People Matters Magazine October 2021: The skills gap conundrum

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Managing Director, Citrix Australia & New Zealand


SVP, Worldwide Marke ng, HR & IR, AMD


GM & Head of HR, Asia Pacific, HSBC

TIM MUNDEN Chief Learning Officer, Unilever

The widening skills gap is one of the top challenges facing global leaders today. What’s your skill transformation equation?


Director for Education and Skills, OECD

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

The pressing issue of the skills gap


he world of work has transformed with the forced digitalisation and accelerated automation. The skills and competencies required to do work today are also evolving across industries calling on organisations to adapt their training mechanisms to drive organisation’s competitive advantage. From the shortage of employees with the right technical skillsets to the lack of workers equipped with soft skills, companies are forced to draw up talent management strategies that raise employees’ cognitive capabilities, emotional skills, and resilience. In fact, organisations | october 2021

are doubling down on their L&D budgets to reskill and upskill the workforce to deliver new business models in the post-pandemic era. The World Economic Forum projects that by 2022 at least 54 per cent of all employees will need reskilling and upskilling to respond to changing work requirements. Those who fail to remodel the skills gap equation could lose the best talent. While the skills chasm did exist in pre-pandemic times, COVID-19 offered an opportunity for corporations to innovate talent acquisition and retention. Top organisations are doing this by creating a skills inventory – uncovering the abilities and skillsets of the employee population, along with the skillsets required for future roles and needs of the organisation. And they are doing this by aligning with employee career aspirations to find themselves in a winwin situation. As a strategic partner to the business, HR is proactively working to ensure the right talent is in place to meet company objectives. They are forced to identify future core competency needs and evaluate the demand and supply of future skills. After all, employees stay with organi-

sations that are perceived talent-friendly and they stick with employers that provide cutting-edge work environments, people practices and effective development opportunities that benefit the employee and the business. Whether you're starting fresh or giving your existing learning and development platform a makeover, HR leaders have to ensure continuous learning despite their associated expenses. create standardised training modules online whenever possible. Bite-sized courses, coupled with a online training portfolio that uses a variety of methods to deliver its learning objectives, are found to be effective to foster outcome-led learning. All these efforts should lead to strengthened organisational capability, engaged and belonged workforce. When organisations make the continuous quest to learn, train and develop as part of their organisation’s DNA, it will make them more attractive to new talent and place them in the driver’s seat. However, it’s important to recognise that lack of skilled talent at a time like this will require more than just company or industry efforts. As organisations step up their recruiting and learning initiatives, they

points out how employees can develop their aptitude for managing their emotions – and how employers can support them. People Matters BeNext, our cohort-based certification program, launches three new courses. Designing Employee Experience in the New World of Work (October 11- November 12); Aligning Goals & Accelerating Performance ( October 25 - November 02); The HRBP in the New World of Work (November 08 - December 30). For enrollment, you can reach out to sumali. Our first year has been a tremendous eye-opener on how community and learning are so interconnected. Now we are extending People Matters BeNext virtual learning programs to our leaders in Spanishspeaking countries to make the platform more diverse, inclusive, and communitydriven. As always, we would be happy to hear your views, comments, and suggestions regarding our stories.


snakes and ladders?

love it!

From the Editor’s Desk

need partnership and collaboration to expand careeroriented funding and training to ensure workforces are equipped for success in the new roles of today and tomorrow. The cover story of this issue delves deep into the larger skills gap conundrum and how leaders can play a significant role to prepare for the future. We have two special columns by Andreas Schleicher, Director for Education and Skills, OECD which casts light on solving the skills gap and Belinda Lewis, HR Director, IBM Australia and New Zealand on how to narrow the tech industry’s skills gap. The issue features a rapid-fire interview with Ruth Cotter, SVP, Worldwide Marketing, Human Resources and Investor Relations, AMD, who shares the roadmap to stay competitive beyond the pandemic, and more; and an interview with Martin Creighan, Managing Director, Citrix Australia and New Zealand, who talks about the Gen Z workforce and why employers need to be prepared to address their particular needs and challenges to bring out their full potential. The issue has a special feature story on navigating the emotional complexities of modern work which

one more colour please!


Happy Reading!

Esther Martinez Hernandez Editor-in-Chief follow

M > @Ester_Matters F > estermartinez > october 2021 |



October 2021 volume xii issue 10


‘Agile workforces’ and the future of learning

David Thomas, Asia Head of HR at HSBC By Mastufa Ahmed

Key to addressing the skills gap

48 Tim Munden, Chief Learning Officer, Unilever By Bhavna Sarin 51

Skills Gap is a very healthy sign of change

Indraneel Das, Global Head Learning & Development, Kohler Co. By Sudeshna Mitra 54

Fewer companies realise reskilling a key part of digital transformation

Ina Bajwa, Global Head, Learning & Development, Tata Communications By Mastufa Ahmed



By Belinda Lewis, HR Director, IBM Australia and New Zealand 60 The widening skills gap is one of the top challenges facing global leaders today.cover What’s your skill storyequation? transformation

The widening skills gap is one of the top challenges facing global leaders today. What’s your skill transformation equation?


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

Mastufa Ahmed

Marta Martinez

Editor & New Product Content Strategist Senior Editor

Rachel Ranosa Features Writer

Mint Kang

Jerry Moses

Senior Manager - Research & Content Strategist - APAC

Anushree Sharma

Manager - design, photography, and production

Shweta Modgil

Senior Manager - Research and Content Strategy - APAC


Digital Head

Prakash Shahi Design & Production

Shinto Kallattu

Senior Manager - Global Sales & Partnerships

Assistant Manager - Content Projects & APAC Community Lead


Content Manager and Lead - D&I

Bhavna Sarin

Senior Associates - Content

Sudeshna Mitra Asmaani Kumar

| october 2021

Solving the skills gap

68 By Clinton Wingrove, Principal Consultant, Clinton HR Ltd

Saloni Gulati +91 (124) 4148102

Neelanjana Mazumdar

Embedding upskilling into the flow of work is vital

Lynne Scheid, Senior Vice President, HR at Kofax By Mastufa Ahmed

Assistant Manager - Content - APAC

Drishti Pant

‘Embracing empathy’ and the value of virtual learning

Eva Majercsik, Chief People Officer at Genesys By Mastufa Ahmed



Narrowing the tech industry’s skills gap by shifting mindsets

Sumali Das Purkyastha Published by

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

This issue of People matters contains 93 pages including cover


Solving the skills gap


New ways of working in Australia: Seizing the opportunity

By Andreas Schleicher,

Director for Education and Skills, and Special Advisor on Education Policy to the Secretary-General at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris

14 E m o t i o n a l Co m p l e x i t y

How to navigate the emotional complexities of modern work

Head Australia, IWG By Anushree Sharma

Can Hybrid Model be better for boards?

By Dr. M Muneer, Co-founder of the non-profit Medici Institute and a stakeholder in the Silicon Valley-based deep-tech enterprise Rezonent Corp. Ralph Ward, Global Board Advisor, coach and publisher

25 E m p l o y e r B r a n d i n g

Changing dynamics of employer branding

78 T h e r oa d l e s s t r a v e l l e d

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

Are companies doing enough to address employees’ mental health?

Culture change is not a screw-on job

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

By David Smail, Of Counsel at DLA Piper, a multinational law firm


By Malcolm Peak, Director of Peak Corporate Solutions, a branding and HR advisory company based in Sydney

Damien Sheehan, Country

75 H y b r i d Mo d e of Wo r k

By Rachel Ranosa



72 i n t e r v i e w

28 i n t e r v i e w

Citrix ANZ's Martin Creighan decodes Gen Z

Martin Creighan, Managing Director, Citrix Australia and New Zealand By Mint Kang

A continuous skill gap analysis is a must to improve learner engagement

Shweta Mishra, Human Resources Director at Rackspace, Asia Pacific & Japan By Shweta Modgil


How HR leaders should reimagine the future of work

By Sarah Davies, Chief Human Resources Officer, P&G Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa

Decoding People’s Pulse

By R. Venkatanarayanan, President HR & IT & Rane Holdings

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

32 F u t u r e of Wo r k

86 Boo k R e v i e w

08 Quick Reads 13 Rapid Fire 84 Knowledge + Networking 89 Blogosphere

Featured In this issue Damien Sheehan David Thomas Eva Majercsik Ina Bajwa Indraneel Das

Lynne Scheid Martin Creighan Ruth Cotter Shweta Mishra Tim Munden

CONTRIBUTORS to this issue Andreas Schleicher Belinda Lewis Clinton Wingrove Craig W. Ross David Smail Malcolm Peak

Dr. M Muneer R. Venkatanarayanan Ralph Ward Sarah Davies Visty Banaji

october 2021 |


Letters of the month

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

IBM’s CHRO Nickle raises some very important questions. It's no longer just about where we are working from, but also when we are working and what we are working on as well as focusing on outcomes, not activities or the amount of time invested. We are already 16 months into the pandemic, and several organisations are yet to develop a flexible approach to talent management, performance assessment, and several other parameters that impact the workforce as well as the workplace, which today is becoming increasingly digital and distributed. Employers, at least the ones that hope to attract and retain talent, can no longer sit on the fence. They need to proactively design and consistently evolve policies and culture to build a conducive, productive and engaging work environment, aligned with the rapidly changing and growingly unique needs and preferences of employees. James Lester

Empathy is the starting point to build trust

With hybrid working not going anywhere, it is becoming increasingly important to tackle isolation. Beyond the stress and fatigue fueled by the pandemic, the segment of the workforce that continues to operate remotely and live in isolation requires attention. While organisations are striving to tackle this through several well-being and belonging efforts, these efforts need to pick both scale and pace. There is a need to make the larger workforce cognizant of the diversity of challenges their colleagues face today and create awareness on how interpersonal interactions can both enhance and deteriorate the environment and experience for their peers. - Supriya Manohar 6

| october 2021

september 2021 issue

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

If I had to pick one line shared by Dr Tomas in this interview that impacted me the most, it is this: 'I think a lot of people have learned a great deal about their priorities, their employers, and what they really want and need in life postpandemic. While the pandemic is not over yet, they are moving fast because they developed the impulse or impetus to change as they see the world changing.' The pandemic has certainly forced us to relook at what normal once was, and it all comes down to change. With all the disruption and destruction that the pandemic brought, it also gave us an opportunity to truly reflect, accept and embrace an overdue change in how we looked at work, life and everything in between. - Akshita Pandey

Interact with People Matters

Winning the post-pandemic hybrid talent race

- Kamlesh Mehta

Supporting employee journey is crucial to retaining talent Very insightful suggestions. Especially the 7 pillars of effective talent management in the post-pandemic world. What stood out for me was investing in company culture, highlighting growth opportunities, relooking at benefits and increasing friendships among team members. Relevance today is core to any organisation practice and offering to ensure both adoption by the workforce as well as effectiveness. It is also important for organisations to be cognizant of the fact that one size does not fit all and instead of imitating best practices, they need to identify what would work best and be most impactful for their workforce. - Bhumika Panwar

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

I quite appreciate Walmart CEO's statement "Our people make the difference". At a time when organisations aren't just struggling to attract talent but in fact retain talent, it becomes even more crucial to pay attention to your employees and ensure you are not just evaluating their performance but contributing to their growth and success. The pandemic has fuelled an awareness and willingness to explore alternate career paths. How employers tackle this shift in mindset will be critical to strengthening their own ability to not just upskill their workforce capabilities but also building an environment that is open to experimentation, learning and most importantly change - Bhanuprasad

Great Resignation is a movement that will continue for long into a new era of work

The great resignation is indeed real, but has the power really shifted from employers to employees? And is flexibility today a mere policy or practice? I am afraid it continues to be the former, at best. The only flexibility that exists today is possibly around the location of work, not really around work itself. Flexibility in the true sense that allows individuals to balance work-life without feeling compelled to prioritise one over the other is yet to see the light of the day. - Dina Nath

Tata Technologies @TataTech_News In an interaction with @PeopleMatters2, our CHRO Anupal Banerjee shares his insights on various layers of #upskilling and how #agility in the #learning process is essential for success in the new normal. #EngineeringABetterWorld #upskill Andy Murray Online @itsmuzza2004 RT @BetaMoroney: #Design #Strategy: the career that's transforming #business - @ PeopleMatters2 @IanLJones98 @Shi4Tech @lyakovet @enilev @AkwyZ @ravidugh @ avrohomg @baski_LA @EvaSmartAI @Sharleneisenia @FrRonconi @Nicochan33 @ YIbnM #DesignThinking #Digi… pic.twitter. com/l6R4fEf05I David Green @david_green_uk Organisations need to master strategic thinking on capability building essh50GfGkz w/ @Cheese_Peter via @ PeopleMatters2 #HR #WorkforcePlanning #Learning #Diversity

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

A very interesting compilation of a checklist for winning the hybrid talent race. While flexibility and technology have been the buzzwords for organisations around the world, there are other nuances and priorities which clearly take up precedence depending on individual geography. For instance, the spotlight on DEI. Some regions are still trying to establish equity through policies, some are focused on enhancing inclusivity as a culture, and some focus on fostering a sense of belonging across a digitally connected yet distributed workforce.

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

HRCurator @HRCurator #Wellbeing is a business issue not an #HR issue: Interview With Jeanne Meister @ jcmeister article/employ… @PeopleMatters2 #HCM #HRM #SmarterHR THNK @THNKschool In India, only 3% of CEOs and managing directors were women in 2019. ​In Japan, women earn 23.5% less than their male counterparts.​#diversity #inclusion #belonging #DEI #DIB #asiapacific #globalization #workplace #workculture by @PeopleMatters2 Xpheno @Xpheno_ 500 women employees to be hired by @ Neeyamo for their All-Women Global Development Centre in Nagpur. The CEO, @CEO_Neeyamo, talks about improving the lives of existing women employees and future hires in the @PeopleMatters2 article below. news/recruitme… #xpheno follow

M > @PeopleMatters2


october 2021 |



Glassdoor acquires Fishbowl to broaden user connections

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HR services provider Glassdoor has acquired Fishbowl - an app that provides its users with an anonymous option to post candid employee feedback, join chat groups and search for jobs. This acquisition will bring an additional one million users to Glassdoor's growing 55 million user platform, and more importantly, add a social component to Glassdoor's company review function. Fishbowl is a professional social networking app, but with the key difference that it allows user anonymity just as Glassdoor does. According to Glassdoor CEO Christian Sutherland-Wong, that anonymity feature will help to boost the transparency - and ideally the credibility - of the information users contribute to the platform.




Salesforce & its partners can create 26,000 jobs in New Zealand

A study by IDC has found that Salesforce and its New Zealand partners have the opportunity to create 26,000 jobs and $9.7 Bn in new business revenue by 2026. In fact, Salesforce partner presence in NZ that is especially delivering cloud services is five times as big as Salesforce’s own local presence. Salesforce looks ahead towards more business growth and is set to generate NZ$1.6 Bn of revenue this year, expected to double in the future.

| october 2021

Fin raises US$20 million Series A funding and names ex-Twilio exec as new CEO Compensation & Benefits

Amazon hires for 125K logistics jobs and increases starting pay to $18/ hour Amazon announced a hike in its average starting wage to more than US$18 per hour, going up to US$22.50 in some locations. This is a $1 increase from the previous average of US$17 in May. Not only that, the announcement on 14 September states that the company will be offering signing bonuses of US$3,000 in 'select locations'. The hired workers will assist in running 100 logistics facilities which are to be launched soon.

Work insights platform Fin last week announced that it has raised US$20 million in a Series A round led by Coatue and with participation from First Round Capital, Accel, and

Kleiner Perkins. The funding will be used to expedite growth into new markets through investments in engineering, sales, marketing and R&D. Parallelly Fin also announced the appointment of Evan Cummack as Chief Executive Officer.

HR Technology

Oyster bags funding from PayPal Ventures and HR Tech Investments Oyster, a startup and platform that helps companies through the process of hiring, onboarding and then providing contractors and full-time employees in the area of ‘knowledge work’, has announced investments from PayPal Ventures and HR Tech Investments, an affiliate of Indeed. It has also launched ‘Oyster for Impact’ — a program designed to help mission-driven companies

build thriving distributed teams. Earlier this year in February, the company closed a Series A round of $20 MN and it was reported that Oyster was already working in 100 countries, and CEO and Tony Jamous (who co-founded the company with Jack Mardack) said in an interview that the plan is to expand that list of markets, and also bring in new services.

Diversity & Inclusion

Marking its first international takeover, TechnologyOne set to buy Scientia for AU $22Mn

TechnologyOne acquires Scientia Resource Management to accelerate its growth prospects in the UK markets. TechnologyOne will deploy Syllabus Plus to deliver user-friendly enterprise solutions that will greatly benefit its UK & Australian customers. Through this acquisition, TechnologyOne will focus on streamlining and strengthening its offerings in the education sector. This will also allow them a considerable competitive advantage in the UK markets.

Employee Experience

State-wise lockdowns and reduced work hours aggravates unemployment state: ABS

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Merger and Acquisition

7 out of 10 firms in Singapore have yet to establish diversity, equality and inclusion (DE&I) policies, according to a recent survey conducted by the Singapore National Employers' Federation and Kincentric. Only 30% have a formal DE&I policy - and most of those are international businesses that draw their DE&I approach from global corporate culture and values. Interestingly, 62% of the businesses surveyed do attempt to incorporate DE&I into their hiring processes, although the report does not explore when they first started doing so.

