I think employees will talent leaders today? value the support they The pandemic has forced have been given emotionCHROs to step up and ally and will place a deliver. The role of the CHRO premium on that for is like a CEO today, a CEO in

future job changes. • Medical benefits will become more important in total packages. • We will have mental health experts in every company, in-house and outsourced, both will happen.

In t e r v i e w

New variants of COVID-19 are creating chaos in several countries, especially India. What’s your take on how leaders should sail through uncertain times and manage talent? Nothing is more important than the well-being of the employee, their family’s and his/her peace of mind. I think organizations will be called to step up and show their softer side as the pandemic evolves. In a way, this evolving pandemic has forced all companies to put employees and their wellbeing ahead of everything else which is quite heartening to see and much needed.

the context of the pandemic– E for Energy and Empathy, depending on what’s happening. It starts with empathy, but one cannot stay in the empathy zone always, one has to provide critical energy for the organization to gather momentum. Energy in terms of contact, in terms of engaging families, in terms of raising the emotional level.

How are you preparing as a leader to deal with the next phase of challenges? What are your top priorities? Leadership capability will be at a premium. The next phase of business needs one to come out of the current flux. That will need clarity, purpose, and commitment to changing old ways of doing business, digital being a prime example. Old legacy strengths will have to be rethought, challenged afresh and the foundation of new capabilities has to be built. It will be an exciting phase for leaders to renew themselves. july 2021 |

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Dr. M. Muneer

What HR can do to close the gender gap

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The global gender gap, defined as the difference between men and women as reflected in social, political, intellectual, cultural, or economic attainments or attitudes, will not get narrowed in the near future without all the major stakeholders working together with a solid agenda – that of economic growth by inclusion

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he recent observation made by the Supreme Court of India has left the critics of gender equality fuming: “The structures of our society have been created by males and for males.” This seems to be the case globally too, with many developed and most developing economies having laws that discriminate against women. Billions of women (over 2.8) are legally restricted

from having the same choice of jobs as men. Over 100 countries still have laws preventing women from working in specific jobs, 59 countries have no laws on sexual harassment in the workplace, and a handful of countries have laws that allow husbands to legally stop their wives from working! India seems to have the worst participation of women in the labor force at

24 percent when globally it is at 63 percent (as against the 94 percent of men), most of the women are in the informal and vulnerable employment (domestic help, agriculture), and are always paid less than men. During the recent elections in Assam, reports suggested that women workers in plantations of marquee companies are paid much less than men and never promoted to supervisory roles. The global gender wage gap is

The COVID19 crisis has increased the impact at the bottom of the pyramid where financial independence for women just got obliterated 106

| July 2021


is closed, given the current rate of progress based on the four pillars: education attainment, health, economic participation, and political empowerment. India has slipped further down in ranking from 112 to 140 in just one year, confirming the assumption that the women folks have been hit very hard during the pandemic. In fact, India was hit badly on all aspects of gender inequality and only Pakistan and Afghanistan are the two Asian countries worse than it.

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The process of women economic empowerment, which increases women’s real power over economic decisions influencing their lives and priorities in society, clearly needs much more than what we dole out today, or promise during election times

G e n d e r

about 24% but the pandemic lockdowns have destroyed that with more women being denied jobs. Governments, society, and businesses are putting further hurdles on gender parity in terms of little or no access to social security schemes, banking services, education, digital services, and so on. As for corporates, the glass ceiling has always been there, preventing leadership roles for women. The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2021 predictably repeated the 2017 situation of halted progress towards closing the gender gap. The COVID-19 crisis has increased the impact at the bottom of the pyramid where financial independence for women just got obliterated. Yes, many governments in both developed and developing economies, and a few businesses have been trying to bring parity until the pandemic struck. The global gender gap, defined as the difference between men and women as reflected in social, political, intellectual, cultural, or economic attainments or attitudes, will not get narrowed in the near future without all the major stakeholders working together with a solid agenda – that of economic growth by inclusion. It is estimated that another 135 years will have to go by before the gap

It appears that without an economic or business case, most governments or companies will not help accelerate the progress. If half of the world’s population that can work do not get to deliver their full economic potential, there is no way the postpandemic global economy can recover to its accelerated pace. The process of women economic empowerment, which increases women’s real power over economic decisions influencing their lives and priorities in society, clearly needs july 2021 |

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much more than what we dole out today, or promise during election times. The global GDP could rise by as much as US$ 28 trillion by 2025 if women play an equal role to men in labor markets, for instance. India’s GDP will certainly get impeded by not letting a major part of its 1.3 billion compete equitably. With a huge number of marginalized women at the bottom of the pyramid gaining economic empowerment, our GDP could get almost a trillion dollars annually towards the 5 trillion economy dreams. Businesses can play a more involved role in supporting the government efforts towards inclusion and can learn from global enterprises that have made solid business cases working to close gender gaps. Companies with more women representation have

| July 2021

achieved 22 percent higher productivity, 40 percent better customer retention, and 27 percent more profitability. With less attrition, women employees can bring in major cost savings and reliability. Why is it then that the HR heads not pushing for faster gender equity and helping themselves? Here are a few things HR must do to drive women empowerment and establish it as a true business partner: • Develop an equal opportunity employment policy. Use technology and AI to remove bias on gender, caste, etc., and select employees at all levels based on merit and fit for the position. Numerous studies have found that women have a better chance to land up jobs when their gender is not known (women coders and orchestra auditions).

• Push for a gender sensitivity culture. Review the current practices, and make a conscious shift from gender-neutrality to gender sensitivity. Insist on diversity and inclusion at almost all levels and promote more women internally to next-level roles. Break down the silos to allow women to grab potential opportunities in hitherto maledominant roles. WFH has shown how efficiently women can handle flex timings and productivity issues. In sexual harassment issues, take the side of the woman to protect her rights. • Appoint more women in research and development roles. A study of

Companies with more women representation have achieved 22% higher productivity, 40% better customer retention, and 27% more profitability. With less attrition, women employees can bring in major cost savings and reliability


Businesses with a conscience can achieve far more than what governments can by influencing policymakers. HR can play a major role in driving this with a bit more commitment and conviction women during interviews, or discuss during performance appraisals.

