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VOL XII / ISSUE 5 / MAY 2021

Empowering

Experience

As we slowly emerge out of one of the biggest crises the world has faced, organizations are putting their best foot forward to reimagine their employee experience proposition as they chart their path ahead! BIG INTERVIEW Natasha Dillon

Chief People Officer, Inmarsat

special INTERVIEW Robert Stone

Chief Talent Officer, McCANN Australia


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

The rise of the people-focused workplace

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020 has been game-changing for everyone in the most unlikely ways. Even as the rebound process gains momentum through 2021, the pandemic has left an indelible mark on the way we live and work. The economic turmoil, the employment crisis, and consequent widespread health implications have forced thousands of organizations to take some very tough staffing decisions in their struggle for survival and saving as many jobs as possible. Having said that, 2020 has also been a year of new lessons for employers, employees, and leaders globally as the pandemic laid bare the inequalities and cracks in our systems over the last several months. This is the time for organizations glob-

| may 2021

ally to fix the gap and revamp their organizations as they plan their path forward. The new world of work has put a strain on the traditional leadership models and leaders continued to adapt their styles amid changing times and priorities. So, given the uncertainty that lies ahead, it is critical to assess the strengths and weaknesses of their current leadership model to the new world of work which has set in new norms and priorities such as employee well-being. As talent leaders look toward the post-COVID-19 world, employee wellness will need to feature at the top of their list. Moving forward, it would be vital for business and HR leaders to redesign employee journeys to ensure that they are motivated and engaged enough to up their ante in terms of productivity. As remote and hybrid working becomes more of a norm, it will be increasingly important for HR leaders to reimagine how to make employee experiences more personalized and sophisticated. This is where technology can help replicate the experience of personal communication in the new era of working for both existing and new employees. It’s important to guarantee that each employee performs their work efficiently. This will also mean bolstering your IT resources providing employees with the latest technology and training and strengthening the overall virtual experience of your workers. While the pandemic has placed a spotlight on our work, more so than ever,

fundamentally, our goal remains the same – ensuring that every employee succeeds within the company. So, for companies to successfully tackle the diverse, remote, and virtual workforce, they need a seamless digital-first experience across the HR life cycle process from hire to retire. What can’t be measured, cannot be improved. Employee experience which has diverse measurement parameters including rationale and emotional engagement, manager support, diversity and inclusion, ease of the organizational process, work environment, culture, and many more, needs to be measured. Organizations generally bet on both qualitative and quantitative data gathering methods to understand, learn and act on the data and insights related to employee experience. Qualitative feedback is captured through feedback mechanisms, manager round tables, and other informal interactive employee communication channels, quantitative feedback is gathered from organization dashboards based on metrics surveys and polls. While the pandemic has forced organizations to accelerate the adoption of digital innovations, there are significant barriers to the change process. As employees work from anywhere, there is a significant shift in how many hours we work to what impact we create. Traditional HR policies defined through working hours in the workplace do not apply anymore. Work-life


their working style. The next big challenge will be how we maintain and drive employee engagement with an increasingly dispersed workforce, Natasha adds. The issue features a special story on Leadership Mindset and a special column on CSR: The power of purpose. We also have a rapid-fire interview with Paul Huynh, Head of People, KPMG Asia Pacific. 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)

NICE!

From the Editor’s Desk

balance has been replaced by work-life integration as the divisions of work and personal time have blurred. COVID19 has disproportionately affected diverse populations, and HR's role in ensuring diversity, equity, and inclusion becomes eminent. This includes educating the organization, understanding the realities of diverse experiences, and taking proactive steps to equalize the playing field. While organizations globally are betting big on new employee experience programs, ensuring a great EX with so many variables and possibilities is not an easy job. There is no single formula to this, and in a truly agile world, the EX journey is going to be an iterative endeavor. The May 2021 issue of our magazine attempts to compile accounts from several leaders on key questions around EX in the current world of work. How are organizations devising new EX programs and ensuring the engagement of their workers? How do they measure the impact of their EX initiatives? How can EX truly impact business results? What are the short-term and long-term solutions that can support EX and help organizations win both in terms of sustainability goals and employee wellness? For the Big Interview, we have Natasha Dillon, Chief People Officer, Inmarsat, who says companies need to provide employees with spaces – be these physical or digital - that not only improve productivity but also suit

Nice but scary...

YES!

Happy Reading!

Esther Martinez Hernandez Editor-in-Chief follow

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

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contents

may 2021 volume xii issue 5

Expert Views

44 Jacely Voon, Chief of People Officer, People, Culture

& CSR, FUJIFILM Business Innovation Singapore

48 Jacob Morgan, Bestselling author, keynote speaker,

and trained futurist who explores the future of work, employee experience, and leadership

50 Michael Mankins, Partner, Bain 55 Rob Rosenberg, Global Head of Human Resources,

DHL Supply Chain

59 Henrik Kofod-Hansen, Co-founder of novosensus, a

human and organizational development consultancy in Singapore

C O N TE N TS

63 Vaibhav Goel, Vice President HR – Digital

Transformation at Reliance Industries

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

cover story

University where he also serves as Vice Dean, Corporate and Global Partnerships at the Carey Business School

42 As we slowly emerge out of one of the biggest crises the world has faced, organizations are putting their best foot forward to reimagine their employee experience proposition as they chart their path ahead! By Mastufa Ahmed

69 Steve Bennetts, Head of Growth & Strategy -

Employee Experience Solutions, Qualtrics APJ

71 Subhankar Roy Chowdhury, Executive Director &

Head HR - Asia Pacific & Japan, Lenovo

76 Clinton Wingrove, Principal Consultant,

Clinton HR Ltd

Editor-in-Chief

Manager - research & Content

Esther Martinez Hernandez

Anushree Sharma

managing Editor

Assistant ManagerS - Content

Yasmin Taj

Bhavna Sarin | Neelanjana Mazumdar

Associate Editor - Print & Online

Design & Production

Mastufa Ahmed

Shinto Kallattu

Manager - design, photography, and production

Digital Head

Marta Martinez

General Manager, Sales

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

Manager - Content

Jerry Moses

Senior Features Writer

Shweta Modgil

Features Writer

Mint Kang

4

Prakash Shahi

Manager, Sales

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

| may 2021

Manager, SUBSCRIPTION

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

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This issue of People matters contains 97 pages including cover


22

the big Interview

special Interview

Coronavirus has effectively humanized the workplace

30

Focus on “what is important” to your people Robert Stone, Chief Talent Officer, McCANN Australia By Yasmin Taj

Natasha Dillon, Chief

People Officer, Inmarsat By Mastufa Ahmed

34 v i r t u a l c l a s s

Will MOOCs ever take off and take over?

By Rita McGrath, A Professor at Columbia University, USA & By M Muneer, Co-Founder of the non-profit Medici Institute

38 I n t e r v i e w

Leadership Mindset: The enabler or roadblock to postpandemic recovery?

By Bhavna Sarin

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

By Pragya Srivastava, Senior Human Capital Manager, Progress, who oversees human capital programs and initiatives across the entire APAC region

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

Rethinking EX for the post-pandemic world

By People Matters Editorial

It’s 2021: time to take employee experience to the next level

By Sukhmeet Singh, Senior Principal Career (Talent) and M&A Consulting Leader – Mercer India

The new phase of women empowerment at work

86 T h e r o a d l e s s

travelled

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

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

27 f e a t u r e

83 T h e N e w W o r k p l a c e

Sunit Sinha, Partner, and Head, People, Performance and Culture, KPMG in India, By Shweta Modgil

C O N TE N TS

14 F e a t u r e

Provide opportunities to hear the large end users out and not be one way

Having difficult conversations in the virtual world

By Dr. Robyn Wilson, CEO & owner of Praxis Management Consulting Pte Ltd

regulars

02 From the Editor’s Desk Featured In this issue Jacely Voon Michael Mankins Natasha Dillon Paul Huynh

Robert Stone Subhankar Roy Chowdhury Sunit Sinha

CONTRIBUTORS to this issue Clinton Wingrove Henrik Kofod-Hansen Jacob Morgan Dr. M Muneer Pragya Srivastava Richard Smith, Ph.D. Rita McGrath

Rob Rosenberg Dr. Robyn Wilson Steve Bennetts Sukhmeet Singh Tom Ricks Vaibhav Goel Visty Banaji

06 Letters of the month 08 Quick Reads 13 Rapid Fire 92 Knowledge + Networking 94 Blogosphere may 2021 |

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Letters of the month

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

Many companies see hybrid as a permanent fixture: Abe Smith, Zoom Video Communications “With the vaccinations heralding an end to the pandemic, business leaders can no longer sit on the fence when it comes to hybrid work, which is fast becoming part of the very fabric of how businesses are run.” Very well said. It has been a year now and still, there is a lot of tiptoeing around a certain future of work. In the last twelve months, organizations have been able to learn about the pros and cons of remote working and the ways to work around it. Sure we haven’t reached a stage where we could be certain of what the future would be, but the visible need for many to rush the return to the workplace is not too promising. There is a need for leaders indeed to take a stand and prioritize employee safety, especially after a year of employees stepping up, and prioritizing work over their personal health and commitments. - BHUMIKA PANWAR

HR must leverage technology to champion change

Nice to read how this company is implementing HR digitization in a phased manner. It helps to simplify and break down the big rocks into stepping stones. A major chunk of time for HR professionals is taken up in maintaining people metrics at the time of increment, bonus, and promotion cycles. As organizations switch from annual and bi-annual to the frequent promotion and increment cycles, in the absence of requisite technology, it is only likely to weigh heavier on those who maintain the data manually, taking up all their time in something as basic as data entry over being a business partner and coming up with recommendations on retention strategies. Change is not just inevitable, it is imperative. - aKHIL ANTONY

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| may 2021

april 2021 issue

Organizations need to refine a lot of practices to stay relevant

Leaders indeed play a key role in cementing organizational purpose, especially as many organizations rethink their values and practices. There is greater awareness and interest among employees towards what their organization stands for, and how leaders lead the firm through adversities. With global organizations announcing their hiring plans for the upcoming year, companies must reassess their ways of working and overall organizational practices. As employees seek new opportunities, organizational culture and practices will play a key role in not just attracting new talent but also retaining existing talent. - PRIYA SINGH


Interact with People Matters

2020: A year in which HR can excel

- SIDDHART MALHOTRA

Sustenance is more important than initiation

Truly important. Often we hear about great program launches however, a gradual dimming impact. For DEI efforts to be successful, sustenance needs to be the guiding factor as experts identify new ways to accelerate the journey. 2020 put the spotlight on inclusion like never before. The corporate has never seen a shift at such scale when it comes to advocacy, infrastructure, and cultural transformation. There is a greater sense of accountability on building inclusive workplaces, and to ensure the efforts don’t lose their weight over a period of time, there is a need to assess the sustenance of DEI strategies. - AMIT MALIK

The new waves of doing business are here to stay

‘Constructive disruption’. This model has always inspired me. I think of it as intentional disruption to constantly challenge the status quo. While 2020 paved the way for forced disruption in the way we work, disruption honestly was already underway. It was just a matter of time and choice to upgrade or stay put. Talks around the 4th industrial revolution had already built the case for digital disruption across organizational functions, however, the adoption for many was only made possible under the forced circumstances of the pandemic. The willingness of organizations to now shift gears and meet the need of the hour is what will equip them to fast track recovery and growth. - RAMESH RAMAN

Freedom of choice in employee benefits

An interesting shift from sickness care to wellness care. Ensuring that employees have access to relevant benefits that match employee needs has taken precedence over a pre-decided wellness package that caters to an organization, whether an employee requires those benefits or not. Wellness has seen a focus from organizations like never before. It is reassuring to see employers looking for options that provide holistic wellness avenues to all. However, no matter the lip service on wellness, unclear work-life boundaries are reversing any positive impact a wellness program might have. - ANINDITA BANERJEE

Mark Stelzner @stelzner I enjoyed this interview with @PeopleMatters2 in anticipation of their #techhrsea event in early May. One key callout: We must acknowledge that the relentless pace of change will require HR to protect some % of HR's capacity as a "rapid response" team. Pilar Orti @PilarOrti Episode 3 of BeNextRadio is out, featuring Dave Snowden talking about managing complexity from #HR point of view. Great summary here by @PeopleMatters2 MURAL @MURAL Our very own Chief Evangelist @JimKalbach will be discussing "Building a Culture of Collaboration" at #TechHRSG from @PeopleMatters2 — stay tuned for more details singapore.techhrconference.com David Green @david_green_uk ‘Remote work’ is a profound trend that lays the foundations for a new working environment: AXA Group’s Global CHRO ow.ly/ h67450EfLJQ via @PeopleMatters2 #FutureOfWork #Culture #HR #Leadership

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

I agree with the author. It is indeed pointless to predict what’s going to happen in the future. We will fare well if we focus on equipping ourselves to thrive in the face of unpredictability, instead of preparing for "what the future looks like" Adaptability and quick-thinking will remain guiding pillars as we forge ahead. 2021 saw the world navigate operational sustainability, it’s time we switch to building capabilities that can navigate uncertainties, in a manner that keeps the health of both people and businesses intact, without overburdening and making one the cost of another.

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

U of T Mississauga @UTM Enable every employee to be a leader: @UTMManagement assistant professor Jacob Hirsh talks to @PeopleMatters2 about the challenges of managing through a pandemic. Randstad_SR @Randstad_SR Get tips for leading #PerformanceManagement and annual appraisals more effectively via @PeopleMatters2 Adecco India @adeccoin #InTheNews | @RameshAlluriRe1 featured in @PeopleMatters2 where he shares insights on driving sustainable innovation/ disruption while contending with internal pressures between performance, durability & commitment to cause no unnecessary harm. follow

M > @PeopleMatters2

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may 2021 |

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Funding And Investment

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Degreed raises US$153m in Series D

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Upskilling platform Degreed has raised US$153 million in a Series D funding round co-led by Sapphire Ventures and Riverwood Capital, almost doubling

its total known capital raised—it is estimated to have drawn approximately US$335 million in investments to date. This latest investment, which values the company atUS$1.4 billion, comes less than a year after a U$32 million round last June that was led by Owl Ventures. The company says that the funds will be used to “accelerate product development, enhance data infrastructure, fuel global expansion, and pursue strategic acquisitions.” Some of the areas it plans to improve are reporting, analytics, security, and integration with other platforms or functions.

Life @ Work

Work From Home drives employee happiness: Study

The majority of U.S. workers’ job satisfaction is back to prepandemic levels, find a study by the People management platform Hibob. With ongoing remote work, the allowance of flexible work schedules, the ability to be autonomously productive, and time saved without a commute are contributing and shaping the next normal where a hybrid working model leads the way. The study also showed that with strong job satisfaction while remote, the rollout of the vaccine will not prompt employees to run back to the office five days a week.

| may 2021

Acquisition

Hitachi to acquire GlobalLogic for $9.6 BN Hitachi Ltd has announced its plan to acquire US-based software company GlobalLogic Inc for $9.6 BN, including repayment of the debt. The acquisition is part of Hitachi's ongoing business portfolio overhaul, which includes the $7 BN acquisition of ABB Ltd's power grid business last year and a series of divestitures of its domestic hardware subsidiaries. San Jose-based GlobalLogic is currently owned 45 percent each by Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Swiss investment firm Partners Group. The rest is owned by the company's management.

Compensation & Benefits

‘Financial well-being is a new top priority for Singapore employers’

40 percent of employers in Singapore rank financial wellbeing as the most important part of their employee wellbeing strategy, according to new research by Aon. And they are acting on it: the 2021 Trends in Retirement & Financial Wellbeing survey found that companies are now incorporating financial well-being programs into their employee engagement and talent attraction strategies and that some 70 percent of Singapore employers are likely to offer their employees some form of financial education over the next two years. Part of the underlying issue is that many employees in Singapore may not have adequate savings for their retirement. While Singapore citizens and permanent residents receive Central Provident Fund benefits and some companies also offer top-up contributions to CPF on top of the statutory contributions, Aon's figures show that close to 40 percent of the working population in Singapore are foreigners who do not have access to CPF and are likely to have foregone their retirement benefits in their home countries.


Talent Management

HR tech company Phenom raises $100M in Series D funding round

Phenom, the AI-powered talent experience platform, announced a $100 million Series D round. B Capital Group led the round, which also had participation from Dragoneer Investment Group, OMERS Growth Equity,

According to the latest PwC Hopes & Fears 2021 survey, released on April 1st, 50% of the world’s workforce are reportedly ‘excited or confident' about

Talent Acquisition

Career platform Glints raises $22.5 MN in Series C funding

Singapore-based career platform, Glints has raised $22.5 MN in Series C funding led by Japanese human resources management firm PERSOL Holdings. The new capital will be used on Glints’ expansion in Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Taiwan and hiring for its product and engineering teams.

Glints Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Oswald Yeo said this is the largest funding round to date for a talent platform in Southeast Asia, and brings the startup’s total raised to $33 MN.

Compensation & Benefits

Companies are rethinking their geographic pay policies The increase in full-time remote work has prompted 44 percent of organizations to either modify or consider modifying their policies around geographic pay or localized compensation, according to a recent study by WorldatWork. The study, which looked primarily at organizations' US operations, attributes this move at least partly to the high percentage—67 percent—of employees who expect their compensation to reflect their location. According to the findings, organizations with more locations are more likely to consider creating a geographic pay policy, especially if large numbers of their employees work remotely full-time. 41 percent of organizations will handle the resulting pay differentials by applying a premium or discount to existing pay, but 33 percent will go to the additional effort of creating a separate base pay structure for each geographical location. may 2021 |

r e a d s

‘50% of global workforce are confident about the future'

the future. This news comes despite the disruptions of the last year, in which an estimated 114 million people lost their jobs according to the ILO. After a year of uncertainty, the results show respondents are keen to work for a purpose-driven company. Overall, 75% of workers worldwide want to work for organizations that will make a positive contribution to society. A sizeable majority (77%) of respondents are eager to learn new skills or retrain, while 40% of workers say that they have improved their digital skills during the pandemic, finds the study.

q u i c k

Employee Relations

and GoldenArc Capital. The capital ensures Phenom can remain focused on fulfilling its purpose — to help a billion people find

the right job — above all else. With the new funding, Phenom continues to innovate its Talent Experience Management (TXM) platform. Sierra Ventures, AXA Venture Partners, WestBridge Capital, AllianceBernstein, Karlani Capital, Omidyar Technology Ventures, and Sigma Prime Ventures joined previous funding rounds, and continue to support Phenom’s purpose today.

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newsmaker of the month

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The haves and the havenots of ‘return to work’

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O

n April 5th 2021, Singapore announced that 75 percent of the staff can return to office – declaring that working from home is no longer a default mode. For the first time in over a year, Australia and New Zealand allowed quarantine-free travel in a trans-Tasman travel bubble as both the countries effectively contained the virus spread. As of April 20, Israel lifted its mandatory requirement to wear masks outside, while fully opening up its educational system. These countries, however, are the exception and not the norm. For the vast majority of countries around the world and in South East Asia – the fight over the second or third wave of the virus has been starkly different.

| may 2021

In India, the unprecedented rise in cases has pushed many states to reconsider lockdowns, night curfews and to restrict business activities to essential services. Many major European economies including Germany, France and the UK have had to lockdown and scale up their vaccination programs quickly. In this changing context, ‘return to work’ still seems far away for many people around the world. The worst hit countries are the low-income economies and the worst hit businesses are micro, small and medium enterprise sectors that can’t afford to have the majority of their staff working from home. The pace of vaccination is having an impact on the return to work plans for most countries. In

India, for example, throughout the month on April, Vaccination was only available for those aged 45 years and above, while the large majority of the working population is below that age. However, the government announced that vaccinations will be open to anyone above the age of 18 from May. The pandemic continues to push the global inequities that can only be won by the equitable access to vaccines. As one WHO notes says “Nobody wins until everyone wins” Apart from the macro factors that continue to dictate whether a complete return to work is possible, the decision on whether a company would opt for permanent WFH, or a hybrid workplace environment, or an office first model will be dependent on the company’s own cost benefit analysis, it’s culture and the productivity that could be gained or lost in the process. There continue to be varied outlooks on WFH, while some companies like Microsoft have been fairly liberal with their policies, still others (JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs) feel that WFH is an aberration and that it is difficult to mentor new employees and can undermine the culture of the company. From what it looks like, ‘return to work’ efforts are going to be varied. And it will be dependent on many factors, not just the availability of vaccines.


EX-Goldman Sachs to lead Citi Group's diversity strategy Citi Group has hired Erika Irish Brown from rival Goldman Sachs Group Inc to lead its global diversity strategy. Brown joins Citi as its Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion officer after leading similar efforts at Goldman Sachs since mid-2018. Brown previously worked at Bloomberg in the same role. Goldman named Megan Hogan to replace Brown, according to a staff memo seen by Reuters. The role of Chief Diversity Officer has taken on renewed prominence as corporations work to address inequality and systemic racism roughly one year after George Floyd's death in Minnesota.

Marsh McLennan appoints Jaspreet Singh Bakshi as the HR Leader for Global In-House Centre, India Jaspreet Singh Bakshi has joined Marsh McLennan as the HR Leader for Global in-House Centre, India. In this role, Jaspreet will be accountable for a unified India people strategy and HR initiatives across the India GIC. Jaspreet carries with him over two decades of experience in designing and implementing human capital solutions. His career spans across industries – FMCG, ITeS, BFSI, EdTech; and roles in Business and HR.

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Wipro appoints Sarah AdamGedge as MD for Australia, New Zealand Wipro Limited announced the appointment of Sarah Adam– Gedge as the MD for Australia and New Zealand (ANZ). Sarah has experience in leading digital transformation initiatives for large organizations globally. She has worked in project and service-based consultancies for more than 25 years across Australia and New Zealand, Asia-Pacific, Middle East, and Africa,

Canon India appoints Manabu Yamazaki as new President & CEO Canon India Pvt. Ltd., the global leader in imaging technologies, announced the appointment of Manabu Yamazaki as the new President & CEO for Canon India, effective April 1, 2021. In his new role, Yamazaki will be spearheading Canon’s business strategy and operations in India. Before his new role, he was working as the Chief Regional Officer for the brand in Eastern China, overseeing various functions in the APAC region. Yamazaki has been associated with Canon since 1989 and has also been a notable contributor in business management across European, Middle Eastern, Russian, and African markets.

q u i c k

Accenture appoints Shweta A Talwar as VP- Talent & HR Operations Global IT and professional services company Accenture has appointed Shweta A Talwar as Vice President - Talent & HR Operations. She is responsible to work with global clients on their Talent & HR operations and delivery requirements. Talwar has more than 17 years of experience as an HR leader, Strategic Advisor, Talent Partner and working globally with Executive Leaders. Before joining Accenture, she was working with Everest Group for more than four years, first as Director - HR and later as Vice President - Human Resources.

and Latin America. As the P&L leader for ANZ, Sarah will focus on Wipro’s vision for business growth, revenue expansion, client relationships, talent development, industry connections, and brand building.

