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

A humane response to the evolving crisis

T

he great global remote work experiment of 2020 has led organizations to embrace hybrid mode of work — a blended model that combines remote work and office time. With the uncertainty still persisting as new strains of the coronavirus continue to ravage several countries, the rate of change across industries continues to accelerate driving organizations to increasingly rethink their approach to work. Although, COVID-19 cases and deaths are abating globally, according to WHO, businesses are still in a treacherous situation. In cities around the world where the pandemic is receding, people are starting to return to offices, however, in countries such as India,

| June 2021

the UK, Malaysia, Australia, South Africa, and other parts of the world, new variants of the virus are unfurling faster. The rising cases, deaths, and the lack of critical resources continue to accentuate the pandemic's devastation and remind us that its grip continues to impact colleagues and communities all around us. The need for employee support has shot up like never before and organizations took this up as a new mandate to roll out more and better support schemes. On one side, customer and employee expectations are evolving along with mounting digital exhaustion, and on the other, leaders are struggling to build stronger relationships with colleagues so they can do their best work feeling safe and supported. Organizations in India are pivoting to wade the extra mile to just not serve as employers but serve as a support network for their employees. And they are doing it by listening to their people because the greatest insights into what workers need come directly from them. This makes it increasingly vital for leaders to establish a culture of trust and transparency for employees to share authentically their experiences. From granting special wellness leaves, vaccine leaves, setting up COVID-19 care centers for workers, and a 4-day week for their employees, companies are also adjusting policies on insurance and loans to help employees attend to the needs

of themselves and their families. As WHO’s report says, “This isn’t over and it won’t be for some time to come. We need to learn to work with it.” We've learned about the resilience of our people, and that people can be productive and engaged from any location and work setups. With the future of work going to be hybrid, organizations have to lean upon leaders — who put empathy, proximity, and flexibility at the forefront, and find the right work styles for their employees to come stronger on the other side. With the pandemic underlining a strong focus on the sophisticated needs of employees, the responsibility to manage this fell on HR professionals. Talent leaders need to be tech-savvy and data-savvy and up their ability to work with tech leaders. They have to continue the work the way they have been doing — master the art of remote management, focus on team development, invest in upskilling and reskilling, and put wellness as a key priority. So, as companies open up all avenues for employee support, how are they planning for their future amid predictions of more waves of the virus? The June issue of our magazine attempts to find out how businesses are sailing through the new waves of the pandemic. How are they rethinking talent management amid all this uncertainty? How are leaders preparing for the next phase of COVID19-induced challenges? How are businesses upping their


After releasing three insightful editions, Alight is back with the fourth edition of the Alight Solutions’ Alight Solutions’ State of HR Transformation Study 2021 in partnership with People Matters. Read the report to find key insights on how the world of work has undergone a drastic transformation in the current times. People Matters BeNext, our cohort-based certification program, launches three new courses on Diversity and Inclusion. The programs aim at complimenting your D&I efforts and accelerating individual and structural shifts within your organization. Diversity, Inclusion & Balance Program: Levelling the Workplace Leading Inclusive Teams (10th May to 4th June); Diversity, Inclusion & Balance Program: Everyone’s Duty Rethinking Men’s ability to lead Organisations towards Gender-Balanced (7th June to 2nd July); and Diversity, Inclusion & Balance Program: Promoting Women (12h July to 6th August). For enrollment, you can reach out to sumali. purkyastha@gopeoplematters.com As always, we would be happy to hear your views, comments, and suggestions regarding our stories.

THE COVER STORY (BEHIND THE SCENE)

We’re feeling blue, but I would like to see a different hue!

From the Editor’s Desk

business contingency plans to address the potential impacts of a third wave? How are organizations leveling up their employee support systems and work policies? For the Big Interview, we have Francine Katsoudas, EVP and Chief People, Policy & Purpose Officer of Cisco who shares fascinating insights on the continuing uncertainty, the seismic shifts in the world of work, the role of leaders to create a better and more equitable workplace, and what Cisco is doing to succeed in this new world of work. The issue also features Kim Schmidt, Global Leader - Leadership, People, and Culture at Grant Thornton International, who throws light on keys to reinventing organizations and building a sustainable future, how leaders have come under greater scrutiny during the pandemic, and why the current moment marks a window of opportunity for businesses to move decisively towards a more diverse and inclusive future. We also have a Special Interview with Odessa (OJ) Jenkins, Women's National Football Conference founder, CEO + Head Coach of the Texas Elite Spartans, and President, Emtrain, who talks about her dual career as a football pioneer and now C-Suite executive, why her passion melds with a company seeking to diminish bias, harassment, and gender issues in the workplace, and how her background will go into training others on what inclusion really entails.

Umm...

Yes! Done.

Happy Reading!

Esther Martinez Hernandez Editor-in-Chief follow

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

3


contents

J u n e 20 2 1 volume xii issue 6

Expert Views

50 John Gaunt, Synechron’s Chief Human Resources

Officer

cover story

48

By Mastufa Ahmed

54 Ravi Maithani, Head of People and Culture, Tide (IN) 57 Anjali Chatterjee, Head - People and Culture,

AirAsia India

62 Amit Bhatia, Senior Analyst, Forrester 66 Samir Bedi, Asean Workforce Advisory Leader, EY 69 Priyanka Anand, Vice President & Head, Human

Resources - South East Asia, Oceania & India at Ericsson

C O N TE N TS

73 Gautam Dutta, CEO, PVR Ltd. 77 Clinton Wingrove, Principal Consultant, Clinton

HR Ltd

14

the big Interview

Diverse, inclusive leadership key to building sustainable future for organizations

Francine Katsoudas, EVP

Kim Schmidt, Global Leader -

Editor-in-Chief

Manager - research & Content

Esther Martinez Hernandez

Anushree Sharma

managing Editor

Assistant ManagerS - Content

Yasmin Taj

Bhavna Sarin | Neelanjana Mazumdar

Associate Editor - Print & Online

Design & Production

Mastufa Ahmed

Shinto Kallattu

Manager - design, photography, and production

Digital Head

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

Jerry Moses

Senior Features Writer

Shweta Modgil

Features Writer

Mint Kang

4

Prakash Shahi Manager - Sales

Manager - Content

Manager - SUBSCRIPTION

Neha Yadav subscribe@peoplematters.in +91 (124) 4148101

| June 2021

34

The best leaders will be leaders who are closest to their teams and Chief People, Policy & Purpose Officer, Cisco By Mastufa Ahmed

Marta Martinez

special Interview

Printed and Published by

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

People Matters Publishing Pvt. Ltd. Published at

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

Printed at Polykam Offset C-138, Phase - I, Naraina Industrial Area, New Delhi - 110028 Tel: 011-45566341-42

Leadership, People and Culture at Grant Thornton International By Mastufa Ahmed

Note to the readers The views expressed in articles are those of the authors and do not reflect the views of People Matters.

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

Although all efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the content, neither the editors nor the publisher can take responsibility for consequences arising from errors or omissions in the information provided. Reproduction in any manner without prior permission from the publisher is prohibited. Printed at Polykam Offset C-138, Phase - I, Naraina Industrial Area, New Delhi - 110028

This issue of People matters contains 106 pages including cover


22 E m p l o y e e E x p e r i e n c e

By Tanya Heng, Vice President of Human Resources at IBM Asia-Pacific

26 S p e c i a l I n t e r v i e w

86

Emerging stronger with Adaptable HR:

Why you should focus on employee experience

Leaders need to have a purpose bigger than the top or bottom line

Odessa (OJ) Jenkins, Women's National Football Conference founder, CEO + Head Coach of the Texas Elite Spartans, and President, Emtrain By Yasmin Taj

Alight Solutions’ State of HR Transformation Study 2021 By Anushree Sharma

30 D i v e r s i t y & I n c l u s i o n

The new frontier of D&I: Intentionally overcoming unconscious bias

96 T h e r o a d l e s s t r a v e l l e d

By Maia Jenkins

Designing for well-being

By Jeffrey Pfeffer,Chair professor of organizational behavior at GSB, Stanford University and Dr. M Muneer, Managing Director of CustomerLab and Co-Founder of the non-profit Medici Institute

44 I n t e r v i e w

Employees will seek out organizations that elevate DEI as a top priority

Brigette McInnis-Day, VP, People Operations, Google Cloud By Mastufa Ahmed

104 b l o g o s p h e r e

80 I n t e r v i e w

The pandemic became a catalyst for change in organizations

Subhankar Roy Chowdhury, Executive Director-HR, Asia Pacific, Lenovo India By Yasmin Taj

Talent retention: A key element of a company’s long-term success

C O N TE N TS

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

40 W o r k p l a c e W e l l - b e i n g

‘If you want people to do a good job, give them a good job to do’

By Nicolas Dumoulin, Managing Director of Michael Page India

regulars

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

90 E m p l o y e e E x p e r i e n c e

The challenges of managing the global workforce

By Pragya Srivastava, Senior Manager, Human Capital, Progress

92 i n t e r v i e w

Empower part-time careers with an open mindset and fair treatment

Sabine Riedel & Kathrin Triebel, HR leaders of tech firm OTRS By Mint Kang

08 Quick Reads 13 Rapid Fire 102 Knowledge + Networking 104 Blogosphere Featured In this issue AMIT BHATIA ANJALI CHATTERJEE BRIGETTE MCINNIS-DAY FRANCINE KATSOUDAS GAUTAM DUTTA KATHRIN TRIEBEL KIM SCHMIDT

ODESSA (OJ) JENKINS OLIVER SLUKE PRIYANKA ANAND SABINE RIEDEL SAMIR BEDI SUBHANKAR ROY CHOWDHURY

CONTRIBUTORS to this issue Clinton Wingrove Jeffrey Pfeffer John Gaunt Dr. M. Muneer Nicolas Dumoulin

Pragya Srivastava Ravi Maithani Tanya Heng Visty Banaji

june 2021 |

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Letters of the month

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

Leadership mindset: The enabler or roadblock to post-pandemic recovery?

What a ride it has been for leaders, from resistance to reluctance to bargaining and now acceptance. Some continue to be at the bargaining stage and still await to tide through these times before they make the final call on what their working model looks like in the future. While leaders demand agility from the workforce, I believe it’s time for leaders to reciprocate that agility and let it reflect in agile and fluid working models that are accommodating of the extraordinary circumstances the world is in today. The sooner employers address trivial uncertainties about how it plans to function, the sooner they can identify how to enable work in the current climate and make it sustainable and seamless for all. There are no guarantees that the final call is how the organization will be in times to come, but flexibility sure allows one the scope to adjust in a more agile, efficient, and less chaotic manner. - Akhilesh Motiwal

Old MacHR has a farm(ula), E-I - E-I - O!

Very interesting reflection on the impact of EI vs side-effects of EI overdose. It indeed is not just about the existence of EQ but the capability to apply it effectively. While the author presents convincing arguments both in favor and caution, I would still consider EI a truly critical skill today. While companies continue to hire for hard skills, overlooking the aptitude of individuals, they do not realize how interpersonal dynamics impact productivity and team capabilities. Then they look for ways for team bonding to boost collaboration. If EI is placed as a critical factor in hiring, if not a deal-breaker, it would go a long way in minimizing the people challenges that teams and managers often face. - Beetha Praveen

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| June 2021

May 2021 issue

Having difficult conversations in the virtual world

A difficult conversation is about “respectful dialogue”. Couldn’t agree more. In fact, this is more relevant today as a majority of our conversations take place virtually, and often the chaos that continues to envelop the global economy is accompanied by its fair share of difficult conversations. This needs both tact, clarity in purpose, and a not so new, yet often overlooked concept - emotional intelligence. That lens of EI makes all the difference in the present context, however, many are yet to embrace, accept and leverage EI, resulting in not so fruitful conversations, and tipping the scales towards conflict and misunderstanding. - Jeevitha Chandan


Interact with People Matters

Employees vs leaders: The missing link in EX

- Christeena Maria

EX must be focused on unleashing the productive power of its teams

Very well captured. Time, talent, and energy indeed are going to be the key factors shaping productivity. While all are equally important, I would focus on the element of time to bring about greater efficiency as well as productivity. Amid the emerging work-life conflict as well as excessive workload, time has become the currency that remains low in availability for many. Recognizing how time can be reallocated to individual projects and helping employees navigate these nuances will help them reassess not just processes but also working styles, bringing about a muchneeded change in the way work is performed and expectations are managed. - Shaguna Mahajan

EX: How HR can create a competitive advantage

EX indeed plays a decisive role in recruitment, retention, motivation, performance, and selfdevelopment. It has been gaining momentum in recent years, however, the last twelve months have brought it to the fore like never before. EX is a non-negotiable element of people strategy if organizations wish to retain and attract the best talent, and must be infused across the employee lifecycle and organizational culture. From employee touchpoints to interpersonal dynamics to organizational values, EX must reflect throughout, enabling and empowering employees to be their whole selves in an ecosystem that enables them to deliver to their best capabilities. - Hariraj singh

EX: Provided or created?

A much needed reality check on the fact that EX is not a new concept, and it makes one wonder about organizations that had been keeping it on the back burner - How did they treat and value employees before EX became the buzzword? It’s most likely that this category of organizations even now has merely hopped on the bandwagon without any meaningful shift in workplace practices that impact employee experience. However, with more awareness and expected accountability, an organization that fails to meet evolving workplace standards stands the risk to lose talent, both existing as well as potential. - Hariraj singh

Sameer Patel @SameerPatel Thanks a lot Pushkar. Always enjoyed helping @PeopleMatters2 be all it can be and @Ester_Matters knows that. I feel incredibly energized about @SAP’s #HRTech business in the able hands of my colleagues @JillPopelka @megbear and @awils and their teams. Carrie Chitsey Wells @carriechitsey "Given the #benefits experienced by everyone, #remote and #hybridworkingmodels are here to stay and #technology will be a crucial part of this." - People Matters Embracing a hybrid #HR future of business practices. Read more below. hubs.li/H0NlLy50 by @PeopleMatters2 Sowmya @SowmyaRaj A questions on everyones mind - @csreenivas24 talks to @AnushreeS09 @PeopleMatters2 @ibm_in about how organisations can leverage tech like #AI to enhance emp exp in a new world order & IBM initiatives to support employees in these trying times.

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

The author hit the nail in the head when he said EX and engagement initiatives have more to do with creating transparency for HR, and less to do with what it's meant to do -- creating a better place to work where employees thrive. A majority of workplace initiatives, even post the COVID-19 crisis, have been aimed at getting employers access to employee sentiment, over actually acknowledging and addressing employee sentiments and needs. Sure data on employee sentiment will help you strategize better, but right now the time is to listen, understand and act.

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

Xpheno@Xpheno_ The growth of #Edtech platforms over the past several years have accelerated due to the COVID19 pandemic. How is this shaping the #jobs landscape?@PeopleMatters2 @jjerrymoses #SpecialistStaffing #Talent Mark Stelzner @stelzner The #TechHRSEA audience was amazing!! A big thank you to @PeopleMatters2 for pulling together a fantastic virtual event, and an even bigger thank you to those HR pros I had the great pleasure of meeting today. You're all rock stars. David Green @david_green_uk The big reset calls for resiliency and adaptability: Epicor’s CHRO ow.ly/XRk050EBJUH Feat: Jignasha Grooms via @PeopleMatters2 #HR #Culture #EmployeeExperience #Wellbeing #Leadership follow

M > @PeopleMatters2

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june 2021 |

7


Life & Work

38% of workers say the pandemic contributed to a career setback: Survey According to new research from global staffing firm Robert Half, 38 percent of professionals said their career has stalled since the start of the pandemic — and that number jumps to 66 percent for those ages 18 to 24. In a separate poll, 59 percent of senior managers revealed that they postponed

promoting top performers due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and 78 percent of those respondents worry about staff retention as a result. Nearly 1 in 3 respondents said they had a shift in perspective due to the pandemic and want to pursue a more meaningful or fulfilling job.

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Compensation & Benefits

Diversity

Only half of the emplo- Amazon hiring 75,000 yers have made progress workers in the US and on inclusion: Report Canada Despite efforts to make workplace culture more inclusive, many companies still seem to struggle with diversity and inclusion, according to a new report by culture training platform Emtrain. The report, which analyses data from over 83,000 current employees between September 2019 and April 2021, found that only half of the employees believed that their workplace culture is healthy in terms of D&I, or that their organization has a genuine commitment to inclusion.

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Recruitment

| June 2021

Amazon has announced that it is hiring 75,000 workers in its fulfillment and logistics network across the US and Canada, less than a year after its last major North America hiring spree. The new roles will for the most part be permanent, with average starting pay of US$17 per hour– up from US$15 per hour during its last mass hiring, following the introduction of wage increases in April. In addition, workers in some locations will receive signon bonuses of up to US$1,000.

7 in 10 businesses in Australia plan to increase salary this year

New independent research by Robert Half reveals that over four-in-five (82 percent) Australian businesses are concerned about losing their top talent due to the impact of COVID-19, driving a reappraisal of remuneration and alternative benefits in the professional services sector. For many companies, residual revenue loss from 2020 combined with lingering economic uncertainty is causing wages to flatline, with national wage growth forecast to be a modest 1.5 percent for the year ahead. As part of an aggressive recovery plan, 70 percent of Australian businesses are continuing to offer remuneration at higher-than-pre-COVID-19 levels to retain talented staff with crucial skills for post-pandemic recovery.


HR Technology

Capgemini to acquire Multibook's SAP business

Capgemini announced on 9 May that it has signed an agreement to acquire Multibook's global SAP services business. Multibook, a Japan-based software specialist, operates its SAP services business primarily in Japan and across Southeast Asia,

along with a subsidiary in the US. The size of the deal has not been disclosed, but it is expected to help Capgemini broaden its

HR Technology

HR Technology

Interview workflow management startup interviewIA has raised US$2 million in a seed round led by the Colorado Impact Fund, with participation from FirstMile Ventures, Rockies Venture Club, Outbound Capital, Dasein Capital, Stout Street Capital, and Service Provider Capital. The funding will go towards strategic hires, product development, and growth initiatives. The platform has been under development since 2018 and integrates interviewer support, HR transformation, structure, and data-driven interview outcomes. It aims to reduce bias in the hiring process and thereby make hiring more equitable and assist employers in assembling a more diverse workforce.

Talent Acquisition

HR Path raises €113 million and acquires an American company, Whitaker Taylor

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impress.ai, a Singapore-based enterprise recruitment solution platform, has successfully raised S$4 million (US$3.02 million) in a Pre-Series A funding round led by Summit 29K and with the participation of SEEDS Capital, the investment arm of Enterprise Singapore. According to the announcement released today, the funds will be used to drive expansion into new markets such as Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Australia, accelerate product development, increase marketing outreach, and attract more expert talent to join the team. impress. ai was founded by Dr Amrith Dhananjayan, Sudhanshu Ahuja, and Dr Vaisagh Viswanathan. It launched in January 2017.

interviewIA raises US$2m in seed round

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impress.ai secures S$4m in pre-Series A funding

reach across Southeast Asia, including expanding its presence in Thailand where Multibook currently has much more substantial operations than Capgemini. Multibook's SAP business segment employs about 80 people, all of whom will most likely transfer to Capgemini along with the business. Multibook CEO Tadaaki Murayama is also expected to join Capgemini as part of the acquisition.

HR Path, a member of French Tech, has announced a €113 million financing from banks. This new round of financing came in from Société Générale, BNP, Crédit Agricole, Banque Palatine, LCI and Caisse d'Epargne. HR Path plans to expand its value proposition in all countries where the group is already present, with priority given to the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, and Spain. HR Path also announced the acquisition of Whitaker-Taylor is an HR technology consulting firm with expertise in SAP SuccessFactors and SAP HR. june 2021 |

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newsmaker of the month

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India’s brutal second wave – and the way forward

10

T

he brutal second wave of COVID-19 in India has left a trail of lasting devastation. It caught the country completely off-guard and pushed back the progress over the past year on the pandemic. For over fifteen days, citizens in the national capital, New Delhi faced a severe oxygen crisis, leading hospitals sent out multiple SOS requests, and this eventually spawned a black market for essential medicines. Ordinary citizens took to organizing relief on social media to tackle the shortage of critical care hospital beds including ICU and Ventilators. Elsewhere in India, the second wave was just as violent. With the virus making its way to the rural heartland, its impact turns catastrophic. At the height of the crisis, India was contributing close to half of the world’s COVID-19 cases. And according to the US Chamber of Commerce, India’s

| June 2021

economy could not just falter – but become a “drag for the global economy”. The impact on businesses has been unparalleled. From losing employees and family members of employees to the disease to stalling operations due to various emergency restrictions that came into force, businesses are struggling – especially small and medium-size businesses already reeling from last year’s extended lockdown. The second wave has spurred its own share of lockdowns at the state level. It has, once again, caused migrant workers to return to their hometowns.

Tackling the second wave

Even as companies doubled down on the COVID-19 relief measures, many companies took steps to proactively support their employees and their families. From extending sick leaves for upwards of 14 days to help

affected employees recover, enabling medical helplines and aligning medical resources, converting office spaces into COVID-19 isolation centers, organizing testing camps and vaccination camps, and offering financial aid –-Indian companies are wading the extra mile to help employees "heal" amid the crisis. Some companies also offered advance salaries, covered hospitalization expenses, and even announced that they support the children of employees lost due to the pandemic by bearing education expenses up to graduation. From mobilizing the private sector to act and accelerating medical supplies and oxygen, and reviewing the impact on the economy, the Central and State governments of India have an arduous task of ensuring that life is back to normal. Over 40 countries mobilized aid for the Indian COVID-19 relief effort.

The way forward

There are many uncomfortable questions on governance and leadership that have put the spotlight back on the lack of preparedness for the scale of the crisis. But all is not well in India. At the time of writing, there is another brewing crisis that will determine the way forward for India’s COVID-19 fight —will the country be able to vaccinate enough people before another deadly wave takes over? Will the vaccinated be immune to another (possibly) stronger variant? Only time will tell.


Air France-KLM appoints Steven Zaat to succeed Frédéric Gagey as Group CFO Air France-KLM announced that Group CFO Frédéric Gagey (64) will retire and leave his current position as of July 1st, 2021. Steven Zaat, currently serving as CFO of Air France, will succeed Frédéric Gagey as Air France-KLM Group CFO, on July 1st, 2021. Frédéric Gagey and Steven Zaat will work together to conduct a seamless transition of responsibilities.

FleishmanHillard appoints a Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer FleishmanHillard has appointed Adrianne C. Smith to Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer,

BNP Paribas appoints Sandro Pierri CEO of BNP Paribas Asset Management BNP Paribas announces the appointment of Sandro Pierri as CEO of BNP Paribas Asset Management, its asset management arm, with effect from 1 July 2021. Based in Paris, Sandro Pierri will report to Renaud Dumora, future Deputy COO of BNP Paribas, in charge of the Investment & Protection Services Division of the Group which includes BNP Paribas Asset Management, alongside BNP Paribas Cardif, BNP Paribas Wealth Management, and BNP Paribas Real Estate. He succeeds Frederic Janbon, who will become Special Advisor to Renaud Dumora, to ensure the transition, before leaving the Group at the end of the year to pursue other professional opportunities.