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• Focus on DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion). Do not promote diversity as a number or ratio, as it will not lead to automatic inclusion. Most HR heads make the blunder here. Instead, take metrics to identify the risks and prioritize initiatives. • Create a training program to coach and sensitize the male employees on how best to work with women counterparts. Accosting to a veteran who had had success in gender diversity in his organization, the training should include such items as what types of questions should not be asked to

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over 4000 companies found that more women in R&D roles resulted in radical innovation. It appears women score much higher than men in championing change. If you are looking at growth from developing affordable products and services for low-income groups, women are the best to develop them. • Break the barriers to allow progress. Cultural and structural barriers quite often come in the way of female employees from progressing internally. Unconscious bias and discrimination are rampant even in highly esteemed organizations. Establish fair and transparent HR policies. Getting more women into senior roles will help achieve much in reducing bias. • Engage local communities to learn and adapt. Businesses cannot sustain long-term shareholder value without ensuring the welfare of the communities they exist in. It is in the best interests of the enterprises to engage with local communities for understanding the cultural and other barriers in the society. It will also help connect with potential customers, employees, and special interest groups driving the gender agenda and diversity further.

There are over 14 crore girls and women in schools and colleges in India. Even if a quarter of them come into the labor market, there will be dramatic progress by 2030. Businesses with a conscience can achieve far more than what governments can by influencing policymakers. HR can play a major role in driving this with a bit more commitment and conviction. Dr. M. Muneer is co-founder and chief evangelist of the non-profit Medici Institute. Twitter @MuneerMuh july 2021 |

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Gulshan Walia

Leadership lessons in 2nd order thinking

Second order thinking is an essential skill that a leader must cultivate for making decisions in uncertain, and highly complex situations

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he migrant crisis, the mental health setbacks, the shortage of blood supply due to vaccination. All these are unintended consequences of the decisions made to control the pandemic. Could these consequences have been prevented? Maybe. Maybe not. It’s a tough question to answer, as we don’t have all the information. But, there are clear leadership lessons here. The pandemic is an example of an unprecedented, highly challenging situation with very severe consequences. The choices available are the devil on one side, and the deep sea on the other. Unfortunately, there are no perfect decisions in such circumstances, but there are guidelines that help make a well-informed decision, backed by a sound thinking through of the consequences. Second order thinking is an essential skill that a leader must cultivate for making decisions in uncertain, and highly complex | July 2021

2nd order thinking delves deep into the layers of consequences of the solution. It examines the consequences of the consequences and pushes you to think through the unknowns situations. Thinking through the 2nd, 3rd, and Nth order consequences of a decision is known as 2nd order thinking. First order thinking focuses only on the problem at hand and its solution. 2nd order thinking delves deep into the layers of consequences of the solution. It examines the consequences of the consequences and pushes you to think through the unknowns. It is the high order thinking of masterful chess players,

where they think through the next five moves and possible scenarios, depending upon the move they make now. It takes conscious intention, time, and effort. Here are some guidelines to help you leverage 2nd order thinking: Conscious intention – Internalize that this is an unprecedented situation, and decision-making will need a lot of deliberation. A few questions a leader needs to ask himself before making a decision • “Do I have all the information I need?” • “Is it even possible to get all the information, or will a decision have to be made with incomplete information?” • “How can I get the available information, expertise, and wisdom needed to make a well-informed decision?” • “How much time do I have?” Involve the experts and the stakeholders in the


2nd order thinking needs a Systems Thinking mind-

a month from now? 6 months, a year, and so on

set – A Systems Thinking mindset understands the inter-relatedness of things. It knows that a change in one part of the system will affect another part of the system. It is the ability to understand the problem holistically and see the big picture. When faced with complex problems, a leader can invoke a collective Systems Thinking mindset by discussing some of the following with the concerned stakeholders: • What are the systemic inter-relationships and interdependencies? Which other parts of the system will get impacted if we make this decision? How will they get impacted? What will be the consequences of that impact? • And then what? What else? Are we missing something here? • What could go wrong? What are the risks? • Think in terms of time. What could happen in

Incubate the decision – The subconscious has magical powers to sort out all the tangles in our thinking. Sleeping over a decision somehow makes everything much clearer. Obama calls this process “marination”, and says he would let decisions marinate in his mind, while he exercised or got his haircuts. Incubation or marination is the time when you are not consciously thinking of the problem. You allow the subconscious mind to work its magic. So, give some time for all the information and perspectives to collide, create friction and then converge and synthesize into a compelling decision. And here’s the punchline! Even after doing all this thinking work, there can be adverse outcomes of the decision you made. There may be “unknown unknowns” which are impossible to predict. As a leader, your only solace will be that you put in your all, considered everything that could have been considered, and made the best possible decision you could have made. And you will rest easy knowing that at times there are no perfect decisions, there are only better decisions or worse decisions.

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thinking – Being the leader does not mean you know it all. There may be experts who understand the situation better than you. Involve both sets of stakeholders - 1) those who have to implement the decision, 2) those who are impacted by the decision. And listen to them. Barack Obama discusses this in an article; he says he would call for meetings with experts and his team when thinking through tough problems, and says : “Of course, that only works if you listen — really listen — to others. For me, that meant asking everybody in a meeting what they thought about the problem at hand. I’d call on folks in the back row, including the most junior staffer. That required people to come prepared to share their views.” Allow contrarian views to surface. This will sharpen and deepen the thinking, and get a better understanding of the consequences. The biggest obstacle to this process is the leader’s ego. The inability to accept that someone else could know better. A leader with a fat ego, who sees disagreement as disloyalty is setting himself up for failure. Humility is a leader’s biggest ally in situations where he does not have all the answers himself.

