People Matters Magazine November 2021: Well-Being By Design

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Well-being – the new business mandate


mployee well-being has existed in the business lexicon for long – but not as a key business mandate. Companies considered well-being as side benefits, not as something that should be deliberately weaved and embedded into work. Today, the focus is on holistic well-being, with organisations employing health, safety and wellness officers like never before. Employers are under increasing pressure to factor in all aspects of working life - from making employees feel happy about their work, to devising measures to stave off the mental and | november 2021

emotional breakdown, to the quality of the work environment -- in their decisionmaking. So, what’s the big deal? There is just too much at stake in the era of The Great Resignation and extreme burnout. Leaders tell us that organisations that codify workers' well-being will be successful in tapping into the potential of their employees and achieving a healthier, happier state of work. It’s imperative for leaders to seize the moment to wholly transform the way they emotionally support their teams and hold themselves accountable for their ability to tackle employee wellness. Employee needs are evolving. Remuneration and perks aren’t enough to lure and retain the best talent. Employees want more meaningful and more holistic benefits. Companies like Google, Amazon, Salesforce, UKG, Hilton, Deloitte and EY allocate resources to their wide-ranging benefits programs to ensure their workers are cared for, recognised and engaged. So, how do you incorporate design features and amenities to promote wellbeing and how do you embed it into ‘Work By Design’? Creating a climate of positivity, a sense of purpose, and ensuring personal support, financial health, meaningful connections, and providing a founda-

tion for well-being that allows employees to flourish isn’t an easy job. Filling the gaps in the support system offered by employers need more than training, resources, and budget. And there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Organisations need to build frameworks and processes that help fill the employer-employee chasm as per their individual needs. Any HR initiative that an organisation carries out requires developing a business case and this applies to well-being programs as well. No wonder then that despite the sizable investments organizations make in well-being initiatives, many fail. HR leaders are at the forefront of innovating strategies to measure the impact of new well-being schemes because the old metrics are no longer sufficient to measure the diverse circumstances and incorporate the diverse needs. Success should be measured differently based on factors or considerations such as how established your wellbeing programs are, the tenure of employees or the business challenges your company is facing. Today, where competition for talent is intense, culture, retention and engagement rank high on the priority list. Running these programs should also be a collaborative effort. This issue delves deep into

and Global Head of HR at CIGNEX Datamatics; and Fara Siddiqi, Group Chief Human Resources Officer of Aster DM Healthcare, and more. People Matters BeNext, our cohort-based certification program, launches four new courses. HR Business Partner in the New World of Work (November 08 - December 10); Diversity and Inclusion: Overcoming Unconscious Bias (November 15 - December 17); Digital Transformation and Leading Change ( November 29 - January 16); Design Thinking & Agile for HR Teams (November 22 - December 24). For enrollment, you can reach out to sumali. BeNext’s first year has been a tremendous eyeopener on how community and learning are so interconnected. Now, we are extending People Matters BeNext virtual learning programs to our leaders in Spanish-speaking countries to make the platform more diverse, inclusive, and community-driven. As always, we would be happy to hear your views, comments, and suggestions regarding our stories.



From the Editor’s Desk

what are you trying to say?!


the new well-being mandate and advocates that this all-important dimension be integrated by human-centric design at the workplace. For Big Interview, we have Jeff Schwartz, Senior Adviser, Future of Work, Deloitte Consulting as well as VP - Insights and Impact, Gloat, who shares sharp insights on the new world of work and why leaders should take advantage of the biggest reframing moment for careers and work in our lifetime. Jeff also talks about his book - Work Disrupted: Opportunity, Resilience, and Growth in the Accelerated Future of Work. For Special Interview, we have Saurabh Govil, President and Chief Human Resources Officer, Wipro. He talks about the trends that are transforming the IT industry and how the pandemic offered us an opportunity to reimagine work, workforce and workplace and build an inclusive world of work. We have special feature stories on the evolution of the corporate wellness industry and measuring the 'impact' of well-being programs. We have special columns by Jim Harter, Chief Scientist for Gallup; John Gaunt, Managing Director and Chief Human Resources Officer at Synechron; Ankita Singh, Senior Vice President

done :)!

Happy Reading!

Esther Martinez Hernandez Editor-in-Chief follow

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november 2021 |



november 2021 volume xii issue 11


The evolution of corporate wellness industry through the pandemic

By Mint Kang


Measuring and delivering 'impact' of well-being programs

By Asmaani Kumar


The art and science of creating a climate for well-being

By Richard R. Smith, PhD, Professor at Johns Hopkins University where he also serves as Vice Dean, Education and Partnerships at the Carey Business School cover story




Sahil Mathur, CHRO, InMobi Group By Mastufa Ahmed


The evolving employee benefits landscape

By Rachel Ranosa

Exploring holistic wellness by design

43 By John Gaunt, Managing Director and Synechron’s Chief Human Resources Officer 45

Well-being initiatives that come from the CEO’s office work best

Dr Jim Harter, Chief Scientist for Gallup's workplace management and well-being practices


Esther Martinez Hernandez Editor & New Product Content Strategist (Global)

Mastufa Ahmed

Marta Martinez

Editor & New Product Content Strategist

Shweta Modgil Senior Editor

Rachel Ranosa Features Writer

Mint Kang

Senior Manager - Research and Content Strategy - APAC

Jerry Moses

Senior Manager - Research & Content Strategist - APAC

Anushree Sharma

Manager - design, photography, and production


A critical moment for leaders to make conscious efforts to tackle employee ‘burnout’


we make things happen

By Dr Ankita Singh, Senior Vice President and Global Head of HR at CIGNEX Datamatics

Reimagining employee well-being

64 By Fara Siddiqi, Group Chief Human Resources Officer of Aster DM Healthcare


Digital Head

Prakash Shahi Design & Production

Shinto Kallattu

Senior Manager - Global Sales & Partnerships

Saloni Gulati +91 (124) 4148102

Assistant Manager - Content Projects & APAC Community Lead


Neelanjana Mazumdar

Content Manager and Lead - D&I

Bhavna Sarin

Senior Associates - Content

Sudeshna Mitra Asmaani Kumar

| november 2021

Well, we are being forced to attend to well-being!

By Clinton Wingrove, Principal Consultant, Clinton HR Ltd

Assistant Manager - Content - APAC

Drishti Pant

By default, things happen; by design,

Sumali Das Purkyastha Published by

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responsibility for consequences arising from errors or omissions in the information provided. Reproduction in any manner without prior permission from the publisher is prohibited.

Note to the readers The views expressed in articles are those of the authors and do not reflect the views of People Matters. Although all efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the content, neither the editors nor the publisher can take

This issue of People matters contains 93 pages including cover


big interview

special interview


Take advantage of the biggest reframing moment for careers and work in our lifetime

Leaders who incorporate ‘resilience’ as a design element will experience greater success

Jeff Schwartz, Senior

Saurabh Govil, President and

Adviser , Future of Work, Deloitte Consulting; VP - Insights and Impact, Gloat By Ester Martinez

Chief Human Resources Officer, Wipro By Mastufa Ahmed

20 O r g a n i s a t i o n a l A g i l i t y

How to navigate the winds of change with agility

By Ben Breen, Managing Director, Asia Pacific, Head of Global Construction at Project Management Institute 31 L e a r n i n g & D e v e l o p m e n t

The hybrid work and its implications for L&D professionals


By Marc Remond, Vice President of Meeting and Learning Experiences, Barco APAC 34 D & I

Recognising the role of men in driving gender parity

Lisa Annese, Chief Executive Officer of Diversity Council Australia By Bhavna Sarin 68 H R S t r a t e g y

How ‘The Nutcracker’ by Hindustan Unilever is building the next generation of HR

By Anushree Sharma 73 I n t e r v i e w

Keeping employees happy amid a changing industry

Susan Edwards, Global Vice President & Chief Human Resource Officer of Sealed Air By Mint Kang

78 H R S t r a t e g y

The CHRO must earn her stable seat at the table

By Dr. Rita McGrath, Professor at Columbia Business School and founder of Valize & Dr. M Muneer, Co-Founder and Chief Evangelist at the non-profit Medici Institute

82 W o r k p l a c e D e s i g n

Organisations should follow an ‘Employee First’ philosophy in everything they do and workplace design is no different

Sheetal Sandhu, ICRA’s Group CHRO By Shweta Modgil 90 Th e r o a d l e s s t r a v e l l e d


02 From the Editor’s Desk 06 Letters of the month 08 Quick Reads 13 Rapid Fire 96 Knowledge + Networking 98 Blogosphere

The perils of pressured positivity

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

Featured In this issue Jeff Schwartz Dr. Jim Harter Katrina Symons Lisa Annese

Sahil Mathur Saurabh Govil Sheetal Sandhu Susan Edwards

CONTRIBUTORS to this issue Dr. Ankita Singh Ben Breen Clinton Wingrove Fara Siddiqi John Gaunt Dr. M Muneer

Mainak Maheshwari Marc Remond Richard Smith Dr. Rita McGrath Tausifur Rahman Visty Banaji

november 2021 |


Letters of the month

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Emotional intelligence for individual success and a culture of trust

It's been observed that organisations generally place a premium on hard, technical skills, and soft skills, which are difficult to quantify and measure, often get the short shrift. So, it was a revelation of sorts to read that soft skills are six times more impactful than technical knowledge when it comes to determining success at work. At a time when the pandemic has upended lives and livelihoods, fuelling deep anxieties, how well we marshal our emotional intelligence to connect and empathise with colleagues will not only guarantee individual success, but also build a culture of trust and positivity, eventually leading to economic benefits.

An expectation that’s counterintuitive

The interview with US-based tech company Citrix’s ANZ head Martin Creighan, where he - Hariharan Rao insightfully decodes Gen Z and their expectations as more of them join the workforce, made for It’s imperative to stay on top of the skills game a fascinating read. One couldn’t Andreas Schleicher's statement ing up the workforce. An educated agree more with Martin’s views that skills have become the 'global and skilled employee not only that organisations ought to currency' of 21-st century econoearns more but can also exercise consider ways to meet the shift in mies is both striking and timely. political agency with greater conemployee expectations, and this History has shown that econofidence. The pandemic has taught becomes more pertinent in the mies and organisations that rely us organisations, governments, case of Gen Z, who are expected on quick-fix solutions don’t stay and individuals must keep track to power companies and econocompetitive in the long run. In of the evolving job markets and mies for decades to come. But order for them to grow consistthe skills in demand and stay prewhat was counterintuitive to ently, they ought to invest in pared to adapt quickly. read was that Gen Z were lookstructural elements such as skill- - David Ross ing for career stability. Surely, the uncertainties unleashed by the pandemic are to be held responsiOffice is here to stay, but so will remote work ble for this attitude, but at a time IWG’s Damien Sheehan’s views on the future of the when the gig economy is widenworkplace were illuminating. Although the interview ing its sprawl, it’s surprising that spotlighted the new ways of working in Australia, I am sure they these youngsters should look for would hold true for most parts of the globe. Hybrid is no doubt career stability. the way to go, as the pandemic accelerated a change that was - Vinay Agarwal already underway in the world of work, but it’s too early to write off office as we know it. Working in an office environment has many advantages. As an IWG research bears out, about 60% of Australian workers feel working in an office set-up is better for their mental health than working only remotely. - Shaun Hollock


october 2021 issue

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Interact with People Matters

Escaping the Culturechanguenza Vulgaris

- Anjali Batra

The three core shifts as we reimagine the future of work

I agree with Sarah on the three core shifts - mindset shift in when and where work is done; providing access to the right tools; and maximizing personal development, wellness, and inclusion. However, the most vulnerable of these three continues to be maximizing personal development, wellness, and inclusion, which is often dependent on the availability of bandwidth and budgets. The real impact of wellness and inclusion efforts continue to be threatened by variable factors, in addition to evolving employee preferences. - Anjali Batra

Give your employees confidence

Some of the interviews, particularly those of Unilever’s Tim Munden and HSBC’s David Thomas, gave us a peek into the future of work, workplace, workforce, and learning. They envision an ‘agile workforce’, one that’s ready and equipped to work cross-functionally, depending on organisational needs for specific skills. While a hybrid workplace is here to stay, it’s critical for leaders to understand and respect the divide between the professional and personal lives of their employees to prevent burnout. Also, it’s good to enable learning and upskilling for employees, but what’s perhaps more important for their psychological well-being is the confidence that organisations won’t retrench them at the first signs of a crisis, as happened during the initial waves of the pandemic. - Chu Hua

Looking for culture beyond campaigns

As organisations hop onto the social media pitch to catch the attention of young talent. However, with the shift in what the workforce looks for in a potential employer, the social media campaigns around culture are slowly becoming obsolete. How organisations deliver on their promises will be far more crucial than what they project as transparency and facts gain importance in an otherwise rose-tinted culture lens. - Jaswant Kaur

Xpheno @Xpheno "Over the last one and a half years, the way tech organizations have run business operations has undergone a massive transformation.", says @debjani_ghosh_ , President, @nasscom in conversation with @ShwetaMod at @PeopleMatters2 Click… to know more #Job HRCurator @HRCurator Organisations need to master strategic thinking on capability building: Peter Cheese… @PeopleMatters2 @Cheese_Peter #HR #HCM #HRM #FutureofHR #SmarterHR Trianz @trianz Leaders, not tech, would be key to managing work during a pandemic – 2.0. In People Matters, Laura Ferracane says we’re smarter this time around and offers three solutions for getting to the future workplace. Read more - @PeopleMatters2

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'Never trash the existing culture and deal severely with over-eager transforming crusaders who do so.' An important reminder in today’s times. Often as talent professionals, we tend to rejig the entire culture. As refreshing as new can be, it is important to put a leash on the process. Not everything always needs to change from scratch. And how do you identify what needs to be changed? Talk to people! Nothing can be more effective. Only when you talk to your workforce, your team members, your leaders, only then will you know what cultural aspects need a revamp and what aspects need a mere conversation and shift in outlook and approach.

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

Lotus Solutions LLC @LotusSLLC "Growing evidence connects diverse #leadership and workforces with positive business performance." Read #Diversity Strategies for the Technology Sector at buff. ly/3Blz2s8 via @PeopleMatters2. 3BL Media News @3BLNews .@Keysight’s Ingrid Estrada shares some #diversity strategies for the technology sector, examining the connection between diversity and business results: via @PeopleMatters2 David Green @david_green_uk Unilever’s Chief Learning Officer on the key to addressing the skills gap… Feat @TimMunden1 @Unilever via @PeopleMatters2 #Learning #HR #WorkforcePlanning #FutureOfWork follow

M > @PeopleMatters2


november 2021 |


HR Technology

Microsoft acquires OKR based software services provider

Microsoft has announced the acquisition of, a software service that helps companies measure their progress against Objectives and Key Results, also known as OKRS, a common way that enables the management to measure both individual and business progress. Microsoft plans to add Ally to its family of employee experience products called Viva. While the software giant declined to share the price of the transaction, PitchBook data indicates that Ally last raised capital at a $345m post-money valuation. That amount was set when the company booked $50m earlier this year – for a total of $76m raised.

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LinkedIn is closing its China platform, citing restrictions on social media HR software startup Personio raises €233.4 MN in a Series E Funding

Munich-based HR software startup Personio has raised a Series E funding of €233.4 MN, valuing the company at €5.45 BN. The Series E funding has added to significant reserves from Personio’s last funding round in January 2021, bringing the total capital raised to over €432 MN. The funding round was led by Greenoaks Capital Partners, with participation from Altimeter Capital and Alkeon.With the latest funding, Personio also announced a software category called People Workflow Automation, which would transform manual and fragmented people processes into automated workflows that span across the entire organisation. 8

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LinkedIn announced on 14 October that it will be shutting down its localised China site, cn.linkedin. com, by the end of 2021. It won't be pulling out of the Chinese market completely - the platform will be replaced by a new app, InJobs, which the announcement on the LinkedIn blog describes as ‘a new, standalone jobs application for China. InJobs will not include a social feed or the ability to share posts or articles’. LinkedIn in China currently serves not only as a job search platform but also as a channel for Chinese companies to find foreign business opportunities.

HR tech firm Hibob raises $150m, enters unicorn club

Tel Aviv-based HR tech startup Hibob has closed a $150m Series C round, putting its valuation at $1.65b following triple-digit year-over-year growth. This round brings the company’s total investment to $274 million since Hibob was founded in late 2015. Hibob plans to use the money raised to drive continued global expansion and develop innovative work tech modules that are designed to support customers’ growth. This latest round of funding allows the company, which works with VaynerMedia, Happy Socks, and Fiverr among others, to meet the needs of a market that is worth tens of billions of dollars – midsize businesses.


Facebook is hiring 10,000 people to build the 'metaverse'

Facebook announced on 17 October that it plans to actualise the metaverse - and it's creating 10,000 tech jobs in the European Union over the next five years to get started on the project. Most of these will be highly specialised engineers. Although Facebook hasn't yet gone into detail about what those jobs may entail, the current AR/VR job

Compensation & Benefits

Here's how Singapore employers are supporting workforce well-being: Survey listings on its website include work such as high fidelity face reconstruction for creating virtual humans, split rendering, dimensional engineering, machine learning for motion sensing, and others.

Two-thirds of employers in Singapore are prioritising integrating employee well-being into their benefits package, according to a recent study by Willis Towers Watson. They're doing it to address stress and burnout: where physical well-being might once have q u i c k

Employee Experience

Jobless rate rises after lockdowns in Australia: Is recovery in sight?

Australia's jobless rate rose for a second month in September after a surge in COVID-19 Delta variant cases prompted businesses to close shop temporarily and cut jobs in order to stay afloat. Unemployment hit 4.6% as the country lost 138,000 jobs in September. The figure is up from 4.5% when it slashed 146,100 jobs in August, data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) showed. Meanwhile, the participation rate also dropped to 64.5%, with a total of 330,000 workers stepping out of the labour force. Despite the overall size of the workforce shrinking, the total number of hours worked in all jobs grew by 15 million hours last month.

A report by the Climate Council indicates that climate inaction by the Australian Government is hurting households and businesses, and spells missed economic opportunities at a rising cost. The trend began when the European Union announced a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) in July 2021. Further, if South Korea, China and the Group of 7 follow suit, New South Wales will be immensely affected due to the dominance of targeted exports – especially coal. This would lead to a projected loss of around 20,000 jobs and more than $5bn in Gross State Product.

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Climate concerns put 20,000 jobs at risk in New South Wales

been the focus, 69% are now making their workforce's emotional well-being their top priority over the next two years, followed by physical well-being (59%) and social well-being (45%). Data shows that the emphasis on emotional well-being is driven partly by the pandemic – the 2021 Global Benefit Trends Survey found earlier this year that 66% of employers across the Asia Pacific say that pandemic-exacerbated stress, burnout, and mental health issues are a key workforce challenge. november 2021 |


newsmaker of the month

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The global race for sustainable businesses



here is a looming business challenge and opportunity that many global leaders are now focused on – building sustainable business models that will not just enhance business productivity using clean energy, but one that would be instrumental in saving the planet. It’s an employer branding message that is a no-brainer for most businesses. Between late October and mid-November 2021, the COP 26, the UN Climate Change Conference will bring parties together to accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention

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on Climate Change. And it will cover a range of mitigation goals that include: accelerating the phase-out of coal, curtailing deforestation, speeding up the switch to electric vehicles, encouraging investment in renewables. Other goals include adaptation, finance and collaboration. While the UN framework is aligned to governments, businesses globally are also taking on a stronger role. IT giant Microsoft pledged to become carbon negative by 2030. Apple noted that its supply chain and products will be carbon neutral by 2030. Google has committed to be powered exclusively by renewable energy by 2030.

It also claims to have already wiped out its carbon footprint by offsetting emissions. Over 100 other multinational corporations have signed up to The Climate Pledge, a public commitment to drastically reduce carbon emissions and achieve net-zero by 2040. Writing in the New York Times, Peter Eavis and Clifford Krauss point to several difficulties that many big businesses are likely to face – ‘many of them have not set targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Others have weak goals, they said’. The issue is complicated for most businesses that run their operations across global supply chains that they may not control. When ambitious business targets are added to the mix, it is still unclear how many businesses are on track to achieve their goals. With rising global temperatures, the past year has witnessed a range of natural calamities – including forest fires, and unexplained abrupt rise or fall in temperatures increased flooding – all of which threaten economies. There is a need for a cohesive approach and strategy to tackle climate change. How far businesses are ready remains to be seen.

Johnson Controls appoints Marlon Sullivan as CHRO Johnson Controls announced on 1 October that Marlon Sullivan had been appointed Chief Human Resources Officer with immediate effect, taking over from Lynn Minella who had announced her retirement earlier this year at age 63. Minella will stay on through the end of 2021 and work with Sullivan on the handover and transition.

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Adobe names Dan Durn new Chief Financial Officer Adobe announced that Dan Durn has been appointed Chief Financial Officer with effect on 18 October 2021. He will take over from John Murphy, whose retirement had been announced earlier in the year. Durn will oversee all of Adobe's financial functions, including financial planning and analysis, business operations and pricing, and investor relations. He will report directly to Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen. Durn has two decades of experience in the technology industry and has served as CFO of three different semiconductor companies: GlobalFoundries, Freescale Semiconductor, and NXP Semiconductors after that firm acquired Freescale.

Skillsoft to accelerate talent transformation with Kristi Hummel as Chief People Officer HR industry veteran Kristi Hummel is now Chief People Officer of corporate digital learning platform Skillsoft. She brings with her over 25 years of people leadership experience in the technology industry and hopes to contribute to talent transformation in the L&D space. 'Kristi will accelerate our efforts to attract, retain and develop the best talent in the industry and advance our culture of leadership and learning,' said Skillsoft CEO Jeffrey Tarr.