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Oxford Finance appoints David Hickman to Managing Director Oxford Finance LLC, the finance firm that provides senior debt to life sciences and healthcare services companies worldwide, announced David Hickman’s new position as Managing Director of business development in Oxford’s life sciences division.

Udemy appoints Sarah Blanchard as Chief Financial Officer Udemy announced the appointment of Sarah Blanchard as the company’s Chief Financial Officer. Blanchard brings over 20 years of operational and financial experience. Blanchard most recently served as CFO and COO at Omada Health, a digital care company that makes it possible for people with chronic conditions to achieve long-term improvements in their health.

q u i c k

Farid Basir joins MBSB Bank as the Chief People Officer Farid Basir has been appointed as the Chief People Officer of MBSB Bank which was incorporated in November 2005 is a whollyowned subsidiary of Malaysia Building Society Berhad. Prior to joining MBSB Bank Bhd, Farid's previous stint in the financial industry was his role as the Chief Human Capital Officer at Bank Kerjasama Rakyat Malaysia Bhd. In 2018, he left Bank Rakyat, to take on a challenging post at Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM) – which also happened to be his first employer, where he was previously bonded to serve under a tertiary scholarship agreement.

from WPP where she previously served as its first Global Director of Inclusion and Diversity. In her new role, she will advance FleishmanHillard’s global Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) strategy and continue its ambition to become the most inclusive agency in the world.

Skyworks Solutions appoints Head of HR for Asia Pacific Karen Lim has joined Skyworks Solutions as Head of HR, Asia Pacific, and Greater China june 2021 | June

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region. Skyworks Solutions is an American semiconductor company. Prior to joining Skyworks, Lim served in the energy management industry as the Cluster HR Director for Singapore, Malaysia & Brunei at Schneider Electric. Lim graduated with a Bachelor of Business Management in marketing from the Queensland University of Technology. Alex Pusenjak joins Fluent Commerce as Global Head of People Fluent Commerce, the distributed order management platform for omnichannel retail, announces that Alex Pusenjak has joined the team as Global Head of People. Pusenjak will be focused on building and rolling out a robust People strategy for the next phase of the company’s growth. In his most recent role, Pusenjak oversaw the human resources function across Asia Pacific for Datto, a leading provider of cloud-based software and security solutions purposebuilt for delivery by managed service providers. Johnson Controls appoints Vijay Sankaran as CTO Johnson Controls, the global leader for smart, healthy, and sustainable buildings appointed Vijay Sankaran as Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, a new role aimed at accelerating product software engineering development and expanding customer solutions through the OpenBlue digital platform. Sankaran has held leadership roles in technology transformation across a spectrum of industries and most recently was Chief Information Officer and Head of Innovation at TD Ameritrade. 12

| June 2021

VMWare appoints Raghu Raghuram as company's new CEO VMware has named its co-Chief Operating Officer Raghu Raghuram as its new Chief Executive. This step has also prompted Sanjay Poonen, the business software company’s other co-COO, to depart. Raghuram is tasked with guiding VMware as a company free from majority owner Dell Technologies, which earlier said it would spin off its 81 percent stake in the cloud computing giant in exchange for a special cash dividend of $9.7 BN. Raghuram’s predecessor, Pat Gelsinger, was named Intel Corp.’s chief executive in February. Swaminathan Subramanian rejoins Fullerton as Chief People Officer Fullerton India has appointed Swaminathan Subramanian as its Chief People Officer. He was previously with Sterlite Power, where he led the HR function as Group Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) for India and Brazil before rejoining the Fullerton India family. Swaminathan has over 23 years of global experience in various HR leadership positions in places such as Africa and the Middle East. Tech Mahindra announces appointment of Wellness Officer Tech Mahindra announced the appointment of Meghna Hareendran as the ‘Wellness Officer’, with immediate effect. In order to address workforce well-being amidst the COVID crisis, the new role has been created to institutionalize holistic wellness of all associates and to ensure access to medicine, hospitals, and other medical supplies, while maintaining the mental well-being of the Tech Mahindra family. Meghna will work as a central program manager to take care of the healthcare needs of the associates and will also be responsible for managing relationships with Tech Mahindra partners and vendors to ensure a comprehensive suite of wellness offerings to them.


nine Questions

Rapid-Fire

interview

Oliver Sluke

Head of Talent, HR Governance & Analytics, Boehringer Ingelheim By Mastufa Ahmed

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One key lesson that you have learned from this pandemic?

Your advice for aspiring HR professionals?

Stay curious, be openminded, and embrace new opportunities.

The pandemic has impressively demonstrated the great value of health and the pivotal role that our pharmaceutical industry plays for society. At the same time, at work, this pandemic has shown that nothing is more challenging than living in constant uncertainty

Listen more than you talk; celebrate successes together; empower and trust your team; and stay connected

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How is the role of HR changing?

The role of every leader is constantly changing. Good leaders always continue to develop themselves & others

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One trend that will define the future of work postCOVID-19?

Finding a balanced approach where working in the office is

People Analytics will transform HR— understanding people's stories through data can be incredibly powerful a conscious choice of coming together while providing more flexibility in the choice of working place

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One tech/innovation that will transform HR?

People Analytics: understanding people's stories through data can be incredibly powerful – for example, understanding and even predicting why people decide to leave a company

In a large, multinational company like ours, it can sometimes be challenging to feel the pulse of the organization.

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

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The biggest challenge to delivering a great employee experience?

The biggest challenge for the pharma industry to solve in 2021?

COVID-19 will continue to challenge us. Developing effective treatment options for COVID-19 and its complications is a top priority.

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

Develop and empower people; strengthen our innovation culture and mindset; and attract talents from around the world to join us as a global, diverse employer. june 2021 |

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The best leaders will be leaders who are closest to their teams: Cisco’s Chief People, Policy & Purpose Officer Francine Katsoudas, EVP and Chief People, Policy & Purpose

gic alignment of functions and expertise ensures holistic care for the well-being of Cisco’s people, establishes Cisco as a trusted and valued partner to governments and global leaders, and extends Cisco’s reach to positively impact communities everywhere in alignment with the company purpose. A 25-year veteran of Cisco, Fran has extensive experience leading organizational transformations, driving large-scale growth, cultivating successful leaders and teams, and constructing an employee-first culture. Prior to her current role, she served as HR business

partner to the Engineering leadership team and held positions in the Service Provider, HR Operations, Customer Service, Acquisition Integration, and Services groups. Prior to Cisco, Fran worked in both the financial and professional services industries with a focus on customer service and operations. Fran currently serves on the Board of Directors for Americares, Global Citizen, and ADP. Passionate about social justice, Fran is an activist and advocate for a variety of causes close to her heart, particularly women’s leadership, homeless youth, and june 2021 |

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rancine Katsoudas is Executive Vice President and Chief People, Policy & Purpose Officer of Cisco. In this role, Fran oversees critical functions that instill Cisco’s conscious culture, contribute to the company’s overall performance, and advance Cisco’s purpose to Power an Inclusive Future for All. As head of the People, Policy & Purpose Organization, Fran leads an ecosystem comprised of People & Communities, Corporate Affairs, Workplace Resources, and Government Affairs & Country Digital Acceleration. This strate-

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Officer, Cisco, in an exclusive interaction with us, shares fascinating insights on the continuing uncertainty, the seismic shifts in the world of work, role of leaders to create a better and more equitable workplace, and what Cisco is doing to succeed in this new world of work By Mastufa Ahmed

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the Latino community. A graduate of the University of California Berkeley, Fran lives in the Bay Area with her husband and two children. Here are the excerpts of the interview.

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How do you see the seismic shifts in the world of work induced by COVID-19? The world of work has certainly changed! Over the past year, we've learned about the resilience and adaptability of our people, and we've learned that people can be productive and engaged from a variety of locations and work setups. Work is not a "where you go" but a "what you do". We know that the future of work is going to be hybrid, and so we have to work closely with our leaders and our teams to find the right accommodations and work styles that will bear fruit

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in this new world of work. It will require new types of leaders who put empathy, proximity, and flexibility at the forefront but also provides a great opportunity for us to change the way we approach work. As location becomes less of a barrier to engagement, companies can go where the talent is and expand their scope when it comes to finding the best talent for particular roles and teams. Leveraging our networks and technology, we can also help create an inclusive future where everyone can participate.

The hybrid work model seems to be the dominant mode of work today. How can we create a truly hybrid model that yields improved productivity, lowered costs, a strong cultural fabric, and a wholesome employee experience for the workforce?

While Cisco has unofficially supported hybrid work for a long time, we know the future workplace following the pandemic will definitively be hybrid. This is going to require new mindsets and responsibilities for both leaders and teams to make sure that this future workplace is inclusive, connected, and productive. For us to succeed in this new world of work, there are some guiding insights and approaches that will serve us well. We will have to rely on our leaders more than ever, and we will continue to keep people at the heart of every decision we make. Now, more than ever, the role of leaders is getting harder as employees are facing increased stress and uncertainty caused by the pandemic. In the hybrid world, leaders are going to have to be more empathetic and flexible but also get to know the individuals on their teams in a more intimate way to understand how to best play to their strengths to maximize productivity. For one team member coming into the office once a quarter may work best; for another, it could be coming in three days a week. Leaders will have to balance employee preference, the work that needs to get done, and the available technology to power the team dynamic in


How are HR priorities shifting as a result of the crisis? How do you see it evolve in the next 2-3 years? With the "new normal" looking nothing like the normal we knew, employees are looking for trust and safety as they return to work. Throughout the pandemic, our people came to us for support and guidance more than maybe ever before. HR has a central role to play in building a culture that puts employees and

At Cisco, we often talk about creating a conscious culture, one in which we live up to our principles even in moments when we're not by each other's side. Initiatives like our global check-in meetings, increased employee touchpoints with leadership, and regular communication to foster open and transparent dialogue will continue to be critical. We know this type of culture is one that talent is going to seek out and that

they're also drawn to companies that have taken on a broader societal mission. At Cisco, our purpose is to Power an Inclusive Future for All. This applies both internally with our future of work plans and externally, contributing to a more just, diverse, and sustainable world. We recently created a new organization – People, Policy & Purpose, of which HR is a part – that brings together the expertise and functions to help embed this purpose within Cisco but

We will have to rely on our leaders more than ever, and we will continue to keep people at the heart of every decision we make. Now, more than ever, the role of leaders is getting harder as employees are facing increased stress and uncertainty caused by the pandemic

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their well-being at the forefront. Mental health will continue to be a top priority, and employers need to continue providing the resources to help employees cope with the anxiety that comes from continued economic uncertainty, healthcare needs, and adapting to a changed work-life balance. We will also need to continue making datadriven decisions and provide flexibility so our employees can do their best work feeling safe and supported.

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deciding the best accommodations for their teams. This will also require companies to reevaluate their real estate, envisioning offices as centers of collaboration to help amplify the power of coming together in-person, when necessary, to work on projects or connect as teams. The best leaders will be leaders who are closest to their teams – understanding what works best for individuals, deciding when and how their team will come together, and incorporating team rituals to ensure a strong sense of culture. It will also require us to increase our investment in training and new skills development and establish practices and patterns that break down silos to create a more agile workforce, one that is trained and able to function across teams and adapt to the changing needs of the business.

also ensure that our works positively impact people and communities everywhere. Over the next few years, I see HR increasingly directing these efforts at companies around the world.

How should HR leaders plan out current and future upskilling initiatives? How do you see the larger landscape? As the rate of change in all industries continues to accelerate, it is time we change the dialogue and re-think june 2021 |

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our approach to skills. The skills that we need in our workforce to innovate and be successful are evolving rapidly. The game is changing. The pandemic has expedited some of the people shifts that we knew were coming. We need to reframe the skills discussion against the backdrop of "career journeys" and leverage technology to get a snapshot of the skills we have, work with leaders to understand the skills we need, and map to new opportunities that will allow individuals to own their career paths. As industries continue to innovate and integrate technologies like AI and collaboration, the options available for workers to build their skills will multiply. What is important to us is that our workers have the right skills, not where or how they acquire them. Thus, we will continue to expand the sources where we engage our future workforce.

What's your take on how leaders can help create a better and more equitable workplace where everyone is able to unleash their full human potential? What we need to realize is that there is no one-size-fitsall. For some, the past year of remote work has been incredible. For others, not so much. We have to listen to our people and know how to best play to their strengths, 18

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and what we know is that this is going to look different for each team and each person. For a long time, this was dictated from the top down – the manager says this is where and how you will work, and that was that. Employees now have more of a say and must be a part of finding the setup that will best unleash their potential. By creating an environment of belonging and appreciation that listens to the needs of employees and embraces our differences, we seek to build stronger collective teams.

We will need to continue making data-driven decisions and provide flexibility so our employees can do their best work feeling safe and supported But as we do this, we know there are concerns about making sure the playing field is even, that the remote or hybrid employee who isn't in the office isn't losing out on opportunity or risk not having their voice heard. For the future of work to be successful, it must be an inclusive future of work. At Cisco, we're building out our collaboration technology

with this in mind, adding features that will help ensure that every voice is heard and that the best idea wins out no matter where the idea is coming from. We have the opportunity to structure this new hybrid world of work with inclusion at the forefront, which can contribute to the elevation of all voices throughout an organization.

New variants of COVID19 are wreaking havoc in several countries, especially in India. What's your advice on how leaders can sail through this continuing uncertainty? When the pandemic first took hold of the world, we could never have imagined what was to come. More than a year in, we continue to see staggering statistics and lockdowns remaining, with a heartbreaking crisis unfolding in India. The enormity of what is happening there – from the rising cases and deaths to the lack of critical, lifesaving resources – continues to highlight the pandemic's devastation and reminds us that its grip continues to impact colleagues and communities all around us. One of the simplest and most important things is our ability to come together and support those facing crisis. So, how should leaders respond? Listen to your people. This, above all else,


to put our employees, their safety, and well-being first and urge our people to speak to their managers, peers, colleagues, and teams to seek the support needed.

In India, we've offered support in a variety of ways. In addition to financial support to communities and our employees directly, we've expanded medical and mental health support, procured oxygenators, partnered with hotels for quarantine efforts, and set up a dedicated India pandemic support site as a central hub of communication and resources. We will continue

mental health. We began this journey at Cisco a few years ago when our CEO Chuck Robbins sent out a company-wide email about mental health, and we made it an open dialogue, allowing employees to share their own stories. We know the greatest insights into what employees need come directly from them. But to do that, it is important to create a culture of trust and trans-

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How should organizations level up their employee support systems given that work-life balance, flexibility, and mental health are front-of-mind for employees? It has to start by breaking down the stigma around topics of well-being and

parency in which employees can authentically share their experiences. Over the past few years, we've prioritized hearing stories from our employees around topics ranging from mental health to racial injustice. These insights have subsequently allowed us to enact employee-first policies to improve their experience and well-being not just at work but with their families and in their home lives – something increasingly important as the line between work life and home life continues to blur. At Cisco, we've made mental health and wellbeing a regular part of the conversation, including having a mental health practitioner on our all-company check-ins, and what we heard from employees has guided our response during the pandemic. We quickly expanded our resources and offerings by increasing counseling sessions through our Employee Assistance Program (EAP), increasing paid volunteer hours from 5 to 10 days, offering back-up childcare for working parents, and introducing a new Students@Home initiative to support Cisco parents and caregivers. We implemented the "A Day for Me" initiative where the entire company takes a day off to unplug and recharge anytime we sense our teams need it, knowing that burnjune 2021 |

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will give insight into what employees need and how to best support them. Then provide resources, to the best of your ability, to support your people, their families, and their communities. We know that companies don't just serve as employers today but serve as a support network for their people. Providing both resources and clear, regular communication of support from senior leadership and team leaders is crucial for ensuring your people are cared for.

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out has been an elevated risk over the past year. We've been intentional about the diversity of mental health practitioners so we can connect our people to someone who has had similar experiences to them. We've also experimented – with good success – on offering connection through various platforms, including texting options for support. Just like with workstyles, there's no one-size-fits-all, so the more we can diversify our opportunities for support, the more we can reach our people where they are. We applied these same principles to supporting employees around the world in their particular circumstances, including in India. Over the past month, we've held numerous check-ins with our leaders and teams in India, created outlets for them to share their stories and their needs, and allowed what we learned to guide our specific and tailored support and relief efforts for our employees in India and their communities. While the pandemic may have exacerbated these issues, we know we have to remain diligent in supporting our employees. That starts with leaders modeling flexibility and worklife balance, understanding how their individual team members are doing, and responding with compassion and understanding. | June 2021

How are you preparing as a global leader to deal with the next phase of challenges? What are your top priorities? Getting our people through this pandemic comes first. From there, we'll take what we've learned about our people during the pandemic and allow that to direct where we go next. These people insights will drive how we look at the hybrid future of work and how we foster team rituals, develop leaders and teams, and embed what we've learned in the technology we have. We are also looking at making critical decisions around the skills that we need, the environment that makes us our best, how we organize, and how we work together. We will continue to listen and engage to identify opportunities and then prioritize and execute actions. We know that good

business decisions – like reimagining how we work – can also help us do good in the world. To meet the needs of our customers, we must be flexible, accommodating, and empowering. The same is true for meeting the needs of our people.

Where do you see the world of work in 2023? How will technologies such as AI augment human intelligence? One of our beliefs at Cisco is that digital must humanize the enterprise. A key benefit of AI is its ability to unlock in-depth insights and intelligence from your organization and your business. When patterns emerge from the data you can gather from the people, processes, and solutions that reside on your network, you can better identify emerging customer and employee needs and innovate faster than your


experience for all. We're excited to provide this intelligence to leaders and team members so they can better identify when time is well spent…and when it's not. We know we can harness this power to make the best datadriven decisions and teach our employees to leverage insights so they can do their best work while feeling safe and supported.

Could you share one message for HR and talent leaders to act upon and come out stronger on the other side? This past year and everything we've experienced reminds us that human kind-

ness, caring for others, and doing what is right can get us through even the darkest moments. The pandemic has shown that together we can navigate the unknown, step up in ways we never thought possible, and lean on each other when it matters the most. We need to continue working together as one team and focus on hope and possibility for each other, for our employees, and for hurting communities around the world. If we can embed proximity, empathy, and flexibility in our collective approach and culture, we have a remarkable opportunity to work together to fuel an inclusive recovery for all. june 2021 |

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If we can embed proximity, empathy, and flexibility in our collective approach and culture, we have a remarkable opportunity to work together to fuel an inclusive recovery for all

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competitors. We plan to be smarter about the way we leverage digital to enhance the work experience for our people while also helping maximize productivity. In the coming few years, we expect that ~500 billion devices will be connected to the Internet. During this time, the power and sophistication of technologies like AI/machine learning, blockchain, and the Internet of Things will also increase dramatically – even exponentially – and the impact on the workforce will be profound. And when the effects of different technology innovations compound upon one another, the resulting organization will look completely different than it does today, and the industries that they operate in will be entirely reshaped. Against this reality, I want to reiterate our central belief in digitally humanizing the enterprise. One example of leveraging technology in this way already is through our People Insights feature in Webex. People Insights utilizes Cisco solutions to gather and share such data insights to employees about how they spend their time and whom they engage with most often, for example. Leveraging these insights properly can increase and promote personal well-being for individual employees, as well as build stronger connections and a more inclusive work

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Tanya Heng

Why you should focus on employee experience The ongoing war for talent is intensifying, particularly in emerging disciplines, and organizations across industries recognize that they need to differentiate themselves to attract and retain top talent

Employee Experience

For companies that seek to improve the employee experience, adopting the employee’s perspective can provide an important starting point by using data and analytics to identify needs and measure impact on business outcomes

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he pandemic has forced companies to rethink the customer experience globally, including in Singapore. Much as designing customer experience has dominated the thinking of companies competing in today’s digital environment, many organizations are now re-examining the employee experience. Companies are taking a more comprehensive view of influencing it, recognizing the impact experience has on employee engagement and productivity.

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A good example is employee onboarding, or how fresh employees experience the whole process. Companies need to work with a broader set of players across the organization to get it right, ensuring the onboarding experience is memorable. An IBM recruit shared her experience as a new mom. She was apprehensive about joining IBM as she was still breastfeeding and was worried about balancing her need to nurture the baby – and her career. She was relieved at the onboarding when she was assured that IBM


ity and organizational responsiveness.” For companies that seek to improve the employee experience, adopting the employee’s perspective can provide an important starting point by using data and analytics to identify needs and measure impact on business outcomes. Understanding critical milestones in the employee journey can further refine insights into areas where experience may be lacking and what actions can be most effective. Applying a holistic, iterative design approach to change can help employees see improvements

Organizations are now examining employee experience from many different perspectives. Some of these include linking the employee experience to the organization’s culture, fostering a collaborative community, and building purpose and value in work

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provided nursing facilities – as well as the sterilization utensils. The traditional ways of assessing performance – by judging which businesses are worth learning from – were dramatically upended in 2020. The global pandemic and ensuing rolling lockdowns ravaged some industries (such as airlines and tourism) while boosting others (such as food deliveries and online access portals). The heavy impact of circumstantial factors meant that sometimes merely being in the right place was rewarded, and simply being in the wrong place was punished. IBM’s Institute for Business Value (IBV) recently polled 3,000 CEOs and identified those who reported high revenue growth compared to their peers over the three years. About 20 percent of the respondents outperformed the rest, while another 20 percent reported below-par revenue growth over three years. When IBV compared the responses of the “outperformers” with the “underperformers”, dramatic differences emerged. “We found that several factors shape employee experience, including the formation and development of work-based connections and relationships, the design and ongoing use of employees’ physical work environments, and the tools and social platforms employees use to accomplish work-related activities,” IBV reported. “Our research shows that organizations can enhance employee experiences through increased personalization, transparency, simplification, authentic-

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relevant to their work and set top talent. In addition to traditheir expectations for continutional competitors, companies ous reinvention. The HR function in other sectors are also vying cannot bear sole responsibility for for employees with in-demand improving the employee experiskills. ence; doing so requires a cadre of • Approach: Employees are support from other functions such approaching the workplace as marketing, IT and real estate/ as consumers. Individuals want the same experiences in facilities, and leadership from line executives. the workplace that they have Organizations are now examas consumers, such as using simple, intuitive technology, ining employee experience from the ability to rate and share many different perspectives. opinions about products and Some of these include linking the services, and direct access to employee experience to the organidecision-makers. zation’s culture, fostering a collab• Environment: Organizations orative community, and building are recognizing the relationpurpose and value in work. For ship between customer expemany companies, the enhanced rience and employee expefocus on designing meaningful rience. Many experts from employee experiences has its roots companies we spoke with said in five significant trends: that to provide unique, posi• Differentiation: The ongotive customer experiences, they ing war for talent is intensineed to create an environment fying, particularly in emergwhere employees feel valued ing disciplines. Organizations and perform their jobs effecacross industries recognize tively. that they need to differentiate themselves to attract and retain • Engagement: Research contin-

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ues to show linkages between employee engagement and productivity. Numerous studies demonstrate that employees who are positively engaged in their work environments are likely to be more productive, achieve higher customer satisfaction scores, produce higher levels of quality, and have lower absenteeism and attrition rates.