The Claim Consultants appoints CEO, Middle East The insurance-tech start-up, The Claim Consultants announced the appointment of Rakesh Rachwani as CEO, Middle East. may 2021 |

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Rakesh Rachwani has around 28 years of experience in the financial planning industry with expertise in Life Insurance, Investments, and Wealth Management and was previously the Co-Founder of Protect4Less. His past work experience includes working with leading brands like Compass Financial Solutions and Veritas Financial & Management Services.

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Volvo Cars appoints Björn Annwall as CFO Volvo Cars has appointed Björn Annwall as Chief Financial Officer, effective 19 April 2021. He is the successor to Carla De Geyseleer, who has elected to step down from her position for personal reasons. Björn Annwall has been a member of the executive management team at Volvo Cars since joining the company in 2015. He has been head of the EMEA region since 2019, during which Volvo Cars has markedly increased its market share in the region thanks to strong plug-in hybrid and pure electric sales. Randstad India internally elevates CFO Vishwanath PS to MD & CEO HR service providers Randstad India, announced the appointment of their current CFO, Viswanath PS as the company’s Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, effective July 1st, 2021. The finance chief takes over from Paul Dupuis, who served as the MD and CEO of Randstad India for the last four years and is now taking over as MD of Randstad Japan. Starting his stint at Randstad India in 2014 as the Head of Shared Services Centre (SSC), Vishy took over as the CFO in 2016. Vishy has proven to be a strong leader; both strategic and tactical. He is also a dynamic, peoplefocused leader with a track record of building high-performing teams across a wide span within the organization. | may 2021

UOB appoints Eric Lim as Chief Sustainability Officer UOB has appointed Eric Lim as its first Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO). In the new role, Lim will lead a dedicated Corporate Sustainability Office and focus on achieving the Bank’s sustainability objectives of helping businesses to advance responsibly, steering consumer wealth to sustainable investments, and fostering social inclusiveness and environmental well-being. Given the importance of sustainability to the Bank’s overall strategy, the CSO role will report directly to Wee Ee Cheong, Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), UOB. KPMG UK appoints new CEO KPMG U.K. picked Jon Holt as its new Chief Executive Officer, replacing Bill Michael, who resigned after telling employees to “stop moaning” about the pandemic. Holt was appointed “with overwhelming support” following a vote by partners, the firm said in an emailed statement. He will start in his new role immediately and will serve until the end of September 2025, KPMG said. Holt is currently KPMG UK's head of audit. He will take up the new role immediately and serve a tenure until 2025. "I’m very grateful for the support of the partnership and excited about the future for our firm," Holt said in a statement. Aviva appoints Rob Barker MD, UK Savings Aviva announces today that Rob Barker has been appointed Managing Director, UK Savings & Retirement* with immediate effect. Rob was previously MD of Aviva’s Health and Protection business. He will report to Doug Brown, Chief Executive of Aviva UK and Ireland Life. “Rob’s record in driving innovation, growth, and profitability, across multiple product lines and distribution channels, in his more than 20 years in our industry, makes him ideally suited to lead our growth plans," said Amanda Blanc, Aviva Chief Executive Officer.


eight Questions

Rapid-Fire

interview

Paul Huynh

Head of People, KPMG Asia Pacific By Mastufa Ahmed

1

and mental health support a strategic imperative

Best advice you received from any leader during this uncertainty?

5

Rather than advice, it is what I have closely observed from many great leaders which is the importance of leaning into your values and purpose. At every inflection and even in the hardest of times, they will serve you well

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

Daniel Goleman. His work and research on emotional intelligence, boosting wellbeing, and cultivating empathy could not be more important in the current environment

3

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

Encourage remote social interactions. I always ensure I integrate time into virtual team meetings and encourage our team members to discuss “non work” aspects and get together for virtual birthday celebrations and drinks

We’re already seeing it but I think the role of AI in predictive HR analysis will increase, supporting areas such as “at risk” turnover, passive candidate searches, and boosting learning & development programs

I think the role of HR leaders is increasingly focused on elevating culture and helping to navigate cultural transformation. This covers everything from leadership, agile/hybrid working, wellbeing, learning, purpose, and indeed the entire employee experience

4

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

Well-being has taken on a whole new meaning and post COVID I think it will be critical for companies to continue to make workplace wellbeing

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What's your learning mantra?

r a p i d - f i r e

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

Learn. Unlearn. Relearn.

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Your advice for aspiring HR professionals? Connect, seek to add value, and Keep Learning

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Biggest challenge to delivering a great employee experience?

Integrating an agile employee experience framework and approach for all critical touchpoints, considering elements such as workforce diversity, technology, hybrid working may 2021 |

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Leadership Mindset:

The enabler or roadblock to post-pandemic recovery? Some of the latest bold announcements from global leaders around the new mode of work and business recovery put us in a dilemma By Bhavna Sarin

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our walls and a desk don't necessarily make an office; value creations often happen beyond the office walls. Work is something you do, an outcome, not a place or a time. Over the past 12 months or so, several top CEOs have declared remote work as the future of work. COVID-19 pandemic | may 2021

has taught us several lessons and opened our minds to new ways of working in the future. Yet, despite the opportunities that the new ways of working bring forth, there remains a dilemma and debate around the sustainability of doing things this way, to be more specific - the sustainability of remote

work or even hybrid work. Is hybrid’s shelf life tied to the existence of COVID-19? Are leaders truly thinking about newer ways of working or is the shift to remote a temporary fix? Nearly a year after the outbreak of coronavirus that forced an overnight shift to remote working - which gradually was


What’s keeping leaders from embracing remote or hybrid?

With the vaccinations heralding an end to the pandemic, business leaders can no longer sit on the fence when it comes to hybrid work, which is fast becoming part of the very fabric of how businesses are run, says Abe Smith, Head of International for Zoom Video Communications. ‘’Consequently, many now have to grapple with what the new normal of work will look like as they prepare their offices for a safe return to work, experiment with a

mounting mental well-being concerns on account of blurring work-life boundaries. How does such conflict playout for leaders? While the concept of remote working remained new to most, what was more critical in ensuring seamless implementation and experience was the mindset constraint. Doubts around employee productivity and commitment remained paramount, triggering a need to monitor work hours. And while one segment of the leaders remained paranoid around the efficiency in remote

Is hybrid’s shelf life tied to the existence of COVID-19? Are leaders truly thinking about newer ways of working or is the shift to remote a temporary fix? permanent shift to hybrid work, and its implications on office culture,” Abe adds. It is a known truth that hybrid or more so remote working has enabled several employers to stay in business. Yet, the debate around productivity, engagement, and well-being concerns get split votes from leaders and employees across the globe. There are reports that suggest employees are better able to manage worklife as they work remotely, and there are parallel reports that suggest the

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replaced by hybrid for many -- Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon said, “I do think for a business like ours, which is an innovative, collaborative apprenticeship culture, this is not ideal for us. And it’s not a new normal. It’s an aberration that we’re going to correct as soon as possible.” On the contrary, Dell’s COO and Vice-Chairman Jeff Clarke believes that Dell has “moved beyond work as a location.” COVID-19 has made one thing clear to us: [Work] is something you do, an outcome, not a place or a time. And it takes teamwork and a culture that prioritizes outcomes and results over effort,” said Clarke. He added that while COVID-19 and remote work have presented new challenges, “we are seeing a human transformation right before our eyes, emphasizing trust, empathy, patience, and flexibility that will serve society and business long after these tough times are over.” Clearly, one shoe does not fit all. However, even those leaders who are onboard with remote work now weren’t on the same page a year ago, not until they saw the results for themselves. So is it that mindset shift --that makes remote work acceptable now, among the key elements slowing down the pace of recovery for employers across the globe? Or is this agile mindset actually fast-tracking recovery? Let’s find out!

work, another segment recognized the need to be more trusting, more humane and felt the need to extend support be it infrastructure or wellness or collaboration, to ensure employees are doing well personally and are able to navigate the challenges. COVID-19 in itself brought out the focus - tasks or people? What is the focus for leaders and managers? Sure it is crucial to ensure employees are performing and delivering on assigned tasks to ensure seamless may 2021 |

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workflows, but is monitoring them the only way to ensure that work is being done? For those who have doubts about employee commitment, it might help to shift the focus to this question – are you confident that the people you hired and onboarded are capable and committed to their work, or do you feel otherwise? According to Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, the secret to successful hiring is to look for the people who want to change the world.” If they have hired this pool of talent, then leaders might be able to focus on other challenges, but if as a leader you are constantly concerned about employee commitment and performance on account of a change in where their desktops are placed, you need to pause and reflect - did you hire right? | may 2021

ing, Nadella said, “What does burnout look like? What does mental health look like? What do that connectivity and the community building look like? One of the things I feel is maybe we are burning some of the social capital we built up in this phase where we are all working remotely. What’s the measure for that?” By October 2020, Microsoft’s EVP and Chief People Officer, Kathleen Hogan wrote in a blog post, “For now, returning to many of our offices around the world is still optional for employees, Shifting the gears from except for essential [on-site] reluctance to acceptance roles. While we’ve shared that If there is a need to learn we will challenge long-held from another to adapt and assumptions and seek to be at evolve it is now. COVID-19 the forefront of what is possichallenged the beliefs of ble leveraging technology, global leaders like never we have also communicated before, shifting perspectives that we are not committing to not just to enable work a year having every employee work ago, but pushing boundaries from anywhere, as we believe to contemplate making the there is value in employees temporary fix an altogether being together in the worknew approach to working place...We will continue to and living. Here’s a look at evolve our approach to flexhow some of the leading ibility over time as we learn Fortune 500 companies and their CEOs shifted gears and more.” Google’s Sunder Pichai remained open to experimensaid back in May 2020 that the tation and acceptance. sudden shift to remote work In a May 2020 interview with New York Times, Micro- was functioning primarily because team members soft CEO Satya Nadella hadn’t always been remote, expressed caution against and he was “curious to see permanent remote work, suggesting that an all-remote what happens as we get into that three-to-six-month setup would be “replacing window and we get into one dogma with another things where we are doing dogma.” Nudging leaders something [remote] for the to think about the impact first time. How productive of long-term remote work-


Morgan Stanley was among the first few financial services firms that adapted to the work-from-home arrangement, with leadership support right from the beginning. “Clearly, we’ve figured out how to operate with much less real estate,” said CEO James Gorman. “But could I see a future where, part of every week, certainly part of every month for a lot of our employees to be at home? Absolutely.” A few months into the pandemic Gorman stated, “I firmly believe that the office is important

and the newer work modes, into the hybrid work model, leaders have the huge task of defining what work/tasks can be performed remotely and what would need to be done on-site. “CFOs, already under pressure to tightly manage costs, clearly sense an opportunity to realize the cost benefits of a remote workforce. In fact, nearly a quarter of respondents said they will move at least 20 percent of their on-site employees to permanent remote positions.” In Gartner’s most recent

As organizations are shifting from the traditional work-from-office, and the newer work modes, into the hybrid work model, leaders have the huge task of defining what work/tasks can be performed remotely and what would need to be done on-site for mentoring, development, socialization, creativity, brainstorming—all the things you do together with others—but we can certainly be more flexible,” he said.

One shoe does not fit all

The post-COVID-19 scenario maybe a whole new ballgame in many ways and there’s no tried and tested playbook for continuing to lead a resilient organization. As organizations are shifting from the traditional work-from-office,

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will we be when different teams who don’t normally work together have to come together for brainstorming, the creative process? We are going to have research, surveys, learn from data, learn what works.” Cut to December 2020, Google was experimenting with permanent, flexible work options, including a schedule where teams work remotely several days each week and come to the office for “collaboration days.” Pichai said, “Ultimately, we are testing a hypothesis that a flexible work model will lead to greater productivity, collaboration, and [wellbeing]...No company at our scale has ever created a fully hybrid workforce model— though a few are starting to test it—so it will be interesting to try. We’ll approach these pilots with a spirit of innovation and an open mind, and do rigorous measurement along the way to help us learn and adapt.” “There’s no replacement for face-to-face collaboration, but we have also learned a great deal about how we can get our work done outside of the office without sacrificing productivity or results,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook. “All of these learnings are important. When we’re on the other side of this pandemic, we will preserve everything that is great about Apple while incorporating the best of our transformations this year.”

survey, 20 percent of respondents indicated they have deferred on-premise technology spend, with an additional 12 percent planning to do so. COVID-19 has been a never-before scenario for global leaders. While the right mindset and strategy are vital for leaders to come out stronger on the other side, how this mindset shapes the ability of individual organizations to scale their capabilities and performance is to look forward to. may 2021 |

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Rethinking EX for the post-pandemic world

As work conditions change across the world, companies need to take drastic measures to do better at employee engagement. What is the world gearing up to today when Fun Fridays (which were at one time the only thing that defined EX) are not even a remote possibility (pun intended)? By People Matters Editorial

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connected if at all, the truth is that they are very intricately linked - and what connects them is employee experience.

What does the postpandemic EX checklist look like?

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mployee engagement is often considered to be the true outcome of employee experience. A study by Gallup declared that companies having the most engaged employees witnessed as much as 147 percent higher earnings per share (a key profitability indicator) when directly compared with other competitors in the same field. With the proliferation of work opportunities across the world - and a shortage of

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the right talent to fill up the rosters - there is a new equation at play when it comes to prospective employees and the hunt for jobs. The availability of information has drastically changed perspectives on jobs. For example, 79 percent of job seekers today use social media when looking for a new job, and this figure increases to 86 percent for younger job seekers. Moreover, around half of all millennial employees are looking for a job change. Although these statistics may seem to be loosely

There can be no ideal experience in any company - but the truth is that some companies fare much better when it comes to employee experience than others (that is if employee experience rankings are to be believed). The reason behind this is that they optimize all stages and aspects of the employee experience, making sure that there are no hang-ups on any front - right from workplace security to culture to technology. The different aspects of employee experience - reevaluated to address challenges of the ongoing pandemic - are as follows: • Inclusion for all: Given the remote nature of most jobs today, each employee in the organization needs to understand the organi-


it is not a matter of chance that Google is at the head of innovation. Google says that 20 percent of an employee’s time should be spent on exploring or working on projects that show no promise of paying immediate dividends but that might reveal big opportunities down the road.

Square, a mobile payment company decided to share everything with their 600+ employees. The notes from all meetings were made available for employees, including large reports from board meetings.

• Building a sense of community: Technology is at the forefront when it comes to bringing together employees scattered across the globe. Julie Schweber, a senior HR Knowledge Advisor

• Career progression: The overall compensation of an employee is no longer the driving force for a person’s interest in the company. This is why learning on the job, having interesting work, and having a stable career growth are key factors that employees look out for when they seek new job opportunities. Today’s talent does not want to be told what they want to do; rather, they want to make sure that they are developing in multiple areas of their life through their work. Any company that wants to make sustainable decisions for the future engages with employees on what they want from their careers and their lives and tries their best to cater to them. We are no stranger to Google’s 20 percent rule and

to an employee’s desire to continue working for a company, thereby reducing churn. At any point in time, Slack, WhatsApp, Zoom, Teams, Google Meet - any or all of these are running on our system. Right from realtime messaging with our team members to hop onto a video call, we have instant access to each other. The employee experience that was earlier a part of watercooler conversations, cafeteria run-ins is now through a virtual medium - and that’s the role technology plays, in ensuring that we have some

Employee experience is not simply the task of HR, but a company-wide function that builds the foundation for the company as it moves forward and scales up at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), said "The beauty of technology is that it's allowing us to have a WebEx call or a Zoom call to have meetings of 100 or 200 people, and they can break out into small group sessions. We can see each other live if we want to because of the technology and log in to our virtual private network at home in a safe, secure IT environment.” The feeling of the community contributes greatly

Employe e Expe rie nce

zation’s sense of purpose. They also need to feel included in the processes of the company. Alongside this, transparent communication and shared values are also a necessity; without them, no new hire will feel comfortable with the workplace they have joined.

semblance of normalcy as we begin to find our space again in a post-pandemic world. • Rise of employee experience platforms: There is an increase in the demand for employee experience software too. While there are a bunch of options available to choose from, the idea is that an employee experience platform brings together learning, employees, insights, feedback, and growth. It is all about modernizing may 2021 |

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the employee experience - simply means making everything real-time, with a water cooler conversation vibe and of course with all the cohesiveness of one people.

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These platforms help make decisions smarter, faster, and more informed, be it to drive engagement or to elevate performance through relevant insights. Employee experience platforms are steadily becoming an integral element of shaping the employee experience for a distributed workforce. • Infrastructure that supports the culture of the company: Given that the workforce is hitting an all-time high in burnout, stress and anxiety are creating havoc in employee lives. There is no company culture without the backend infrastructure that can support the growth of the company. Companies that go the distance also invest in the right tools to keep people connected and foster a sense of community. This includes an ATS for hiring, a robust feedback mechanism, a PMS for performance management, as well as ERP and payroll software - to mention a few. Not only does this raise morale among the employees, but it further helps with engagement as well. | may 2021

• Dynamic performance assessment: There is no doubt about the fact that organizations can no longer evaluate performance as they did before the pandemic struck. Now, an effective employee experience depends on the necessary flexibility that can be provided to employees in terms of how their performance is valued and managed. Annual check-in conversations were passé even before the pandemic set in, but now the need of

the hour is consistent and continual check-ins. One company that has done this well is Cargill India. In an interview with People Matters, Raj Karunakaran, HR Head Cargill India mentioned that frequent and future-focused conversations on continuous improvement and development are the pillars of a strong performance management process. Revamping culture also plays a role in how performance is valued in the

EX platforms help make decisions smarter, faster, and more informed, be it to drive engagement or to elevate performance through relevant insights. EX platforms are steadily becoming an integral element of shaping the employee experience for a distributed workforce


organization. When a culture can make space for the whole of the employee, such as their family health issues, unavoidable commitments of child-rearing and ailing care, self-care, personal therapy sessions that is truly when the organization can grow. In such circumstances, the empathy provided to an employee in the form of flexibility can make all the difference in their commitment, and thereby performance.

By revamping employee benefits and aligning them

from the usual surveys and feedback measures; to wellness and financial planning programs; and the post-pandemic version of rewards and recognition. What ties all of that together though is technology that underpins these programs. "If you have the technology in place and managers who are trained at using the technology, they can look at the data for insights to create action plans for their employees," Becker said. "That creates a much better organizational culture, and it leads to resilience in the organization, which will

By revamping employee benefits and aligning them to what employees seek in the present context, employers have also been able to cater to their financial wellness nitely helps is the embedding of the need for wellness through virtual messenger groups where everyone shares their progress, challenges, and ideas to overcome any obstacles peers might face in their wellness journey

Building the foundation for sustainable growth

Laura Becker, IDC's research manager in the Worldwide Services Group says there are several ways to improve employee experience - right

set the stage for a much stronger recovery after the pandemic." Employee experience is today an indispensable part of any company’s growth. It is not simply the task of HR, but rather a company-wide function that builds the foundation for the company as it moves forward and scales up. For this, a company needs to make sure to take care of communication, culture and engagement, career growth, and infrastructure to support it. may 2021 |

Employe e Expe rie nce

• Employee wellness is the cornerstone of any employee experience program: What is the digital equivalent of providing healthy snacks and a gym at the office? Our minds immediately go to gym memberships, swimming club memberships, food allowance, and such. But in the last 18 months, employee wellness has turned around on its head. It goes far beyond physical health now. Organizations are now cognizant of the fact that wellness is also about mental health, regular health checkups, access to subsidized therapy sessions, and above all creating a culture in the organization where there is no stigma when it comes to feeling unwell, be it physically or mentally.

to what employees seek in the present context, employers have also been able to cater to their financial wellness. Some companies have gone the extra mile with helping their employees with access to 24/7 healthcare consulting for themselves and their dependents through digital tools, in addition to making policies more inclusive to accommodate personal commitments and minimizing stressors. Some of these welcome changes include paid paternity leave, pet adoption leave, prenatal care, and what not. What also defi-

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Coronavirus has effectively humanized the workplace: Natasha Dillon, Chief People Officer, Inmarsat 22

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Companies will need to provide employees with spaces – be these physical or digital - that not only improve productivity but also suit their working style, says Natasha Dillon, Chief People Officer, Inmarsat, in an exclusive interaction with us By Mastufa Ahmed

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How do you see the new world of work? What kind of reinvention do you expect this year and beyond around the mode of work? Our future workplaces will be vastly different from the workplaces of the past. Whilst many individuals are expressing a desire for permanent home working, others have found working remotely challenging from a mental health and wellbeing perspective, and the majority of people appear to want some form of "hybrid model" where they come together on a regular basis for collaboration purposes and social interaction but spend the bulk of their time at home. As a result, employers must be prepared to cater to a range of individual needs and preferences in a way that makes sense for the individuals themselves

as well as for their teams and the wider organization. Physical work environments will need to look and feel very different with ample dedicated space for group sessions and workshops. We can no longer ask employees to commute into the office, just to sit at a desk all day. Instead, we should focus on creating more human-centric workspaces that encourage collaboration. Companies will need to provide employees with spaces – be these physical or digital - that not only improve productivity but also suit their working style. The next big challenge will be how we maintain and drive employee engagement with an increasingly dispersed workforce. This is where I see technology playing a critical role.

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atasha Dillon joined Inmarsat as Chief People Officer in November 2016 from Korn Ferry Hay Group, where she was a Senior Client Partner specializing in HR transformation and organizational change. Prior to Korn Ferry, she worked at EY, where she was responsible for delivering client transformation programs, developing EY’s HR transformation methodology, and building business across new markets. Before becoming a consultant, Dillon spent 12 years at BP, starting off her career in the commercial function, responsible for economic evaluation, commercial negotiations and conducting strategic reviews to inform merger and acquisition activity. She then moved into HR where she held a number of roles including organiza-

tional development consultant, employee engagement manager and Chief of Staff to the VP of HR operations during BP’s global HR transformation. Here are the edited excerpts of the interview.

Is this the right time for organizations to be bold in how they prioritize digital transformation, embrace distributed work models, and create exceptional work experience? How do you see the current larger landscape?

The next big challenge will be how we maintain and drive employee engagement with an increasingly dispersed workforce. This is where I see technology playing a critical role may 2021 |

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from home, I predict there will be another major shift towards digitized employee experiences.