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70% of Singapore employers don't have DE&I policies

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) data depicts a drop in employment by 1,46,000 in August. This is a much depressing figure compared to the median forecast fall of 90,000. The unemployment rate was recorded at 4.5% in August. The jobless rate saw a dip of 0.1% as it was 4.6% in July. The ABS statistics also revealed that the labour force has a huge role to play in the slips in the unemployment rate. The Labour workforce is completely demotivated as it is very difficult to find jobs in lockdowns. october 2021 |


newsmaker of the month

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The light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel!



early a year and a half into the pandemic, it’s finally starting to seem that the threat of the virus may turn endemic. With multiple waves, the COVID19 virus ravaged economies. It now seems companies are starting to prepare with cautious optimism to open their ‘return-to-work’ operations by early next year. What is leading companies to prepare for such measures? Firstly, vaccinations are catching up in different parts of the world. According to Bloomberg, more than 6.03 billion doses have been administered across 184 countries. That’s roughly 39.2 per cent of the global population. At the current pace, it will take

| october 2021

another six months to cover 75 per cent of the population – a rate that infectious-disease experts say would enable a return to normalcy. With manufacturing capacity steadily increasing, there’s hope that significant progress can be made. While vaccination hasn’t necessarily stopped the spread of the virus in highly vaccinated countries, it has significantly reduced the severity of the infection. Many high-income countries including the United States and Europe are still battling the spike in cases driven by the Delta variant. A McKinsey analysis notes that these countries could restart the transition towards normalcy as early as

the fourth quarter of 2021 – provided vaccines continue to be effective and if new, powerful variants don’t emerge. Secondly, in countries like India, the Delta variant caused a surge in cases that left many people with antibodies. In July, the Indian Council of Medical Research concluded that twothirds of Indians over the age of six had COVID-19 antibodies, which reduced the likelihood of another severe wave in the immediate future. But researchers note that immunity to infection is neither absolute nor permanent, which means that COVID-19 could become endemic with infection rates plateauing over time. Although multiple state governments have permitted schools and colleges to reopen for physical classes, it continues to be a voluntary effort. For many workplaces, exploring new hybrid models of work, there are some fundamental shifts to consider with remote work becoming a key factor in making human capital decisions moving forward. As many experts note, this is a pandemic that may have many endings, and it may mean that companies need to wait and watch, be agile and pivot their operations when needed.

UST appoints Matthew McCormack as MD for Australia & New Zealand UST, a digital transformation solutions company has appointed Matthew McCormack as the Managing Director for Australia and New Zealand. McCormack will lead the expansion and growth of the company and champion UST’s vision of ‘Transforming Lives’ in the region. He will focus on unlocking value for organisations by leveraging the power of digital technologies across Australia and New Zealand.

Damien Tan steps up as CEO for AIA Financial Advisors, SG AIA Group Limited, an insurance and finance corporation recently announced the promotion of Damien Tan as Chief Executive

Former IXOM Managing Director Paul Atkinson named STL Chief Executive Officer Sterlite Technologies last week announced the appointment of Paul Atkinson as Chief Executive Officer to head its optical networking business. Atkinson succeeds Ankit Agarwal, former CEO and presiding Whole-Time Director at STL. The appointment comes with the rapid growth of STL's optical business globally. Atkinson's focal points in his new role will be digital transformation along with rendering of optical solutions to prevailing network building cycles for 5G, FTTx and rural broadband.

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ServiceMax appoints Sophie Ames as CHRO Sophie Ames has joined ServiceMax as Chief Human Resources Officer, as the company prepares to be listed on Nasdaq, following a business combination with Pathfinder Acquisition Corporation. Ames brings 20 years of broad international HR experience to ServiceMax, having held leadership roles with global technology and services organizations, most recently serving as the SVP & Chief Human Resources Officer at Veritas.

North appoints Coreen Bone as Chief People Officer UK-based IoT services and solutions provider North has last week announced the appointment of Coreen Bone to the position of Chief People Officer. Bone will be joining North’s executive leadership team, working directly with CEO Glen Williams. This is following their recent investment from Livingbridge and the acquisition of Data Techniques. Spanning over 20 years of experience, Bone has worked across a range of industries, holding executive roles at Xerox Business Services.

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DigitalX’s Ex-CEO and Director, Leigh Travers joins Binance Australia as new CEO Binance Australia announced this week that former DigitalX CEO and Director, Leigh Travers has been appointed as the Chief Executive Officer of the company. He will be leading and working with the Binance Australia team with a common passion of expediting the adoption of blockchain and digital assets in Australia. Travers aims to prioritise the growth of Binance Australia’s brand and improve its official relationships with regulators.

Officer for AIA Financial Advisors, Singapore. Tan joined AIA in 1996 and has been serving the company since then. He formerly led the Tied Distribution Strategy for AIA Singapore. In his new role, Tan is entrusted to handle distribution and strategy, delivery of efficient services to clients and businesses along with enhanced customer experience. He will further channel his 23 years of extensive experience and leadership skills in driving the insurance company to the next growth & development phase.

MyRepublic names Deborah Woollard Chief People Officer MyRepublic, a Singapore-based telecommunications company, recently announced the appointment october 2021 | October


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of an international Human Resources leader, Deborah Woollard as the new Chief People Officer. In her new role, Deborah will oversee the execution of people and culture strategy, MyRepublic's development plan and further contribute her expertise as the company charts the next phase of gains. Deborah is looking forward to working with the team of leaders and enhancing employee well-being as well as people management strategies. KFin Technologies appoints Kiran Aidhi as Chief People Officer KFin Technologies announced the appointment of Kiran Aidhi as Chief People Officer. Previously, she has been associated with firms like Accenture, Convergys, Hutchison 3 Global Services (now known as Tech Mahindra Business Services), Ugam Solutions. As the CPO, Kiran will look at all human resources and talent management aspects of KFin. TZ Limited appoints Mario Vecchio as new CEO; as Scott Beeton resigns TZ Limited announced in an ASX filing last week that the board of directors has appointed Mario Vecchio as the new Chief Executive Officer after Managing Director and CEO Scott Beeton resigned from the role. While the company did not provide a reason for Beeton's departure, he had joined as CEO only last March, with the board of directors at the time citing his experience and expertise in financial oversight. Vecchio had previously served as a non-executive director on TZ Limited's board in 2018, but subsequently joined Aryaka Networks and had to step down from TZ Limited due to the time commitment involved in his new role. Adobe appoints new Vice President & Managing Director of India Business Adobe today announced the appointment of Prativa Mohapa12

October 2021 | october

tra as Vice President and Managing Director for Adobe India. In this role, Prativa will lead Adobe’s India business across Adobe Experience Cloud, Adobe Creative Cloud and Adobe Document Cloud, reporting to Simon Tate, Adobe’s President for Asia Pacific (APAC). Prativa’s career spans over 25 years in the technology industry. She joins Adobe from IBM, where she served as Vice President of Digital Sales for APAC. Prior to that, she led Sales for IBM India and South Asia where she was responsible for driving revenue for the company’s portfolio of solutions and services. Biocon Biologics appoints Naveen Narayanan as its CHRO Biocon Biologics, a unit of Biocon has appointed Naveen Narayanan to lead the HR and people practices for the entity. In his new role, Naveen will be responsible for the entire gamut of People and Culture globally. Prior to joining Biocon, Naveen was associated with KPISOFT, which is a leading global AI-based continuous performance platform as MD – Human Capital Consulting, Solutions & Transformation for close to three years. With over 28 years of experience, he has worked across industries and with notable brands like Publicis, Sapient, Arrow Group Global, HCL Technologies Accenture, and Standard Chartered Bank. Kimberly-Clark appoints Radhika Tomar as the new CHRO Kimberly-Clark announced the appointment of Radhika Tomar as their Chief Human Resources Officer. With a career spanning across 15 years, Radhika joins Kimberly-Clark after having served as the Global Head of Learning and Development at Dyson. In her new role, Radhika will lead Kimberly-Clark’s human resources strategy, focusing on transformation, cultural development, talent management, D&I initiatives and continued growth. She will work closely with the leadership team and look after employee and stakeholder engagement, alongside talent development, underscoring the company’s aim to be the employer of choice in India.

seven Questions



Ruth Cotter

Senior Vice President, Worldwide Marketing, HR & IR, AMD By Mastufa Ahmed



The biggest challenge for you to come stronger on the other side?

What is the most important step you are taking to prepare for tomorrow?


With uncertainty still abound, are you making long-term plans?

AMD is always planning for the long term. Similar to how we approach our product roadmap, we believe it is critical to always look ahead to continue fostering a strong, innovative company culture


One thing you will act on that you learned from your employees?

While we have been conducting employee engagement surveys every year, this last year allowed me to fully realize the importance of listening to our employees, acting on their needs, and providing flexibility wherever possible


During the pandemic, one of the biggest lessons I learned was to turn challenges into opportunities as we look to the future


One new aspect/element that you will embed in your workforce?

AMD has always had a culture of transparency, but the pandemic adjusted the way we approach employee communications. Moving forward, we are pushing our leaders to balance their connections with employees to span professional and personal in more ways than ever before and encouraging fluid engagement

Are you embracing the hybrid model? Will it sustain in the long term?

We are currently allowing those employees who wish to return to the office to do so in regions where it is permitted by local governments, etc. We are also adapting for those employees that wish to adopt a more permanent hybrid, flexible work schedule

r a p i d - f i r e

The biggest challenge I see will be transitioning out of my virtual routine and ensuring I am as adaptable for my team moving forward, as I was during the fluidness of the pandemic

Communication and collaboration are top of mind as AMD prepares for the future of work. This means equipping our people with all the necessary resources, so they are empowered to bring their best selves to work, whether that is at home, in the office or a hybrid of the two


What life lessons have YOU learned during this pandemic?

During the pandemic, one of the biggest lessons I learned was to turn challenges into opportunities as we look to the future. In all, navigating this pandemic helped me understand the importance of continued learning and understanding different perspectives october 2021 |


Emotional Comple xity

How to navigate the emotional complexities of modern work In a high-pressure environment, how can employees develop their aptitude for managing their emotions – and how can employers support them? Despite appearing less tangible, some skills underpin our success in the digital workplace By Rachel Ranosa


| october 2021


A key element of our communications has been storytelling, and this is critical to building a resilient culture. The stories are what our people connect with and represent what our culture is about

Emotiona l Comple xity

esilience. Empathy. Emotional intelligence. Despite the prevalence of an ‘always-on’ culture, the frequency of our communications through email, chat or video conferencing still doesn't fully capture the quality of our interactions at work. How well we engage with one another entails mastery of what makes us human: our emotions. While technical skills often produce more tangible results and are fundamental to a rewarding career, experts are also pointing to competencies that rely on 1) mental 2) emotional and 3) psychosocial processes and interactions. And, despite appearing less tangible, they underpin success in the modern workplace. These skills are widely referred to as soft skills or people skills, but they create six times more impact than hard skills or technical knowledge when it comes to job success, according to the National Soft Skills Association in the US. In fact, a study by I/O psychologist Dr Travis Bradberry on 42,000 workers found that 90 per cent of the top performers across industries exhibit high emotional intelligence – and they often transform this soft skill advantage into an economic benefit. High EQ workers tend to earn US$29,000 more than colleagues who have yet to develop emotional intelligence. More people today are craving better soft skills to deal with life and work in uncertain times, particularly skills that develop mental fortitude and endurance.

- Andrew Newmark, Regional VP - Human Resources, Marriott International Anxiety management courses on Udemy, for example, witnessed a 4,000 per cent increase in demand at the height of the pandemic last year. Among healthcare workers, that demand is even greater at 5,400 per cent. Courses on resilience, meanwhile, grew more popular among learners by 1,300 per cent. All this suggests that the pressures of modern work can be unnerving for many of us. Add october 2021 |


Emotional Comple xity

to that the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout have sparked a global mental health crisis. Soft skills – particularly emotional intelligence, resilience and empathy – drive at the heart of our humanity at work and prove the case for humanising our workplaces. These competencies have given rise to movements towards greater diversity, equity and inclusion, greater employee well-being, and even a healthier relationship with technology. But how can modern workers develop their aptitude for navigat-


Soft skills or people skills create six times more impact than hard skills or technical knowledge when it comes to job success, according to the National Soft Skills Association in the US

| october 2021

ing complex emotions in equally complex environments – and how can employers support them? ‘Leaders need to role-model (the attitudes and behaviours),’ said Andrew Newmark, Regional VP - Human Resources, Marriott International, in a discussion with People Matters on building a culture of resilience. Part of leading conversations on how to bounce back is ‘demonstrating vulnerability’ and ‘making it safe (for employees) to try new things, make mistakes and learn,’ he said. ‘Like other organisations, we have focused heavily on our communications. A key element of our communications has been storytelling, and I feel this is critical to building a resilient culture. The stories are what our people connect with and represent what our culture is about. Stories of adapting to the crisis, taking care of our customers and associates,

ing health concerns, and leading employees who are facing unprecedented levels of burnout, stress, and anxiety,’ Scott said. In other words, modern workers are simultaneously ‘plugged in’ yet ‘tuned out’ from the world around them. 'The shift to remote work has accelerated interest in optimising digital habits. Today, 83 per cent of employees are looking to their employers for guidance in navigating the pressures of remote work. Yet many employers feel illequipped to deal with these new pressures,’ Scott said.

As employers anticipate the Great Resignation, leaders need to upskill their employees to deal with modern pressures. We don't need work-life balance – we need work-life-technology balance

Emotiona l Comple xity

and innovating and finding new revenue streams during these difficult times.’ Even in today's remote work environment, top performers excel at communicating ‘virtual empathy,’ a concept championed by Chai Ping Chua, HR Director and Country Site Leader, Experian, who joined Newmark at the panel. ‘We continue to have virtual training sessions, especially for our leaders and managers, so that they can continue to build critical skills (e.g. virtual empathy) to help employees tide through this very difficult period,’ she said. To guide employees in a time of adversity and emotional complexity, Experian recalled lessons of the past. ‘We relied on some muscle memory of our collective and our senior leaders who have seen 9/11, SARS and the Asian Financial Crisis to help us through COVID; so that lessons learnt can be reused and revisited this time,’ she said. Learnings from the COVID-19 crisis will likely remain beyond the pandemic, so improving people's daily habits now – such as knowing how and when to unplug and unwind – will prove critical to thriving in a high-pressure digital work environment, advised Jessica Scott, Director of the PowerED programme at the Athabasca University in Canada. ‘Executives across the country are facing new challenges – communicating in real-time with a remote workforce, driving productivity while balanc-

An integral part of managing emotional and mental health is promoting digital wellness alongside them. ‘As employers anticipate the Great Resignation, leaders need to upskill their employees to deal with modern pressures. We don't need work-life balance – we need work-life-technology balance,’ Scott said. By arming employees with tools, tips, awareness and ‘hacks to reclaim a sense of well-being and establish a healthier relationship with technology, organisations can create a more engaged workforce. october 2021 |


Andreas Schleicher

Solving the skills gap Skills have become the global currency of 21st-century economies. But this ‘currency’ depreciates rapidly as the requirements of labour markets evolve and individuals lose the skills they do not use

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verywhere skills transform lives, generate prosperity and promote social inclusion. And if there is one lesson the global financial crisis had taught us in the late 2000s, then it is that we cannot simply bail ourselves out of economic turmoil, stimulate ourselves out of a recession or just print money our way out of a crisis. A much stronger bet for countries to grow and develop in the long run is to equip the working population with better skills to collaborate, compete and connect in ways that drive their lives and their societies. The current pandemic has dramatically rein-

| october 2021

forced this, changing skill demands overnight and creating huge demands for just-in-time adult learning. OECD’s Survey of Adult Skills shows that what people know, and what they do with what they know, has a major impact on their life chances. On average across countries, the median hourly wage of workers scoring at Level 4 or 5 in literacy — who can make complex inferences and evaluate subtle truth claims or arguments in written texts — is more than 60% higher than for workers scoring at the baseline Level 1. The survey also shows that this impact goes far beyond earnings and employment. In the countries surveyed, individuals with poorer foundation skills are far more likely to report poor health, to believe that they have little impact on political processes, and not to participate in associative or volunteer activities. In one way, skills have become the global currency of 21st-century economies. But this ‘currency’ depreciates rapidly as the requirements of labour markets evolve and individuals lose the skills they do not use. For skills to retain their value,

In a fast-changing world, lifelong learning has become the key to solving the skills gap, which is about constantly learning, unlearning and relearning when the context changes. We used to learn to do the work — now learning has become the work

special column

they must be continuously developed throughout life. In a fastchanging world, lifelong learning has become the key to solving the skills gap, which is about constantly learning, unlearning and relearning when the context changes. We used to learn to do the work, now learning has become the work. To succeed with converting education into better jobs and lives, we need to better understand what those skills are that drive outcome, ensure that the right skill mix is being learned over the lifecycle, and help economies make good use of those skills. The essential starting point is to better anticipate and respond to the evolution of skill demand in societies. In the past, education was about teaching people something. Now, it’s about making sure that individuals develop a reliable compass and the navigation skills to find their own way through an increasingly uncertain, volatile and ambiguous world. These days, we no longer know exactly how things will unfold, often we are surprised and need to learn from the extraordinary, and sometimes we make mistakes along the way. And it will often be the mistakes and failures, when properly understood, that create the context for learning and growth. We live in this world in which the kind of things that are easy to teach and test have also become easy to digitize and automate. The future is about pairing the artificial intelligence of computers with the cognitive, social and emotional skills and values of humans. It’s going to be our imagination,

our awareness and our sense of responsibility that will help us harness technology to shape the world for the better. These days, algorithms behind social media are sorting us into groups of like-minded individuals. They create virtual bubbles that often amplify our views but leave us insulated from divergent perspectives; they homogenise opinions and polarise our societies. So, tomorrow’s schools need to help students think for themselves and join others, with empathy, in work and citizenship. They will need to help them develop a strong sense of right and wrong, october 2021 |


special column

a sensitivity to the claims that others make on us, and a grasp of the limits on individual and collective action. At work, at home and in the community, people will need a deep understanding of how others live, in different cultures and traditions, and how others think, whether as scientists or artists. The growing complexity of modern living, for individuals, communities and societies, means that the solutions to our problems will also be complex: in a struc-

The future is about pairing the artificial intelligence of computers with the cognitive, social and emotional skills and values of humans. It’s going to be our imagination, our awareness and our sense of responsibility that will help us harness technology to shape the world for the better turally imbalanced world, the imperative of reconciling diverse perspectives and interests, in local settings but with often global implications, means we need to become good in handling tensions and dilemmas. Striking a balance between competing demands — equity and freedom, autonomy and community, innovation and continuity, efficiency and democratic process — will rarely lead to an either/or choice or even a single solution. We need to think in a more integrated way that recognises interconnections.