Gulshan Walia is a Leadership Coach & HR Consultant july 2021 |

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Visty Banaji

Twinkle, twinkle, leadership star Can you unlearn what you are? The origins of business leadership and management are hidden from most of us. Unless we penetrate this veil, we shall find ourselves hard put to change some of the pernicious legacies we take for granted

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ver wondered why it is so difficult to implement a networked team structure in a traditional business enterprise? The standard reporting hierarchy seems to spring back into place regardless of the number of times you have explained the need for flexibility and agility and rolled out the new arrangement. Ever wondered why innovation is delivered so painfully when midwifed by helping hands from a corporate bureaucracy? Even brilliant babies, conceived and delivered outside the stultifying confines of large organizations, suffer from high infant mortality rates once brought into the suffocating clutches of a corporate behemoth. Ever wondered why talk of stakeholder management rings hollow regardless of the stature of the corporate chieftains shouting it?1 Sceptics realize that every established system in the company and amongst its shareholders will create | July 2021

roadblocks as soon as you leave the well-trodden path of profit maximization. Wonder no more. Like Newton, our answer too involves a tree and a falling apple but goes one better by observing the fallen apple doesn’t go far from the tree on which it grows. The way in which we practice leadership and management in organizations today has a lot to do with the parentage of today’s large commercial enterprises. Unless we can unravel this history, we shall

not know why we feel uneasy in trying ways of managing that are essential for the new realities we face and revert to the atavistic responses we have inherited as soon as the new methods meet with the slightest resistance. There are many glimpses of history that we could use to illuminate why we organize business enterprises the way we do even though our reliance on outmoded mental models and methods cost us dearly. For instance, I never tire of teasing my friends in


one side and, on the other, the principles governing the distribution of the fruits of the endeavor’s success. Most of today’s organizations have inherited the way they do these three from a forgotten ancestry. Being unaware of their origins makes it that much more difficult to escape from the vice-like grip they have on the way we do things. Yet, free ourselves we must as we face a turbulent and fast-changing world that will penalize us for anachronistic practices with survival-threatening costs. Moreover, unloosening their hold will give us practice and confidence in shaking off other barnacles slowing the pace of organizational transformation.

Chains of command – and servitude

For centuries, monarchies (and, in a few cases, extreme oligarchies) were the only

working models for organizing and controlling people on a large scale. It is not surprising then that when commercial enterprises grew vastly in size, the same strict, authoritarian, single (or limited) person rule should have been the preferred way of managing rather than experimenting with any more participative or familial pattern. Starting several centuries ago, most countries have by now moved away (at least in theory) from monarchical absolutism, in many cases with violence directly proportionate to the degree of absolutism that had prevailed. However, authoritarian regimes continue to flourish outside of the political domain. When we look for organizations that approximate most closely today to Filmer’s ideal of respect for the divine rights of rulers,6 we find the corporate world july 2021 |

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Marketing that their function has not added much to the idea of fair pricing since the time of St. Thomas Aquinas3 in the 13th century. Even earlier (in fact, before the turn of the last millennium) were the contributions of Muslim scholars to the bookkeeping systems we use in Accounting today. Not to be outdone by other rootdiggers, we Indians can trace everything worthwhile in management (and in a host of other disciplines besides) to Kautilya’s Arthshastra. There is, indeed, an endless stream of such origin-connects that we could identify and pursue profitably. Such history "… shows the forces which have fostered the growth of what today are problems … Management, without a broad knowledge of industrial history, is apt to be impressed only with the vivid colors of the present."5 Regardless of the task to be undertaken, whether it is a hunter-gatherer group downing an antelope in the savannah a hundred thousand years ago or a huge corporate entity marshaling the productive efforts of tens of thousands today, there is just one portal for successfully entering the arena of cooperative human endeavor. At its apex is the manner in which an organization makes its decisions. The pillars supporting the arch are the effectiveness and efficiency of the work design on

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has more than its fair share of determined despots. Even more impactful on the culture of large commercial organizations is military influence on how they were structured and run. The Multi-divisional (M-form) organization that characterizes most large business enterprises today, owed its origin to7 (or shared its parentage with8) the structure of Napoleon’s army corps, as learned by military graduates at West Point, some of whom landed up managing large railway companies in the US in the 19th century. While blindly following the M-form has its own problems (particularly in managing international operations), its impact is not as pernicious as the absorption of the military’s culture of unquestioning obedience to orders and the strict observance of the chain of command. Perceptive observers have recognized the disastrous consequences this can have within the military itself – most legendarily captured in the story of the Light Brigade’s charge during the Crimean war. While fatalities may be less in the commercial world (other than to the life of the firm) the consequences of questioning authority can be no less career curtailing. Surely this description from Dixon’s 'On The Psychology Of Military Incompetence' sounds familiar to many of | July 2021

us: "A hazard of belonging to any rigidly authoritarian hierarchical organization is that, from time to time, the individual, out of dire necessity or from strong personal conviction, feels compelled to apply pressures to those above him. It is a hazard because the ethos of the organization … demands that pressure always moves in one way only, downwards rather than upwards. To buck the system, by prodding those above, can have unpleasant consequences."9

Ever wondered why innovation is delivered so painfully when midwifed by helping hands from a corporate bureaucracy? Unfortunately, what traversed across domains was not the genius of generalship (rare as that might be even in the armed forces) or the courage, fortitude, and presence of mind displayed by individual soldiers and officers. It was the rigidities of military command, with its insistence on 'obey first; ask questions – never', that were the easiest to transmit to and retain in the world of business. Ironically, modern militaries themselves have

moved on from their sole reliance on rigid hierarchies in recognizing the need for more flexible structures as they face the asymmetric battle conditions of tomorrow. A rarely mentioned part of corporate management’s Calibanish ancestry is the Sycorax of slavery. As Bill Cook points out "ante-bellum slavery is demonstrated to have been managed according to classical management and Taylorian principles."10 The Scientific Management credo, that thinking should be left to managers, "was specified thus: '[t]he slave should know that his master is to govern absolutely, and he is to be obey[ed] implicitly . . . he is never for a moment to exercise either his will or his judgment in opposition to a positive order' " 10 Change a few words and you have the operating philosophy of many largescale users of people and the precariat today. Business enterprises in India have had to cope with another overlay: that caused by colonial rule during the formative years of modern Indian industry. Here too, the railways were among the first large private sector employers but, apart from the osmosis of military as well as plantation structures and the unquestioning obedience they bequeathed, came the deference due to the white man. I have referred to this


racial divide in the context of affirmative action earlier in this column.11 "Many of the most lucrative commercial, financial, business and plantation jobs in the modern sector were occupied by foreigners… Even in the Bombay textile industry, where most of the capital was Indian, 28 percent of the managerial and supervisory staff were British in 1925 (42 percent in 1895) and the British component was even

midst of our gender awareness, which props those with the slightest achievements to star status, we ignore a woman who was one of the greatest intellectual giants of enlightened management practice: Mary Parker Follet. As her biographer put it: "Without the benefit of modern research methods, Follett developed such original, penetrating analyses of leadership, power and authority, conflict, and group