With businesses striving hard to adapt to the new normal do you think the toughest leadership time is looming? It has been incredibly tough for leaders throughout the pandemic for several reasons. Leaders have had to manage teams remotely, make redundancies, implement cost-cutting meas-

experience when it comes to workplace technology, which can come at a price. A challenge for some businesses will be how to do that costeffectively. Thankfully the options are constantly growing, and price points are becoming more reasonable. In the same way that lockdown initially forced businesses to adopt technology in order to continue working

ures, and in some cases deal with employee deaths and grief – all the while dealing with their own personal challenges. I’d like to think that the toughest tests, from a human perspective, will soon be behind us. That isn’t to say the challenges are over for leaders. They now need to manage dispersed teams with vastly different needs. And we

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Absolutely, there has never been a better time to embrace new ways of working. The majority of employees don’t want to go back to the old normal and organizations that don’t adopt distributed or flexible models will fail to attract and retain top talent. In order for the flexible model to work successfully, businesses and employers need to digitalize the employee experience. Employees are increasingly expecting a consumer-grade

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can’t underestimate the impact that returning to work is likely to have on mental health. Whilst the reopening of offices will greatly welcomed by some employees, it may also be incredibly anxiety-provoking for others and will therefore need to be treated by line managers and HR departments with delicacy.

How has COVID-19 changed organizations' approach to employee experience and why is everyone focusing on EX? Is it about retaining the top talents and differentiating from competitors? Part of the reason why people have focused on the employee experience is because coronavirus has effectively humanized the workplace. Seeing your boss and co-workers in their homes - in many cases juggling their personal and work lives simultaneously has been a real leveler and demanded an increased level of empathy amongst us all. Another big driver, in my opinion, is employee retention. Employees are likely to be less flexible moving forward, particularly as the economy improves, and will not be afraid to leave an organization if their preferences can’t be met. As experts say, the role of HR leaders has changed amid all the chaos. How can


that some are increasingly embracing ‘hybrid mode’, others are going fully ‘remote’, and then there are others planning for ‘back to the office’. At an individual level, mental health, well-being, and burnout are all big barriers when it comes to empowering employees. However, the impact of going back to the office is vastly underestimated. That is why well-being will continue to be at the heart of Inmarsat’s employee value proposition now, and into the future.

From an organizational perspective, I think we are likely to see some level of disruption to productivity as people settle into new working patterns. For example, some employees will lose important time that they gained during lockdown by not commuting, whilst others may find it tricky to readjust to busy workspaces. Employee retention is also likely to be a challenge in 2021. I expect we will see a fair amount of churn as organizations enter a more settled period. Investing in

I N TERVIEW

Employee retention is also likely to be a challenge in 2021. I expect we will see a fair amount of churn as organizations enter a more settled period. Investing in employee retention initiatives will be important if businesses want to retain highperforming employees

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HR leaders gear up to offer sophisticated solutions to employees' challenges and manage workers' overall experience as organizations enter the next phase? Coronavirus has undoubtedly placed HR professionals firmly in the spotlight. A strong HR team has never been more essential to guide CEOs and Executive Teams than during the chaos of the last 18 months. The pandemic has also been extremely polarizing from an employee perspective, with some desperate to get back to the office and others never wanting to return. Our role as HR leaders is to create a tailored employee experience that meets changing expectations. Of course, much of this will be dependent on the sector and the role. For example, at Inmarsat, we are offering employees a range of options depending on the requirements of their role. Finally, we will need to find ways to keep people connected, both physically and digitally. Lockdown has proven that we can do our jobs virtually, but how can we go beyond that to recreate those informal, watercooler moments that many of us have been craving? What do you think will be the biggest barriers to empowering employees and elevating their work experience in 2021? Given

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The majority of employees don’t want to go back to the old normal and organizations that don’t adopt distributed or flexible models will fail to attract and retain top talent employee retention initiatives will be important if businesses want to retain high-performing employees.

What are the different ways to measure the impact of a great employee experience initiative? Does the employee experience truly impact business results? At Inmarsat we’ve found that short, but regular polling works well, giving us an instant picture of how employees are feeling at that moment. We have also introduced an initiative called “Mood Lift”, which is often used at beginning of meetings. Mood Lift is simply a set of common adjec| may 2021

tives and feelings, such as “excited” or “stressed”, but has become part of our shared check-in language. It is an easy way for us to assess how people are feeling in a non-intrusive way. This connection matters. Apart from being the right thing to do, there is now an increasing amount of evidence that suggests employee engagement has a direct impact on improved business performance. According to data from the Workplace Research Foundation, employees that are more engaged are 38 percent more likely to have above average productivity levels.

How do you see technology and data transforming the office of the future? We can expect digital innovations to improve the employee experience in many ways, including better platforms for social work, digital collaboration spaces, and quality apps for onboarding, learning, and development. The increasing integration of AI will also reduce the amount of admin required of HR professionals’ roles, enabling more focus on value-added tasks. How is Inmarsat reinventing for a Post-Pandemic world and what are your top three priorities this year and beyond? We have been going through the process of reviewing and refreshing our operating model and objectives at an organizational level. One of my top priorities is checking that these are embedded at all levels across the business and ensuring accountabilities are clear. Secondly, but just as importantly, we need to continue to engage our people through the pandemic and beyond. Particularly with respect to implementing new ways of working and continuing to strengthen our culture. And finally, we will continue to focus on building capability, ensuring we have the right skills and talent to help the business grow even stronger.


Dr. Robyn Wilson

Having difficult conversations in the virtual world Important conversations are the backbones of good management and leadership. Ideally, they need both parties to be engaged, safe, and committed in the dialogue

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primarily because we all had to do it! We quickly learned about the wonders of platforms like Zoom, and team meetings have sort of worked. We have also had more time for conversations, given we are not traveling. And more empathy and compassion have been evident for the most part (though how this is done maybe a bit hit and miss). On the other side though, our workdays are 10-20 percent longer, there are high expectations around

output, and managers are squeezed between their bosses and their people around the need for results. Many of us are missing faceto-face connections, including team get-togethers and the energy these bring. Many managers are missing the higher confidence they have by being able to “read the room” and their team(s). However, as we further explore, there is more happening to us than we may realize, particularly around important conversations. We feel people are

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ifficult conversations are tough at the best of times. In the remote working world, they are feeling tougher. We miss human interaction; sharing the same physical space, eye-toeye contact, and bumping into our colleagues around the office. In this article, we explore what is happening around important workplace conversations during this remote/hybrid working period, as well as provide some tips and mental frameworks that could help navigate the common challenges faced. It’s obvious that COVID is here for some time, and, given the experiences of the last year, workplaces will continue to evolve into hybrid blends of working. So, finding ways to improve these crucial conversations in a range of environments, is necessary.

What really happened to our conversations when we went virtual?

Remote working has worked, may 2021 |

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harder to “read” through screens. Also, in the virtual/ hybrid world, we don’t get to observe people around the office. We miss out on connecting with people preor post-meeting or around the coffee pot. We don’t have the breaks we would have between meetings and we don’t get to do the “lunch thing” if we want to pass something by a “confidant”. And we don’t really know what is happening immediately around the other person in the space in which they are working. And, most importantly, we are totally under-acknowledging the drain that the visual component of the virtual world is having on us as we spend our lives looking at people through our screens. It is so much worse when looking at multiple faces on a screen at once (Sklar, Julia (2020)). But we have been managing from a distance for centuries; letters and memos were replaced by phone calls and emails. Having difficult conversations remotely isn’t new. So, boiling things down, we have two primary issues at play: we crave human connection while we are feeling depleted from all the screen meetings. On one hand, we drive towards wanting that human connection – even if it is in virtual meetings where we really want more interaction, energy, and | may 2021

It behooves us as managers to ensure we present ourselves for important conversations well prepared, with clarity of mind, grounded and with good energy, ready to focus on the other person engagement. Yet, on the other hand, all this is depleting our energy without us really realizing it. The good news is that while this “balance” is challenging, it fundamentally does not present the need for new skills, just better honed interpersonal skills. When asked about the essential leadership qualities for COVID times, Katarina Berg, CHRO of Spotify shared the following at a recent People Matters TechHRSG conference (Sept ‘20). “To be honest, it’s the same things as per normal times, but all this was put under more pressure and we need to accentuate.” Meanwhile, cracks are starting to appear in the way managers and leaders are coping (Parker et. Al. (2020), Knight (2020)). Another way of looking at this is to consider that remote/hybrid working is putting more pres-

sure on our existing people/ leadership skills – which seem dependent on being in the same space.

How managers can overcome difficult conversations

Important conversations are the backbones of good management and leadership. Ideally, they need both parties to be engaged, safe, and committed in the dialogue. The following fundamental skills enable these healthy conversations: Listening and noticing • Where is your focus during the conversation? Are you really focused on what the other person is saying, or are you too busy planning what you want to say? • What are you noticing? Asking good questions and being curious • If our questions are not working, we then need to find other questions that work. Little phrases like “tell me more …” can be very helpful. • Curiosity can be your friend as it helps us remain open (Bungay Stanier, M. (2020)) - important when listening for the other person’s story. Being clear on the purpose of the meeting/ conversation • Are you clear about the reason for the conver-


sation? Can you state it succinctly, in one sentence? If not, you may need to think about it more carefully and prepare more for the conversation. Can you state this purpose without placing the other person into a defensive position? Remember, good intentions are desirable but not sufficient. Watching our assumptions • Are you aware of the pre-judgments you have made prior to having the conversation?

Self-awareness and selfmanagement • It behooves us as managers to ensure we present ourselves for important conversations well prepared, with clarity of mind, grounded and with good energy, ready to focus on the other person. If our energy is depleted

And finally and we are rushing with back-to-back meetings, we miss being present for the conversation. Take time to care for yourself. Remember when you used to fly? Your oxygen mask needs to come first. Being comfortable with being uncomfortable • As managers/leaders, we need to find strategies to manage our uncomfortable moments and not let them impact or bias our conversations. What is best for us may not be best for the other person.

Ongoing conversations that provide the foundation for difficult ones Difficult conversations become even more difficult in the absence of two other regular, ongoing conversations in which managers and subordinates can establish a solid working relationship. The first one is about discussing how you both wish to work together. This is even more critical in the virtual/hybrid working environment.

Slow down. Think about what the other person may need from you. Ask them. Do not assume you know what is best. Give yourself permission to be human and stop being hard on yourself. At the end of the day, the best way to approach important conversations is by being human, caring enough to ensure you are taking the necessary time, saying what you feel the issue is plainly and respectfully, asking them to tell you about how things are for them and listening. It is about respectful dialogue. And whether you are doing this conversation in person or virtually, all the above holds.

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Connecting with empathy • Empathy is essential to connecting. It is about the other person, finding different perspectives, being nonjudgmental, curious about the other person’s feelings and even acknowledging them and paying attention to what’s happening between you without minimizing or exaggerating emotions. It is not soft, fluffy stuff.

The other ongoing conversation is around continuous progress dialogues. Individual and mutual accountabilities can be revisited during these conversations while time given to ensure clarity – something that should never be assumed is clear.

• Bungay Stanier, M. (2020), “Curiosity is a Leadership Superpower”, Dialogue, Duke Corporate Education, September • Knight, R. (2020), “How to Handle the Pressure of Being a Manager Right Now”, Harvard Business Review, April 30 • Parker, S., Knight, C. & Keller A. (2020), “Remote Managers Are Having Trust Issues”, Harvard Business Review, July 30 • Sklar, J. (2020), “Zoom fatigue’ is taxing the brain. Here’s why that happens”, National Geographic, 24 April.

Dr. Robyn E. Wilson, CEO & owner of Praxis Management Consulting Pte Ltd may 2021 |

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Focus on “what is important” to your people: McCANN Australia’s Chief Talent Officer S p e c i a l In t e r v i e w

In this Special Interview with People Matters, Robert Stone, Chief Talent Officer, McCANN Australia shares his insights on how COVID-19 brought employee experience to the forefront, forcing organizations to change their approach to it and making it a key priority, and how it will evolve in 2021 By Yasmin Taj

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year that changed the world forever also brought forward certain aspects that might have been in the backburner for some time now. While organizations understood the criticality of being able to adapt and find opportunities in the midst of chaos, one thing that really stood out was the fact that their people were their most important assets in this journey of recovering, reinventing, and reimagining themselves. And hence, employee experience sprung to the top of the priority list! In this Special Interview, Robert Stone, Chief Talent 30

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As Chief Talent Officer at McCANN Worldgroup Australia, he is responsible for leading, developing, and implementing HR strategies across all McCANN Worldgroup brands (McCANN, MRM & CRAFT). This role sits on the McCANN Australia Executive team. Rob has been listed on the 2019 HRM Hotlist (Top HR professionals in Australia) and 2018 LinkedIn Australia Power Profile List (most influential HR professionals). Here are the excerpts from the interview.

How has COVID-19 changed organizations' approach to employee experience? How do you see employee experience changing in 2021? Employee experience has been a really interesting and challenging task for all businesses globally since the beginning of this pandemic. In Australia, we are very fortunate that we are in a position where life is fairly normal. Having experienced traditional and new ways of

working over the past 12 months, organizations need to place significant emphasis on what drives each individual employee’s overall satisfaction. For example, valuing flexible remote working over traditional office space working will impact an employee’s overall employee experience. The foundations/ethos/strategy shouldn’t have changed with regards to employee experience as the core foundations should be based around caring for your people. I believe that a lot of organizations’ traditional talent strategies around employee experience are still relevant; however, most business and HR leaders are finding that they are dialing up the focus and redefining certain areas such as pre-boarding, onboarding, employee welfare, and performance management.

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

Officer, McCANN Australia talks about how the pandemic highlighted the necessity of investing in employee experience, the biggest barriers to empowering employees and elevating their work experience in 2021, and what the future of employee experience will look like. Rob returned home to Australia as the Chief Talent (HR) Officer, Australia after an amazing four years at McCANN London. Rob has played a critical part in McCANN London’s recent success, having helped transform and diversify talent and performance management. Rob’s unique and forwardthinking approach to talent has also played a significant role in converting global clients. He sits on the Global Diversity & Inclusion Coalition and was recognized by being asked to present evidence at The House of Lords regarding the benefits of an internationally diverse workforce in the wake of Brexit. Previously Rob was the Global Talent Partner for Adidas, based out of HQ in Germany, Rob oversaw the major sporting brand’s largest Talent initiative in the history of the business. Rob was responsible for building and enhancing Adidas's digital offering across Germany, Amsterdam, London, Brazil, Moscow, New York, Paris, Tokyo & Shanghai.

How do you think the pandemic has highlighted the necessity of investing in employee experience? The pandemic has really allowed people to step back and assess what is truly

In order to streamline employee experience to complement the hybrid model, businesses will need to remain agile and continually assess their individual needs moving forward, to avoid a one-size-fits-all approach may 2021 |

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

important to them personally and professionally. With the pandemic accelerating flexible working, it has allowed people to experience a work-life balance that is more shaped around individual needs. This significant change in ways of working has really highlighted businesses that have positive and negative cultures. In Australia, we are already seeing a massive shift in the mindset of “what is important” to our people within the workforce. Since moving away from “the office”, we have actually been able to improve one of the most important areas of employee experience – mobility. I know that might sound crazy as we are currently living in a world with limited global travel; however, mobility is now focusing on how we can allow our employees to have new global experi-

ences working with different teams, projects, and clients all around the world. I know a huge part of mobility is physically experiencing local cultures; however, I do believe that this pandemic has accelerated and removed a lot of the barriers and stigmas that restrict mobility. The year 2020 is over but there's still a whole lot of uncertainty on the road ahead. Organizations are increasingly embracing hybrid as a mode of work for their employees. Amid this chaos, how can organizations streamline employee experience? I think that it’s really important no matter how large or small your organization is, that you have a clear and simple framework developed to ensure a hybrid model is set up for success. However, in order to streamline employee experience to complement this hybrid

model, businesses will need to remain agile and continually assess their individual needs moving forward, to avoid a one-size-fits-all approach.

What do you think will be the biggest barriers to empowering employees and elevating their work experience in 2021? I think that it’s hard to apply a blanket approach to all businesses and industries, however, for the creative industries, I do believe that the biggest barrier will be creating a high-performing culture from a remote or partly remote workforce. Whilst a lot of roles can be done remotely, we’re still finding that we’re missing out on some of those “magic moments”. Furthermore, the balance between finding a flexible and structured working day will continue to be a challenge. Questions that HR and senior leadership will continue to face will be things such as: • Is it as efficient from an output perspective to continue working the way we are? • Are people finding it difficult to differentiate work time from personal time, which is causing burnout? • How important is the physical human connection to build a culture?

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• How can senior leadership forge a culture of trust with employees working remotely?

How do you see the role of digital innovations in improving employee experience? Technology has played one of the biggest roles in businesses' success throughout this pandemic. Businesses that understood the power of digital and the importance

of investing in collaborative technology, irrespective of their physical location – were the businesses that set themselves up for success. The technology ensures that we’re working more efficiently and that people feel connected in a flexible workplace. However, I also think that relying on new technology for communication can have a negative impact. For example, we’re finding that “video conference fatigue” is a real thing. Conversations that would normally take a couple of minutes are turning into 15-30-minute formal meetings.

How do you see the future of the employee experience post-COVID-19? We have learned so much and are still trying to understand how to truly build high-performing cultures whilst implementing new

ways of working. One thing that does really stand out though, is the importance of human interaction in the workplace and the role of a physical office that people call home. All businesses need to understand that office are no longer what they used to be. A lot of businesses in Australia are already seeing great commercial and cultural success when using smaller office spaces for collaboration and inspiration. Across many large organizations, we are already starting to see “The Clubhouse” and “The Hub & Spoke” model which I feel are great for businesses of scale; however, I feel that this isn’t a realistic model for small to medium-sized businesses. With that being said, I believe that a lot of businesses will continue to adopt the hybrid approach permanently. may 2021 |

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

As the economy slowly recovers, competition for the best talent will be fierce and candidates will flock to organizations with good company culture. How do you see the implication of this for HR leaders? Building a good company culture shouldn’t just sit with HR. It’s so important that this is a group effort that is driven by all employees within the business. HR and senior leadership need to ensure that they are aligned and that “people” are always a key priority in the overall strategy for your business. I sometimes feel that culture is mistaken for social within a lot of organizations. A strong culture isn’t purely built on social committees or perks & benefits, it’s built on a strong and clear vision for the business and how each individual has a purpose and a clear understanding of how they contribute to the success of the business.

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Will MOOCs ever take off and take over? Is it worth spending taxpayer money on building MOOCs in the same form? By Rita McGrath & Dr. M Muneer

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OOCs (Massive Online Open Courses) are available to anyone with a mobile phone or computer and Internet connection. They offer a way to learn in a virtual classroom, with loosely structured courses, mostly free of charge and without the rigidity of a normal academic program. MOOCs are perfect for those who want to learn for fun or showcase some certificates at a small fee. In a recent movie, the protagonist was shown displaying certificates

on a wide variety of courses ranging from AI and data science to yoga and palm reading! Only about two percent of the millions who enroll in a MOOC complete a course. India is no better. SWAYAM, launched with fanfare, has impressive numbers but the completion issue and impact thereof are debatable. So is it worth spending taxpayer money on building MOOCs in the same form? As of early 2021, there are about 4.7 billion Internet users globally (surprisingly not grown much from 2019 despite the pandemic), of which only 690 million are Indians. On a population coverage ratio, India is way below the global coverage with a ranking below 120. Even in the devel-

MOOCs had caused quite the stir when first launched. Supporters like Thomas Friedman proclaimed that they would usher in an era of unprecedented opportunity for those currently locked out of existing educational options 34

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Only about two percent of the millions who enroll in a MOOC complete a course. India is no better. SWAYAM, launched with fanfare, has impressive numbers but the completion issue and impact thereof are debatable

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oped nations, the digital divide is stark, and there is a wider divide in India despite claims of mobile proliferation. Compound that with our other drawbacks such as bureaucratic regulations, corruption, network quality, tech infrastructure, and affordability, to see a bigger problem. The digital divide in education has three different dimensions. The first dimension, the Accessibility Divide, is the gap between those who have access to hardware, network, software, authentic information, etc, and those who don’t. This is not necessarily a rich/poor divide. Students in remote rural areas and urban peripheries where connectivity is either too slow or intermittent are not necessarily poor. There may not be enough expertise in getting the right sources too. The second dimension, the Generational Divide, is the gap between generations – teachers and parents vs. students. Parents are wary of giving devices to kids because of misuse and don’t know how-to guide in effective use of digital media. Teachers are hesitant to change the pedagogy for fear of losing relevance and control. Even if they desire to become a coach in shaping the young minds, it is not easy with pressures on syllabus requirements, the obsession with marks, and other commitments. The third dimension, the Behavioural Divide, is the gap between those who can learn on their own vs. those who can’t. Many women, girls, minorities, and migrants shun digital access for learning because they

are unable to learn alone without others. Academic aspirations and self-directed learning need handholding. This is akin to the Techno-Readiness segmentation that points to no correlation between education, income, or social status to technology adaption. The Indian government could have used this model for the efficient rollout of the digital drive. MOOCs had caused quite the stir when first launched. Supporters like Thomas Friedman proclaimed that they would usher in an era of unprecedented may 2021 |

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opportunity for those currently locked out of existing educational options, thus democratizing knowledge. MOOCs, according to others, could end the universities’ monopoly on knowledge dissemination, forever changing the nature of brick and mortar institutions. Still others claimed that MOOC-like courses would favor a few well-known educa-

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So it’s interesting to see how some entrepreneurs are using online and digital media to take advantage of what they can do differently than might take place in a conventional classroom. Salman Khan’s Khan Academy is one bright light tors and lock others out of the system entirely. None of these views seemed to reflect what was actually going on with MOOCs as they were rolled out. Enrollments and completion levels have not met expectations and even courses rolled out with enormous fanfare, such as the partnership between San Jose State and Udacity have been declared to be failures relative to their expectations. In India, expectations are never captured at launch so failures never happen. None of this should come as much of a surprise to those of us working in the arenas of

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entrepreneurship and innovation. Brand-new categories are launched with many untested assumptions and it is only through the painful process of experimentation and learning that these assumptions get converted into knowledge. Indeed, successful entrepreneurs, such as Steve Blank, the father of the “lean” startup movement, are

| may 2021

huge advocates of keeping investment contained, moving forward with a minimum viable product, and using prototypes to get insights. Unfortunately, most new categories are accompanied by incredible hype; leading investors to sink tonnes of resources into more ventures than will succeed in the hope of becoming Unicorns. Research in new market entry by entrepreneurs often finds a common pattern to what is playing out in the world of online education – massive amounts of new entry by firms seeking to


So it’s interesting to see how some entrepreneurs are using online and digital media to take advantage of what they can do differently than might take place in a conventional classroom. Salman Khan’s Khan Academy is one bright light – short illustrated lectures that in some cases result in ‘flipped’ classrooms where the students learn the content on their own and teachers help in the application. The Khan Academy, however, is a not-for-profit, supported by (among others) the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Will MOOCs evolve into something like Netflix in terms of proliferation? With new technologies meeting the experiential learning of those disadvantaged by the digital divide, infra push, cheaper data, wider community access, and major innovations, MOOCs could still take off.