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IKEA CEO appointed new Chair of better business practices collective The B Team The B Team, a global business and civil society collective established in 2013 to drive a better vision for how business can benefit the broader world, announced last week that Jesper Brodin, Chief Executive Officer of Ingka Group (IKEA) has been appointed Chair. He succeeds Unilever CEO Paul Polman, who has been Chair since 2018. Brodin has been CEO of IKEA since 2017, and directs the global home services chain's strategy to invest in sustainable business methods, improve social wellbeing in its operating markets, and raise diversity across all levels of its internal operations.

Hypersign hires former Goldman Sachs VP Michael Swan as Chief Strategy Officer Hypersign has announced the appointment of former Goldman Sachs Vice President Michael Swan as its Chief Strategy Officer. A specialist in the incubation, launch & commercialization of crypto projects, Michael holds multiple leadership roles with Unido.US ($UDO), Flourishing. AI ($AI), Hypermine and runs a Venture Capital firm out of Australia, called Tokenomik Inc. His global connections and expertise in US and Australia crypto markets will bode well with Hypersign, which is preparing to expand its horizons in the global market.

Circles.Life appoints Stephanie Nash as Chief People Officer Digital telco firm Circles.Life has enlisted Fortune 500 technology veteran Stephanie Nash for the newly created role of Chief People Officer to support the firm's ongoing hypergrowth and international expansion. The company earlier announced plans to step up hiring in Singapore's tech sector, as it looks to expand in the global markets. In her new role as CPO, Stephanie Nash will focus on steering Circles.Life’s global talent and culture strategy to help the company achieve ambitious growth targets. november 2021 |


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HONO appoints Georgie Antony as Director, South East Asia HONO, an HR automation company, has appointed Georgie Antony as Director, South East Asia. Antony will be based out of Singapore and will lead the company’s operations and expansion in the region. He will also drive the technology-led growth of AI-enabled HRM solutions and services. His joining is a part of HONO’s redefined strategy of expansion and strengthening the consumer experience in the SEA region. Leadership shakeup at Citrix: Bob Calderoni is interim CEO yet again Citrix Systems announced that David Henshall has stepped down as CEO, President, and member of the Board of Directors. Bob Calderoni, Chairman of the Board, has taken over as interim CEO and President with immediate effect. This will be Calderoni's second stint as Citrix's interim CEO. He previously held the role for several months between 2015-2016 after Mark Templeton retired. He has been on Citrix's board since 2014. P&G names Sundar Raman as global CEO American packaged goods company Procter & Gamble has announced the appointment of Sundar Raman as global CEO of the organisation. He will be leading the fabric and home care division which includes iconic brands like Ariel, Tide, Ambipur, and Downy. In this role, Sundar is responsible for delivering top line and bottom line growth through innovation (R&D), a synchronised E2E supply chain, brand-building, and sales. Jyoti Deshpande joins Viacom18 as CEO Viacom18 has appointed Jyoti Deshpande as CEO. In her new assignment, she will help bring 12

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synergies across all of Reliance’s media interests and investments and further equip the company to drive significant growth opportunities as the industry embraces digital transformation. After working with Reliance for three years, Jyoti will now spearhead Viacom18's growth journey. Kia India elevates Tae-Jin Park as MD and CEO Kia India (KIN) announced that Tae-Jin Park, Executive Director and Chief Sales & Business Strategy Officer (CSBO) will assume the role of Managing Director and CEO, Kia India, effective on 4th October 2021. Park has been associated with Kia India since January 2020. Park will succeed Kookhyun Shim, the current MD & CEO of Kia India, who played a crucial role in introducing the Kia brand in India. Amitabh Chaudhry reappointed Axis Bank CEO The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) approved the re-appointment of Amitabh Chaudhry as Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of private lender Axis Bank for a period of three years. The extended three-year term will be effective from January 1, 2022, as per a regulatory filing by the bank to the stock exchanges. Amitabh had taken charge as Axis Bank’s new MD and CEO in January 2019 after outgoing MD and CEO Shikha Sharma retired, effective December 31, 2018. Suresh Bose joins Jindal Stainless as CHRO Jindal Stainless has appointed Suresh Bose as its Chief Human Resources Officer. As the leader of HR functions, Bose will be responsible for driving people strategy, workplace culture, talent management and future growth. The company’s decision to hire Bose comes at a time when expansion plans have been kicked off.

ten Questions



Katrina Symons

Head of Human Resources, Future of Work, Asia Pacific, Johnson & Johnson By Neelanjana Mazumdar



Best advice you received from any leader during this uncertainty?

Your advice for aspiring HR professionals?

To quote Abraham Lincoln ‘the best way to predict the future is to create it’… know who you are, what your purpose is and make it happen



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

Michael Bunting for his teaching on mindful leadership: ‘Mindful leaders can do far more than boosting the bottom line—they can make the world a much better place’


How do you strike work-life balance? I refer to work-life integration, achieved through approaching each day with purpose as my anchor, and having defined being at my best through optimizing my body, mind, and environment


Do you think the role of HR leaders is changing?

Absolutely, we are commercial leaders and our role has shifted to one of creating value through driving and accelerating business outcomes

What's the biggest challenge to delivering a great employee experience?

Our opportunities lie in macroeconomic developments, advancing innovations in healthcare, and evolving business practices


What's your learning mantra?

Learn something new every day


One question you ask in every interview?

What role have you loved the most and why?

I will reframe it as the biggest opportunity to deliver a great employee experience, which is to focus on optimizing human potential through a human centered experience. As an organisation this is a way of being that approaches every question, every situation, every decision from a human angle first

r a p i d - f i r e

I find Winston Churchill’s ‘never let a good crisis go to waste’ simple yet profound advice


Biggest challenges for your industry to solve in 2021?

Our opportunities lie in macroeconomic developments, advancing innovations in healthcare, and evolving business practices


The biggest lesson that you have learned from this pandemic?

Life and time are precious, be accountable to live your best self november 2021 |




Take advantage of the biggest reframing moment for careers and work in our lifetime: Jeff Schwartz


We need to ensure our employees do things they uniquely do as humans and allow machines to do work that machines do well, says the future of work leader, in an exclusive interaction with us By Ester Martinez


eff Schwartz is Vice President of Insights and Impact at Gloat - an internal talent marketplace platform that helps enterprises democratize career development, unlock skills, and futureproof their workforces. Jeff is also the founding partner of Deloitte Consulting's U.S. Future of Work practice and has been the editor of its Global Human Capital Trends report since 2011. He has led research on the evolution of work, workforces, and workplace practices and advised clients around the world on workforce transformation. A global consultant, Jeff has lived and worked in the United States, India, Russia, | november 2021

Belgium, Kenya, and Israel. An alumnus of the Yale School of Management and Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, Jeff currently resides in New York City. Here are the excerpts of the interview.

Can you please tell us about your book - Work Disrupted: Opportunity, Resilience, and Growth in the Accelerated Future of Work? I had the privilege of having led the future of work practice at Deloitte Consulting from 2016 to 2021. We saw the world really unfolding in front of us. When I was finishing the book in the spring of 2020,

we were ready to send it to the publisher. My editors and co-authors pushed me to put the book Work Disrupted in the context of COVID-19. It’s not about work ‘accelerated’ because we have been accelerating work based around technology since the early 1960s (enter Moore’s law). As Albert Einstein said, you can’t use an old map to explore the new world. The last one and a half years saw something significant. The way work, workforces and workplaces have been disrupted, we have been challenged like never before to shift our thinking. The future of work accelerated by COVID19 created an urgent need for new maps, new mind-


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sets and new strategies, and, most importantly, a trusted guide to help us navigate this journey. Today, we, the HR and talent leaders, are in a situation trying to figure out what these maps are. The 20th-century models of work have changed. Let me quote a statement by Anne-Marie Slaughter, President and CEO of a think-tank based in the US, which says 'the coronavirus and its economic and social aftermath is like a time machine to the future. Things that took five to ten years are taking five to ten weeks and, in some cases, five days.' The disruption and the subsequent shifts that resulted are at the core of this book. Work Disrupted explores how work, workforces and workplaces have changed and what they mean for workers and organisations and their implications for leadership and what we can do about it as individu| november 2021

als and as business leaders and as a society.

You are one of the top global leaders who are very passionate about the ‘future of work’. Can you declutter the noise around the future of work? The future of work or work in the 21st century is about changing work, workforce and workplaces. One way to think about it is: How do you frame work today versus how you framed it 20 years ago? The two big dimensions of work that are transforming are our shifting focus from efficiency and productivity to work that not only focuses on output but also doing new things with impact. Productivity today is defined as more of the same output with less human input. We also need new outcomes, new innovation and new services to be able to create new impact.

So, what is important is how we look at work, not just from the cost and efficiency perspective but also from innovation, growth, impact and meaning perspectives. The other part of work that is dramatically changing is how humans and machines work together. What is important is how we put humans and machines together to augment the work we do. Work is changing from outputs to outcomes and from jobs to superjobs (where employees can do more work emphasizing their uniquely human capabilities). Traditionally, the workforce used to be focused entirely on our employees. Today, an average of two-thirds of the workforces are employees while consultants, contractors or gig workers are also part of the larger ecosystem.

So, you talked about superjobs and superteams - people and intelligent machines working together. Most of these technologies did exist in pre-pandemic times. It’s just that COVID19 brought forth the acceleration as you mentioned. How do you see this techenabled and peopleled movement coming together? Before COVID-19, the top question around the future of work was the relationship between technology and workers. Since the

pandemic, it’s about the new mode of work - hybrid. Our job and work will continue to change and we will work with smart machines and robots. We need to ensure our employees do things they uniquely do as humans and allow machines to do work that machines do well. What is interesting is how we enable humans and machines to work together to create the best outputs we need.

a communal, collaborative and social space.


You talked about the evolution of the preferences of workers. Employees are finding it difficult to balance work and life, leading to burnout and stress. In fact, one of the trends Deloitte 2021 Report talks about is the integration of well-being into work, not as a set of side benefits, but in a deliberate way that is integrated into work. What’s your take on well-being which is different from the pre-pandemic times? We all have been facing three crises simultaneously – a healthcare crisis, an economic crisis, and a social crisis. While we were doing research for the Deloitte 2021 Global Human Capital Trends report, we realized companies considered wellbeing as side benefits. Some companies offer employee benefits like time off, on-site gyms, allowance to buy physical equipment, etc. COVID-19 forced us to focus on the intersection of our personal and professional lives. Well-being has moved from being a physicaloffice safety issue over the past few decades, to physical, emotional, mental and financial well-being. The other aspect - in addition to the overall well-being, is that employees are looking for cultural and value alignment as well. They want to november 2021 |


ent as we thought-- but our personal and work lives are intertwined. Companies are working to figure out the best combinations of hybrid and office. Workplaces used to have a significant bearing on the type of work we did. This has changed. Now, we know we can stay productive while working virtually. Companies that announced their return-to-work policy are tweaking them because we are learning together You talked about hybrid what employees want and work and today many organ- how we can give our best to isations are planning to business. return to work or workplace. The crisis has also valiHow do we define the interdated the fact that what we connections between work, used to do in the office cubiworkforce, and workplace cle can be done from home. as we try to settle with new But what we do miss is ways of working in the 21st physical social interactions. So, if people are coming to century? What we have seen chang- the office for social interacing dramatically in the one tion, we need to build offices and a half years is that our designed that way. Hence, work and workplaces are offices are being reconfignot as highly interdependured in a way that creates




work for companies where their work is being valued. Again, it’s not a side benefit, it’s health, the work you do, and how it fits with your life and values. Employees want their employers to take into consideration their whole lives, which is leading employers to reconsider things employees look up to in terms of their expectations. As a result, we are seeing a mismatch which is driving what some economists dubbed The Great Resignation.


ing to some estimates, it’s 2.9% of the workforce. With The Great Resignation or great reshuffling, the year 2022 is going to be a game of musical chairs. Another way to look at it is what The Washington Post journalist Heather Long points out as a ‘great reassessment. Workers are asking themselves: ‘Is this what I want to do’? Employees have learned that they have more career choices than they previously had. So, the challenge for businesses and HR leaders is how to lead and lean

What we have learned from the past one and a half years is that much of what we used to do in the office cubicle can be done from home. But what we do miss is the physical social interactions. So, if people are coming to the office for social interaction, we need to build offices designed that way Let’s talk about the great mismatch and the movement of employees en masse. In the context of work disrupted, how do we see this signal? A great opportunity or a threat? In August 2021, 4.3 million workers in the United States left their jobs voluntarily. It’s the highest number since we have been recording labour statistics. It was four million in the month of April when we started talking about The Great Resignation. Accord| november 2021

into the great reassessment. What are we going to do differently in 2022 to create opportunity and growth in our companies? The broader question that we have in front of us, as research we have done with Deloitte and MIT shows, is that most employees tell us that they believe that they have better and more accessible opportunities for growth outside their organisation. That is going to play out in the great reassessment of work. And

the challenge for our businesses today is to create an internal growth platform where everyone can see opportunities and take action.

So, how do we create that pivot to innovation and create that marketplace in the new world of work? For the ‘new realities’ of the 2020s as BCG (Boston Consulting Group) puts it, we need to revisit different aspects of work to start doing new things and stop doing certain things and that’s the biggest challenge for us. The question I would ask business and HR leaders, as we finish 2021, is: ‘Where do you want to be in your business and people strategy at the end of 2022?’. This is one of the biggest reframing moments to think about careers and the workforce. One of the things we have learned is our employees are capable and willing to do much more than we are expecting them to do. When we hire someone, we think we hired him for what we wanted him to do. We all have our interests and we can learn new things. This warrants creating an environment based on marketplace dynamics so that our employees can tell us what they want to do and what they can do, and business managers can align tasks they want to get done. Marketplaces are one of the

The pandemic has taught us that our employees are capable of doing much more than we expected them to do

we have to leverage this moment to fix the larger D&I equation. As Elvis Presley said, ‘a little less conversation, a little more action’ is what we need. What we want versus what we need and what is possible is a really interesting combination to act upon.

As we design work in the 21st century, what is your advice to global talent leaders? This crisis is an incredible and pivotal moment for people managers. The CFO came to the rescue in the financial crisis of 2009 but the crisis of 2020 is the moment for HR leaders. I hope HR professionals are preparing to lead and not just support - as we enter 2022 to redesign, redefine and re-architect work, workforce and workplace to create a better future of work. november 2021 |


You mentioned three dimensions of the world of work and the opportunity they bring forth. Today, we have a more diverse pool of talents but the challenge is ‘inclusion’. How will inclusion evolve as part of the ongoing reset process? What will evolve in large part is a function of what we want to have happen. Nothing is predetermined. The pandemic allowed us an opportunity to refocus on diversity, equity and inclusion for the better. People, especially women who were not allowed historically

to participate in the workforce because of childcare and other challenges, can now join the workforce in the hybrid model of work. Although childcare remains a challenge in many parts of the world for working women and working families. Today, we have more choices than we had in the past, especially workfrom-anywhere. We can use marketplaces without gender and other cultural identifiers to help us find the right talent for our organisations. So, while we have the option to advance diversity and inclusion, the question is: ‘Are we going to take advantage of them? The action point here is to have the right policy framework and put in place technology to support the new D&I programmes. I am cautiously optimistic about the real progress that we can make. Having said that,


richest sources of information. If we allow our employees to bring their potential and interest to our business problems, they will stay because they will have more opportunities to grow and contribute inside our organizations. This is a big shift because people practices are traditionally administrative and transactional. And we should now be moving into a world of talent marketplace and workforce ecosystem dynamics.


Ben Breen

How to navigate the winds of change with agility

Organisational Agility

The pandemic showed us that organisations and individuals that were less or not equipped to adopt remote working faced the greatest brunt. This gave us a great lesson on the need to be agile and flexible in accordance with time



he world has entered uncharted waters: COVID19 has altered everything making physical interactions during the initial stage only a ‘thing’ in history. Companies and individuals have pivoted, reinvented, and transformed to meet the current demand. COVID-19 is not over yet, and the need to be flexible and adapt to new situations as they arise in the future is of utmost importance. It's challenging, but there are good things that come out of constant change. We must embrace the opportunities to mitigate the

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risks. Above all, we need to look closely at everything happening around us to bring about changes in our pre-conceived notions. This has given rise to what we call a ‘new work ecosystem’. A framework helping companies and professionals to move beyond reactive measures, take a step back, and consider how to shape the ways in which work will be accomplished moving forward. For a new work ecosystem to flourish, reskilling and upskilling the existing workforce is imperative. What this means to practitioners and change-makers is

The skills we need

The World Economic Forum (WEF) in its Future of Jobs 2020 report states that up to 50 per cent of the global workforce requires reskilling by 2025. It listed the following as the top 10 skills we need in the lead up to 2025: 1. Analytical thinking and innovation 2. Active learning and learning strategies 3. Complex problem-solving 4. Critical thinking and analysis 5. Resilience, stress tolerance, and flexibility 6. Creativity, originality, and initiative 7. Leadership and social influence 8. Reasoning, problem-solving, and ideation 9. Emotional intelligence 10. Technology design and programming

For a new work ecosystem to flourish, reskilling and upskilling the existing workforce is imperative. What this means to practitioners and change-makers is a focus on developing additional skills needed to meet the evolving demands in the marketplace It is evident that the skills which make a difference and create an impact are beyond the mere technical ones. They must be complemented by capabilities focused on working with people and leading teams. We have seen this first-hand during the COVID-19 crisis as people came together quickly across organisational lines to quickly respond to various aspects of the crisis. A perfect example was when teams of researchers and scientists across the globe came together to develop a vaccine. The need to respond rapidly to such disruptions only underscores the need for organisations to think and work in new ways – the need to be Agile. november 2021 |

Organisational Agility

a focus on developing additional skills needed to meet the evolving demands in the marketplace. But in doing so, it also means new opportunities to elevate individuals' value as strategic partners in business success. In the professional reality of technological disruption, organisations need project leaders with the ability to learn and keep pace with technology. The ideal skill set is a combination of technical, leadership, and business management expertise — including human-centred ‘Power Skills’ – that enable them to focus on more strategic, creative, and interpersonal sides of work. Ultimately, professionals and organisations have to find ways to reinvent themselves to keep up with the winds of change.


Organisational Agility

Method to madness


Agility as a concept originally belongs to the world of technology. It has been used successfully in business challenges across the enterprise, from software development to creative work like marketing and communications to finance and procurement. At this point, the concept of agile has been around for nearly two decades. It had time to mature, and a whole workforce has matured along with it, giving entire organisations time to understand the many ways that it can be used. The more frequently that agility is applied, the more we know that one size fits none. With a disciplined approach, teams and leaders understand that context (the end goals, the roadblocks, the team members' individual talents) creates the foundation to optimise the workflow. That is a principle that can be applied to every business challenge. Agile isn't about software anymore. It's about agility for the entire enterprise.

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Agile teams also focus on outcomes and strive to fulfil their customers' needs, while Disciplined Agile (DA) teams take it a notch higher by striving to delight their customers, and as a result are better able to evolve their strategy along with changes in circumstances. By being willing to embrace change and explore new ways of working, such teams are also flexible and hence can be quick to adopt remote collaboration technologies. Companies can have the most brilliant strategy in the world, but it will not amount to anything unless they have multidisciplinary teams with both technical know-how and upskilled with the crucial soft skills to carry out that vision – and yet be able to pivot quickly when conditions change or evolve.

Core principles of disciplined agile Fast and flexible is the name of the game in this new world. For

The disciplined agile advantage

Businesses are being forced to adapt and transform faster than ever before so they can continue to meet evolving needs. In response, they are experimenting with agile ways of working. While teams are succeeding with Agile, when it comes to scaling it across the enterprise, organisations are not seeing as much success. In such an environment, the strengths of Disciplined Agile comes to the fore. Disciplined

Agile is not a framework, but rather a toolkit that focuses on helping teams understand the context-specific decisions they need to consider, the options available to them, and the tradeoffs associated with these options. It is a people-first, learningoriented hybrid agile approach to value delivery that recognises that every organisation is different and that within each organisation, teams will want to vary their approach based on the nature of work. Change is the only constant. No matter where you are in your agile journey, or what existing framework you are using, adopting Disciplined agility will complement the work done. By being disciplined about \agility, organisations and professionals can leverage a mentality and methodology granting them control in steering their business or team through the winds of change.

Organisational Agility

organisations to pivot, teams must be agile and turn on a dime too. Ready-for-anything teams will excel by prioritising three core principles: Agility always: No matter the size of a team, it must be built with flexibility in mind. As roles and responsibilities are redefined, teams that embrace an all-for-one mentality will be best prepared to adjust on the fly. Collaborate and listen: Enterprise hierarchies are becoming a thing of the past – and the idea of an all-knowing, top-down leadership is fading fast. The onus is on leaders to build team trust and forge a collaborative pact. Emotional intelligence and strong communication can make the difference between a project that delivers and one that is dead on arrival. Put the customer first: Teams need to keep the user's or customer's needs in mind from the very start. Making consumer feedback the backbone of planning and execution will help teams stay on track to deliver meaningful value.


Ben Breen, Managing Director, Asia Pacific, Head of Global Construction at Project Management Institute november 2021 |


special interview

Leaders who incorporate ‘resilience’ as a design element will experience greater success: President & CHRO - Wipro 24

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Organisations that focus on employee well-being and push the meter on employee experience will be the successful ones, says Saurabh Govil, President and Chief Human Resources Officer, Wipro By Mastufa Ahmed


Here are the excerpts of the interview.