IBM’s Institute for Business Value (IBV) research shows that employee experience is a crucial and complex issue, requiring companies to evaluate the close connection between employees’ physical, social and cultural environments and the tools and relationships they need to accomplish work daily

Employee Experience

The IBV research shows that employee experience is a crucial and complex issue, requiring companies to evaluate the close connection between employees’ physical, social and cultural environments and the tools and relationships they need to accomplish work daily. IBM introduced the “Learn to Emb(race)” initiative, an actionoriented experience that provides a deeper look at race, ethnicity, and related topics. It also provides the right tools and training to support staff to have frank discussions about race and racism with vulnerability, honesty, respect, and trust. Employees can share experiences on a specially-created channel for honest and continual dialogue with superiors and senior management. The bottomline: If people felt great about working with IBM, our clients would too. This point is vital as we compete to recruit and retain the required talent as we go through business transitions and meet the market’s demand and needs. The battle for the hearts and minds of employees is played out daily through their workplace experiences. Organizations that

create environments conducive to a more engaged and productive workforce will win the battle for the hearts and minds of employees. At IBM, we are designing employee experiences that attract and retain crucial talent and optimize the individual and collective potential in the workplace. By optimizing expertise, we optimize our workforce productivity and business potential. Tanya Heng is Vice President of Human Resources at IBM Asia-Pacific. june 2021 |

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Leaders need to have a purpose bigger than the top or bottom line: Odessa (OJ) Jenkins

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In this exclusive interview with People Matters, Odessa (OJ) Jenkins, Women's National Football Conference founder, CEO + Head Coach of the Texas Elite Spartans, and President, Emtrain talks about what it means to be the only women's tackle football pioneer and one of the only black, female, openly gay executives heading up a Silicon Valley enterprise tech company By Yasmin Taj

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aking a mark for oneself in a male-dominated domain is no easy task. And especially in the world of sports. But, Odessa (OJ) Jenkins, who had a love for football since childhood, turned this perception around and proved that a woman can achieve any dream she sets her heart and soul into. And not just sports, today, she has also proved her mettle in the corporate world as well by donning multiple hats, the most recent one being the President for Emtrain, which delivers workplace culture analytics through its online training platform to prevent bias, discrimination, harassment, and ethical lapses in the workplace. In this exclusive interview, Women's National Football

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You are the Founder of Women's National Football Conference and CEO + Head Coach of the Texas Elite Spartans and have now joined Emtrain as the compa-

When you strap on a helmet in a sport that is dominated by people who are not like you, you are taking an activist stand every time the ball is snapped ny’s President. You are the only women's tackle football pioneer and one of the only black, female, openly gay execs heading up a Silicon Valley enterprise tech company. Tell us about your journey which is so exciting and different? I love teams, I love sports, I love technology. I was made to be where I am today. My approach to life started with my mom. She was a working-class woman who often had three jobs at the same time. Always working hard to provide for her family. But she also worked hard to provide for her community. She was often involved in activities serving the

community as well. She was always leading something. She taught me that it’s really important to use all of your gifts. There are 168 hours every week. Use them to the best of your ability to serve other people. And that’s what took me from being a student-athlete at Cal Poly to being President of Emtrain, with many interesting stops along the way.

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Conference founder, CEO + Head Coach of the Texas Elite Spartans, and one of the most influential women in the world of sports, Odessa (OJ) Jenkins who recently joined Emtrain as the company’s President talks about her dual career as a football pioneer and now C-Suite executive, why her personal passion melds with a company seeking to diminish bias, harassment, and gender issues in the workplace, and how her background will go into training others on what inclusion really entails. Jenkins has 22 years of coaching and leadership experience, is a 5X National Champion, 2X USA National Team captain, 2X Gold Medalist, and is heralded as one of the top leadership experts in the country. Jenkins is a tireless and successful advocate for women and girls to break down barriers in all walks of life. She brings the same focus to the workplace she has to the football field. In this interaction, she discusses both this move as well as her work as the face of women’s professional tackle football. Here are the excerpts from the interview.

What are some of the parallels or similarities you can draw between your new role at Emtrain and your work as the founder and CEO of the Women’s National Football Conference? You might not think there june 2021 |

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are a lot of similarities between a culture tech platform and a football league, but there are. Both organizations are filled with high-performing people who are innovative and who are activists. At Emtrain, we are activists who work hard to show the corporate and societal value of respect, ethics, and inclusion. It takes more than just being able to deliver data-backed training solutions. It takes a belief in the veins of the company that what we are doing is right. The same holds true for the amazing athletes in the Women’s National Football Conference. Every one of those athletes is an activist in her own right. When you strap on a helmet in a sport that is dominated by people who are not like you, you are taking an activist stand every time the ball is snapped.

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In addition to the activist mindset in both organizations, I believe both Emtrain and the WNFC have solutions that some might think are ahead of their time. But the truth is, in both cases, they are exactly where they need to be.

Emtrain’s founder and CEO Janine Yancey has actually described you as an "activist" and sees you as having the ability to create true change in corporate workplace culture. What role does passion and activism have in creating more positive workplaces? Products and services are great. And to successfully help a company grow, you have to be smart there. But to be a truly transformational company you need to have executive leadership whose purpose is bigger than the top or bottom line. I am always governed by

my ‘why’. My ‘why’ is rooted in the people I’m serving and the mission that we are trying to achieve. As you’re also the head coach of the Texas Elite Spartans, do you feel there are similarities between a coach’s mindset and that of management? There are definitely similarities between a coach’s mindset and that of corporate management. As a football coach, I’m a lot of different things: manager, therapist, CEO, strategist. It’s the same in the corporate world, too. You’ve got to wear a lot of hats. And in both cases, the way to get the most out of people is to lead with love while also holding people accountable.

How do you see the state of DEI in the tech world today and specifically Silicon Valley? What role do you hope to play there? I think a lot of tech companies are trying to address Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, but they’re taking a very “tech company” approach to it. As a result, we are failing ourselves and each other when it comes to creating diverse and inclusive workplaces. The “tech company” approach is to simply say, “We’re low on diversity, so let’s just add more people of color and make sure we count all the LGBTQ people we have on staff.” That’s a start, but inclusion has to be


How do you plan to balance your role with the Women's National Football Conference and your new job with Emtrain? I have the same 24 hours in a day as anyone else. I’ll balance it just like a single mom balances her work and her household. I’ll balance it just like the entrepreneurial man balances the side business he’s trying to grow. I’ll balance it the way anyone does when they look at their true purpose and make it work. Given the rightful attention on issues relating to DEI in the workplace, could you share a few words of advice for the C-suite executives looking to create a more diverse and equitable workforce and the

You have to commit the resourcesmoney and time-to those who you’ve given responsibility for creating a more inclusive workplace. This means investing in people, and it also means investing in the tools that are important to truly measure your workplace culture potential outcome of those efforts? First, realize that there is no part of your organization that DEI doesn’t touch. To understand this, you really need to do a true assessment of what Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion look like in your business. It’s numbers, yes. But even more than that, it’s also an assessment of attitudes, institutions, and behaviors that are keeping every employee from feeling like they belong. Second, you have to commit the resources-money and time--to those

who you’ve given responsibility for creating a more inclusive workplace. This means investing in people, and it also means investing in the tools--technology and otherwise--that are important to truly measure your workplace culture, and whether the changes you are making are impacting that culture. Lastly, my advice is to have courage and confidence. You will make mistakes. You are human! But it is important to begin that journey, as difficult as it may seem. It’s good for business, and it’s good for people. june 2021 |

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so much more than just a numbers game. We need categorical change beyond just the numbers. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is about shifting power, who you listen to, and who you give seats to at the table. Business leaders have a lot of work to do to ensure that they are truly listening to what is happening within the culture of their companies and then acting in the best interest of all stakeholders. And they have to do this by investing in the tools and the people who can go beyond checking a box that shows you’ve hired more people of color.

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The new frontier of D&I

Diversity & Inclusion

Intentionally overcoming unconscious bias

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The People Matters BeNext ‘D&I: Overcoming Unconscious Bias Program’, taking place from 9 August - 3 September 2021, empowers leaders to address biases and build a more inclusive, psychologically safe work environment for all. In this article, we hear from the program’s Lighthouse Keepers to see how they are ensuring inclusion happens at their grassroots, as well as what learners can expect from the upcoming program By Maia Jenkins

The “What” of D&I: An attempt to see another fully

Understanding unconscious bias has been the foundation of much of Dr. Sondra Thiederman’s work. One of the Lighthouse Keepers on the BeNext program, Dr. Thiederman is also the President of Cross-Cultural Communications and the author of four books, including ‘Three Keys to Defeating Unconscious Bias: Watch, Think, Act’. As a Lighthouse Keeper on the BeNext program, Dr. Thiederman enables the learners to see how unconscious bias undermine D&I | June 2021

at every level and what can be done to acknowledge and address these prejudices, assumptions, or thoughts we have about certain groups that lead us to act and make decisions in particular ways. “Unconscious bias undermines all of our efforts,” Dr. Thiderman says, “including D&I efforts, because the bottom line is they keep

us from seeing people for who they are,” adding that, “because we can't see them for who they are, we're not able to promote the right people, because we're making assumptions about what they're good at.” Thiederman adds, “Ultimately, this affects the leaders’ effectiveness. If a leader can't know who his or her

Complex problems require a variety of perspectives to solve and, as we continue to negotiate several complicated unknowns, the business case for diversity is absolutely undeniable


The “Why” of D&I: Innovation fueled by a strong set of values

Ahead of the program, we spoke with another Lighthouse Keeper, Parmesh Shahani (Vice President at Godrej Industries Ltd, author of Queeristan (2020) and Gay Bombay (2008) and Yale World Fellow) who elaborated on a key concern of the new generation of workers: “At the macro level, there’s a lot of data that suggests that DE&I efforts lead to

“Unconscious bias undermines all of our efforts including D&I efforts because the bottom line is they keep us from seeing people for who they are. Because we can't see them for who they are, we're not able to promote the right people, because we're making assumptions about what they're good at” - Dr. Sondra Thiederman, President of Cross-Cultural Communications

increased revenue,” Shahani says. “There’s a research paper published by PwC in 2018, which shows that there are trillions of dollars to be made if the LGBTQ population enters workforces across the world, while there are about 200 million dollars in India’s part of the population alone. But while this is a substantial reason in and of itself, there is something

more important to consider here.” “Younger people are gravitating towards companies and leaders that care. And it’s not just queer people or disabled people, this is just as true also for able-bodied people as well as straight people. Even if we consider the majority of people or sets of people who constitute the majority - they don’t want to work in organizations that don’t have a strong set of values. More than ever if you want to attract the best talent you have to commit, not just in words, but in action as well.” Complex problems require a variety of perspectives to solve and, as we continue to negotiate several complicated unknowns, the business case for diversity is absolutely undeniable. When you start looking at people as talent and merit in action, unconscious bias fades.

Diversity & Inclusion

workforce is, who the people are, and what's accurately going on owing to an unconscious bias, then there's no way they can succeed.” Compassion is a very important leadership skill in today’s time and age. Another program Lighthouse Keeper, Duncan Hewett (Senior VP and GM for VMware’s business in Asia Pacific & Japan) states, “There’s a lot going on behind the virtual background that we don't see.” Hewett continues by saying that even then, the virtual platform is a leveling platform. Everybody is contributing visually, you know which idea came from whom, there are comments to fall back on, and so forth. The best thing that this virtual office space has shown is that people are willing to change and adapt, and if they are then tackling unconscious bias, this can be embedded into daily rigmarole.

The “How” of D&I: A powerful invitation to change! It may seem like an obvious question to ask, “How do we become more diverse and inclusive as an organization?” But, in reality, there are no simple answers. We posed this question to Maria Teixidor, CEO of VUCA Solutions, an organization that helps advise cultural organizations and technological start-ups on conflicts. Teixidor formerly served as President of the Grup Edelmira Calvetó, an entity set up by the Barcejune 2021 |

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lona board with the mission of reclaiming the legacy of women in FC Barcelona’s history. “Once you’ve identified that your organization is not as diverse as you would like it to be, the way forward is through conscious action towards making that a reality,” Teixidor says. “A question that is always relevant for anybody trying to practice D&I is to ask themselves: “Who is missing here?” and to follow that up with, “Do I

dent and Chief Diversity Officer at Tata Consultancy Services. “At times like these, we all have to knock ourselves to be inclusive, for the ones who are not seen in large numbers,” Dr. Anand says. “Just the other day I saw a flyer coming to me for a panel discussion about a very hot topic, and all the panelists were from one homogeneous group.” Dr. Anand’s contention is that D&I efforts need to be

“At times like these, we all have to knock ourselves to be inclusive, for the ones who are not seen in large numbers,” Dr. Anand says. “Just the other day I saw a flyer coming to me for a panel discussion about a very hot topic, and all the panelists were from one homogeneous group” - Dr. Ritu Anand

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whether that's from parental leave, but recently we had a COVID-19 benefit so if you contracted COVID-19, you are able to apply for up to, up to, 16 weeks of paid sick leave.” With this, we understand that D&I can be facilitated quite by having - or rather, attempting to create - a structure that can speak to the absences of those that are not included, and in doing so, take the first step towards including them.

SVP, and Chief Diversity Officer at Tata Consultancy Services

have all the views I need into this problem - or is someone missing?” Another of the program’s Lighthouse Keepers, Liam McNally, Diversity & Inclusion Partner at GitLab Inc., speaks to the fact D&I is an ongoing process that reacts to individual needs and encompasses the entire organization, rather than a set of temporary measures. “[GitLab] are constantly looking at how we can make our benefits more inclusive,” McNally says. “So | June 2021

The “When” of D&I: The need to be progressive

If an organization hasn’t already thought through the various D&I principles, it may seem like an overwhelming journey to start the process from scratch and implement policies that may or may not work in realtime. The timing of D&I may seem to be a crucial element - and it is - but not quite in the way that one expects. For insight on this, we turned to Lighthouse Keeper, Dr. Ritu Anand, Senior Vice Presi-

present all the time, yearround, and for the efforts not to become complacent at any point. “Now what I do is that I put in conscious thought about people who are different from me, not from the same city, the same culture, or the same background. I look for them because I don't know much. I learn from them. And that is how all leaders should think, in my opinion, and that is the mindset, which is progressive. I have become moved


and inclusivity across the organization. We spoke to another of our Lighthouse Keepers, Carine Rolland, Head of Organizational Development and Talent Management for Asia Pacific and the Middle East at ManpowerGroup, about the organizational structure’s role in driving effective D&I efforts: “I would say collaboration is a very strong value as well, so a diverse organization should encourage everyone to work together,” Rolland says. “Across all

“Once you’ve identified that your organization is not as diverse as you would like it to be, the way forward is through conscious action toward making that a reality. A question that is always relevant for anybody trying to practice D&I is to ask themselves: “Who is missing here?” and to follow that up with, “Do I have all the views I need into this problem - or is someone missing?” - Maria Teixidor CEO of VUCA Solutions (former President of the Grup Edelmira Calvetó)

departments and levels and functions don't work in their own individual silos, they work together, they share knowledge, focusing on achieving more through teamwork and not individual efforts.” Thus, what seemed like a topical issue concerning the question of timing - when to begin? - finds its answer in a statement of continuation “at all times”. Addressing and acknowledging our unconscious biases is a great place to start. The four-week BeNext ‘D&I: Overcoming Unconscious Bias’ Cohort Certification Program is running from 9 August - 3 September 2021. To find out more about the program and download the BeNext brochure, please visit: tinyurl.com/BeNextPM.

Diversity & Inclusion

from being regressive to progressive in my thinking. And I would only wish that leaders, consciously, look around the table and see what they see,” Dr. Anand adds. In fact, the very structure of the organization itself has the power to drive these changes. As is explored in the final chapter of the BeNext certification program, there are many approaches and actions leaders can take to make it easier for well-meaning people to do the right thing when it comes to encouraging accountability for change, accelerating D&I efforts more meaningfully, and perpetuating psychological safety

Maia Jenkins is a writer and teacher based in the United States. She has written for various publications, including British GQ, the Threepenny Review and Grazia. She is also winner of a Pushcart Prize. june 2021 |

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Diverse, inclusive leadership key to building sustainable future for organizations: Kim Schmidt, Grant Thornton International The business landscape appears to be undergoing permanent changes, and we are seeing now is a shift towards a more flexible, dynamic, and hybrid model where people will increasingly expect more empowerment over when, where, and how they contribute to their organizations, says Kim Schmidt, Global Leader - Leadership, People and Culture at Grant Thornton International By Mastufa Ahmed

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K

im Schmidt is the Global Leader – Leadership, People and Culture at Grant Thornton International (GTIL). Kim joined GTIL in January of 2018 as a member of the Global Leadership Team. In this role, Kim is working to develop transformational leaders who build a culture of innovation and collaboration across our network. Prior to this, Kim led the formation of the Human Capital Consulting practice in GT Australia. Kim also spent three years as the People and Culture Director – Australia. This role sat

on the Strategic Leadership team and reported directly to the board with responsibility for culture and for risks associated with People and Culture within the firm. With over twenty years of experience working in South Africa, Australia, and Asia, Kim has built a reputation as a transformational leader with a passion for building dynamic organizations that truly value the positive impact leadership, diversity, and cultural innovation can have on sustained performance. Kim has advised senior leadership teams and clients on a range of critical people,


leadership, and cultural transformation priorities inviting them to rethink their approach to leading in order to support sustained performance. Here are the excerpts.

The pandemic has challenged traditional paradigms about remote working, building trust, connection, and engagement. As a result, I believe that many businesses are evolving their approach to diversity and inclusion practices and will emerge stronger because of it As a transformational leader with decades of experience, what do you think has changed in leadership and what has been your most significant learning from the pandemic? Leaders have certainly come under greater scrutiny during the pandemic as traditional approaches and structures become almost redundant overnight. Different leadership skills and attributes have become necessary to navigate the

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What do you think businesses should focus on in the new normal to come out stronger on the other side? What are the keys to reinventing organizations and building a sustainable future? Increasing diversity and inclusion will be central to businesses’ success in 2021 and beyond. The pandemic has challenged traditional paradigms about remote working, building trust, connection, and engagement. As a result, I believe that many businesses are evolving their approach to diversity and inclusion practices and will emerge stronger because of it. In the “new normal”, organizations will need to continue their focus on leadership and the creation of inclusive and supportive cultures. There is a window of opportunity for businesses to increase the focus they place on diversity and inclusion at all levels to create an organization that is sustainable for the long term. The pandemic has also provided significant learnings, demonstrating how adaptable people can be and how important empathy and care for your people are.

challenges and ensure employees’ well-being. The ability to engage and connect with staff on a personal level, listen actively, and support mental health have become not only more desirable but essential. This has driven many so-called “softer” attributes like empathy, care, humility, and flexibility right up the scale of importance when looking at leadership. No one is arguing that they are not essential or of commerjune 2021 |

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One of the most significant factors the pandemic has highlighted is the importance of leaders taking an active role in creating psychological safety in their organizations. Psychological safety is the shared belief that it is safe to take interpersonal risk as an individual or a group cial importance any longer. To me, one of the most significant factors the pandemic has highlighted is the importance of leaders taking an active role in creating psychological safety in their organizations. Psychological safety is the shared belief that it is safe to take interpersonal risk as an individual or a group. This could include asking questions, challenging the status quo, raising contentious issues to the surface. When leaders intentionally shift their behaviors and beliefs to ensure their people feel safe to be themselves at work, the impact on morale, team cohesiveness, | June 2021

innovation, and productivity all increase significantly, not to mention mental health and wellness.

Can you throw some lights on how the top leaders are navigating the disruption? Can you some names who are doing an exemplary job in terms of leading through the crisis? Prior to the pandemic the ability to lead effectively during significant change, complexity, and uncertainty was believed to be an important requirement for leaders to be successful this is no longer just an idea – it is the reality of every C-suite leader. In 2020 our research asked the senior leaders of mid-market companies what top-three leadership traits are required to navigate this “new normal”, to ensure we continue responding to the challenges in 2021

and beyond. Quite unsurprisingly, being adaptive to change was the top choice, with 44 percent highlighting it as a key skill. Being innovative resonated with 43 percent, while the ability to be collaborative across the business came in third at 29 percent. In considering exceptional leaders I personally believe that Jacinda Ardern, the Prime Minister of New Zealand is a good example. Even prior to the pandemic she had demonstrated courage, humility, and empathy in dealing with very challenging circumstances. These attributes together with transparency and being a confident and decisive leader resulted in the best possible outcomes given the circumstance. I have also seen several CEOs across our network show remarkable empathy, care,


and support for their people while leading with transparency and humility leading to a significant increase in the engagement of their people which I believe will strengthen their firms into the future.

head-on. The focus should be on ensuring an authentic culture of inclusion and belonging. In addition, there has also been an increase in accessibility when it comes to online learning and training. So, there is a real opportunity here to expose people to more opportunities, and if businesses can be deliberate about that, then they can really reap the benefits of this shift and boost productivity.

How do you see the overall role of HR and people managers evolving amid all this uncertainty and skepticism? What’s next? Challenging the notion of “this is how things are done here” is going to be a more and more significant part of HR’s role. In a corporate environment, HR leaders and people managers are now on the frontline and will have a major role in influencing the direction of organizational change through challenging the status quo and playing an instrumental role in culture creation in this new world of work.

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How do you define the work culture in today’s context given that the majority of workers are working from home? Can employers help keep the morale and productivity of their employees intact at a time when almost everyone is burnt out? Firstly, I believe that those leaders who have done the right things and lead with empathy will have strengthened their people’s engagement and loyalty to their organizations. I believe that in many cases a culture of care, connection, and a deepening of trust has developed between employers and

employees. I think that leaders have been more transparent, accessible, and open with their people and they have certainly had to trust and empower their people more which in turn will have had a positive impact on workplace culture. That said, the continuous and relentless impact of the pandemic, lockdowns, restrictions, and ongoing lack of control over one’s personal circumstances has definitely had a significant impact on people’s mental health and well-being. Morale has really suffered for some employees through lockdown with the lack of social interaction with their colleagues and peers. Leaders should be mindful of the toll that mental health and wellness issues are having on their people and take conscious action to address these issues

As organizations enter the next phase with employee needs evolving, do you think organizations need a more sophisticated approach to elevate their workers’ overall ‘experience’? june 2021 |

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They certainly need a deliberate approach but that does not mean that it must be more sophisticated. While the enforced flexible working culture has removed some of the barriers that previously existed, leaders will still need to take action and be focused on ensuring a positive, inclusive experience for all their people. In terms of improving employees’ overall experience and the actions being taken by senior leaders, our

research shows that promoting work-life balance and flexible working arrangements, has been implemented by 45 percent of respondents. A close second is creating an environment of open communication, where all staff feel able to express their ideas and issues (43% of businesses are focusing on this), with almost half of respondents believing their emphasis on it will grow in the future. Organizations need to

Challenging the notion of “this is how things are done here” is going to be a more and more significant part of HR’s role. In a corporate environment, HR leaders and people managers are now on the frontline and will have a major role in influencing the direction of organizational change

continue this positive trajectory if they are to account for different working styles and elevate their people’s overall experience.