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establish the first toehold in the market. Count the number of new ventures in India induced by the pandemic – UpGrad, Byjus, and the like. Capital Market Myopia? Indeed, it’s an individuals’ inability to judge the collective consequences of individual decisions, in this case, massive investment in new categories. If many more firms enter the same arena with business plans to capture at least 5% share, it is not going to end well. So what are we to make of MOOCs? Firstly, they suffer from a problem that many cool technologies face when they are first introduced – the lack of a complete business model, coupled with major assumptions about demand. No one, even those who founded the major MOOCs, quite knows yet how they are going to make money. Giving away your core product and hoping to make up the difference using other revenue streams is rather risky – just ask the newspaper business. Further, the exact problem that MOOCs are designed to address is also unclear. They are a bit like the early days of the movies. Back in those days, nobody knew what movies could become, so what did they do? They filmed theatrical productions! Only once experience was gained with what ‘moving pictures’ could do that could never be matched by a stage production did the medium come into its own. MOOCs are the same – filming a professor talking in a classroom using a teaching technology that stems back to the age of Socrates!

Rita McGrath is a professor at Columbia University, USA, and M Muneer is Co-Founder of the non-profit Medici Institute. Twitter @MuneerMuh may 2021 |

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In t e r v i e w

Provide opportunities to hear the large end users out and not be one way: Sunit Sinha, KPMG India

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Sunit Sinha, Partner, and Head, People, Performance and Culture, KPMG in India, shares with us how organizations need to have a concrete plan to build a continuous approach to EX By Shweta Modgil

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020 was a year where organizations had to seriously relook at employee experience. It was a year that redefined their outlook towards EX in a big way, forcing them to tune up and listen empathetically to employees and act fast. While 2021 brought hope with the authorization and dissemination of the first COVID19 vaccines, yet 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? In an exclusive interaction with us, Sunit Sinha, Partner, and Head, People, Performance and Culture, KPMG in India, shares what does employee expe| may 2021


rience in the new hybrid reality looks like.

Sunit Sinha, Partner, and Head, People, Performance and Culture, KPMG in India, shares with us how organizations need to have a concrete plan to build a continuous approach to EX

In t e r v i e w

How do we reboot Employee Experience and tune up for success in our changing world of work? At KPMG in India we have adopted a 4E model to reboot and adapt to the change – Empathize, Enable, Engage and Enlighten A lot lies in how we support and adapt to any change that comes up. The world has not only changed for us but also our employees. We need to understand and empathize with them with the concerns that are affecting their lives on a personal front. An employee spends at least 1/3rd of his/her life for work and it's equally important that we impact the balance 2/3rd of the life with positivity, assuring them that we are standing tall and strong behind them. At times when there were many job losses, we honored our commitment to each and every offer, switched to virtual onboarding, sending laptops at home, etc. This was very important for us and I am sure this brings a sense of positivity and loyalty to the minds of our employees. Next is to enable our employees with tools and resources to continue the work that they are doing. We are providing health insurance support, and also a COVID Specific Insurance cover -COVID Kawach as well as a medical helpline to address the health needs of our employees. We have also put in place a set of employee engagement initiatives that we have carefully curated for our KPMG in India work family.

The series pays specific attention to the holistic well-being of our employees. Additionally, we have counseling sessions for work stress, relationships, marital issues, depression, etc. All of this enables our employees to feel safe and secure and to work efficiently. Engaging them is another challenge in a virtual world. Moving from conventional ways of working to new ones like work from home, virtual client meetings, online delivery of tasks, etc. is not easy. Building a constant connect in absence of a physical environment has its own challenge. Increased employee connects, virtual rewards and recognition, employee pulse may 2021 |

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surveys, etc. build a story for us to take actions. Learning is something that shouldn’t stop, and we have invested heavily in that. Our Stay at home learner series enabled our learning hours to increase by about 80% last year. The Talent development agenda didn’t stop and we created value by enriching the skills of our people when work was lean, so as to catapult them once we are back.

What does employee experience in the new hybrid reality of work look like? What are some of the key defining parameters? Communications and collaboration is the key – challenging though but we can’t avoid it anymore. Moreover, people managers are needed more than work managers. Health and well-being will take center stage and become a higher priority than tasks. Recognition would be completely online. The idea is how we can create a similar aspirational value for the awardee without diluting the essence of winning. 40

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How can we continue to be inclusive and sensitive for everyone? Needs are different and so should our offerings be. Trust and confidence in people and systems is another key defining parameter. Employees would expect a flexible and dynamic approach towards benefits, learning, and engagement. Also, organizations need to focus on work-life balanceneed to identify when and where to stop. Lastly, our efforts to re-create a higher purpose would be crucial. Our culture and values need to prevail.

Benefits have undergone a major change as work models changed and employees need different benefits in a post-pandemic world of 2020. How will organizations reimagine benefits for a hybrid world and technology’s role in that? Infrastructure benefits need to be passed on to employees. The aim should be to create a comfortable working space for them. This can be done by implementing some of the below: • Better IT infrastructure and hardware would be crucial here. IT and network support from anywhere instead from the office should be the goal • Internal systems and processes need a serious rethink to map with the new reality. • Technology to support here to avoid manual transactions. • Flexibility at work – Allow everyone to work at their convenient time. There is a need to have greater trust in employees. • Better health cover, support to


families, ability to cover everyone and all ailments would be crucial • Digital applications to provide health services at fingertips, multiple options to choose from and an easy claim process would be important as well • Work breaks could become mandatory- Leaves play a major role, monitoring its usage and encouraging/formulating policies around it to avail it would also be a crucial aspect.

Employee experience in 2021 requires continuous hearing and feedback from the organization rather than once in a quarter or once in six months of surveys. How can organizations build a continuous approach to EX? Organizations need to have a

Well-being would play a decisive factor in employment decisions. How to attract and retain talent basis our non-monetary offerings is also one of the trends that we could see Organizations need to provide opportunities to hear the large end users out and not be one way (as in communication only from the top). This is also an ideal opportunity to initiate millennial councils to feed up/participate in decision making, create ‘people groups/councils’ in each function to help the leaders and the organization understand the needs better. 360-degree feedbacks, upward communications, skip level connects can play a significant role. Organizations should use ‘periodic’ check-ins and ensure this is analyzed, actioned and the large community is made aware of the feedback received and action is taken as it’s very important to communicate back. may 2021 |

In t e r v i e w

Wellbeing as a focus area for organizations was majorly thrust into prominence for all organizations in 2020. What are the key trends that are emerging in 2021? Pause and take perspectivewhat happened in 2020. Are we overdoing our interventions? The economy of scope vs scale will be an important aspect to watch out for. Also, physical wellbeing is likely to see a re-emergence; the mentality of different age groups to reconsider their mindset to check on their health is likely to see an increase. Well-being would play a decisive factor in employment decisions. How to attract and retain talent basis our non-monetary offerings is also one of the trends that we could see.

concrete plan – instead of random surveys, we should look at channels at the national level and a functional level. The catch here is not to overdo it. Technology will play a role here. How to revamp the whole hearing approach in a more informal way will be important. Also, collecting feedbacks instantly for interventions is important by using a system and apps-based approach.

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As we slowly emerge out of one of the biggest crises the world has faced, organizations are putting their best foot forward to reimagine their employee experience proposition as they chart their path ahead! By Mastufa Ahmed

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egies such as flexible work programs, telecommuting, digital transformation, and employee well-being policies. One key trigger is the increasingly competitive job market. To maintain a stable and productive workplace, and to attract top talent, companies need to prove that their organization is a great place to work. Competition for attracting top talent has amplified the inevitability of the EX proposition. The May 2021 issue of our magazine attempts to find answers to several questions around EX in the current world of work mired with several complexities. How are organizations devising new EX programs and ensuring the engagement of their workers? How do they measure the impact of their EX initiatives? How can EX truly impact business results? What are the short-term and long-term solutions that can support EX and help organizations win both in terms of sustainability goals and employee wellness?

may 2021 |

STORY

unified employee experience from onboarding and collaboration to continuous learning and growth. A lot of studies, even before the pandemic, stressed employee experience (EX) as a priority for organizations. The pandemic has made it even more vital and a large number of organizations are pursuing it as a key focus area. However, while most organizations did a decent job of taking care of their workers' needs including wellbeing during the initial days of the pandemic, the needs are shifting as several studies find. Moving forward, HR leaders will need a sophisticated approach in terms of offering tailored responses to employees' challenges and manage workers' overall “experience”. They should address questions such as how are employees performing their tasks, and where and when are they working? What do workers value in a workplace, and how does that translate to performance? As organizations race to emerge from the chaos and envision an improved human experience at work, many of the ways forward would include new workplace strat-

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he COVID-19 pandemic forced talent leaders globally to rethink one question — are your workers truly satisfied? Or are they just keeping the wolf from the door because of a difficult market? And the result is evident — the new workplace is more human with organizations clearly shifting their focus inward. We have seen a sharp rise of people-first cultures, and humanistic work ethics across organizations globally. The year 2020 disrupted organizations, their business models, plans, and priorities leading to a never-before crisis, and there is still a whole lot of uncertainty on the road ahead. With business leaders scrambling to navigate the rapidly changing environment it is crucial, as we continue the adventure in 2021, to bet on this moment as an opportunity and reimagine the world of work — with new practices, policies, and technologies and shape the “employee experience” better. As Satya Nadella said, every organization will require a

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Rethink EX in ways that respect individual differences: Jacely Voon

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Organizations need to go beyond the transactional to create productive and rewarding work environments for the long haul so that people are ready for an extended period of uncertainty, says Jacely Voon, Chief of People Officer, People, Culture & CSR, FUJIFILM Business Innovation Singapore By Mastufa Ahmed

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acely Voon is FUJIFILM Business Innovation Singapore’s Chief of People Officer, People, Culture & CSR responsible for overseeing and managing the company’s human resource and development and corporate social responsibility. She has more than 20 years of HR Consulting, Change Management, Transformation, and Outsourcing experience in the roles including her extensive global experience in compensation and benefits structure as well as HR Management. Being an astute professional and Business Partner Leader, she | may 2021

has a reputation for successful transformation, culture change, and mentoring diverse teams that deliver results. Before joining FUJIFILM Business Innovation Singapore, Jacely was the Chief People & Culture Officer (Head of HR) of Fuji Xerox Australia (FXA) since November 2017. Prior to that, she was the Head of Regional Rewards and HR Program Management of Fuji Xerox Asia Pacific in Singapore for 7 years.

Here are the excerpts of the interview.

What are the keys to reinventing businesses and building a sustainable future? What’s your take on organizations’ rebound strategies? Our people are our valuable assets and they are key to reinventing our business. Especially in today’s world, we see that it is the collective humanity at work that makes all the difference. We believe that organizations need to go beyond transac-


that they employ should ensure business continuity and financial sustainability. In essence, the foundation must be laid for a strong base in order to spring leap for growth. Understanding the need to prioritize investments for the greatest value will help to deliver on those decisions.

Now that organizations are struggling to solidify their employee experience from onboarding and collaboration

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Do you think the pandemic has highlighted the necessity of investing in the employee experience proposition of brands? How do you see the larger EX scenario? What are the triggers of this move? The pandemic has certainly blurred the lines between home and office. Working from home is now the new norm and employers are no longer able to distinctly draw a line as the new employee experience proposition is not confined solely within office boundaries. We are now expected

to enable our people to seamlessly work from home through accessible technology while providing the necessary leadership support to help them adapt to new ways of working and interacting. I see the larger employee experience scenario through the entire employee life cycle (ELC) - from engaging the candidate to onboarding the employee to exiting the organization and becoming part of the alumni community. But it’s not just about the need to reimagine work in these areas. It’s about putting employees at the center of the organization and bridging the gap between the employee experience that we deliver vis-à-vis the lived experiences of employees themselves.

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tional to create productive and rewarding work environments for the long haul so that our people are ready for an extended period of uncertainty. While last year was a time of crisis, it was also an opportunity for rebuilding and reinventing ourselves to be ready for the year ahead. How we do it at FUJIFILM Business Innovation is the 4Es approach: Engage, enable, empower and energize. 1. Engage: Deepen team connection with heartfelt trust that we have their best interest in mind 2. Enable: Equip employee with necessary resources, tools, and skill for futurereadiness 3. Empower: Build trust with a sense of ownership and autonomy to realize their full potential 4. Energise: To Inspire and motivate employee to perform their absolute best Every business is unique and the rebound strategies

It’s about putting employees at the center of the organization and bridging the gap between the employee experience that we deliver vis-à-vis the lived experiences of employees themselves may 2021 |

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to continuous learning and growth, how can HR teams help in streamlining the overall EX equation? As HR professionals, the pandemic presents an opportunity for us to rethink the employee experience in ways that respect individual differences. That means using listening techniques, sensing the pulse of employees, and using two-way communication channels to address EX priority in a more targeted way. At FUJIFILM Business Innovation, we look at every part of the employee lifecycle and every touchpoint from the first contact when someone sees a job advertisement to exiting the organization. Then we use the insights we collect to bridge the gap in designing the employee experience in ways that matter the most to them. Ultimately, it’s about deciding on the experience

we want to provide for our people. HR alone designing EX will not be a great outcome without the involvement and feedback from the ground and commitment from business leaders to transform the EX.

How do organizations measure the impact of their employee experience initiatives? We use Productivity, Profitability, Efficiency, and Effectiveness (PPEE) to measure the impact of each employee life cycle with EX in mind. To measure the efficacy of EX initiatives, we mapped each stage of the employee life cycle to its maturity level based on: Data Availability, Process, and Standard Operating Procedure, and Progressive state. Depending on each stage’s level of maturity, we initi-

ated tactical actions that are measurable, quantitatively and qualitatively, from a company-wide perspective. This would help ensure that whatever we do has links to the overall impact of the company’s performance such as market share and customer experience.

Tell us about one EX and engagement enhancement initiative at FUJIFILM Business Innovation that really paid off? How do you measure the impact? While we’ve introduced a series of initiatives to enhance our EX through our employee life cycle, there is always a need to ascertain the efficacy of any program and how it impacts the overall business. So we created a corporate scorecard mapped to each stage of the ELC that tracks the productivity and profitability of the business. It has become our greatest takeaway that our business leaders value the most as they see the direct impact of how EX can impact the business. What are the biggest hurdles to implementing new EX programs in the new world of work? How are managing the expectations of your employees? The new world of work is toggling between the home, office, and working anyway. Applying a standard or a one size fits all approach

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and tools for employees to get their work done efficiently, with future developments in mind. When employees feel like they have the right resources to maximize their efficiency, they will feel more confident and engaged in their role. But more than that, it is important to adopt a holistic view of workplace wellness, and having an EX Committee that acts as an employee brand ambassador will allow the organization to look out for ELC gaps and work towards a similar goal of achieving employee wellbeing.

Where do you see the shifting focus on EX in the postpandemic world? In the workplace of the future, HR can lead the way in EX by helping to integrate the workforce’s needs at an individual level by using data and AI for personalized experiences. This means adopting choices and policies based on analytics to serve individual needs over a one size fits all approach. With that, it will make a shift towards purpose, potential, and perspective in individualized employee centricity. may 2021 |

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What are the short-term and long-term solutions that can support EX and help organizations win both in terms of sustainability goals and employee wellness? Short term – Designing the ELC using agile methods for an optimal experience and keeping the EX rolling by tackling root causes instead of just resolving pressing problems. This has to be coupled with ongoing feedback from employees because making continuous feedback a core part of the company culture is part and parcel of building employee loyalty. Long-term solution – We need to think about investing in suitable technology

In the workplace of the future, HR can lead the way in EX by helping to integrate the workforce’s needs at an individual level by using data and AI for personalized experiences. This means adopting choices and policies based on analytics to serve individual needs over a one size fits all approach

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is no longer attractive to employees. Implementing new EX programs will need to take into account the mobile employee who works on the road, at home, or in an office configuration. What works in the office and home might not work for people who are on the go. On the other hand, we need to ensure data protection and information security is not compromised. To strike a balance between the flexible work arrangement vs data security, a robust security system is needed. An organization must stay ahead of the technology that enables and empowers the people while ensuring the company is well protected.

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Why we need employee experience now more than ever

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There's a lot of talk of leading by "putting people first" but what exactly does that mean and how do you actually go about doing that? By Jacob Morgan

It’s easy to create amazing employee experiences when things are going well, it’s much easier to do so when things are in a state of chaos and when global tragedies like COVID-19 have impacted the lives of so many people around the world

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he concept of employee experience isn’t new, I (and many others) have been talking about it for years. But what is new, is the value of employee experience and the importance that organizations are placing on it in a post-COVID-19 world. As a quick refresher, I define employee experience as creating an organization where employees WANT not NEED to show up to work each day, by focusing on three environments which are culture, technology, and physical space. This is about making core changes to the workplace practices of your organi| may 2021

zation, not just focusing on perks or benefits. The reason why employee experience has never been more important than it is now is because things haven’t been as tough as they are now. It’s easy to create amazing employee experiences when things are going well, it’s much easier to do so when things are in a state of chaos and when global tragedies like COVID-19 have impacted the lives of so many people around the world. How you and your company respond NOW is what the world will remember. There's a lot of talk of leading by "putting people first" but what exactly

does that mean and how do you actually go about doing that? Putting people first is a philosophy backed up by a set of actions that prioritizes the people of an organization above all else including shareholder value and profits, even if it means that leaders must make personal sacrifices. The first part of this is easy, but it’s the second part most organizations struggle with. A philosophy is easy...values are easy. These are just words and phrases. Anyone can say they value things like “doing the right thing, trusting others, delighting customers, collaborating,” etc. But how do these things come to life? There's a restaurant near where I live called "Ole’s


In the context of most

companies, there are 5 steps they can follow to put people first. Step 1: Understand what it means to be a leader You are the lighthouse that guides other people to succeed in a safe way, your job is to help make other people more successful, even more, successful than you! Step 2: Know your people Your employees are not workers, they are human beings with fears, dreams, aspirations, families, and passions. Get to know them! Step 3: Focus on employee experience There are 3 environments your organization can shape which are culture, technology, and physical space. You have to invest in and optimize all three to create a place where employees WANT not NEED to show up to work each day.

Step 4: Measure human factors At Barry-Wehmiller, the 12,000 person manufacturing company, they don't measure "headcount" they measure "heart count," to remind themselves that they are in the business of taking care of people. Whether you are looking at diversity and inclusion or the overall happiness of your people, human factors are important to consider. Step 5: Focus on purpose and meaning We all want to feel like we are making a difference and are contributing towards building something great. Purpose and meaning are two different yet crucial aspects that make us who we are as human beings. When you focus on employees, the profits will follow. Employees will become more engaged and productive and contribute to a culture that makes the world a better place. That’s the power of employee experience and we need it now more than ever!

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How to put people first

There are 3 environments your organization can shape which are culture, technology, and physical space. You have to invest in and optimize all three to create a place where employees WANT not NEED to show up to work each day

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Waffle Shop" which is owned by Ken and Vickie Monize that employs around 40 people. When you walk into the restaurant portraits of the employees line the walls to remind everyone what it takes to run a family business. The owners of that restaurant wanted to retire next year and build their dream house on land they purchased in Santa Rosa. Then the pandemic hit and their sales plummeted by 85 percent. The owners could have just closed their doors and retired early, but they didn't. Instead, they sold their property and put nearly $400,000 of their own money into paying their employees so that they could survive during this difficult time. This to me is putting people first. The owners of this small mom and pop restaurant believe that their job, their responsibility, and their privilege is to take care of the people who helped build the business, even if it means they have to sacrifice personally. If Ken and Vickie Monize are willing to do this then why aren't the many billion-dollar organizations out there who are putting their people on the chopping block? If a waffle shop can do this, then so can every other company...if they are willing to sacrifice.

Jacob Morgan is a bestselling author, keynote speaker, and trained futurist who explores the future of work, employee experience, and leadership. He is the founder of FutureofWorkUniversity.com, an online education and training platform. Jacob also hosts the Future of Work podcast, a weekly show where he speaks with senior executives, business leaders, and bestselling authors about how the world of work is changing. To learn more visit TheFutureOrganization.com. may 2021 |

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EX must be focused on unleashing the productive power of its teams: Bain’s Michael Mankins

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COVID-19 has affected all three drivers of workforce productivity – time, talent, and energy. But the best have felt the impact very differently from the rest, says Michael Mankins, Partner, Bain By Mastufa Ahmed

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ichael Mankins is the global leader of our Organization Design, Corporate Strategy, and Transformation practices, based in Austin. With more than 30 years of consulting experience, Michael has predominantly focused on the strategic and organizational initiatives that drive clients’ performance and long-term value. He has advised business leaders across a wide array of industries, with recent engagements focusing on commercial aerospace, enterprise technology, and athletic footwear and apparel. Michael is a co-author of Time, Talent, Energy: Over| may 2021

come Organizational Drag & Unleash Your Team’s Productive Power, released by the Harvard Business Review Press in 2017. Time, Talent, Energy presents our firm's research on the factors most impacting human capital productivity, as well as hundreds of case studies illustrating how companies can liberate unproductive time; deploy, team and lead their best talent; and unlock the discretionary energy of their respective workforces

to improve productivity and financial performance. He is also a co-author of Decide & Deliver: Five Steps to Breakthrough Performance in Your Organization (HBRP, 2010) and The Value Imperative: Managing for Superior Shareholder Returns (Free Press, 1994). Michael’s experience and expertise has been featured in many leading publications, including the Harvard Business Review, the Wall Street Journal, and the Financial Times.


Here are the excerpts.