You will be told the best way

bigger in more complex industries."12 Post-colonial Indian senior managers found it only too convenient to slip into the lavish lunch rooms, cushy clubs, and deferential demeanor of subordinates that the white overlords had created for themselves. It is not as if voices haven’t been raised before our time against the monarchical-militaristic, voice-from-up-above way of leading. It surprises me enormously that in the

behavior that her ideas form the basis of much of our modern discourse about organizations and management… Warren Bennis, at the University of Southern California, is even more emphatic: 'Just about everything written today about leadership and organizations comes from Mary Parker Follett’s writings and lectures.' "13 Speaking about power nearly a century ago Follet was very clear: "… [I] t seems to me that whereas

The lineage of a single best way of doing things is even more ancient than the conviction that we covered in the previous section (that all commands from the top must be obeyed instantaneously). While the latter derives from the divine rights of monarchs, the former is a demand of divinity itself. However, even before societies started upsetting monarchical authority, brave individuals had started asking whether there was just one best way prescribed by God and, if so, whose God had the single best answer. We saw authoritarian rule has continued in corporations long after nations july 2021 |

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power usually means powerover, the power of some person or group over some other person or group, it is possible to develop the conception of power-with, a jointly developed power, a co-active, not a coercive power. In store or factory, I do not think the management should have power over the workmen, or the workmen over the management."14 And again: "The ramifications of modern industry are too widespread, its organization too complex, its problems too intricate for it to be possible for industry to be managed by commands from the top alone."15 Unfortunately, corporates still find it easier to follow the Field Manual for Infantry Drill than they do Follet.

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abandoned it politically. The matter is no different when it comes to top management reserving the right to prescribe the sole path and suppressing dissent (and if baby innovation gets flushed with the questioning bathwater, so be it!). Just as obedience to the authority provided fertile soil for military ways to flourish in traditional business organizations, belief in the chosen way was rich manure for the Scientific Management movement. Frederick Winslow Taylor did not intend to create a movement that would be inimical to questioning and grass-root innovation but the way his 'scientific design of tasks' was taken forward in industry after industry and country after country, it clearly had a chilling effect on workmen thinking for themselves and expressing disagreement when they wanted to. ."[T]he right person for most of the non-managerial jobs Taylor designed was someone with limited imagination, boundless patience and a willingness to do the same repetitive tasks day in and day out."16 A perfect descriptor of Chaplin’s 'Modern Times' – or countless call center, mass production and delivery jobs in India today! Though not derived directly from Taylor, Alfred Krupp exemplified this zeitgeist in Germany when he wrote the General Regulations for his employ| July 2021

There are many glimpses of history that we could use to illuminate why we organize business enterprises the way we do even though our reliance on outmoded mental models and methods cost us dearly ees with the intent that "no case should occur for many years, for a century, which has not been foreseen in this compilation."17 Once again, it’s not as if Taylor had no critics as soon as his task dissection and prescription method started racing across the US and then the rest of the world. Harrington Emerson, to name just one, believed "… that standards should never be cast in stone: they should alter as circumstances dictate, as new technology becomes available or as workplace conditions change... Standards are there for

guidance, not as challenges or methods of compulsion."17 Understandably, the criticism expressed by Samuel Gompers, the founder of the American Federation of Labour, was even more barbed. He felt Taylorism robbed workers of meaning and satisfaction in their work and "transformed them into … 'high speed automatic machines' that were … 'a cog or a nut or a pin in a big machine' " 17 Unfortunately, the Taylorism tide was far too strong for these wavelets of opposition. Matters reached such a pass that when innovation had to be genuinely


themselves and waiting years for incremental but durable improvements to bring up productivity. And in any case, with growing contractualization, is there a durable core available for training anymore?

Re-framing the portal to collective endeavor

Peter Drucker wrote: "If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old." This column has identified the origins of two assumptions that have outlived their usefulness. This is a necessary prelude to excising them. Observant readers will have noticed that still leaves out one part of the portal identified for renovation. Readers with good memories will recall, however, that the sacralization of shareholder returns had been critiqued in a previous column.19 The same column sought to give

Notes:

1. David Lazarus, CEOs say they care about customers and workers. Propaganda experts are unimpressed, L A Times, 21 August 2019. 2. Daryl Koehn and Barry Wilbratte, A Defense of St. Thomas Aquinas’ Idea of the Just Price, Business Ethics Quarterly, July 2012. 3. Sherif El-Halaby and Khaled Hussainey, Contributions of Early Muslim Scholars to Originality of Bookkeeping System, Corporate Ownership and Control, January 2016. 4. Dr Balakrishnan Muniapan, Kautilya’s Arthashastra and Perspectives on Organizational Management, Asian Social Science, January 2009, 5. Oliver Sheldon, The Philosophy of Management, Routledge, 1924. 6. Peter Laslett (ed.), Patriarcha and Other Political Works of Sir Robert Filmer, Oxford, 1949. 7. Philip A Talbot, Management Organizational History – A Military Lesson, Journal of European Industrial Training, July 3002. 8. Keith Hoskin, Richard Macve and John Stone, The Historical Genesis of Modern

9. 10. 11.

12. 13. 14. 15.

Business and Military Strategy: 1850 – 1950, As submitted to Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Accounting Conference, Manchester, July,1997. Norman F Dixon, On The Psychology Of Military Incompetence, Pimlico, 1994. Bill Cooke, The Denial of Slavery in Management Studies, Journal of Management Studies, 40:8, December 2003. Visty Banaji, There is an Elephant in the Room- And the Blind Men of Indostan Can’t See it, 26 September 2018, (https:// www.peoplematters.in/article/others/ there-is-an-elephant-in-the-room-and-theblind-men-of-indostan-cant-see-it-19335). Angus Maddison, Class Structure and Economic Growth: India and Pakistan Since the Moghuls, Routledge, 2010. Joan C Tonn, Mary P Follett – Creating Democracy, Transforming Management, Yale University Press, 2003. Mary Parker Follett, Dynamic Administration: The Collected Papers of Mary Parker Follett, Martino Fine Books, 2013. Mary Parker Follett, The Process of Control, in Luther H. Gulick and Lyndall Urwick (eds), Papers on the Science of Administration, 1937.