How do you see the current IT industry landscape and what are some of the significant trends that are transforming the tech industry? Restrictions during the pandemic accelerated technology adoption by consumers. People are now more comfortable interacting with the world on digital platforms. Similarly, the pandemic exposed vulnerabilities in our supply chains and organisations will be moving to build robust arrangements for the future. Organisations have re-imagined physical workspaces, re-evaluated real estate costs as well as personnel policies. It is with this backdrop that we need to understand how these are impacting the technology world. There is an unprecedented move to digital platforms. There are estimates that greater

special interview

he pandemic has wiped out many long-held beliefs of employers and altered employee preferences for good. The pandemic has impacted employer-employee relationships differently across different industries globally. Employee attitudes towards work and employment have changed significantly during the pandemic. The hybrid mode of work, which most employers have embraced, is not just about providing flexibility but also a strong signal about inclusivity, promoting equity and embracing diversity. Companies that espouse and practice an inclusive and diverse culture are likely to be more successful than others, says Saurabh. President & Chief Human Resources Officer at Wipro, Saurabh is also a member of the Management Team. In this role, he leads all Human Resources functions for Wipro. Despite having over three decades of experience Saurabh still considers himself as a newbie who constantly maintains a child-like curiosity to learn new things. Before joining Wipro, he worked in organisations such as ITC and GE.

than 85% incremental spend will be in digital. However, the competitive advantage will be in moving fast. Hence speed is the mantra. Cloud is a priority for organisations and with increased threats, cyber-security remains top of mind for senior leaders. We believe that growth will be dictated by next-gen technologies and services such as 5G, Robotics, Blockchain, Digital Strategy, Consulting etc. Another trend we see is that clients want to work with partners whom they can ‘trust’ in their journey of digital transformation. The most important lever to build trust is impeccable execution. Finally, we are seeing that demand for consulting and new technology skills is outstripping the supply. We see this situation in the foreseeable future. Talent shortages are real and can jeopardise the industry.

The role of HR leaders has changed and they have a lot on their plates. How are business expectations from HR especially in the IT industry changing? Talent remains a source

Today the biggest expectation that business leaders have from HR is to help them manage variables of new work dynamics and deliver superlative employee experience november 2021 |


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of competitive advantage. Changing work expectations, the great resignation era, changing work attitudes, talent skills gap, hybrid working are changes that have happened in the past 12-18 months. Today the biggest expectation that business leaders have from HR is to help them manage these variables and deliver superlative employee experience. From this primary expectation emerge expectations such as enabling new work models, cultural integration, integrating technology to generate insights: HR analytics, reskilling and upskilling talent-at-scale, building nextgen performance management systems and more. Delivering on the aforementioned expectations in an industry that experiences a huge churn every quarter and that too in a remote environment requires new ways of thinking and work| november 2021

ing from HR leaders. That is also an implicit expectation usually not overtly stated by business leaders. Business leaders are no longer looking for the standard suite of HR services. They want HR to partner in their transformation journey so that they (business leaders) can partner in the clients’ transformation journey.

While COVID-19 wrought havoc across the globe, it offered us an opportunity to reimagine work, workforce and workplace and build an inclusive world of work. Are we moving in the right direction? The pandemic provided organisations with an opportunity to understand their practices with regard to diversity and inclusion. In certain cases, the pandemic impacted the livelihood of people who were in remote unfriendly jobs. Whereas in many cases employees

sensed an improvement in their conditions due to lesser commute times, spending more time with family. Persons with disabilities or people with health conditions could participate in the workforce due to remote working. In our industry, thanks to it being poised for remote working, the focus on diversity and inclusion got sharper. We are moving in the right direction. However, this is a complex issue and hybrid working will further add to the complexity. As companies now experiment with hybrid arrangements, they need to carefully redraft and repurpose people practices. When all are working remote, policies and decisions can be applied uniformly however when different work arrangements are implemented, we need to ensure that equityenhancing measures are put in place.

What’s your take on the traits that will distinguish highly successful companies in the transition to the postpandemic workplace? During the pandemic, companies that have come out strongly are the ones that have displayed empathetic and resilient leadership. As we hypothesise a postpandemic scenario one wouldn’t be too off to say that hybrid and flexibility will emerge as cornerstones

95% of Wipro's workforce continues to work from home. And we are able to deliver flawlessly in a remote set-up. Our Chairman is personally leading a culture transformation and behaviours that promote well-being are very much a part of this transformation tions that remain committed to building trust in an otherwise uncertainty fraught environment are likely to be more successful. Finally, embracing technology and being open to a workforce ecosystem comprising contingent workers along with bots will distinguish leaders. Old ways of working will need to be discarded and technology-based solutions will have to be welcomed.

How do you think the events of the last year have permanently reshaped

the relationship between employers and employees? The pandemic has broken many long-held beliefs of employers and altered employee preferences for good. If we look across the globe, we can observe that the pandemic has impacted employer-employee relationships differently across different industries. Work-life balance, flexibility, lower commutes along with meaningful work, empathetic leadership are taking center stage for all the right reasons. Take for instance Wipro, over 95% of november 2021 |

special interview

of any employment arrangement. Employee attitudes towards work and employment have changed significantly during the pandemic. Hybrid is not just about providing flexibility but also a strong signal about inclusivity, promoting equity and embracing diversity. Companies that espouse and practice an inclusive and diverse culture are likely to be more successful than others. The uncertainties of a post-pandemic workplace demand resilience from employers more than ever. Being able to bounce back from setbacks would be a critical aspect to consider. Leaders who build resilient organisations by incorporating resilience as a design element will experience greater success. Organisations that focus on employee well-being and push the meter on employee experience will be successful ones. Also, an unflinching commitment to the community within which they operate. During the pandemic, we saw organisations step up to avoid a humanitarian crisis. Employees and society at large have welcomed these gestures. Trust is the currency of the future. Trust of the client and trust of employees. Trust in an organisational setup is gained through impeccable delivery standards and making good on commitments. Organisa-


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our workforce continues to work from home. None of the new joiners in the past 18 odd months have seen Wipro offices. Yet we are able to deliver flawlessly in a remote set-up. With hybrid work, multigenerational workforce and alternate work arrangements the employeremployee relationship is going to be different for different employee segments. With lines between work and personal life getting blurred, the relationship is likely to be based on mutual trust and a common future. Employees will want to work with organisations that fit in their lifestyle which could include flexibility, learning, well-being or all of these and even more.

How are you reinventing your HR function? Are you employing next-gen technologies such as AI, blockchain? Growth in IT services will be driven by next-gen technologies. We are already seeing multiple applications of these technologies that are driving radical changes in the way we operate. Work and the workplace are getting transformed by these technologies. For instance, digital technologies have transformed the way we connect and collaborate at work. The most impactful example is the pandemic. At Wipro, our focus is | november 2021

on adopting technologies for creating an enhanced employee experience. Let’s take AI as an example. There are significant advances made in narrow AI. We shall increasingly see AI-enabled decision making within organisational processes. At Wipro, we are using AI as part of our performance management system to help employees write sharper appraisals and reach better

can organisations embed well-being by design? Any change that requires us to change our work habits and work values will be difficult to implement. Hence when it comes to embedding well-being by design it needs to happen at two levels. Firstly, at an individual level. At Wipro, our Chairman is personally leading a culture transformation and behaviours that

performance outcomes. It is also part of the talent review planning system that helps employees chart their careers. We have extensively used RPA in our shared services transformation. HR analytics is another area that we are transforming with next-gen technologies.

promote well-being are very much part of this transformation. As a leader when you prioritise well-being, it sends a positive signal to the entire organisation. Leaders have not only been vocal in communicating about wellbeing but also taking action on the same; we call it the Say-Do ratio. A powerful example is that due to the pandemic and movement restrictions we saw employees not taking leaves. Our leaders communicated the importance of taking breaks

Several studies find that CEOs prioritise well-being as they prepare to move forward. But putting that into practice can be difficult. What’s your take on how

The pandemic has been an impetus for innovation. What have been the biggest lessons COVID-19 has highlighted in terms of the culture of innovation? Pandemic has shown that collaboration and exchange of ideas can fuel innovation exponentially. At the global level, we saw scientists collaborating to come out with not one but multiple vaccines in record time. Free exchange of ideas, working across boundaries, failing fast and then succeeding, celebrating others’ successes are hallmarks of an innovation culture. If we look at organisations, going virtual was not an easy task. It demanded a drastic departure from well-entrenched

procedures and comforting habits. It required an almost overnight change of working model. At Wipro, this was successful because of an openness to experiment with new ways of working. This openness was matched with an equal measure if not more of persistence. For us, the realization is that a culture of innovation stands firmly on values of sharing, openness, respect and trust. A culture that embraces agile decision making and tolerates failures is a must for innovation.

their priorities. Flexibility, health, relationships, work-life balance are taking center stage and for all the good reasons. This has led to people re-evaluating their current employment and gravitating more towards employers that align with the new value systems Closer home I am not sure if the current talent shortages can be termed due to the Great Resignation Era since at least in the IT industry we see people moving to similar companies. Also, the reality may be different in different countries based on employWhat is your talent ment opportunities, income management equation with levels and standard of living. the Great Resignation gainHaving said that important ing steam globally? Can you thing to note is that it offers share light on your strategies employers an opportunity to introspect and re-examine to attract and retain talent some of our long-held beliefs amid all the chaos? Great Resignation in an about work. If burn-out, era when unemployment is travel commutes, uninspirhigh. Paradoxical isn’t it! ing work, work-life balance The pandemic has changed are the causes then they need the way people visualise to be addressed.

november 2021 |

special interview

and led the way by taking a few days off every quarter and will continue doing so. Secondly, role modelling should be further supplemented with policy frameworks and processes. At Wipro, we have an extensive framework that looks at well-being at many levels such as emotional, financial, social etc. This framework is continuously reinforced through different communication platforms and supported by a set of policies and processes which make it accessible to all. The focus should be embedding wellbeing in performance management processes and the total rewards program.


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In the tech industry, the focus on diversity and inclusion got sharper. However, this is a complex issue and hybrid working will further add to the complexity At Wipro, we have moved to the hybrid work arrangement offering people flexibility. Our learning systems are anywhere anytime – again offering flexibility and freedom. We have a deep focus on diversity and inclusion. We have brought in policies such as breaks from work giving employees extended time off to pursue leisure interests. This is in conjunction with our sabbatical policy that provides employees extended time off for studying. We have also created opportunities for our employees to contribute to the communities they live in. The idea is to create a | november 2021

balance between organisation and employee needs and address core issues via systemic solutions.

The biggest question for executive leadership today at several corporations is envisioning the future of work post-pandemic. How are you doing it? Pandemic has challenged some of our long-cherished beliefs about work. Most large organisations today are talking about a hybrid work arrangement. To my mind hybrid workplace is the integration of what were the best elements of the old workplace with new ways of thinking. It is

as much an abstract concept as it is a physical experience. It offers employees to have a more tactile experience of the workplace culture, practices, rituals and build the required social capital through physical interactions. It is also about reimagining the physical workspace to create the outcomes of a hybrid workplace i.e collaboration, innovation, stickiness and socialisation. At Wipro, we believe that the future will consist of a workforce eco-system comprising traditional workforce, contractors, retainers, gig workers and even bots. We definitely see value in people coming back to work. In the immediate future, our actions will be guided by employee safety, government regulations, pandemic protocols while not compromising on client delivery. In the long run, we postulate a hybrid workplace that provides employees flexibility yet anchors them to the organisation. We will have no one permanently working from home: it's important for teams to come together at regular intervals. We have a blueprint ready to implement return to work for employees working from client and Wipro offices. For now, we have senior, fully vaccinated colleagues visiting our India offices twice a week. Results have been very encouraging, to say the least.

Marc Remond

The hybrid work and its implications for L&D professionals As the world gradually escapes the glaring eyes of the pandemic, organisations should pick up fast on the needs of the future and new normal, with minute detailing to make the workforce future-ready


Learning & Development

he entire world has been going through a roller coaster journey since last year. The COVID19 pandemic has fundamentally altered the way we lived and worked. What impact has 2020 had on workplace perceptions? Are there any implications or inferences to be expected in the Learning & Development (L&D) sector of organisations?

The new norm - hybrid work

When the pandemic left us in dire straits initially, the working routines of most companies essentially transformed with a considerable shift to remote work. As the world is healing from the sudden shock and the pandemic proves to be more persistent and endemic, the new norm is evolving with the workspace is hybrid work. In a hybrid work environment employees would alternate between working remotely and onsite, depending on their needs and convenience. A study by Accenture discovered that 83% of workers want a hybrid model, where they switch between onsite

and remote working, while 43% of respondents to a Gartner survey said that flexible working hours helped them achieve greater productivity. Therefore, it is evident that being a future key trend, hybrid work and the flexibility it implies will have a variety of company-wide ramifications, including a huge impact on HR and L&D, which will both need to plan for training their workforces differently than before. L&D strategies need a facelift and are required to swiftly convert to a new, digitally delivered format. november 2021 |


Learning & Development

Stats don’t lie!

As per the 2018 World Economic Forum report, 75 million current job roles may be completely misplaced by 133 million new job roles by the year 2022. Upskilling and Reskilling are the solutions to this problem. If upskilling improves the current skillset, reskilling focuses more on an entirely fresh skillset. Before the Pandemic, only global corporates had to devise solutions for the effective collaboration of dispersed workforce. But now, regional companies are also confronted to face the challenge of dealing with a dispersed workforce. With the influx of ambitious millennials into the workforce, effective learning and training platform is in high demand. PwC also predicts that 72 per cent of CEOs would boost their spending on virtual collaboration tools and 62 per cent will increase their spending on management training. A recent report suggests that virtual classrooms will remain

significant for talent development professionals after the pandemic. Organisations use virtual classrooms to deliver training to their employees and organisations expect their spending on virtual classroom training to stay the same or increase over the next year. So how to devise an effective training strategy that can ensure a successful outcome?

Get the offices hybrid-ready

After the thorough reassessing and redesigning of workplaces strategies, many organisations are looking to establish a resilient and flexible workplace where the on-site employees can successfully collaborate with their remote colleagues. This can be achieved only through a well-knit network of physical and digital work environments. If the future of the work lies in skills like adaptability and agility, to stay on top of the competition, companies should be ready to invest in the training of their employees. Sadly, some companies still lack in the training of their employees. In a way, the pandemic was an eye-opener. As circumstances change, businesses have realised the value of educating their personnel. L&D is

As the world adjusts to the new normal, businesses must take the next steps towards transformational education and training 32

| november 2021

becoming increasingly recognised as a critical component of business growth.

How L&D departments can future-proof their efforts

1. Effective multi-channel Engagement - Focus on live, interactive sessions with a blend of the pre-recorded ones; in-classroom training alternated with the remote ones. 2. Provide a rich platter of content formats - Provide learning material through a wide variety of media such as live lectures, quizzes, team assignments, on-demand videos, presentation slides, and written material. 3. Incentivise and gamify learning - Gift employees achievement badges and certificates that can be shared on LinkedIn and other social media; recognise high achieving employees publicly every once in a while, to boost their confidence and love of interest. 4. Select the right solution -

Create a long-term strategy for shifting from digital replacement to digital transformation, with training goals in mind Pick the solution that is optimum for your training needs. This means that choose an L&D solution that can train the workforce both remotely and on-site with strong and varied technical capabilities effectively.

Learning & Development

Create a long-term strategy for shifting from digital replacement to digital transformation, with training goals in mind and technology to help. Here are five factors to examine and implement into the future strategy to ensure effective training outcomes during the transformation process: Smart integration of training into the flow of work – Short, few-hour sessions spread out over several days or weeks are best for learning continuity and retention of interest.


Connect your people, share knowledge, empower them, and set up the world for them! As the world adjusts to the new normal, businesses must take the next steps toward transformational education and training by employing digital tactics that encourage collaboration and active learning both on-site and online. ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Marc Remond is the Vice President of Meeting and Learning Experiences, Barco APAC november 2021 |


D & I

Recognising the role of men in driving gender parity In an exclusive interview with People Matters, Lisa Annese, Chief Executive Officer of Diversity Council Australia, talks about creating workplace opportunities for ‘hidden workers’ and the two-fold journey to embracing and promoting equal parental leave By Bhavna Sarin


| november 2021


isa Annese is the Chief Executive Officer of Diversity Council Australia (DCA). In her career which spans over two decades, Lisa has contributed widely to the public debate on issues relating to gender pay equity, paid parental leave, women in leadership, cultural diversity and workplace flexibility. Prior to her current appointment,

Lisa was DCA's Programs & Member Services Director where she provided advice and education to DCA members to improve diversity management. Before joining DCA, Lisa worked as a Diversity Practitioner at Corrs Chambers Westgarth and Senior Manager at the Workplace Gender Equality Agency where she developed the first ever census of ‘Austral-

ian Women in Leadership’, the first-ever ‘Business Achievement Awards’ and the creation of the ‘Employer of Choice for Women’ citation. In conversation with People Matters, Lisa talks about creating workplace opportunities for ‘hidden workers’ and the two-fold journey to embracing and promoting equal parental leave.

While the DEI conversation started around gender, it then broadened out to include a conversation on culture and race, a conversation on LGBTQI+ identity, on First Nations equality and reconciliation, on having more multi-generational workplaces, on being workplaces that are inclusive of people with disabilities. And then to ensure that we don't treat these groups just as homogenous groups, but also ensure that we look for the intersection between those identities. We've never really removed our focus from gender diversity but we have had a big focus on inclusion, one of the skill focus being towards being an inclusive leader and an inclusive organisation. Our focus areas today are across all the dimensions.

Having provided advice and education to DCA members to improve diversity management, in your observation, what were the most common challenges in terms of boosting diversity and amplifying inclusion? Sometimes the push towards a more diverse inclusive world is seen as very politicised and can be seen as being about a progressive agenda just for the sake of social engineering, which is not the case. But once you're inside an organisation, the challenge is around organisations underestimating the complexity of this work, and that it's about transformational cultural change. What you need to do is try and understand why workplaces are the way they are, why they benefit certain groups of people, why is it november 2021 |

D & I

How does the Diversity Council Australia view the DEI landscape in the evolving business and work climate? What are your focus areas? The diversity and inclusion conversation in Australia and in several parts of the world has been driven by the push towards gender equality. In 1984 when the Sex Discrimination Act was passed in Australia, organisations began to respond to that, and the first priority was how do we ensure women are effectively represented in leadership, how do we make sure that workplaces are respectful and take a zero-tolerance approach towards sexual harassment, and gender violence. Further, how do we create mainstream flexible work and careers, so that when women need to access flexibility due to caring responsibilities, their careers are not impacted. Another focus area was narrowing the gender pay gap.


D & I 36

easier for certain groups of people to move into leadership, unpacking all of the above. Underestimating that is a problem. The other challenge is that sometimes people don't take an evidence-based approach, They go along with their intuition and things that might be popular, things that might sound as though they make sense but actually when you unpack them a bit, they're not going to be the things that create transformational positive change. The next challenge is the lack of organisation because they're underestimating the complexity which is underinvestment in terms of resourcing this work, investing in improving people's capability, planning things effectively to create impact. Some leaders do understand this is good for their business. But they still don't understand that to make the change, you need to invest like you would with anything else. For any kind of transformation in an organisation, you have to invest in it.

A recent Harvard Business School report coined the term 'hidden workers' to reflect the missing talent pool in global hiring efforts. In your opinion, what is keeping underrepresented talent hidden despite the spotlight on DEI today? In Australia, based on | november 2021

DCA’s Inclusion at Work index, the two groups that are the most excluded from Australian workplaces are people with disabilities, and First Nations peoples, and they remain in a persistent state of exclusion and remain most excluded from employment. The important thing with trying to resolve or remedy under-representation is that you have to design effective change, and that will depend very much on the purpose for exclusion. People with disabilities and that's a broad group of people - are excluded from the workplace because there are flaws in the recruitment process. We know, for example, that people with autism don't do well in interview situations. But if you persist in using interviews as a tool to recruit, then you will inadvertently disadvantage people who might otherwise be highly effective in the role. And if it's to do with another form of a disability, say mobility impairment, if the organisation doesn't focus on accessibility, then even if that person gets the job they can't actually access the employment. So it depends on what it is you're trying to remedy and this goes to the heart of there are no quick fixes, this is something that needs to be well thought through. Other things are almost

outside the scope of the employer. In Australia for example, only 17% of engineering graduates are women. The decision to opt out of an engineering career happens much earlier than the interview stage for a job, it happens at school, happens in childhood. Those interventions have to be societal interventions depending on what the barrier is. It depends on the group. We know that some stem organisations that try and get more women in STEM have had success with investing in women and girls in the education system, having targeted internship programs and making sure that when they enter the organisation, they get the support needed to be set up for success. We certainly know that you need to design the interventions specific to the nature of the deficit that you're trying to rectify. Because broad brush, things like just focusing on general inclusion initiatives will have some benefits, but they won't create the kind of change that's desired.

Several Australia based organisations have recently introduced equal parental leave, among other genderneutral initiatives. Do you think employers are ready to translate the intent of equity

into action or will the shift from policy to practice take longer? How can they fast track the shift? It's important to drive change two-fold and lead by evidence because if you only focus on women, you won't change anything. In Australia, companies have been focusing on women for a long time. They need to know that the evidence shows you need to actually focus on the men to start to create change, not just

It also means that the burden of unpaid work is more likely to be shared equitably in dual-parent families that are heterosexual. We have single-parent families and blended families and rainbow families but for heterosexual twoparent families, a woman's ability to fully participate in the workforce, depends a lot on childcare, and how that’s being done. Shared care and equal parental leave are starting

because men have power in institutions and so, therefore, they can create change, but also because when men start to work flexibly, it normalises flexible work, and therefore makes it easier for women. Women have had to jump off the career ladder upon accessing flexibility and that cannot continue, especially as shared care gains momentum, because then men won't be encouraged to take it up and if men don't take it up, it won’t become mainstream.

to take off in Australia. It's something that was inspired by the Scandinavian and the Northern European model of parental leave. We're seeing more and more men wanting to be active carers of their children. But what we're seeing is while organisations at the best practice spectrum of diversity inclusion are getting on board with this, there is a whole spectrum of other responses across the economy. We're really in the early days of that in Australia, and the

If you could advise talent and business leaders to start, stop and continue one workplace mindset, what would that be? It would be to try and have a growth focused mindset. To be open to new information, to be agile and flexible in how you respond to it, and to recognise that actually there's no endpoint to learning. When you're dealing with people, it is on a continuum. You need to be continually invested in your own change and that's really what an effective leader does. They don't have the solutions on day one and never look for any more solutions, they are continually seeking out new solutions. They also recognise that even if you make mistakes or if you have setbacks, just keep at it, build again. Make sure you don't underestimate this work and invest in it properly. november 2021 |

D & I

In Australia, based on DCA’s Inclusion at Work index, the two groups that are the most excluded from Australian workplaces are people with disabilities, and First Nations peoples, and they remain in a persistent state of exclusion and remain most excluded from employment

signs though are really positive. I don't know that you can fast track this. I'm always wary about people fasttracking anything because culture change takes time. But certainly, you can have leaders being very visible about being active carers, men talking openly in organisations about why they've done it, how the organisation enabled them to do that and what the benefits are.