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tive time increase by 5% or more. By contrast, companies that struggled to collaborate productively before the onset of COVID-19 found that work-from-orders and remote work only made matters worse. Researchers at Harvard Business School and New York University found that the number of meetings increased during the pandemic by 12.9%, on average, and the number of attendees per meeting grew by 13.5%. While the average length of meetings declined slightly, poor collaboration and inefficient work practices reduced the productive time by 2% to 3% for most organizations. Talent and energy were also impacted by COVID-19 and remote work. The best companies are investing in all elements of the employee experience to ensure that their best talent can devote

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How do you think the pandemic has highlighted the necessity of investing in the employee experience? How do you see the larger EX scenario? In our book Time | Talent | Energy: Overcome Organizational Drag & Unleash the Productive Power of Your Team (HBRP 2017) we demonstrated that three factors best explain the relative productivity of large organizations: • The time each employee has to dedicate to productive work each day, without distraction from excessive e-communications, unnecessary meetings, or bureaucratic processes and procedures; • The talent that each worker can bring to their job and, importantly, how an organization’s best talent is deployed, teamed, and led; and • The discretionary energy each employee is willing to invest in their work and dedicate to the success of the company, its customers, and other stakeholders.

the rest (the average of the remaining three quartiles). This productivity gap represents an overwhelming source of competitive advantage for the best companies – one that compounds year after year. COVID-19 has affected all three drivers of workforce productivity – time, talent, and energy. But the best have felt the impact very differently from the rest. Companies that were already collaborating effectively and working productively before the pandemic has remained productive during lockdowns and other disruptions. Stay-at-home orders liberated time previously spent commuting and created flexibility in work schedules, enabling many employees to devote additional time to their jobs. We estimate that the best organizations have seen produc-

The companies that are the very best at managing scarce time, talent, and energy – that is, the average of the top quartile of companies in our research – are 40% more productive than may 2021 |

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as much time as possible to delivering results. They remove obstacles to productive work. They engage and inspire their employees so that they bring more of their discretionary energy to their work. And, finally, create unique value propositions that enable them to attract the best talent – particularly for business-critical roles. Most companies have not matched these investments. As a result, the productivity gap between the best and the rest has widened during the pandemic. We estimate that the best companies have grown 5% to 8% more productive during lockdown. Additional work time, access to new star talent, and continued engagement have bolstered productivity at these companies. Most organizations, however, have experienced a net reduction in productivity of 3% to 6% (or more) due to inefficient collaboration, wasteful ways of working, and an overall decline in employee engagement. In short, the best companies may be >50% more productive than the rest.

With more companies planning to shift to remote/hybrid work post-COVID-19, what’s your advice for leaders to meet the evolving needs of employees? Two primary pieces of advice: First, leaders must take 52

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steps to ensure the advantages of remote/hybrid work are reflected in productivity. First and foremost, companies must ensure that the time liberated for each employee by reductions in commuting time can be devoted to productive work (or additional leisure time) and not wasted in unnecessary meetings, spent answering needless emails or consumed by other bureaucratic processes and procedures.

The companies that are the very best at managing scarce time, talent, and energy – that is, the average of the top quartile of companies in our research – are 40% more productive than the rest In short, organizational time must be treated as a scarce and valuable resource – and managed accordingly. Second, leaders must take additional steps to engage and inspire their workers. According to our research, an engaged employee is 45% more productive than a merely satisfied worker. And an inspired employee – one who has a profound connection to their work and/or their company – is 55% more productive than an engaged employee, or more than

twice as productive as a satisfied worker. The better an organization is engaging and inspiring its employees, the better its performance. As more and more companies shift to a remote work model, leaders will need to find new and different ways to ensure that employees continue to be engaged, even inspired.

Organizations are putting their best foot forward to reimagine their employee experience proposition as they chart their path ahead, amid all this disruption! What are the triggers of this move? Of the three productivity factors, COVID-19 has hit energy the hardest. Research by Achievers Workforce Institute and others suggests that many organizations have struggled to engage their employees during the pandemic. Logically, then, productivity is likely to have fallen considerably for most companies during the pandemic. Employee pulsecheck surveys and other instruments can (and should) be used to regularly test the impact of remote work on workforce engagement. When engagement declines, leadership must take corrective action or risk seeing dramatic declines in productivity and performance. Now that organizations are struggling to solidify their employee experience from onboarding and collaboration


to continuous learning and growth, how can HR teams help in streamlining the overall EX equation? Human capital productivity is not an HR problem, it is a business problem. Accordingly, leaders in every function have a role to play in creating the conditions to maximize the productivity of the organization’s workforce. HR, however, can play a unique role in managing the employee experience.

As organizations continue to add infrastructure tools to their stack, IT teams are

Tell us about one EX and engagement enhancement initiative at Bain that really paid off? How do you measure the impact? Not every organization has seen employee energy levels decline during COVID-19. Executives from Adobe, for example, have told us that they have found ways to keep people engaged throughout the pandemic. The company was one of the first anywhere to issue a “no lay-off pledge” – easing employee concerns and signaling the company’s unwavering commitment to its workforce. In March 2020 – just days into shelterin-place – senior leadership began conducting virtual town halls, from their homes, to keep employees informed about the spread of Covid19 and Adobe’s response. Shortly thereafter, the company launched a weekly video series called “Take may 2021 |

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inherently challenged with new problems. On the other side, organizations increasingly betting on technologies to be able to listen, learn and improve their worker’s experience. How do you see this? The bet on technology is a good one. We believe organizations can leverage technology to attract, develop and retain the talent they need. In our experience, however, it is critical to be

highly focused in the deployment of technology and tie each new element of technology to addressing a perceived gap – or critical differentiator – in the company’s employee proposition. In too many instances, technology is deployed without a careful understanding of what the technology is intended to solve. The result: technology investments frequently fall short of delivering the “improvements” in employee experience for which management had hoped.

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Three areas are most critical. First, HR must maintain objective measures on the quality of the current employee experience – both relative to employee expectations and competition. Without quality information on the nature and magnitude of any gaps, it is impossible to take the steps necessary to close them. Second, HR can devise strategies to “reskill” a portion of a company’s

workforce, to ensure that the company has a futureproof workforce – one that is capable of competing to win in tomorrow’s competitive environment. Finally, third, HR can help to simplify how work gets done, in order to enable each employee to focus their scarce time on productive work.

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work and manage any transition to a new model that may be required. Otherwise, many of today’s great leaders will turn out to be average – even mediocre – tomorrow.

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Five” to help its employees keep abreast of important Covid-19 and business updates, along with tips from fellow employees (e.g., chef ’s from the company cafeteria shared ideas for how to cook great meals with canned goods on hand). As COVID-19 and workfrom-home orders persisted, regular pulse-check surveys revealed that employees were growing tired, balancing the new realities of work and home. In response, Adobe gave all employees an extra day off – the third Friday of each month – to unplug and recharge. The combination of these – and many other – efforts have enabled Adobe to tap into the discretionary energy of its workforce during Covid-19. In fact, engagement scores at Adobe, according to the company, have actually increased since the beginning of the pandemic. | may 2021

What are the biggest hurdles to implementing new EX programs in the new world of work? A big challenge created by the new world of work is getting leaders to adapt their leadership models. Many leaders have adopted models of leadership that work well for a geographically proximate workforce. For example, “management by wandering around” (MBWA) is a commonly lauded approach to leadership that encourages managers to check in with their teams in an unstructured, even random, manner to understand the status of ongoing work. This approach works well when the members of a team are in the same place. It needs to be adapted considerably for a remote or hybrid work environment. It is critical to help leaders assess the strengths and weaknesses of their current leadership model to the new world of

Where do you see the shifting focus on EX in the postpandemic world? The primary shift in focus for employee experience in the post-pandemic world is finding ways to make remote work, work for a company’s best talent. The tests must be tied to the drivers of human capital productivity. Namely: • Are we enabling our employees to focus their scarce time on productive work, without distraction by unnecessary meetings or communications? • Are we attracting, developing, and retain the very best talent in our industry? Are we deploying our best talent to business-critical roles? Are we teaming and leading our talent to get the most out of every worker? • Are we engaging and inspiring our workforce so that they are willing to invest a portion of their discretionary energy in the success of our company, its customers, and other stakeholders? Every organizations’ EX must be focused on unleashing the productive power of its teams.


Employee Experience: How HR can create a competitive advantage EX was already a priority for many companies prior to the pandemic and several companies had placed it at the core of their strategy By Rob Rosenberg

The supply chain’s 15 minutes of fame

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vaccine distribution effort, logistics is truly enjoying its 15 minutes (or months) of fame. For an industry in which your measure of success has traditionally been how invisible you are, behind the scenes of your customer’s business, this has drawn an unprecedented and unexpected amount of attention to what we do. In many ways, this should be a great moment to be an HR practitioner in this sector – a growing business providing essential services to society should be a highly attractive proposition to potential recruits. At the same time, while many segments of logis-

tics and transportation have continued to add jobs during the pandemic – particularly in areas such as warehousing and last-mile delivery services, and most particularly in anything e-commerce-related – it remains an intensely competitive market for both skilled and blue-collar workers. DHL Supply Chain conducted research in 2017 that showed that demand for supply chain talent already then outstripped supply by a ratio of 9:1. This ratio has only turned worse as a result of the pandemic. With technology and finance still the favored first job options for college graduates, sectors like trucking struggling to may 2021 |

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he logistics industry is currently enjoying something of a “Warhol moment.” With the growth in online retail, consumers have woken up to the important role that the supply chain plays in bringing goods to their front door. Investors have been flocking to the sector, looking to develop – and profit from – solutions and technologies that address challenges and longstanding inefficiencies in areas such as fulfillment and last-mile delivery. When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down borders and businesses, supply chains were suddenly thrust even further into the spotlight. From the need to keep critical supplies of PPE, cleaning goods and groceries moving to communities, and the surge in e-commerce deliveries, through to the massive

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business as fiercely competitive as ours, where customers are continuously seeking more efficient solutions and a superior cost position, it is people who turn investments into assets and ensure that your services don’t become commoditized. They are a genuine source of differentiation and competitive advantage.

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Engagement 2:0

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replace their aging workforce with younger new drivers, and retailers investing (and recruiting) aggressively in their supply chains to ride the wave of online retailing, that challenge has only become greater. Recruitment and retention particularly at the front line of operations is undoubtedly the most pressing issue facing our sector today. On top of that, despite the fact that logistics often involves multi-million dollar investments in transportation assets, warehouses, aircraft, or trucks, and despite the increasing | may 2021

digitalization and automation that is reshaping the nature of work, it is still an industry in which people play a critical role in the customer experience. A state-of-the-art warehouse will quickly begin to lose its cutting edge if staff lack the skills to perform effectively, promptly manage exceptions or seek out new areas of process improvement. And all the added value of a modern, efficient aircraft or truck can be lost by one unfriendly interaction by a driver or customer service agent taking a bad day out on a customer. In a

For this reason, employee experience (EX) – while difficult to measure on a P&L or balance sheet – is one of the most important weapons in an HR organization’s arsenal. It plays a decisive role in recruitment, retention, and, perhaps even more crucially, providing the motivation that will drive performance and self-development. EX was already a priority for many companies prior to the pandemic. Our company, for example, has placed employee engagement at the center of its strategy to serve the three “bottom lines” of investors, providers, and employees. As the key target metric in becoming an employer of choice, engagement has been explicitly measured since 2009 via the company’s annual employee opinion survey. This has allowed us to identify practices and approaches that contribute to increased engagement, such as strengthening communication between


driving this message with initiatives such as a Supervisor Academy and a culture of more regular feedback – both formal, via performance dialogs, and informal, via appreciation events at sites. Perhaps most significantly, we have placed a significant emphasis on safety, which is not just a priority for our customers, but also reinforces the message to everyone in our

business that their wellbeing comes ahead of any operational priorities. Even in a year of such significant disruption and uncertainty, we saw our employee engagement scores – based on employee feedback – increase by six percentage points in 2020 to an overall favorable rating of 80%. This was a reflection that our measures were both effective and recognized by employees. Digitalization: New technologies – while often seen as a disruptive force for

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By investing in EX and creating a culture that brings out the best in our people, we in HR have an opportunity to drive a distinct and meaningful competitive advantage for our businesses

many industries, including ours – are bringing multiple benefits in terms of added efficiency, productivity, and data intelligence. These benefits have translated into our recruitment and our working environment. We have been able to reach new, relevant audiences of potential recruits in a more targeted way via social media (for example, offering seasonal employment opportunities to furloughed workers from sectors that had been negatively impacted by COVID-19), as well as significantly accelerating the application and onboarding processes. We received over one million applications in 2020. With the help of technology, we were able to more quickly identify the candidates who were a better fit for our requirements, while also using mobile applications to engage them, prepare them before they physically entered the workplace, and even provide more flexible scheduling options when they began work. Our use of collaborative robotics is an example of how these technologies are creating a safer, less routine, and more rewarding working environment, by reducing walking time, supporting social distancing, and freeing up people to work on more value-adding activities. While robotics have helped create a safer working environment for

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supervisors and front-line workers and reinforcing a culture of appreciation and recognition. We have supplemented this by partnering with external certification organizations such as Top Employer and Great Place to Work, which act as an external sounding board and benchmark, ensuring that we are adhering to the latest best practices and standards. As the labor market has become increasingly competitive and we have witnessed trends such as digitalization and sustainability influence both the workplace and the mindset of potential recruits, we have had to intensify our efforts in this area and become even more creative in our approaches. Our strategy has been built around three central focus areas: People first culture: 85% of DHL Supply Chain’s 155,000 employees globally are front-line workers. As a business that offers standardized solutions to global customers across multiple markets, it is critical that we galvanize that workforce around a common purpose and culture. The culture has been very much focused on putting our frontline employees, who essentially deliver the customer experience every day, front and center. Around the mantra of #ConnectedPeople, we have invested considerable energy and resources in

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frontline workers during the pandemic, advances in digitalization have also enabled remote working for non-front line people across all industries. Throughout the organization, it has also opened up new virtual learning opportunities for everyone. At DHL, we see these virtual learning and working capabilities as something that will not necessarily replace face-to-face work – which is so important to collaboration and engagement – but which will supplement office work, increasing flexibility and enhancing EX. Sustainability: While sustainability took something of a backseat as the pandemic response – and the need to keep operations running – surged to the top of companies’ strategic agendas, we at DHL Supply Chain firmly believe that it will play a central role in EX as we emerge from COVID| may 2021

19. Environmental, Social, and Governance topics had already become a mainstream topic for investors before the crisis hit, and companies were increasingly recognizing that customers and employees – particularly younger generations entering the workplace – were prioritizing sustainability as a factor in whom they wanted to work with. Those companies that can take a multifaceted approach to this topic – not just addressing their environmental footprint, but also being proactive in creating a diverse and inclusive workplace, taking a stance on human rights within their supply chains and making a contribution to the communities in which they are active – will create a competitive advantage, not just in terms of increased EX, but also in enhanced customer experience too. Employees who are engaged

in social and volunteering activities within their communities are more likely to bring that same level of engagement and purpose to their work for your customers, for example, while diversity and inclusion are recognized as factors in driving stronger innovation, revenue, creativity, governance and problem-solving ability within companies. While most of my observations above are drawn from my direct experiences in the logistics business, the good news is that our business is, by its very nature, reflective of the challenges faced by many of our customers from all sectors within their supply chains. As HR practitioners, we all know how important motivated people are and will continue to be – even in this increasingly digital world – and how we will need to continuously adapt and innovate to attract them. Employee experience will be a decisive factor in those efforts. By investing in EX and creating a culture that brings out the best in our people, we in HR have an opportunity to drive a distinct and meaningful competitive advantage for our businesses.

Rob Rosenberg is the Global Head of Human Resources, DHL Supply Chain, an entity of the DPDHL group with 155,000 colleagues employed in 2000 sites spanning 60 countries. Rob sits on both the Divisional and Global HR Boards


Employees vs. Leaders: The missing link in EX Today there is a broad consensus, that Employee Engagement is a significant driver of desirable organizational outcomes. EX is one way of creating the environment, structures, attitudes, and behaviors that support employees’ sense of belonging, commitment and engagement By Henrik Kofod-Hansen

The challenges for the EX approach

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When companies design their EX they often use a 7 phased Employee Lifecycle model and they create a long list of “Moments-thatMatter”. While this provides a neat and easy-to-manage structure, it is complicated by two challenges: • Often employee lifecycle frameworks are too crude, and only insufficiently adapted to describe and capture employee’s true experiences. As a consequence, it feels disconnected and generates little real value for employees. • “Moments-that-matter” frameworks are supposed to capture the moments that generate emotions, but in many companies, the employee’s experi-

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hen companies invest in Employee Experience (EX) frameworks, they expect a return on investment through a higher Employee Engagement level, which in turn is expected to improve the organization’s performance. Additionally, there are appealing side-effects: Organizational well-being increases, employee loyalty improves, customer satisfaction increases, and over-

all, the company becomes a better organization to work for. The origins of EX can be difficult to trace, but Gallup’s research in 2012 that showed the relationship between Employee Engagement and organizational performance, is probably one initiator of the EX hype. This report has unfortunately since been misinterpreted and misquoted, leading to exaggerated claims such as “Employee Engagement drives 22% of a company’s profitability”. Whereas in fact, the report merely states that “Work units in the top quartile in Employee Engagement outperform bottom-quartile units by 22% in profitability”. It is important to be aware of these nuances because it potentially inflates the expectations of what compa-

nies can achieve with their EX initiatives. Today there is a broad consensus, that Employee Engagement is a significant driver of desirable organizational outcomes. EX is one way of creating the environment, structures, attitudes, and behaviors that support employees’ sense of belonging, commitment, and engagement. But something is missing.

Too often, both EX and Engagement initiatives are designed to create transparency for HR, but ignore what should be the real objective: To create a better place to work, where employees thrive may 2021 |

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Companies have a great opportunity in front of them if they can effectively upgrade their leaders’ empowering behaviors. Employees of leaders who demonstrate empowering and enabling behaviors, report a significantly higher level of Psychological Safety, Collaboration, and Engagement ences of their leader and their behaviors are excluded, although these are the most important moments that an employee experience. Too often, both EX and Engagement initiatives are designed with the purpose of creating transparency for HR, but ignore what should be the real objective: To create a better place to work, where employees thrive. The wish for transparency as a way to enable the organization to do the right thing is applaudable, but if the most important factor is not

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measured, the usability and effect will be limited.

What most EX initiatives overlook

According to Gallup (2016), up to 70% of an employee’s engagement is influenced by their manager. This illustrates how important it is for companies to pay more attention to this aspect of the employee experience, but it is rarely measured in a systematic way that provides relevant insight. Employee’s experience of their leaders, and their interplay is in fact one of the most central

aspects of an organization’s emotions and functioning. The importance of the leader and employee relationship is supported through extensive research on the so-called Leader-MemberExchange (LMX). According to a metastudy, the leader’s behaviors, perceptions, and expectations have the highest effect on how employees rate their relationship with the leader. This includes behaviors such as inspiring with a vision, building trust, encouraging, fostering intrinsic motivation, and several other supportive leadership behaviors. Therefore, EX initiatives must support and measure the leader and employee relationship in a granular and timely way, and EX tech solutions must be tools to capture the emotional impact of these interactions. Only then will companies have visibility into what really happens in their organization, and be able to design and implement initiatives that really improve what employees experience.

How employees really experience their leaders

Early 2020, we conducted a global survey with more than 1.800 people from the logistics and transportation industry, with the objective to identify what employee experience at work. In particular two findings can help to shed


How employees experience their leaders 67%

My leader gives me Autonomously

55%

I Trust my leader My leader Inspires me

47%

My leader has Empathy with me

47%

My leader gives me Constructive Feedback

44%

My leader gives me Clear Direction

43%

My leader enables me to Build Confidence

42% 0

Very Poor

75

Good

100

Very Good

be severely compromised. Companies are unaware of the true emotional temperature of the organization. Leadership may not be measurable, but the feelings that it evokes in people are. Instead of attempting to measure engagement in an aggregated way, companies must invest more into capturing the emotional impact that people experience and find ways to link this back to their leader’s attitudes and behaviors.

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Again, we look towards the research, where Dierendoncks’ research on servant leadership (2010) identified, that empowering leadership behaviors have the largest impact on an employee’s level of engagement, and

a significant effect on the performance. When these supportive and enabling behaviors are only scantly available, employees and organizations reach their full potential, neither in engagement nor in performance. Few companies systematically measure how employees are emotionally impacted by their leaders, and the tracking of leadership moments as a part of the “Moments-that-matter” approach is underdeveloped. Therefore, what may superficially look like a good Employee Engagement level, can under the surface

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light on what companies do not capture in the leader and employee relationship: • Employees feel they give more than they get from their leaders. They rate their own engagement level to be at a level of 70/100 (indexed), while their experience of their leaders is a mediocre 48. • Leadership behaviors are rated to be at a mediocre level. This particularly concerned supportive, empowering, and enabling leadership behaviors, that are essential for a high employee engagement level. (See above Figure 1).

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Poor

Average responses indexed. N: 1.647.

The opportunity: Make the Leadership Experience part of EX Through the aforemen-

Instead of attempting to measure engagement in an aggregated way, companies must invest more into capturing the emotional impact that people experience and find ways to link this back to their leader’s attitudes and behaviors may 2021 |

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tioned survey, we identified that companies have a great opportunity in front of them if they can effectively upgrade their leaders’ empowering behaviors. Employees of leaders who demonstrate empowering and enabling behaviors, report a significantly higher level of Psychological Safety, Collaboration and Engagement. This finding is relevant for how companies develop their leaders and can inform the design of development programs on empowering, supportive and enabling leadership attitudes and behaviors. (See figure 2)

Recommendations for a better EX approach

In order to establish an EX and Employee Engagement framework that has a tangible positive impact on employees, the following

Benchmarking Great vs. Poor leaders Difference between Top Quartile Leaders vs. Bottom Quartile

Potential for Psychological Safety

Potential for Team Collaboration

Potential for Employee Engagement

Giving Autonomy

+66% +105% +117% +55%

+89% +109% +103% +69%

+98% +102% +109% +84%

Giving Constructive Feedback

+51%

+64%

+98%

Enable to Build Confidence

+62%

+75%

+105%

Building Trust Having Empathy Giving Clear Direction

points should be considered: 1. Be clear on why you invest in an EX initiative. Is the objective truly to enable employees to thrive and perform, or is it an employer branding exercise? 2. Definition of “Momentsthat-matter” must be

based on employee interviews, and specifically capture the moments they experience with their leader. 3. Measure quarterly, instead of only once or twice per year. Business life is too dynamic to miss out on negative trends for several months. 4. Integrate the leadership experience measurements into leadership performance reviews and development. Use the data to enable leaders to better understand their role and impact, and support them in adapting their attitudes and behaviors.