'people happiness' pride of place instead. The one-size-fits-all legacy of Scientific Management has also been rebutted in several previous columns. Perhaps the best replacement pillars are contained in a recent column on job enrichment20 and a previous one on craftsmanship.21 That leaves what, in many ways, is the greatest challenge, demanding the most revolutionary recast: the way we take decisions. For too long has the monarchical model held sway in corporates – far after it has been scrapped in most other social agglomerations. That monumental change to the keystone of the management portal demands at least a column to itself. Wait for it. Visty Banaji is the Founder and CEO of Banner Global Consulting (BGC)

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nurtured, it was protectively tucked away from the yoursnot-to-question-why atmosphere of the larger corporation into a skunk works.18 This is also why larger corporates have to acquire rule-free start-ups to keep their pipelines filled with brilliant ideas. And why the plants in those hothouses of innovation wilt and die as soon as a know-all HR leader from the acquiring giant decides to extend its standards and procedures to the acquisition. After a brief flirtation with Kaizen (which, admittedly, did result in lasting marriages in some cases) the tendency even today is to turn to a consulting firm (with claims of access to international best practice) for obtaining the best way to run a process. It is seen as the quicker path rather than training and encouraging people to think for

16. James Suzman, Work: A History of How We Spend Our Time, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2020 17. Morgen Witzel, A History of Management Thought, Routledge, 2011. 18. Michal Biron, Helen De Cieri, Ingrid Fulmer, Cai-Hui (Veronica) Lin, Wolfgang Mayrhofer, Margarita Nyfoudi, Karin Sanders, Helen Shipton and Jian Min (James) Suni, Structuring for innovative responses to human resource challenges: A skunk works approach, Human Resource Management Review, May 2020. 19. Visty Banaji, HR’s business should be happiness raising, 24 September 2019, (https://www.peoplematters.in/article/ life-at-work/hrs-business-should-be-happiness-raising-23175). 20. Visty Banaji, "If you want people to do a good job, give them a good job to do", xxxx, (xxxx). 21. Visty Banaji, In Praise of Craftsmanship: Past Perfect – Present Imperfect – Future Tense, 8 June 2018, (https://www. peoplematters.in/article/technology/ in-praise-of-craftsmanship-past-perfectpresent-imperfect-future-tense-18481).

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Priti Shetty

How COVID-19 is shaping the future of work

Businesses need to chalk out comprehensive plans for workplace strategy, talent management, organizational culture, and employee welfare, as hybrid and flexible models define the future of work

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rganizations across the world have had to embrace radical change as the COVID-19 crisis has had far-reaching consequences on the workplace and workforce of the future. One of the notable trends has been the acceleration of digital transformation and innovation, with video conferencing tools and virtual communities continuing to engender a sense of connectedness, in a time when we are encountering widespread social isolation and pandemic stress. The pandemic has highlighted the need for health and safety, human connection as well as mental and physical wellness as paramount conditions for a business to survive and thrive. While new COVID-19 cases and deaths have dropped sharply globally, and closer home, the curve seems to be flattening, it is apparent that the virus is here to stay. This is a clear indication for businesses to chalk out comprehensive plans for workplace strategy, talent management,

| July 2021

organizational culture, and employee welfare, as hybrid and flexible models define the future of work. Employee health, both physical and mental wellbeing, has taken center stage today. Providing employees with the tools, resources, financial aid, and flexibility for health and safety and selfcare has become a priority for corporations—from bluechip organizations to startups. From offering financial aid to families of employees impacted by COVID-19, to bearing costs for hospitalization, insurance, funeral, and vaccination expenses, many corporations have stepped up their employee welfare game.

Many have even gone above and beyond in assisting individual employees in procuring food, groceries, oxygen concentrators, and supporting the families of COVID-19 deceased with employment opportunities for next of kin. Employee Assistance Programs (EAP), enable employees to have access to a range of confidential and professional counseling services during these distressing times. Apart from this, a few companies have introduced wellness leave to encourage people to take a mental health break or to cater to sickness or period leave. In a prolonged work from home scenario, many organizations have announced “Zoom-free” days or “wellness days” to help employees get a break from Zoom fatigue and to make space for people to pause, reflect and focus. As travel begins to gradually resume, WeWork India offers a “workation” policy of up to ten days annually that allows people to travel and spend time with loved ones or just


explore new places, while they work remotely.

Post-COVID employee experience

Driving company and function level communication to ensure employees are connected to the company mission will be a focus area for CEOs in culture proved again that company culture is indeed an organization’s immune system and acts as the glue that binds a virtual and dispersed workforce together when there is uncertainty and unpredictability in the environment around us. The experiences of the last year have also served as a reminder for companies to stand together in solidarity during a crisis, staying united in the fight against the virus. “Community over

commerce” has been the overarching philosophy for many organizations and this is reflected in people and performance management policies. Companies have partnered with several organizations for humanitarian COVID-19 aid and we will continue to see large corporations pave the path in these efforts for many months to come. Companies will continue to offer their workforce the flexibility to operate out of workspaces closest to their homes, making “work near home” another trend. We will start seeing innovative workplace design strategies that factor in staff rotations, hybrid work models, health and safety protocol as well as wellness priorities. The post-pandemic future of work hinges on our response to the pandemic. It calls for thinking on frameworks to prepare for and manage crises such as the pandemic. COVID 19’s longterm influence is expected to drive digital innovation to new highs, expand cloudbased collaboration and AI-driven software. But most importantly, it holds the promise to make company culture and wellness a strategic people priority, improve workplace policies that support the diversity of talent, and transform the quality of lives.

The N e w Workpla ce

A sense of community and collaboration lies at the heart of employee experience and the focus of human resources teams will shift towards uplifting the overall “life” experience for employees, and not just their experience at work. Driving company and function level communication to ensure employees are connected to the company mission will be a focus area for CEOs, as remote employees will miss the human connection that forms an integral part of the culture. Hosting employee-led virtual events and extending these events to families have become part of the employee engagement strategy. Many organizations have organized expert sessions on health and wellness, mindfulness, stress and anxiety management, and pandemic-related education. CXO leaders will aim to connect with employees from across markets, check in, and provide empathy and support. There are also numerous examples of employees who have stepped up and gone the extra mile to contribute to the community in these trying times. Brands will showcase these employee stories of everyday greatness to offer hope, inspiration, and optimism to the community. Employee

Resource Groups (ERGs) will focus on creating awareness and organizing initiatives to highlight the power of inclusion in a “remote” world, share mutual experiences, and provide the right tools and channels for every individual to “belong”. WeWork India launched “Level Up” and a “Further Education Program” to help employees meet aspirations for learning and development and higher studies, with 16 scholarships offered in 2021. The pandemic has

Priti Shetty is the Head of People at WeWork India july 2021 |

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T a l e n t Ac q u i s i t i o n

Hiring overqualified candidates The case of overqualified candidates has become increasingly common in recent years and is evident in economies with competitive job markets By Nrusingh Prasad Panigrahy & Dr. Lalatendu Kesari Jena

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ould you believe that nearly two crore candidates applied for the 63000 level-I jobs in Indian Railways? 62 posts of messengers in Uttar Pradesh police post which requires minimum eligibility of Class 5 has applicants which include 3,700 Ph.D. holders, 50,000 graduates, and 28,000 postgraduates.