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Our capacity to navigate ambiguity has become key.

Integrating the worlds of learning and work

We also know that adult learning and skills development are far more effective if the world of learning and the world of work are integrated. Compared to purely government-designed curricula taught exclusively in educational institutions, learning in the workplace allows people to develop ‘hard’ skills on modern equipment, and ‘soft’ skills such as teamwork, communication, and negotiation through real-world experience. Hands-on workplace training is also an effective way to motivate disengaged adults to re-engage with education. Employers have an important role in training their own staff, even if some, particularly small and mediumsized enterprises, need public assistance to provide such training. Trade unions can also help to shape education and training, protect the interests of existing workers, ensure that those in work use their skills adequately, and see that investments in training are reflected in betterquality jobs and higher salaries. In short, government and business need to work together to gather evidence about skill demand, present and future, which can then be used to develop up-to-date instructional systems and to inform education and training systems. A wide spectrum of full- or part-time lifelong-learning activities needs to be available

a framework of national qualifications, should be developed alongside reliable assessment procedures. Recognition of prior learning can also reduce the time needed to obtain a certain qualification and thus the cost of foregone earnings. Fourth, it is important to ensure that programs are relevant to users and are flexible enough, both in content and in how they are delivered to adapt to adults’ needs. Several countries have recently introduced one-stop shopping arrangements, with

special column

to address the skills gap: from work-related employee training, formal education for adults, second-chance courses to obtain a minimum qualification or basic literacy and numeracy skills, language training for immigrants, and labour-market training programs for job-seekers, to learning activities for selfimprovement or leisure. There is much that can be done to dismantle barriers to participation in continued education and training: First, making the returns on lifelong learning more transparent can help to increase the motivation of users to invest in adult education and training. Governments can provide better information about the economic benefits (including wages net of taxes, employment and productivity) and non-economic benefits (including self-esteem and increased social interaction) of adult learning. Second, less educated individuals tend to be less aware of education and training opportunities or may find the available information confusing. A combination of easily searchable, up-todate online information and personal guidance and counselling services to help individuals define their own training needs and identify the appropriate programs is needed, as is information about possible funding sources. Third, clear certification of learning outcomes and recognition of informal learning are also incentives for training. Transparent standards, embedded in

different services offered in the same institution. This approach is particularly cost-effective as it consolidates infrastructure and teaching personnel and makes continuing education and training more convenient. Distance learning and the open educational resources approach have significantly improved users’ ability to adapt their learning to their lives. ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Andreas Schleicher is Director for Education and Skills, and Special Advisor on Education Policy to the Secretary-General at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris. october 2021 |


New ways of working in Australia: Seizing the opportunity Organisations and leaders need to seize the moment rather than bounce back to how things were. Damien Sheehan, Country Head Australia, IWG, talks about the different facets of what it means to return to the workplace and the future of workplaces, in an interaction with us

Employe e Expe rie nce

By Anushree Sharma



f the many changes that were brought in by the pandemic, flexible working or remote working has garnered the most attention. But in regions such as Australia where remote working might take a back seat as the pandemic eases and companies start opening up, the experimentation around flexible working takes up new dimensions and forms. It introduces a new set of employees as well, mostly freelancers and young entrepreneurs who envision innovative forms of working and most importantly networking. 'The traditional workplace is behind us. It’s time for business leaders to seize the moment, and consider how they want to evolve their workplace to be fit for the future', says Damien Sheehan, Country Head Australia, IWG. We have been talking about the different facets of what it means to return to the workplace(s). And what have we learnt? In this interview, Damien uncovers crea| october 2021

tive ways to think about the office in the context of how the distributed workforce will look. Here are the excerpts of the interview.

Evolving work: PreCOVID-19 to the vaccine economy

Now, as we flip-flop out of lockdown, companies of all sizes and millions of employees worldwide are permanently embracing the hybrid model. From one day to the next, Australians can work anywhere – whether that’s at home, in the office, or at a workplace close to home offering better worklife integration and optimising productivity. More and more employers are looking to innovate away from the traditional office space as a result of employee expectations, in favour of fostering a hybrid approach.

Are offices going to disappear?

The future is hybrid – a mixture of working from home, working in an office or working in a shared or flexible office space close to home. The physical office very much still has a place in the future of work and we

have seen employees’ appetite for returning in some form to the physical office space. According to recent research by IWG, it was revealed that out of Australian workers surveyed who can work remotely, over eight in ten (84%) would prefer to work at least one day a week in an office, showing that the hybrid working format is here to stay. Across the working population, we found that most workers won’t want to completely forgo working from home. However, there are plenty of aspects that won’t be missed, including the lack of boundaries between work and home, the lack of technology resources, as well as juggling work and childcare duties and managing remote learning. In addition, IWG’s research found that nearly six in ten (59%) Australian workers who can work remotely october 2021 |

Employe e Expe rie nce

In the decade before COVID19, we were already seeing a fundamental shift in the world of work. More than any other factor, the pace of change in technology, the economy, and society is reshaping the future of work. While this was slowly but surely happening preCOVID, it sharply accelerated once the pandemic hit worldwide in March last year. Overnight, office workers had to completely change the way that they work. Many had to move from the boardroom to the kitchen table with the partner, kids and family dog. If we consider pre-COVID as ‘normal’, COVID-19 itself, especially at the beginning, was a period of survival. We had to make do and survive in a rapidly changing world which impacted everything in our personal and working lives. Once the dust had settled and we got used to other ways of working, we entered into a period of experimentation – we asked questions like: ‘How do I like to work? What is the best way of working for me personally?’


Employe e Expe rie nce

It's critical for employers to invest in ways to support their workers in whatever way they choose to work – office, home or anywhere


agree that working in an office environment is better for their mental health than working purely remotely. In the office, they feel more connected, safe and supported by others, with one in five (19%) strongly agreeing with this sentiment. This means that employers need to invest in ways to support their workers in whatever way they choose to work. That includes investing in technology, HR to reduce travel, especially resources and office space. overseas, it has also revived Australians’ love for their local communities. AustralAre coworking spaces ians want to live, shop and the future of the hybrid now work locally. Organisamodel? tions are listening to what While most workers would their employees want and prefer to work outside the home at least one day a week, are increasingly empowering them to work wherlocation plays a significant ever is most convenient via role in whether a trip to an office headquarters is worth- a hub and spoke model. We have found that this love for while. With office interaccommunity will increase tions, collaboration and the demand for coworking social engagements, a workspaces within regional and place community play an suburban areas. integral role in the health and well-being of AustralMaking people feel ians. This basic desire for human interaction has been connected In the era of working one of the strongest factors remotely, employers or driving people back to the managers need to make sure office. that their people do not feel With the increased abilisolated or disconnected ity to work from anywhere, from their peers. Some of Australians can now work the practices we can adopt in physical office space include: within their own or neigh• Understand your employbouring suburb – showees, know that each casing the growth of the person has individual power of community since circumstances, but these COVID-19. While the COVIDwon’t dictate how they 19 pandemic has caused us | october 2021

experience home working. Some may be working with dependents, spouses, or family members around, some alone. • It is important to work with both employees and IT to ensure that technology is up-to-scratch and hardware is readily available for people’s work from home setups. • Communication is also key. Ensure there are consistent top-down communications outlining business continuity plans and celebrating business achievements.

Hybrid is here to stay

COVID-19 has shown that hybrid work is very popular with employees. Employees enjoy a mix of being able to work from home, at an office closer to home and occasionally from a corporate headquarters in the central business district. Employees have realised that they have been spending hours of their days commuting to an office that they don’t need to be in, while businesses have realised that a hybrid model not only means happier and more engaged employees, but also significant savings for both the company bottom line and employees’ personal savings. Organisations and leaders need to seize the moment rather than just slide back to how things were.

Malcolm Peak

Changing dynamics of employer branding Organizations of all types are now reconsidering their approach to employer branding, and realising employees and candidates want to understand the employee value proposition first before they engage with the ‘hype’

proving to be very challenging for employer branding, which often previously sought to showcase the physical attributes of working in an organization – think people, environment, location. With so many people still working remotely (or not at all), the physical connection to the workplace is in the process of being re-shaped, and employer branding has needed to change gear and reflect this new economy.

Moving beyond the tagline

For many organizations, employer branding projects generally focus on recruitment advertising projects. The focus is to create attractive content to use in advertising online, in print and on social media. We’ve seen companies move beyond corporate websites to TikTok, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Snapchat to appeal to tech-savvy employees with interactive and appealing media campaigns showcasing the organizational culture and social conscience. The challenge in the current environment is that employees and candidates are now looking for more meaning and purpose and view some of these campaigns with a level of scepticism. They look for more than words and for something that they can tangibly grasp and experience rather than a slick campaign that makes promoctober 2021 |

Employe r Branding


n a piece titled “COVID19 and the employee experience: How leaders can seize the moment” by McKinsey, the authors commented that managers had done a reasonable job of managing the security, safety and stability concerns of employees up to this point, but that they would need to become more sophisticated if they wanted to hang on to their best people and attract more of them. This sophistication is


Employe r Branding 26

ises which may not be kept. According to the latest annual Employer Branding research from Randstad, good pay and benefits still top the list of motivators globally, however, work/life balance and security move into spots two and three respectively. We see this reflected in our own projects where the security of employment is regarded as the most important consideration, closely followed by flexibility, work/ life balance and purpose (not necessarily in that order). In general, there has been a push back against employer branding as advertising. Employees see it as marketing but not reality, while candidates are doing their own research to see if the promises are the reality. Organizations of all types are now reconsidering their approach to employer branding, and realising employees and candidates want to understand the employee value proposition (EVP) first before they engage with the 'hype'. They want to understand what it is like to work for an organization from an employee experience perspective, and a tagline simply doesn’t provide enough insight for them. They want to know what other employees think about the organizations, what customers are saying, and are asking more detailed | october 2021

questions in interviews about the capability of managers. Organizations have had to realize that spending money on an attractive employer branding campaign simply doesn’t have the same resonance in a market that puts more faith in actions than words.

of flexible working then it may be behind competitors depending upon the prevailing industry trends (for example we have seen investment banking leaders call for a return to the workplace for all employees). With flexibility comes distance, so if an organization's employer brand was

Identifying what motivates the top talent in an organization from the inside out is now the new focus of employer branding, and it goes beyond simply seeking awards The great resignation… really?

Another significant trend in employer branding has been the switch to engagement over recruitment. Good talent is scarce, and there is a multitude of reports signalling that a significant number of employees are looking to move to a new role in 2021. An example is Veronica Coombs’ piece in TechRepublic, in which figures from a range of surveys are shared indicating that between 26% and 40% of the employee were considering leaving their current jobs. Previously, flexibility was heralded as a benefit however now it is mainstream – almost a hygiene factor. If an organization doesn’t offer some form

focused on physical experiences which can no longer be experienced, then it won’t be relevant. Leading organizations are addressing these challenges by pivoting employer branding efforts to now reflect security and stability combined with challenge and purpose. They are mindful that people still want connection and career development, but they want control over where they work. For some, they can’t wait to be back in an office environment with colleagues, whereas others have sought to relocate and work remotely 100% of the time for a life change. The brand of the employer must reflect an organization's 'flexible approach to flexibility'. Identifying what motivates the top talent in an organi-

The changing face of employment will drive organizations to develop more authentic and organic messages to use in recruitment and retention initiatives

zation from the inside out is now the new focus of employer branding, and it goes beyond simply seeking awards such as “Best Employer” and “Employer of Choice”. These are nice to have, but only if you have the right talent in the first place.

Employer branding to employee value proposition

The third key trend we have seen in the market is a move away from employer branding to employee value proposition (EVP) development. As noted above, a tagline doesn’t have the substance of a value proposition, and organizations are now realizing a strong EVP is crucial to retaining top people. The key difference can be found

in the purpose of employer branding vs an employee value proposition. Employer branding associates itself with promotion. The employee value proposition associates itself with values exchange which has more resonance in the current market. Where employer branding has traditionally been the domain of marketing folks, we are seeing a trend for them to take a back seat as HR departments and communications take ownership of how employers provide a reason for candidates to join and employees to stay with an organization. Employee experience is playing a much stronger role in defining the messaging, however, leading organizations are

What does the future hold?

Our view is that the changing face of employment will drive organizations to develop more authentic and organic messages to use in recruitment and retention initiatives. Greater awareness of how algorithms work in social media and online, and employees’ and candidates’ desire to understand purpose will drive more organizations to use social networks differently to drive engagement. For the time being, this will take the form of a stronger focus on employee value proposition development over employer branding.

Employe r Branding

also factoring in identifying and overcoming gaps between the experience of their employees and the perceptions of the organization as an employer in the market.


Malcolm is the Director of Peak Corporate Solutions, a branding and HR advisory company based in Sydney october 2021 |


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Citrix ANZ's Martin Creighan decodes Gen Z As Gen Z slowly emerges as a majority in the workforce, employers need to be prepared to address their particular needs and challenges in order to bring out their full potential, says Martin Creighan, Managing Director, Citrix Australia and New Zealand By Mint Kang


en Z is entering the workforce, soon to become a majority globally. And they've done so as a digital generation, growing up in a world where the virtual is as real as the physical. What's more, they are entering the world of work at a time when the pandemic has made the virtual subsume the physical in many ways. People Matters asked Martin


| october 2021

Creighan, Managing Director, Citrix Australia and New Zealand, for some thoughts on how employers today can respond to the new generation of workers – not forgetting that in many cases, the employers themselves may also be from that generation.

They expect flexibility but are uncomfortable asking for it

Generation Z (born after 1997) and

to push back against the idea of flexible working. But if the sense of disempowerment continues, employers are likely to end up losing these people. 'It’s important that business leaders adapt to the shift in employee expectations about how work gets done, otherwise they risk losing out on skilled talent, and productivity and corporate gains, Creighan warned.

They can be a big asset – if given the right environment

The same research indicates that Gen Z is strongly correlated with corporate profitability: for each one per cent increase in a country's 'Born Digital' population, businesses in that country are 0.9 per cent more profitable. On a global scale, that is approximately an additional US$1.9 trillion in corporate profits per year. Actually enabling this cohort of young employees to create that profit, however, takes a real effort by business leaders. Not only do they feel disempowered, they are

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Millennials (born 1981 to 1996) are the first generations to grow up in an entirely digital world, shaping their expectations of how technology can better enable their personal lives, as well as their professional lives, Creighan said. Statistics from Citrix research, he explained, show that in Australia at least, 51 per cent of these younger workers – whom Citrix dubs the 'Born Digital' generation – entered the workforce for the first time and worked remotely during the pandemic, from March 2020 to May 2021. Starting work under such conditions, with the odd combination of blurred work-life boundaries alongside relatively greater autonomy, has shaped their expectations: 66 per cent of them want flexible working arrangements to manage workloads and well-being. But the problem, Creighan said, is that these young employees don't seem confident about getting what they want. The same research shows that 32 per cent don’t feel empowered to ask their employer for flexible working arrangements, and 49 per cent even expect to eventually go back to ‘old ways of working’. In fact, of all the generations, Gen Z – now around 18-24 years old – feels the least empowered to ask their employer for hybrid work on an ongoing basis. It's hard to say where their reluctance comes from – it may be anything from youth and relative inexperience to the ingrained societal expectations they grew up with or even ongoing conversations in the business space where some companies continue

october 2021 |


i n t e r v i e w

also under significant stress from the unusual circumstances in which they've entered the workforce. ‘Interestingly, this cohort was also the most likely to be experiencing symptoms of burnout – 40 per cent – as a result of working from home, compared to all other generations in our workforce,’ Creighan told People Matters. ‘This possibly indicates an increased need for some form of human element woven into their fully-digital work interactions.’ What do business leaders, HR leaders, and managers need to do to unlock the value in this latest generation of talent? To begin

'Business leaders must adapt to the shift in employee expectations about how work gets done, otherwise they risk losing out on skilled talent, and productivity and corporate gains'

with, they need to make some kind of effort to bridge the gap of understanding. ‘To motivate the ‘Born Digital’ generation in our workforce, business leaders must take the time to understand their values, career aspirations and working styles. Then, they must invest in the work model and tools to create a flexible, efficient and engaging work environment that this next generation of leaders will thrive in,’ Creighan said. Business leaders may find it challenging, though, because according to research, what leaders think Gen Z wants is completely different from what Gen Z really wants. The top five things Gen Z employees say they want: • • • • •

Job satisfaction Career stability Work-life balance Good pay A good manager

In contrast, factors such as a sense of purpose – widely trumpeted as the top attraction and retention factor for young employees today – and having the latest workplace technology are much further down the list. The pandemic may have played a role in these findings: surrounded by economic uncertainty and a tough labour market, it's hardly surprising that stability is now seen as more important than ideals.