It's clear that the corporate world is experiencing a moment of awakening with regard to their efforts around diversity and inclusion? How do you see the larger DE&I landscape today globally? The business case for diversity is well documented as is the essential need to have an inclusive environment to ensure that diversity is leveraged to deliver all its benefits. The current moment marks a window of opportunity for businesses to move decisively towards a more diverse and inclusive future. Forward-looking organizations will recognize this moment of change as a chance to evolve and thrive. It’s certainly true that pursuing the D&I agenda has been made more challenging by the pandemic. But broadly, I think businesses are recognizing the dangers of losing focus and can see that diverse and inclusive leadership will be essential to building a sustainable future for their organizations. What are your thoughts on how will work look like in a post-pandemic world? The business landscape appears to be undergoing permanent changes, and

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Our unique network culture and care for our people and clients will contribute to our reputation for going beyond the expected

lifecycle. And finally, I think 2020 and even 2021 have shown us that the wellbeing of our leaders and our people should be at the top of every leadership team’s agenda. I truly believe that teams and organizations that integrate well-being into the design of work at every level will build a sustainable future where everyone can feel and perform at their best.

How is Grant Thornton reinventing the company? What are your top priorities in 2021? Grant Thornton strives to be the most valued network in the profession. By 2025, we expect international business to have made a significant contribution to our overall network growth and to account for a much larger part of the network’s revenues. Evidencing the sustainability of that growth

to our many stakeholders will be a necessary business practice. We will have a reputation for high quality in everything we do and have stronger capabilities in strategic markets where international clients need us. Our unique network culture and care for our people and clients will also contribute to our reputation for going beyond the expected. In terms of our priorities, we are focused on strategic capabilities, including developing leaders with a global mindset; risk management and quality; and culture. We are also continuing to build a culture of collaboration, innovation, trust, and confidence, increasing the focus on inclusion and psychological safety across the network, and encouraging a diverse workforce with a global focus on gender. june 2021 |

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I think what we are seeing now is a shift towards a more flexible, dynamic, and hybrid model where people will increasingly expect more empowerment over when, where, and how they contribute to their organizations. Businesses will have to consider how to adapt to this and ensure the positive culture changes that have occurred are nurtured and embedded and do not fade away. Given what the research is telling us along with conversations with leaders both internal and external to Grant Thornton, I believe 2021 will bring more transparency, especially when it comes to diversity and inclusion data and KPIs. I also believe a deeper focus on unconscious bias in the workplace will continue to be significant. And not just in terms of training and development, but with leaders having real conversations with their people and examining their own bias when it comes to the different elements of the employee

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Workplace Well-being

Designing for well-being Hybrid or otherwise, companies ought to be thinking of designing workplaces that promote the well-being of employees By Jeffrey Pfeffer & Dr. M Muneer

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s the second wave of pandemic sweeps the nation with imminent lockdowns, employers have put the hybrid work plans, where part of workers work from home and part from offices, in abeyance. Though various experts 40

| June 2021

predicted the model to take root by mid-2021, it is likely to take more time. More than two-third of employers want their employees to come to the office at least thrice a week, but more than half the employees prefer working remotely for now, as per another research. Clearly, whether hybrid or otherwise, companies ought to be thinking of designing workplaces that promote the well-being of employees. There’s more: The instances where companies think they are saving money by cutting costs, but do so in ways that actually increase turnover and decrease engagement and productivity, thereby pursuing myths that backfire. The crisis of 2020 has seen many such instances of canceled commercial leases in the name of hybrid models. There are also pathways to improve human performance that receive too little


employers should relentlessly focus on optimizing spending on those things that affect employee well-being and productivity. Not that employees demand too many things, just the basics: better air quality, access to natural light, the ability to personalize their workspace, etc. A survey found half of the employees complaining that poor air quality made them sleepier during the day, losing an hour of productivity as a result. That same study reported that people satisfied with their work environments were 16 percent more productive, and 30 percent more attracted to their company than competitors. Using natural light as much as possible, providing sufficient

The physical design of workplaces profoundly influences outcomes that HR should be interested in – productivity, satisfaction, and the employer brand

june 2021 |

Workplace Well-being

attention from management in general and human resources professionals in particular. The workplace design – the physical space where people work – fits both criteria. Today companies relentlessly try to lower their occupancy/ real estate costs, which are often the second or third largest operating expense. Hitherto they did so mostly by using open office plans that decrease the amount of space allocated to each employee. With WFH, they moved to smaller offices or non-prime locations. A workplace study found that during 2010-12, the average square feet per person dropped from 225 to 176, a decrease of more than 20 percent in two years. However, studies going back literally decades show that open office designs are negatively related to employees’ satisfaction with their physical environment and their perceived productivity. A recent Swedish study found that communication among employees was worse in open-plan arrangements. The Gensler survey reported that more than 50 percent of employees reported being disturbed by others while trying to focus, and more than 40 percent resorted to makeshift solutions to try and block out distractions. Substantial researches positively correlate noise, which is worse in open offices, to stress. The biggest expense for most businesses is the salaries, which represent slightly less than half of operating expenses. So, instead of cramming people into the deadly “cube farms” that the comic strip Dilbert made famous,

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Workplace Well-being

acoustical privacy so people can concentrate and have private conversations when necessary, providing a comfortable temperature, and letting people tailor their space to their own physiology would go a long way to improve well-being. The writing is on the wall for HR: the physical design of workplaces profoundly influences outcomes that HR should be interested in – productivity, satisfaction, and the employer brand. Moreover, workplace design can influence mental health too. The effects are many: light affects the

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Instead of cramming people into the deadly ‘cube farms’ that the comic strip Dilbert made famous, employers should relentlessly focus on optimizing spending on those things that affect employee well-being and productivity

| June 2021

circadian rhythm and regulation; light and color affect mood; design affects social interactions; and of course, workplace design can impact privacy and the ability to control the stimuli to which people are exposed. HR professionals, in general, care about physical and mental health. Workplace design affects both, and thus, should constitute a much bigger focus of attention. There are several things human resource professionals can, and should, do to provide workplaces that help, rather than hinder, their company’s strategic objectives. Even in the hybrid models that will soon become vogue. First, educate the management team about the effects of workplace design on the important outcomes of physical and mental health, turnover, and job performance. Many senior managers, maybe even many HR professionals, remain too uninformed about the extensive research linking


aspects of physical design that affect employee outcomes; and 3) ensuring that companies do not sub-optimize in their decisions about workplaces – saving on real estate costs while harming employee engagement, satisfaction, and job performance. Ironically, the original Hawthorne experiments of the 1930s began with a focus on how lighting affected productivity. Studies of the effects of the physical environment on behavior represent some of the earliest research in industrial and organizational psychology. What is old should be new again. Workplace wellbeing and individual performance depend importantly on the design of the spaces where work gets done. Employers must combine physical design discussions with decisions to ensure better results.

Workplace Well-being

aspects of physical workplace design to numerous business and employee wellbeing outcomes. Second, to the extent possible, provide employees with choice and flexibility about where to work and to have control over their own work environments. A 2019 International Workplace Group report found that flexible work was on the rise, with people desiring to be able to work where they want, which the pandemic had accelerated for most people. Interestingly, even before the pandemic, some countries had mandated flexibility. The Netherlands, for instance, had this: “Employees with at least one year of service with an employer with at least 10 employees are entitled to ask for…the ability to work from another location.” Also, it was found that employees, by a margin of 42 percent to 28 percent, would rather be able to personalize their work environment than opt for unlimited vacation. Most employees would love more control over the temperature in their workplace and onethird want to control the lighting and the sound levels. Third, and most fundamentally, the human resources team should incorporate aspects of physical workplace design – just as they should include dimensions of job design – into their organizational effectiveness toolkits. That means: 1) doing evaluations of people’s reactions to physical space, including post-occupancy studies so companies can learn from their experience; 2) using architects and design firms that are aware of, and sensitive to, the

Pfeffer is chair professor of organizational behavior at GSB, Stanford University, and Muneer is managing director of CustomerLab and Co-Founder of the nonprofit Medici Institute. june 2021 |

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Employees will seek out organizations that elevate DEI as a top priority: Google’s Brigette McInnis-Day

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The idea that 'work is something you do rather than somewhere you go' isn’t necessarily a new concept - it’s been catching on for years, says Brigette McInnis-Day, VP, People Operations, Google Cloud By Mastufa Ahmed 44

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s the leader of Google Cloud’s human resources function, Brigette is focused on attracting and developing amazing talent and shaping Cloud’s culture of customer empathy & belonging to drive business growth and transformation. Prior to joining Google in 2019, Brigette served as the Chief Operating Officer of SAP SuccessFactors where she defined and implemented business strategies to achieve sustainable growth and satisfaction among customers undergoing digital transformation of their total workforce experience. In addition to her role as COO, Brigette also led SAP SuccessFactors Digital HR Strategy and Transformation teams. Brigette’s passion includes leading large-scale global teams and building cultures that promote women and early-stage talent in leadership, diversity, and inclusion, pay equality, and digital transformation.


Here are the edited excerpts.

This shift toward more flexible and remote work models has been rapidly accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and it requires CEOs, CTOs, and CHROs to completely rethink how they shape the future of employee collaboration, engagement, and culture through digital experiences pandemic to reimagine our workplace for the future. We’ve learned that individual experiences with working from home vary. Google’s future workplace will have room for all of these possibilities, and we’ll continue to pilot new approaches while improving overall productivity, connectedness, wellbeing, and, of course, inclusion.

The crisis has exposed how some companies view D&I as nice to have rather than

a core value with companies shedding jobs related to diversity roles. But the equation suddenly started to change with a lot of organizations hiring diversity officers. How do you see the current scenario of diversity, equity, and inclusion? At Google, our work is anchored in the fact that there are some underrepresented groups who have historically been discriminated against and excluded from opportunities in the tech industry, and who today june 2021 |

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Do you think the remote mode of working is sustainable? We hear a lot about the importance of creating a sense of inclusion. What, according to you, should be the strategy to make this a reality, especially in a remote working world? The idea that “work is something you do rather than somewhere you go” isn’t necessarily a new concept - it’s been catching on for years. This shift toward more flexible and remote work models has been rapidly accelerated by the COVID19 pandemic, and it requires CEOs, CTOs, and CHROs to completely rethink how they shape the future of employee collaboration, engagement, and culture through digital experiences. For example, as the pandemic shifted us to a remote working environment, we focused on how we can better collaborate, innovate, and enhance inclusion and wellbeing for Google employees. We’re especially interested in what we call collaboration equity, or the ability to contribute equally, regardless of location, role, experience level, language, and device preference. To your second question, we’re a data-driven company: our data drives our strategy. We’re currently measuring and learning from our experience working during the

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remain affected by systemic inequity. We were one of the first companies to publish diversity data publicly, starting in 2014, and this helped start the conversation of diversity in tech. We continue to publish a report every year to be transparent about our progress and to share what we’ve learned along the way. Our key aspiration is to build an organization that cultivates belong-

For the post-pandemic world, do you think we need leadership that recognizes the potential of diverse talent and understands its implications on inclusion and culture? Leaders make decisions that affect an organization’s products and services for its customers, its employees, and its culture. Our diversity makes us more innovative and better able to treat

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It's time for organizations to think about how they can create an inclusive, equitable, and collaborative workplace culture outside of an organization’s physical office environments ing for everyone. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is a lens through which we approach everything, from our people to our products. We’re not only analyzing how we can help ensure Google Cloud is a place where anyone and everyone can thrive, we also want to make sure our products and services are inclusive and equitable for our users and customers.

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What, according to you, are the biggest challenges organizations face implementing D&I strategy? How can the challenges be surmounted? It’s no secret that lack of diversity in corporate America is a well-documented problem and improvements have been slow. For the first time in history, companies are being called on in a different way. On top of that, employees today have

| June 2021

our customers with empathy, so we need to be as diverse as the customers we serve and we achieve that outcome through inclusive and agile leadership. This means not only seeking out and considering different views and perspectives across your teams, but also being adaptable and willing to change behaviors, systems, policies, and practices that are barriers to DEI.

more choice, and they will seek out organizations that elevate DEI as a top priority. In all my years working in HR and technology, there are a few consistent prerequisites for successful DEI programs and progress, regardless of the company: First, the leaders responsible for making key decisions have to understand why DEI is a business imperative, as well as the integral part


Where do you see the D&I agenda 2-5 years down the line? Do you expect significant changes in terms of how organizations perceive diversity and inclusion practices as a sustainable competitive advantage for their company? We’re in a unique moment in which a vast majority of organizations are having to evaluate work-

place culture through the lens of a distributed workforce, and it will be important for organizations to continue to think about how they can create an inclusive, equitable, and collaborative workplace culture outside of an organization’s physical office environments. The pandemic has proven that physical office space does not define an organization’s culture alone: true organizational culture is founded on the mission, values, and behaviors that unify employees. In Google Cloud, for example, our culture is defined by customer empathy - seeking to understand the challenges our customers face in order to successfully create solutions for them. Customer empathy can only become ingrained in our culture when we create and

sustain an environment where all Cloud Googlers feel included and believe they can succeed, which is why we’ve been leaning into new ways through our own technology to strengthen connections, build community across a distributed workforce, and support our Googlers to equitably participate, collaborate, and share ideas from anywhere. Advances in technology in the coming years will play an increasingly critical role in providing insights and driving processes and behaviors that will help organizations become more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. june 2021 |

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they must play in advancing DEI progress. Secondly, leaders must take ownership and be accountable to lead with DEI as a top priority. Leadership requirements have changed, and agile and inclusive leaders are what’s needed to help bridge divides, give voice to marginalized groups, and build more equitable workplace environments where everyone belongs.

Advances in technology in the coming years will play an increasingly critical role in providing insights and driving processes and behaviors that will help organizations become more diverse, equitable, and inclusive

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COVID-19 Rages on Are you ready? As the new wave of coronavirus sets us back one year yet again, how are you gearing up to sail through the uncertainty with your continuity plans and employee support schemes?

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By Mastufa Ahmed

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Amazon, Schneider Electric, Deloitte, and more have provided their employees with 14 special sick leaves for them to recuperate. IT majors like TCS, HCL Tech, Tech Mahindra, Infosys have introduced COVID-19 test centers which will help their employees skip the general exposure by visiting crowded test centers and wait in long queues. The toughest time is looming for India as companies have to ensure business continuity and productive output while supporting their workers. So, as companies open up all avenues for employee support, how should they plan for their future amid predictions of phase three of the virus. This issue of our magazine attempts to find out how businesses are sailing through the new waves of the pandemic. How are they rethinking talent management amid all this uncertainty? How are leaders preparing for the next phase of COVID-induced challenges? How are businesses upping their business contingency plans to address the potential impacts of a third wave? How are organizations leveling up their employee support systems and work policies?

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With the uncertainties about the response of the battered health systems, corporations need to reinvent themselves. For several countries, the return to work plan is likely to be staggered as the catastrophe continues to provide challenges. In India, organizations are going the extra mile to safeguard their employees and help ebb away their difficulties. Companies are granting special wellness leaves, vaccine leaves, and a 4-day week for their employees while providing their workers access to mental and other health care services. Companies are also adjusting policies on insurance and loans to help employees attend to the needs of themselves and their families. Tech companies have leveled up their employee support systems including setting up COVID-19 care centers for workers as the second wave of the pandemic ravages the world. From giving two years’ salary to families of employees who died of COVID19, companies are going all out to extend monetary and non-monetary aids to families of deceased employees including bearing hospitalization, funeral, and vaccination expenses. Companies like Tata Steel, Google,

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ompanies globally are gearing to settle to the new normal by reviewing work policies, embracing hybrid/remote mode of work, and new work arrangements. While some are planning to return to the office, others are beefing up their digital infrastructure so their employees can work in virtual mode given the uncertainty that lies ahead. Safety, flexibility as well as mental health support have become priorities for almost all organizations. For employees, work-life balance, flexibility, and mental health are front-of-mind as they look to their employers for certainty about the future, according to a new WEF report. COVID-19 cases and deaths are plateauing globally, according to WHO, but we are still in a perilous situation. More than a year after COVID-19 started wreaking havoc, the virus is still here. New variants of it, which are more transmissible, are spreading in several countries including India, the UK, Malaysia, Australia, South Africa, and other parts of the world. In over two weeks, India’s second wave of virus surge has become disastrous. It’s spreading faster and killing more people.

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COVID-19 has allowed us to adjust our view of employees & re-invent our talent landscape

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Flexible organizations, no matter their size, must remain poised for the unexpected - be that a natural disaster, a business system operational apocalypse, a cyberattack that shuts down all applications, a disgruntled former employee purposefully introducing malware or even the death of a top executive By John Gaunt

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fter many months of facing down COVID-19 and the multiple complications it caused companies operating worldwide, enterprises are plotting their next moves in light of a still uncertain future. Companies are investing their time carefully reviewing their past COVID-19 reactions, responses, and, in particular, their employee work-

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ing from home policies and procedures, as well as return-to-office aspirational plans. They are evaluating what immediate actions are taken, often necessarily reactive, and mid to longterm decisions that were made were right on, and which simply didn’t work and why. At Synechron, as a leading digital transformation consulting company to the

financial services industry, we pride ourselves on being agile. We understand the need to pivot quickly and embrace what may be coming down the road and stay future-ready. Flexible organizations, no matter their size, must remain poised for the unexpected -- be that a natural disaster, a business system operational apocalypse, a cyberattack that shuts down all applications, a disgruntled former employee purposefully introducing malware or even the death of a top executive. COVID-19 was not likely on the list of possible mayhem scenarios warranting an update of the business continuity plan for most firms. But, like it or not, the pandemic required rapid and decisive actions. While some others were scrambling to map, build and transition to a digital, remote, virtual way of working, we were ready with our own digital infrastructure already in place. We quickly enabled virtual collaboration tools, like Microsoft Teams and Zoom, and enabled VPN-based access


build for the future, beyond COVID-19, while still catering – albeit in new ways – to the client projects we were immersed in. We recognized that the systems and processes we were building for our financial services clients to deploy with the objective of delighting their customers, would strategically, purposefully, and carefully be implemented across our own global offices to increase satisfaction for all of our employees (8,000 worldwide at the start of the pandemic, 10,000+ now post-acquisitions).

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The pandemic taught us that we needed to quickly shift from a focus on “employee engagement” to “employee experience” and delight all employees from the very start. This meant devising new ways to immediately interact with them, including virtual onboarding for those newly joining our firm across our then 18 offices

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to implement, set up, and secure employees’ access to hardware, software, and additional services. In fact, even during the pandemic, we have won awards in recognition of our digital infrastructure. But our overarching, three-part goal was not to win awards but to add employee functionality that was faster, better, and more secure for them as well as for our organization as a whole. Our clients were so wowed by our business continuity, that they set our processes and standards as benchmarks for them to follow. The pandemic did, however, teach some important lessons. The pandemic taught us that we needed to quickly shift from a focus on “employee engagement” to “employee experience” and delight all employees from the very start. This meant devising new ways to immediately interact with them, including virtual onboarding for those newly joining our firm across our then 18 offices (we have 22 offices now, after making two key company acquisitions in late 2020). That also bucked the business trend of firms hunkering down and turning away new business as they mapped out how to navigate through the lockdown situation. Synechron refused to go into "hibernation" and our leadership elected to buy and

Just as we had been consulting for years with our bank, asset manager, and insurance company clients as to how to enhance the entire customer lifecycle, we chose to look at the entire employee lifecycle at Synechron. This broad review included a commitment to bring in experts such as doctors, nutritionists, psychiatrists, and others, and set up programs that ensured the physical and mental well-being of our employees – which was our number one priority. We expanded our benefits and aids to include supports june 2021 |

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helpdesk to keep employees up to date on news, and able to reach out to our 24/7 teams in an emergency, particularly for our hard-hit employees in India and ex-pats in the US and Europe. From listing nearest COVID-19 Testing Centers, and Hospitals and Government Isolation Centers, to details of food suppliers to avail meals during quarantine and recovery period, everything was available on

employee vaccination drives and initiatives and providing access to hospitals as well as doctors and medical professionals. When impacted employees were unable to source hospital beds, oxygen, or crucial medicines, members of our COVID Support helpdesk through their timely actions were able to provide critical and staunch support. We even built a mobile application for the COVID-19 | June 2021

the mobile app. At certain instances, we went all out to ferry impacted employees in Life-Support Ambulances from one city to another to ensure they get necessary hospital beds and critical oxygen support. We realized the need for employee time off that our people would require, while recuperating themselves or caring for their loved ones, and immediately activated the paid Pandemic Leaves of 15 days

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for a variety of employeefocused programs that included emergency financial assistance for employees and families as needed. We worked out enhanced insurance coverage to include COVID-19 hospitalization and other expenses and also covered employees’ immediate families in this along with a default coverage for our employees. We sped to seal our orders and partnerships to facilitate cashless

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which can be utilized. This was all accomplished during the best and worst months of the pandemic, and with the majority of our employees working from home for the foreseeable future. We continue holding regional Virtual Town Halls that replaced our on-site Town Halls with our CEO. We are holding frequent virtual meetings via Microsoft Teams and Zoom so that our employees can continue their peer engagements and interactions. These have included various contests, hackathons, quizzes, and fun programs, and shared activities. We developed multiple learning opportunities and several series of lectures/presentations optimized for virtual meetings and initiated our online collaborative ‘SyneTribe’ cross-regional, cross-team, cross-functional work projects. We have also invested heavily in upskilling our current employees by offering them 24/7/365 access to free courses, training, certification programs, and personal skill enhancements through a wonderful virtual L&D platform. They can use their pre-pandemic commuting time to up-skill, re-skill, and build brand new skills for work and for real life. In fact, we have more recently been considering how we can rethink our


ship has certainly, and quite necessarily, shifted. PreCOVID, it had been based on maintaining 100 percent professional relationships, as many businesses successfully operated this way. Now, there is a decidedly more “emotional attachment” between supervisors/ managers and their subordinates. This came about as individual employees’ needs surfaced, many faced serious medical issues for themselves and/or their loved ones and many required a different level of personal support that could not

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talent management. That is in terms of not only hiring talented individuals with the specific skills we desire but to give greater emphasis to offering upskilling and cross-skilling opportunities to a greater swath of our dedicated employees who can serve in multiple roles, as necessary. COVID-19 has allowed us to adjust our view of employees across our global offices and potentially re-invent our talent landscape moving forward. What the pandemic has also taught us is that the manager-employee relation-

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Manager-employee relationship has certainly, and quite necessarily, shifted. Pre-COVID, it had been based on maintaining 100 percent professional relationships, as many businesses successfully operated this way. Now, there is a decidedly more “emotional attachment” between supervisors/managers and their subordinates

have been foreseen before COVID-19. What was the secret ingredient that transformed these relationships? In a word, ‘empathy.” We found that having an authentic empathetic and understanding ability has shown that this is the key ingredient to muddling through and surviving this pandemic-led social and working environment. Going forward, we at Synechron are in a holding pattern, with many of our management teams’ eyes trained on what comes next, and what new wave the pandemic may toss our way. We are in "Constant Watch" mode, ready to re-evaluate our business, region by region, or business unit by business unit, as the future unfolds before us. The biggest challenge going forward will be a location by location back to work (office opening) strategy based on the science and guidance of the local government & health authorities. No matter the path forward, we stand ready to reinvent ourselves again, transform our employee practices, and embrace those key takeaway lessons we have learned.