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These examples reflect the desperate state of affairs of overqualified youths seeking comparatively low-level government jobs and other allied sectors. As per the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) of January 2019, the country’s unemployment rate had hit a 45-yearhigh of 6.1 percent in 2017-18 and from September 2020 to Febru-


construed as a violation of Article 14 and 16 of the Indian constitutions which talk about Right to Equality and ‘Equality in matters of public employment’ respectively. The verdict observed that unequal cannot be treated equally and maintaining equality amongst equals is the constitutional mandate.” While the Madras High Court’s judgment is sound in the context of government jobs, in the context of private jobs it is less so. This is because jobs in some companies, especially startups are less clearly defined; it is

By incorporating proper plans and strategies to handle overqualified employees, an organization can build its human capital base that will lead to building a longterm competitive advantage

T a l e n t Ac q u i s i t i o n

ary 2021, the unemployment rate has swung between a high of 9.1 percent and a low of 6.5 percent, with the average being around 7.4 percent. As per these figures, there were 14 million unemployed people in India as of July 2017, which doubled to around 29 million in October 2018. While by the end of February 2019, India had around 31.2 million qualified people actively looking for jobs, data shows. In many developed countries, a considerable share of workers is overqualified for their jobs. The issue has become increasingly common in recent years and is evident in economies with competitive job markets. While it may result in positive effects for some organizations such as an employee performing at a higher level, it can also lead to higher salary expectations, lower level of job satisfaction, and a higher chance of a person leaving their job. In a recent judgment, The Supreme Court of India said, a prospective employer has discretion not to appoint a candidate who may have a “higher qualification”, but not the one prescribed for the job vacancy. In a similar judgment, the Madras High Court recently made a judgment to reject the applications of overqualified people for government jobs. The judge directed the state government to clearly describe minimum and maximum eligibility for a job vacancy to restrict applications of over-qualified candidates. He was of the view that the appointment of overqualified candidates should be

harder to set concrete guidelines stating who is qualified for a job. As the job requirements in the private sector change frequently, it makes it hard to create guidelines stating who is qualified for a job. We are witnessing that several startups these days hire overqualified employees because it leads to higher productivity.

Should you hire an overqualified candidate? Overqualification has been understood to negatively affect attitudes, performance, and turnover. Certainly, there is no right or wrong answer to whether an

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Managing their lifecycles in the organization

T a l e n t Ac q u i s i t i o n

organization should hire an overqualified candidate or not. Given the current employment scenario and the uncertainty, HR leaders must plan and see if they can leverage this talent base. HR needs to determine their motive for working in a particular role before hiring them. Many a time employers have to remember that money isn’t everything to everyone. An employee who is overqualified for a role may choose to work in the role for several personal reasons. For instance, they may want to do a job that is less stressful to just get engaged or because they are less motivated by money or status. HR needs to find out if the candidate is applying to fill the pay gap between jobs or if there is another reason such as benefits, location, or schedule flexibility. HR Manager must follow the formalized behavioral structured interview by incorporating Psychometric/written tests at the time of recruitment to measure candidate fitment.

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The supervisor should assess whether these overqualified employees bring innovativeness and skills to the table. Providing them with challenging roles can ensure they remain enthusiastic and committed to their position. HR can chart out the path and how they can climb the corporate ladder and reach their potential. • Overqualified candidates at an early stage of their career may be given high risks and challenging tasks to fully utilize their knowledge and skills and to keep them engaged throughout. • Employees who are at the later stage of their career may be assigned jobs that provide greater autonomy and flexibility so that they can invest their additional time in leisure, family, or retirement planning activities. In the current situation, by not hiring overqualified job candidates, organizations may miss out on a large, easily available, and potentially low-cost source of highly skilled human capital. By incorporating proper plans and strategies to handle overqualified employees, an organization can build its human capital base that will lead to building a long-term competitive advantage. Nrusingh Prasad Panigrahy is the Joint Manager-HR, Dredging Corporation of India; and Dr. Lalatendu Kesari Jena, Asstt. Professor (OB & HR), School of Human Resource Management, Xavier University, Bhubaneswar, India.


Ankur Hooda

Hiring your A-team What's the key to maintaining a sustainable advantage in today's economy? Read on to find out…

T

best of them by investing in their training & development. Let's call this The Karate Kid approach1. But Google, Netflix, and a few other companies are taking a starkly different approach by shifting their talent budgets from Learning & development to identifying star performers during the hiring stage—let's call this Moneyball approach2. In his book Work Rules! Laszlo Bock3, who led recruiting and people operations at Google, forcefully

argues against the practice of allocating more resources on training than recruiting (Figure 1) and advocated the Moneyball approach. He reasoned the effectiveness of the majority of corporate training programs and thus questioned the value of time/money invested given their incapability in significantly improving the skills of the participating employees. Instead, advocated that spending training budgets on recruiting will yield better results.

T a l e n t Ac q u i s i t i o n

he traditional ways to create a "sustainable competitive advantage" are quickly eroding. Relying on traditional barriers of entry is no longer an option for companies to preserve their market positions given the pace at which the global economy is operating and changing. Netflix is a perfect example that illustrates changing rules of the game. Netflix offered Blockbuster a majority stake for about $50 million in 2000 and got rejected by Blockbuster. Over time, Blockbuster went bankrupt while Netflix's market cap reached $100 billion in 2018. So why did the $6 billion company Blockbuster got beaten by Netflix? What did Blockbuster lack that Netflix have? What's the key to maintaining a sustainable advantage in today's economy?

In a word: talent A common approach in building winning teams is to recruit slightly above-average talent and bring out the july 2021 |

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Average spend per employees at US Companies. Based on data from Bock, Work Rules!