The conventional organisational wellness programs are passé and executives are working to weave well-being into the fabric of the organisation


| november 2021


well-being more than executives, according to a study by Deloitte. Savvy employers are keeping a check on health performance indicators to gauge what is working and what is not, and identifying opportunities for improvement. So, how do you incorporate design features and amenities to prompt well-being and how do you embed it at ‘Work By Design’? How should HR leaders partner with tech leaders to ensure that technologies, workflows and processes are designed in a way that enshrines worker well-being? What are the top strategies, actions, and policies organisations should embrace? How would companies justify the business case -- in terms of adaptability, innovation and employee experience, for investing in well-being? The cover story of this issue throws light on the wider spectrum of wellbeing at work. november 2021 |


of employees. Further, we have seen several organisations go the extra mile, redirecting resources towards employee health. They framed policies on virtual work arrangements, deploying testing and contact-tracing mechanisms, and rolling out new programs for medical leave, and childcare support. Measures were also instituted for their mental and financial health. Employees relied on their employers to address health and well-being on all fronts, which gave an impetus to a culture of wellness within organisations. Today, organisations are reimagining almost all aspects of work and are looking at employee health holistically to better support their workforce. So, clearly, one of the key goals organisations should aim to meet with their ongoing transformation initiatives is employee well-being. Interestingly, workers prioritise transforming work for


he new reality of the world of work has brought forth an acute awareness of health and well-being, calling on corporations to devise innovative ways to integrate employee well-being into the flow of work to help their staff perform optimally. There is a clear opportunity for companies to leverage workplace design to nurture holistic well-being for people at work. Employees will increasingly look for work environments that provide user control, natural elements, and ergonomic seating arrangements to meet their physical and psychological health. Several studies have shown that a focus on employee and workplace well-being can result in improved engagement and productivity, as well as innovation and retention. Almost all global business leaders we interacted with over the last one and half years cast light on why leaders should prioritise the mental and physical health


The evolving employee benefits landscape

Gone are the days when a hefty salary and a couple of weeks of paid time off were enough to attract and retain talent. Emerging from the pandemic, employees want more meaningful and more holistic benefits By Rachel Ranosa





he war for talent rages on and employers who are ramping up their arsenal of employee benefits are winning the battle of 2021. In a pandemic economy, companies are seeing employees rise to the occasion, working through the crisis and ensuring business continuity. But employers that fail to take care of their people – in a time of adversity, most especially – risk running their enterprise aground. Without great talent, no business strategy will succeed. Without dedicated

| november 2021

talent, no business strategy will last. Inspiring loyalty and commitment among workers matters now more than ever, as businesses face a shortage of talent amid intense competition to find and retain the best of the best. It's a symbiosis. For employees to remain loyal, talent leaders will need to focus on employee wellbeing over anything. Workers today aren't just looking for greener pastures – they are on the market to find better work/life balance,

as well as meaningful and impactful work, as a result of the pressures of the pandemic. Those who are overworked, undervalued and left to churn out lowlevel tasks – all of which run counter to the idea of wellbeing at work – are often the ones leading the exodus of talent in what has come to be known as the 'Great Resignation'.

Preventing an exodus of talent

In the US alone, a record 20 million people have quit their jobs since April this year, with the majority coming from the highpressure sectors of technology and health care, as well as the high-risk environments of retail and hospitality, statistics from the US Department of Labor reveal. Over in Europe, an estimated 14 million have opted out of the labour force, neither working nor looking for work, ever since the pandemic began, data from the OECD suggest. These movements in the job market illustrate,

Without great talent, no business strategy will succeed. Without dedicated talent, no business strategy will last

It isn't too late to engineer a culture of well-being by design. But building a dream team of dedicated highperformers requires investment. The best workplaces know this. In a survey by the

'Amid the pandemic, employers have been navigating a public health crisis,

november 2021 |


Investing in benefits during crisis

nonprofit organisation Transamerica Institute, for example, a staggering 90 per cent of employers did right by their employees by providing them greater support during the pandemic. These included the following measures: • Allowing flexible hours (59 per cent) • Allowing remote work (53 per cent) • Providing emergency paid leave (24 per cent) • Providing access to mental health support (22 per cent) • Covering lost wages during quarantine or temporary closure (21 per cent) • Increasing wages and benefits for essential workers (18 per cent)


in part, how the mental, emotional, physical and even financial toll of the pandemic has prompted people to take a closer look at their life at work. Millions are now stepping out of the talent market in order to prioritise their well-being. And unless employers are willing to evaluate their work conditions and influence on employees, organisations will likely lose the battle for talent – an outcome that could spell disaster for employers in this period of recovery.

a turbulent economy, financial woes, and difficult business decisions. However, they are also finding ways to support their employees during this challenging time,' said Catherine Collinson, CEO and president of Transamerica Institute. 'As employers recover and envision the postpandemic workplace, they have the opportunity to enhance their benefit offerings. The benefits marketplace is highly competitive, and employers may find new solutions within their reach,' Collinson said. Nurturing talent has been a perennial challenge for employers, even years before the COVID-19 crisis. Companies like Google, Amazon, Salesforce, UKG, Hilton, Deloitte and EY allocate resources to their wideranging benefits programs to guarantee their workers are cared for, recognised and engaged. This is, ultimately, the secret to raising up a committed workforce. In fact, nearly 70 per cent of workers in a 2020 survey by MetLife said being


offered a diverse range of employee perks bolsters their company loyalty.

Meaningful benefits

Gone are the days when a hefty salary and a couple of weeks of paid time off were enough to attract and retain talent. Emerging from the pandemic, employees want more meaningful and more holistic benefits.

ible work arrangements. Overall, care benefits are high on the agenda of senior leaders (57 per cent), considering the widespread pandemic fatigue workers are experiencing. Among the popular care benefits to have come out of the burnout crisis of the past 18 months are 'shutdown weeks' which companies like LinkedIn, Bumble



Employees who are overworked, undervalued and left to churn out low-level tasks are often the ones leading the exodus of talent


'COVID-19 is in the driver's seat and every employer has been impacted,' said Christian Sutherland-Wong, CEO of Glassdoor, which recently ranked companies that rose to the challenge of the pandemic. Exceptional employers, he said, prioritise the health, safety and well-being of their employees. Today, nearly two years into the pandemic, organisations are showing no signs of reversing course. An employer study led by shows 98 per cent of companies are set to offer new perks or expand existing ones that enhance workers' quality of life during the crisis. These include child care and senior care benefits, mental and emotional wellness support, and flex| november 2021

and Hootsuite implemented earlier this year. 'We wanted to make sure we could give them something really valuable, and what we think is most valuable right now is time for all of us to collectively walk away,' said LinkedIn Chief People Officer Teuila Hanson. Salesforce has also taken a collective approach for the employee community to recover from the pandemic. The business software giant launched the anxiety and stress management platform Thriving Mind and the series B-Well Together to help employees cope with emotional distress. The pandemic, however, also took an economic toll on workers, primarily those who were retrenched,

furloughed, or given fewer work hours or reduced pay. To prevent financial stress, hardware company NVIDIA vowed to retain the same workforce and even pushed through with scheduled pay increases to give workers extra cash to tide them over during the 2020 lockdowns. Jensen Huang, chief executive of NVIDIA, had one message to his staff: 'Prioritise your family. Our work will wait.'

The bright spot

Before the COVID-19 crisis, employers placed a premium on health and well-being to slash benefits costs. Today, the aim is to foster a 'culture of caring to ensure employees thrive,' analysts from Mercer pointed out. 'Even before the pandemic, employee health and wellbeing was at the top of employers' list of workforce concerns (ahead of automation at work and the gig economy) because they understood that individuals cannot be energised if they feel overworked, underappreciated or underrepresented,' Mercer said. The bright spot, however, is that three in five workers believe their leaders will look after their well-being in the journey ahead. It's a level of trust that organisations must value as they strive to recover from the pandemic and nurture a committed workforce.

Exploring holistic wellness by design Ecosystems and environments are more rewarding than the typical means of recognition By John Gaunt



The saved time and effort is a testament to the organisation’s advocacy of introducing wellness through technology. Similar ease and experience enhancement is further augmented in an employee’s life cycle through multiple means. Like machines, businesses are also built of a combination of software and hardware working together in harmony. Software is the culture, values, processes, capabilities or even the human side; hardware represents the facility, ambience, spaces, and architecture, and these two categories largely represent the means through which businesses process employee wellness by design. The intent here is to have an amalgamation of great design with an even greater purpose because, at the core, it is the values and the culture of the organisa-


he evolution of workplace design has advanced many folds in the last couple of years and has transitioned from vanity to wellness, making it all the more meaningful. There was a time when higher salary packages, bonuses or vacations were the go-to options for employee wellness, but with time we’ve learnt that wellness has very little to do with escapes, than with the state of being. Corporations spend millions every year to crack the code to employee happiness. As we move ahead, we realise how ecosystems and environments are more rewarding than the typical means of recognition. In the past, we’ve witnessed how businesses have embraced workplace grandeur to invoke a sense of charm, but how far does one go with it? The ‘wow’ does not stay for long if there’s no welfare associated with it; fortunately for us, this gap can be bridged

through wellness, whose purpose is to predominantly create an ecosystem and culture that’s disciplined and forged to make individuals feel cared for, valued and motivated. An individual’s engagement with a company starts from the moment they’re identified by recruiters. Although it may seem irrelevant, this stage is crucial in setting the tone of one’s experience with an organisation. Businesses that embrace the mighty tech, benefit heavily through innovation, for instance, a leading digital transformation consulting firm based in New York automated their onboarding process making it as easy as opening a Facebook account. This reduced the volume of paperwork, as well as the time spent by an individual when getting onboarded.

In the past, we’ve witnessed how businesses have embraced workplace grandeur to invoke a sense of charm, but how far does one go with it? The ‘wow’ does not stay for long if there’s no welfare associated with it november 2021 |



tion that steers an employee’s journey within it. Conventionally, workspaces are often designed to channelise focus, but there’s a thin line between this and isolation. Lack of social interaction and sitting in one position for long hours may appear productive but can cause high levels of stress, anxiety or even depression. Hence, unconventional workstations are a fantastic way to break the monotony of cubicles, such as with the Desk-obikes (part-desk part-bike), a work-station concept by the same digital transformation firm that automated their onboarding. These Desk-o-bikes can potentially increase dopamine levels through fun and fitness. Standing desks and co-working spaces also bring in a lot of ease and collaboration | november 2021

through intellectual stimulation, support, and interaction. Recreation and rejuvenation are no more categorised as luxuries, but as basic necessities to achieve wellness. Workplaces have gone up a notch by introducing these segments in their office spaces. Productivity is promised through efficiency, which is achieved through a positive state of mind. Businesses understand that at times their people deal with a lot of stress because of work or domestic matters, and they also recognise their roles in helping reduce this stress. Well-lit, colour coordinated breakout areas with fancy seating arrangements, are certainly a wonderful addition to office spaces, but organisations have also started installing massage stations, gymnasiums, Yoga

rooms, Zumba floor, Xbox Game-rooms, pool tables, foosball tables etc. in their office facility. Such assortment and choices certainly help employees feel valued. Wellness by design is achieved through the holistic experience, which is not just limited to the beautiful buildings, or grand lobby areas, but also through the minute details such as appropriate lighting, comfortable ergonomic furniture, décor elements, fragrance, etc. or even with the presence of greenery that helps connect with nature. Organisations have augmented their facilities with multi-cuisine cafeterias because of the obvious connection that nutrition and energy have with one’s state of mind. The pandemic has certainly caused millions of employees to keep away from their workplaces, but businesses have exhibited their commitment towards this by sending furniture and stationery to their employees to help them set up a decent work-station at home. However, with the situation getting better every day, organisations are bracing to up their game by introducing many more productive means and facilities to intensify wellness by design. John Gaunt is a Managing Director and Synechron’s Chief Human Resources Officer

Well-being initiatives that come from the CEO’s office work best

Building a culture of ‘thriving well-being’ involves much more than a wellness program, says bestselling author Dr Jim Harter. In this exclusive interview, he walks us through the current corporate benefits landscape and why some initiatives fail By Mastufa Ahmed



How do you see the current corporate benefits landscape? How is it transforming? Globally, workers report higher rates of stress, worry, and anger november 2021 |


im Harter, PhD, is Chief Scientist for Gallup's workplace management and wellbeing practices. He is co-author of the Wall Street Journal bestseller, Wellbeing at Work, released in 2021, a book that explores how to build resilient and thriving teams in organisations. He is also co-author of the No. 1 Wall Street Journal and Washington Post bestseller, It’s the Manager, released in 2019, as well as the New York Times bestseller 12: The Elements of Great Managing, an exploration of the 12 crucial elements for creating and harnessing employee engagement. Dr Harter's book, the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller, Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements, is based on a global study of what differentiates people who are thriving, from those who are not. His research is featured in First, Break All the Rules, and he contributed the foreword to Gallup's updated edition of this groundbreaking bestseller.



and these numbers have been climbing for a decade. In the US, burnout has been on the rise. Prior to COVID-19, the most requested perk or benefit was “flex-time.” Now, for those with remoteready jobs, after experiencing new ways of working, three in 10 employees prefer a fully remote job and five in 10 prefer a hybrid job that includes some remote work. When employee work preferences don’t match employer expectations, employee burnout and intentions to quit are substantially higher. Where people work has become such an important consideration that geographic relocation is now – for the first time – listed as one of the top reasons for changing jobs, right behind career advancement and pay.

What do you think are the top reasons well-being initiatives fail despite sizable investments that organisations make? How can they revert it?

When employee work preferences don’t match employer expectations, employee burnout and intentions to quit are substantially higher 46

| november 2021

Well-being initiatives have often been contained in “wellness programs” that most large employers like to promote as offerings, even though few employees participate. Those employers basically treat it as a box to check. However, building a culture of thriving wellbeing involves much more than a program. A culture must be initiated by an organisation’s leaders and lived through its managers. Here are some criteria for creating a culture that is resilient and thriving: 1. Provide employees with a science-based organising structure for your benefits and well-being programs. Gallup research has found five elements of well-being that matter most: career, social, financial, physical, and community. Equip managers to include well-being as part of performance management.

Much of what impacts changes in well-being is individual and situational. 1. Managers are in the best position to know each person’s work and life situation. They can direct employees to the right resources to help them achieve their personal well-being goals in the five elements. 2. Develop a network of well-being coaches who collect and share best practices. Organisations need experts who can pull together and share the most accurate and useful advice. 3. Audit your practices and policies. Which practices and policies predict the highest rates of thriving, retention, and performance? How can organisations envision and incorporate design features and amenities into their workspaces to

Too often, wellbeing, employee engagement, performance management, and learning/ development exist in separate areas of an organisation and seem disconnected from the chief executive’s office they have the right ongoing coaching conversations with their team members so that both well-being and performance are maximised.

What’s your take on metrics that organisations should factor in to measure the ROI of wellness schemes? Organisations should hold themselves accountable for the value of well-being initiatives and offerings. This means studying usage and its relationship to actual employee well-being, retention rates, and performance outcomes. Gallup Net Thriving is an easy-to-use two-part question that provides a measure of thriving, struggling or suffering employees. Gallup has developed a portfolio of validated well-being metrics that can be used at different times, depending on where the organisation is on its well-being journey. november 2021 |


What should the role of CEOs and top leaders be when it comes to envisioning and implementing wellbeing initiatives? How should leaders devise strategies and plan for long-term holistic employee well-being and empathetic leadership? Well-being initiatives that

come from the CEO’s office work best. Cultural change is an outcome of the expectations and messages that leaders convey, both through their words and actions. CEOs need to demonstrate that they are, themselves, committed to improving their own well-being. Too often, well-being, employee engagement, performance management, and learning/ development exist in separate areas of an organisation and seem disconnected from the chief executive’s office. To change a culture, an organisation needs a strategy for how each of these practices reinforce and build on one another. Managers are reporting higher burnout and stress than the people they manage. So, culture change starts when leaders have a plan for how they improve the experience of managing. This includes upskilling managers so that


prompt well-being in a way that is embedded by design? The office features for which employees are most likely to change jobs include more flexible work time, more privacy when needed, more personal workspace, and comfortable temperature. Gallup has also found that office features related to employee engagement include the ability to see the outdoors, noise reduction, and ease of collaboration and movement. Flexible time and location are clearly the most sought-after work design elements.


The evolution of corporate wellness industry through the pandemic



Mental well-being has been under the spotlight all year, but it is just one of the major trends in corporate wellness. Next to it are changes in how wellness is delivered, and changes in how wellness is even viewed at a strategic level by organisations


By Mint Kang


irst, there were fears that benefits would be slashed as part of costcutting strategies, as organisations struggled to cope with the economic upheavals in the first half of 2020. Then, companies moved to enhance their benefits and well-being programmes instead, recognising how much stress the pandemic was placing on the workforce, and also realising that they would have to overhaul their approach to workplace wellness in order to attract and retain talent. That shift in emphasis kept the corporate wellness industry up and growing while other industries were hit by the pandemic – various estimates value the global market for corporate wellness at over US$50 | november 2021

billion as of 2020, with growth projections ranging between 7-9 per cent annually for the next few years. Three major industry trends stand out as people strategies and employee expectations change.

The demand for more strategic well-being offerings The pandemic 'stepped on the emergency button of many employers', says Pheona Chua from the corporate health and wellbeing practice of Willis Towers Watson Asia Pacific. Workplace wellness was already on the rise before 2020, driven globally by

younger generations' expectations and a rise in chronic health conditions, but the pandemic accelerated that growth, she adds. 'Well-being has thus been pushed to the forefront of many employers’ mind, being now a key business agenda,' she explains. 'More employers are also adopting a more strategic and long-term approach when it comes to well-being as compared to the previously tactical or short-term approach.' Corporate wellness providers concur, saying they have noticed a much higher tendency to view benefits strategically since

The shift to digital well-being and virtual services

The second major trend in the industry is the growth of telehealth as an accessible and acceptable alternative. Last year, hospitals and clinics scaled back their services to deal with the influx of COVID patients and to comply with health and safety regulations; wellness providers faced delivery constraints for similar reasons. 'Some providers have not been able to deliver on-site support to employees as they did in the past,' says Boudou. 'This has meant a lot of service providers have had to diversify their offerings using Zoom or webinars to deliver their services.' At the same time, a combination of digital acceleration and changing usage patterns made employers and employees alike more


would be more likely to take a one-size-fits-all approach. Personalisation also extends to changing usage, according to Chris Teo, CEO of Mednefits, who has found that companies now want greater flexibility in product offerings. 'They want to provide employees with plans that are less rigid and can cover a range of benefits,' he says – citing how, during lockdown periods, employees became less likely to visit the GP and more likely to use dental, optical, or wellness services. Not only that, he adds, employers want that flexibility in the payment model as well: even as they enhance their benefits packages, they are seeking ways to control the cost. 'We do notice that companies are more mindful of their cash flows and thus opt for a pay-as-you-go model to ensure that their funds are mindfully utilised.'


the pandemic began. For example, employers are increasingly thinking of benefits in terms of engagement, productivity, and even overall business approach. In terms of demand, this means they are moving to much more inclusive, flexible, and personalised wellness packages, citing reasons ranging from employee expectations to environmental contingencies and even cost management. 'We are seeing many employers move to programmes that offer a holistic and personalised approach where all employees feel included, regardless of their health profile,' observes Jay Boudou, the regional lead for APAC at Virgin Pulse. This focus on overall employee health, he feels, is one of the biggest changes in the industry – prior to COVID, employers

The corporate wellness industry continued growing all through the pandemic, and is projected to stay on its upward trend in the years to come, as it adapts to changing people strategies and employee expectations november 2021 |




open to virtual healthcare. Virtual consultations, mental health programmes, and online informational programmes, just to name a few, are far more popular than they were a year ago, and even assessment and triage for COVID-19 patients has successfully gone online. Chris Ferruzzi, head of product marketing at MyDoc, says that telehealth is being used both as a way to reduce the risk of COVID infection and to help take the load off the healthcare system. For exam-


of leading a healthy lifestyle is met with more demand for virtual care options that go beyond a doctor consultation.' Unsurprisingly, corporate wellness providers have been pouring resources into their digital capabilities. They are stepping up investment in their digital platforms, ranging from integration with other workplace platforms to introducing more advanced AI features, to overhauling their dashboards and broadening their content offerings.

Employers are taking a more strategic and long-term approach to workforce well-being; virtual medicine has become both more accessible and more adaptable; and mental health has come much more strongly under the spotlight ple, in Singapore, where a home recovery option has been developed for COVID patients, telehealth is used to help assess, triage, and check in on these patients. Ferruzzi also points to changes in user behaviour, especially in countries that have seen rises in COVID-19 cases. 'Users are generally more cautious and aware of their health,' he describes this shift. 'They are seeking out digital-based care options to reduce the potential risks of transmission. The magnified importance | november 2021

Some, like Virgin Pulse, are even adding social features to their wellness apps or expanding existing features.