Help them catch up with what they lost during the pandemic Their aspirations aside, leaders 30

| october 2021

this is an essential part of the professional development that workers entering the workforce in this current environment – such as Gen Zs – are missing out on.’ Leaders and managers, he suggested, need to pay special attention to these employees, just to ensure that they are getting at least a simulation of the working experience despite the virtual environment and that they are integrating with their teams in a way that will not leave them at a disadvantage.

'For those of us who have spent years growing our careers and networks in person, we often take for granted the benefits we have gained from face-to-face training and development. Many forget that this is an essential part of the professional development that workers entering the workforce in this current environment – such as Gen Zs – are missing out on'

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and managers need to be cognisant of certain challenges that Gen Z is likely to face, and which they will need additional help with. The most prominent challenge is simply their lack of workplace exposure. ‘For those Generation Z workers who have entered the workforce during the pandemic, they have never known anything different. Being removed from their co-workers for so long has robbed many in this cohort of vital networking time early in their career, which means they are now playing catch-up as and when workplaces reopen,’ Creighan said of young employees today. One solution, he suggested, is to introduce mentoring in a workplace setting. ‘Established leaders can use their connections and influence to help Gen Z workers make up for the lost time. And in doing so, companies can provide younger workers with valuable knowledge and experience for the long-term.’ The challenge goes deeper, though. The lack of in-person workplace interactions has left today's younger workers missing out on a great deal of learning and development, not the formally mandated kind but the intangible lessons picked up just from watching their co-workers in action. For those of us who have spent years growing our careers and networks in-person, we often take for granted the benefits we have gained from face-to-face training and development, adds Creighan. ‘Many forget that

It is important we take the time to replicate and build these working relationships in any type of work environment – from virtual inductions and check-ins to online staff gatherings and events, he said. ‘And when we do return to the office, it is vital that we make up for lost time and ensure that these workers are able to engage with their co-workers in a meaningful way.’ october 2021 |


Sarah Davies

How HR leaders should reimagine the future of work

Future of Work

While the world copes up with the repeated waves of COVID-19, organizations must start planning for the next phase keeping in mind the positive changes that emerged from the crisis



f you had told me at the beginning of 2020 just how much the role of an HR leader would transform in 18 months… I don’t think I would have believed you. I couldn’t have imagined we would be creating 100 per cent virtual operations or working away from the office for months on end. I always knew that my role involved protecting the health and safety of our people; I didn’t imagine one day that would entail flying life-saving medication and supplies between countries for my colleagues in desperate situations. HR leaders have been at the epicentre of this crisis within organizations, united by our purpose to put the

| october 2021

needs and well-being of our people first, no matter the challenges. As the pandemic evolved, so too had the role of HR in managing the crisis. Amidst the challenges of protecting our people and adapting to new external regulations, our attention soon turned to how we could learn from these new ways of working that were once thought impossible. Fortunately, at P&G remote working has been a part of our culture for decades. Our colleagues were well-equipped with the mindset, support, and technology they needed to adapt to working outside the office. This gave us a head start in exploring what a postpandemic ‘new normal’ could look

effectively. Personally, I find working at home more effective if I have long presentations to prepare, writing to do, or emails to catch up on. For 1:1 connects, team meetings and celebrations, brainstorms, planning, and coaching, I find working from the office to be far more conducive. As we prepare to lead our teams through this “hybrid” phase of working life (one where external regulations allow for our teams to be back in the office), we are seeing three core challenges that must be addressed. Firstly, we must embed a critical shift in mindset on how and where work is done. Secondly, we need to make sure we have the right tools, both at home and in the office, to enable productive and successful work. Finally, we must continue to maximize personal development, wellness, and inclusion in every setting.

Embedding the critical mindset shifts

Future of Work

like. As they say, ‘a crisis is a terrible thing to waste’. It is clear that workplace norms have changed irrevocably, so how do we as HR Leaders redefine or reimagine the future of work? The pandemic has proven that we can work remotely - successfully and productively. I have spoken to employees who are yet to step foot into an office and meet their teammates physically after over one year of working at P&G. We have been able to host largescale company events completely virtually, increasing audience participation and feedback versus physical events that we would typically need to travel for. We’ve also learned that the additional flexibility derived from remote working can potentially increase employee engagement and performance. At the same time, our research shows us that things like innovation, creativity, and collaboration thrive when we are together in person. Most of us perform different functions in our roles and the nature of this work can often dictate where it will be done most

As we prepare to lead our teams through the new era, it’s time to stop only thinking about where to

october 2021 |


Future of Work 34

work - and start thinking about how we work. We must embrace a ‘Jobs to be Done’ mindset – one where our colleagues are empowered and enabled to do their daily tasks in the most effective setting. The decision for location should be made voluntarily, based on the jobs to be done. Some tasks require more physical presence while other tasks benefit from more focus. Significantly, this is about the best setting for the work team, as well as the individual. There is a base expectation of business performance. At P&G, we foster an impact-driven culture where results matter – but we also trust and support our employees to always give their best to the organization. Having a growth mindset is key, as we test, learn,

As we prepare to lead our teams through the new era, it’s time to stop only thinking about where to work - and start thinking about how we work

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and adapt to the most effective ways of working as teams and individuals.

The right tools for the Job

I believe that workplaces will continue to be a powerful driver of culture and meaningful employee experiences – which are harder to replicate virtually. Therefore, in the future, our physical workspaces must be designed to amplify this unique value. For example, with dedicated spaces for collaboration, interaction and relationship building. At P&G we have several office redesigns and technology projects underway across our market locations, to test and learn the optimal office solutions for the future of hybrid work. At the same time, we must also continuously develop new technology solutions to facilitate inclusive collaboration, innovation, spontaneous interactions, and learning in all settings.

Personal development, wellness, and inclusion in every setting

The significant progress we have made in personal development, wellness and inclusion must not be eroded by the pandemic; we need to find ways to prioritize this in every setting. P&G’s global talent strategy primarily relies on developing leaders from within and therefore a high value is placed on internal learning and development programs. Interestingly, we have found that these programs have become even more successful and engaging when held virtually. We have also been able to expand the reach

Workplaces will continue to be a powerful driver of culture and meaningful employee experiences which are harder to replicate virtually. Therefore, in the future, our physical workspaces must be designed to amplify this unique value

Future of Work

and frequency of these programs, leveraging technology versus travel. However, we have found that building relationships and networking has been more challenging in the context of remote work, so it is critical that we recognize and adapt for this. Undoubtedly, the pandemic has placed additional strains on mental health and well-being, prompting us to provide even greater coaching, support, and flexibility. We must also be mindful that our culture of inclusion does not only extend to those working from the office, and this may mean directing extra focus to the individuals or teams at risk of missing key connections if they are working remotely. Just as we embrace the diversity of background, gender, and culture within our teams, so too must we embrace diversity in working styles. At P&G, our approach to overcoming these core challenges is to pilot, learn, and adapt, keeping sight of our principles and fundamentals. For example, we have pilots underway to explore office redesigns, new apps and technology, recruitment, employee engagement, and wellbeing. Each pilot has a specific objective to address and clear success measures, with the insights to be shared across teams and markets for potential reapplication. Over the past eighteen months, we have learned intensely, we have experimented and adapted, we have proven our resilience. We have developed new skills, grown new muscles, and shown our employees how much we care for them. Today, I imagine the future

of an HR Leader as one where we are enabling increased flexibility, productivity, and business growth. I imagine a model of work that has evolved, while we strengthen culture and ensure our employees’ development, wellness, and inclusion in any setting. While I’m sure we’ll look back at this era as one of enormous tragedy and uncertainty, I hope we’ll also look back and recognize the great changes we accelerated for the better. ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sarah Davies is the Chief Human Resources Officer, P&G Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa october 2021 |


David Smail

Are companies doing enough to address employees’ mental health? The figures reflected in the results of the second Singapore Mental Health Study 2018 were alarming with 1 in 7 people of Singapore reported a mental disorder in their lifetime


Employee Agility

2021 peer-reviewed study from Stanford identified four consequences of prolonged video chats that contribute to the phenomenon of ‘Zoom fatigue’. A University of Oxford study has shown a link between a COVID-19 diagnosis and mental health conditions: two-thirds of people with a previous COVID-19 diagnosis went on to develop or have a relapse in a mental health condition in the six months following the diagnosis, which was significantly more


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than in those who have suffered other respiratory diseases and flu. With World Mental Health Day just around the corner, attention is turning to signs of progress made in Singapore. At the end of last year, the Ministry of Manpower, Singapore National Employers Federation and National Trades Union Congress jointly issued the Tripartite Advisory on Mental Well-Being at Workplaces (Advisory) which made a series of recommendations on how employers should safeguard their employees’ mental health. The issue has also gradually been moving higher up the board room agenda, not least because mental health is featuring heavily in discussions around workplace ‘ESG’ (Environment, Social, Governance) issues. Despite this, mental health continues to be a challenge for HR. In Singapore, employees may still be reluctant to disclose health issues for fear of experiencing discrimination, bullying or victimization, and having managers who are ill-equipped to respond. Similarly, employers

Mental health protections received a shot in November 2020 with the publication of the Advisory which represents Singapore’s official guidance on how to safeguard workplace mental health concerns that it does not go far enough and that more must be done to protect workplace mental health in Singapore. That said, the recommendations set out in the Tripartite Advisory are wide-ranging and contain some very useful and practical guidance which are certainly helpful for businesses to try to implement. If an employer were to do so, they would be doing well in helping to both break the stigma surrounding mental health and protecting the business from liability. In addition to the recommendations in the Tripartite Advisory, HR managers might also consider the following practical steps: october 2021 |

Employee Agility

can face challenges in proactively promoting workplace wellness, as well as knowing how to support and manage employees who exhibit signs of mental ill-health or become too unwell to work. Singapore is somewhat out of step with other APAC countries since it does not currently have any legislation expressly protecting workplace mental health. For example, Australia and (lately) South Korea have introduced legislation that specifically targets workplace bullying. Some countries also have direct remedies for employees who have been subjected to discrimination on the basis of a protected attribute, and where mental health claims often fall under the rubric of disability discrimination. However, mental health protections received a shot in November 2020 with the publication of the Advisory which represents Singapore’s official guidance on how to safeguard workplace mental health. It contains practical guidance and recommendations on measures that employers can adopt, as well as details of support resources which employers and employees can access locally. The Advisory is not legally binding per se. Employees do not have a direct remedy against their employer simply for failing to follow its recommendations. In order to bring a claim, the employee would need to bring another form of recognised legal claims such as stressrelated personal injury, work injury compensation or wrongful dismissal. There have been


Employee Agility 38

1. As well as reviewing your existing equal opportunities policies, don’t let your policies gather dust on the shelf. Make sure your employees know they exist and receive regular and meaningful training on them. 2. Consider whether your EAP is actually fit for purpose. Is the employee being put through to the right person at the EAP (ideally someone locally on the ground and with appropriate local language skills) and is the EAP officer equipped to handle conversations around mental health? If not, EAPs can potentially do more harm

For HR, mental health continues to be a challenge as some employees continue to be reluctant to disclose health issues for fear of experiencing discrimination, bullying or victimization

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than good, as they can make individuals feel unsupported and even more alienated. 3. Identify insurance providers who cover psychological ailments, for both inpatient and outpatient services preferably. Such products are relatively new in Singapore, but they are increasingly available. 4. Revisit your workplace mental health training and disability discrimination training. Too often, training content is old and lacks relevance to reallife work situations. This can create difficulties if the business is later trying to demonstrate to the court that it has taken all reasonably practicable steps to prevent harm from occurring in the workplace. 5. Get buy-in from senior leadership and management. Always easier said than done, but in this space, it is simply essential to get the appropriate support from leadership

Mental health training should be as much about empowering other colleagues to pick up on the warning signs as it is about helping the individual themselves ment, reduced working hours, in-house therapy. 9. Maintain accurate sick leave records and keep an open dialogue with employees who are on long-term absence. If they are left away without any contact, this can often leave them feeling alienated and not wanting to return to work. 10. Don’t assume that just because you have not been directly informed, you don’t need to do anything. A court will ask what a reasonable employer would or should have known which means being proactive in seeking to identify issues.

Employee Agility

in terms of training, leading by example and transforming culture. A harder task is getting support from middle management, who may have been strong performers for the business but lack the management skills required to deal with sensitive issues like mental health. 6. Consider ways in which you can promote a positive culture around mental ‘wellness’, rather than a negative campaign that targets ‘health’. Mindfulness/meditation classes and promoting physical health are increasingly popular with staff and show real signs of making a difference. 7. Look out for the warning signs. Mental health training should be as much about empowering other colleagues to pick up on the warning signs as it is about helping the individual themselves. Employees often do not know what to look out for, or do not know what to say, and need guidance. As a business, to avoid liability under general negligence principles, it is helpful to demonstrate that you have given staff the tools they need to handle these issues. 8. Keep an open record of conversations regarding underperformance and reduced productivity. Document the impact this is having on the business and other colleagues and the extent to which you have considered alternatives to dismissal, e.g., redeploy-


David Smail is serving as the Of Counsel at DLA Piper, a multinational law firm october 2021 |



The widening skills gap is one of the top challenges facing global leaders today. What’s your skill transformation equation?


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october 2021 |


in the futures of their employees. With next-gen technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data, and machine learning being leveraged by organisations, new roles that call for specific talent and relevant skills are coming up. Time is now for L&D leaders to reassess their organizations’ goals and employees’ skill set and make informed decisions on how to fill the chasm. They need to strategize to boost employees’ technical and cognitive capabilities, emotional skills, and resilience. But skill-building amid the continuing uncertainty comes with a lot of blockades. Aligning the skills that workers want to imbibe in the post-pandemic world with the most in-demand skills is huge in itself. How do you abate burnout from learning, improve engagement with continuous learning? How do you fast-track the skilling process and gauge the effectiveness of your learning programs? How do you conduct the gap analysis of business needs and individual aspirations in hyper-personalised learning culture? The cover story of this issue digs deep into the current organisational learning & training landscape and how leaders can fix the larger skills gap to prepare for the future.


he shift towards digitisation and automation has distended the skills gap further forcing businesses to innovate their capability-building approaches in the new world of work. Close to 70 per cent of employers globally are struggling to find skilled workers, especially in high-demand areas like operations and logistics, manufacturing and production, IT, sales, and marketing, according to a study by ManpowerGroup. Employees are forced to learn new skills to augment business transformations and grow their careers. Undoubtedly, the need to address skill gaps by adapting employees’ skills and roles to the new ways of working is more urgent than ever for organisations to come stronger on the other side. In fact, staying ahead of others calls for significant investment in employee training programs. Unfortunately, for many, Learning and Development (L&D) continues to be underinvested. But the mindset is changing and continuous skilling is being reconsidered as a crucial growth driver. For L&D professionals, the spotlight is on reskilling and upskilling, which is the top priority globally, according to a 2021 report from LinkedIn. And companies are investing heavily




David Thomas of HSBC on ‘agile workforces’ and the future of learning

Flexible working has long been part of the culture at HSBC, but the pandemic accelerated and normalised it. How did the firm turn flexible working into an opportunity for agile learning? In this exclusive interview with People Matters, David Thomas, Asia Head of HR at HSBC, casts a new light on learning amid the pandemic and tells us how he envisions the future of work By Mastufa Ahmed


avid Thomas is General Manager and Head of Human Resources, Asia Pacific The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited. He joined HSBC in May 2019. Prior to this role, David had been Senior Vice President, Head of Human Resources, Asia at Manulife Financial (Hong Kong) since 2014. He also worked for Standard Chartered before joining Manulife. There, he held a variety of positions from 2002. He is also a Member of the Joint Management Board of British Consulate in Hong Kong.


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David has a Bachelor of Management Science Degree from Aston University in Birmingham, UK, and a postgraduate diploma in Human Resources Management from the University of Wales, Cardiff, UK. He also attended executive development programmes at Harvard Business School, University of Oxford, Cranfield School of Management, and IMD Business School. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Personnel and Development.

In this exclusive interview with People Matters, David casts a new light on learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic and tells us how he envisions the future of work.