606 456

T a l e n t Ac q u i s i t i o n

Training Spend ($)

124

RecruitingSpend ($)

If talent identification is more economical than talent development, massive investment in the selection process can pay off. Google and Netflix adopted this approach and succeeded in using this insight to create a sustainable advantage over their competitors. Many companies have taken this lesson to heart and are building up their talent acquisition analytics teams to improve the accuracy of hiring predictions. Yet, many organizations use traditional methods like the unstructured interview to select their workforce. Researches have highlighted that the Success prediction rate of an Unstructured Job Interview is roughly the same as flipping a coin. Analysis of 85 years of research by Frank Schmidt and John Hunter illustrated unstructured interviews can predict only | July 2021

14 percent of an employee’s performance4. Atta Tarki in his book Evidence-Based Recruiting5 substantiated General Mental Ability (GMA) tests as the single best predictor of job performance (Figure 2). It assesses a candidate's ability to learn, understand instructions, and solve problems. Other strong individual techniques include job knowledge tests, integrity tests, and tryout stints such as internships. These measures have a high correlation with on-job-performance6

enable to measure, standardize, and replicate many of the outcomes and qualitative methods offer richness and depth of the insights. When assessing candidates, both methods ought to be used as complementary tools. On par with General Cognitive Ability tests, Structured Interviews (26 percent) is an equally reliable predictor as a selection tool, wherein candidates are asked a consistent set of questions with clear criteria to assess the quality of responses. Structured

Predictive validity for job performance of selection tools. Based on data from Schmidt, Oh, and Shaffer 2016 General mental ability test

0.65

Job Knowledge test

0.48

Integrity tests

0.46

Job tryout procedure

0.44

Grade point average (GPA)

0.34

Work sample tests

0.33

Emotional intelligence tests

0.32

Situation judgement tests Job experience Extroversion

Laszlo Bock in his book Work Rules also describes Work Sample Test (29 percent) as the best predictor of job performance and General Cognitive Ability (26 percent) tests as the second-best predictor7. Selection methods can be qualitative/quantitative. The quantitative methods

0.26 0.16 0.09

interviews are further classified as Behavioral and Situational. Behavioral interviews involve asking candidates to describe prior achievements and matching those to current job requirements like “Tell me about a time... ?”. Situational interviews present candidates with the hypothetical situation


Although, none of the styles is bad. However, overreliance on any dominant style can tilt focus towards one part of reality, creating distortion. A more expansive and realistic perspective is available if the hiring team is composed of people with diverse hiring styles than a team with one or two styles. Selecting a hiring team that leverage all four hiring styles and integrating evidence-based selection tools can help to have slightly higher odds of hiring a star performer and slightly lower odds of being a mis-hire. So where do organizations start to embark on this journey? • Assign one of the five best people to talent acquisition. • Define what "good" means in terms of Quality of Hire (competence, traits) • Articulate Explicit strategy - The Karate Kid or Moneyball, i.e., will you try to increase the quality of employees through training and devel-

opment or by recruiting star performers? Or both?Redefine talent acquisition team's role to include education on screening techniques designed to predict on-thejob success and hiring styles • Never give up on tracking results and metrics. • Prioritize and focus on testing a few candidate evaluation techniques at a time All this is easier said than done, challenges include; • Difficult to bring discipline in Interviewers to follow a certain format for the interview or their feedback • Data will be questioned if it runs counter to the intuition of business leaders • Such high-quality bar for every job might be argued by Hiring Managers

T a l e n t Ac q u i s i t i o n

related to like “What would you do if…?” However, while deploying Structured interviews as part of the selection tool, it is imperative to consider The Invisible Gorillas of Interviewing8. Interviewer’s personality, expertise, and experiences shape his approach to leadership and how he/she selects talent. How an interviewer selects talent is called their “hiring style.” Hiring styles come in four types. 1. Tackler – Characterized by speed and decisiveness, Tackler likes candidates who can get results and condense timelines. Looks for evidence of that drive in candidates 2. Teller – Spends time in communication and selling the opportunity. Shares information and gauges the reaction of the employee. Hires candidate who can get inspired based on teller narration 3. Tailor – Prize collaboration. Spend time in building rapport in an interview, promote the exchange of thoughts. Takes decision based on how candidate collaborates 4. Tester – Methodical and fact-oriented. Values data over storytelling. Prefers candidate who demonstrates logical evidence to do a task if required looks for details that affirm the candidate ability to do the job

Holding ground in face of pressure is crucial in the battle for quality. Source:

• 3,7 - Book : Work Rules by Laszlo Bock • 8- Book : High Velocity Hiring by Scott Wintrip • 1,2,5,6 - Book : Evidence-Based Recruiting by Atta Tarki • 6 -Schmidt, Oh, and Shaffer (2016).The Validity and Utility of Selection Methods in Personnel Psychology: Practical and Theoretical Implications of 100 Years of Research Findings • 4- Schmidt, F. L., & Hunter, J. E. (1998). The validity and utility of selection methods in personnel psychology: Practical and theoretical implications of 85 years of research findings.Psychological Bulletin, 124, 262-274

Ankur Hooda works as HR Business Partner with RPG Group (KEC International) july 2021 |

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Past Month's events

Knowledge + Networking

Workforce Planning in the post-COVID Era

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People Matters BeNext 4th June 2021 Online Workforce planning is an increasingly critical function for HR and the changing nature of work, especially in a time that demands the HR community be better prepared for dramatic shifts in attrition and turnover, talent gaps, and talent needs. In this webcast, we discussed the challenges of workforce planning and the opportunities in the way organizations strategically manage their talent.

People Matters EX - A Virtual Conference People Matters 10th June 2021 Online People Matters EX Virtual conference is a fullday event that will feature two virtual tracks and will take a deep dive into different aspects of the EX with keynotes, case study sessions, panel discussions, and dedicated virtual exhibition space for service providers to showcase their latest offerings. It will cover the foundations of EX to maximize business success, accelerating the development of a consumer mindset to solving people & work challenges in order to attract and retain future talent, bolster productivity and ultimately build happier workplaces, which makes more business sense in the long run. July 2021 | july

Workforce Planning in the post-COVID Era People Matters & LinkedIn 9th June 2021 Online When the coronavirus pandemic erupted, companies had to change. Many business-as-usual approaches to serving customers, working with suppliers, and collaborating with colleagues—or just getting anything done—would have failed. They had to increase the speed of decisionmaking while improving productivity, using technology and data in new ways, and accelerating the scope and scale of innovation. And it worked. Businesses need “One HR” that will set the agenda to reinvent the workplace for tomorrow, at speed. In this panel discussion by People Matters & LinkedIn, we looked at the key pivots to keep pace in today’s environment and the new ways of working. New elements of digital transformation and how it has evolved from the three phases– preCOVID, COVID, Second Wave?