Henrik Kofod-Hansen is a co-founder of novosensus, a human and organizational development consultancy in Singapore. 62

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Employee Experience: EX 4.0

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n just two years, i.e. 20202021, a lot is changing and course-correcting in our lives & perspectives than has in the last two decades! And we are just past halfway this 2 year period, which means there is substantial ambiguity waiting for us in 2021 & beyond. These are the times when we somewhere start to reimagine the first principles in our work and life. Some of these back to

an effective ‘culture of innovation’ in the true sense, will be better prepared for these challenges! 2. Accelerated digitalization: With the convergence of new technologies like Cloud, Mobile, Big data & AI with low code platforms is already turning successful and well-entrenched business models upside-down. Further, with the potential disruptions from 5G, Blockchain, AR/VR, 3D Printing, and Genetic Engineering, the world within 5 years can become unrecognizable! To be able to ride this ‘wave after wave’ of tech disruption, ‘an ecosystem of agile platforms’ is central to the business capabilities of Industry 4.0. 3. Millennials and Gen Z: Millennials, while being digital natives and the so-called entitled generation, will bounce back with newfound strengths of strong character, tenacity, and adaptability. They have been exposed to ‘humanity and personal challenges of a lifetime within few months. It’s this age group that is best suited to adapt and not the 45-year-old plus! Millennials will have their own yardsticks of meritocmay 2021 |

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EX in Industry 4.0 era is crucial to help leaders create & deliver business value, as well as help employees, navigate ambiguity to find purpose, meaningfulness, and fulfillment in work & life By Vaibhav Goel

basics principles, but in a new and hyper-connected tech world, demands things to be done a bit differently. But where do HR and Business Leaders even start? A future-proofing guiding framework or a set of principles is the crying need of the hour and Employee Experience has to be entrenched at the heart of it in the Industry 4.0 era. But we need to unravel the mystery of EX and its framework in a simple manner. However, even before we attempt that, we need to reset our longrange vision apparatus first for this ‘new unpredictable world’, in which many of our existing paradigms are irreversibly changing for upcoming decades. These paradigm disrupting ‘global factors’ are: 1. A new world order: From a bipolar to unipolar and now a multi-polar world transition, the realities of the globalized business world are poised for few shocks over the next decade. The evolving geopolitics, nations’ race on technology, re-drawn global supply chains, sustainable energy mix, financial world digital shifts, and possibly localized military skirmishes, would demand agility of unprecedented levels. Organizations that build

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here is one – “EX is essentially sum total of all ‘touch and feel’ moments of an employee, through which an employee might gauge the organization’s culture and purpose”. Hence, EX determines the “first touchpoints” for an employee, which might make her part of a larger mission! And in a world, where a fresher talent is as independent and confident as a Vice President, with plenty So where does EX really fit of global options to choose along with the above global from (including now work context? In fact, what is really from home!), best organizaEX, and why it is so importions want to ensure that they deliver an EX, which tant now? Well, EX is often defined as the “sum total of attracts and makes talent stick, like a talent magnet, all interactions (digital and even before a fresher joins human) that an employee comes across to do his or her their organization! And the job in an organization”. parochial view of ‘EX for This definition is allemployee retention will be encompassing and such defi- irrelevant soon, as ‘WFH’ and ‘Gig’ workforce will give nitions are not very practirise to multiple careers and cal and helpful. We need a definition that answers both, multiple jobs in the near future. In this future, talent what and why of EX, and

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racy, equality, transparency, innovation, and ‘fun’ in their workspaces and larger lives, basis their own ‘direct experiences’. A ‘Human Centered Design’ approach is the only way to look toward the future through their eyes. It will require the leaders to adopt ‘servaHumanCentered fundamentals and be ready to get challenged on daily basis!

is going to bond with organizations basis their ‘personal and direct experiences’, that too multiple times in their careers! Then how should organizations ensure a great EX with so many variables and possibilities? There is no single formula to this, and in truly agile world, the EX journey is going to be an iterative and continuous endeavor. However, a guiding framework is what the organizational leaders should identify and build a strategy around it, which might need to be re-examined and re-imagined every quarter, as we get surprised by new shocks! A guiding EX framework for Industry 4.0, in the backdrop of the three big global disruptive factors, is articulated here. Every organization can tweak it to their context, priorities, and strategies, however, each organization will have to understand the inherent ‘multi-layered human experiences’ in the EX framework. To intuitively help understand, these multi-

Then how should organizations ensure a great EX with so many variables and possibilities? There is no single formula to this, and in truly agile world, the EX journey is going to be an iterative and continuous endeavor 64

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Iceberg Analogy

Human Centered Design

Agile Platform Ecosystem

EX' Moments that Matter' - Digital Interactions generated value that last few seconds to few minutes

• Persona centric, crossfunctional workflows • Experience convergence to singlewindow & self service

• Any time, anywhere, any device, seamlessly digital • Conversational UI

• Knowledge Management crowdsourced • Enterprise Digital Dexterity

EX' Moments that Matter' - Op Model design generated value that lasts few months to quarters

• Policy & Benefits Optionality, Flexibility, and voluntary • Social Networks

• Connected Workspaces (Physical & Virtual) • Collaborative and Social Tools

• Teams of Teams - Self Forming Teams • Communities of Practice

EX' Moments that Matter' - Deep career impacts based value that lasts a lifetime

• Value added analytics and insights • Meritocratic & inclusive growth opportunities • Overcoming Biases

• Big Data, Al and analytics convergence • Product and Services lifecycle • External ecosystem partnerships & collaborations

• Servant Leadership & Open Communication with front Lines • Experiments with Fail Safe support system • Trust & Psychological safety

Easy but limited Impact

Extremely Difficult but lasting Impact

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The organizations of Industry 4.0, depend on the ‘human capital and its potential’ more than ever with the ‘creativity now underpinning the technology waves’. The best bet for such organizations is to ‘super charge’ the top talent’ and help them to leverage their potential and creativity. EX, is the most powerful lever, which can turbocharge employees’ emotions and brains or highly discharge them, all at scale and at personal levels!! The organizations which will be able to re-imagine the EX in a balanced approach on paradigm-shifting ‘global factors’ along with the ‘iceberg of multi-layered human experiences’, are going to be the ‘organizations of the future for Industry 4.0.

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layered human experiences are not easy to change are reflected against the or reimagine, as many ‘iceberg analogy’ as depicted successes of the past, above: can hold back the design The iceberg analogy helps changes and there are tradeoffs, which leaders us understand the following: need to collectively agree. 1. Above the Surface: The 3. Deep below the surface: most visible part of EX The deeply entrenched ‘Moments that Matter’, beliefs and factors give are most obvious to implement with plenty of solurise to EX ‘Moments that tions, tools, and consultMatter’ in form of subants being available but its conscious behaviors & impact is limited, someinstincts, structural flextimes its value not even ibilities, and culturelast few minutes! Neverdefining ‘psychological theless, they are important experiences’. Few design as ‘it has instant gratificaprinciples which can help tion need and effect’ and elevate EX in this ‘deep often the ‘first signs of a impact zone’ are depicted great EX’ in the organizain the framework, and tion. there are many more! 2. Right below the surface: This is really difficult Typically the operating part, but organizations models give genesis to EX that can really go deep in ‘Moments that Matter’ EX design, are going to (randomly or by design), have the best chance to which one ‘touches and create exponential value feels’ on a longer time irrespective of the ambiguity and unpredictabilframe or critical employee ity in the new world. lifecycle events. These

Culture of Innovation

Vaibhav Goel is the Vice President HR – Digital Transformation at Reliance Industries may 2021 |

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Future of work and employee experience

With many workplaces operating in more of a virtual mode currently, our assumptions about employee experience may be challenged By Richard Smith, Ph.D.

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ow do you like your job at that company?” This is a question that friends often ask each other when comparing notes about different employers. The various answers to this question often shape the reputation of an organization as a good place to work (or not). Leaders in Human Resources will hope that the answer to this question pro| may 2021

vides a resounding endorsement of the employee value proposition. The employee experience has been studied in many organizations in hopes of understanding the nature of the job, the workplace environment, and how time at work is experienced. With many workplaces operating in more of a virtual mode currently, our assumptions about employee experience may be challenged. After all, if we were to ask people how they like their work environment over the last several months, most might reply with a retort such as: “My workplace is my living room… it seems fine!” Recent trends suggest that it is time to rethink and potentially redefine how we curate the employee experience in relation to time, place, and task. Over the past year, many organizations have created new ways of working, a heightened sense of human connection, and in some cases a unique manner of interacting. People used to come to a specific place at a specific time to do specific work… while this is still the case for some jobs, our research suggests that at least 60% have some degree of flexibility – and up to 40% have total flexibility as

knowledge work dominates much of the service sector. While there are many factors, let’s look at the potential shifts of work in three dimensions: 1. Time Continuum: Specific Time -to- Any Time 2. Place Continuum: Specific Place -to- Any Place 3. Task Continuum: Specific Tasks -to- Any Tasks Time Continuum: As access and connections became ubiquitous, many knowledge workers gradually found themselves to be in “Always on” mode as technology and mobile nearly became an extension of our body. The pandemic crisis forced many managers into overdrive to manage the rapid changes, uncertainty, and issues in a business requiring immediate and all hours support. As the situation stabilizes and we look post-pandemic, we see work time making a shift to more specific times: New rules in Europe limiting the “any time” phenomenon; Leaders stopping the 24/7 responsive email culture; Firms declare no meeting times/days; Managers create no camera days; People managers want to create more sense of “flexibility” vs. “always on.” While customers will


continue to expect instant responses, organizations are now shifting on the continuum for the health and wellbeing of their employees. Rather than an overall shift, we see this as situational based on the industry, role, and culture.

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Task Continuum: For decades, manufacturing firms have been shifting from repetitive assembly line roles to team-based structures to allow for task variety, job enrichment, and a focus on quality. Professional and office roles have often been overlooked when it comes to considering task variety. Google’s effort to allow technology professionals to work on anything for 20% of their time was an innovative step. During the COVID lockdowns, those organizations

with rigid roles aligned to tasks had a more challenging time in adjusting to the rapid changes needed. Many companies are now relooking at the need for task flexibility, cross-training, and team-based structures to address the need to be more agile. Going forward, we expect to see more firms shift on the continuum: Selfmanaged team task management; Job sharing and rotation; Job enlargement; and Cross-training to create more meaning in work activities while also building a foundation for agility. As we re-calibrate the nature of work along these three dimensions, leading employers have the opportunity to re-define the employee experience to align with the new ways of working. Several areas related to employee experience emerge:

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Place Continuum: Many professionals were enabled by technology to work in a variety of locations. In many parts of the world, work from home models became a part of a more flexible work balance as laptops became standard. However, the COVID-19 responses dramatically shifted the entire world to virtual as office buildings were shuttered and lockdowns forced people to work from home. Jobs that were “impossible” to perform remotely, were suddenly “possible” as businesses re-worked processes, technologies, security, and data management to ensure business continuity. As we look toward offices reopening, many are challenging the prior assumptions about where work is performed. We expect to see many organizations making

big shifts to hybrid models: Desk/Office sharing; JIT Offices; Global in-office days; All-in Jam Sessions; Geographic flexibility with regular virtual and physical social interactions. Of course, managing the virtual and hybrid workspace requires new shifts in people management, considerations for company culture, and a reset of expectations.

• Onsite Experience – with many people working

Recent trends suggest that it is time to rethink and potentially redefine how we curate the employee experience in relation to time, place, and task may 2021 |

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role. With new modes of working, it is even more critical for managers to be trained on how they support people with an inclusive approach. When a role is more manager-dependent, it is important to consider how and where the work is performed to optimize the performance, but also create a positive employee experience.

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remotely, how important will the office facilities feature in the employee experience? Many human capital leaders are already working with facilities planners to create more common spaces if many employees will do their independent tasks from home. Re-considering a more powerful onsite experience can create positive energy toward the organization and the onsite community gatherings. • Collaboration – with employees in both onsite and off-site modes of work, how do employers ensure that the right levels of collaboration are being managed both within work teams as well as across functional areas. Recent insights over the past year have given rise to the importance of casual interactions within teams | may 2021

as well as across teams as a means to avoid conflict and improve problemsolving. It can be important to consider how collaboration is orchestrated as part of the employee experience. • Innovation Orientation – while not all roles involve high levels of creativity, many people are involved in managing unique situations that can require ambiguous or dynamic work efforts. Differentiating between those who are primarily executing tasks more repetitively compared to others who must consider creativity, can help employers address the employee experiences in our new modes of working. • Manager Interaction – in some cases, a high degree of manager support and guidance is needed due to the nature of the

Since people are experiencing work in different ways today and we are re-designing how work is performed in virtual, hybrid, and physical office modes, we must also revisit our assumptions about employee experience in these key areas. The old ways of managing employee engagement, communication, collaboration, innovation, and management are being challenged and human capital leaders are starting to refocus in these areas. As we look out to the future, how might our virtual workforce answer the question, “How do you like your job at that company?” My hope is that we will have thought about the employee experience in a multi-dimensional way to elicit a positive response on work in the future.

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


3 Ways to improve the EX in your business in 2021 We found three critical areas every organization needs to focus on to improve its EX: employee well-being, regularly listening and taking action on feedback, and manager effectiveness By Steve Bennetts

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fter a year of significant focus and investment in employee experience (EX), HR leaders and people managers cannot afford to ease up now. The global events of 2020 from the pandemic through to physical separation and social unrest - irreversibly changed the working world. But in many cases, it’s important to remember some of the changes made to the EX had a positive impact, such as working remotely and the frequency at which businesses were collecting and acting on employee feedback. In fact, globally we saw employee engagement, intent to stay, and productivity all rise in 2020 compared to 12 months previously, according to Qualtrics’ 2021 Employee Experience Trends and Perspectives on

company and in their teams if they feel like they can be their true self, do they feel valued, and if they are treated with respect. As businesses move forward, it’s critical wellbeing becomes a mainstay in EX programs - such as providing flexibility as individuals juggle the demands of home and work, giving employees freedom and trust to freely attend to personal matters, or simply taking the Next Normal reports. the time to listen and act on The challenge now is for HR to maintain this momentum individual concerns. When as teams design and improve organizations and leaders demonstrate care for their working models tailored to employees we see it reciprothe current and evolving employee expectations. It is a cated by employees through the work they deliver. challenge equally as big and However, it’s important to important as the one at the note well-being differs based outset of the pandemic. on role and family situation. Through Qualtrics research, we found three crit- For example, our research ical areas every organization found executives were more needs to focus on to improve likely to report their wellbeing favorably compared its EX: employee well-being, to individual contributors. regularly listening and As a result, it’s critical leadtaking action on feedback, ers are able to listen, underand manager effectiveness. stand, and act on individual feedback collected across the Employee well-being entire organization. In 2020 employee well-being became a core focus for EX Regularly listening and models, alongside engagetaking action on feedback ment and enablement. WellIn today’s fast-changing being is impacted by how business environments, employees rate their EX insights from the annual or across five key factors: their bi-annual employee engagesense of belonging at the may 2021 |

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ment program are not enough. Such is the pace of change, organizations need to supplement them with regular insights from across the entire employee lifecycle. However, in order to truly move the needle on EX, businesses must be taking quick, direct action on the feedback being collected. Unfortunately, while nearly every employee (93 percent) believes it is important their company listens to feedback only seven percent say their company acts on it really well. Closing this gap needs to be a key priority in 2021 because when feedback is acted on we see engagement, intent to stay, and wellbeing all rise above the average. The importance of listening and acting on feedback is further demonstrated by the fact the drivers of employee engagement shifted considerably in 2020. A desire to belong and concerns around environmental and ethical practices emerged alongside the more traditional drivers like confidence in leadership and opportunities for learning development. We expect to see another shift in engagement drivers through 2021 as businesses continue to adapt their working models for new behaviors. To overcome the challenge of collecting and acting on feedback, businesses need to rethink the ways they engage employees by using experi| may 2021

ence management (XM) platforms to modernize their listening programs. These platforms make it quick and easy for employers to collect feedback across the entire employee lifecycle, regularly track sentiment, and take targeted action to improve the services being delivered. Encouragingly, many businesses redesigned their approach to listening during the pandemic using XM - including Bangkok Life Assurance, Star Petroleum Refining Public Company Limited, and Restaurants Development Company. Having seen firsthand the value XM brings, businesses now need to make these changes permanent.

Manager effectiveness

It’s no surprise managers impact almost every aspect of EX. It’s therefore crucial they have the support and insights they need to improve the experience for their teams. In some cases managers might feel ill-equipped to be truly successful in their role - they are employees themselves, after all - meaning they need HR’s support to lead and influence. By ensuring employee feedback is easy to understand and action, HR will enable leaders to demonstrate key traits to their teams including establishing and maintaining trust, providing support, encouraging collaboration,

and enabling career development. Adopting tools like guide action planning solutions will help leaders go even further. Presenting managers with specific actions they can take to improve the EX shifts the dynamic from imposing accountability to enabling accountability. And as a result, the entire organization will benefit.

Next steps

There is no one size fits all approach to delivering a great employee experience as we continue to navigate challenges and changes caused by the pandemic. In the future, we will see some employees continue to embrace the new experiences they’ve adopted, while others will revert to their previous habits. Simultaneously, there’s more change ahead as restrictions continue to change. What’s important is to listen to what your individual people need, and most importantly act on that feedback to meet those needs. By prioritizing employee experience improvement using insights, businesses will be able to make confident and precise actions to meet the unique needs of each individual.

Steve Bennetts is the Head of Growth & Strategy - Employee Experience Solutions, Qualtrics APJ


‘Organizations need a seamless digital-first experience across the HR life cycle process’ For organizations to successfully manage the diverse, remote, and virtual workforce, they need a seamless digital-first experience across the HR life cycle process from hire to retire, says Subhankar Roy Chowdhury, Executive Director & Head HR - Asia Pacific & Japan, Lenovo By Mastufa Ahmed C OVER

ence at Lenovo, Subhankar wore various hats in the HR segment, most recently as Global Head HR Analytics, Strategy, M&A, where he built the Global HR Analytics function in Lenovo for over 63,000 people across all geographies, leveraging the use of data science in HR to solve organizational challenges. Prior to Lenovo, Subhankar held various leadership positions in HR consulting and HR generalist roles at Nokia, PwC Consulting, IBM Business Consulting, and Siemens Business Consulting in the Asia Pacific region. Here are the excerpts.

Do you think there is an increasing focus on employee experience with COVID-19 changing the whole equation of how people work? How do you see the larger EX scenario? The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped the way we work, learn and play. In just a year, the entire world experienced an accelerated digital transformation – a paradigm shift on an unprecedented level. The overall employee experience has also seen a significant change. We are witnessing traditional offices shrinking or becoming periodic collaboration hubs, and may 2021 |

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ubhankar Roy Chowdhury Executive Director HR, Lenovo Asia Pacific. Subhankar is an HR leader, speaker, and blogger with varied experiences in re-imagining leadership, culture, and talent practices to create a human work environment in the digital age. He currently heads HR for Lenovo Asia Pacific, and is responsible for developing the transformation and people strategy in Asia Pacific with a focus on building leadership, cultural transformation, and developing talent resources. With over 10 years of experi-

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home offices become day-today workspaces. It is more important now than ever to take a step back and reimagine work-life balance, engagement, and well-being. Three of our key focuses will be on: • Offering employees work location flexibility and choice: With 'work from anywhere for roles that can be done remotely, we can offer a better employee experience to help our staff navigate work-life balance through the crisis. • Employee well-being: With lives and livelihoods at risk, coupled with remote working, empathy takes center stage. Empathy, Transparency, Trust, and Communication are essential to support employees through this crisis. The pandemic has expanded empathy for work-life balance, and this view renews the opportunity | may 2021

to offer flexible working, childcare, and additional work-life options. • Increased reliance on technology: We need to guarantee that each employee performs their work efficiently and effectively. This means enhancing our IT resources, providing employees with the latest technology hardware (PC, monitors, tablets, smart displays), software (collaboration tools, messaging tools, security tools), and training to increase effectiveness while strengthening virtual experience to make sure our workforce collaborate and are engaged and enabled.

Is this a moment of opportunity to make things better to shape the workplace experience that aligns with the organization and employees' needs? What's the role of HR in this?

While progressive organizations have always focused on enhancing workplace experience, whether it be in the office or remotely, COVID-19 has accelerated the importance and pace of workplace experience. Workplace experience is an organization-wide initiative to help employees stay engaged, productive, healthy, and focused. While HR leads the design and development of workplace experience, it also partners with IT and facilitates Organization Health and Safety teams to bring that to life. In the current situation, an organization's role and HR's role have gone beyond improving employee experience within an organization to outside the organization. While the pandemic has placed a spotlight on our work, more so than ever, fundamentally, our goal remains the same – ensuring that each and every one of our employees can succeed within the company. The current pandemic has further enhanced and expanded workplace experience by implementing new work policies to support the current hybrid work model. The guidelines ensure that employees maintain a strong connection with the company, our diversity, and inclusion initiatives are paying off and that employees feel supported in their daily work.


Workplace experience has evolved and kept evolving with changing workstyle and work preference. Hence it is important to review and renew workplace practices and programs with the changing requirements.

• Building Trust: From a work perspective, managers will have to grant their team the independence and flexibility to complete their tasks at their convenience and measure their work's quality and quantity, compared to evaluating them based on the number of hours they spend at their desk. Correspondingly, companies will have to rely on and

How do you see the role of digital innovations in improving employee experience? There is no doubt that COVID-19 has accelerated digital transformation – and HR has taken the lead to organizations becoming digital internally. We have already seen companies’ rapid deployment of advanced technologies that help employees remotely connect and collaborate to learn and play securely. For organizations to successfully manage the diverse, remote and virtual workforce, they need a seamless digital-first experience across the HR life cycle process from hire to retire (Talent Acquisition, Onboard, Performance Management, and Support, Talent Management, Learning and Employee Engagement). Functionally rich, easy-to-use, and platform agonistic digital platform would help enable and drive this change. Looking at the world postpandemic, it is likely that the hybrid work model is here to stay. As such, we need to continue to innovate and evolve in expanding hybrid work models that will seamlessly integrate may 2021 |

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In the current situation, an organization's role and HR's role have gone beyond improving employee experience within an organization to outside the organization

trust management's ability to guide and motivate their remote teams effectively and ensure that work commitments and quality are not compromised.