How do you define the ‘new world of work’ and what’s the most significant implication of these changes to talent leaders globally? There is now an evidenced realisation and acceptance that work can be done remotely to the same standard or better, and that

The crisis of 2020 wrought havoc across the globe but it offered an opportunity for

corporations and their leaders to reimagine all aspects of work and fix broken links. Do you think things are changing for good? Yes, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted how we work and employees have a new expectation of what the new normal can look like. We were delighted at how colleagues adapted to working through lockdown, and productivity wasn’t impacted. We’ve always been focusing on performance over productivity, and we don’t need to change that focus now just because we’re adopting hybrid working. Research from a recent Gartner poll showed that 48 per cent of employees will likely work remotely at least part of the time after COVID19 versus 30 per cent before the pandemic. I think at HSBC the number may be higher. We asked our colleagues how they felt about our


teams and, at HSBC, we have increased coaching and learning solutions – both for employees on how to work effectively remotely, and for managers on how to manage remotely. We are actively supporting our people leaders, because despite the volatility, the ambiguity of the current operating environment, our strategic plans and priorities remain: driving growth; providing excellent customer experiences and delivering change; maintaining the well-being of our employees and the engagement of our customers; and mobilising talent to enable this – doing all this through new ways of working together. It’s a challenge our talent leaders and colleagues are rising to.


employees working remotely are just as productive as in the office. We are certainly likely to see greater flexibility embedded within organisations, as employees expect more choice over how, when and where they work. Failing to meet those expectations, or to offer alternative solutions in a transparent way, may present a talent flight risk. Lockdowns forced everyone to think about how work gets done – we don’t want to lose that learning. Flexible working was already part of our culture, but the pandemic accelerated and normalised it. Managing a dispersed talent workforce to even higher performance will present challenges for some leaders who will need to be supported to deliver team performance in the new normal. We do hear a lot of questions from employees and managers about managing virtual

At HSBC, we have increased coaching and learning solutions – both for employees on how to work effectively remotely and for managers on how to manage remotely october 2021 |



response to COVID-19 and working from home. About half of our population told us they were more productive at home, 21 per cent said no impact to their productivity, 75 per cent said their work/life balance had improved, and 81 per cent said their mental health was strong. It is likely we will see more and more people choosing to work remotely in the post-COVID-19 environment. This will have a knockon effect on the way we use office space, which we expect to become a more fluid space where employees come, some occasionally, others more frequently, to connect and to collaborate. The work environment will have more social spaces to encourage face-to-face interaction that provides the development and collaboration that builds team effectiveness. Hybrid and digital working practices will be a positive factor in helping to reduce our overall carbon footprint as we reduce our head-office footprint and don’t return to pre-pandemic levels of business travel. We’ve looked through an “inclusion and fairness lens” as we’ve evolved our hybrid strategy to ensure there aren’t any unintended consequences for certain groups. We recognise that some groups with protected characteristics benefit | october 2021

from having greater control over their ways of working, working environment and routine – such as carers or working parents, neurodiverse colleagues or those with underlying health conditions. The impact will be monitored regularly through consultations with our Employee Resource Groups and employee surveys. We will also need to embed the digital solutions that were implemented as ‘interim’ at the start of the pandemic to ensure that both formal development (classroom) and the informal coaching that used to

take place on the job, in the office, can reach a hybrid workforce (especially those starting out in their career), equipping our people with the skills they will need now and in the future to support our strategy and their own personal growth. While we adapted admirably during the pandemic, our people also told us they worked longer hours and missed human interaction.

How has the pandemic transformed workplace learning? Can you share the top three shifts that you think are most significant? Support measures were

Support measures were put in place to ensure continuous delivery of recruitment, on-boarding, and training activities to comply with the requirement for social distancing

such a critical part of the ‘office’ learning experience.

The acceleration of digitalisation and automation has exposed the skills gap forcing businesses to rethink their capability-building approaches. What’s your take on how can organisations offer the global workforce clear skilling pathways? We are working to operationalise the idea of a ‘liquid workforce’ – these are agile workforces that better align skills to needs, outside contracted work areas. We saw success with this in the early days of the pandemic where we were able to move employees from areas with less demand, as seen in branches closed due to social distancing, to areas where there was a jump in demand. For example, in operations. We would not have thought this possible prior to COVID-19, but we october 2021 |


lar everyday performance and development conversations with employees to provide real-time feedback and development advice, in addition to ongoing wellbeing check-ins. Feedback from employees is very positive. Employees are learning, new joiner attrition remains within thresholds, and feedback on virtual solutions for formal development receive consistently positive employee feedback. The future will be a mix of face-to-face and virtual solutions and we will have to continue to be purposeful and planned about how we facilitate development for a dispersed workforce. It has been pleasing to see leaders at HSBC stepping up to create innovative and inclusive experiences that ensure their dispersed teams are able to still regularly connect and to acquire the development from each other that was


put in place to ensure continuous delivery of recruitment, on-boarding, and training activities to comply with the requirement for social distancing. On-boarding and induction – so critical to the first experience and the coaching that employees require to integrate at pace – now take place virtually. This includes virtual buddies assigned to enable new employees to assimilate into the organisation, whilst social distancing and working from home. We also ran our global internship programme and global graduate induction virtually. Employee development must continue and so whilst face-to-face classroom training is at an all-time low due to social distancing, a wide selection of curated digital learning modules and resources to support employees’ continuous learning have been made available through the HSBC University portal and app – over 20,000 courses are available to employees. We have also had to be more purposeful in facilitating the opportunity for informal coaching that helps to hone employees’ skills. Team check-ins and connectivity sessions have been used to ensure the informal support for development that took place in the office, can continue remotely. Of course, line managers have also been asked to dial-up their regu-



were able to do it, and it is great for everyone – we can meet peaks and troughs in demand and retain people. Colleagues can use existing skills in new environments, learn new skills, and make new connections. Thinking about how we make that a new norm, we are implementing a tech platform where employees can share their skills and experience, and project managers can seek out skills to meet needs that cannot be met within the traditional team structure. This will also provide employees with the opportunity to build skills and experience in new and stretch environments without necessarily having to commit to a role change or moving for an overseas assignment as was the norm pre-pandemic.

For L&D professionals, the spotlight is clearly on reskilling and upskilling, according to a 2021 report from LinkedIn. And companies are investing heavily in the future of their employees? How can organisations overcome challenges, including the cost to train employees? This new normal has shown that digital solutions provide a cost advantage which can be routed back into more engaging content that touch a wider number of people – we can develop better solutions that reach significantly more people 46

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We are working on the idea of a ‘liquid workforce’ – agile workforces that align skills to needs ... we were able to move employees from areas with less demand to areas where there was a jump in demand

and market-specific activity around this programme have resulted in consequential uplift in engagement by employees to the Future Skills agenda. In the first half of 2021, we grew the total attendees 78 per cent from February to May for more than 65 programmes scheduled per month. We also have about 500 Future Skills influencers in Asia, colleagues who believe in the value of development and work to encourage their peers and team members to own and drive their development, in readiness for the than we are able to accomFuture of Work. modate in a classroom. For The next exciting initiative example, our Future Skills programme, facilitated virtu- will be more in our digital ally using our Degreed learn- journey and creating through our new Learning Experiing experience platform, ence Platform a personalised is open to every colleague learning experience for every around the world, so everyone at HSBC can explore new learner based on their preferences. It is a unified point of personal, digital, data, and access for all learning, intesustainability skills – skills they need to help deliver the grating internal and external catalogues, designed to bank’s strategy and prepare empower learners to identify for the future of work. In and find the learning they 2020, our colleagues spent need and includes a set of 5.2 million hours focused on social and collaboration tools training and development. through Sharing and Groups. How has the learning land- Colleagues will be able to understand all the learnscape changed in HSBC in ing and skill development 2021? What are some of the happening within the organnew initiatives that you have isation, not just mandatory implemented recently and learning. how are measuring their impact? What aspects of the new Our focus is our Future ways of learning will persist in Skills programme, equipping our people for the jobs of the the long term? And how can L&D leaders up their ante to Future. Global campaigns

meet the sophisticated needs of employees? Virtual learning will be here to stay – it will be about investing to ensure learning needs are well understood in the context of Future Skills and the bank’s strategies. We must also ensure that solutions are content-rich, engaging, and play to the unique advantages that technology and the digital environment can provide. Also, encourage employees to gain different experiences across the bank and benefit from on the job learning.


How are you transforming HSBC for the new world of work? What are your larger priorities and top challenges? We are becoming more digital and working to make the office not just a physical space, but one that you can access from anywhere and through any device. We have seen significant uptake in our digital banking solutions during the crisis and, even in HR, uptake of our Mobile HR app increased significantly as people at

home realised its particular usefulness when working remotely. Digitalisation will be exponential in a postCOVID-19 world of work. Workforces will become more ‘agile’ – we have seen great success in managing the COVID crisis by taking decisions at lower layers in the hierarchy, where we are closest to the issue, as we then leverage networks of capabilities (rather than roles) to deliver against those. I expect to see this becoming an embedded way of working as we move into the post-COVID period. We will need a new style of leadership – more will be asked of leaders if they are to deliver in the new normal – harnessing the will of an increasingly diverse yet dispersed workforce, equipping them will the skills to deliver in very challenging operating contexts, now and for the future, whilst keeping them well, will require a new mix of capabilities. We will need leaders able to communicate a sense of purpose; able to sustain the connections that enable development; foster employees’ sense of belonging even in a remote environment; and willing to take the risks that deliver creativity and innovation at pace in highly ambiguous operating environments.


With uncertainty still abound, what's your best prediction about how work will look 2-3 years down the line? We will have a hybrid workforce, where colleagues have more autonomy to decide when to work as well as where to work. And I think the office of the future will be a flexible space, a

place where colleagues come to connect, to collaborate occasionally; or simply because they find it easier to be more productive in that environment. They will be able to learn anytime, anywhere, supported by innovative solutions, through a variety of channels, which work to create the feel of the office as a space for learning and development.

What's your learning mantra? Never stop october 2021 |


Unilever’s Chief Learning Officer on the key to addressing the skills gap

Tim Munden, Chief Learning Officer, Unilever, talks to People Matters about weaving learning and well-being in the flow of work, and the essentials to building a high-performing leadership and workforce that thrive through uncertainty By Bhavna Sarin



and workforce that thrive through uncertainty. Here are excerpts of the interview.



ith over three decades of illustrious experience in the HR domain, Tim Munden is presently the Chief Learning Officer at Unilever. Tim joined Unilever back in 1993 and has since then transitioned through a series of leadership roles across various business units and geographies including the UK, Ireland and USA. In addition to his role as Chief Learning Officer, Tim is also leading wellness for Unilever, where | october 2021

he is focused on building leaders and teams needed for a purpose-driven business, developing the skills and capabilities for a digital and disrupted world, and enabling well-being for happiness and high performance. In this exclusive interview with People Matters, Tim talks about the habit of underestimating change in the long term, enabling learning amid mounting burnout concerns, and the essentials to building a high-performing leadership

Can you give us an overview of how Learning & development has transformed amid the ongoing uncertainty globally? The pandemic forced all learning and development activities to go online, and we had to find ways of using online learning to substitute for a lack of face-to-face contact. For skill building, it was easier because we were already used to a lot of online or blended learning. It's in deep personal and leadership development that this was the hardest. This type of learning requires a space away from work and away from distractions to help people really reflect on their leadership. Having to try and create those kinds of spaces virtually was a challenge but has been remarkably successful. We've managed to find new formats and new techniques for creating deep develop-

ment opportunities. This sometimes involved taking a hybrid approach - for example taking the leader away from their usual workspace but connecting to the coaches who are in different places digitally.

In the era of personalized and bite-sized digital learning, how can L&D leaders retain and enhance the element of group learning? Delivering online group learning is important and not all platforms are great at that. There are techniques that can be effective and the important thing is to structure online learning events so that people have a real space to learn together. Sometimes I think people are reducing modern learning to, for example, ‘I interact with a learning experience platform, I download video content or written content and that's my learning’. Actually, that's just one october 2021 |


Online learning was the hardest for deep personal and leadership development

health champions and 120 trained mindfulness champions. Coming back to learning and upskilling, having the right skills to ensure you will be employable in the future is a really important part of helping people avoid stress and burnout. To ensure we give our people confidence for the future, we've been rolling out Future Fit Plans, holistic development plans that begin with the individual’s purpose and then map the opportunities, experience, skills and leadership capabilities they need to fulfil that purpose. Starting with purpose gives people the energy to embark on the plan.


There is a significant and continuous rise in employees experiencing stress and burnout across the globe. How can organisations approach learning and upskilling at a time like this? We are focused on helping people experiencing stress and burnout. The role of learning in this is to try to give people access to techniques, knowledge and understanding, but also to

work closely with our wellbeing colleagues to make sure that people have access to the help they need. There are some things we know really work. For example, to manage burnout, or potential burnout, it is vital to set clear boundaries when you are working at home. Creating psychological safety with leaders so that employees can talk to their line manager is also crucial. Training line managers to understand more about mental health and spotting signs is important. We've been training mental health champions who are available to talk to and signpost people to help. Right now we have 3,228 trained mental


form of modern learning. Online group learning or learning in cohorts is critical too. But not all technologies or event designs incorporate that. Designing learning experiences so that there is space for group discussions so that people can learn from each other, even if it's online, is a mustdo.



With so much focus on strengthening collaboration and connect for a distributed workforce working through a crisis, how can the L&D function contribute to enhancing

Designing learning experiences so that there is space for group discussions for people to learn from each other, even if it's online, is a must-do emotional intelligence and psychological safety at the workplace? Psychological safety is key to a number of outcomes for business. It's critical for innovation, agility and well-being and it’s at the heart of creating a learning organisation. What's our contribution? First of all helping people understand what psychological safety means but also helping leaders understand where they are, and the level of psychological safety in their teams. We've been implementing a Team Energy Tool at


Unilever, which thousands of individuals have gone through. It helps to identify the level of psychological safety within a team and the challenges to promoting it. Additionally, we are seeing a huge shift in leadership. Once upon a time, leaders were meant to be the people who were never fazed by anything, had all the answers and wouldn’t admit any weakness. Models of leadership are becoming more nuanced. Leaders need to give confidence and to show that they have the capacity to think clearly

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under pressure, but also need to show that they are human. They need to share their mistakes and struggles. Teams don’t want to be led by someone distant, who works from behind the job title. Employees want to learn from their leader. Our role is to help leaders create psychological safety and the spaces for real dialogue. We call this ‘High support, High challenge’ leadership. Those two things together are very powerful. They are the key to 21st-century high performance.

What’s your best prediction about the future of work 2-3 years down the line? How will the workplace change in the coming years? A business leader I worked with said, wisely in my view, that we generally overestimate change in the short term and underestimate it in the long term. I think in the next two to three years we need to focus on two things. One is finding new ways of working in a post-pandemic world and managing some form of hybrid. We will have to find a way of marrying up the needs of the team to be held together, the needs of the task to be completed and the needs of the individual, which have shifted. Longer term we will see the 'disaggregation of work', meaning that organisations will break down jobs into tasks for which we can define the skills required. In parallel, we will increasingly identify and measure the skills people have – rather than seeing them as blocks of experience or defined by broad job titles. This skills-based workplace will be powerful – it will drive learning, opportunity, and inclusion – but it will also change how we see employment and like all changes, will need to be well managed.

Skills Gap is a very healthy sign of change: Kohler’s Global L&D Head

By Sudeshna Mitra wide ‘beliefs & behaviours’ framework across 35000+ associates of Kohler around the world. His vision for his own function is to propagate a self-motivated learning

The skills gap is widening and becoming a larger and more serious drag on business efficiency globally. What's your take on this? Let me start by saying something - skills gap is not a new thing. It has always existed. At a very fundamental level, I look at it as a very healthy sign of change rather than a challenge. Having said that, the COVID19 economic shock has made the skills gap broader and the need to close it more urgent. Four things are driving the skills gap, as pointed out by the World Economic Forum: evolving nature of

october 2021 |



hile the skills gap coexists with the talent crisis, leaders struggle through the two in order to find the right fit. Indraneel Das, Global Head Learning & Development, Kohler feels that skills gap always existed but as a hammering effect of the pandemic on the economy, the gap has broadened. Having been a mentor for more than eight years, Das feels that skills gap always existed but as a hammering effect of the pandemic on the economy, the gap has broadened. As a leader, he has been instrumental in creating and driving leadership development and change management through an organisation-

culture which he fondly calls #loveforlearning.


The pandemic has had an immediate effect on the economy eventually affecting the global talent pool. Amid the widening skills gap, it is crucial to make the workforce future-ready parallelly offering the best employee experiences of their lives for retention, says Indraneel Das, Global Head Learning & Development, Kohler Co.




work and work environment, technology (and its pace) and changing demographics of the workforce and everevolving challenges in the labour markets. However, I would like to add that there would be a lack of predictive research and subsequent efforts to skill, reskill and upskill efforts for everyone in the employment chain.