Workforce Planning in the post-COVID Era People Matters & LinkedIn 9th June 2021 Online With rapidly evolving business models, and people having to adapt to these changes in real-time, it is now evident that an organization's success would depend on its ability to transform and drive this transformation digitally. But before HR initiates a transformation exercise, it is imperative to build a solid business case for Digital HR Transformation, answering the What? and the How? This webcast discussed all your doubts about embarking on a digital transformation journey. Let’s come together and build a future-ready organization that enables your distributed workforce to become agile, productive, and outcome-oriented.

Performance Management for Hybrid Teams formance management processes themselves change to align with BeNext this shift? This webinar discussed 11th June 2021 that the spotlight will be on all Online aspects of managing and executWe are entering a new ing performance management era of ‘hybrid’ workplaces. systems for remote and hybrid Should the old rules of perforteams and how you can learn mance management processes and practices still apply? How can more about it at the upcoming organizations maximize people’s People Matters BeNext Certificaperformance and engagement in tion program on Performance this new scenario? Should the per- Management for Hybrid Teams. People Matters


Upcoming events Title: People Matters TechHR India 2021: The Great Emergence

People Matters 27th Aug 2021 Online As HR leaders played a pivotal role in spearheading their organizations through the uncertainty, stress, and change, they developed and defined a new core set of skills which is going to be a prerequisite of emerging HR leaders in the second year of the pandemic and beyond. It is these very visionary and talented HR leaders that the People Matters Are you in the List 2021 Awards which is in its 10th year of running aims to recognize- the new generation of HR leaders who rose to the challenge of 2020 and became the answer to the challenges in the People and Workspace and have redefined HR for the future HR leaders. Then 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 People Matters 9th Sept 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 in order 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.

july 2021 |

Knowledge + Networking

People Matters 4th Aug 2021 Online With everything disrupted, considering going back to the old ways of working is not at all a winning strategy. Companies have accelerated their business agility & speed by adopting new ways of working. People Matters TechHR 2021’s theme, The Great Emergence will answer the question that stares us in the face - WHAT NEXT? It marks the beginning of reimagining the possibilities presented by our new reality. A perfect opportunity for you to network with 2500+ delegates and discuss how HR continues its quest to become more digital, data-centric, and business-driven than ever before, with execution being at the core.

Title: People Matters Are You in the List Awards

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Blogosphere

>> Prof. RSS Mani

Managing employee experience b lo g o s p he r e

Employee experience is broadly a subset of organization culture but needs consistent attention by the leaders in specific

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ne of the greatest challenges faced by organizations today is the ability to retain talent and get them to perform to the best of their abilities without continuous supervision and monitoring. It is rightly said that people join companies yet leave managers due to reasons of incompatibility. Thus, the greatest area that organizations need to emphasize is employee engagement and employee experience in the organization. This is broadly a subset of organization culture but needs consistent attention by the leaders in specific. Various aspects of employee experience include norms at work, the culture of teamwork, ethics, camaraderie, growth opportunities at work, and so on. In my opinion, all the above is a continuous process and has to be internalized as a way of work. | July 2021

It is here that the responsibility of the top management and leadership is paramount. It Is rightly said that culture building starts at the top and slowly seeps down to every level of the hierarchy downwards. Leaders obviously have to create trust and also be the role model that people look up to. Most successful and respected leaders are those who are seen following the rules and policies that have been curated and created by them. In the absence of

this approach, leaders become guilty of corporate hypocrisy where they believe that they are beyond the policies they create and thus set a wrong example down the line. What leaders can do for their employees Top leadership in an organization would be those five percent who influence the working and performance of the remaining 95 percent. In many organizations, these constitute the highest levels in the corporate hierarchy. Managers tend to get to such


parent manner so that all learnings are available to all members of the group and this produces a healthy environment where feedback is given and received in a positive manner. How they can enhance employee experience In the current scenario with changing times and changing approaches to managing people, a good leader can produce more lead-

It is rightly said that people join companies yet leave managers due to reasons of incompatibility. Thus, the greatest area that organizations need to emphasize is the employee experience which is broadly a subset of organization culture ers. However, this is easier said than done because the entire challenge of leadership is how to inspire people to do their best first as a member of the group. A good leader is a role model and can walk the talk. In specific terms, he should know the way, go the way and show the way for others to follow. An effective team would be one where hierarchies are determined by competence,

ability to execute and deliver a certain project rather than by the seniority or the number of years of experience the members have. This lays the foundation of situational leadership where you get an opportunity to lead the team daily based on your competence and skills and not on any other factor. A great leader is also one who is extremely empathetic to his employees. How management can empathize and encourage their workforce? A good starting point for any successful leader would be to ask instead of telling. Very often some of the best ideas in the team are lost because the leader tells the team what he would like them to do instead of asking them. I strongly believe that the hallmark of a great leader is the ability to display compassion. It is very easy to pass judgment on people but always remembers that everyone is fighting their own battles and hence the display of compassion by the leader would bring in the right spirit of camaraderie & mutual understanding. In his effort towards supporting each other, every member of the team should live by the belief that becomes successful by helping others become more successful.

b lo g o sp he r e

positions based on their seniority, length of service, and proven track record of performance. A good leader should be able to involve all the members of his team and ensure that everybody's strengths are harnessed. He should also be conscious of the weaknesses of the members of his team and allow them to overcome them through learning and development. Further, they should be seen as a person who is unbiased i.e firm yet fair. Very often leaders are being accused of taking sides based on their own personal preferences or favoritism and this often ruins the morale of the team. The leader should be always focusing on what is right and not who is right. Yet another important thing the leader must inculcate is a culture where the focus is on the WE and not the I. The realization that everybody in the team is important but nobody is indispensable must be internalized by all members of the team. This would lead to a healthy scenario to support each other rather than to pull each other down. Freedom of expression and openness and frank dialogue within the team must be encouraged. The leader must create a culture where one can discuss both strengths and weaknesses, successes and failures the rights and wrongs in an open trans-

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Prof. R S S Mani is the Vice President - Institutional Development, ITM Group of Institutions. july 2021 |

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RNI Details: Vol. XII, Issue No. 7, 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

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