John Gaunt is Synechron’s Chief Human Resources Officer june 2021 |

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How the role of HR is evolving through the pandemic

Shifting to a need-driven people-centric approach

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It is heartening to see employees looking up to the human resource department to help them through the crisis; it just shows that they trust we can play the part By Ravi Maithani

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s Betty Bender aptly said, “When people go to work, they shouldn't have to leave their hearts at home.” This can very well be applied to the present state of things. As India grapples with the deadly second wave of COVID-19, the home, office, and heart have been having a tough time staying out of each other. This crisis has brought human resource (HR) professionals across the country together to not just plan, but implement employee welfare activities, to an extent that has never been done before. While hiring and employee engagement would sum up the key roles of most | June 2021

HR professionals, it was not until now that we weighed employee experience over everything else. As per the recently conducted Close The Employee Experience Gap report 2021, around 70 percent agree that employee experience ranks “very to most important” among HR strategies for organizations today. And with this crisis striking so close to home, we realized that it was not just the public healthcare system that needed an amendment, it was now time to put the “human” back in human resources. Here’s how the role of human resource professionals is evolving through the pandemic.

We have all learned our own set of lessons through this pandemic. One of the most important being that it has brought a paradigm shift in thinking in terms of engaging employees. There has been a radical shift from “one size fits all” to people-centric policies and adopting a needdriven approach (including setting up a COVID-19 help desk, COVID-19 emergency back-up care benefit, focusing on mental well-being, adding health insurance for employees and their families, etc). Many of us are crowdsourcing verified leads for COVID resources in addition to parallely running our respective war rooms to assist employees on a realtime basis. What’s most important to note is that these policies and initiatives will change as needs change, and we need to be prompt in introducing them.

Quicker approval of updates to people policies It was mid-February when the second wave hit us, and it took just a few weeks for things to get out of hand and approach the peak. By the time we were trying to ramp


Professional and personal lines have blurred

Enabling remote working through trust

Most HR professionals would agree that this crisis has been an eye-opener for more than one reason. While employees lay their trust in us to help them out, we also do the same. Back in the day, most employers would measure employee efficiency based on the hours they put in. In pre-COVID times, a ‘Work From Home’ request was almost equivalent to taking leave, as we worked from the ‘so-called’ comfort of our homes without being monitored. With remote working being the new normal and employees across the world working from home, “trust” becomes a crucial value for any organization. It also reinforces that a diligent

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It is heartening to see employees looking up to the human resource department to help them through the crisis; it just shows that they trust we can play the part. A typical day for an HR professional today would include inducting new joinees, planning the internal newsletter, crowdsourcing for oxygen cylinders and hospital beds, planning a mental health webinar, sourcing vaccines for employees' parents, screening candidates, etc. Employees expect the HR team to support them through this by quickly adapting to organizational policies and we do that by personally addressing every concern that comes our way. For the first time ever, the boundaries of professional and personal issues have fizzled out, and our roles

have become truly multidimensional.

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up our employee insurance policy to cover COVIDrelated hospitalization, we found ourselves looking for insurance companies that would also cover home treatments, due to the severe shortage of hospital beds and the danger caused by the rapid spread of the virus while waiting in hospitals. In a normal scenario, employee policies of this nature need anywhere from three to six months to get approved. We worked to apprise the top management of the situation and the need to immediately implement these policies. It took us three days to get these approved and implemented. We were not the only company that moved quickly, many other organizations were able to implement COVID-19 support initiatives and policies quickly, rising to the challenge of the moment.

We have seen a radical shift from “one size fits all” to people-centric policies and adoption of a needdriven approach including setting up a COVID-19 help desk, COVID-19 emergency backup care benefit, focusing on mental well-being, adding health insurance for employees and their families, etc. june 2021 |

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employee can be as productive at home/ a coffee shop/ the beach/a hospital as they can be in the office. Hence, it is important to be an employer of choice that provides an open, collaborative, and fulfilling work culture and experience where employees go out of their way to support the organization’s growth and work as a team.

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Effective internal communication is now more key than ever

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The current resurgence of the COVID-19 outbreak is worrying; supporting our people and their families has never been more vital for HR teams. In addition to the relief benefits the company is extending to employees, we, as HR professionals, are making sure we personally address every concern that comes our way. This helps reassure our people that they are being taken care of, at a time when they need us the most. We have been effectively using internal communication channels (emails, frequent Slack messaging, weekly leadership interviews, weekly employee feedback surveys, monthly all-hands meetings, etc.). All this, while trying to safeguard the mental health of each employee, keeping them constantly motivated with positive organizationspecific news, yoga/mental well-being sessions/stand| June 2021

up acts, as well as the introduction of new benefits like learning and development allowances, volunteering leave, etc.

Leaning into valuesbased hiring

While tackling the ongoing crisis, it is equally impor-

The current resurgence of the COVID-19 outbreak is worrying; supporting our people and their families has never been more vital for HR teams. In addition to the relief benefits the company is extending to employees, we, as HR professionals, are making sure we personally address every concern that comes our way tant for us to continue sourcing and hiring the most promising talent for our organizations. With the need for physical presence getting less important by the day; human resource professionals are also working on identifying roles that can be fully remote; which allows us to tap niche talent from across geographies. This has led to us shifting our focus from selecting manageable high-performing candidates in the past to self-managed, high integ-

rity ones, now. While hiring someone in a managerial role, we would previously look for the “command and control” types. We now look for managers who are innovators, have a goal-based approach, and believe in coaching their teams with empathy. It has become imperative to look for candidates that not just resonate with the values of the organization, but those who would constantly work towards upholding them. This crisis has mobilized human resource professionals to demand sweeping changes to ensure we all come out of this together and to rekindle those values that make us humans. The pandemic has triggered our evolution into becoming “People Partners” and put our core human capabilities to use in order to stand in solidarity with our people, who we otherwise call "employees". From this point on, we, as a fraternity, ensure that the phrase, “trust this finds you well” is not just limited to emails but becomes a way of life. It has taken an acute crisis for us to live up to the “human” in our titles, and I’m looking forward to the day when our people bring their most happy and true selves back to work. Ravi Maithani is the Head of People and Culture, Tide (IN)


The pandemic reaffirmed that change is the only constant: AirAsia India’s Anjali Chatterjee In this exclusive interaction with People Matters, Anjali Chatterjee, Head - People and Culture, AirAsia India shares her views on how the seismic shifts in the world of work induced by COVID-19 will evolve in the coming days and what is most critical for HR and talent leaders at a catastrophic moment like this By Yasmin Taj

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njali Chatterjee is the Head, People & Culture at AirAsia India. She has been with the organization for two years now. In her current role with the organization, she is responsible for facilitating the creation and deployment of effective people strategy in line with business goals, leading talent management, training, employee engagement, and the like. Prior to this, she served as the Vice President - HR at Tata Communications. In her 15-year stint with the organization, she was leading operations in India, APAC, and MENA. Her experience in the field is over three decades across industries such as hospitality, telecom, manufacturing. Read this cover story interview to know Anjali’s insights on how the seismic shifts in the world of work induced by COVID-19 will evolve in the coming days, how the pandemic offered us an opportunity to create a better and more equitable workplace where everyone is able to unleash their full human potential, the changing role of HR post-pandemic, how leaders should sail through uncertain times and manage talent, and what is most critical for HR june 2021 |

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and talent leaders at a catastrophic moment like this.

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How do you see the seismic shifts in the world of work triggered by the pandemic evolve in the coming days? Pandemics have always been of enormous proportions and so are the changes that they bring along with them. In my view, the shifts occurred suddenly and rapidly in the first year of the pandemic. Now, as we continue to navigate through the second and hopefully final year, these shifts have become the new normal. The obvious disruptions have been due to the increased use of automation and on the physical dimensions of the ‘workplace’ which are now being debated and redefined. In the travel industry, where our AllStars (as we call our employees) interact on an everyday and continuous basis with guests at the airports and inside aircraft, AirAsia India brought in tremendous automation to enable a contactless travel experience at every step of the process, so as to ensure a healthy and safe journey. Non-operations functions, which largely include laptop-driven work that requires minimal/moderate physical proximity have witnessed more disruption. We believe that this remote working environment is likely to continue through | June 2021

We believe that this remote working environment is likely to continue through the course of this year and it may probably move to a flexible arrangement with a pragmatic mix of working from a traditional office space along with the continuation of work from home the course of this year and it may probably move to a flexible arrangement with a pragmatic mix of working from a traditional office space along with the continuation of work from home.

Do you think the pandemic offered us an opportunity to create a better and more equitable workplace where everyone is able to unleash their full human potential? The pandemic and its resultant effect of remote working has certainly made us realize the importance of compassion and empathy to an even greater extent.

There is immense potential in the arena of diversity and inclusiveness and understanding that there are no boundaries for sourcing talent, and that talent can be found anywhere. This includes several groups who were previously excluded from office-based roles, including but not limited to people with disabilities, people from remote and rural areas, women who have been traditionally homemakers, as well as individuals from underrepresented groups. Not only has this drastically widened our talent marketplace, but


it has also rendered opportunities to several individuals across the country who are realizing and unleashing their fullest potential.

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The pandemic has changed the priorities of HR leaders globally. How do you see the changing role of HR post-pandemic? The pandemic has enabled HR leaders to introspect and align their vision of building future-proof workplaces with a heightened focus on employee health and wellness while being cognizant of and prioritizing mental wellness. This unprecedented situation has further developed

leadership capabilities for business results as this is the era of digital leadership, and an important leadership requirement is the ability to successfully transition into newer ways of working. This includes the following : • Management by objectives in every sense possible: Ability to virtually set clear goals not just on an annual basis, but breaking into quarterly/ monthly sub-goals, and milestones while successfully managing business • Management by high communication, collaboration and engagement: Ability to engage with teams and communicate on a regular basis by establishing a cadence of communication, to be highly motivational, give a sense of belongingness virtually to each and every member of the team • Management by trust: In

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Most companies are heading toward a hybrid workplace. Do you think the hybrid mode of work is going to stay for long? Do you think company culture will survive in the remote working setup? The hybrid or flexible model of work is undoubtedly here to stay and organizations have increasingly realized the significant benefits of flexibility which have markedly shown immense results and improved productivity. Organizational cultures are dynamic and forever evolving with regard to the diverse workforce and varied employees that contribute to their growing culture. The pandemic has created the impetus for organizations to be more agile, which has further built flexible workplaces of the future. Company cultures can survive and thrive in hybrid setups as long as constant communication and engagement are the norm and companies make the effort to keep checking the efficacy of these measures. AirAsia India continues to focus highly on its core values of Safety Always, Being People First, Guest Obsessed, Collaborative as One Airasia, and making

things happen while focussing on Sustainability. This pandemic has also reiterated the importance of health and wellness of our AllStars and their families, which includes mental wellness. This is an important strategic business agenda for the company and we believe that healthy and talented employees help us achieve our objectives.

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the time of remote working, relationship building becomes highly critical which helps build trust. This also makes the teams comfortable with each other and help in giving and receiving feedback virtually. HR leaders should prepare themselves for new-age technology entering the HR sphere whether it is AI, the use of VR for learning, expansion of cloud-based HCM tools, Chatbox, blockchain, among others. The integration of these technologies will require us to get a deep understanding of and hands-on knowledge in order to provide the best business solutions.

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? My take on this is for us to continue the work that we have been doing so far, master the art of remote management, have a keen focus on self and team development, invest in consistently upskilling and reskilling oneself, put health and wellness as a key priority and have open channels of communication. Work-life balance, flexibility, and mental health are front-of-mind for employees, according to a report by WEF. How are organizations upping their employee support systems? The focus on health and wellness has been a core pillar in the organizational support system for employees and their families. Organizations around the globe are rising to the situation and extending their

support through varied means. At AirAsia India, we firmly stand by supporting our employees through both tangible and intangible means during this period of time. We have introduced several measures towards securing their health and well-being.

How are you preparing as a leader to deal with the next phase of challenges? What are your top priorities? As we move to the next phase, we continue to increasingly focus on talent development. As the world opens up, the travel sector will inevitably boom and each one of us needs to be ready to take on this new era with resilience, planning, and organization, and the best way to do so is to have the best talent ready to help us take our airline through this rapid phase of growth. Apart from skill development, our teams are regularly updating their SOPs for long-term impact, planning for the immediate future i.e.

Company cultures can survive and thrive in hybrid setups as long as constant communication and engagement are the norm and companies make the effort to keep checking the efficacy of these measures 60

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My advice for us is to continue the work that we have been doing so far, master the art of remote management, have a keen focus on self and team development, invest in consistently upskilling and reskilling oneself, put health and wellness as a key priority and have open channels of communication when the world opens up, so as to be fully ready on time.

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Where do you see the world of work in 2023? Will technologies such as AI, machine learning augment human intelligence? The pandemic has created a massive shift in reshap-

How are HR leaders rethinking talent management as they come out of this pandemic? If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that change truly is the only constant. Learning and growing in the new normal will be key; and towards this, the focus will be on

broad-based digital training, data analytics, harnessing artificial intelligence in operations, digital marketing, and through it all, leadership development including emotional and cultural intelligence will be paramount. Managing employee performance by investing in the coaching abilities of managers to enable frequent and effective feedback, keeping employee goals closely linked to business priorities, and celebrating good performance will help manage the shifts post COVID-19. The employee experience including feelings of inclusivity and engagement will need to be constantly monitored, evaluated, and developed. Planning for continuous development of critical talent pools to meet shifting business demands remains an important aspect.

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What is most critical for HR and talent leaders at a catastrophic moment like this, according to you? I believe that the complete and absolute health and wellness of our employees is the most critical aspect for HR and talent leaders, and specifically for myself at this juncture. Healthy and talented employees are at the heart of our organization, and undoubtedly are the core to ensure business objectives and continuity. No other factor precedes the health of our AllStars and their families.

ing the way we work and the technologies that we use to stay connected and manage projects. I believe that HR leaders and more importantly, future HR leaders should prepare themselves for varied emerging technologies that will enter the HR sphere. Not only will these create a greater premise for us to learn and equally utilize their potential, but will also enable us to develop skills on how to partner with these technologies in order to provide the best business solutions.

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Given the uncertainty, leaders should not commit to long-term work policies: Forrester’s Amit Bhatia

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Leaders should also keep an eye out for regional policy and regulatory changes. This becomes critical especially if a firm operates in multiple global locations. It’s best to create organization-wide guidelines but allow local leadership to fine-tune these as needed, says Amit Bhatia, Senior Analyst, Forrester in an interview with us By Mastufa Ahmed

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mit is a Senior Analyst at Forrester. He covers the various facets of customer experience (CX) - including strategy, design, measurement, and organizational maturity. His latest research includes uncovering what emotion

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means in a digital world, and how firms can leverage employee experience (EX) to improve CX. Amit advises executives in India and APAC on both CX and EX. He is also a frequent keynote speaker, having spoken at forums in

APAC, Middle East, and the US. He is an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Management Bangalore and holds a Bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of Pune. Here are the excerpts of the interview.

COVID-19 pandemic is still here. How do you the increasing uncertainty and its impact on the world of work? COVID-19 has affected different parts of the globe differently. The macroeconomic effects have also varied from region to region. In addition, vaccine rollout is also moving at a different pace across the world. Both these factors – macroeconomic effects and speed of vaccine rollout affect the demand and supply of products and services and therefore influence how work will be affected in any region, especially in the medium term. In addition to this, there are some shifts we already see underway: One is, there is a far greater focus on the employee and the needs of


lastly, as organizations move to de-risk themselves, there is a ton of interest in automation, not only for jobs at the backend but also for those that require closer customer and employee interactions.

Do you think the pandemic offered us an opportunity to create a better and more equitable workplace where everyone can unleash their full human potential? Well, this should have been true in theory. The pandemic brought with it enforced remote work, which meant location was no longer a constraint to take up many jobs. Obvi-

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Hybrid work will continue in the long term in the sense - a group of workers will continue to work away from the office, but this will be a minority. Perhaps the percent of remote work will be more than what it was pre-pandemic

ously, this created opportunities for those who were otherwise unable to participate in the workforce. In theory, this should have allowed, for example, more women (constrained by family responsibilities) the flexibility to take up paid work. However, the pandemic also brought with it the closure of many support systems that we leaned on earlier – such as schools and house help. So, net-net, family responsibilities only went up. And unfortunately, the weight of this typically fell back on the women. So even as economies started opening up again, we saw fewer women come back to the workforce. Eventually, we may have ended up more than a couple of years behind, as far as diversity goes. But the silver lining is this has not gone unnoticed. Diversity and inclusion is a hot topic across the globe right now, companies are looking at it in a fresh light, and renewing their efforts to ensure the workplace of the future is more equitable than before.

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employees than ever before. This leads to the other big changes in the world of work: a lot of flexibility is on offer and a lot of focus on health and mental wellbeing. The other big change, triggered by remote work, is an increased focus on measuring work output and productivity and also wellbeing – so, a lot of employee data is being collected, with the potential to offer positive (or negative!) effects down the road. Of course, remote work also brings big changes in how workers collaborate internally and with customers; for instance, we predict a lot of non-essential business travel will go away. And

Most companies are heading toward a hybrid workplace. Do you think the hybrid mode of work is going to stay for long? Do you think company culture will survive in the remote working setup? I know there’s a lot of talk about hybrid work. And certainly hybrid is here to stay. But not in the way june 2021 |

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where a large chunk of employees work remotely like we see today. This scenario is temporary. As soon as more workers are vaccinated (and large firms are striving hard to vaccinate their employees), office work will be back much faster than we expect. It is possible to be productive or collaborate or sustain some semblance of company culture in a remote environment; workers are pulling this off right now. But it doesn’t mean they can or will do so forever. As soon as it is safe to go back to offices, firms will want most employees to return. Research shows, many employees want this too; the blurring of lines between home life and work-life isn’t manageable or sustainable for many. Hybrid work will continue in the long term in the sense - a group of workers will continue to work away from the office, but this will be a minority. Perhaps the percent of remote work will be more than what it was prepandemic, but it will still remain a minority.

The pandemic has changed the priorities of HR leaders globally. How do you see the changing role of HR Post-Pandemic? With the pandemic creating a strong focus on the changing needs of employees, the responsibility to 64

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manage this fell on HR. Which meant the role of HR needed to change as well. One of these changes which we will continue to see post-pandemic as well will be how tech-savvy and data-savvy HR will need to become, and how closely they will need to work with tech leaders. The improvement in HCM technologies, the tsunami of employee data, the big spotlight on privacy, and the increasing demands of the workforce to receive a consumer-grade employee experience will drive this. With the war for talent becoming more acute, we expect HR to borrow more tools and methodologies from the customer experience side to create a better employee experience. All this will mean HR will need more investments, so they need to not only up their tech skills but also their business acumen – such as

the ability to make a robust business case for their requests. With increased HR funding, ultimately, firms will expect HR to play a much larger role in driving business results.

New variants of COVID-19 are creating chaos in several countries especially India. What’s your take on how should leaders sail through uncertain times and manage talent? Given the uncertainty, one thing leaders should stay away from right now is committing to or creating any long-term work or employee policies. The other thing they must do is keep an eye out for regional policy and regulatory changes. This becomes critical especially if a firm operates in multiple global locations. It’s best to create org-wide guidelines but allow local leadership to


Given the continuing uncertainty, today there is a far greater focus on the employee needs. This leads to the other big changes in the world of work: a lot of flexibility is on offer and a lot of focus on health and well-being

emails after 6 pm. The point of all these is to give employees the freedom as well as the tools to enable their wellness. Another big way firms are supporting this is by tracking how their employees are faring. Employee listening systems are increasingly popular, going beyond surveys to understand employees’ sentiments, their workload, and their wellness. Firms are also ramping up exercises like employee journey mapping to understand their daily journeys and identify moments that matter and systemic factors that stand in their way. Such listening programs help firms build empathy for what their employees need to be fully engaged. As firms lean into these, they must ensure they aren’t being “creepy” when doing so. Another good practice is to think about wellness as a strategy, not just a program. june 2021 |

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Work-life balance, flexibility, and mental health are front-of-mind for employees, according to a report by WEF. How are organizations ramping up their employee

support systems at a time like this? Employee wellness is tremendously important in the times we live in. Thankfully, firms are aware of this today and making efforts to do right by employees. We are seeing all kinds of interventions to enhance workers’ physical, emotional, and psychological well-being. For instance, many firms are giving employees access to mental wellness coaches and programs. Others provide access to wellness apps or chatbots. Yet others run short meditation classes during office hours, offer discounts for exercise programs, or even give the odd day off to recharge. Taking leaves is no longer frowned upon and actually encouraged. Apart from this, firms are taking hard steps like blanket bans on meetings during lunch hours, or not allowing employee

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fine-tune these as needed. Apart from policy decisions, leaders should keep a keen eye on employee wellness. These are tough times, and only happy and mentally fit employees can bring their best selves to work every day. And one of the keys to effectively manage through this situation is coaching people managers. Unfortunately, not many firms do this well or do this at all. Managers drive a large part of employees’ daily experiences. What they say, how they say it, what signals they give to employees – this influences employee engagement in a big way. So coaching people managers on soft skills – to communicate well, to manage remotely, and watch out for warning signs – is critical.

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COVID-19 showed how central humans are to every dimension of enterprise: EY’s Samir Bedi

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Leaders will need to walk the talk of moving from profit to purpose by transforming how they manage their organization and the workforce, says Samir Bedi, Asean Workforce Advisory Leader, EY By Mastufa Ahmed

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amir is EY Asean Workforce Advisory Leader, with extensive consulting experience in helping organizations to develop business strategies linked to people-organization dynamics across Southeast Asia. He has worked on numerous competency, performance, and rewards design and implementation projects for public-, private- and thirdsector clients. His experience covers all aspects of human resources consulting, ranging from organization structur| June 2021

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

Most organizations are embracing the hybrid mode of work including tech giants. Do you believe there will be a significant shift in the organizational culture?