Organisations must rethink models, frameworks, research, and tools keeping the current realities in mind to address the skills gap

and solutions would you want to explore to cope up with your current workforce learning challenges? I can bucket my ‘current’ learning challenges into deeply human skills (e.g., Leadership, Purpose, Values) and digital skills (e.g., Automation, AI, Deep Learning etc.). A nimble organization focuses on both. While we can provide core skill How should employers building for both, it will assess the skills they have be important to note that circumstance, how should there are many ‘new age within the company and the companies determine the skills’ that need to be soluones needed? skills needed and impart It’s a standard method. tioned too. Models, framethose to their employees? Always start with the end Let me draw a sports anal- works, research, tools must in mind. Start with organiogy here. Some fundamental be rethought keeping the zation goals (near and farcurrent realities in mind. skills that all sports people term), then go on and idenThat’s where I feel stems the should possess are movetify the roles needed to need for a better and evolved ment, control, balance, agilachieve those goals. Create researcher-practitioner ity, power etc. These are the and benchmark a skill inven- pre-requisites irrespective partnership. Learning from tory for each of those roles of any changes. In an organi- people who have different (use as much as primary zational context, a well-done kinds of experiences rather and secondary data as availthan specialising in one skills inventory exercise able). Find out where your aspect or industry can enable can lead us to design a core company currently stands an organization to bounce skills framework needed to (use a variety of assessment be successful in your organideas around and receive and collection instruments). ization, much like the core actionable insights (some Perform the skill gaps analy- competencies (defined by people might call it crowdsis (also in the process-idensourcing). L&D functions a typical KSA framework). tify critical employees who should make those expeTypically, dipstick these can be used as SMEs) and against capabilities or advan- riences happen. Solutions finally, address the skill gaps tages your company has or would breed from there. using the AASA framework want to have over similar (Awareness, Assessment, companies in your field or How can business leaders Strategy & Acceptance). industry. Gradually, introand HR teams work together Hire, reskill, upskill, repurduce layers of new ways of to create a high-impact learnpose accordingly. working and new ways of ing culture in their organizathinking to these basic skills tions? With the continuous innoto enable employees succeed Learning culture, like vation underway, the required at the future of work. any culture, has norms and skills are also under continbehaviours that should be practised in an environment uous change. Under such a What tools, technologies, | october 2021

How are addressing the skills gap conundrum at Kohler? We are a manufacturing organization and like many, supply chain recovery and resilience is an area we are focused on too to delight our consumers around the world. Apart from buying specific talent, we are of course building innovative reskilling, upskilling and redeploying techniques to quickly upscale. Training is focused on building new-age skills like busiGiven the current scenario ness intelligence applications of the skills market and the like big data, value creatalent crisis across the globe, tion through smart factories, do you think there could analytics to support complibe a generic but key initiacated deliveries, shorter fulfiltive to ‘immune’ organisament times, increased load tions against the ‘skills gap variety, better cost to serve. pandemic’? Great question! Wish there Learning is focused on creating agile, results and costwas a singular magical pill that insulated us against skill focused, collaborative, adaptable leaders through a global gap. Bare minimum though, Supply Chain Academy. companies should create a october 2021 |


What according to you is a better solution to address the skills gap – hiring, reskilling, upskilling or renting skills? Although my answer might border on cliché;

all of these are important in various measures. Hire for skills (basis measurable assessments) instead of previous experience and you immediately have a larger and more diverse talent pool. Future proof your employees by reskilling and upskilling them for the changed world order. This is where L&D should up the ante & retool their employees (through diverse andragogy) quickly to fulfil changed business priorities. Rent out skills that are repetitive & replaceable.


suitable for growth. To build a true learning culture, the concept of learning should be ingrained in your employees from the moment they join your organization. Asking everyone to be an advocate for learning time, integrating learning into the flow of work, making learning social and on-demand, putting learning in individual goal sheets, rewarding learning behaviours, measuring and improving - many such steps create a true love for learning culture. Business leaders can help at the minimum by being visible ambassadors. It’s time we unleash our inner marketer and promote learning through as many willing champions as we can.

skill centric strategy that develops employees’ critical cognitive capabilities, their social and emotional skills, and their adaptability and resilience for future disruptions. Increase learning budgets and visibly commit to reskilling and upskilling to build business resilience. As we face labour market shortages around the world, how valuable it would have been to have predicted and prepared skilled talent shifting wherever needed globally and regionalizing for the benefit of the consumers.


Fewer companies realise reskilling a key part of digital transformation: Tata Communications’ Global L&D Head



Despite organisations ramping up digital infrastructures, many have noticed potential issues such as the need for cybersecurity experts and the widening digital skills gap and companies generally deal with these concerns by hiring new, skilled staff. But, this approach is not sustainable, says Ina Bajwa, Global Head, Learning & Development, Tata Communications By Mastufa Ahmed


na heads Learning & Development across the globe for Tata Communications. In this role, Ina spearheads the learning transformation journey of re-skilling, upskilling and cross-skilling talent to enable the organisation’s

future readiness. Ina has 15+ years of experience in various leadership roles in HR, spanning diverse industries. In recent years, she has worked closely with business leaders to establish and scale new businesses in the IoT, Managed Security

Services, and cross-border Mobility and SaaS domains in India, APAC, UK and US geographies and has been at the forefront of driving new-age talent management. Ina has specialised experience in areas of diversity and inclusion, talent management, organisation development and strategic resourcing. Prior to Tata Communications, Ina worked with BCG, HSBC and the Essar Group.

What’s your take on the 'new' world of work and what’s the most significant trends for you as a global talent leader? 54

| october 2021

the last 18 months, and the development agenda has a seat at the table like never before. This movement is equally employee-led as employees are prioritising upskilling in their jobs/preparing for their new ones, as much as it is company-led, as companies are focusing on mass reskilling as their business models/strategies adjust because of the disruption brought by the pandemic. Workplace learning is here to stay for the coming years, with learning technologies evolving and adding to the overall employee experience proposition for employees. At Tata Communications, our AI-enabled on-demand

learning platform - Tata Communications Learning Academy (TCLA) – is the primary learning interface where our employees can learn any skill through our freemium and sponsored providers as well as undergo targeted upskilling programmes that are critical for functions in our value chain. And all of this is digitally enabled – interspersed with virtual learning - to offer enhanced experience wherever required. In a nutshell, learning is driven by the business impact it can create, and it will continue to be hyper-personalised and offered through platforms. It will also increasingly be employee and company-led. october 2021 |


How has the pandemic transformed workplace learning? Can you share the top three shifts that you think are significant? Workplace learning has become centre stage over

Workplace learning has become centre stage over the last 18 months, and the development agenda has a seat at the table like never before


The way I see it is that the ‘new’ world of work offers immense opportunity on the back of all the uncertainty that it entails. There is opportunity to relook at the ways of working, people practices, business models, and for companies to redefine the whole definition of an ‘employee’. Employees are looking for purpose and a meaningful direction for their work, as many are choosing to become entrepreneurs and many others as freelancers. The most important aspect that emerged as centre stage for organisations during this time is Employee Experience (EX). EX reflects a move towards employees being at the heart of driving organisational performance. To navigate this landscape where monetary compensation is no longer the primary motivating factor for employees, companies are outlining a holistic EX plan as a company strategy to create a promising competitive advantage; and one that goes well beyond the HR moments that matter - to encompass every interaction that happens along the employee lifecycle.



The rise of automation has highlighted the skills gap facing businesses globally. How can organisations reimagine their capability-building approaches? Despite organisations ramping up digital infrastructures, many have noticed potential issues such as the need for cybersecurity experts and the widening digital skills gap. Currently, companies generally deal with these concerns by hiring new, skilled staff. That being said, it is not sustainable for businesses to opt for layoffs and hire new, skilled staff. This is because the demand for these professionals will only continue to grow, and finding ways to upskill staff will eventually become the norm. Furthermore, organisations can start providing employees with the flexibility to decide how they can value-add to the company. | october 2021

Industrious HR functions should be actively promoting upskilling or reskilling with employees, not only for their current job but for their next role – in the same function or a completely new one. When organisations make the continuous quest to learn, train and develop as part of their organisation’s DNA, it will make them more attractive to new talent and place them in the driver’s seat.

How has the learning landscape changed in Tata Communications in 2021? How are you bridging the skills gap? The pandemic has significantly accelerated digital adoption in companies. We are already seeing businesses finding new ways to actively optimise their business processes, improve their user experiences, and become more agile.

However, fewer companies realise reskilling initiatives are an equally important part of their digital transformation journey. Because just as automation is replacing jobs, it’s also widening the digital skills gap. To ensure that there is a continuous quest to learn, learning and development initiatives at Tata Communications, the Learning & Development (L&D) team engages with business leaders and function heads through the year to align learning solutions with the business strategy. We are now at the leading edge of having a learning culture in the company where employees are self-driven to learn further and build their capabilities. The introduction of Tata Communications Learning Academy ensures we provide our employees with the same consumergrade experience we deliver to our customers. We wanted the new platform to become the primary learning interface for all our employees − a one-stop-shop for all learning and skill development needs, including reskilling, upskilling and cross-skilling requirements. Tata Communications also implemented ‘Project Marketplace’ a few years ago where employees can implement new skills by volunteering in new projects or addressing certain existing issues. It has features such as a matching algorithm for skills and

projects, a gamification framework integrated with learning opportunities, and real-time learning recommendations.

How is Tata Communications dealing with the ‘great resignation’ and how are you transforming for the new world of work?

What's your learning mantra? Empty your cup often so that it can be filled again! october 2021 |


Organisations can start offering employees the flexibility to decide how they can value-add to the company. HR functions should be actively promoting upskilling or reskilling with employees, not only for their current job but for their next role

At Tata Communications, we are heavily invested in furthering our L&D brand where employees understand the importance of upskilling and how this aligns with their own aspirations and business objectives. Continuous dialogues on the subject, as part of the regular coaching conversations with their managers, reiterates the importance. Integrating career progression as an outcome of learning and targeted development using a platform approach is what we believe will differentiate us for the new world of work. We are very close to announcing this offering to our employees which has been developed completely in-house. Today, our L&D ecosystem offers a wide range of self-service learning content by providers including edX, MasterClass, TED, the Center for Creative Leadership, MIT Sloan Management Review, Mckinsey Insights, Mind Tools, Udacity, BCG and many others. We will continue to invest in making the ecosystem robust so that employees and teams across are using the platform extensively to learn core and future skills in networking, cybersecurity, mobility, leadership, and more areas.


How can L&D leaders up their ante to meet the learning needs of employees moving forward? Undoubtedly, the pandemic has shifted many companies’ learning and development approach to a completely virtual one. To succeed, it will take the right tools, technology, and environment, along with the consideration of all the different cultural and regional nuances.

Furthermore, L&D leaders have to be willing to understand learning requirements at an individual and team level to offer the learning experience they get in today’s commercial learning space. It will require constant feedback on existing and future content and continuous dialogue to enhance the entire learning experience and outcomes for employees as well as improve the business impact.


Narrowing the tech industry’s skills gap by shifting mindsets Australian organisations have to reframe the approach to hiring to become even more inclusive in talent acquisition practices, creating more pathways for skilled talent to enter the workforce



By Belinda Lewis


he Australian market is experiencing an unprecedented demand for technical talent. About 87 per cent of jobs in Australia now require digital skills. To meet the growing demands of businesses, the country will need 156,000 new tech workers by 2025. In response to this, IBM has doubled the size of our local talent acquisition team in 2021 to keep pace. We also know that we need to look inwards if we want to find a sustainable solution to narrowing the skills gap in Australia and New Zealand. This context is why we are approaching hiring differently and stepping up our efforts to upskill and reskill our workforce.

Rethinking hiring and learning 58

Learning should be at the | october 2021

Hiring capability over credentials: IBM has been transforming the way we hire and one of the key changes we’ve made is to focus more on skills than credentials. We’re moving away from expecting and requiring formal qualifications. Instead, we’re looking for experiential learning and diversity in experience. As part of this transformation, we have focused on creating what we call ‘new collar’ jobs. These are roles that are core of organisational DNA. neither blue nor white-collar We must constantly expand and don’t always require a our skillsets and acquire bachelor’s degree or previnew knowledge to be able to ous career in IT. innovate and deliver technolThree programs are helpogy that solves the world’s ing us grow our pool of new greatest challenges. Learncollar talent in Australia and ing becomes even more criti- New Zealand: neurodivercal when you consider that in sity, Pathways in Technology the Technology industry, the P-TECH (Pathways in Techhalf-life of skills is less than nology) and, most recently, two years. tech re-entry. Along with learning, We have also recently Australian organisations welcomed our second cohort have to reframe the approach of neurodivergent hires in to hiring to become even Australia and New Zealand. more inclusive in talent Through our Neurodiversity acquisition practices, creatProgram, IBM aims to open ing more pathways for up opportunities for and hire more neurodiverse talent. skilled talent to enter the As HR Director, I’ve met workforce. Broadly, here are three strategies that are help- candidates with great skills and aptitudes who have ing us address the skills gap taken non-traditional career in Australia:

Last year, we launched IBM SkillsBuild for job seekers in Australia. This free learning and workplace readiness platform helps individuals to build the skills they need to enter or re-enter the workforce. When they complete a course, they earn a ‘microcredential’ to help them find jobs or progress in their careers. Focus on internal mobility: In 2020, we took the opportunity to pause, reflect and refocus on enabling internal career mobility. Employee careers and skills are a business imperative for us. And as such, we’ve made it easier for IBMers

Shifting mindsets and changing public policies

While critical, the skills gap is also an opportunity for all companies to rethink and innovate talent acquisition and retention, and career learning practices. Businesses need to reconsider their approach to hiring and capability development to help navigate and succeed in this post-COVID era. We are helping close the skills gap and make the technology sector more inclusive by focusing on new collar opportunities and shifting mindsets in our industry. But we also recognise that a problem as fundamental as a lack of skilled talent requires more than just individual company or industry efforts. So even as we step up our own recruiting and learning initiatives, we are calling on policymakers to expand career-oriented funding and training to ensure workforces are equipped for success in the new roles of today and tomorrow.


The skills gap is also an opportunity for all companies to rethink and innovate talent acquisition and retention, and career learning practices

to switch roles, take on new projects, move up within the company or find a mentor. Over the last few months, our talent acquisition, and careers and skills teams have been working to transform the IBM career experience.


paths – and many of them have proven to be strong hires for IBM. I believe that by looking beyond bachelor’s degrees and conventional career paths, Australian organisations can improve their ability to secure skills. Invest in building a skills pipeline: We need to create more career pathways if we want more skilled individuals to join our industry. Reskilling and investing in industry partnerships are crucial – and so are inclusive workplace policies, such as those offering opportunities for underrepresented minorities to develop tech skills.

Belinda Lewis is the HR Director, IBM Australia and New Zealand october 2021 |


Eva Majercsik of Genesys on ‘embracing empathy’ and the value of virtual learning In a conversation with People Matters, Eva Majercsik, Chief People Officer at Genesys, discusses company values – Embrace Empathy, Fly-in Formation, and Go Big – in the context of upskilling employees By Mastufa Ahmed



ny’s regional head of HR for the Americas. She was previously Global Director of HR, Cloud and Enterprise at Microsoft. Earlier in her career, Eva worked for more than 20 years at IBM, where she held several roles in the Global Services organisation before joining the HR function. Here are the excerpts of the interaction.


va Majercsik is Chief People Officer at Genesys. She leads all global programs designed to support and enhance the people experience at the enterprise technology firm. In her role, Eva oversees organisational and leadership initiatives, culture and engagement, total rewards and talent acquisition, retention and development. Eva brings more than 25 years of professional experience in human resources,


| october 2021

services and sales, and is a firm believer that diverse and inclusive teams are fundamental drivers of innovation. She is passionate about providing strategic and organisational direction to allow employees to flourish, and is known for balancing vision with operational excellence. Prior to joining Genesys, Eva was global head of HR, 3D Printing and Digital Manufacturing, at HP Inc., after serving as the compa-

How do you define the ‘new world of work’ and what are the most significant trends for you that will impact talent leaders globally? The pandemic has turned everyday life upside down. From school to socialising and work life, a dramatic change has been forced on many individuals and businesses over the past two years, and it has surely had an impact on talent leaders as well. At the onset of the pandemic, the urgency for all HR leaders was to prioritise employees’ physical and mental well-being. Protect-

tive for the business and its people navigating a world of increasing uncertainty.

on empowerment: managers and employees alike must learn to interact differently now that so much of the workforce is remote and will likely be hybrid for the long term. Continuous dialogue is more important than ever, as is ensuring that employee goals are linked to business priorities, and that managers are properly equipped to provide frequent feedback as part of ongoing career development conversations. Another challenge talent leaders face is helping employees return to the office. This is a chance to create a new, more effective operating model that is effec-

october 2021 |


ing their health and alleviating stress became critical. This also opened the gate for important learnings and a chance to reimagine the future of work. Culture is the foundation of an organisation defined by the goals and values of its employees. Leaders need to make sure their company culture is adaptable and integrates technology to strengthen it. HR leaders must ensure that employees feel supported, have a sense of belonging, and are empowered to do their best work. As part of this challenge, talent leaders should focus


What worked in the past might not work in the future. In reskilling and upskilling the workforce, organisations can create a skills inventory – uncovering the abilities of the employee population and the skillsets required for the roles

The acceleration of digitalisation and automation has exposed the skills gap forcing businesses to rethink their capability-building approaches. How can organisations offer the global workforce clear skilling pathways? The business world is changing at a rapid speed, and what worked in the past might not work in the future. Reskilling and upskilling are more important than ever for the workforce. Organisations must ensure that their employees are equipped with the skillsets necessary to accomplish business goals. They can do this by creating a skills inventory – uncovering the abilities and skillsets of the employee population, along with the skillsets required for the roles and needs of the organisation. When you couple this with employee career aspirations, you may find yourself in a win-win situation. As a strategic partner to the business, HR can proactively ensure that the right talent is in place to meet company objectives. HR can identify future core competency needs and evaluate the demand and supply of future skills. Globally we know that employees typically stay with organisations that are perceived as talent-




friendly and progressive in the industry. They stick with employers that provide them with cutting-edge work environments and people practices, and this includes effective upskilling and development opportunities that benefit the employee and the business.


For L&D professionals, the spotlight is clearly on reskilling and upskilling, according to a 2021 report from LinkedIn. How do you see this playing out? One important opportunity provided by the necessity of going remote in 2020 and 2021 is that it drove learning professionals to find more interactive and innovative ways to provide robust learning experiences to their people in a virtual world. The challenges can differ based on the training needs of the company. Whether

| october 2021

you're starting fresh or giving your existing Learning and Development platform a makeover, continuous learning and training are critical despite their associated expenses. We are in a world where there is no shortage of information, and it can be difficult to decide what is best. My advice is to create standardised training modules online whenever possible. I find that bite-sized courses, coupled with a dynamic online training portfolio that uses a variety of methods to deliver its learning objectives, are an effective way to foster outcome-led learning. At Genesys, the purpose of our HR function is to strengthen the organisational capability and cultivate an engaged workforce to drive company performance, while embedding employee engagement,

career development, and diversity and inclusion in all that we do.