The boom in mental health services

The third major trend, and possibly the most visible one, is the emphasis on mental well-being. In 2020, employers realised that workforce burnout is a serious risk, and this quickly developed into the realisation that employee mental health can be a major factor in a company's abil-

ity to compete for talent. As a result, the demand for mental health services as part of benefits packages shot up in 2020 and is projected to continue rising. 'We’ve noticed a sharp rise by corporates in the request for mental wellness-related webinars and HR initiatives relating to wellness for their employees,' says Lim Wai Mun, founder and CEO of Doctor Anywhere. 'While the increase in mental wellness awareness has been part of a larger ongoing trend, COVID19 has certainly accelerated it.' On top of this, he has observed more insurers and self-insured corporates actively looking to include mental wellness services in their programmes and benefits packages. 'This has been really heartening to observe. Because while in the past, mental health coverage was largely an afterthought, employers are now proactively approaching providers like us to request for mental health coverage and programme support,' he says. Virgin Pulse's Boudou has similar observations to share: 'Whilst mental help support has been a priority for a number of years, we have seen an increase in requests from our customers in the last twelve months. Use of Employer Assistance Programs has increased, and we are also seeing an increase in the use of our resilience tools such as digi-

'There has been an increase in the uptake, but not as much as you would maybe expect given the spotlight that mental health has taken in the last two years,' Solitario says. 'While many companies are placing their values behind supporting the mental health of their workers, there are still budget limitations and hesitation to invest in long-term mental health solutions. In our experience, wellness

of all Asia Pacific organisations over the next two years; employers are looking at mobile apps to drive physical well-being and planning to find better ways of monitoring mental and emotional well-being. Wellness providers, meanwhile, are looking into increasingly innovative and/or customer-focused products and services. Some, like MyDoc, are working on expanding the virtual or

What's the path forward?

For the next few years at least, the corporate wellness landscape seems likely to continue developing around these three trends. Willis Towers Watson research shows that integrating wellbeing into the benefits package has become the top strategic objective for two-thirds

home-based care services in their portfolios, including chronic disease management – the top concern preCOVID, and one that has not diminished in urgency despite the pandemic. Others, like Doctor Anywhere and Medibio, are concentrating their efforts on mental health, including developing assessment tools and self-learning programmes or engaging in clinical research studies to expand their capabilities in the field. 'A lot of digital providers will emerge to fill in the gaps of services and solutions needed,' predicts Willis Towers Watson's Pheona Chua. There may even be policy implications, she adds: 'Previously regulated services such as telehealth might see policies changes in some markets in order to cater to the new needs.' For wellness providers, the industry today is filled with opportunities as new expectations emerge, and also with competition as more products and services come on the market. For employers and HR practitioners, that just means more and better options, suited to the organisation's and the workforce's specific needs. The real winners in this evolving corporate wellness landscape, though, are employees; who will, ideally, be much better looked after than they were before the pandemic. november 2021 |


budgets are one of the first to be cut in times of financial uncertainty.'


tal coaching topics on reducing stress,' he says. But despite that demand, several providers have noticed that employers still seem reluctant to really get behind the mental wellbeing agenda. The main obstacle appears to be cost combined with a general lack of knowledge about where to start with mental well-being, according to Jennifer Solitario, SVP for corporate health at Medibio.


Measuring and delivering 'impact' of well-being programs With the well-being agenda on the priority list for organisations globally, HR leaders need to innovate strategies to measure the impact of health schemes and enable a work culture that takes care of its people at all times, in the face of every challenge By Asmaani Kumar



The need to measure ROI



he well-being agenda has been on the priority list for HR leaders for quite some time but in the post-pandemic world, there is a rise in the urgency to implement programs that take into account all aspects of well-being. Offering support to one another to move through these challenging months is critical to building a workforce that is not simply resilient but is also motivated to live up to their full potential. People are at the heart of any organisation’s journey to deliver impact and innovate and hence, how well-being initiatives are carried out | november 2021

must be continuously evaluated and changed accordingly. This is where the importance of measuring ROI comes in. Any HR initiative that an organisation carries out requires developing a business case and this applies to well-being programs as well. In order to tailor such programs to meet organisational needs, continuous investments need to be made. Be it to drive business growth or ensure a positive employee experience, no organisation can seek to achieve results without keeping the people first.

Gartner’s survey of 50 HR leaders conducted this year showed that 64% of companies provided new well-being offerings to support their staff, while 34% of companies expanded access to their existing offerings. This is evidence of the increasing emphasis on well-being programs among HR leaders and their staff but the challenge of measuring its impact will continue to be prevalent. But leaders must overcome this challenge if they want to cater to the physical and mental wellbeing of their employees. Kalpak Huddar, HR Head - India & ANZ rightly points out, ‘You should measure ROI in every investment you make. It tells you if the investment is effective or not. More than ROI, we should call them “effect metric". Any engagement that addresses employee well-being and wellness would result in healthier and happier employees which in turn drives better productivity and customer satisfaction.” An interesting point which Sue Steel, Chief People &

Culture Officer, Bizpay shared with People Matters is: ‘Measuring ROI is also important to counter the perception that it’s fashionable for employers to roll out health and well-being programs simply as a way of portraying a responsible corporate image. The only way to truly know whether these programs are hitting the mark and making a difference is to ensure that they are evaluated following implementation, and continually evaluated.’


at TEAM LEWIS, the global communications agency. Enrolment and participation figures are great if you want to have a general measure of success. But, especially today where competition for talent is at an all-time high, culture, retention and engagement rank high on the priority list. Running these programs should also be a collaborative effort, HR teams must work with marketing teams to assess employee advocacy – look into who your top advocates are and how employees are november 2021 |


on engagement levels and have developed a culture of physiological safety where staff can speak up and tell what is working and what is not, then organisations have reached their real VOI and ROI metrics. ‘Success should be measured differently based on factors or considerations such as how established your well-being programs are, the tenure of employees or the business challenges your company is facing,’ advocates Jen Wu, VP, People, APAC & EMEA


A significant debate that has come up in measuring the impact of wellbeing programs is deciding between ROI and VOI. The difference is that the former caters to the management or reduction of health care costs and sick days whose hard data can be easily found and tend to get measured in dollars. What VOI (Value on Investment) does is take a more holistic approach to measure impact which targets the overall employee experience. Data is difficult to find as these are ‘softer measures’ and are often self-reported. However, one thing is certain: one cannot be preferred over the other. Steel affirms that the best companies use both and it is only when company metrics are being tracked across all departments, leaders can check

The present context is completely different with a hybrid working model in place which pushes leaders to innovate strategies to measure the impact of well-being programs because the old metrics are no longer sufficient to measure the diverse circumstances and incorporate the diverse needs


sharing work-life content with their peers on social, Jen adds.



Best practices for leaders moving forward


Gartner’s research reveals that only 46% of employees feel that their organisation’s well-being programs are personalised. One size fits all well-being approach simply doesn’t work. Personalisation is key to correcting this but that also requires measuring the impact of well-being programs by moving beyond ROI. With soft measurements being integral to this endeavour, Steel recommends the use of bi-annual employee engagement surveys as well as employee Net Promoter Score which includes productivity, energy levels, presenteeism, the overall mood and culture as well as sense of purpose. But we must proceed with caution. She further adds,

| november 2021

‘self-reported outcomes suffer from the usual biases – those who are not proficient in English, manual workers, workers who don’t use a computer, shift workers – are less likely to know about and complete surveys. So there has to be extra effort to get to these people – perhaps collecting this information via Toolbox talks or timesheets or verbal surveys rather than written or online’. This raises the point of how in innovating strategies to measure impact, inclusivity must not be overlooked. Jen talks about how the focus in measuring impact should be on trends; it is only when leaders are flexible and open to making adjustments by identifying positive or negative trends can real impact be delivered because catering to the wellbeing of employees is not a one-time process. Because people are more than

numbers. She also advises leaders to build avenues that will help collect a variety of views along with consistent reporting metrics. Engagement surveys can be carried out both on a large and small scale. Exit interview feedback can also be leveraged to take pre-emptive measures wherever needed to enhance and ensure wellbeing in the workplace. It cannot be denied that the present context is completely different with a hybrid working model in place. This itself pushes leaders to innovate strategies to measure the impact of well-being programs because the old metrics are no longer sufficient to measure the diverse circumstances and incorporate the diverse needs. Well-being initiatives have to not only be open to personalisation but also have to continuously be adapted to the changing circumstances. This requires all leaders to sink their hands into what’s working and what isn’t and to increase their access to knowledge from all fronts and ensure that every voice is heard. It is no longer about meeting business needs and cutting down costs, it is also ensuring that the people who are part of your journey in this transformed world of work are always taken care of.

The art and science of creating a climate for well-being Psychologists view well-being on a continuum, where a low state of well-being is ‘languishing’ and a high state of well-being is ‘flourishing’ By Richard Smith, PhD.


The well-being concept can be traced in psychol-

Professor Keyes at Emory University introduced the notion that an individual has both positive and negative feelings as well as positive and negative functioning, which created a new perspective on individual wellbeing


Patient health

ogy research to better define the state of mental health (i.e. the absence of mental illness, the impact of physical discomfort, degree of depression, etc.). The early application of well-being was in clinical and healthcare settings over the past several decades. One of the most widely accepted medical wellbeing measures is known as the WHO-5. This measure adopted by the World Health Organisation in 1998 consists of five factors and is often used in medical settings to gauge patient recovery and status. For example, if a person is recovering from a serious accident or surgery, a medical professional may gauge the person’s well-being by asking about feelings in daily life such as being cheerful, calm, vigorous, interested, and rested during the past two weeks. This subjective measure of well-being provides medical professionals with a common way to screen signs of depression and measure medical outcomes.


s people have been locked down in isolation and kept from normal social interactions, cases and issues associated with stress, depression, and anxiety have been on the rise. Many leaders and employers have recognised this challenge and are concerned with employee well-being. While there has long been a focus by progressive HR leaders on the topic of wellness, the topic of well-being has traditionally been used in the fields of medicine and psychology. I have observed many organisations using the term loosely; so it seems beneficial to step back and reflect on both the science as well as the art associated with employee well-being. Let me highlight well-being in terms of patient, public, individual, and employee health before addressing well-being in the workplace.

Public health

Well-being can be a concern in society as public health leaders work to address factors that lead to depression with ageing populations, incidents of teen suicide, and general longevity and vitality in geographic communities. Boston University has developed a community wellbeing index to measure well-being by location in the november 2021 |


USA. By combining social health factors of access to healthcare, food, housing, and other resources with individual well-being factors of physical, community, purpose, social, and financial health, they can identify key areas to address in local and regional public health agendas. Similar efforts are being considered by the World Economic Forum to encourage policymakers to think beyond GDP toward a more holistic view of what matters in the lives of citizens.



Individual health


More recently, Professor Keyes at Emory University introduced the notion that an individual has both positive and negative feelings as well as positive and negative functioning, which created a new perspective on individual well-being. In other words, well-being is a subjective and psychological construct based on the state of mind and a whole life experience. Key factors include positive vs. negative feelings, general life satisfaction, self-acceptance, and social acceptance. Through this holistic individual perspective, psychologists view well-being on a continuum, where a low state of well-being is languishing and a high state of wellbeing is flourishing. Recent studies, including Gallup’s well-being approach centers on a few key factors related to purpose, social, financial, | november 2021

physical, and community satisfaction.

Employee health

Research on human capital in the workplace has highlighted the linkages between employee sentiment and company performance as well as links to turnover, absenteeism, and overall labour costs. As a result, employers have taken a renewed interest in the wellness, engagement, and satisfaction of their workforce. ‘The Great Place to Work Institute’ measures a variety of factors to highlight the cultural and managerial practices that provide a positive and healthy work environment. Their best place to work results are highly linked to overall firm performance over time. While well-being is much broader than one’s employment, the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the

interdependencies between work life and home life, raising interest and a focus on employee well-being. Further, the pandemic altered how we experience life at work, which oftentimes created a misalignment between individual needs and their constrained environment. Many employers are concerned about not only employee physical health but also about their mental well-being given the disruptions in the lives of people around the world.

What is employee wellbeing?

When it comes to the wellbeing of employees in the workplace, there are many dimensions and variables to consider. For simplicity, I have synthesised these into five broad areas that contribute to positive mental health at work. These include: • Positive effect – This

relates to the positive feelings and experiences that build and sustain positive mental energy. Positive attribution can build optimism, energy, hope, and confidence for people, which builds what is known as psychological capital. This positive orientation can greatly influence an individual’s outlook and perception of their surroundings or workplace. An individual who experiences strong positive affect has been shown to better reduce stress and anxiety.

By creating a climate that consists of positive affect, a sense of purpose, personal support, financial health, and meaningful connections, business leaders can provide a foundation for positive well-being that allows employees to flourish omy can be a critical factor in providing a sense of personal support to employees. Managers can also demonstrate support through employee development and career growth opportunities.


personal needs. An environment of equity and inclusion is also necessary to create psychological safety and teamwork, which can foster a sense of belonging. While overall well-being is a subjective construct based • Financial health – When on overall life satisfaction employees lack adequate • Sense of purpose – This and psychological factors, financial resources, anxicomes from experiencing a employers can address ety and fear can affect sense of fulfilment, meanmental health at work by their outlook. While some ing and progress at work. creating a climate of wellmight argue that people are Having a strong sense of being. There is a significant never satisfied with their purpose has been linked body of scientific research compensation, it is importo higher resilience, or the behind the measures of welltant that employees earn ability to bounce back from being and the psychologian amount of money to setbacks. When an indical constructs. At the same feel financially stable and vidual’s role is aligned to time, there is a bit of ‘Art’ in capable to live freely. Finanthe mission of the organithe way that managers and cial dissatisfaction can also sation or when the tasks employers can address collecarise when there is ineqbeing accomplished can tive and individual needs uity in the compensation be identified as critical, a in the workplace. By creatpractices within a workhigher sense of purpose or ing a climate that consists place, which highlights the of positive affect, a sense of fulfilment can be fostered. importance of equality in purpose, personal support, • Personal support – Workpay practices. financial health, and meaning with others, especially • Meaningful connections – ingful connections, business managers, who create an Social relationships that leaders can provide a founatmosphere that is safe, are supportive can be asso- dation for positive well-being trusting, and respectful that allows employees to ciated with lower stress can be an important part flourish. levels. Having meaningful of well-being. High levels and caring relationships of support are evidenced Richard R. Smith, PhD is a with co-workers and leadwhen employees have Professor at Johns Hopkins University ers is an important part of where he also serves as Vice Dean, more flexibility, control, the work experience, espe- Education and Partnerships at the and resources to accomCarey Business School cially when other support plish their goals. Autonnovember 2021 |


A critical moment for leaders to make conscious efforts to tackle employee ‘burnout’: CHRO, InMobi Group Leaders should strive to become a pillar of support for their employees to whom they can turn in times of crisis, says Sahil Mathur, CHRO, InMobi Group



By Mastufa Ahmed



mployee burnout is on the rise. Organisations globally are striving hard to decode the triggers behind the issue and implementing employee benefit schemes that cover all aspects of worker well-being. This is a critical moment for leaders to prioritise wellness and bring forth situations that provide people psychological safety and also make them trust the organisation as one that openly talks about and addresses things related to employee wellbeing, says Sahil Mathur - Global Head of Human Resources and Culture at InMobi Group, in an inter| november 2021

action with us. Previously, Sahil held various positions at InMobi including Head of Partnerships and Head of Global Revenue Insights and Delivery. Prior to InMobi, Sahil was the Head of the Hyderabad Office and Head of Operations for Facebook. He also held leadership roles in sales, business development, and customer delivery at Google, Coors Brewing Company, and Cognizant Technology Solutions. Here are the excerpts of the interview.

According to several studies, business leaders are adapting their approaches and shoring up commitments to employee well-being in a bid to future-proof their businesses. How is the workplace benefits (and well-being) scenario transforming? With substantial shifts in the workplace environment and the onset of virtual connections, businesses are rethinking their operations and adapting to the new normal. So are employees. It has become imperative to have an engaged workforce in this environment to be able to stay relevant in the future. InMobi has taken detailed steps to understand the requirements of people across technical/functional/behavioural/leadership upskilling. The focus

Businesses have always run based on numbers, profits, and revenue, and it’s on the leaders to help focus on employees. As an organisation, a culture of keeping employee wellbeing and care at the front and center is important

help people discover themselves with a strong emphasis on a growth mindset. There are structured coaching programs, mentoring mechanisms, a network of psychotherapists and counsellors, assistance programs, confidants in the system, managers being trained on addressing well-being situations, and leadership coaching. Along with this, we are

fail. What’s your advice for employers to move from the conventional organisational benefit programs to weave well-being into the fabric of the organisation by design? Businesses have always run based on numbers, profits, and revenue, and it’s on the leaders to help focus on employees. As an organisation a culture of keeping employee well-being and

care at the front and center is important. At InMobi, we have that stand. This week, we are celebrating our 14th anniversary and our employees are the ones who have helped the business to grow and flourish, and we need to give them an environment that is rooted in their well-being. We have moved on from the conventional aspect of viewing well-being as a supplementary project to making it one of the focus points of the organisations. Understanding work-life harmony and being empathetic towards employees is the key factor to drive any initiatives focused on employees. Leaders should strive to become a pillar of support for their employees to whom they can turn to in times of crisis. We need to support and bring forth situations that provide people psychological safety and also make them trust the organisation as one that openly talks about and addresses things related to employee well-being.


Despite the sizable investments organisations make in well-being initiatives, many

also adding additional days of leave for addressing wellbeing scenarios. There are benefits being provided for gyms and also in-house trainers for physical exercises daily. Besides, we are moving towards flexible benefit plans across geographies where employees have a say in choosing the benefits that matter to them most.


is to ensure that there is a learning stroke for all folks in a scalable yet personalised way. Amongst all of this, there is a deep focus on employee well-being. Sessions are offered in various ways - e-learning, virtual sessions, blended learning along with individual and group coaching sessions. All are related to mindfulness, mental health, emotional well-being, physical well-being, and the likes. The core philosophy is to

While savvy employers are keeping a check on health performance indicators to meter what is working and what is not and identify opportunities for improvement, but isn’t it challenging to tackle given the level of burnout and fatigue employees are going through? How can organisations tackle such challenges? The dynamics of work is november 2021 |


How would businesses justify the business case - in terms of adaptability, innovation, and employee experience, for investing in wellbeing? What metrics do you factor in to measure the RoI? The changes we have seen since the pandemic began have pushed firms to make added efforts in reinventing and strategising on the priorities. The substantial shift in work culture



diversifying and given the pandemic, remote working and lack of physical connect, the level of fatigue and burnout that employees are facing is high. It is on the company culture and values, and its leadership to have focused attention to employee’s wellbeing. As the intensity of fatigue rises, leaders need to make a conscious decision to help eliminate the reasons that lead to it.

To support our employee's well-being, we have taken various initiatives such as No meeting Fridays, Wellness leaves, Counselling Networks, grief addressal sessions, mindfulness series, body-mind integration workshops, therapy support and more. Over the past few months, we have seen our employees can simply address, acknowledge, and recoup effectively. 60

| november 2021

has positioned HR into the forefront to be able to make conscious efforts to address employee well-being, the upskilling race and the future of workspaces. I strongly believe employee engagement and satisfaction scores are to be looked at in different dimensions. A few key metrics that could provide direction and guidance could be promotion and attri-

tion rates, employees utilizing the benefits provided, learning programs that they got themselves enrolled in, stretching beyond normal working days to overtime presence and so forth. There is no one size fits all. The leadership at any company needs to be cognizant of their own culture fabric and track the metrics in a holistic manner as it must impact the business and therefore company growth rates. All of this while not ignoring employee well-being, as one leads to another.

Where do you see the workplace benefits landscape two years down the line? The workspace is continuously evolving keeping in mind the current scenario and employees wanting to have a more flexible environment. Working from anywhere has become a norm for all of us now, and with no geographical barriers for talent, this has given us the ability to hire employees from anywhere around the globe. We believe our employees are the backbone of our business, and even two years down the line, we want to ensure our employees get necessary benefits and have the flexibility of choice, being more agile and providing psychological safety and customisation at the workspace.