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With more companies planning to shift to more remote/ hybrid work amid the chaos, how can leaders gear up to meet the evolving needs of employees? With the hybrid work model becoming the new normal for at least the foreseeable future, we must take a holistic approach to engage and inspire our employees. Leadership has an important role to play. As such, we are tackling this from three fronts: • Leadership focus on people and teams: As the current pandemic is a 'people crisis', the emphasis needs to be on clear, open, and transparent communication across the organization and teams. The pandemic has already highlighted the need for more empathy, flexibility, and compassion from leaders. Attention will be placed on building and fostering emotional connections, collaborations, and camaraderie between employees, thus instilling a sense of purpose and belongingness. • Leaders Communicate, Communicate and Communicate! Clear,

frequent, and inspiring communication goes a long way to build employee trust and engagement. Leveraging different forms of leadership communication (instant messaging, email, newsletter, MS Team/Zoom meetings, phone calls), leaders and managers can constantly be in touch with employees. Taking feedback through an internal communications audit is an excellent way to learn employees' needs, concerns, support needs, and create actions that align with that.

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rience to attract and retain knowledge workers becomes critical, and employee experience is the catalyst. With a large number of knowledge workers experiencing the organization strategy, processes and culture 'digitally first', the need for a clear employee experience strategy and execution becomes paramount.

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both the physical and digital world. Apart from technology, we need to review and renew employee policies, compensation, and benefits programs for the digital-first experience.

What are the triggers to this rising focus on employee experience? Is it primarily because of the upcoming war on talent? Globally, the world has more than 1 billion knowledge workers. They are essential to the future world economy, as their importance has exponentially grown over the last decade. While the pandemic forced a global shift to remote work, knowledge workers became even more important than ever before. Knowledge workers have proved instrumental to the economy, especially over the last 20 years, and are now more critical than ever as society shifts to remote work. | may 2021

Organizations are consistently pursuing knowledge workers. As per the World Economic Forum study, while the current disruption from the pandemic-induced lockdowns and economic contraction, technological adoption by companies will transform tasks, jobs, and skills by 2025. By 2025, the time spent on current tasks at work by humans and machines will be equal. A significant share of companies is also expected to make changes to locations, value chains, and workforce size due to factors beyond technology in the next five years. Employers expect that by 2025, increasingly redundant roles will decline from 15.4% of the workforce to 9% (6.4% decline), and knowledge workers will grow from 7.8% to 13.5% (5.7% growth) of the total employee base of company respondents. With the above in mind, the need for employee expe-

How can organizations measure the impact of their employee experience initiatives? Based on this, how are you devising your EX programs and ensuring the engagement of your workers? In the last decade, the ability to measure and utilize HR metrics has evolved in leaps and bounds. Today, many companies have welldefined metrics and benchmarks that guide organization people planning. What can’t be measured, cannot be managed and improved. What to measure: Employee experience across the employee life cycle. Employee experience can have diverse measurement parameters that include rationale and emotional engagement, recommending a company as a good place to work, manager support, diversity and inclusion, ease of the organizational process, work environment, culture, and many more. How to measure: Both qualitative and quantitative data gathering meth-


The need for employee experience to attract and retain knowledge workers becomes critical, and employee experience is the catalyst work to what we impact do we create. Traditional HR policies defined through working hours in the workplace do not apply anymore. Work-life balance has been replaced by work-life integration as the divisions of work and personal time have blurred. Organizations are challenged both on measuring output without the right tools and not drawing a clear line of ensuring there is no overwork. • Digital adoption: While organizations build the

best digital experience, internal digital adoption needs significant change management. Change management and organizational capability building take time and effort to build employee experience that organizations are illprepared. • Building consistent culture in a virtual world: Culture is the backbone of resilient companies. Culture building becomes challenging in remote working situations as new joiners have less opportunity to experience culture first-hand in the office and have to rely on digital cultural experiences, making the initial onboarding process more of a challenge and something that needs reworking to meet current demands. • Diversity, equity, and inclusion in the new normal: The pandemic has disproportionately affected diverse populations, and HR's role in ensuring diversity, equity, and inclusion becomes paramount. This includes educating the organization, understanding the realities of diverse experiences, and taking proactive steps to equalize the playing field. A significant reshift of diversity and inclusion approach in the digital world is needed in the new normal. may 2021 |

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What do you think will be the biggest barriers to empow-

ering employees and elevating their work experience in 2021? While the pandemic has forced organizations to accelerate digital adoption and rapid deployment of technology has helped to some extent, there are significant barriers to the change process. • Mindset of measuring workforce productivity versus work hours: As employees' work from anywhere, there is a significant shift in how many hours we

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ods are used to understand, learn and act on the data and insights related to employee experience. Qualitative feedback is captured through anecdotal feedback, manager round tables, skip level meetings, and other informal interactive employee communication channels. Quantitative feedback from organization dashboards, metrics that are tracked, surveys, and polls administered offers data-based insights. When to measure: While we have had annual engagement surveys, we have increased the frequency of measurements through pulse surveys, frequent round tables, polls, and collaborative team platforms. In some markets, we deployed AI-powered chatbots to proactively identify those who are unhappy, disengaged, or at risk of attrition daily. The insights gathered above are reviewed, discussed, and shared with stakeholders and employees to review and renew employee experience programs. While technology is a great enabler, especially during the pandemic, employee experience goes beyond technology. A lot of focus is on making people policies human-centric and manager's support beyond technology.

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Employee Experience: Provided or created?

The Hierarchy of Needs explains, we can all have widely different hopes and expectations, and even these change over time By Clinton Wingrove

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reating neologistic words and phrases is a strong skill in the HR profession. And the speed at which we are creating such new names for HR concepts, processes, and tools is accelerating just like advances in technology. Now, we are all concentrating on “Employee Experience” … as if, for decades, how employees have felt has not mattered and we have miraculously discovered this new magic | may 2021

wand that will unleash every individual’s real potential and transform our organization’s performance. Of course, Employee Experience is critically important. It has been for generations. But it is a very complex, not simple, issue. Individuals are just that – individuals, with unique combinations of aspirations, capability, and needs. As even Maslow’s simple model, The Hierarchy of Needs explains, we can all have widely different hopes and expectations, and even these change over time. So, our challenge continues to be to create working environments that can cater not merely for the average or norm but the full range of those hopes and expectations of our employees. Only then will employees have truly positive experiences. Most organizations have a percentage of employees who already have extremely positive experiences – studies have suggested an average of around 12%. But, clearly, the prevailing

culture and working environment has not worked for the other 88%. When focusing on Employee Experience, we may ignore at our peril the critically important and highly sensitive issue of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI). Specific incidents, social media, legislation, and general societal pressure have forced this to the top of most organization’s agendas. Our success in each organization at dealing with it will be key to our achievement of a truly widespread positive Employee Experience and raising that 12% figure. Organizations have worked hard to improve their diversity as part of their way of addressing Employee Experience. Many, for example, have gone well beyond addressing the issues of gender, race, and sexual orientation. Neurodiversity is even one of the newer characteristics being looked at. Unfortunately, success at achieving diversity can so

Our challenge continues to be to create working environments that can cater not merely for the average or norm but the full range of those hopes and expectations of our employees


Organizations have worked hard to improve their diversity as part of their way of addressing Employee Experience. Many, for example, have gone well beyond addressing the issues of gender, race, and sexual orientation powerful drivers of how we interact with others is our unique sets of Unconscious Preferences (often and unfortunately named, Unconscious Biases, which suggest that all of them are negative). We all have them. Our own library of them is unique and is continuously being refined by our own experiences. The mental process for creating detecting, storing, and modifying such preferences is immensely powerful and makes no judgment or evaluation of good or bad. So, we all have a rich mix. Three examples of Unconscious Bias (UB) that impact our interactions are: may 2021 |

STORY

New policies and processes can also address elements of equity and inclusion. For example, we can put in place processes that ensure that new staff is actively involved in different types of work; get to work with those diverse from themselves; break up cliches that develop; ensure good communications; etc. But, ultimately the Employee Experience is most dramatically impacted by the experiences employees have as they interact with those with whom they work. These interactions strongly impact both hearts and minds. Study after study has shown that one of the most

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often lead to a mere numbers game. I was in a very senior management meeting a while back in New York. A senior manager was presenting on how he was recruiting more females when the chairperson slammed the desk and sternly asked, “Why are you doing that? You don’t listen to the ones you already have!” Therein, lies the issue. The employee experience is much more than laws, policies, and procedures … and the statistics they lead to. Employee Experience is about how employees feel in the working environment and how they feel is unique to each one of them. If we merely bring diverse groups of new employees into our organizations without working on how they are received, the opportunities for selfexpression they have; the opportunities they can seize on to meet their needs and desires; etc, we can actually make things worse! The more we address diversity, the more important it is that we ensure equity and inclusion! While there are arguments over the value of Affirmative Action, Increasing the diversity of our workforces will, over time, lead to shifts in the Employee Experience as employees progressively mix and experience the benefits of each others’ differences. But that takes considerable time and effort.

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1. Similarity or Affinity Bias This is the preference to mix with others who are like us, who have probably had similar experiences, and may even have developed the same Unconscious Preferences. It is easier to interact with people just like us; it requires more effort to interact with those who are different. Unchecked, such unconscious preferences

than others’ input. You probably do.

2. Authority / Benevolent Bias or Association Fallacy This is the tendency to attribute greater accuracy and value to ideas, opinions, and suggestions from those we perceive to be more senior or having more authority. This can even sway our own opinions and

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STORY

The employee experience is much more than laws, policies, and procedures … and the statistics they lead to. Employee Experience is about how employees feel in the working environment and how they feel is unique to each one of them

can lead us, unknowingly, to ignore, isolate, or even reject those with whom we do not feel that same unconscious affinity. Think about how you greet people when you arrive at work or at a virtual meeting. Do you simply smile at and greet some, grunt at others, and ignore others? Most of us do! Do you listen to some people more than others, and treat their input as more valuable 78

reject those that don’t. This can lead to a reinforcement of any unconscious biases that we have. Unchecked, this unconscious preference can erode all the benefits that can come from diversity as those who disagree or have new ideas are ignored and left feeling excluded – the exact opposite of what our diversity, equity, and inclu-

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lead us to make sub-optimal decisions. Do you accept information, ideas, and instructions coming from some people, without even thinking … perhaps because of their status or experience?

3. Confirmation Bias

This is the preference to pay more attention to and attach more value to data and others that mirror our beliefs and ideas and to

sion initiatives are designed to achieve, and definitely contra any attempt to achieve a positive Employee Experience. Do you pay far more attention to input from those with whom you typically agree? Do you welcome data that matches your own beliefs and question data more that doesn’t? Probably! Do you deliberately seek out ideas from people with whom you often disagree or seek data that may challenge your thinking? Possibly not. We all have these and dozens


Let’s hope that when the goal is so close, that we know how to achieve it, that HR does not again fall for the “Let’s keep it simple” unconscious preference and fail to deliver UB training where it is needed it takes to achieve equity and inclusivity in the workplace, and so achieve the benefits of diversity. Let’s hope that when the goal is so close, that we know how to achieve it, that HR does not again fall for the “Let’s keep it simple” unconscious preference and fail to deliver UB training where it is needed. p.s., There are so many more other forms of UB, most of which have an even greater impact on operational decision making. But that’s for another article!

STORY

so to positive effect. More recently, many are arguing that such training does not work or they have seen little long-term positive effect. I wonder if they have done such rigorous analysis of any other of their training! That is the very nature of behavior training – it takes more than just the training. If we are to achieve fundamental changes in behavior, we need to ensure that there is powerful education and upskilling, plus timely and repetitive triggers to apply the knowledge and skills, and prompt and effective reinforcement to ingrain the new behaviors. And, frankly, that is just what

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of other unconscious preferences. They are part of what makes us human. Without the processes that create them and deploy them, we could not operate in our complex world. We couldn’t drive or work safely. The challenge, when attempting to create a consistently positive Employee Experience, is that we all have to learn to DETECT and INTERRUPT such unconscious preferences or biases. Until we do, we will all continue to intend to be inclusive but still, through our everyday instinctive behaviors, reveal those biases, and continue to leave many feeling ignored, isolated, or even rejected. But, strangely, this is a very contentious topic. Views have become progressively polarised – dare I say, biased? Even the former President of the United States of America believed that UB training suggests that all white managers are racist and so banned such training in any federal entity by Executive Order. By the way, that appears to have been rescinded now. Many organizations have invested in UB training their managers and staff in how to identify and then manage their responses to their unconscious preferences. Some have done

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

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Sukhmeet Singh

It’s 2021: time to take employee experience to the next level One of the biggest concerns for leaders today is driving a change agenda with a fatigued and exhausted workforce

Employe e e xpe rie nce

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mployee experience (EX) is now on the radar more than ever for companies in India and, indeed, globally. This pandemic has transformed our workplace, work, and workstyle. Many of us are still struggling with our teams – how do we keep everyone safe, included, motivated, well supported, and happy? One of the biggest concerns for leaders today is driving a change agenda with a fatigued and exhausted workforce. The majority of the employees continue to deal with

| may 2021

prolonged stress and worklife balance issues brought about by the realities of the pandemic at professional and personal levels. What will make a difference is energizing employees through a robust EX strategy that is Empathetic, Enriching, Embracing, and Efficient, according to Mercer’s Global Talent Trends 2021. A clear shift from earlier engagement concepts in physical setups and frequent person-toperson contact. Companies in India need a clear philosophy and well-

thought-out approach to deliver on the employee experience, focusing on the employee life cycle, particularly in a remote and distributed setup. Today, more and more companies are committed to deeply understanding their people in a quest to deliver a strengthened employee experience. Companies are migrating from annual surveys to pulse technology and continuous listening. Continuous feedback tools are now the most popular EX technology. Companies are going to greater lengths as 63 percent


Working on flexible working

Last year changed the game for everyone in terms of remote work. It gave organizations a great opportunity to trust unsupervised working. Indian companies in particular are comfortable with that and most believe that they have a process in place to ensure that the company culture can be retained, even as employees move to a blended working model. Flexible working is now central to the new EX strategy. The jolt to HR’s thinking on how the EX has changed how we work flexibly (71%), how we manage virtual workers (68%), and how we onboard (63%) will be one of COVID-19’s legacies. For the most part, the experiment with new ways of working flexibly has been a surpris-

For the most part, the experiment with new ways of working flexibly has been a surprising success and many Indian organizations have already begun institutionalizing flexibility for the long term, at least for some employees ing success and many Indian organizations have already begun institutionalizing flexibility for the long term, at least for some employees. But the flexible work experiment remains ongoing. What is getting lost in the conversation is how to create flexibility for all employees long-term. All jobs can flex in some way and that starts with looking at what flexibility is possible (against the five dimensions: where, when, how, what, and who), what is desirable, and what is sustainable.

Health is wealth

One thing that your team members are worried about in particular is their future

health and their health care, which makes this an important driver for team happiness and success. We have seen that trend emerge in India as companies push to re-engage employees through programs to care for their long-term health. Nearly 10 percent more organizations are thinking about a health and wellbeing strategy compared to a year ago. With access to traditional health care providers largely curtailed, use of digital health has mushroomed and services like telehealth are no longer an afterthought in employee benefits: nearly half (47%) of Indian companies plan to offer more access to remote health and benemay 2021 |

Employe e e xpe rie nce

plan to use design thinking and interactive processes to co-create new employee experiences.

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fit options, compared to only one third (36%) of their global peers. There is a recognition that both physical (47%) and mental/emotional (56%) health benefits and services need enhancement. Interestingly, Indian companies also see the manager playing a critical role in employees' mental well-being with 40 percent saying they will train managers to spot mental health issues. A plethora of virtual health initiatives have been adopted by organizations including meditation-mindfulness apps, mental wellbeing platforms, yoga/nutrition programs, etc. Indian organizations feel they can do more in the wellbeing space through improving preventive care, whether it is through better leveraging technology to nudge employees for health checks (26%), or simply monitoring the lack of pick-up of preventive care and screenings (25%).

While redesigning HR processes, companies should focus on personas and target interactions. For example, with five generations now in the workforce, employers might be surprised to learn what employees want

for the HR function, accelerating programs for flexibility and redesigning HR processes for a remote work experience are number one and number two on the HR agenda.While redesigning HR processes, companies should focus on personas and target interactions. For example, with five generations now in the workforce, employers Rethinking the HR Model might be surprised to learn So what can HR teams do to what employees want. simplify and ensure sustainUser personas have long able EX gains in flexibility been used by companies as and digital health? 56 percent an integral part of the UX of companies believe that the design process, mostly to pandemic has led to rethink- design consumer experiing HR. ences. More and more compaIn 2021, HR transformation nies are now applying UX will need to regain promimethodologies to EX. Our nence and the HR function study indicates that 1 in 4 will have to make smart companies are finding value choices about the trade-offs in creating employee persorequired for reinvention. nas, which can provide a When it comes to priorities more personal representation | may 2021

of employee needs, behaviors, and goals, and identify the differences across different employee populations. This would enable HR to become a more peoplecentered function that places a premium on exceptional personal and digital experience, with employee satisfaction as the key success metric. Target the desired employee experience for different personas as the starting point and build on end user’s needs such that the needs of people and business drivers come together. An interaction model is also the most likely approach to ensure service adoption – enabling efficiency, enrichment, and belonging.

You are not alone

An EX partner can bring EX insights, solutions, services, and lessons learned from other companies all around the world to your door, helping your organization to understand, enhance and personalize the employee experience for your team. Start by defining your success factors and then begin the journey through a wellcrafted roadmap that includes continuous employee listening, co-creation, technology play, analytics, and culture changes for a dispersed and demanding multi-generational workforce. Sukhmeet Singh is the Senior Principal Career (Talent) and M&A Consulting Leader – Mercer India


Pragya Srivastava

The new phase of women empowerment at work Multiple factors can help predict whether an organization has the right structure in place to support gender diversity

T

Women’s successes – prominent but not enough Trailblazers like Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Founder,

The N e w Workpla ce

he number of women in technology in the Indian workforce has risen by 10 percent over the last decade and women constitute around 35 percent of the workforce currently as per NASSCOM estimates. This number is higher than the 24 percent gender ratio across all industries showing the increasing participation in STEM careers by women. About 50 percent of the technology graduates in India are women, and the youth under thirty significantly contribute to gender parity. The contribution of women has been invaluable in building India’s tech ecosystem. One of the iconic images of India’s Mangalyaan mission was that of the scientists behind the achievement — a group of women, in saris with flowers in their hair, celebrating the launch.

When we move into the middle and higher management, the percentage of women starts falling drastically. However, the good news is that technology companies have recognized the value of having a woman’s perspective in senior leadership decision making Chairperson, and Managing Director of Biocon Ltd. and one of India’s few selfmade women billionaires, have made their mark in the global arena. Nivruti Rai,

country head of Intel India, has risen through the ranks of one of the world’s foremost technology companies and brings her multi-dimensional product experience to may 2021 |

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The N e w Workplace

pushing the boundaries of Indian research and development. Dr. Renu Swarup, Secretary of the Department of Biotechnology (Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India), has been crucial in setting up a pipeline of early-stage highrisk scientific development ventures in the country. Vani Kola, founder and managing director of Kalaari Capital, has pioneered the role and deployment of early-stage risk capital in the development of indigenous technologies. Unfortunately, these success stories are still just a few. When we move into the middle and higher management, the percentage of women starts falling drastically. However, the good news is that technology companies have recognized the value of having a woman’s perspective in

senior leadership decision making. With women making up half the revenuegenerating demographic, the insight at the leadership level becomes invaluable.

The barrier to reaching the top

The most common reason for women failing to pursue careers to the C-Suite level is family responsibilities. Traditionally, women have been seen as the caregivers in the family, and this expectation in almost all cases leads to women giving up promising careers. The COVID-19 pandemic has put a brake on the gender diversity ratio increase. As per a new report by the cybersecurity firm Kaspersky, 76 percent of Indian women in tech believe that the effects of COVID-19 have delayed their career advancement.

While working from home is expected to increase gender equality, the reality is that most women struggled to balance the home needs with the work needs not due to capability issues but due to the societal expectations of needing to do more at home when compared to males. Before 2020, Women in the Workplace research had consistently found that women and men leave their companies at comparable rates. However, due to the challenges created by the COVID-19 crisis, as many as two million women are considering leaving the workforce. If this happens, then all the progress gained over the last decade will be lost, and we will end up back at square one with far fewer women on the track to being future leaders.

New phase of women empowerment at work

Tackling this challenge of increasing gender diversity at the senior level is now entering a new phase. Several companies are having specifically targeted programs for developing women leaders. These programs have contributed significantly to grow the diversity ratios by over 10 percent. At Progress, under the internal “Progress for Her” initiative, mentoring and coaching of budding women leaders by senior leadership has yielded good 84

| may 2021


Women need to commit themselves first

From my experience and perspective wearing the HR lens and as a woman leader, I believe there are several challenges that women face in the male-dominated tech space, especially at leadership levels. The key to success is to make learning a part of your commitment to yourself and keep looking for new ways to grow. Technology is an especially

Tackling the challenge of increasing gender diversity at the senior level is now entering a new phase, several companies are having specifically targeted programs for developing women leaders fast-paced career. Not only will you find the domain changing quickly, but career growth also demands being proficient in each new role. Joining user groups in your industry and national societies to keep current are just a couple of ways to stay sharp. Multiple factors can help predict whether an organization has the right structure in place to support gender diversity. The degree of flexibility at the workplace, expectations to be available round the clock, enabling the workforce to fulfill their caregiving responsibilities

as a result of the pandemic, performance management principles around the new hybrid model of working, and the support systems at the workplace are some of the factors to be considered. An organization committed to gender diversity will need to continually evaluate itself on these parameters and reinvent itself as needed to harness the full force of women power.

The N e w Workpla ce

results. Diversity hiring programs, women support groups under the larger diversity umbrella, flexibility, and many other such initiatives have helped move the diversity ratio northward. Targeted programs for women who want to get back to work after taking a break is fast becoming a norm across tech companies. These programs provide upskilling and opportunities for women to assimilate back into the workforce faster and have proved to be a great talent pool enhancer. Peer coaching, experiential learning, networking workshops, leadership talk sessions, self-paced learning modules, business head metrics of women leader retention, and providing opportunities for visibility with the board and CXO staff are some of the other initiatives that are being seen in the Indian market.

Pragya Srivastava is the Senior Human Capital Manager, Progress, who oversees human capital programs and initiatives across the entire APAC region may 2021 |

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Visty Banaji

Old MacHR has a farm(ula), E-I - E-I - O! EI (Emotional Intelligence) has been the rage for well over two decades now. Is it really the cure-all it is made out to be? What cautions should guide its use?