What aspects of the new ways of learning will persist for the long term? And how can L&D leaders up their ante to meet the sophisticated needs of employees? The need to find more ways to reach our learners virtually has allowed us to become truly global in our learning offerings. This will continue in the future, as it means that all our people get equal access to learn and grow regardless of their physical location. Organisations should implement a Learning and Development strategy that is aligned to the business objectives. This creates a transparent culture where it is clear how such plans contribute to the overarching corporate strategy. Managers play an impor-

tant role in monitoring and assess how each employee responding to the learning is adjusting to remote – needs of their teams. or hybrid – work. We all Managing a culture that face different challenges. is focused on performance, Managers must embrace career development, and a empathy and listen, growth mindset is the key understand, and learn to success for any organifrom their employees’ sation. In a future where feedback. They'll have a hybrid teams will become the more engaged and producnorm, managers will need tive workforce as a result. to lead differently. And simi- • Have those hard converlarly, employees should feel sations empowered to own and drive Performance discussions their careers. always had the potential to be challenging, Managers should: but they become signifi• Share ownership of cantly more complex – and performance the new more important – when normal, it’s important


One opportunity in going remote is that it drove learning professionals to find more interactive and innovative ways to provide robust learning experiences to people in a virtual world


for employees to take the initiative to discuss their career goals, seek feedback, and participate in fostering collaboration with their teammates. Foster intentional, frequent communication Remote workforces miss out on day-to-day human conducted remotely. Even interaction, such as coffee more so when these come chats and nonverbal signs. as a surprise, or as a “once Managers must be deliba year” event. Although erate and transparent performance conversain providing continuous tions can be difficult, communications and feedthe sooner they happen, back via all communicathe better the chances of tion channels. And employsuccess. Managers should ees should be proactive in provide ongoing, timely seeking out these conversafeedback on performance tions. – and if this does not Ask your employees how happen, employees should they feel feel empowered to drive Sometimes a simple questhese. tion – such as “How are you feeling today?” – can How has the learning landmake a world of differscape changed in your organence. It can be difficult to

isation in 2021? How are you measuring the impact of your skilling initiatives.? In the true spirit of a “growth mindset,” our leadership and HR team is continually learning and improving our approach. Our People Strategy is directly aligned to our Genesys business strategy as we drive collaboration, innovation, and a culture of empathy and inclusion. Since I joined Genesys to lead HR, we have been focused on transforming the culture into that of an experience company, such

that our behaviours and our mindset position us to lead the Experience-as-a-Service category. We launched a People Strategy anchored in empathy that encompasses all aspects of the employee experience, as well as aligning with Genesys strategy and values while instilling a sense of belonging, among other initiatives. Some of our top learning priorities this year: • We launched our Genesys Values, which guide us along our journey and drive the right october 2021 |




enablement training for mitigating bias in the interview process.


Our HR function continues to evolve as we address challenges such as ensuring employees’ health and well-being, retention, upskilling, and ensuring work flexibility and productivity behaviours to define our culture. • We launched a Growth Mindset program for all of our people managers to enable them to lead their teams to inspire bold moves and harness the “Power of Yet” in their work. • We launched our new performance management approach that is closely coupled with career development. This focuses on continuous, year-round feedback rather than one annual performance review, while bringing career development front and centre. | october 2021

• We improved the way we provide learning across the company by upgrading our online learning platform with new personalised, bite-sized content and the addition of mobile learning, so our employees can learn something new anytime, anywhere. • We are embedding key Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) education in everything we do, particularly within our training and learning initiatives. This includes, amongst other things, company-wide online learning for Unconscious Bias, and manager

What are your top learning priorities and top challenges? How are you overcoming the bottlenecks? We've taken our learnings during the pandemic to create the Genesys Workplace of the Future focused on flexibility, inclusion, and empathy. This learning journey continues today – we will continue to listen, learn, and adapt for our people. We believe in an employee-first approach to building an engaged, inclusive, and resilient workforce. The Genesys purpose – deliver the power of empathy to every experience – applies to our customers, but also to our employees. Our Empathy at Scale framework (Listen & Learn, Understand, and Act) allows us to respond to the changing needs of our workforce to continuously deliver a superior experience for our people. Our company values – Embrace Empathy, Fly-in Formation, and Go Big – and our commitment to sustainability guide our talent and HR strategy. Our HR function continues to evolve as we address challenges such as ensuring employees’ health and well-being, retention, upskilling, and ensuring work flexibility and productivity.

Embedding upskilling into the flow of work is vital: Kofax’s SVP, HR

Organisations are rapidly shifting to a digital-first culture as part of the ‘new norm’. This entails enhancing the digital savviness of employees and investing in intelligent, integrated platforms for automation, says Lynne Scheid, Senior Vice President, HR at Kofax, in an exclusive interview with People Matters By Mastufa Ahmed

october 2021 |



ynne Scheid is Senior Vice President of Human Resources at Kofax. Before joining the company in 1989, she worked in Human Resources for Century Data Systems, a Xerox company, and Charleston Associates. Today, she is responsible for all human resources functions at Kofax. Lynne studied Business Administration at California State University, Fullerton, and holds a certificate in Human Resources Management from University of California, Irvine. As companies strive to recover from the pandemic and take up the challenges of a digital-first environment, Lynne uncovers the kind of

How do you see the larger picture of the world of work today as an experienced talent leader? After the pandemic erupted last year, HR leaders faced uncertainty in their function and had to prioritise initiatives that strengthened their organisa-

tion’s ability to drive change in leadership, culture, and employee experience. In response to the pandemic, organisations shifted gears to virtual workplace models and remote working practices to enable business continuity. Offices of all sizes and administrative workspaces from hospitals, courts, and factories had to prepare for this change and adapt to the ‘new’ world of work.


investments that talent leaders are making in a bid to modernise learning & development.




Along with this shift to how we work, companies realised technology and the adoption of technology was paramount. According to Gartner, even amid the current cost-constrained environment, 90 per cent of HR leaders still plan to maintain or increase their investment in technology. In the end, talent leaders will be looking for technologies that streamline processes in balancing a remote and hybrid workforce to provide employees with digital tech-

Artificial intelligence and automation are changing the learning landscape, and L&D departments need to examine how employees are learning to ensure they feel engaged and have the best experience nologies to deliver business services anywhere and ensure greater productivity for the organisation.


cloud systems, and Learning Management Systems (LMS). According to Deloitte, 98 per cent of HR leaders utilised virtual learning as the learning landscape transformed dramatically in the ‘new normal’. Learning teams have adapted as 80 per cent focused on creating and communicating detailed learning-related material. With automation tools becoming more widespread and affordable, even smaller

How has the pandemic transformed workplace learning? Can you share the top three shifts that you think are significant? COVID-19 accelerated large-scale digital adoption and transformation, leading to an increased need for acquiring new skills. The pandemic highlighted the need to invest in digital technologies, such as video conferencing tools, | october 2021

organisations took advantage of the chance to reduce daily workloads. Collaboration tools with seamless integration and automation enable a more streamlined remote work experience that eliminates time-consuming tasks. This translates into extensive time savings over the course of a workday, freeing up employees to carry on with more important efforts. The pandemic has shown us the opportunity, strategic value and need for L&D to be put on boardroom agendas. Workplace learning should

be a continuous mechanism with connected parts.

As AI, analytics, automation, and digitalisation disrupt industries and transform businesses, they’re reshaping existing jobs, giving rise to completely new roles – and opening up a deep skills gap in the process. What’s your take on how organisations can offer the global workforce a seamless skilling path? Organisations have to prioritise learning strategies to keep up with the changing environment and preferences of modern learners. Developing a culture of continuous learning – in an environment that embeds upskilling into the flow of work – is vital. A renewed learning strategy makes learning part of the organisation’s mission and adds value. Organisations are rapidly shifting to a digital-first culture as they position for the new norm. Companies are increasingly investing in digitalfirst strategies to drive growth, efficiency and resiliency by upskilling the digital savviness of employees. They’re also investing in integrated intelligent automation platforms built for professional and citizen developers. Integrated low-code platforms enable and accelerate collaboration between

What have been some of the latest learning technologies that organisations are embracing at large? How can technology and analytics be leveraged for L&D to power reinvention and make an impact? Due to the pandemic and the move towards remote working, some of the latest learning technologies organisations need to embrace include those that provide collaborative tools and engaging interactions. Artificial intelligence and automation technologies are changing the learning landscape, and L&D departments need to examine how employees are learning. This is crucial to allow employees to feel engaged and have the best learning experience. Multiple touchpoints for training employees enable organisations to scale and offer on-the-job learning. Technology empowers learning departments to measure the data from their current training. They also need to consider measuring the data from their current training programs to determine the effectiveness of the different touchpoints. Being data-driven and

How has the learning landscape changed in Kofax in 2021? How are you bridging the skills gap? What metrics do you follow to track progress? As organisations continue to embrace digital workflow

transformation (DWT), automation becomes increasingly important. In fact, full-scale end-to-end automation has become a matter of survival in the wake of the pandemic. Keeping up with ‘the new normal’ causes some anxiety around whether the digital shift would widen the skills gap and have the workforce replaced by machine work. However, automation can also greatly contribute to employees’ satisfaction and mental health

because manual, repetitive and time-consuming tasks are taken off their hands. For instance, we believe in finding the right balance in utilising technologies that can help automate mundane tasks. Our employees can then spend more time on strategic work that engages them and benefits the organisation. One of the most immediate benefits is that it gives them more time in their day. With low-level transactional work taken off their plate, they spend less time at the office and more time with their families. Kofax also provides professional development programs, tuition reimbursement programs, and onsite training.

What's your learning mantra? What’s your advice for fellow talent leaders? Keep learning. Organisations need to move away from traditional classroom settings, and provide employees with on-demand tools that allow them access to content on their own and create eLearning courses that are personalised and centred on them and their goals. Organisations also need 24/7 accessibility. Employees want the flexibility to engage/learn in their time of need, not necessarily when the company schedules it. october 2021 |


analysing the throughput data from current training programmes can help create a persona-based approach for training, or even onboarding, for employees.


line-of-business and IT leaders as they work together to digitally transform complex high-value business workflows connecting the enterprise for increased agility.


Solving the skills gap For the foreseeable future, the speed of change will continue to generate demand for talent that outstrips supply



By Clinton Wingrove



lose to 70 per cent of employers globally are struggling to find skilled workers, especially in high-demand areas like operations and logistics, manufacturing and production, IT, sales, and marketing, according to a study by ManpowerGroup. In that respect, 2021 is proving to be a great year. This year we have at least two new excuses for not having the talent we need – COVID-19 and digitisation. But, hang on! Wasn’t it around 1965 that Moore advised us that the speed of digitisation would keep doubling? Wasn’t it in the 80s that we first learned about the war for talent? Wasn’t it in the 90s that we learned about the importance of engagement and | october 2021

retaining top talent? Wasn’t it in the 00s that we were warned that a pandemic was likely? Seems like we had enough advance notice! And, guess what - things are unlikely to change for the better. For the foreseeable future, the speed of change will continue to generate demand for talent that outstrips supply. Only when the major global economies realise that continuous growth is not sustainable will that change and I wouldn’t even bet your money on that happening soon! But, seriously, whilst there are clearly many specialist skills that do take years to acquire and master, most of the shortages are for

skills that can be developed in-house, on-the-job, and often quickly. As with most business problems, we need to focus our attention on (a) the real issue and (b) what we can control. We simply have not taken skill development seriously enough. Staff development of all forms in many organisations is still spoken about as a priority and treated like a nice-to-do! We plough money into short-term hot topics such as “Diversity and Inclusion” and “How to work remotely” but fail to treat development as a strategic competitive advantage. If we are going to take the inevitable talent shortages seriously, there are four significant opportunities.

• Educate sooner - shift the focus in our education systems even more towards equipping young people to learn, practice, and advance new skills on their own, rather than merely filling their brains with the knowledge that they can access at the click of a button when they need it.

develop “a” career; encouraged them to stay within a single discipline; encouraged them to view a career as (i) become competent, (ii) excel at it, and then (iii) manage others through that process. Now, we need to equip and encourage individuals to view a career as creating a portfolio of experiences

through which they have used existing skills to transition to a new role (that uses those and then adds new ones). We need to encourage them to become more adaptable and flexible. If COVID has taught us anything it is that the impossible is possible; that we can change the way we work quickly; that people are immensely adaptable and flexible when they need to be. We need to ensure that all employees, from the first day with us, focus on their continuing professional development. This should be a key component of their performance expectations! The easy to understand and follow, 5Ws of the Personal Development process works effectively:

All too often organisations take their best person at doing “X” and promote them to managing others who do “X.” In the process, they lose an expert at doing “X” and gain a poor quality manager who demotivates those who are less good at doing “X.” And, we wonder why productivity has stagnated across large parts of the western world! october 2021 |


Whilst we have rapid and often free access to such vast amounts of information, evidence shows that accessibility and exhortation do not lead automatically to the acquisition of new skills. Hence, why we have to equip individuals at an early age with the skills, habits and discipline needed to take control of their own development. It’s too late by the time they enter the workforce. • In business, ensure that all employees from the second they join are trained, equipped, and encouraged to continuously develop their capability profile irrespective of their current roles. For decades we have encouraged individuals to

Get your employees to apply those 5W’s and they will become happier, less stressed, and you will ease the talent shortages. Apply them yourself and you will become a more effective manager; a GOOD manager, perhaps even a GREAT manager. • Don’t promote individuals to people management positions as a reward for excelling at something else.


While there are many specialist skills that do take years to acquire and master, most of the shortages are for skills that can be developed in-house, on-the-job, and often quickly

WHY - Understand (truly feel) why Self Development matters to you. WHAT - Make sure you know WHAT good and great really look like for you. WAY - Have a WAY of continuously managing your own development. WITH - ensure you have ongoing support (people and things) that will work WITH you to make development happen. WILL - Get your head straight - “I WILL take control of my own development and this is what I WILL do and achieve.”



There are other options! Way back in the 70s organisations had “dual ladders” which enabled individuals to be promoted to more specialist roles without being given people to manage. Promotion should be a reward that is commensurate with the performance and aspirations to which it refers. Individuals should only be promoted into people-management positions if they have (a) shown informed interest in fulfilling such a role, and (b) demonstrated the competence, not merely some potential, to do so. There are three reasons why this is important. First, it will demand that we train and develop individuals in management before their appointment. That will lead to a greater level of management skill available across organisations, which will improve decision making and operational performance generally. Individuals will also get a clearer understanding of the demands of management before deciding whether or not they want a full management role. Newly appointed managers will hit the ground running rather than learning from their mistakes. Second, excellent managers continuously look ahead, make assessments of likely scenarios, conduct risk assessments, and plan accordingly. They don’t wait for the inevitable change to | october 2021

Staff development of all forms in many organisations is still spoken about as a priority and treated like a nice-to-do! happen and then explain why they have been caught by surprise! Third, excellent managers focus on ensuring that their staff develop, increase their capability, and become masters in their fields. That process in turn will retain top talent and become a beacon to attract new talent. • In business, ensure management excellence. We have known since the 60s that many of our concepts of management had not worked, didn’t work, and would never work. Yet, we have continued to implement traditional processes with relatively few organisations truly testing their

effectiveness or trying new approaches. As we explained in point 3 above, one seriously flawed process is that of promoting individuals and giving them people to manage simply because they excelled at something quite different. We have argued repeatedly that we have to stop that nonsense. One good thing to come out of the combination of the pandemic and digitisation is that we have learned that sustainability demands excellence in management. I was delighted, earlier in September this year and during a People Analytics Summit, to witness Dawn Klinghoffer, VP or HR Business Insights with Microsoft saying, and I quote, ‘Exceptional People Managers are going to take us through this hybrid work situation we’ve been in and will continue to see.’ She went on to explain that their own research has identified this critical fact and they now have a Program Team focusing on Management Excellence … working towards only having people who WANT to be managers and who are trained and skilled to excel at it being promoted into people-management roles. The unfortunate truth is that managing people simply isn’t simple, never was, and never will be. Trivialising it into mini-processes such as SMART Goal Setting, Giving Constructive Feedback,


Personal Effectiveness Business Acumen

Creating a vision of the future, bringing it alive, and securing the commitment and resources to deliver it. Optimising the use of resources to deliver the vision in line with the mission, strategy and values; making things happen. Optimising personal contributions and impact. Demonstrating the knowledge, skills and aptitude to operate in a complex and changing environment. This also includes “Demonstrating functional expertise” which can be replaced and/or expanded to define functionally specific competencies.

the inner motivations of employees and what crushes their engagement. We must invest in the development of management excellence. It is not a nice-to-do, it is a critical need-to-do! Will any of those four actions solve the Skill Gap? For some no. But for most, yes! And, at the same time, they will increase engagement, customer service, and productivity.



Our own research has also shown that all good people managers know and understand the 7 elements in any performance management process, whether or not those elements were designed to be there (see the above graphic). These elements, in turn, require a detailed understanding of what unleashes


Handling Conflict, etc does not help! Indeed, our own research has shown that all good people managers have at least a basic skill level in 52 competencies, clustered into four domains as defined by the Quaternion Profile[1]: Leadership Creating a vision of the future, bringing it alive, and securing the commitment and resources to deliver it. Management Optimising the use of resources to deliver the vision in line with the mission, strategy and values; making things happen. Personal Effectiveness Optimising personal contributions and impact. Business Acumen Demonstrating the knowledge, skills and aptitude to operate in a complex and changing environment. This also includes “Demonstrating functional expertise” which can be replaced and/or expanded to define functionally specific competencies.