By default, things happen; by design, we make things happen It's quintessential to adapt to the changing dynamics of the challenging time. Our method and place of work have demanded a revisit in terms of approach, model and policies. People want to be appreciated, but they wish for organisations to realise the overall need, including well-being as primary factors By Dr Ankita Singh



stress and anxiety at work; and 85 per cent said their mental health issues at work negatively affected their home life. With stress levels rising, several organisations have taken note and immediately adopted new rules and guidelines at work where people’s emotional health took primacy over productivity targets. Most organisations implemented the TEAM model to sail through this crisis: Technology, Empathy, Adaptability, and Mindfulness. It did wonders to people who stood for their teams when members needed it the most. A study by the American Psychological Association states that psychologically healthy workplace practices can be grouped into five categories: Employee


he boundaries between work and home have faded to the extent that, in most cases, it's difficult to identify, define or control. A way of working, which hadn’t ever before been envisioned, emerged overnight when employees were limited to working from home for an unspecified period, leaving them clueless, directionless, and uncertain about circumstances in their work and personal realm. Life lost its balance. Employees struggled to start this new phase of working since nobody knew where they were headed and for how long. Many looked for security, understanding, support, care, and help. According to a report from Oracle, 75 per cent of respondents said the pandemic had negatively affected their mental health; 68 per cent said they preferred to talk to a robot over their manager about

With stress levels at work rising, several organisations have taken note and immediately adopted new rules and guidelines. Most organisations implemented the TEAM model: Technology, Empathy, Adaptability, and Mindfulness november 2021 |



Recognition, Employee growth and Development, Work-life Balance, Health and Safety, and Employee Involvement. Organisations needed to include all the aspects of wellness while defining the strategies. A plan that is PEOPLE centric: Purposeful, Engaging, Open, Participative, Logical, and Enabling. Installing a culture that fosters employee wellness helps decrease job turnover, increase trust index, better collaboration, increase job satisfaction, manage stress, and reduce absenteeism, among other things. Wellness now is not just confined to the office but home too. Organisations, when defining their wellness strategy, should consider factors using the acronym of DESIGN; to present the INTENT of the strategy:

Doable: People spend half – or more – of their day online so conventional ways may not always help; for effective collaboration, organisations must work on Digital, Personal, and Hybrid solutions; whatever suits the team and business the most. The wellness plan should identify not only what you want but also what you can achieve. It should factor in the current situation, need, organisation's ability, correlation, and timeframe, not just the trend. Empathetic: According to a Career Builder report, three in five workers say they are burnt out in their current jobs, and 31 per cent of respondents report significantly elevated stress levels at work. Organisations should use the power of empathy to recognise indi-

vidual needs before defining the plan to improve the quality of the initiatives offered to the employees to enable and empower them. A culture that promotes open communication and has a robust feedback system helps the company and the employee align to the purpose, goal, and values. Simple: Not all employees can follow the same routine; offering flexibility creates a positive environment and helps them to be what they are and what they want to be, which directly boosts their productivity and engagement. The organisation and its employees should be able to timely decode the purpose and intent to participate, support, and benefit from the defined plan. Intuitive: Plan! It's better to PREPARE than REPAIR. Employees expect organisa-

The wellness plan should identify not only what you want but also what you can achieve. It should factor in the current situation, need, organisation's ability, correlation, and timeframe, not just the trend 62

| november 2021

a survey done by United Healthcare showed that 56 per cent of employees had fewer sick days and higher productivity levels because of wellness programs. The same is echoed in a survey conducted by Forbes, which says that about 77 per cent of employees feel that workplace wellness programs positively impact the company culture. The pandemic has taken a massive toll on everyone's life. Organisations have learnt from this crisis that their greatest asset is their PEOPLE, so it's essential to understand and improve employee wellness in all aspects.

The COVID-19 crisis pushed us to accept that the well-being of employees is far more important than work numbers. If people are well taken care of, they will ensure organisations' priorities and processes are in place. It took a pandemic to make us realise what we are missing. In the coming years, organisations will win the game if they continue to place a personalised WELLNESS strategy in their priority list.


The pandemic has taken a massive toll on everyone's life. Organisations have learnt from this crisis that their greatest asset is their PEOPLE, so it's essential to understand and improve employee wellness in all aspects


tions to cater to the current essential needs but also be future-centric. Deep dive using data-based employee experience/wellness insights to define, update, tweak or change the plan when required. Goal: SMART goals help organisations access, plan, implement, review and rework when needed to purposefully meet the wellness requirements of the changing times and the changing needs of the employees. The WHY must be proactively defined and shared with all the stakeholders; that's when they buy-in. Need-based: It's OK if employees wish to talk to a BOT, not the manager! What's needed, when given, is valued most. Organisations may launch the best of initiatives, but they will surely fail if that's not in line with their people and business requirement and capability. We are in a unique phase that calls for unique initiatives, policies, and programs for each unique individual. One Virgin Pulse report showed how, for 78 per cent of employers, well-being is a vital part of their business plans, indicating that organisations are not going by the default model but investing well to see change and take care of their people. The equation was further verified when

Dr Ankita Singh is the Senior Vice President and Global Head of HR at CIGNEX Datamatics. november 2021 |


Reimagining employee well-being Investing in well-being can yield numerous benefits for the individual employee and the entire organisation. But are employers looking in the right places? By Fara Siddiqi



related to mental health and other illnesses that arise from sedentary lifestyles have increased considerably in recent years so these costs can affect a company’s bottom line. Employees with lower stress levels are also more productive and motivated to deliver on organisational goals. Highly motivated and engaged employees exert effort and perform at their best. And so, ensuring their well-being at work is business-critical.



here is good reason for organisations to promote workplace well-being: it produces numerous benefits in and of itself. These include greater talent attraction and retention; reduced absenteeism; lower stress levels; and improved morale and engagement. With this in mind, we also know that talent attraction and retention are essential to improving productivity. Corporations that focus on well-being can thus improve their profitability. For one, medical costs | november 2021

The role of leadership in instilling workplace wellbeing Leadership plays a significant role in promoting well-being in the workplace because it establishes organisational goals, allocates resources, and signals essential values that employees should prioritise. Making

well-being part of organisational culture can thus amplify its significance to employees and ensure processes and relationships align towards this goal. Creating workplaces that embrace well-being does require investment. Leaders must ensure the appropriate allocation of resources to activities and processes related to wellness. When leaders make well-being an essential organisational agenda, it creates a cascading effect down the organisational structure, orienting people’s energy towards its implementation.

Reimagining the modern workspace Incorporating design features and amenities that bolster wellness at work requires a shift from the traditional approach to workplace design. Organisations that wish to promote well-being by design must abandon the space-centric mentality of traditional office considerations and focus on the modern peoplecentric perspective. Traditionally, organisations approached office design by making work

Making well-being part of organisational culture can amplify its significance to employees and ensure processes and relationships align towards this goal

Organisations that wish to promote well-being by design must abandon the spacecentric mentality of traditional office considerations and focus on the modern people-centric perspective

HR leaders on the forefront of well-being

HR leaders will need to focus on well-being now more than ever because of higher workplace stress and longer working hours causing burnout. They are responsible for cultivating a well-being

strategy – the cornerstone of employees’ physical, mental, emotional, and even financial health, especially as their personal and professional lives overlap. HR leaders will also play an instrumental role in fostering a culture of well-being for the broader team and the organisation at large, which will support overall performance. There is enough justification for investing in employee well-being. It can improve their overall employee experience, boost engagement and retention, and create a positive impact on the overall organisational performance. It can also create more meaning at work, building a strong relationship between the individual and the organisation.


looks at the physical, mental, emotional, and financial aspects of a person’s life circumstances. Care needs to be taken to customise well-being offerings based on what works best for each employee. A good example would be to look at how a well-being program is structured in a healthcare organisation where nurses, doctors, and paramedics form the majority of the employee population. Considering their stress and burnout arising from the pandemic, initiatives that focus on their mental health, as well as overall fitness, can help bolster their well-being.


processes and functional needs the centre of decisionmaking. However, a peoplecentric approach has become more necessary because workforce dynamics have changed dramatically. They blend work and personal life in the workplace, making a holistic approach to wellbeing indispensable. This requires organisations to relinquish control over workspaces to employees, which means allowing people to choose how to work and arrange their environments. Some of the features of user-controlled workspaces include adjustable seating arrangements that allow people to stand or sit as they work. Introducing nature elements in the workplace is another way to embed design features that support well-being. This is because people have a biological need to interact with nature. In fact, exposure to nature indoors has been shown to improve employees’ health and motivation. Reducing noise distractions by separating collaborative and individual workspaces and ensuring adequate natural lighting are other methods towards holistic wellness. Another element that needs to be factored in is in taking on a ‘design thinking’ approach while looking at employee well-being programs and initiatives. For instance, holistic well-being

Fara Siddiqi is the Group Chief Human Resources Officer of Aster DM Healthcare. november 2021 |


Well, we are being forced to attend to well-being! Organisations are diverting resources, putting in place processes and systems, and training employees on areas including mental health and emotional intelligence



By Clinton Wingrove



e have known for decades that employee engagement is key to enhanced performance. Many organisations also knew that paying attention to employee well-being played a part in sustaining engagement. But, the pandemic has thrown a whole new light on the issue. That light has proved to be a searing laser beam, burning

| november 2021

deep into the consciences of executives. They now preach the importance of employee well-being. Why? Because they can see the bottomline impact, not necessarily because they care. Executives now see that the route to a sustainable organisation is to focus on creating healthy and ethical workplaces; environments in which employees are equipped, encouraged and supported to look after their mental, emotional, physi-

cal and financial health. Resources are being diverted to it, processes and systems are being put in place, and training is being conducted in all manner of related topics such as mental health, emotional intelligence, yoga, pilates, mindfulness, resilience, and meditation, …the list grows by the day. ‘Life is about being made to do something and then being glad you were made to,’ Anon. Are these efforts admirable? Of course, they are. Do the companies that are implementing these amazing schemes deserve the accolades, praise, and PR they are getting? Frankly, that is questionable. Why were they not doing it before they were forced to? We should all have been doing much of this work decades

cal and financial health? Of course. Should we continue to make apps, processes, and services available to them for when they need them? Of course. And, we need to lay much stronger foundations by creating cultures that genuinely reflect healthy and ethical workplaces. We need to educate, upskill, and encourage every employee to care for the health and well-being of every other employee with whom they interact – never to walk on by when they suspect an issue. From such a pool of employees who truly care, we then need to select into

people-management roles, only those who demonstrate the passion, capability, and commitment to managing people well. Only when such individuals start to occupy the senior ranks of our organisations will we genuinely have healthy and ethical workplaces because we care and not simply because we were made to by profit motives and external forces.


Organisations that are investing in ensuring employee well-being will reap short-term rewards. The challenge they will face is sustaining interest and engagement with the apps, processes, and services once the initial enthusiasm has worn off


ago. We knew then the positive impact that these tactics can have on productivity. So, why didn’t we? Probably, a combination of shortterm thinking (focusing on the next quarter’s profit, rather than on the organisation’s sustainability), and processes that produce managers and leaders at the higher levels who don’t honestly care about their staff as much as they should (they typically got there by being excellent at something other than bringing out the best in people). Clearly, those organisations that are investing in ensuring employee wellbeing will reap short-term rewards. They will see a return on their investment and continue to promote their initiatives. The challenge they will face is sustaining interest; sustaining engagement with the apps, processes, and services once the initial enthusiasm has worn off. Until we focus on developing genuinely healthy and ethical working cultures, many of these initiatives will prove to be temporary band-aids and the parasitic pressures of cash-flow, cost containment, and profit targets will infect their effectiveness. We will move on to the next initiative. So, should we continue to focus on equipping employees to assess their own mental, emotional, physi-

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



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How ‘The Nutcracker’ by Hindustan Unilever is building the next generation of HR With sharp takeaways for every participant, the challenge– The Nutcracker by Hindustan Unilever, demystifies the HR function and adds value in terms of understanding HR roles and the strategic role played by the function in future-proofing the organization By Anushree Sharma


fast-changing global business environment is pressuring companies to rethink their internal and external customer-delivery models and accelerate their transformation agendas. The HR function can serve as the catalyst for such transformation by helping to create future-ready organizations. To meet these expectations, HR departments must


| november 2021

first be willing to transform themselves. They need to reexamine their own people strategies, organization structures, processes, and staff capabilities while leading by example in embracing technology. By doing so, HR can play a central role in building customer-centric organizations, driving business priorities, and delivering value. However, before HR teams

set up themselves on the transformation path, they need to first debunk some of the myths around the function. Amit Mehta, GM HR-Marketing(Home Care and Beauty & Personal Care) and Head-Employer Brand at Hindustan Unilever Limited shares “HR is an ever-evolving function, more now than any other time when organizations are gearing up for being future-fit.

According to him, the key myths around HR that surely need to be debunked for the talent of the future includes: “Growth in HR is slower compared to other functions in the organization” “HR partners facilitate discussions, they don’t really make decisions” “Automation will take away a lot of what HR professionals do today” “HR isn’t a technical function, can be done by anyone who is good with soft skills”

to steer through the realtime challenges and active engagement with HUL Leaders. With sharp takeaways for every participant, the challenge demystifies the function and adds value in terms of understanding HR roles and the strategic role played by HR in future-proofing the organization. People Matters interacted with all the three winning teams of ‘The Nutcracker 2021’ and asked about their journey, learnings, and takeaways from this competition:

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HR by setting the stage for a deep-seated understanding of HUL-HR through realtime challenges and active engagement with HUL Leaders. The idea behind this initiative was to demystify the function and add value in terms of understanding HR roles and the strategic role played by HR in future-proofing the organization.” The Nutcracker invites first-year students from the country’s esteemed institutes like XLRI, TISS and SCMHRD and allows them


To break the myths around HR by setting the stage for a deep-seated understanding of HR at HUL, the company annually hosts The Nutcracker. Mehta affirms, “The objective of “The Nutcracker” to break the myths around

The objective of “The Nutcracker” is to break the myths around HR by setting the stage for a deep-seated understanding of HUL-HR through real-time challenges and active engagement with HUL Leaders. The idea behind this initiative was to demystify the function and add value in terms of understanding HR roles and the strategic role played by HR in future-proofing the organization

Team Name: Expecto Patronum Team Members: Ananya Shukla, Ananyo Bhattacharyya, Paramita Das Institute: TISS What’s your vision for the Future of Work?

The future of work is about adapting to agile operating models and borderless workforce, the need for lifelong learning, and embracing diversity in its truest sense. HR will bring this to reality by focussing on 3Cs, a model which I learnt about during the HUL Nutcracker– Capacity, Capability and november 2021 |


Culture. HR will unlock the inner skills and motivation of the human capital and thus foster the creation of a purpose-driven organization. Developing capability will involve a robust model of reskilling and upskilling and cultivating a growth mindset through continuous feedback and coaching.


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How will Nutcracker add value to your HR journey?

Nutcracker assisted us in dispelling prevalent HR myths by facilitating a comprehensive grasp of the subject through realtime challenges and active involvement with illustrious senior HUL Leaders. It allowed aspiring leaders to don the thinking hat

Key takeaways from The Nutcracker

Nutcracker journey was an enriching experience that taught us the significance of collaboration in engen-

dering innovative solutions through late-night brainstorming sessions. Our three key takeaways from this journey are - people with purpose thrive, brands with purpose grow and companies with purpose last the 3 key enablers which are a part of Unilever’s compass strategy.

What sets you apart from others?

Our passion to envision the larger picture and curate a solution that is groundbreaking yet feasible sets us apart. We are distinguished by our commitment to break the norms and move from a transactional relationship with the workforce and embark on a transformation relationship with them.

Team Name: Gilhari Team Members: Achintya Mohan, Mudhapaka Sai Keerthana, Niraalii Institute: TISS

What’s your vision for the Future of Work? 70

of HR and solve challenges pertaining to skill transformation in the future of the work landscape. The learning sessions as a part of The Nutcracker have tremendously contributed to our appreciation of HR as a profession. We wish to amalgamate the learnings from Nutcracker with the theoretical learnings gained from the classroom. Thereafter as budding HR managers, we wish to act as a catalyst in implementing the future of work in our respective organizations.

In the rapidly changing | november 2021

dynamics of today’s business environment, the future of work is driven

by technology in a decentralised environment. Pandemic has accentuated the pace of change and we are looking at a really exciting future that is full of possibilities. Organizational hierarchy and structures are experiencing a revolutionary change and the nature and scope of work are undergoing a landmark transformation. Human resource personnel have one of the most significant roles to play in facilitating this change. They

have to act as the conscience keepers of organizations amidst the changing circumstances.

How will Nutcracker add value to your HR journey?

Key takeaways from The Nutcracker

Before Team Gilhari could crack the nut, it was almost on the verge of giving up. This brings us to the 3 key takeaways: • We are here simply because we were persistent. We kept on going

even when the path ahead was uncertain. • The sessions taught us that any future-ready organization needs a coordinated plan of action spanning across geographies and verticals. • We realised that the needs of individuals and businesses can be married together for the greater good of all the stakeholders.

What sets you apart from others? Diversity in the team and well-defined roles for each member sets us apart as a team.

and reskilling and upskilling the workforce to make them future-fit lies with the HR. The Future of work that we are aspiring for places the onus on HR who is handled with the responsibility to ensure security, the happiness of the workforce, productivity, and results for the organization at the same time.

What’s your vision for the Future of Work?

With the realities of work shifting dynamically and some organizations permanently adopting hybrid

model, ensuring employee wellness, maintaining the hi-tech and hi-touch aspect together, preparing the organization for the future with automation,

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Team Name: X-Women Team Members: Rangoli Kumar, Ainab Zaidi, Farheen Neyaz Institute: XLRI


Competitions like the Nutcracker by HUL are a boon for the student community as they help us to have hands-on experience with real-world problems. Nutcracker has been a breeding ground for generating fresh ideas and bringing a new perspective to look at the issues faced by the industry. Winning the Nutcracker has been a landmark mile-

stone in our HR journey. It has not only given us a chance to expand our knowledge base but has also taught us the true essence of the HR profession, that is the opportunity to create a difference in the lives of the employees of an organization.

How will Nutcracker add value to your HR journey?

The entire timeline of Nutcracker was designed intricately to intimate us to the myriad facets of HR and its real-world application when it comes to handling november 2021 |


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Nutcracker “Grip,” various sessions on busting the myths about HR, aligning various functional domains, and building a future-fit workforce were conducted. In the next stages Pop and Savour, we incorporated the learnings of all these sessions to bring a fresh and innovative solution to the case and presented them to the senior HUL Leaders. The key takeaway throughout all these stages was to consolidate the learnings with a refreshing take to find solutions to real-time business problems.

What sets you apart from others?

Competitions like the Nutcracker by HUL are a boon for the student community as they help us to have hands-on experience with real-world problems. Nutcracker has been a breeding ground for generating fresh ideas and bringing a new perspective to look at the issues faced by the industry the workforce of the largest FMCG. Each session was a deep-diving experience into the synergies that human resources bring about with functional domains, whether it was the supply chain or employee relations. The Nutcracker journey created by HUL was an enriching experience, helping us bust myths, retrospect internally to discover


| november 2021

our purpose and to align the future of work to the prevalent business models. Setting the tone for our path into the world of human resources, informed us of the agility required to deliver consistently.

Key takeaways from The Nutcracker An enriching experience, in the first stage of HUL

Coming from diverse backgrounds, what clicked for us was the synergy that we brought about by leveraging our strengths and filling in for the gaps in each others’ perspectives. Our individual approaches helped widen our outlook through every interaction we had and the more we explored the problem at hand. The winning mantra for us was to incorporate the learnings of the Nutcracker sessions to provide a structure to the solution presented. HUL has been hosting The Nutcracker for two years with the aim to give a platform to nurture a new vision, mindsets, and approaches in HR.

Keeping employees happy amid a changing industry

As companies and entire industries change, so does the role of HR, and the entire concept of people management. Susan Edwards, Global Vice President & Chief Human Resource Officer of Sealed Air, believes that HR's role in the manufacturing industry today is about enabling the company's success by giving employees what they need By Mint Kang


nce upon a time, HR in 'traditional' industries like manufacturing was really a recruiter's job: keep the production line manned with warm bodies, and not much else. But times have changed, and so has the industry outlook on manpower.

People Matters asked Susan Edwards, Global Vice President & Chief Human Resource Officer of global packaging manufacturer Sealed Air, what's changed in the last few decades and what the role of HR is in the industry today. Edwards, who has spent years in HR for major manufacturers, november 2021 |


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also believes strongly in the importance of employee well-being and happiness, even through major challenges like the pandemic. Here's what she shared, speaking from her experience.

An evolution of what 'talent' and 'talent management' mean

“I have worked in the manufacturing industry for my entire career and I can say over the past three decades the face of manufacturing has changed and the talent management strategy with it,” Edwards says. “What was once perceived as an industry of labourintensive, manual jobs is now rapidly shifting into an environment where digital technologies, equipment and automation are the primary focus for manufacturing companies.” HR's work is evolving accordingly to match the new business needs, she finds: 'It has been interesting to watch this shift in talent management. The focus has expanded from primary recruitment to equal parts retention, recognition and development of existing employees. And what attracts people to a job today | november 2021

is different in many ways than before the pandemic. People are much more focused on flexibility, well-being and other benefits beyond the salary. To stay competitive, we need to constantly review our hiring practices as well as rethinking ways to boost employee morale and well-being while also building organizational resilience and productivity.' Given this shift, what does HR's primary role need to be today? It's sprawling and strategic, Edwards believes – going beyond the immediate needs of short-term people management, to extend into the long-term areas of policy and even business strategy. 'Our industry might be changing at a fast rate, but one thing remains unchanged: human capital remains the number one asset for any company,” she says. “HR also needs to be an agile business partner that works with other internal groups to ensure there are policies and procedures in place to keep employees safe and well, while also ensuring business needs are being met. This includes things like talent acquisition, reskilling or upskilling employees, and maintaining a workplace culture that supports productivity and work-life balance. These are key enablers of a company’s success and HR has an even more strategic role now to help the company anticipate and respond to wider challenges in business and society.'

The biggest mandate: keeping employees happy Sealed Air has been operating in pandemic mode since last year,

mental health breaks during the day if needed. 'We want to make sure that people are taking care of themselves, both in and out of work,' she says. Going forward, Edwards says flexibility will be a consistent feature of Sealed Air's workplace set-up. When the work sites reopen, she expects that onefourth of the currently remote employees will remain remote, the rest will follow a hybrid approach, and all will have flexible work schedules. What's more, she and her team want to extend flexibility even to those employees whose work is on-site – a challenge that many other employers have sidestepped by simply not offering it.