The speed at which organizations have transitioned to virtual modes of working in response to COVID-19 is unprecedented. During the circuit breaker in Singapore in April 2020, the workforce shifted to work-from-home in just a matter of days. The office as-we-knowit is being redefined. Postpandemic, the office could be anywhere. With reduced or little physical interactions, employees will face challenges in communicating effectively in the absence of physical cues such


as body language, facial gestures, and voice modulation. This will significantly impact the employee experience and the organization’s culture. Therefore, organizations need to recognize the role of physical spaces and provide for hybrid modes of physical and virtual interactions. For example, employees can form teams to utilize networking spaces for creative brainstorming before transiting to virtual modes to execute individual deliverables. Given that these

hybrid modes of engagement are new for the organization, we expect that the organization is going to invest in technology and resources to give employees the best experience they can have.

Do you think leaders are exploiting this moment to fix gaps, inequalities, and create a better workplace where everyone is able to unleash their full human potential? The “virtual office” and digital ways of working helps to level the playing

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Are organizations are ramping up their employee support systems in an environment of uncertainty and

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Many employers are going beyond providing technology for remote working, and are looking after their employees’ health, welfare and well-being. They are introducing guides and best practices to help employees build conducive work environments, strengthening their remote IT support capabilities, and providing welfare benefits such as vaccine day-offs

field and creates employment opportunities for the workforce. In particular, individuals who work on a part-time basis or those with physical disabilities no longer face the barriers of time or distance involved in traveling to a physical location to work. With the normalization of virtual environments, meetings and events will also be conducted in a way that is more accessible for virtual attendees. By embracing a virtual mindset and creating a more inclusive environment will help organizations to employ and engage a more diverse group of employees, which will in turn help to drive the creation of new ideas.

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Forward-looking employers are also looking after their employees’ long-term needs by planning for workforce transformation and helping employees to upskill and reskill for the digital future of work going the extra mile to help employees? How will this trend pan out in the postpandemic days? No other event in the history of working has shown how central humans are to every dimension of the enterprise. Many employers are going beyond providing technology for remote working, and are looking after their employees’ health, welfare and well-being. They are introducing guides and best practices to help employees build conducive work environments, strengthening their remote IT support capabilities, and providing welfare benefits such as | June 2021

vaccine day-offs. Forward-looking employers are also looking after their employees’ long-term needs by planning for workforce transformation and helping employees to upskill and reskill for the digital future of work.

Where do you see the world of work three years down the line? The pandemic is changing organizations and the future working world in fundamental ways. As mentioned in my earlier responses, the virtual work environment will see a shift toward the adoption of an outcome-based approach

to work. As digital adoption accelerates, tasks will be ever-changing, and the workforce will need to regularly upskill and understand how to apply and utilize the latest technology. Amid these changes, it is key that organizations put humans at the center to build an inclusive environment where employment opportunities are for all. Keeping pace with the rate of change will require agile organizations. Existing hierarchical structures will need to be broken down and organizations will need to embrace collaborative ways of working. It is key that organizations pivot their transformation from a place of purpose. Leaders will need to walk the talk of moving from profit to purpose by transforming how they manage their organization and the workforce. To realize the unlimited possibilities of the future working world, employees, organizations and the government will need to work together to realize the opportunities.


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

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he COVID triggered uncertainty is still here and organizations are struggling. New variants of the virus are spreading in several countries including India where the second wave surge has become disastrous. With the uncertainties about the response of the battered health systems, corporations need to reinvent them-

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Given the uncertainty, it’s time to extend all possible assistance and support to employees and help them navigate through this pandemic, says Priyanka Anand, Vice President & Head, Human Resources South East Asia, Oceania & India at Ericsson, in an interview with us By Mastufa Ahmed selves. For several countries, the return to work plan is likely to be staggered as the pandemic continues to provide challenges. In India, organizations are going the extra mile to safeguard their employees and tide them over the difficulties. Priyanka Anand, Vice President & Head, Human Resources - South East Asia, Oceania & India at Ericsson,

in an interview with us talks about the continuing uncertainty and business priorities, the evolving role of HR, and more.

COVID-19 pandemic is still here. And organizations are still struggling. How do you see the current scenario and business readiness? COVID-19 pandemic has brought an unprecedented june 2021 |

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shift in the ways of working and as an organization, our focus has been on driving a balance between business continuity and employee safety during this time. From an HR leadership perspective, the relevance of HR as a business enabler and a transformative force is perhaps at the forefront in this new normal world. While productivity and employee engagement and experience have been core areas of focus, the function had to pivot and recraft

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At Ericsson, the wellbeing of our workforce has been a top priority during this pandemic even as we continue to focus on customer needs and providing seamless connectivity to service providers. We rapidly adapted to the evolving scenario and have undertaken various initiatives to ensure that our employees are well supported during this time.

New variants of COVID-19 are creating chaos in several

The world has changed, and we know our workplace has to change with it. In some ways, we have leapfrogged into a new way of working that is more flexible and meeting both business and individuals’ needs. This is not negotiable - we need to do this in order to remain competitive, relevant, and an attractive employer strategies right from the fundamentals of hiring to virtual onboarding, training, and skilling of employees. In addition, sustaining organizational culture while being connected virtually, ensuring employee comfort with empathy and open platforms for engagement are important focal points. In today’s environment, the need for agility and resilience to adapt, change, and pivot applies as much to the HR function as to business models. HR leaders must confront and embrace this reality. | June 2021

countries, especially India. What is your take on how should leaders sail through uncertain times and manage talent? The pandemic has created many disruptions and an unprecedented health scare that has impacted businesses, people, and communities across the globe. In these uncertain times, ensuring employee safety and well-being is as crucial as business continuity. Leaders must extend support to their teams in every way possible by being empathetic, by regularly check-

ing in on the well-being of their teams, by providing emotional support as well as any other support besides organizational support. Even as we look at designing the workplace of the future, some of the initiatives we have undertaken include: We are focusing on Improved remote collaboration for a “work-fromanywhere” principle ..how do we enable more creativity, productivity, collaboration, and engagement: Digital tools to support the well-being Working from home has meant increased stress for many – hard to disconnect and maintain a sustainable work-life balance, therefore, we’re exploring digital tools and apps to help monitor and build better habits, for example, Headspace that we launched earlier this month Improve working from home set-up Working from home has created greater needs for a proper home workplace setup. In 2020, we launched the furniture support package and there is ongoing work looking into making that a permanent service, enabling it to new hires, etc. In addition to furniture, we’re also looking at making IT equipment available to order: audio headsets, external monitor, external


employees are well supported as they grapple with this new reality.

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Work-life balance, flexibility, and mental health are front-of-mind for employees, according to a report by WEF. How should organizations up their employee support systems in an environment of uncertainty? At Ericsson, our people have always been a corner-

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camera, external mouse, and keyboard. This to improve workplace ergonomics and quality of meetings and individual work.To strengthen the virtual engagement of leaders with their teams, we carried out virtual coaching programs for leaders across the organization. Our ‘Leaders as Coaches’ as well as ‘Leading through Crisis’ program focused on empowering leaders to lead effectively with empathy, providing them with the necessary tools to have greater selfinsight and support their teams as required.

Do you think the hybrid mode of work that most companies are adopting is going to stay for long? How can HR leaders help sustain company culture in a hybrid work model? The world has changed, and we know our workplace has to change with it. In some ways, we have leapfrogged into a new way of working that is more flexible stone of our success. The and meeting both business well-being of our employees and individuals’ needs. This is extremely important to us, is not negotiable - we need which led us to launch a well- to do this in order to remain ness program with focused competitive, relevant, and an interventions around attractive employer. employee physical wellbeThe past year has given ing, financial management, us an opportunity to reimemotional and social wellagine, re-think, and redefine being. We have also set up what our workplace of the a 24X7 employee assistance future could be like. It has program to provide one-tochallenged old truths about one support to employees. what a workplace is and We have leaders do regular what it should entail. Given check-ins with employees, the current scenario, many open communication forums organizations are reflectas well support programs ing on imbibing a hybrid that we have rolled out – working model, which offers be it supporting employemployees both online and ees and their families deal offline ways of working to with health aspects related collaborate and create an to Covid or the mental wellenvironment that fosters being of our employees. productivity, growth, and We also conduct Pulse efficiency. Ericsson is also Survey from time to time to reimagining its workplace assess the employee sentitoward this new hybrid, flexment and understand how ible model. The new normal we can further augment is not about work from home our existing programs. We alone, but from anywhere. continue to ensure that our We are focusing on Improved

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remote collaboration for a “work-from-anywhere” principle ..how do we enable more creativity, productivity, collaboration, and engagement Leaders have a huge impact on promoting and sustaining organizational culture and this has been especially important given the pandemic situation. At Ericsson, we ensured smooth execution of the cultural transition where employees continue to engage with their workplace/colleagues and feel safe. This past year has challenged some longheld beliefs about ways of working, and globally, the pandemic has sped up the rate of change for digitalization and flexibility in the workplace.

Where do you see the world of work 3 years down the line? To cater for a more flexible workplace and new ways of working, we’re exploring our future workplace from a physical, virtual and cultural perspective: In terms of the Physical Workplace , the offices will be designed based on employees’ different needs and preferences, rather than roles and functions. The offices will be a space where we come together to create, collaborate, and socialize. The Virtual Workplace will enable a seamless and efficient collaboration experience.

While productivity and employee engagement and experience have been core areas of focus for the HR function, we will have to recraft strategies to make them more The pandemic has changed relevant to the current reality

the priorities of HR leaders globally. How do you see the changing role of HR? HR has always been a multifaceted function and its transformative role as a business enabler and a strategic partner is right at the forefront today. While productivity and employee engagement and experience have been core areas of focus for the HR function, we will have to recraft strategies to make them more relevant to the current reality. An important step towards this will be the adoption of technology. HR processes are being automated to improve 72

employee experience and productivity. Technologies such as AI/ML are being adopted to conduct various tasks from manpower planning to employee exit - in fact, over the past year, due to COVID 19, Ericsson’s recruitment and onboarding processes have completely moved online. Technologies like blockchain, IoT, Big data analytics, AI and ML, etc. will further aid activities such as searching for the right candidate, conducting background verification checks, evaluating emotional wellbeing and behavioral analysis, etc.

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How are you preparing as a leader to deal with the next phase of challenges? What are your top priorities? Our current priority and the need of the hour for companies is to stand with their employees and extend all possible assistance and support to help them navigate through this pandemic. For me, ensuring that our employees are safe and their social, emotional, physical, and financial well-being is taken care of while ensuring business continuity are my top priorities.

We’re exploring new and optimized tools and applications to enable a productive and collaborative environment – in and outside the offices. From a People and Culture perspective, we are looking at improving worklife balance through more flexibility. We’re exploring how we as an organization can create empowering leadership and more flexible ways of working that enhance productivity and well-being. So, the future will allow more flexibility to work from home.


Workforce fluidity has gained momentum within PVR: Gautam Dutta, CEO, PVR

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Witnessing a crisis that has impacted every life causing interruption, disruption or devastation calls one to be more humanitarian in approach. The need of the hour is to stand with your employees and convey your intentions to safeguard their interest, shares Gautam Dutta, CEO, PVR Ltd. By Shweta Modgil The toughest time is looming for India as companies have to ensure business continuity and productive output while supporting their workers. How is PVR ensuring that? All businesses are navigating through the crisis and the multiplex industry which PVR is a part has been the hardest hit with theatres asked to close down in March and reopen only after 8 months. With zero revenue from our business never witnessed any time in the past, safeguarding our employees and their wellbeing became the topmost priority. The firm belief in such an ideology rests on the fact that an organization’s future can only be safe on continuity plans and hile the vaccines if its workers are safe. employee support schemes. are here, the war As an employee-first In an exclusive interacis yet to be won. organization, this pandemtion with us, Gautam Dutta, COVID-19 is still raging on ic’s impact on the lives of CEO, PVR Ltd. shares with in many parts of the world, our employees and their us how PVR is navigating including India. As the new families is a personal crisis the second wave and how wave of coronavirus sets more than anything. The is it bolstering employee us back one year yet again, leadership, therefore, is support systems and work organizations are gearing up to sail through the uncer- policies to support the work- channeling all its resources to support employees in force. tainty with a greater focus

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every way possible during these excruciating times. The last quarter of FY20FY21 did bring in a glimmer of hope with producers announcing their release dates of the movies that were lying in waiting due to the pandemic. However, with the second wave grappling India in a harsher way, the business again came to standstill with localized lockdowns, night curfews, and eventually, cinemas asked to close down in the entire country as the priority of the government

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Today, we cannot look at anything in isolation. The health of the businesses is clearly linked with that of our workforce, customers, society, the country, and the world outside. During lockdown on the FnB front, we launched microwave popcorn brand, PVR Popmagic for our patrons while they stayed indoors. During the lockdown there was a huge demand of PVR F&B which reconfirmed our belief to accelerate our plans to activate the home delivery space, to make

Keeping employees at the forefront; empowering them with flexible work models and ensuring a positive optimistic outlook is imperative for every organization to keep the employee morale high shifted to universal vaccination and reduce social interactions. Sustaining business operations has surely been difficult with restriction on normal capacity utilization due to the implementation of social distancing measures, but with no complaints, we have curtailed our expenses, reached settlements with landlords for rent waivers/ discounts & CAM charges, put on hold capex spend, liquidity enhancement through additional borrowings from existing bankers, raise QIPs and made smallterm structural changes. | June 2021

our delicacies travel at our patron’s home. With every innovation, we have tried to keep alive the PVR brand & the PVR experience at our patrons’ homes while the theatres were closed. Keeping employees at the forefront; empowering them with flexible work models and ensuring a positive optimistic outlook is imperative for every organization to keep the employee morale high.

How should organizations rethink talent management amid all this uncertainty? What is PVR’s focus here? The pandemic has

ushered in a dramatic shift in work culture across organizations and industries to redefine themselves to improvise their policies and HR practices. In the process what is integral is to ensure talent retention at this trying times. Before the second wave struck, to ensure health & well-being of our employees and following the safety protocols, we advised our employees to operate from home. We have also introduced a “Pause Break” for our employees to take care of themselves and their family members where a minimum of 10 days of Pause Break every month for the next 3/4 months would be adjusted against accrued annual earned leaves. For PVR, the idea that has really gained momentum is Workforce Fluidity within the organization. Workforce fluidity encompasses not only flexible/ virtual work assignments but also means eliminating job titles or even the entire construct of a job, valuing contributions to multiple teams and results instead. Today, organizations and teams are constantly thinking out of the box to come out with innovative ideas to sustain their business models. At PVR, we identify talent who can disrupt their conventional way of thinking and come up with innovative ways to manage


The need of the hour is to stand with your employees and convey your intentions to safeguard their interests. Employee support systems / beneficial programs should be more realistic, on-ground, and timely

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How should organizations level up their employee

support systems and work policies? What has PVR done in this regard? To prosper in today’s volatile times, businesses need to rethink their ways. Witnessing a crisis that has impacted every life causing interruption, disruption or devastation calls one to be more humanitarian in approach. The need of the hour is to stand with your employees and convey your intentions to safeguard their interests. Employee support systems / beneficial programs should be more realistic, on-ground, and timely. The safety and well-being of employees are our first priority, and our leadership team has ensured they engage regularly with them. We were quick to introduce many welfare measures like medical reimbursements for Covid related expenses of our employees and their

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businesses effectively. We at PVR believe that the best time to change is before it's time to change. Being the pioneers in the multiplex industry, we have set industry benchmarks and have not shied away from taking a calculated risk. Guided by this, our senior management has provided the freedom to their team members to expose themselves to new ways of learning in crossfunctional areas. Also, it is at the time of crisis, the greatest humanistic values come to the forefront. We are having a keen eye on employees who are leading from the front beyond their call of duty to become part of the Covid Response Team to assist their colleagues in executing the employee support program.

family members, organize online sessions by wellness & medical experts, 24*7 medical helpline, and providing financial support. Realizing vaccination as the first line of defense, the company decided to reimburse the cost of vaccination for its employees and their dependents. Through friendly inter-unit competition, we are motivating the staff of our units to get themselves vaccinated and instill a sense of pride in the achievement. PVR Juhu has become the first cinema with 100 percent staff being vaccinated as we receive encouraging news of more and more of our staff at our units getting vaccinated every day. The Cinema Manager has been empowered with all support services and is serving as a father figure in ensuring the well-being of its unit staff through regular communication with internal WhatsApp groups. We developed a comprehen-

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sive holistic care package to support and protect our employees during this painful and difficult period. The services include the provision of essential medicines, oxygen ambulance, hospitalization assistance, oxygen concentrator, plasma donor, doctor on call, vaccination drive, and food delivery options.

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How are you planning for the future amid predictions of phase three of the virus? Our first and foremost objective is that our staff gets 100% vaccinated before we are allowed to open our premises. Of course, we would be strongly guided by the government protocols; however, for our customer focus shall necessarily be on being more hospitable and humble. All actions would be guided on strong surveys on consumer expectations which would become more dynamic in nature. We would need to provide an environment where there should be complete peace of mind and added degree of assurance when consumers step out to watch a movie at our theatres. With Cinema reaching out to young audiences and the bulk of our consumers being in the 18-40 age bracket, the ongoing vaccination drive in the country covering the younger population, gives us hope on ensuring the safety of this segment of | June 2021

our customer base. Winning customer trust is extremely crucial and continually sustaining them by providing value-added offerings would be the key.

What is the strategy and focus for the leadership to tackle challenges posed by the third wave? Could you shed light on the contingency plan for 2021 and PVR’s industry outlook for FY 2021-2022? COVID-19 is a much larger issue than our industry as all businesses faced supply

Today, we cannot look at anything in isolation. The health of the businesses is clearly linked with that of our workforce, customers, society, the country, and the world outside chain disruptions, a steep decline in consumption demand and investments. Besides, uncertainty in the informal sector and large cash flow gaps for corporates aggravated this challenge to a quick economic recovery. The outbreak of COVID-19 is subjecting India and the world to extreme stress and uncertainty. Amidst the tumult of this unprecedented period, the company’s priority has been to safeguard the health and

well-being of its employees, customers, and communities at large while continuing the business operations with responsibility and care. We have a robust loyalty program, PVR Privilege in place and we would continue to invest in this program and making it the most admired loyalty program in the country. We have the largest theatre network across India with a strong brand equity and an Assetlight model with no ownership of cinema premises. With customer service as its core value, the company will take stringent steps that adhere to its service policies such as enhancing the F&B menu, bringing global cinema technology for Indian customers, and offering attractive incentives and discounts for the patrons. The company conducts regular market surveys to stay on top of the upcoming and current market trends and will continue to adopt the latest technology to provide a premium movie-watching experience to its customers. The company’s strategy is to further expand its screen network, with a focus on increasing premium format composition in the portfolio. The company is dedicated to enhancing customer experience and delight through innovative offerings across different segments and enhance its box office and non-box office revenues.


COVID-19 exit – Are you ready? Given the current situation, what has determined and will continue to determine each organization’s success is the caliber of its leadership and management By Clinton Wingrove

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play as big a part in them as any business analysis. What has determined and will continue to determine each organization’s success is the caliber of its leadership and management. If organizations believe that going into lockdown was a huge challenge, they should wait and see what trying to come out of it will be like! To quote the WHO’s May 11th report, “… Case and death incidence … remains at the highest level since the beginning of the pandemic. … While India continues

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rganizations that responded best to the onset of the pandemic, and especially the lockdown, were those with managers used to forward planning, used to risk assessment, and used to create innovative solutions rapidly with their teams. Those same organizations will cope best with the potential exit from the lockdowns. But, let’s be clear. It has not been solely the prompt adoption of work from home (WFM) policies or the use of virtual networking platforms such as ZOOM, MS Teams, Blue Jeans, etc that enabled some to excel while others have struggled. Nor will it be the decision to remain with WFM, or to go for a hybrid approach, or even to demand that everyone comes back to work that will determine a successful exit from lockdown. Those decisions are relatively trivial and societal pressure will

to account for 95% of cases and 93% of deaths in the South-East Asia Region … worrying trends have been observed in neighboring countries …” This isn’t over and it won’t be for some time to come. We need to learn to work with it! We now know that there have been unforeseen consequences of remote working: • Cognitive disconnect – the informal flow of information all but ceased. Even our attention levels have dropped and we do not consciously hear anywhere near as much in virtual meetings as we did face-to-face. • Emotional distance – while many of us have more meetings and meet with more people, there is increasing evidence that being blobs on a screen does not generate the emotional connection that face-to-face, full-body visibility, produces. We are having more but far weaker relationships • Organizations thinking of running talent reviews (which have always suffered from poor quality

Globally, organizations now face uncertainty about when they will be able to achieve a new normal – while Europe and the USA, among others, are preparing to come out of lockdown, cases of new variants are rising rapidly and threatening to create new waves of infection and deaths june 2021 |

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many other issues any one of which could trigger a new global crisis. In addition to the risk of a new pandemic, we see increasing social unrest across the developed world and political instability globally.

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“While India continues to account for 95% of COVID-19 cases and 93% of deaths in the Southeast Asia Region, … worrying trends have been observed in neighboring countries …” This isn’t over and it won’t be for some time to come. We need to learn to work with it! data about people) are now threatened. Some peoplemanagers are being asked to profile and review people whom they have never met and rarely even seen on screen. • Globally, organizations now face uncertainty about: • When they will be able to achieve a new normal – while Europe and the USA, among others, are preparing to come out of lockdown, cases of new variants are rising rapidly and threatening to create new waves of infection and deaths; • How to fund current operations – many are worried about the businesses already lost but those may | June 2021

prove to be in the minority as already cash-strapped businesses face supply shortages and increased costs of raw materials; • How to fund the transition to a new modus operandi – high levels of tolerance have been shown during the shift to WFM but the pressure will build for organizations to recognize their responsibility for the working environments in which home-based workers find themselves. They will also need to address the issue of productivity – is it really as high as some of them claim? • How to prepare for the next crisis - because there will be one. The pandemic has distracted us from

Climate change effects are increasing fast, and we now see military conflict erupting in various parts of the world. Financial markets are starting to be more volatile and there is a risk of serious inflation in many parts of the world. • How their staff will respond in the longer term. Moving to WFM was exciting for many; commute times were eradicated overnight; working hours flexibility swept in; incidents of interpersonal conflicts crashed; for many of those still employed disposable income increased. But what next? The new world of work, especially for managers, will be a quite different place. It’s time to set better norms that will instill a holistically healthy, productive, and inclusive workforce into the future. Whilst urgency will focus most organizations on reacting to the financial and legal pressures, importance will demand that they take dramatic action to increase the quality of their people-managers. They


recognition for what their actions achieved. All too often, we only attend to the latter. E They provide Empathy. Taking time to ask about each employee’s circumstances and well-being and providing empathetic responses and decisions. Those all require each manager to spend more one-to-one time with staff, asking questions and genuinely listening to their responses before stepping in with statements, advice, etc. So, are you ready? In your organization, are you taking

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We also know that individuals require peoplemanagers who care: C They provide Clarity. Clarity around expectations; clarity around future needs; Clarity around how the individual and their performance is viewed. A They provide Assurance. Managers cannot assure that any job will survive. But they can provide assurance that they will support their staff, fight for their positions, and be there to support them no matter what happens. R They provide Recognition. Specific recognition for who they are, specific recognition for what they have done, and specific

The new world of work will be quite different. It’s time to set better norms that will instill a holistically healthy, productive, and inclusive workforce. Whilst urgency will focus most organizations on reacting to the financial and legal pressures, importance will demand that they take dramatic action to increase the quality of their people-managers

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need managers capable and committed to forward planning, risk assessment, to creating innovative solutions rapidly with agile teams.

action to achieve a stepchange improvement in the caliber of your people managers? Are you equipping, supporting, and developing them to build strong relationships in an increasingly noisy, virtual world? Are you equipping, supporting, and developing them to continuously look ahead, perform risk analyses, and prepare for the next crisis?