The road less travelled

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r. MacHR had built up a roaring practice. It had only one problem. Whatever the ailment or injury, he prescribed the same test and cure: EI. The full form of the charm was Elixir Incredibilis, though it was popularly known by its new-fangled name of Emotional Intelligence. Depending on the problem at hand, Dr. MacHR administered it in different forms, of course. So, there were EI filters for preemployment testing as well as for internal progression, there were orally administered EI doses to large groups of run-of-the-mill, sandpaper-surfaced staff and then there were the individually designed, heavy-duty EI surgical implants, which were experientially or coachingly inserted into those senior executives who had all the ingredients for corporate success except affable smiles and sensitive hearts. In a delightful paper published almost a century ago, A J Clark explains | may 2021

the very human desire to have a universal cure. After critiquing "Mesmer's tub, Graham's ethereal essences, Perkins's tractors, or Hahnemann's tinctures", he writes: "dozens of similar crazes have arisen in the past and will arise in the future. These universal cures simply represent the old quest for the elixir of life in a new form, and arise to satisfy the fundamental craving of the mass of humanity for a miraculous cure for disease.

Science has nothing to do with these cults, and they are scarcely influenced by its progress; and since the type of mind that produces them and accepts them both remain constant, one finds from century to century that remarkable sameness between succeeding crazes..."1 Emotional Intelligence (EI) is certainly not as baseless or devoid of efficacy as the examples provided by Clark. It has a clear role to play in the evaluation and development of manag-


Perhaps the concept would have continued ploughing its quiet, scientific furrow but for Goleman’s blockbuster book4 on the subject in 1995. As Salovey, Mayer and Caruso, somewhat wryly, put it: "…we also helped to stimulate the writing of the best-selling book Emotional Intelligence, in which

Goleman promised that emotional intelligence rather than analytical intelligence predicts success in school, work, and home. Despite the lack of data to support some of Goleman’s claims, interest in emotional intelligence soared... Very little of this explosion of available resources on emotional intelligence represented empirically oriented scholarship."5 Other criticisms of the theoretical and research base of EI are far more trenchant. Jordan and his co-authors, for instance, conclude their

encompassing definitions of emotional intelligence. We would argue that these claims have done considerable harm to the field, because they lead many people to regard emotional intelligence as a fad and a confidence game. The evidence reviewed here supports the notion that emotional intelligence, as defined by the Mayer and Salovey model, can be an important construct. Unfortunately, the inflated claims made in some quarters have made the whole field of emotional intelligence

In the face of the critiques, perhaps the most we should venture to claim is that "the practice-driven version of El looks like a fad, whereas the sciencedriven version seems less fad-like study with: "Extravagant claims have been made in the popular press about the importance and relevance of emotional intelligence. These claims have received considerable attention in organizations, in part because emotional intelligence appears to provide a fresh approach for solving long-standing problems such as how to find and develop the best employees. The most sweeping claims about emotional intelligence have little empirical or theoretical support and are often based on fuzzy, all-

suspect in the eyes of many."6 Antonakis puts it even more strongly, writing that "… there is simply not enough evidence to use EI in industrial or education settings. As mentioned by Matthews (and others), 'We see little evidence in [EI] validation studies that would support the current use of existing EI measures for making real-life, high-stakes decisions for individuals'. Using EI tests that do not work is not only uneconomical; it is also unethical… EI cannot possibly predict leadership relational outcomes or leadmay 2021 |

The road less travelled

ers. Yet, when it is followed panaceatically, to the exclusion of most other criteria and capabilities, it rapidly shows diminishing returns of utility for the time and expense lavished on it. For a construct that went on to become the object of so many extravagant (even outlandish) claims, EI’s origins were relatively modest and scientifically grounded. While there were some brief references to the idea much earlier, Emotional Intelligence really took off after Salovey and Mayer’s seminal paper on the subject.2 They and other collaborators continued to develop the framework and their four-branch model has underpinned much of (at least the “ability-based”) research on the subject. More recently, researchers have proposed that the following three sub-dimensions would provide a more parsimonious division for EI3: • Emotion perception • Emotion understanding • Emotion regulation

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ership effectiveness if tested using strong controls… EI models are beset with problems regarding their validity..."7 In the face of these critiques, perhaps the most we should venture to claim is that "the practice-driven version of El looks like a fad, whereas the science-driven version seems less fad-like".8 It would appear that EI has sprawled out like a fast-growing city. Some neighborhoods retain their respectability and follow sound principles of behavioral science research. But there are some seamier quarters that peep into adjacent pseudo-science slums. It is important for HR practitioners to be able to distinguish one from the other and to limit just what kind of EI theory they buy into and where they choose to apply it.

ants who recommend such unidirectional improvement programs to their clients. Let us understand why such overuse happens before turning to the dangers that can accompany it. There are three reasons why some HR professionals follow the fashionable but theoretically shakiest variants of EI. To start with, the benefits EI is supposed to deliver are just too tempting to resist. Not only do fast-talking EI

to look up that word: VB] claims about EI; however, none of the claims have been backed up with hard, peerreviewed data using strong controls. For instance, Goleman, Boyatzis, and McKee recently stated9 among other things that: 'To get an idea of the practical business implications of these [EI] competencies, consider an analysis of the partners’ contributions to the profits of a large accounting firm...

purveyors promise you the moon and the sun but are happy to throw in a couple of galaxies (black holes are charged extra) if you sign the atrociously expensive contract. Here is just one example of the type of exaggerated claims made on behalf of EI for which gullible HR practitioners fall. "Goleman and his colleagues have gone on to make some sensational but farandinical [yes, even I had

Those with strength in the self-regulation competencies added a whopping 390% incremental profit… per year. By contrast, significant strengths in analytic reasoning abilities added just 50% more profit. Thus, purely cognitive abilities help – but the EI competencies help far more' "7 Now, which manically tulip-loving HR buyer could resist such a pitch? Another reason HR people are delighted to give top

Why the popularity

There are many sensible and discerning HR and learning professionals who use EI judiciously and for the appropriate intervention, just as there are several balanced and relevant EI enhancement program providers. They need not read this column further. It is meant for those in our fraternity who use EI to hammer every selection, training and leadership development problem in sight, whether it is nail-like in contour (i.e. susceptible to EI interventions) or not, as well as for those consult| may 2021


have associated with effective leadership, what does EI not include? One thing is missing from the list: actual intelligence!"10 All right. Maybe it is a bit of over-enthusiastic fashion-chasing and showing off by HR of a concept sitting on some wobbly research. Surely it can’t cause any real damage to organizations beyond the cash cost and the opportunity cost?

Dousing the fire when EI is misused by Machiavellian minds is not easy or costfree. Far safer to prevent the EI tank from being overfilled in the first place The Side-effects of EI Overdose A top flight executive whom I knew well, was gifted with every conceivable attribute that was needed to get ahead. He was an inspiring leader with vision, drive, an A-grade intellect and an inexhaustible fund of EI. He should have been an asset to any organization and, up to a point, he was. He had just one hamartic handicap: he was totally amoral about the uses to which he put his

EI. While his EI served the company well in the organization-aligned projects he undertook, it left considerable collateral damage when he used it in his efforts to beat competitors. As a result, while he made significant contributions wherever he worked, he also left a trail of crippled careers and highly politicized relationships in his wake that took years after his departure to mend. Unfortunately, this is not a rare instance. For good and ill, people with high EQ outclass their less EIstute colleagues in the games executives play. "… [E]motion-regulation knowledge is itself neither positive nor negative, but can facilitate the objectives of individuals whose interests are in doing harm as well as those interested in benefiting the greater good."11 Since checking people’s moral compass is extremely difficult during selection, screening primarily for EI in senior-level selections is like letting a hawk in among the pigeons. More seriously, when the proportion of EIstutes reaches a critical level, the entire organization become politically charged and a huge amount of energy is expended 'fixing' others rather than the problems facing the firm. It is a matter for sober reflection "that the strategic disguise of one’s own emotions and the manipulation of others’ may 2021 |

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intervention honors to EI is that they themselves are genuinely good at it. At a pinch they can even dispense with outside facilitators for cattle-class training and deliver it themselves. Clearly that’s not an advantage they command with more technical cognitive abilities or skills. Gone are the days when the head of an apprentice training school was himself an accomplished craftsman and rare are the instances of internal management development institutes being led by individuals proficient in disciplines other than HR and OD. Should we really grudge to HR people the natural desire to show off something they have in greater measure than others and to make it the frontispiece of leadership development? Another important reason the theoretically flakier “mixed-base” variants of EI are preferred to their staider “ability-based” cousins3 is that their omnibus character permits them to mop up all kinds of demands on leaders and offer EI as the one-stopshop solution. Commenting on the long list of Leadership traits and styles “mixed-base” EI is supposed to include9, Edwin Locke poses a sarcastic query: "The question one must ask here is, given that leadership based on EI allegedly encompasses such a long list of characteristics that people

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emotions for strategic ends are behaviors evident not only on Shakespeare’s stage but also in the offices and corridors where power and influence are traded."12 Dousing the fire when EI is misused by Machiavellian minds is not easy or costfree. Far safer to prevent the EI tank from being overfilled in the first place. A few years back a client CEO wanted me to meet a couple of candidates who were being considered for the company’s top research job. The two were curiously opposed in their profiles. Candidate A was laconic, reserved and could even sound abrasive if pushed beyond a point, though she had been there, done that, and knew where she would take the product development agenda of the firm if she were in charge. Candidate E was personable, charming and wonderfully

| may 2021

emollient but some of his tallest achievement claims rang hollow and demanded further verification. The CEO thought differently. He did not see himself oiling the troubled waters A’s presence would raise and thought the reference check of E’s background (by the search firm!) was adequate to confirm the candidate’s achievement boasts. A couple of years later, the CEO was generous enough to admit his error. High EI Mr. E had proved less than adequate for providing the engineering brilliance the job demanded and his people-pleasingpower could only provide temporary cover for his technical limitations. Fortunately, he did not misuse his EI to play politics and manipulate others but, at his level, not causing harm cannot be a sufficient qualification for retention. Once again, this is not an exception. Recent

research continues to raise "...serious questions regarding the ubiquity of emotional intelligence as a precursor to job performance."13 Specifically, " [t]here is a negative correlation between EQ and many of the traits that predispose individuals toward creativity and innovation."3 It has also been found that in jobs that involve relatively fewer emotional demands, "[t]he more emotionally intelligent employees were, the lower their job performance."14 On a grander scale, we have pathbreakers like Steve Jobs who have charted new paths in product or business model innovation but who were virtual strangers to EI. Practitioners who can find convoluted arguments to prove these leaders had oodles of EI (if only one scratched the surface) would have no difficulty spotting the similarities between 'Uncle Joe' Stalin and Curly Joe from the Three Stooges. People with high EI have a natural advantage in selection interviews over people who may be able to make more substantial contributions on the job. Instead of guarding against this potential pitfall we deepen the pit when we use EI as our prime filter, hoping more substantive competencies have been evaluated during the preliminary screening. There are, of course, no free lunches and the competency buffet is no exception. By overloading


Notes:

Drinking Deep

Despite the fierce critics, who find almost nothing of salvageable value in EI, my personal conviction is that the concept holds much untapped promise, provided it is used judiciously, focusing on the roles where it can deliver the greatest gains and

guarding against its dark side. Like antibiotics or steroids, EI can be a wonder cure when used wisely but considerably worse than useless when overdosed or taken for the wrong symptoms. Like those medicines, EI must be taken on the prescription of trained diagnosticians and practitioners who are thoroughly conversant with research that demonstrates both the curative powers as well as the dangers of EI. Many of the leads to such understanding are available in the reference list accompanying this column. Those who find such study tedious could do worse than follow Pope’s admonition:

A little learning is a dang'rous thing; Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring: There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, And drinking largely sobers us again.15

The road less travelled

our plates with the EI-heavy competencies, we risk crowding out the truly critical success factors for the role and eliminating rough diamonds of extraordinary value if they have unfinished and scratchy edges. It may be useful to think of EI as a lubricating oil: a few drops in the right places can work wonders for the frictionless functioning of the enterprise engine. Pouring it with abandon, however, (and even outside the lubrication points) can be not just wasteful but hugely counterproductive.

1. A J Clark, Universal Cures, Ancient And Modern, The British Medical Journal, Vol. 2, 18 October 1924. 2. P Salovey and J D Mayer, Emotional intelligence, Imagination, Cognition, and Personality, 9, 185–211, 1990. 3. D L Joseph and D A Newman, Emotional intelligence: An integrative meta-analysis and cascading model, Journal of Applied Psychology, 95, 54–78, 2010. 4. Daniel Goleman, Emotional intelligence, Bantam, 1995. 5. P Salovey, J D Mayer and D Caruso, The positive psychology of emotional intelligence, In C R Snyder and S J Lopez (Eds.), Handbook of positive psychology (pp. 159–171), Oxford University Press, 2002. 6. P J Jordan, C E Ashton-James, and N M Ashkanasy, Evaluating the Claims: Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace, In K R Murphy (Ed.), A critique of emotional intelligence: What are the problems and how can they be fixed? (pp. 189-210). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers, 2006. 7. John Antonakis, 'Emotional intelligence': What does it measure and does it matter for leadership?, In G. B. Graen (Ed). LMX leadership--Game-Changing Designs: Research-Based Tools (Vol. VII), (pp. 163-192), Information Age Publishing, 2009. 8. K R Murphy and L Sideman, The Fadification of Emotional Intelligence, In K R Murphy (Ed.), A critique of emotional intelligence: What are the problems and how can they be fixed? (p. 283–299). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers, 2006. 9. D Goleman, R Boyatzis, and A McKee, Primal leadership, HBS Press, 2002. 10. Edwin A Locke, Why Emotional Intelligence is an Invalid Concept, Journal of Organizational Behavior 26(4):425 – 431, June 2005. 11. Stéphane Côté, Katherine A DeCelles, Julie M McCarthy, Gerben A Van Kleef, and Ivona Hideg, The Jekyll and Hyde of Emotional Intelligence: EmotionRegulation Knowledge Facilitates Both Prosocial and Interpersonally Deviant Behavior, Psychological Science, 22(8) 1073-1080, 2011. 12. Martin Kilduff, Dan S Chiaburu and Jochen I. Menges, Strategic use of emotional intelligence in organizational settings: Exploring the dark side, Research in Organizational Behavior, Volume 30, Pages 129-152, 2010. 13. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic and Adam Yearsley, The Downsides of Being Very Emotionally Intelligent, Harvard Business Review, January 2017. 14. Adam Grant, The Dark Side of Emotional Intelligence, the Atlantic, January 2014. 15. Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism.

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

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Past Month's events

Knowledge + Networking

WEBINAR | Explore personality types with the new AVATAR assessment

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People Matters & Central Test 29th April 2021 Online Exploring the underlying, natural tendencies of personality, this new assessment helps us to understand more about why an individual holds certain traits. With uses ranging from onboarding to self-development, this typological personality tool enables a deeper understanding of the diverse range of similarities and differences between individuals. Emphasizing the measurement of types rather than personality traits, this assessment offers a different kind of personality evaluation. Through this webinar, we discovered the way your employees can express their personality through their preferences, work styles, communication modes, learning, or leadership. We also explored the major personality types to better reveal the interaction mode and the potential of your teams.

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Assessing Critical Thinking as Core Workplace Competency People Matters

& Pearson 23rd April 2021 Online In every industry, a major churn took place which called in for a revamped skill set. As per the World Economic Forum, Critical Thinking has emerged as a key skill required by employers in this time of rapid technological change and information bombardment. As organizations embarked on fluid teams, fluid work models, there has been a greater demand for critical thinking and creative solutions to tide over the many challenges posed by the pandemic to normal, day-to-day business. In this webcast in association with Pearson, we delved deeper into how organizations can assess this skill and what implication it has for the future of work.

LinkedIn Live: Accelerating emergence for accelerating growth in 2021 People Matters 8th April 2021 Online As the world moves out of the shadows of the pandemic in 2021, with everything disrupted, considering going back to the old ways of working is not at all a winning strategy. Our emergence strategy needs to be powered by innovation, tech, transformation, and decentralization, with HR driving the momentum of reimagining the possibilities to accelerate growth. What does this mean for HR and business leaders in 2021? What are some of the non-negotiables for accelerating emergence and continuing the pandemic-driven transformation to leverage the opportunities ahead? As a precursor to the People Matters TechHR SEA Conference 2021, we hosted an interesting & insightful LinkedIn Live on accelerating emergence for accelerating growth in 2021.


Upcoming events People Matters TechHR SEA 2021: The Great Emergence

People Matters 10th June 2021 Online People Matters EX Virtual conference is a full-day 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. Do check out the speakers who have joined so far like, Lisa Bodell, CEO, Future Think; Laura Cole, Head of HR Digital Service and Employee Experience, Standard Chartered, and more.

People Matters TechHR India 2021: The Great Emergence People Matters 4th - 6th August 2021 Online With everything disrupted, considering going back to the old ways of working is not at all a winning strategy. Companies have accelerated their business agility & speed by adopting new ways of working. People Matters TechHR 2021’s theme, The Great Emergence 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, datacentric, and business-driven than ever before, with execution being at the core. Check out our star speakers who are joining us for this great emergence: Singleton Beato, Global Chief Diversity Equity & Inclusion Officer, McCann Worldgroup; B P Bidappa, Global Vice President HR - Home Care | New Business Models, Unilever PLC; Naina Lal Kidwai, Chairman, Max Financial Services and Advent Private Equity, Former CEO of HSBC India and more. may 2021 |

Knowledge + Networking

People Matters 5th - 7th May 2021 Online With everything disrupted, considering going back to the old ways of working is not at all a winning strategy. Companies have accelerated their business agility & speed by adopting new ways of working. People Matters TechHR 2021’s theme, The Great Emergence will answer the question that stares us in the face - WHAT NEXT? It marks the beginning of reimagining the possibilities presented by our new reality. A perfect opportunity for you to network with 2500+ delegates and discuss how HR continues its quest to become more digital, data-centric, and businessdriven than ever before, with execution being at the core. We have a stellar lineup of speakers like Ellyn Shook, Chief Leadership & Human Resources Officer, Accenture; John Boudreau, Senior Research, Scientist and Professor Emeritus of Management and Organization, Marshall School of Business; Jean-Nicolas Reyt, Assistant Professor of Organizational Behaviour, McGill University and more.

People Matters EX - A Virtual Conference

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Blogosphere

>> Tom Ricks

Developing a data-driven remote work strategy? As more businesses accept the shift to long-term remote work, they will also need to develop new management strategies

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b lo g o s p he r e

t has been a year since businesses were forced to adapt to the way people were being managed overnight. According to a recent Vodafone study, more than half of businesses surveyed in Asia Pacific (APAC) accelerated their digital transformation plans due to COVID-19. While these businesses are now on track to becoming future-proof, the rush-order integration of modern technologies at a massive scale

has also led to a sudden volume of data for organizations to process. HR departments are working around the clock to ensure that the existing huge volumes of data collected are properly organized, analyzed, and processed to enable employees to make better business decisions. The question looms: what more can HR departments do to keep tabs on the ever-changing needs of the workforce and safeguard employees’ mental well-being during the pandemic? Being able to gather up-to-date, real-time data is a key starting point, but the real answer lies in how you make use of this data to trigger immediate actions.

Strengthen HR processes with data visualization

Visualizing data brings perspective, context, and comparison of information to employees at one glance. Humans are conditioned to recognize and understand trends and correlations through visualizations better than 94

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Use analytics to increase connectivity in teams

To take a step further from data visualization, HR teams can augment existing employee demographic data with other useful information such as where and how employees live and work. Through this, HR departments can gain employee insights in real-time as opposed to hours using traditional spreadsheets. Such a holistic view enables HR managers to develop policies that provide more thought-out and personalized assistance. For

It is vital for HR departments to choose the correct visualization to ensure the success of any data dashboard. This choice extends both in the use of colors and the kinds of visualizations themselves example, choosing which employees should return to the office or continue to work remotely after a natural disaster occurred. HR can then provide adequate support faster, in the form of food arrangements or office shuttles. For example, during the pandemic, L&T Technologies Services (LTTS), an engineering and research and development (R&D) services leader, shifted nearly all of its on-site and off-site employees to remote work within days of the lockdown in India. This shift was possible by leveraging analytical tools such as Qlik Sense and the support from cross-functional teams, which allowed HR teams may 2021 |

b lo g o sp he r e

through traditional spreadsheets. Such visualizations can empower HR departments to quickly reference data in a consumable format and stay apprised of HR-related issues, such as tracking the health and safety of employees in real-time. It is vital for HR departments to choose the correct visualization to ensure the success of any data dashboard. This choice extends both in the use of colors and the kinds of visualizations themselves. For instance, avoid using only one color when displaying a set of key performance indicators (KPIs). Stick to color conventions where the user instinctively knows that they are looking at recruitment, employee, or attrition data based on the color of the chart or KPI. Another common pain point is the overuse of pie charts which limits the representation of information to one data set. In contrast, a stacked bar chart can show multiple data sets across multiple variables.

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Recognize how to use your most valuable asset

b lo g o s p he r e

to closely monitor employees’ productivity through utilization reports, utilization trend analyses, and billed efforts. LTTS’s weCare application also remotely tracked the health conditions of employees and their close family members, while offering other in-built functions such as identifying work and food arrangements for employees who need to report back to the office. Besides first-party data, HR departments can also leverage data sources from credible third parties to complement the data sets they have in their dashboard. One example is the Johns Hopkins University’s Coronavirus Resource Center, a helpful central source that collects and analyzes data on COVID-19 cases, deaths, tests, hospitalizations, and vaccines to help businesses and policymakers worldwide make more informed decisions regarding the health and safety of their employees.

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Most businesses have a remote working strategy in place by now which includes technology training, access to increased productivity tools and equipment, and even planned learning and development sessions. However, these strategies need to go beyond employees’ contact tracing. On top of leveraging analytics to improve HR processes and increase workplace connectivity, businesses need to consider their most important asset: human capital. Business leaders can work closely with HR to ensure business continuity and develop a clear strategy and roadmap to build a strong corporate culture and keep the workforce motivated and engaged. Some tactics include the provision of training and upskilling programs for in-demand skills like data literacy. To support employee well-being, Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), social groups, and mental-health applications are also options for HR leaders to explore. As the pandemic continues to impact businesses in the long term, those businesses with the ability to work and thrive in a data-driven environment will have the upper hand in making better decisions for workplace transformation strategies, ultimately setting the business up for success. ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Ricks is Senior Director of Culture and Talent Systems and People Analytics at Qlik


RNI Details: Vol. XII, Issue No. 5, 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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