What attracts people to a job today is different in many ways than before the pandemic. People are much more focused on flexibility, well-being and other benefits beyond the salary

november 2021 |

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meaning that most of its sites are closed for employee safety and most of the non-location dependent employees are working remotely. During this period, Edwards says, she and her team have learned a lot about how to keep employees happy – a very serious business at a time when workforce well-being has emerged as a major factor in recruitment and retention. The first thing, she says, was getting them settled into the new flexible working model and overcoming the stigma that working from home means people will not be as productive at work. 'When the pandemic first started, we had to move quickly to get as many people as possible out of harm’s way and in many cases – that meant asking them to work remotely,' she recalls. 'Now, almost two years later, I am happy to report that our teams have remained productive and safe throughout the pandemic and for many of them, that flexible way of work is going to continue postpandemic.' The key point here, Edwards believes, is not work-life balance – but work-life harmony. 'We want our employees to have work-life harmony and not feel like they must choose between having that kind of balance in all aspects of their lives,' she says. Sealed Air also made what Edwards describes as a “significant investment” into an employee wellbeing platform that is accessible by all its employees globally. It provides them with tools to manage their physical and mental well-being, including taking


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Our industry might be changing at a fast rate, but one thing remains unchanged: human capital remains the number one asset for any company. HR also needs to be an agile business partner that works with other internal groups to ensure there are policies and procedures in place to keep employees safe and well, while also ensuring business needs are being met


'We’re looking into how we can provide our direct labour employees the ability to have more flexibility to help achieve a better worklife harmony,' she says. “It’s a bit more complicated when your work is dependent on your location, but we haven’t lost sight of the importance of equity when it comes to the benefits our employees can take advantage of.'

Embracing technology beyond business processes

Manufacturing is among the industries undergoing accelerated change, in part due to the pandemic's impact, and against this backdrop, automation and digital transformation are strategic imperatives for Sealed Air, Edwards says. There are two aspects here: firstly the company, as a whole, has become savvier about its use of technology and more accepting of the possibilities that technology opens up, and secondly, there has to be even more focus on the development of employees. For example, she explains, the use of technology goes far beyond business processes, which would be the traditional focus for a manufacturing firm; it can become a very powerful tool for employee communications. | november 2021

'Nearly two years into the pandemic, we are utilizing apps, digital signage and kiosks in our plants, virtual plant tours and townhalls to communicate and connect with employees in a more meaningful way than ever before,' she says of some of the initiatives Sealed Air has rolled out. And then there's the impact of technology on hiring, particularly for roles that don't involve direct labour – those can be done remotely, and even across borders. 'We’re finding that technology allows us to connect with people and source talent from a much larger talent pool,' Edwards says. 'We have a global footprint in over 100 countries. Our teams are now able to hire people from all over the world and thanks to technology, those teams can be productive and connected. This also allows us to bring diverse talent into areas where it may not have been possible before and that diversity is bringing better, more impactful ideas to the table.' Upskilling and developing the existing workforce, meanwhile, is another imperative. 'When you go through the kind of rapid transformation that Sealed Air is currently experiencing, you have to accept the responsibility

Keep the human in Human Resources

'The pandemic brought HR to the forefront of crisis manage-

ment and business transformation to manage and mitigate risks to people and the business,” Edwards says. “It presented an opportunity to rethink our people strategy and embrace new ways of thinking and working while learning to be more agile and flexible.' That encompasses a great deal: the importance placed on not just flexibility and well-being alone, but on equitability in how these benefits are offered; the push to ensure that even as the company transforms, employees are able to keep up with the demands of the job; and the need to always bear in mind the impact on people as decisions are made. Looking forward, Edwards believes that even as the environment and the company change, the emphasis on people won't. 'We are unlikely to revert to the pre-COVID days of working, but we will be taking learnings and best practices to ensure we do not lose sight of the human in Human Resources,' she says. november 2021 |

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of training and reskilling your employees,' Edwards says. 'And that’s exactly what we’re doing. We want to make sure that our employees currently on the job can get the skills they need to be productive and have a long and happy career with us. We’re also investing in our communities at various places around the world by partnering with community colleges and technical schools to share knowledge and help prepare the workforce of the future.' There are opportunities for upskilling in both manufacturing and non-manufacturing roles, she says: 'On the plant floor, there is an opportunity to use technology to further enhance safety and operational efficiency through automation and digital technologies. For sales, customer service and other non-manufacturing roles, it’s about the increased and creative use of technology to stay connected with customers, partners and suppliers.' 'Because of the challenges posed by lockdowns and border closures, we have seen great examples of virtual collaborations. One example is our China and Germany plant employees who were working virtually to test and refurbish equipment to meet customer needs. Another example is using virtual tools to share technical knowledge to help a customer install and commission a machine when we could not offer technical support in person.'


The CHRO must earn her stable seat at the table Cultural shifts come hand-in-hand with innovations. By implementing such cultural innovations, the CHRO can ensure a stable seat at the table despite the rising noise of bad reputation for his/her function By Dr. Rita McGrath & Dr. M Muneer


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t’s almost a meme among HR professionals – wanting a “seat at the table” while often being relegated to routine people or admin problem solving and dealing with the messier sides of humanity. But whoa, when it’s done right, the results are super impressive! A couple of years ago, Rita was invited to speak at Microsoft’s annual Global Leadership Summit, and she almost thought she entered the wrong venue when greeted with the word ‘empathy’ in huge letters. But she was actually looking at, in real time, the in-progress rapid transformation of company culture. Most of our clients talk a lot about culture, and culture

| november 2021

change, but it takes a mammoth task to make a transformative change, even with robust strategy execution frameworks. One of us (Muneer) has been using the strategy focused organisation framework for driving the cultural change directly aligned to the strategic change agenda. A model proposed by William Schneider posits two axes that help shape culture – what people pay attention to, and their orientation toward working with others. By using these dimensions, one can begin to understand what levers of action operate in particular cultures. While different people have used different terms, the first axis is whether a company tends to be

Armies and large, hierarchical firms such as IBM, Reliance and almost all PSUs would fall into this category. They are motivated by making the plan and definitely don’t like uncertainty. • Competence cultures are focused on new possibilities, but motivated by impersonal qualities such as competition and being the best. Many progressive clients embrace this culture purely from a strategy point of view. If you leave my team, you’re dead to me typifies such cultures. Competence cultures, at their best, are extremely high performing. But, like all cultures they can degrade – they become the velociraptors of the business world (think Enron).





We succeed by working together

We succeed by getting & keeping control


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focused on the here-and-now, or whether it is looking at future desirables. On the other axis, Schneider asks whether the decision-making system in the organisation tends to be more focused on personal relationships or impersonal factors such as facts and figures. Out of this comes a set of four cultural archetypes. • Cultivation cultures are futurefocused and often intensely personal. New or young organisations start here, and the influence of the founder is often outsize. These cultures are often motivated by a compelling vision and the whole organisation is focused on bringing new, “insanely great” things into being (to quote Apple’s Steve Jobs). Such cultures, however, tend to be unstable as they are highly influenced by the founders’ preferences. When they go wrong, cultivation cultures can degrade into cults. • Collaboration cultures are team or group-oriented and very focused on helping teams succeed in the here-and-now. When collaboration cultures are at their best, they are deeply committed to customer success and to winning together. When they are at their worst, they can degrade into clans with outsiders finding it very hard to become accepted, and with “in” groups and “out” groups. Hewlett Packard was a collaboration culture. • Control cultures love plans – they operate through fairly strict processes with lots of practices that reinforce “how things get done around here.”




We succeed by growing people who fulfill our vision

We succeed by being the best


So how did Microsoft under Nadella achieve the culture shift in a pretty short period that led to better traction with customers and innovation? Here are a few insights….

The CEO should live it

Satya Nadella took the CEO role in 2014, and among the first priorities he articulated november 2021 |


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was to shift Microsoft’s culture – not to lose what was great about the company, such as its talent pool and bold ambitions – but to operate much more like “One Microsoft” than the fiefdoms that existed before. Aside from his personal behaviour, he co-authored a book in 2019 (Hit Refresh) on how he planned to re-imagine Microsoft’s culture. He personally led and modelled the behaviours he hoped to influence others to adopt. In our experience, any major cultural shifts need such CEO commitment.

Find talent in unexpected places

A big part of the desired cultural shift was heavily influenced by the work of Stanford’s Carol Dweck who has discovered the importance of creating a “growth mindset” as part of a culture of innovation and learning. When people have a fixed mindset, the emphasis is on what one knows, as if the knowledge were a fixed property that could not be changed. Fixed mindsets are associated with risk-aversion, incremental change and unwill80

| november 2021

ingness to try novel ideas out – typical of most traditional Indian companies. Growth mindsets, in contrast, are associated with people investing in developing new stocks of knowledge that allow them to take on progressively more difficult challenges. The HR team at Microsoft supported the above concept with a changed view of who could assume and be promoted to leadership roles by shifting performance evaluation criteria. • Hackathons helped the company identify promising ideas that people could volunteer to staff, potentially gain some funding and show off leadership potential even if the projects weren’t formally vetted. • Supporting high-risk projects and the leaders who step up to them, such as the ambitious effort to commercialise the Hololens2 technology.

Tweak performance and compensation metrics

What gets measured will get achieved and the right metrics typically should drive both performance and behaviour, especially when undertaking a culture change. How people are evaluated, promoted and compensated will propel the change faster. Traditionally, Microsoft had operated a forced ranking system in which managers were required to compare employees and assign them into pre-designated buckets, which required a certain proportion of the workforce to be placed in the ‘lowest’ bucket. Those team members were then given reme-

Interestingly, Microsoft also launched something of a CRM for employees, which we have written about in a few columns to enhance the internal customer relationships within the company. The “Employee Experience Platform” called Microsoft was to create new connections and user interfaces to vastly improve the employee experience and, yes, reinforce the culture. By implementing such kinds of successful people and cultural innovations, the CHRO can ensure a stable seat at the table despite the rising noise of bad reputation for his/her function.

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Growth mindsets are associated with people investing in developing new stocks of knowledge that allow them to take on progressively more difficult challenges


dial opportunities or in some cases let go. Such ’rank and yank‘ programs were extremely popular at one point, famously championed by Jack Welch at GE, which was followed by many Indian companies including Infosys for years. While the system might help companies with poor performance management systems, they make very little sense for high talentdensity enterprises like Microsoft. It also leads to greater levels of internal competition, massive amounts of game-playing, and in a case of unintended consequences, having managers hold on to poor performers just so that they would have someone to put in the bottom bucket. Shortly before Steve Ballmer stepped down and Nadella moved into the CEO slot, Microsoft announced its intention to abandon the practice. Instead, their philosophy moved closer to what Garry Ridge, CEO of DW40, articulated, as ’don’t mark my paper, help me get an ”A”.’ Another huge change was to move away from a focus on lagging indicators of success such as revenues and profits. Instead, Nadella wanted everyone to get interested in leading indicators such as ’customer love’. It was a symbolically radical moment for a Microsoft leader to start talking about having customers ’love‘ them! Among other ways to bring new ideas into the company, Microsoft CHRO launched a LinkedIn Series called #Peopletalk, and brought in other HR experts to share their ideas about culture and transformation.

Rita McGrath is professor at Columbia Business School and founder of Valize, and M Muneer is the Co-Founder and Chief Evangelist at the non-profit Medici Institute. Twitter @MuneerMuh november 2021 |


Workplace Design

Organisations should follow an ‘Employee First’ philosophy in everything they do and workplace design is no different: Sheetal Sandhu, ICRA

Sheetal Sandhu, ICRA’s Group CHRO shares with us her take on what organisations can do to incorporate well-being by design to reimagine work holistically By Shweta Modgil


he new reality of the world of work has brought forth an acute awareness of health and well-being, calling on corporations to devise innovative ways to integrate employee well-being into the flow of work to help


| november 2021

their staff perform optimally. There is a clear opportunity for companies to leverage workplace design to nurture holistic wellbeing for people at work. Employees will increasingly look for work environments that provide user control, natural elements, and ergonomic seating arrangements to meet their physical and psychological health. Several studies have shown that a focus on employee and workplace wellbeing can result in improved engagement and productivity, as well as innovation and retention. So what can organisations do to incorporate well-being by design to reimagine work holistically? We spoke to Sheetal Sandhu, ICRA’s Group CHRO. ICRA is a Moody's Company catering to the financial services sector with its core line of business in credit ratings, consultancy and process outsourcing business in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Sheetal holds Group CHRO roles and responsibilities of Group Companies of ICRA (ICRA India, ICRA Nepal, ICRA Sri Lanka, iMacs and ICRON) and is responsible for 1,200+ employees across the group.

Here are a few excerpts from the conversation.

Overall well-being of the employees – physical, mental and financial- should be the key HR concern of organisations soap dispensers, and dedicated water bottles for employees, and displaying informative posters on social distancing and COVID19 appropriate behaviour are some of the ways through which companies are ensuring that the office environment is a minimum touch environment

Workplace Design

Today, organisations are reimagining almost all aspects of work and are looking at employee health holistically to better support their workforce. So, how can they incorporate design features and amenities to prompt well-being at the workplace? It is important that organisations follow an 'Employee First' philosophy in everything they do and workplace design is no different. Earlier many employees were working from home but with offices opening up gradually, many companies have redesigned their offices to ensure overall safety and well-being for employees. These include measures such as regularly monitoring and controlling the air quality to ensure the right kind of environment for employees and introducing airpurifying indoor plants that not only please the eye but also give a sense of being closer to the natural environment. Similarly, open spaces in the cafeteria, along with the pictures of recent offsites, workshops to give a sense of warmth and happy memories for employees is another way to impart a sense of well-being. Companies are also ensuring that all the areas are well lit and appropriate signage and floor markings are provided to ensure that all the social distancing norms are adhered to. In addition, small things which enhance the overall health of employees like easy accessibility of sanitisers and napkins, no-touch

What are some of the focus areas when it comes to the well-being of employees? The overall well-being of the employees – physical, mental and financial- should be the key HR concern of organisations. Physical well-being: Organisations should ensure that the employees stay healthy and vaccination drives are organized for employees for getting the vaccine dose. november 2021 |


Workplace Design 84

Additionally, during COVID-19 second wave – many companies have provided home care services, concentrators and organised regular Yoga classes for employees. Mental well-being: Being healthy is not merely an absence of disease but it encompasses mental and social well-being as well. Companies added specific “wellness day off ” to the leave balance for employees during the second wave which was used by employees to rejuvenate and take care of themselves. Employer assistance program was initiated with 24*7 helpline to support employees in times of crises or stress and it was completely confidential.

The HR and Technology leaders must work together for an organization to have better workflows and processes by monitoring and altering the individual behavior

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Financial well-being: This is very critical to ward off the unnecessary stress of being sick. Some measures in this regards by the companies include offering enhanced insurance plans for employees and reimbursement of the vaccination doses, expenses related to COVID-19.

How should HR leaders partner with tech leaders to ensure that technologies, workflows and processes are designed in a way that enshrines worker well-being? In the post-pandemic phase, work has been intertwined with technology and hence, impacting the overall wellbeing of an employee. Technology is the essential means to seamless delivery in these times. The HR and Technology leaders must work together for an organization to have better workflows and processes by monitoring and altering the individual behavior. The key drivers of this movement are: • Transparency about the employee and manager expectations • Regular communication about the challenges • Reinforcing and optimizing healthy behavior through an online integrated platform for appreciation and recognition • Facilitating on-demand and online learning modules for employees, so that learning never stops, wherever they are • Performance management: to cascade the organization goals in a manner that everyone is aware of the expectations and their goals are aligned to the organization’s vision

How would companies justify the business case -- in terms of adaptability, innovation and employee experience, for investing in well-being? Wellness can be developed as a skill. How do you practice it in your organizations to advocate it? Wellness directly correlates to the enhanced adaptability, innovation, and employee experience as it greatly reduces the absence from work, which leads to higher productivity and engagement. Research shows that a higher engaged workforce has 30-40%

Gamification is a great way to develop wellness as a skill within the organization lower absenteeism rates and better productivity and engagement. A healthier workforce also decreases insurance claims, productivity losses, etc. for the organization in the long run. Gamification is a great way to develop wellness as a skill within the organization. For example, company-wide step-challenge encouraging each employee to complete a certain step every day and thereby enabling him/ her to contribute to the overall target of the organization within a stipulated time is a great way to encourage employees to walk and take care of their health. We at ICRA have also included many training modules like time management, expanding circle of influence, collaboration within teams, for developing our employees and in turn moving towards better employee wellbeing. november 2021 |

Workplace Design

What are some of the technologies/platforms that can be invested in to ensure employee well-being? Employee well-being is a function of various factors and organizations are equally responsible for ensuring that the employees are free from all the unnecessary stress and burnout as the majority of their day involves managing their work commitments. Moreover, a higher engagement leads to better well-being as well. Platforms that enable collaboration while delivering results should be the focus of technological investments. The core of such investments lies in improving the workflows and operational efficiency paired with minimal costs. Internal communication is the key when the workforce is scattered across various locations, or working in a hybrid model. Technology is a means of making those conversations more effective and constructive.



Surviving and thriving in the hybrid workplace

The hybrid workspace is here to stay and it is imperative for organisations globally to innovate new strategies to survive and thrive. A critical first step would be to recognise the key business drivers and challenges which would enable leaders to design their plans to suit their business needs and priorities By Tausifur Rahman


he COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc across the world. The global economy is still crawling under the deadweight of lock down`, finding means and methods to break away from the iron clutches of today’s prevailing crisis and uncertainty. Not long ago, when the COVOD -19 outbreak was at its peak, I had wondered what would happen


| november 2021

when all of this ends, when people would finally start going to their bustling workplaces and everything would go back to the way it was. Who would have imagined that the agony of lockdown would shape the evolution of robust digital workspace and the paradigm of work culture will be redefined forever? With the rapid

pace of digital transformation unfolding in front of us, the digital workspace is a reality and it will continue to stay even after COVID -19 is defeated. Though It will never replace the physical workspace, but will definitely co-exist, to give us a choice of how we want to thrive in the new normal. In light of this, business organisations are rapidly evolving and adopting smart technology to keep the ball rolling. Organisations have now enabled and empowered employees to work from their homes. Experts and consultants are working overtime to leverage the big data being continuously generated to comprehend and analyse the impact on productivity together with other key performance indicators to arrive at an optimum hybrid model that would make the business run smoothly and efficiently.

Key business drivers of the hybrid model

According to the Accenture Future of Work Study 2021 of more than 9,000 workers around the world discovered that most people want a hybrid model, where they sometimes work remotely and sometimes go onsite. 83% of workers say a hybrid model would be optimal. This new model of work has been a boon to several organisations, especially those who were already driven by the vision of a virtual workspace. One of the critical drivers which has enabled business organisations to thrive in this transformed world of work has been the increased use of technology. All day to day processes have been

translated to the virtual medium which makes it easier for employees working from anywhere in the world to carry out their responsibilities. This also aids in accessing an increased talent pool where geographical boundaries no longer limit the search for finding the best of talent. Added to this, a wider pool of customers can be easily reached by leveraging tech-based solutions. The pandemic has provided an opportunity to reduce the operating cost by reducing the number of physical workstations allo-

The pandemic has provided an opportunity to reduce the operatiing cost by reducing the number of physical workstations allocated to the project/ department. Especially for the IT and services organisations, cost reduction would be a key business driver for the adoption of the hybrid model cated to the project/department. Especially for the IT and services organisations, cost reduction would be another key business driver for the adoption of the hybrid model. Organisations are already figuring out a way to find the ‘Right mix of employees’ in terms of job profile and customer requirements that would be required to be present physically in the office on a given day. An interesting facet of the Hybrid model is the flexibility it provides to the employees. It provides better work-life integranovember 2021 |


that can be invoked to provide the necessary support to the customer in similar situations of natural disasters and conflicts.

Challenges yet to overcome in the Hybrid workspace

An interesting facet of the Hybrid model is the flexibility it provides to the employees. It provides better work-life integration, creating a much sought after synergy between various aspects of professional and personal lives tion, creating a much sought after synergy between various aspects of professional and personal lives. Organisations are using this tool for employee retention, especially the women workforce. According to a McKinsy survey, 52% of employees would prefer more flexible working models post-pandemic. The survey also mentions that approximately 30% of employees will switch their jobs if returned to fully on-site work. During the lockdown, many organisations were caught unprepared and failed to provide business continuity to their customers. Going forward, many organisations see hybrid model as a risk mitigation strategy, 88

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The transformation to a hybrid model is not an easy journey for organisations. It has a multiplicity of challenges that range from the simple issue of system access to complex problems of data security and work culture. Digital literacy, digital accessibility and the selection of the right digital tool are the key priorities for organisations to navigate the challenges of the pandemic and post-pandemic world. Given how big data is also rising on the scene, ethical uses of the data and security concerns must not be overlooked. Clarity is essential in regards to the data obtained, its users as well as its use. While on the one hand, there are digital solutions to drive employee engagement and employee wellbeing, we must not forget that technology is only an enabler. Leaders have to continuously devise and revise strategies to build relationships with the employees. In the absence of physical space, the organisational culture and its values must still be incorporated into the work lives of employees and each company will have to develop their own unique initiatives and strategies. With increased access to talent, employees will often come from remote locations and diverse cultural backgrounds and create a sense of belonging to the organisations for the new hires remains

Digital literacy, digital accessibility and the selection of the right digital tool are the key priorities for organisations to navigate the challenges of the pandemic and post-pandemic world a significant challenge for the enterprises of all sizes in the postpandemic world. It has been observed that for many employees, the line between personal and professional life got merged during work from home period, leading to burned out and serious mental health issues. This is also substantiated by the McKinsey survey report, which says that ‘the lack of clear communication about the future of post-pandemic work has contributed to employee burnout. Nearly half of employees surveyed say they’re feeling some symptoms of being burned out at work.’ Finally, the well-being agenda takes new dimensions in a hybrid workspace and it can no longer be designed as a one size fits all approach. In light of the increased mental stress caused by the pandemic and rapid, unprecedented transformation in the world of work, catering to the diverse wellbeing needs of the workforce is a critical yet difficult task.

their existing policies and redesign their strategy vis-à-vis remote employee locations and increased use of HR technology. At Stepping Cloud, we engaged with the employees at various levels through communication and corporate events to keep them motivated. We also adopted the Hybrid model as a future strategy to reduce the administrative cost significantly. The training, enablement and the cultural integration of the new employees in the organisation through remote processes created unimagined challenges before we finally created the tailored ‘Buddy and Mentor’ framework aided by the digital technology to measure and monitor the progress of the new employees along the learning curve. Continuous innovation is key. Every strategy devised needs to be continuously tailored to meet the unique yet changing business needs and priorities of the organisations.