Clinton Wingrove is the Principal Consultant, Clinton HR Ltd www.clintonhr.com june 2021 |

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In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Subhankar Roy Chowdhury, Executive DirectorHR, Asia Pacific, Lenovo India, shares some insights on the trends brought forward by the pandemic that will have significant implications for businesses in the long term; the biggest challenges in embracing diversity and inclusion at a strategic level; and how companies can create a culture where people from all walks of life can share their talent and feel a sense of belonging By Yasmin Taj

T The pandemic became a catalyst for change in organizations:

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he pandemic became the largest catalyst for transformation in the corporate world in the past one and a half years. The changes brought forward by the pandemic completely transformed the way work is done and the way the workforce is perceived. While health, wellbeing, and communication became paramount, aspects like diversity and inclusion too found new meaning in this new normal. And now, as organizations battle out the second wave of COVID-19 and try to keep their employees safe, it is time to take a relook at what return to work would mean for them. In this exclusive interaction, Subhankar Roy Chowdhury, Executive Director-HR, Asia Pacific, Lenovo India shares


think will have significant implications for businesses in the long term? The pandemic has triggered unprecedented disruptions in workplaces and school, to social connections and industries. It has also accelerated digital transformation into warp speed in 2020, creating radical shifts in the new “everythingfrom-home" environment. As a wide array of companies re-examine the workplace's functionality and

recalibrate to varying levels of a work-from-home or work-from-anywhere, we’ll start to see more traditional office workspaces become periodic collaboration hubs and home offices become the day-to-day workplace in a new hybrid work model. This presents a series of challenges and opportunities: • For Work, accelerated digitization offers new opportunities, and companies will look to invest

As a wide array of companies re-examine the workplace's functionality and recalibrate to varying levels of a work-from-home or work-fromanywhere, we’ll start to see more traditional office workspaces become periodic collaboration hubs and home offices become the day-to-day workplace in a new hybrid work model

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some insights on the new trends brought forward by the pandemic that will have significant implications for businesses in the long term; the biggest challenges in embracing diversity and inclusion at a strategic level; and how companies can attract or retain diverse talent from any location around the globe. Subhankar Roy Chowdhury, Executive Director-HR, Asia Pacific, Lenovo India is responsible for developing the people agenda aligned to the business for Lenovo India. Since APJ region offers a wide range of people-focused themes because of complex geographies with varied people issues, disparate talent needs, multi-generation workforce, different socioeconomic models of growth, and different labor markets and policies, he plays a critical role in creating the right talent agenda for the organization. He is also a speaker and mentor with varied interests and experiences in cross-cultural leadership, organization transformation, HR technology, and talent practices to create a human work environment in the digital age. Here are the excerpts from the interview.

The crisis has brought in many new trends in terms of how and where work gets done. What trends do you june 2021 |

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In t e r v i e w

The global telework movement initiated by the pandemic has the potential to boost the careers of D&I talent. With the mental bias around work from home diminishing and realized productivity improvement, underrepresented employees can join & rejoin the workforce while balancing work and life in a solid business continuity plan and effective collaborative tools. The challenge they may face then is privacy concerns. • For Workforce, it means a new strategy to supporting, retaining, and developing talent. Health and well-being will continue to be a priority with people operating in the new normal. • For Workplace, we can expect smarter offices

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with more collaborative spaces. Companies will continue to offer flexibility in work hours. But as employees start returning to the workplace, the challenge is ensuring everyone’s health and safety.

Please share some insight into Lenovo’s latest Diversity & Inclusion Report. How has Lenovo’s D&I policy evolved/ transformed in the last two decades?

Lenovo’s Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Report highlights the annual snapshot of workforce demographics, hiring and attrition data, and a recap of the past year's diversity and inclusion highlights. Under the theme “Smarter for all”, the third annual report celebrates Lenovo’s achievement of reaching its three-year representational goals for gender and race/ethnicity. Since Lenovo first began reporting its workforce representation three years ago, the company has experienced progress in several key areas: Representing Gender Equality Globally: • The representation of women within the overall workforce remained consistent from 2019 at 36 percent. • Representation of women within executive roles worldwide grew from 18.5 percent to 21 percent. • Since first announcing the company’s three-year goal of 20 percent in 2018, the representation of global female executives has grown three percent.

Remote work, beyond being effective, has opened up opportunities for inclusion. People who can’t afford transportation to work can work virtually. Companies can attract or retain diverse talent from any location


But practice over time and embraced by every individual in the organization, remote work can present opportunities for all of us to think about what it truly means to collaborate and improve our organizations. There are some ways to transition employees to remote work option more smoothly, and these include: • Having effective hybrid working tools: When the pandemic hit, 40% of Lenovo employees indicated ergonomics, systems, and connectivity as a challenge while working from home. For effective long-term hybrid working, we will require enhanced devices, builtin high-speed connectivity that allows employees to work from home effectively, along with policies/ allowances for ergonomic setup.

• Focusing on customer experience: Inability to meet customer F2F has been a big challenge during the pandemic. Ensuring top and personalized customer experience while working virtually would be a key focus area. • Enabling management of virtual teams: Equipping managers with tools and training for effective brainstorming and work planning would make the transition easier. • Investing in virtual employee engagement:

The pandemic has served, and should serve, as a catalyst to embed more inclusive practices and effective leadership within the organization. Remote work is a powerful way to attract, support, and retain talent from all backgrounds and help break down barriers uniquely faced by underrepresented employees june 2021 |

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around the globe. What’s your view on this? The global telework movement initiated by pandemic has the potential to boost the careers of D&I talent. In our COVID-19 Workplace Practice survey conducted last year, 85% of employees indicated better worklife balance with reduced commute time and dressingup time, allowing them more time to focus on work, family, and personal hobbies. 50%+ employees indicated they could better manage work and home responsibilities while working from home. With the mental bias around work from home diminishing and realized productivity improvement, underrepresented employees can join & rejoin the workforce while balancing work and life. We are conscious that remote work also comes with its own set of challenges.

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E-learning has been the most used employee program during the pandemic and will be an even bigger developmental and engagement tool for employees in 2021.

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What, according to you, are the biggest challenges in embracing diversity and inclusion at a strategic level? How can the challenges be surmounted?

Common challenges: • Changing demographics: The Millennial workforce has a whole new set of values, attitudes, skills, expectations, learning styles, and ambitions, as compared to the tenured workforce. With

• COVID-19 pandemic and the impact on women: Like most global crises, the impact of COVID-19 has also not been genderneutral. There is a considerable gender gap in employment, with only 21% of women in India active in the labor market (and declining as per the latest survey), 29.2% of women holding technical roles, and 14.6% Indian

Despite pandemic challenges, we are heartened to see that there is still an overall increase in employee perception and satisfaction towards Lenovo as a diverse and inclusive place to work Diversity and inclusion initiatives risk being ineffective if they are only developed to comply with corporate governance and self-regulation. They may be well-meaning but are misguided in their intention and approach. We need to switch our mindsets to rethink and reinvent our diversity and inclusion approach as growth opportunities.

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Below are some common challenges to embracing diversity and inclusion and ways to surmount them:

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the increasing share of millennials in the workforce, inclusive work practices for the multi-generation workforce are going to evolve constantly. • The complexity of a global organization: There is no one size fits all. What works for one country or region may not work for another. Customized D&I solutions with a global-local approach are necessary for impactful results.

women in senior positions. Here are some ways through which the challenges can be surmounted: • Commitment from top management • A systematic strategic plan with set quantitative and qualitative goals • A holistic approach • Employee involvement • What gets measured gets done


• Diversity as imperative for the development of new products/services

How do you foresee the evolution of D&I strategy in the near future, especially in light of remote work culture? In the post-pandemic world, do you think, we need leadership that recognizes the potential of diverse talent and understands its implications on inclusion and culture?

Post-COVID-19, the world would continue to see organizations realign work practices around flexible work hours, benefits, childcare, performance management, employee wellbeing, and engagement The pandemic has served and should serve, as a catalyst to embed more inclusive practices and effective leadership within the organization. Remote work is a powerful way to attract, support, and retain talent from all backgrounds and help break down barriers uniquely faced by underrepresented employees. Now, more than ever, companies will need to put in the work to address underlying biases, stamp out discrimination and promote inclusivity if they want to create a culture where people from all walks of life can share their talent and feel a

sense of belonging. D&I requires sustained effort, and it starts with leaders and managers paving the way by being more compassionate and making conscious inclusion a daily practice. PostCOVID-19, the world would continue to see organizations realign work practices around flexible work hours, benefits, childcare, performance management, employee well-being, and engagement. Those who adapt the fastest will be successful in building a diverse and inclusive workforce for the future. june 2021 |

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How do you see the impact of the pandemic on D&I policy at Lenovo? How has the organization been building an inclusive environment for the workforce? Please shed some light on the initiatives taken by Lenovo. Despite pandemic challenges, we are heartened to see that there is still an overall increase in employee perception and satisfaction towards Lenovo as a diverse and inclusive place to work. In a study done internally in 2020, our diversity dimension scores have been encouraging. As an organization, Lenovo is committed to providing a supportive environment that is inclusive and safe. This includes implementing various initiatives such as diverse hiring, flexible working arrangement, Women in Lenovo Leadership (WILL), Women’s Leadership Development Programme (WLDP), and D&I training to name a few.

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Emerging Stronger

Emerging stronger with Adaptable HR: Alight Solutions’ State of HR Transformation Study 2021 The world of work has undergone a drastic transformation in the current times. Adaptable HR functions have proven that HR is truly at the forefront of shaping and delivering value to stakeholders, enabling us to adopt new ways of working and enable digital success. Here are the key insights from the Alight Solutions’ State of HR Transformation Study 2021 By Anushree Sharma

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construct of Adaptable HR as a guide to navigating the increasingly uncertain business and talent landscape in the midst of the biggest crisis faced. Exploring the anchors of adaptability in HR functions, Alight has consistently observed that the HR Operating Model (interchangeably referred to as HR Service Delivery or Business Model) plays an important role in driving confidence on execution and productivity. When complemented with the right HR technology strategy, the results are amplified further.

This year, as we continue to face new challenges and uncertainties posed by the pandemic, Alight found that organizations with Adaptable HR are emerging stronger to: • Lead in being digital: Adaptable HR report twenty times the NPS on technology satisfaction as compared to market averages. This is due to the digital success enabled by leveraging HR Technology to complement the HR Operating Model. In addition, 50 percent of Adapt-

Adaptable HR, at the forefront of #emergingstronger As organisations chart the journey during the watershed events triggered by the pandemic, Alight Solutions tested the construct of Adaptable HR and observed that Adaptable HR functions are emerging stronger across several parameters. #emergingstronger to Lead in being digital for HR and the business: Organisations with Adaptable HR functions have 22 times the Net Promoter Score (NPS) on technology satisfaction as compared to the market averages. They are 3 times more likely to be ahead in adopting augmented technologies (like robotics) in HR. Proactively enable the right shifts in the way we work: Organisations with Adaptable HR functions are 3 times more likely to be proactive in driving institutional change, new ways of working and adoption of work technologies. This has held true during the accelerated asks in the pandemic period and will likely strengthen in the future with the rise of a hybrid workplace. Reimagine the HR function as a leader for organisational change: Organisations with Adaptable HR functions are 3 times more likely to succeed in delivering a closer partnership with the business through their operating model and capabilities. They are 2 times more likely to succeed in their efforts on employee experience. Both of these are critical in leading organisational transformation. Shape and deliver the right value of HR to stakeholders: Organisations with Adaptable HR functions are almost 1.5 times more confident on their HR strategy and execution. They are also 1.7 times more productive.

Drive better results:

Emerging Stronger

fter releasing three insightful editions, Alight is back with the fourth edition of the Alight Solutions’ State of HR Transformation Study in partnership with People Matters. The study, which was launched during the People Matters TechHR SEA virtual conference, is themed around Emerging Stronger and sheds light on how some organizations are ahead of the curve in emerging stronger. Last year, Alight Solutions brought forward the

• Organisations with Adaptable HR functions are 1.5 times more likely to have favourable growth in revenues and profit before tax in the coming 12 months. • Organisations with Adaptable HR functions are 1.5 times more ready to address talent risks posed by the changing environment.

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Emerging Stronger

able HR have advanced along their adoption journey of robotics and cognitive technologies to drive efficiencies and improved experience for employees. • Enable shifts in the way we work: Adaptable HR functions are three times more likely to be proactive in driving institutional change, new ways of working, and adoption of work technologies. In fact, Adaptable HR functions report the use of up to five forms of work technologies. Factors that enabled quick adoption include

investment priorities and the right efforts in helping adoption through investments in manager/ leader enablement. • Reimagine HR: Adaptable HR functions are three times more likely to succeed in delivering closer partnership with the business through their operating model and capabilities. The specific capabilities demanded in Adaptable HR functions are what sets them apart and enables the organization to be agile by design. • Shape and deliver

value: Adaptable HR functions are almost three times more confident in their HR strategy and execution. This foundation and investment priorities enable them to be better equipped to address complexities and more proactive in responding to changes. The world of work too has undergone a drastic transformation in these times. Adaptable HR functions have proven that HR is truly at the forefront of shaping and delivering value to

#emergingstronger Accelerated change, Opportunity and Reality engines 3-4 of innovation, cost effectiveness and market expansion are creating new HR demands

Hybrid work models will get created to suit unique business and market contexts without compromising outcomes and experience

Work & life health and wellness concerns have increased, yet organisations are least prepared to address them

1% NPS on HR technology is not acceptable in a world that is mostly virtual / getting to hybrid right now

2X more invested in employee experience and tailored interventions to ensure success of programs

70% led selection and adoption of new Work Tech demands created by the pandemic and future hybrid work models

22 times the market NPS on HR technology achieved through successful technology leverage focused on adoption and insights

2X more focus in driving employee experience on moments that matter will enable them to drive better adoption of new ways of working

Low Effort High Impact Philosophy on reducing transaction effort while enhancing agility and business acumen

Adaptable HR take leading actions 50% more ready to address strategy linked talent risks around change, cultural alignment, critical skills and job redesign

Adaptable HR likely to sustain momentum & discipline 3X more confident on their HR Operating Model to enable accelerated value delivery in a dynamic business and societal recovery 88

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1.5X more rigour on measuring the Role of HR initiatives and enabling corrective actions


It is an accumulation of all individual behavior changes and the larger organization change which leads to business success. It is no surprise that organizations with Adaptable HR functions are 1.5 times more likely to have favorable growth in revenues and profit before tax in the coming 12 months edition of the Alight Solutions’ flagship study on this subject. The study data was captured between Jan 2021 and Apr 2021 through an online survey. The insights combine data captured via a survey that saw participation from over 1,700 respondents (which were filtered down to 1,022 based on completeness and accuracy of responses), and observations of Alight Solutions in the space of HR Transformation. With an unwavering belief that a company’s success starts with its people, Alight Solutions is a leading cloud-based

provider of integrated digital human capital and business solutions. Leveraging proprietary AI and data analytics, Alight optimizes business process as a service (BPaaS) to deliver superior outcomes for employees and employers across a comprehensive portfolio of services. Alight allows employees to enrich their health, wealth, and work while enabling global organizations to achieve a high-performance culture. Alight’s 15,000 dedicated colleagues serve more than 30 million employees and family members. Alight Solutions delivers next level transformation! june 2021 |

Emerging Stronger

stakeholders, enabling us to adopt new ways of working and enable digital success. Throughout this report, observations were shared in terms of how Adaptable HR organizations have paved ways for new co-creations and solutions for people and organizations to emerge stronger. Talking about this year’s study, Vikrant Khanna (Sr. Director and Advisory Lead at Alight Solutions), exclaimed, “ We are delighted to see how Adaptable HR function led organizations are recovering from the impact of the pandemic, while there is still quite a bit of uncertainty in the environment, the construct of Adaptable HR acts as a lighthouse for organizations to emerge stronger” Shaswat Kumar (Vice President and Asia Leader, Alight Solutions) says, “This year’s findings demonstrate that Adaptable HR function led organizations are likely to succeed in their change agenda. This will enable organizations, not only to compete better but also to deliver the right value to its constituents and shareholders” Certainly, the future belongs to organizations that are able to continue their journey of Adaptable HR, lead transformation, and emerge stronger! The State of HR Transformation 2021, is the fourth

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Pragya Srivastava

The challenges of managing the global workforce

Employee Experience

There has been a growing awareness in the C-Suite about the traditional headquarters model losing competitive advantage through non-utilization of the power of a global talent pool

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lobal companies have traditionally operated with the model of a headquarters driving the strategy and putting guidelines in place, with subsidiaries located in different countries following the direction thus set. I call this the “hoarding of power model,” which the majority of the MNCs adopted. But, over the past decade, there has been a growing awareness in the C-Suite about this model losing competitive advan| June 2021

tage through non-utilization of the power of a global talent pool. Technology drove the digital transformation in almost every Fortune 500 company. These drives are still going through various iterative cycles to get to the “true meaning” of harnessing the capabilities of the globally dispersed workforce. While goals may differ, the challenges this transformation brings to the workforce remain common across the board, even with the COVID-

An efficient digital global workforce will mean a shift of power from the leader to an employee who can be anywhere across the globe. But the biggest challenge has been the passive resistance from leaders who are averse to this idea 19 pandemic adding another layer of complexity. The biggest challenge, in my view, has been the passive resistance from leaders who are averse to abandoning the “hoarding of power” model. An efficient digital global workforce will mean a shift of power from the leader to an employee who can be anywhere across the globe. It is a big cultural


One challenge triggered by the pandemic managing the three groups of employees – those working from the office or working from home or doing both. This warrants organizations to reimagine their talent management system so everyone feels included gent or part-time workers to tap into the best available talent, which in my view, is a worthwhile investment if the organization must make use of the three major time zones for faster delivery. The fourth challenge is getting the right organizational structure in place to drive innovation in a digital environment. Organizations understand that an innovative global digital workforce with the younger generation forming the majority of the workforce cannot be managed with the traditional pyramid structure. In my view, the best structure is that of a nimble organization, which can get teams together quickly to tackle

a challenge and break it up once completed to form new teams for a new challenge. In other words, an organic organizational structure that is fluid and can form connections quickly is the best. It helps set the stage for innovation by breaking down silos and providing for alternate career paths that best utilize employees’ skills, interests, and career goals. Most importantly, it results in an engaged workforce aligned with the organizational goals. The last challenge is about much talked burnout. Connectivity in this new digital world has been a doubleedged sword. Although efficiency has improved, the boundaries between work and home have blurred significantly, leading to increased stress, disengagement, and high turnover among employees. Organizations will need to strike a balance through performance management processes and meaningful conversations. Leaders will need to spend more time understand “how” things are done rather than just the “what” is done. Organizations that build the right culture for supporting a digital workforce will succeed. They must be open to new ideas, regardless of which part of the workforce they come from.

Employee Experience

change, especially for the bosses. Organizations will need to do the tightrope walk of balancing the organizational imperative with the potential loss of knowledge that these bosses have. Leadership development training can be used to tackle this challenge. At Progress, the “LEAD” program for people managers includes sessions in an interactive online format, which helps bring in the right messaging and provides a great tool for feedback. The hybrid mode of work which many organizations have embraced have added another layer of challenge --managing the three groups of employees – those working from the office or working from home or doing both. Leaders need to reimagine their talent management system and employee life cycle so that none of the three groups of employees feels that they are being treated unfairly because of the choices that they have made. The third challenge is to get the right global sourcing model in place. The talent pool has become global overnight, with location constraints being removed by technology. The organizations whose hiring practices can be adapted to source globally will have the edge over the others. Organizations must be willing to move a much higher percentage of their employees into contin-

Pragya Srivastava is the Senior Manager, Human Capital, Progress june 2021 |

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Empower part-time careers with an open mindset and fair treatment: OTRS HR leaders

Sabine Riedel

Kathrin Triebel

Employers can easily create a full and successful career even for those who work part-time—if they are willing to be open, to look at support rather than control, and to offer genuinely fair and equal treatment to all. The HR leaders of tech firm OTRS, who have successfully enabled part-time careers for their people over two decades, share their views By Mint Kang

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art-time work is often thought of as a temporary arrangement, to be implemented when a full-time role cannot be justified and ended once the situation changes. But what if a company made it possible to build a full career by working part-time, and even to advance to leadership positions on a parttime basis?

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People Matters spoke to Sabine Riedel from the Management Board of Germany-headquartered technology firm OTRS, who leads international HR strategy and is a strong advocate of flexible work structures, and OTRS's HR Director Kathrin Triebel, who works part-time herself, to understand how this solution works and whether it's possible for other


companies to emulate it. OTRS has a policy of granting employees part-time work or other flexible arrangements on request, and while the HR leaders have not tracked the number of part-time employees, they estimate it to be significant and includes both men and women.

Start with an open mindset

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The idea of having an open mindset and flexibility was part of OTRS's culture since its founding in 2000, according to Riedel. “We wanted to give people the chance to live the life they want professionally, and that means that you have to offer different kinds of working models,” she said. “It was never restricted in any way, and we don't only offer it for mothers—even fathers or younger employees who request part-time. So, we don't have a special model, it's more about the general flexibility.” The nature of the industry also influences this, she added. “In the IT sector, you have a lot of places to implement flexibility. For example, the developers like sometimes to work during the night, or they like to work in the early morning, stop in the afternoon, and then again work in the night. It's all about creating the right targets or the right goals, and monitoring them such

that you can make sure that the goals are achieved. But how it is achieved is not so important. It's more about the results.” This does come with some complications: it is critical, said the HR leaders, to ensure that goals are transparent and achievable. And for certain departments, particularly those with a high level of customer contact, the nature of the work means it can be particularly challenging to organize part-time schedules such that people are available for customers. “We can realize part-time work within the sales team, but if there is a change then shifts have to be reorganized and it affects the whole team,” Triebel observed. “I think that if you say it's a privilege for the employee, that becomes a restricted model, but if

It's not about valuing the time spent at work, it's the idea that if I contribute something in a limited time, that's exactly as good as if I contribute something in a full-time job. I would never say 'This person is only here for three or four hours so they are not worth to be promoted' june 2021 |

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you really see it as a part of your culture, then you can make it possible. It's a little bit more effort but it's worth it.”

Managing by results and equal treatment

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“For a lot of years, it has been a fixed mindset that productivity at work is immediately connected with being present at the office,” Riedel said. “A lot of huge wellestablished companies in this country have always had the tools to make flexibility work, but they didn't have the trust.”

This has been the biggest hindrance to accepting successful part-time careers or other flexible models, because the ability to focus on a person's results achieved, rather than on the time they spend under a manager's eye, hinges upon trust. “If you trust someone, then when you monitor, it's for making sure that the applicant has a good feeling about what he or she wants to achieve. There must be very good communication between the employee 94

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and the superior, but not in a way where we control what everyone does every day with a tool,” Riedel pointed out. However, the coronavirus pandemic has also forced companies to change their way of thinking, she believes, and leadership styles have improved because of it. “In former years leadership was more about control. Now it's often it's more about support, and really knowing your employees and what they need. Instead of being the superior and telling them what I want, I try to find out what they need to support them and make them achieve their goals. This is a completely different setup.” Another, very critical aspect of enabling part-time careers is finding a way to overcome the frequently-cited issue of remote or part-time workers being disadvantaged by lack of physical presence in the office—something that is closely linked to mindset. “It's not about valuing the time spent at work, it's the idea that if I contribute something in a limited time, that's exactly as good as if I contribute something in a full-time job,” Riedel pointed out. “I would never say 'This person is only here for three or four hours so they are not worthy to be promoted'. It must be about: does this person really want to contribute something? Is there value in what they are doing for the company? Are they serious, are they honest, are they loyal?” Ultimately, she believes, it comes down to fair and equal treatment. “It is a fundamental cornerstone of our company culture that everyone must be treated equally, everyone has the same stances and


rights, and it doesn't matter if you're working full time or parttime to achieve a certain goal,” she said. “This is really very essential, to accept and to understand that everyone's goal in life can look different. If someone says, 'I just want to work 20 hours, my goal in life is to focus on something other than work', we don't want to judge that. This is accepting that people are different. It's about fairness for everyone, and really living the idea of equality—not only gender equality but equality in general.”

Where is the part-time model going?

fied people. At that point, she said, employees will be less likely to demand flexibility as they become the ones competing for jobs. “The more people that are available, the more flexibility suffers.” On the other hand, she also observed that competition for talent is still fairly high in Germany. “Younger employees want more flexibility and to work more part-time, and not to see work as the central part of their lives. So there will be a demand for that, and the last year has shown that it is possible to realize it,” she said. “But we are a little bit behind when it comes to company culture. The big companies especially are so process-oriented, that to change their mindset will take much longer.” june 2021 |

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The pro-flexibility culture in OTRS started because of the intense competition for talent, Riedel recounted. “We had to use a lot of creativity to convince people that OTRS was actually the right company for them,” she said. “All the flexibility and possibilities that we are offering our employees, not only in terms of part-time work but also in flexible working hours, was very well established within our company a long time before COVID. And I think this has become more and more essential, especially for the younger generation. If they see a culture with an open mindset and flexibility, you have a much better chance of convincing them.” However, industry conditions also factor into whether this advantage is needed or not. On the one hand, Riedel pointed out, the current economic uncertainty creates a chance that company failures will lead to the market being flooded with quali-

If you say part-time work is a privilege for the employee, that becomes a restricted model, but if you really see it as a part of your culture, then you can make it possible

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Visty Banaji

‘If you want people to do a good job, give them a good job to do’ Frederick Herzberg’s words ring as true today as when he wrote them decades ago. Job Enrichment needs to be at the top of HR’s agenda if employees – and GIG workers – are to be truly motivated

The road less travelled

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here was a single Holy Grail that many of us pursued when I started my career in HR. I can’t divulge how long ago that was but a chap called Sir Galahad was on a similar chase around the same time. We were looking for ways to enrich jobs. Once we had that philosophers' stone for turning dross jobs to gold, we believed we would not have to worry (or, at least, not so much) about external motivators like incentives (which had crippling side-effects) or tedious-to-arrange hygiene benefits like bus transport to work and health insurance, all of which were preventing us from doing more exciting things. It was Herzberg who set the ball rolling (at least for HR practitioners) with his clarion query: "One More Time: How do You Motivate Employees?"1. It echoed around the HR world and team after team set off on the same pursuit. Working as we were then in India’s | June 2021

latest state-of-the-art automobile plant coming up on the outskirts of Poona (now Pune) we were mightily excited by the productivity and job satisfaction gains made by Volvo, a European automobile manufacturer, through job enrichment.2 The next major step forward in developing the theory was taken by Hackman and Oldham a few years after the Volvo experiment. They critiqued Herzberg (saying "the present conceptual status of the theory

must be considered highly uncertain"3) as well as the activation and socio-technical systems theories while providing their own job characteristics model which continues to hold its own in Job Enrichment literature almost half a century later. "At the most general level, five 'core' job dimensions are seen as prompting three psychological states which, in turn, lead to several beneficial personal and work outcomes." 3 The 'core' job dimensions identified by them were:


1. Skill variety 2. Task identity 3. Task significance 4. Autonomy 5. Feedback

Whatever happened to Herzberg?

A clue to a possible reason for enthusiasm draining away from Job Enrichment

by making their jobs attractive. In fact, the imperative became to reduce the permanent headcount and, if monotonous jobs drove people to depart, so much the better. It would not be fair to blame only shareholderworshipping corporate managements for the reversion to the mean on meaningless jobs after the great hopes created by experiments in the '70s. Academic researchers too found an inadequate return on the time they spent on Job

The first and most fundamental principle for job enrichment is to provide scope for Craftsmanship and Creativity on the job very well again – at least for some organizations. As Paul Mason explains: "From the 1980s onwards, the shortterm quarterly profit figure became the stick finance used to beat to death the old corporate business models: companies making too little profit were forced to move jobs offshore, to merge, to attempt monopolistic do-ordie strategies, to fragment their operations into various outsourced departments – and to relentlessly slash wages."5 There was no longer an imperative to get the best out of people

Enrichment. Apart from corporate interest and sponsorships drying up, the subject demanded microlevel redesign for each type of operation and family of jobs. Far easier to check the impact of policies (like company newsletters, gender diversity, or better health plans) that could be turned on and off for the entire corporation at the touch of a button. Wouldn’t it have been nice, in the face of this neglect, if HR had turned up as the knight in shining armor to fight for better jobs? The june 2021 |

The road less travelled

For a while after the landmark contribution by Hackman and Oldham, there continued to be a flurry of research in universities and experimentation in work environments. Then it all started to lose steam. There was no major theoretical paradigm shift (though Csikszentmihalyi’s 'Flow'4 is a possible exception) or empirical contradiction of the claims the theory made. But it was no longer the center of attention and today you will be hard put to find any substantial progress beyond what had been registered decades ago. I had the good fortune to meet Richard Hackman a few years before he passed away. I did not have the courage to ask him why job enrichment had faded away even more completely than an old soldier. This, however, did not stop me from trying to tease out the mystery of an extremely promising and powerful concept losing its momentum and from seeking to revive it, albeit in modern garb.

is contained in the opening paragraph of the article extolling the gains at Volvo. It says: "For many years companies improved productivity by engineering people out of the production process to the maximum extent possible. The general objective was to eliminate all of the thinking possible and in this way prevent the individual from hampering the production process... This system worked remarkably well for many years." 2 The sad fact is that the old system has started working

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shareholders and private equity, corporations were progressively forced to cut away the corporate periphery, then the workplace periphery and finally to reengineer the core operations themselves. In any case, the problem of job enrichment was off HR’s hands and (theoretically) in those of a tier-two manufacturer or sub-contractor who most likely didn’t have an HR department and got along perfectly well without one, thank you. After

in the markets in which they competed. Anything that did not directly support those core competencies would be … outsourced to some other party that could provide the necessary activity externally at a lower cost. In essence, the message was, Find your distinctive niche and stick to it. Then shed everything else."6 As David Weil explains, under pressure from institutional | June 2021

all, why worry about motivation through job enrichment when the threat of firing was (literally) a kickass way to motivate? The HR knight was busy in one more pursuit: rappelling up the cliff of executive compensation (which became possible post-liberalization) to the applause of peers and the plaudits of the CEO, all of whom stood to benefit from the dizzying climb.7 It

The road less travelled

knight didn’t appear. Primarily because s/he was more than busy herding the very people whose jobs suffered most from soul-deadening repetition and turning them out of the boundaries of the corporation. These knights saw themselves on a holy crusade (sanctioned by the popes of strategy) to retain only sacred core competencies "that represented distinctive capabilities and sources of comparative advantage

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was too much trouble even to make the few retained jobs exciting; when executives were being paid so much, they couldn’t afford to turn down the most tedious of roles.

The rediscovery of richer work

With so many exciting discoveries in the Behavioural Sciences for us to explore and put on our Action Research agenda, should we really spend time on a seam that seems to have petered out? It is my strong belief that the richest part of the Job Enrichment mine has yet to be excavated. There are at least three strong reasons to resume digging again. As we saw at the conclusion of the previous section, huge doses of steroidal compensation, covered up motivational malaises for almost a quarter of a century. Well, guess what? The steroid treatment is fast becoming inefficacious. Compensation always needed growing doses to retain its potency and that got its first check with the 2008 recession. The COVIDinduced recession is likely to make double-digit annual percentage increases in CTC as much a part of the golden past as Ram’s rule. We clearly need a motivational cure that doesn’t have debilitating side effects and is sustainable in the long term. What makes the focus on Job Enrichment even more


One wonder ingredient for enrichment is to design jobs such that an individual (or small team) can take ownership for a Complete and Identifiable output Autonomously is its prerequisite. 6. Compensation (as well as other material benefits), rewards, and recognition. 7. Comparative status at work as well as in society (as a result of position at work). The first item on this list has the most direct and immediate impact on intrinsic motivation. The ratio of effort to sustained impact falls off rapidly thereafter. What becomes obvious only after some thought is that, once again, it is only the first item that can be materially improved by an organization for its vast

and growing GIG and GIK (GIG workers engaged in knowledge tasks) workforce. It is true compensation and rewards can also be increased but, for reasons we have reviewed, that really isn’t an option anymore. Conference after conference points out the growing proportion of GIG workers and how they must be managed but none (so far as I know) deal with the only way they can be motivated to perform better.

The road less travelled

attractive today are the developments in Information Technology since the days when Herzberg and Hackman did their pioneering work. They make the task of job redesign a lot quicker and the attendant autonomy far less risky (because sophisticated information systems can flag and track decisions that have major organizational consequences). The vast increase in the number of people working at repetitive and mind-numbing tasks in the technology and service sectors also makes totally different job families available for enrichment compared to the blue-collar jobs in manufacturing that the first generation of efforts tackled. The third and most important reason to prioritize Job Enrichment requires us to consider the seven major ways in which working for an organization can create a positive effect on individuals. These are: 1. Content of job, freedom in doing it in an integrated fashion, and purpose for which it is to be done. 2. Companions at work, whether peers, team members, or seniors. 3. Culture of the workgroup and the organization as a whole. 4. Capability-building that is available, whether formally or on-the-job. 5. Career progression and the security of tenure that

Enriching jobs in the 21st century

Here are three design guides that continue to serve me june 2021 |

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The road less travelled

well even with the new generations of knowledge work as well as the GIG jobs that are coming up. I shall also touch on how each subverts prevalent management shibboleths and, contra wise is thwarted if those are held rigidly. The first and most fundamental principle for enrichment is to provide scope for Craftsmanship and Creativity on the job. I have devoted an entire column to how Craftsmanship can be enhanced8 and would like to re-emphasize that it is not limited to people who work

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builders seem to today’s civil engineers, while our craftsmanship will still be honored."9 Csikszentmihalyi points out "that there are few things as entropic as unskilled work done under compulsion… The sooner we realize that the quality of the work experience can be transformed at will, the sooner we can improve this enormously important dimension of life. In theory, any job could be changed to make it more enjoyable by following the prescriptions of the flow model. At present, however, whether

The magic that purpose can release need not be confined to the wand waved by the CEO. All business leaders (in fact, all supervisors) can be purpose wizards in their own right with physical material like wood, stone, or metal. HR practitioners who think there is no artistry in the coding of software would do well to read 'The Pragmatic Programmer' from cover to cover. "Within the overall structure of a project, there is always room for individuality and craftsmanship. This is particularly true given the current state of software engineering… One hundred years from now, our engineering may seem as archaic as the techniques used by medieval cathedral | June 2021

work is enjoyable or not ranks quite low among the concerns of those who have the power to influence the nature of a given job… If workers really enjoyed their jobs they would not only benefit personally, but sooner or later they would almost certainly produce more efficiently and reach all the other goals that now take precedence." 4 Productivity is extremely important but pursuing it directly, through standardization and output norms that cut no slack for innovation

and improvisation, can be hugely self-defeating. The next wonder ingredient for enrichment is to design jobs such that an individual (or small team) can take ownership for a Complete and Identifiable output Autonomously. This obviously flows against the tide in which large-scale operations have drowned since the time of Frederick Taylor and the mass-production assembly line. Contrast the nameless contribution of an alienated operative with the pride and joy an artist feels in displaying her work to an admiring client. One may not always be able to hand over the totality of a task to an empowered team (though Volvo did) or person but clearly there are design choices that take us in one direction or the other. The Business Partner role in HR, for instance, has the potential to own the totality of the delivered experience (and, hopefully, delight) to an internal customer. But not if we eviscerate it by pulling out one after another delivery (e.g. recruitment, staff administration, and training) to a centralized shared service or an external service provider. Another critical mistake to avoid is the attempt to create enrichment simply by providing variety. Telling someone to carry a 50 kg. bag of cement one day and a 50 kg. bag of


staffer with a burning zeal to focus on the most direct way to make it happen – by Enriching Jobs! And so, the pursuit of the Holy Grail will be resumed half a century later. Notes:

The power of purpose

No one reading this journal can be unfamiliar with the response given (supposedly to Sir Christopher Wren) by the third bricklayer, when all were asked the question, "What are you doing?". He replied, "I’m a cathedral builder. I’m building a great cathedral for the glory of God." In a commercial organization, profits are not just important but essential. However, when they become the sole deity, in front of whose altar everything else must be sacrificed, the organization misses the inspiring vision that can elevate the worth and satis-

faction of doing even the meanest job necessary for its realization. Admittedly this is a less daunting challenge for military, political and religious leaders. All the same, a few leaders of business enterprises have also created such a sense of purposive calling – and that, after all, is what makes them great leaders and why their teams (not only at the top) find joy in what they do. The magic that purpose can release need not be confined to the wand waved by the CEO. All business leaders (in fact, all supervisors) can be purpose wizards in their own right. Why not prove the principle in HR? For instance, a CHRO who adopts the mission of enhancing the aggregate happiness of people in the organization10 can charge every HR professional and

The road less travelled

grain on the next day is not enrichment. Vertical loading (the boss’s job and the autonomy to decide without upward referral) is what enriches.

1. Frederick Herzberg, One More Time: How do You Motivate Employees? , Harvard Business Review, February 2003. 2. Charles H Gibson, Volvo Increases Productivity through Job Enrichment, California Management Review, 1 July 1973. 3. J Richard Hackman and Greg R Oldham, Motivation through the design of work: Test of a theory, Organizational Behavior and Human Performance, 1976, 16 : 250-279. 4. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, Harper Perennial Modern Classics, July 2008. 5. Paul Mason, Postcapitalism: A Guide to Our Future, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, February 2017. 6. David Weil, The Fissured Workplace: Why Work Became So Bad for So Many and What Can Be Done to Improve It, Harvard University Press, May 2017. 7. Visty Banaji, But who will guard the guardians?, People Matters, 14 March 2018, (https://www.peoplematters. in/article/compensation-benefits/ can-runaway-increases-in-executivecompensation-be-slowed-down-17720). 8. Visty Banaji, In Praise of Craftsmanship: Past Perfect – Present Imperfect – Future Tense, People Matters, 8 June 2018, (https://www.peoplematters. in/article/technology/in-praise-ofcraftsmanship-past-perfect-presentimperfect-future-tense-18481?media_ type=article&subcat=employeerelations&title=in-praise-of-craftsmanship-past-perfect-present-imperfect-future-tense&id=18481). 9. Andrew Hunt and David Thomas, The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master, Addison-Wesley Professional; 2000. 10. Visty Banaji, HR’s business should be happiness raising, People Matters, 24 September 2019, (https://www.peoplematters.in/article/life-at-work/ hrs-business-should-be-happinessraising-23175).

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

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Past Month's events

Knowledge + Networking

WEBINAR | Optimise Preselection Process with PreRecorded Video Interview Central Test 28th May, 2021 Online In a context of constant change where digitization and automation tools have increased, it is imperative for HR departments and recruiters to adapt their methods to meet current needs. And top of the list of favorite digital applications is the pre-recorded video interview. The video interviews provided significant time savings and better qualification profiles. The webinar discussed the challenges in candidate selection? What are the benefits and risks of pre-recorded video interviews? How to use the pre-recorded video interview - practical case in the selection and other advice and tips.

Tweetchat: 2021: Building a Continuous Approach to Employee Experience People Matters 28th May 2021 Online While 2021 has started with the authorization and dissemination of the first COVID-19 vaccines, it is safe to say we are not going to the old ways of working anytime soon. This means organizations have a chance to seriously relook at the culture they are building and the experience they are going to deliver in the second year of the pandemic. So what is next for employee experience? How can we redefine it for our new world of work, a big part of which has transitioned to hybrid work? How can organizations build a continuous approach to EX to keep pace with our changed reality in order to achieve organizational growth and success?

Leadership & Coaching in the Hybrid World People Matters BeNext 6th May 2021 Online As we move beyond the in-person model of operating, what are some actionable ways to effectively motivate and communicate with hybrid teams? How can we develop and manage employees remotely, have difficult conversations, and ensure that distributed teams are collaborating and contributing successfully and equitably? There is no absolute answer to these questions but we can start the journey to find the answers together. This session deep dived to understand the importance of communicating, establishing trust, and building strong working relationships for leading and coaching in a Hybrid world of work. 102

| June 2021

Changing dynamics of Employer Branding in the IT space ITBD

People Matters &

19th May 2021 Online Owing to the changing business dynamics, organizations need to start the skilling processes right from the time the new hires receive their joining offers. Onboarding and Pre-boarding programs can act as effective mediums to help new hires from campuses and lateral hires become jobready by upskilling in newage technologies or skills of the future. People Matters in partnership with IT By Design discussed the current trends in the IT industry and how Indian companies are the key elements in introducing a redefined employer branding strategy.

How the pharma industry is rewriting its growth story People Matters & Keka with a smarter HR function 5th May, 2021 Online With the year of opportunity unfolding before the global economy, leaders in the pharma industry, among others ought to provide an ecosystem that enables the workforce, employees and managers alike, to succeed with smarter data-backed decision making. To create delightful people experiences in these times and those yet to come, you want your HR to be smart, data fluent, and strategic, overcoming the limitations that restricted their function and impact.


Upcoming events People Matters EX A Virtual Conference

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.

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.

june 2021 | June

Knowledge + Networking

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. So Come, Learn, interact, and network virtually with over 2000+ delegates and explore how EX translates in every decision in the talent strategy.

People Matters TechHR India 2021: The Great Emergence

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Blogosphere

>> Nicolas Dumoulin

Talent retention: A key element of a company’s long-term success Job seekers are becoming savvier at navigating the complex world of hiring

D

b lo g o s p he r e

espite the challenges that COVID-19 has brought, high potential talented professionals remain in demand. While this fluctuates from market to market, and sector to sector, these individuals require significant incentive to move from their existing companies with ongoing concerns around job security. Many organizations are choosing to consolidate while protecting the shape of their business in the short term, yet many are also focused on attracting talented people to allow for future growth. While many businesses focus on sales and marketing strategies that generate immediate reve-

Millennials are set to make up 75 percent of the global workforce by 2025, so attracting and retaining candidates from this discerning and savvy talent pool will require a very strong company identity 104

| June 2021

nue, many fail to consider candidate attraction strategies as a key component that undoubtedly impacts the growth and health of the company in the long term. Job seekers are becoming savvier at navigating the complex world of hiring. Their improved access to knowledge of available job openings makes it easier than ever to make the switch to greener pastures when the opportunity arises. As such, companies need to work even harder to attract proven and upcoming high potential talent. After all, you can’t exceed any ambitious business goals without having the right people in place. A few ways to ensure retention of talent are: offering standout benefits, ensuring employees have growth opportunities, and establishing a well-defined company brand. With information becoming increasingly available online, job seekers no longer focus solely on compensation packages. Flexibility on work arrangements,


Employing the right talent attraction strategies will have a ripple effect on talent retention and your business’s employee productivity, as well as their overall happiness ers leave, and more resources will have to be channeled into searching for and onboarding new hires. Competitors who poach your talent will also have inside information on your business and operation strategies, as well as your company culture. For current and potential hires, your talent retention rate is also a factor in determining whether your company is worth working for in the long run. Employing the right talent attraction strategies will have a ripple effect on talent retention and your business’s employee productivity, as well as their overall happiness.

b lo g o sp he r e

alternative benefits like birthday leave can indicate to candidates that your company cares about employee welfare as much as you do benefits. And this can be the deciding factor in convincing a potential hire to accept the offer. Constantly investing in your employees can be a key incentive for highly skilled talent. Offering progression and development opportunities, such as training courses, is the second most important consideration for professionals in many industries when contemplating a job offer. These opportunities will not only be beneficial to your employees’ personal and professional growth but also your business when they apply the new skills learned, which in turn improves their morale and motivation. Allocate budget annually for these courses and be sure to include this perk in your job adverts. Millennials are set to make up 75 percent of the global workforce by 2025, so attracting and retaining candidates from this discerning and savvy talent pool will require a very strong company identity. Using employer branding techniques like improving your onboarding process and defining your company culture can make a positive and lasting impact on candidates in the job market today while ensuring that the talent you hire have values aligned with those of your company. Companies often underestimate the cost of turnover. The more information-driven the job is, the greater the threat to productivity when your top perform-

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nicolas Dumoulin is the Managing Director of Michael Page India june 2021 |

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RNI Details: Vol. XII, Issue No. 6, R.N.I. No. HARENG/2010/33504. Price Per Copy: Rs. 150/- Printed and Published by Mahesh Kumar on behalf of People Matters Publishing Pvt. Ltd. Published at 501, 5th Floor, Millennium Plaza, Tower A, Sushant Lok-1, Sector-27, Gurgaon - 122009, Haryana, India. Printed at Polykam Offset, C-138, Phase - I, Naraina Industrial Area, New Delhi - 110028. Editor: Esther Martinez Hernandez

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