This calamity has created an ideal opportunity for the business organisations to revisit

Tausifur Rahman is the Co-founder, and Director, Stepping Cloud Consulting Private Limited


1. com/business-functions/ people-and-organizationalperformance/our-insights/ what-employees-are-sayingabout-the-future-of-remotework com/us-en/insights/consulting/future-work

november 2021 |


Visty Banaji

The perils of pressured positivity

Organisations have started preaching the positivity gospel to their people and making them responsible for their own happiness. Forced positivity lets leaders shirk ownership for people happiness and makes HR lazy

The road less travelled



n recent years, our eyes have become virtually incapable of facing the glare of reality. To shade our vision, we have elevated positivity to the status of a religion – one for which there is no greater sin than feeling any emotion other than happiness. Positivity preachers tell us to limit ourselves to pleasant thoughts – no matter if they are far distant from the truth. In several corporates, HR has volunteered to lead the positivity parade. This is a mistake. Unadulterated and perennial positivity is not only unattainable but its single-minded pursuit can stunt people far short of their full potential and tempt organisations into moral lassitude. This is not to belittle the value genuine happiness holds. In the right measure, at the right time and for the right reasons, it brings both health and longevity.1 What is being challenged here is the positivity that is recited | november 2021

as an unceasing and unqualified 'mantra' to force happiness to happen. That is not how happiness works. It is an epiphenomenon flowing from a variety of other pursuits including love, efforts to reach one’s highest potential or service to others and to larger causes. Attempting to short circuit the action itself and move to the consequential emotion of joy directly can leave people feeling even less satisfied than before. It is no better than using the narcotic route to mental peace.

Positivity as the opium of the people

Bad enough as it is when individuals try to reap the happiness fruit without the antecedent effort of planting and caring for the tree that yields it, the process acquires positively big brother overtones when entire organisations preach such beatitude as the guiding philosophy for employees. It lets the management off the hook for making or resisting substantial changes to benefit or protect their people. There is a huge

In several corporates, HR has volunteered to lead the positivity parade. This is a mistake. Unadulterated and perennial positivity is not only unattainable but its single-minded pursuit can stunt people far short of their full potential and tempt organisations into moral lassitude the overworked survivors – positive thinking.’3 For those who are fortunate to retain employment, inequity and the feeling of unfair treatment that attends it, is another major source of distress and resentment. We have dealt in considerable detail with one facet of this imbalance – that pertaining to compensation.4 What is particularly worrying in the present context is the deadening effect on the sensitivities and capabilities of decision-makers who acquire a positive frame of

The road less travelled

impact corporates (and HR) can have on employee happiness and I have devoted an entire column to explaining why and how happiness should be the prime measure for evaluating HR.2 To shift that burden to the internal coping mechanisms of individual employees is a total abrogation of what the organisation owes to its people. Let us take just three organisation-dependent unhappiness cancers. A little thought will make it obvious why internal detachment or positivity can only paracetemolize the pain but never effect a meaningful cure. Among the greatest stress causers and happiness destroyers for employees, and particularly for the precariat, has been job insecurity. Can anyone seriously expect such trauma or anxiety to be relieved by inner bliss or personal positivity? As Barbara Ehrenreich explains, an entire motivation-peddling industry has grown up to do precisely that. ‘The motivation industry could not repair this new reality (of large and repeated layoffs). All it could do was offer to change how one thought about it, insisting that corporate restructuring was an exhilaratingly progressive “change” to be embraced… This was the corporate world’s great gift to its laid-off employees and

mind. Research has shown that ‘positive mood significantly increased, and negative mood reduced selfishness…’5 and that ‘… groups which made bad decisions [put an] … emphasis on morale rather than critical thinking.’6 A third unhappiness inducer, which is almost entirely under the organisation’s control, is poorly designed work that is repetitive, soul-deadening and empty of learning. The way to cure this malaise and the advantages of doing so have november 2021 |


been covered in a previous column.7 It bears emphasizing, though, that anaesthetizing people’s sensitivity to work-quality through the forced administration of positive morphine is not the way to go. Whatever immediate 'gruntlement' we obtain through such measures, it can never compensate for the decline in organisational capability and employee enthusiasm. Even if the greatest happiness of the greatest number

A time to laugh, a time to weep

were our ultimate goal (and there are very good reasons both for and against such an aspiration) we have seen how prescribed positivity simply provides a soporific so that people are numbed to the reality that their true welfare is being ignored. Over the long term, such tranquillisers cannot dull the pangs of insecurity, inequity and insufferable routine.

us an emphatically negative answer. The essential wisdom behind the tangential way to finding happiness was wonderfully conveyed by John Stuart Mill well over a century ago. ‘Those only are happy … who have their minds fixed on some object other than their own happiness; on the happiness of others, on the improvement of mankind, even on some art or pursuit, followed

The road less travelled

When we shift focus from the organisation to the individual, we are first confronted with the issue of feasibility. Can happiness actually be made the sole goal and pumped into people without their having to undertake actions (such as love, work or care) that lead to happiness? Common sense, traditional prescriptions and behavioural science research, all give


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not as a means, but as itself an ideal end. Aiming thus at something else, they find happiness by the way.’8 In more recent times, we have study after study confirming the validity of his dictum. Thus, ‘… valuing happiness could be self-defeating because the more people value happiness, the more likely they will feel disappointed...’9 For the sake of argument, even if we assume individuals could raise happiness levels 'on tap', would it be an unmixed blessing? Not really. At least, not in all situations. To pick just three types of scenarios where high levels of positivity can prove to be a positive handicap, let’s look at instances in the domains of learning, information processing/judgement and interpersonal effectiveness. Aversive emotions have played a major role in the learning that was vital for the survival and evolution of human beings. Those friends of our forebears who heard rustling in the bushes with equanimity or faced a sabre-toothed predator armed only with positivity, have not left any descendants who we can make our friends.10 This cruel joke has a major bearing on learning for career preparation and survival today. It is a source of considerable amusement for me to see the preachers of positivity and Zen-

like calm get agitated and dictatorial when it comes to their children preparing for critical professional entry exams: the positivity of the learning experience can wait! When JEE comes to shove they almost seem to echo Roy Baumeister et al who state that ‘the studies we have reviewed show that punishment is stronger than reward. We were not able to find studies showing the opposite.’11 Learning that counts in the corporate context is no different. I cannot count the number

of times I have been told: ‘I learned most from X, though he was a terror as a boss’ or ‘those were days of extreme stress and anxiety but, from the point of my development, I wouldn’t exchange them for all the comfortable times I have had since’. To be sure, organisations do have people averse to anger and fear. You don’t see too many of them making it to the upper echelons, however, because in the absence of learning what and whom to avoid and where and how to show their temper, they are

november 2021 |

The road less travelled

When we shift focus from the organisation to the individual, we are first confronted with the issue of feasibility. Can happiness actually be made the sole goal and pumped into people without their having to undertake actions (such as love, work or care) that lead to happiness?

eliminated from the running long before they reach positions from which they can display façades of fearlessness and calm (at least in front of their teams). Central to any manager’s role, of course, is taking decisions and it is here that unadulterated positivity can play the greatest havoc. The song from which the header to this section is chosen starts with: ‘To everything … There is a season’. Of nothing can this be truer than a manager’s attitude to risk. A purely positive mindset leans executives to the side of rash action and the neglect of looming dangers. While the converse is also true, the cost of excessive caution is usually only poorer performance relative to a hypothetical maxima and the possibility of re-entering the lists another day. Betting the house, obviously, leaves the decision-maker without the house and his (yes, it’s men who generally make these euphoric calls) reputation. Most corporate roles don’t demand the devil-may-care courage of a swashbuckling pirate. When people in normative roles adopt positivity blinkers, their warning-of-danger antennae are retracted and the environment scanning they carry out ranges between cursory and non-existent. On the other hand, while those in dysphoric moods might not be the best company, they do


The road less travelled

far better at spotting pitfalls and people-faults.12 Perhaps the most dangerous part of the cognitive myopia that accompanies positivity is ‘the tendency for people to underestimate the impact of situational factors and overestimate the role of dispositional factors in controlling behaviour, a bias sometimes labelled the 'fundamental attribution error' [FAP].’13 When the FAP is in play, teamwork suffers because of stereotyping and even constructive questioning of sultanic CEOs becomes impossible. It is vital for leaders to judge the mood and trustworthiness of their people and persuade them meaningfully while projecting strength in their dealings with allies and adversaries. Once again, positivity has a patchy record in delivering on these demands. It is people in sad moods

who are consistently better at judging deception in others as well as in developing arguments that are more convincing than those produced by the positive 'mooders'.14 When it comes to negotiations too, those who can produce sparks of anger to order, drive better bargains than do unperturbable 'smilers'.15 It is not that an upbeat attitude has no place in a leader’s repertoire. But it cannot occupy all the emotion-space of a leader all the time, to the exclusion of less joyful emotions that are equally important for survival and impact.

Progressing beyond positivity Leaders (and, for that matter, all employees) are far better off possessing a full range of emotional responses rather than having some of them

blocked off by a positivity polarizer. ‘(Y)ou don’t just have one superpower, you have many. You possess a courage enhancer (anger), an unethical behaviour derailer (guilt), … an alert sentinel standing watch over you (anxiety) … [and an] underappreciated lie detector (sadness).’16 All of them need to be marshalled in the right measure as occasions demand. Only then can one become an emotionally rounded personality that is firing on all cylinders. There is a much larger reason we shouldn’t let the pursuit of positivity determine the story of our existence. Those who have left the greatest mark in this world, did so because they were trying to lead meaningful lives. Jim Holt’s latest book reminds us how many geniuses led miserable, even tragic, lives.17 Of course, leading a meaningful existence can also have an over-

It is vital for leaders to judge the mood and trustworthiness of their people and persuade them meaningfully while projecting strength in their dealings with allies and adversaries 94

| november 2021

lap with a happy one (happiness, in its eudaemonic sense, is not far from such a life)18 but there are some key differences between a negative-aversive happiness construct and a life of meaning. At least three key characteristics of meaningful lives correlate negatively with conventional, positivity-pumped happiness.19 These are:


1. Sarah D Pressman and Sheldon Cohen, Does Positive Affect Influence Health?, Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 131, No. 6, 2005. 2. Visty Banaji, HR’s business should be happiness raising, People Matters, 24 September 2019, ( article/life-at-work/hrs-business-shouldbe-happiness-raising-23175). 3. Barbara Ehrenreich, Bright-sided: How Positive Thinking Is Undermining America, Picador, 2010. 4. Visty Banaji, But who will guard the guardians?, People Matters, 14 March 2018, ( compensation-benefits/can-runawayincreases-in-executive-compensation-beslowed-down-17720). 5. Hui Bing Tan and Joseph P Forgas, When happiness makes us selfish, but sadness makes us fair: Affective influences on interpersonal strategies in the dictator game, Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 46(3), May 2010. 6. Charlan Jeanne Nemeth, In Defense of Troublemakers: The Power of Dissent in Life and Business, Basic Books, 2018. 7. Visty Banaji, "If you want people to do a

These markers of meaningfulness are virtually antonymic to the fundamental positivity formulae which are: • Living in the moment. • Looking inward for individual tranquillity and satisfaction. • Avoiding personal stress even if it means blanking good job, give them a good job to do", People Matters, 24 April 2021, (https://www. 8. John Stuart Mill, Autobiography, Penguin Classics, 1989 (First published 1873). 9. Iris B Mauss, Maya Tamir, Craig L Anderson and Nicole S Savino, Can Seeking Happiness Make People Happy? Paradoxical Effects of Valuing Happiness, Emotion, 11(4), August 2011. 10. Randolph M. Nesse, Natural Selection and the Elusiveness of Happiness, Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society B Biological Sciences, 359 (1449), October 2004. 11. Roy Baumeister, Ellen Bratslavsky, Catrin Finkenauer and K Vohs, Bad Is Stronger than Good, Review of General Psychology, December 2001. 12. Kate L Harkness, Mark A Sabbagh, Jill A Jacobson and Neeta Chowdrey, Enhanced accuracy of mental state decoding in dysphoric college students, Cognition and Emotion, 19(7):999-1025, September 2010. 13. Joseph Forgas, On being happy and mistaken: Mood effects on the fundamental

out news of the extreme distress of others. Perhaps the greatest barrier to getting people exercised about making the world a better place is the rose-tinted screen that positivity imposes between them and the perils and pains of the world. This reality avoidance reminds me of the opening verse of a Flanders and Swann song about an ostrich hiding from unpleasant facts:

Peek-a-Boo, I can't see you, Everything must be grand; Boo-ka-Pee, they can't see me, As long as I've got me head in the sand. I shall leave you the fun of discovering how things end for the ostrich.20 Pure positivity seekers tend to meet similar fates.

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

The road less travelled

• A time orientation that looks to (and prepares for) the future while being strongly cognizant of the past and which sees the present as part of this larger sequence. • An eye to one’s relationship with society and a keenness to make some contribution to others (who are not kin). • A willingness to suffer either in preparing for or in struggling to attain a larger purpose.

It is people in sad moods who are consistently better at judging deception in others as well as in developing arguments that are more convincing than those produced by the positive 'mooders'

attribution error, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75(2), 318–331, 1998. 14. Joseph Forgas, Feeling and Doing: Affective Influences on Interpersonal Behavior, Psychological Inquiry, January 2002. 15. June Gruber, Iris B Mauss and Maya Tamir, A Dark Side of Happiness? How, When, and Why Happiness Is Not Always Good, Perspectives on Psychological Science, 6(3):222-233, May 2011. 16. Todd Kashdan and Robert Biswas-Diener, The Power of Negative Emotion: How Anger, Guilt, and Self Doubt are Essential to Success and Fulfillment, Oneworld Publications, 2015. 17. Jim Holt, When Einstein Walked with Gödel: Excursions to the Edge of Thought, Farrar, Straus and Giroux; 2019. 18. E L Deci and R M Ryan, Hedonia, eudaimonia, and well-being: An introduction, Journal of Happiness Studies, 2008. 19. Roy Baumeister, Kathleen Vohs, Jennifer Aaker and Emily Garbinsky, Some key differences between a happy life and a meaningful life, The Journal of Positive Psychology, Vol. 8, No. 6, 505–516, 2013. 20. Flanders and Swann, The Ostrich Song,

november 2021 |


Past Month's events

Knowledge + Networking

Tackling offer declines in landscape of virtual hiring People Matters & Hyreo 25th October 2021 Online Hiring in today’s reality of ‘new normal’ is virtual. While remote recruiting definitely has its advantages in terms of efficiency in time and money, the overall ‘candidate experience’ seems to take a toll. This lack of ‘human-touch’ along with the pandemic induced demand for tech skills is causing the high offer declines the industry is seeing today. This webinar deep dived into the challenges and opportunities and what's next for hiring in the new world of work.

People Matters & Sterling 25th October 2021 Online Owing to the current war for talent, the best talent is quickly getting poached. Organisations are witnessing the ‘Great Resignation’ and losing on the most loyal and skilled talent to the competitors. In this virtual panel by People Matters & Sterling, we learnt how most of the organisations are walking on this tight rope & exploring best practices to get the right balance of speed & diligence, during this current phase where there is War for Good Talent.

Reinventing learning: Fueling a training model where employees own their skills People Matters & Degreed 5th Oct 2021 Online While over two-thirds of companies see the trend of learning experience as urgent or important, yet only five per cent believe they have mastered the content and technology capabilities needed to make online learning an ac-


Effective hiring & training in a hybrid work ecosystem

| november 2021

cessible tool and a compelling experience. In this virtual session by People matters and Degreed, we looked at how by empowering employees to become equal partners in the learning process, HR organisations can foster a culture of development and growth — driving performance, engagement, and career development.

People Matters L&D Conference 2021 People Matters 21st - 22nd October 2021 Online What should the evolving learning agenda for the next normal look like? What are those learning objectives that organisations should be absolutely clear about even if the future looks a bit ambiguous at this point? What are those tools that can help organisations evolve their capability agenda faster? And most importantly, what are the challenges you need to be aware of, on the way to this evolution? People Matters L&D Annual Conference 2021 discussed our community's questions to help us reflect and find collective answers.

Women in Leadership: Lead, Influence & Transform People Matters

BeNext 4th October - 5th November 2021 Online This program was designed for women leaders interested in accelerating their career growth within their organisation and learning critical skills for women heading a team. The program also helped overcome obstacles facing workplace gender imbalance and speed up the realization of your potential as a woman leader.

Upcoming events Designing Employee Experience in a Hybrid world People Matters

People Matters

BeNext 15th November - 17th December 2021 Online This program is for leaders invested in creating lasting mindset shifts and creating the foundations of a psychologically safe organisation through the implementation of impactful D&I initiatives. We will overcome unconscious bias at all levels to create a work context where everyone is valued, respected and included.

Total Rewards & Wellness Conclave 2021 People Matters 25th November 2021 Online The phenomenon of employees contemplating quitting, just when economies around the world are poised to rebound strongly following the pandemic, should worry businesses. A standard response to people quitting their jobs has been an increase in monetary

Design Thinking & Agile for HR Teams People Matters BeNext 22nd November - 24th December 2021 Online This program is for HR leaders committed to finding creative solutions to complex problems facing their teams, moving from a foundational understanding of Design Thinking and Agile methodologies to a whole new mindset of creativity, innovation and people-centred progress. We will uncover creative practices and seek solutions for complex HR problems through the prism of Design Thinking & Agile methodologies.

compensation. Yet, predictably, that has not stemmed the tide of resignations, underscoring the Great Disconnect between employers and employees. We invite you to a daylong conference that will brainstorm on Great Connection, a new rewards template for the new normal that aligns business and employee expectations.

november 2021 |

Knowledge + Networking

BeNext 11th October - 12th November 2021 Online This program is for employers looking to reshape EX for their teams in the new remote environment of the working world. We will explore key considerations for designing an impactful, outstanding employee experience that aligns with our new hybrid reality.

Diversity and Inclusion: Overcoming Unconscious Bias



>> Mainak Maheshwari

The two critical leadership skills

b lo g o s p he r e

Organisations led by agile and authentic leaders have come out stronger in the post-pandemic world, adapting swiftly to the evolving surroundings



n the last 18 months, the universal ideas about leadership have been challenged in every possible way. Confronted by a global health crisis, business leaders across the globe were expected to ride through the growing uncertainties and reinvent at an unrelenting pace; all this while grappling with remote working, a disrupted pace of business, cautious and demanding consumers, as well as a rapidly shifting political and economic climate. | november 2021

One of our biggest learnings from these trying times has been the importance of being nimble. Organisations led by agile and authentic leaders have come out stronger in the postpandemic world, adapting swiftly to the evolving surroundings. Take for example the formerly controversial topic of remote-working. Not so long ago, organisations were reluctant to implement Work-from-Home because of some foreseeable and some

presumed challenges associated with it. However, with the onset of the pandemic, companies made the move to 100% remote-working overnight. Agility and adaptability have been key in making these radical shifts possible, redefining the leadership traits of the future. Leaders who successfully navigated the pandemic did not have any handy guidebook, no prior experience, no case study to draw ideas from. However, what they did possess was the right skills – of problem-solving/critical thinking and communicating effectively. Before you jump to any conclusion and judge these traits to be fairly obvious, let us clarify that we need to look at these traits through the lens of agility.

Communication skills

Fuelled by technology, the pandemic, and a new generation of employees, the way we communicate has evolved. Conversations, both formal and informal, are

while sharing information with their teams. As with all communication, how we share information matters. Regardless of the message, leaders must thoughtfully and authentically craft their communication and always leave room for feedback or questions.

Problem-solving and critical thinking

Thrown into the middle of a difficult situation, it is natural for most people to lose sight of the way out. They look to their leaders for support and guidance. Contrary to popular belief, successful leaders do not instantly come up with solutions to every problem. Instead, they bring to the table the uncanny ability to redefine the problem, logically structure it, and solve it from a long-term perspective, keeping in mind their employees as well as customers. For instance, instead of wondering how to move

to WFH, address the problem of ensuring the safety of employees and clients. This approach helps leaders tackle the root cause and deliver sustainable impact to both key stakeholders – employees and clients. It is important to remember that today, problem-solving translates to thinking outside the box. This demands creativity from leaders, who in turn must inspire the same in their teams. As a leader, it is not enough to possess these skills; it is equally important to pass them on. Challenges and changes are constant, but not permanent. Overcoming any difficult situation should never be a one-person job. Everyone, especially leaders who are often expected to show up as superheroes without capes, must remember this.

b lo g o sp he r e

virtual and consequently, distant. While we are all always connected through some messaging or social media platform, personal connections are slowly diminishing. With this in mind, leaders must develop the ability to communicate across platforms and to a diverse range of people, seamlessly. In today’s dynamic work environment, where companies may have implemented hybridworking models, leaders have the added responsibility to encourage inter-team connections and build a culture where everyone feels involved and included, irrespective of whether they are coming to the office or working remotely. Leaders also need to encourage self-expression in employees and facilitate a passage for safe dialogue. This is more important now than ever as the avenues to share grievances, challenges, or issues have reduced with remote working. Effective leaders listen, empathise, and inspire. None of these things is possible without strong communication skills. To aid their effective communication, leaders must practice proactive transparency. Given the amount of uncertainty that individuals and businesses have struggled with in the recent past, it is absolutely necessary that leaders are proactively transparent


Mainak Maheshwari is the Director of Talent Advisory at PeopleAsset november 2021 |


RNI Details: Vol. XII, Issue No. 11, R.N.I. No. HARENG/2010/33504. Published and Owned by People Matters Publishing Pvt. Ltd. Published at 501, 5th Floor, Millennium Plaza, Tower A, Sushant Lok-1, Sector-27, Gurgaon - 122009, Haryana. Editor: Esther Martinez Hernandez

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