[1] A copy of the Quaternion Profile(R) is available on request from

Clinton Wingrove is the Principal Consultant, Clinton HR Ltd - october 2021 |


A continuous skill gap analysis is a must to improve learner engagement: HR Director, Rackspace APJ A technological shift is underway and more than any other economic or political cycle, this will dictate our labour market trends for the future, believes Shweta Mishra, Human Resources Director at Rackspace, Asia Pacific & Japan By Shweta Modgil

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long with The Great Resignation, organizations are facing yet another challenge -- the skills gap conundrum. The shift towards digitisation and automation has distended the skills gap further forcing businesses to innovate their capabilitybuilding approaches in the new world of work. Close to 70 per cent of employers globally are struggling to find skilled workers, especially in high-demand areas like operations and logistics, manufacturing and production, IT, sales, and marketing, according to a study by ManpowerGroup. On one hand, employees are forced to learn new skills to augment business transformations and grow their careers. On the other hand, this widening skills gap is one of the top challenges facing global leaders today. How are they fixing this gap? In an exclusive interaction with us, Shweta Mishra, Human | october 2021

Resources Director at Rackspace, Asia Pacific & Japan shared with us her skill transformation equation to prepare for the future.

What are some of the challenges that you faced in the last 18 months when it comes to learning? The main challenge for us was the virtual learning platform. We did not want our employees to get impacted while travelling to the office for an in-person learning opportunity. So moving our learning program to a completely virtual program has been a good challenge for us to

tackle. But now we have moved into a complete virtual learning environment and enabled our employees to completely learn through online courses.

Learner engagement is the top area of improvement for virtual training in 2021, according to a study. How can organizations improve learner engagement? The most important factor to drive engagement is that an organization should have a robust L&D team and resources. For instance, Rackspace has something called a Rackspace University-an internal website for employees for talent development. It focuses on global ways of working and engages our employees who we call Rackers. We offer state of art learning based opportunities to them. The learning and performance

led team offers instructorled training, webinars, certifications in emerging technologies like cloud pace, AWS, Azure and the likes. So I believe the companies need to have this kind of forum. We also partner with Linux Academy, LinkedIn Learning to enable our Rackers have a plethora of knowledge practice environments. So to drive learner engagement, a company needs to build internal resources and also tie-up with external resources.

What will be your one suggestion to organizations to improve learner engagement? I think it’s a continuous skill gap analysis – how best we can analyze the gap in a particular environment or a particular country or a particular field or region. It cannot be a one size fits all approach. For instance, the october 2021 |

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Skill-building amid the continuing uncertainty comes with a lot of blockades. What are some of the challenges that you foresee in today’s environment? The WEF has predicted that by 2022, a majority of Indian employees will require reskilling for the future. A lot of tech organizations have opened up their offices in India and some of the most in-demand skills would be AI, IoT, Blockchain, and Virtual Reality. So a technological shift is underway and more than any other economic or political cycle, this will dictate our labour market trends for the future. And that future is not very far off. This is the shift that organizations need to prepare for.


are providing the learning and development opportunities that employees want. That’s another way of understanding the skill gap analysis.

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What will be your advice to fix the larger skills gap to prepare for the future?

learning needs of our employees in the UK or US are very different from the needs of our employees in the APAC region. Even within APAC, the needs of Australian Rackers are very different from India Rackers. So you need to understand that and then fill the gaps accordingly. These again will be driven by the culture, role-based needs, and development opportunities available in a particular region.

Aligning the skills that workers want to imbibe in the postpandemic world with the most in-demand skills is huge in itself. How can organizations gauge the effectiveness of their learning programs? We do a skill gap analysis very robustly and partner with our Rackspace University team that helps us design programs wherever needed. The mini-MBA that I was referring to above is the by-product of that skill gap analysis. We also do a lot of polls and surveys to ensure that we 74

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Organizations need to understand that it’s not that there is a learning and development gap in the employees. It is more about upskilling them for future roles. Especially in the cloud and technology industry that we are in, there’s a whole lot of competition and a lot of new products come in that the employees need to be upskilled for. Apart from providing them support for upskilling, organizations need to focus on how they are retaining and rewarding their top performers and developing future leaders. So how do you enable your top performers to be future leaders is important.

What is going to be your learning priority for Rackspace employees in the coming months?

It will be a mix of both technical and soft skills. Soft skills have specially become important in a virtual environment - how are you communicating with people when you can’t see them physically or gauge what goes on culturally in their minds. This focus on soft skills will continue post the pandemic when we start travelling and meeting people in person. And of course, upskilling in terms of a competitive market is a must to retain our top talent.

Can Hybrid Model be better for boards? While the businesses open boardroom doors after eighteen months, there is a realisation that not all individuals need to be on the site. As the remote workforce has absorbed the innovations more efficiently than what leaders imagined at the initial stage, the leaders may choose to adopt hybrid boardroom meetings depending on several factors

By Dr. M Muneer & Ralph Ward

some attendees at headquarters, and some still remote – is the next step in governance. The move to all virtual, online governance was a sudden fait accompli. None of us had a choice, and we had to make it work. Improvisation, missteps and oversights were the rules for early virtual board meetings, but it was that or nothing – and “nothing” governance would never be acceptable to regulators or investors. The move to hybrid board meet-

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Hybrid Mode of Work


s businesses are limping back to some cautious normalcy even as a third wave is on the anvil, many executives have started to make the travels that have been missing in their work lives. This has rekindled the plans for the board of directors to resume the physical meetings even though the virtual ones were much more efficient in terms of costs and time. Almost 18 months after the first lockdown, many companies are unlocking the boardroom doors and weighing if, when and how to get back to in-person meetings. We have learnt many lessons on how much boards can do remotely (far more than we thought possible two years ago). There is still a human need to connect, for unstructured chats, give-and-take, and personal nuance that Zoom images really don’t deliver. Many of us know that a full return to the boardroom, just like the good old days, remains far off. That means an in-between alternative – hybrid board meetings with


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ings is more gradual and voluntary, yet more uncertain. How do you decide when to return to in-person meetings? Who can still stay remote, who shows up in the boardroom, and how do you take that decision? Is unwillingness to travel an acceptable excuse from a director? Will you stick with virtual board committee meetings for a while? And, are you returning to the boardroom for better governance or because some members prefer it? When you locked down your boardrooms back in early 2020, everyone accepted some miscues and fumbles in governance would happen. Now, board oversights

A full return to the boardroom, just like the good old days, remains far off. That means an in-between alternative – hybrid board meetings with some attendees at headquarters, and some still remote – is the next step in governance

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will lose their COVID “shield”. If some directors end up better informed than others, or a major board decision is fumbled between the “in and out” members, there will be no excuse. You chose to go back with hybrid meetings -- and now must prove that they will make your governance better. Here are a few basic issues your board can address before going to a hybrid model: • Make your return-to-the-boardroom call with willingness to turn your default board meeting ideas on their heads. The first question shouldn’t be “can we go back to some live governance yet,” but rather “why shouldn’t we stick with everyone on the board meeting remotely?” What specifics can you improve by having at least some board members and staffers together at company headquarters, instead of what you’re doing now? There are legitimate answers to this. Sometimes staff presentations work better with an on-site team approach. Strategy deep dives and new board member interviews are being done virtually, but an in-person group improves depth and logistics. Realise your board can do more online than you thought a year ago, but in-person still has advantages. • Who will stick to remote, who will convene in your boardroom, and why the decision? Your management team has been working its way back into the office lately though debates over this have grown wider. This means that the CEO, CFO, and various other top manag-

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Hybrid Mode of Work

ers are the ones most likely to be dusting off the boardroom, with independent outside directors joining virtually. This also makes an independent board chair/lead director neither fish nor fowl – still remote, but expected to be on site. Anecdotal evidence suggests CEOs are the ones pushing workers to return, and that they extend that view to their board members too. This is the moment when independent board leadership needs to step up and act as a sensitive negotiator among the various views of the chief, other balance, maybe you should stick staffers, and outside directors. with everyone online. There are doubtless shifting, • Don’t base your video, audio, but often strong, views among presentations, portal resources board members on returning to and so on solely upon their the boardroom, and the effective convenience and practicality. The leader should serve as an honest easiest hybrid format might not mediator. be the best. The assumption that • Assuming you have a consenhaving some directors together sus that yes, your board will at home base and the rest remote meet with some members in the automatically creates an “in” boardroom, move on to asking group and an “out” group twohow it can work best. Corpotier board. The “in” group gets rate boards have always seen to chat in advance, plan out their outside independent members agendas and responses, and a step behind the management exchange knowing glances in members who are immersed the meeting, while the “remote” in the company on daily basis. group feels like second-class citiBoard meetings with a huddle zens. Measure every element of of the CEO and top managyour hybrid board plan and tech ers onsite and everyone else by how well it counters this, and on their distant Webex screens be willing to make life a little aggravate this mismatch. more difficult for those in the When deciding on a hybrid boardroom if it levels the playing board meeting, it may be wise field. to assume that all Insiders on the inside and outsiders on the Muneer is co-founder of the non-profit Medici outside, but it still isn’t good Institute and a stakeholder in the Silicon Valleyenough. Until you can convince based deep-tech enterprise Rezonent Corp. Ralph is a global board advisor, coach and a few independent directors publisher. Twitter @MuneerMuh to fly in and create boardroom


Visty Banaji

Culture change is not a screw-on job

The road less travelled

Visty Banaji adds a coda to Peter Drucker’s aphorism: "Culture eats strategy for breakfast … and still has the appetite to devour an upstart, invasive, new culture imposed on it, for elevenses"


here is a virus stalking corporate India. It is not as immediately lethal as COVID-19 though, like all viruses, it is parasitical and does nothing for the survival-fitness of the host. All it takes is for a primary nerve centre (usually a newly appointed CEO or CHRO) to have a few suitably configured entry receptors for the roving virus to latch on. Once that happens, other immunological defenses (meant to be over-


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seen by HR) prove to be of no use and, in fact, become carriers for strange new memetic sequences which they attempt to graft onto the existing DNA of the organization. The virus is called Culturechanguenza Vulgaris in its most common variant and CEOs, HR Heads and other CXOs eager to show their shine are particularly prone to getting infected. Especially during their first 100 days in a new job, they are likely to let down their minimal

skeptical guard1 and look for quick fixes that can amplify their auras. Initiating a culture change programme seems to be an extremely attractive option at such times. For the 'consultagion' too, this defenses-down time is the best occasion to strike. After all culture change projects are among the most lucrative ones consultants can land. The effort : return ratio for culture change work is incredibly low and even Planck’s Chauffeur2 can be assigned to the job. A mature HR function, with a strategically integrated transformation programme underway, should be in a position to counter such an individually-motivated incursion. Obviously, this is easier said than done when the receptor cell for the virus is placed atop the head of a new CEO or CHRO. Rutger Bregman captures the undesirable consequences of criticizing the boss-man through the ages: "Just try standing up to a strongman who has all opposition skinned, burned alive,

Studies have shown that certain cultural standouts make significant contributions to organizational performance in specific industries and environments. The problems start when an idée fixe in the CEO’s head or the consultant’s toolkit is considered the cure-all for all organizations these infants dismantle a treasured culture and substitute reminted, MAA (Motherhood And Applepie) phrases in its place, raises a wall of resentment which puts paid to any slight chances of cultural transformation actually materializing.

The spirit of the enterprise I am far from being the first one to suggest vectoral maxima and temporal minima for cultural change. Montesquieu, writing in the 18th century, had similar concerns in mind while

cautioning over-ambitious lawmakers. "… [A]s a society develops, the moral causes acquire an increasing purchase on a society’s esprit général [the moral, social and political culture of a given society]. The esprit général of a society, whether it is simple or sophisticated, is the legislator’s raw material, so to speak. He legislates against it at his peril, and at the peril of the whole of that society. At best, laws enacted against the esprit général will simply fail to work; at worst, if vigoroctober 2021 |

The road less travelled

or drawn and quartered. Your criticism won’t seem so urgent."3 Of course, the demand for cultural change isn’t as irrational as I have made it sound. Study after study has shown that certain cultural standouts make significant contributions to organizational performance in specific industries and environments.4 The problems start when an idée fixe in the CEO’s head or the consultant’s toolkit is considered the cure-all for all organizations, regardless of the historical heritage from which they are coming or the strategic direction in which they are headed. Problems caused by generic culture change directions are hugely compounded when results are demanded and promised in short time-spans which, on the scale of time taken by true cultural change, are mere eyeblinks. Another potential cause for the failure of ill-considered culture change is the manner in which full range consulting firms staff such mushy projects. Since outcomes are hard to measure, it is tempting to assign to them the callowest consultants who have never experienced the thrill of working in an organization with a vibrant culture (case studies can capture it as well as an infantry manual holds the secrets of battlefield brotherhood). The irreverent glee with which


The road less travelled

ously enforced, they could destroy the society which the laws are meant to preserve… Sometimes a legislator might be tempted to legislate against the grain of the whole of a society’s life, and Montesquieu believes that in cases like that "… [t] he legislation will fail, and the system of government which produced the legislation might well fall with it... The very complexity of the esprit général gives the wise legislator plenty of room for manoeuvre within it, and there is plenty of opportunity for reform within it."5 Montesquieu’s own words sound strangely modern when he advises policies be tailored to culture (rather than the other way around as is expected to happen, for example, when a new CEO brings in policies from his previous firm and expects the receiving culture to adopt them): "… [T]he government most in conformity with nature is the one whose particular arrangement best relates to the disposition of the people for whom it is established… Laws should be so appropriate to the people for whom they are made that it is very unlikely that the laws of one nation can suit another..."6

How does the culture plant grow? Can we couch the same principles using current corporate terminology and 80

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back them up with recent research? Indeed, we can. Let’s first define culture in the context of today’s business context. Definitions abound but here’s a perfectly acceptable one: "Culture is the tacit social order of an organization: It shapes attitudes and behaviors in wide-ranging and durable ways. Cultural norms define what is encouraged, discouraged, accepted, or rejected within a group. When properly aligned with personal values, drives, and needs, culture can unleash tremendous amounts of energy toward a shared purpose and foster an organization’s capacity to thrive. Culture can also evolve flexibly and autonomously in response to changing opportunities and demands. Whereas strategy is typically determined by the C-suite, culture can fluidly blend the intentions of top leaders with the knowl-

edge and experiences of frontline employees."7 To my reckoning, organizational culture has three vital components which go a long way to explaining why changing it takes so much time and invites such opposition. To start with, culture is founded on shared history. It is not important how true that history is, as long as it is believed with passion. The corporate history that grounds its culture is replete with heroes, villains and deeds of sacrifice and infamy. There are breathtaking tales of life-threatening dangers and how they were overcome. The narratives hold morals which can either bolster or belie the values the company officially blazons. From this historical memory flows the second ingredient of a strong culture: the people, actions and things that are respected and revered (to the point of

these, the effort would be fruitless. To the extent the new directives belittle or contradict the characters and codes solidified into legend over years, the best outcome can be that the new instructions will be ignored. Pushed too far and too fast, however, and the change effort can elicit a reaction as belligerent (even if kept unrevealed) as that from a true believer forced to apostatize. Not that a few toadies won’t start sprouting the new Decalogue. But this will just solidify the resentment of the rest. Creating a new history (which, hopefully, yields a new set of legends

Problems caused by generic culture change directions are hugely compounded when results are demanded and promised in short time-spans which, on the scale of time taken by true cultural change, are mere eyeblinks It should now be obvious why changing the culture is a lot more complicated and time-taking than just changing a few senior people and operating protocols. Taking the points from the previous paragraph in reverse order, the actions that determine culture are not in written manuals or supervisory instructions. Even if someone were to undertake the nearimpossible task of codifying

and commandments) takes time and time is precisely what those infected with Culturechanguenza Vulgaris don’t have.

True transformation

Even a great conservative like Edmund Burke maintained that "[a] state without the means of some change, is without the means of its own conservation.”8 This is equally true of business en-

terprises. How then can one improve the odds in effecting it? If change is essential in the way things are done, there are a variety of devices that are at our disposal. Cultural transformation is not the first tool we should pick up. It should be close to the last attempted intervention, after examining and, in some circumstances, trying what can be achieved through changing people, processes and even structures. Montesquieu’s wisdom is worth repeating after all these years: "With regard to mores, much is to be gained by keeping the old customs… [R]ecalling men to the old maxims usually returns them to virtue."6 After careful consideration and conversation, should cultural change be identified as the appropriate intervention, there are two directional blunders that need to be avoided. Regardless of the supposedly irrefutable empirical evidence the 'consultagion' presents, do not get carried away by the specific snake-oil s/he is peddling or the fad of the day, both of which can frequently be the same. Seemingly more grounded is a culture change target, specifically derived from your strategy and tailored to your needs. However, if it is diametrically opposed to everything the company has stood for so far, you need to think long and hard before aiming for it. And at the end october 2021 |

The road less travelled

sacralization) and those that are reviled. The history and reliquary join together with the tacit instructions (usually imparted by way of example) that old-timers impart to an incoming generation for creating the third part of the cultural tripod. This consists of the initiatives taken and reactions given by people when there is no specific instruction from a senior or set procedure governing conduct. With sufficient repetition these actions become more than habits – they become the ineffable codes of appropriate behaviour pervading the organization.


The road less travelled

of that thinking process, you probably need to find a bridge less far. It is worth understanding this ambition-dampener in some detail. To do so we need to use a typology of the corporate culture. There are a number of such models which are used for both diagnostics, inter-unit comparison and change targeting. Denison’s model9 as well as the one proposed by Cameron and Quinn10 have great intuitive appeal and have been used by many or-

To my reckoning, organizational culture has three vital components which go a long way to explaining why changing it takes so much time and invites such opposition. To start with, culture is founded on shared history. It is not important how true that history is, as long as it is believed with passion ganizations. So has the one described by Groysberg (and others)7 and I will use it for our illustration. According to Groysberg, there are eight types of company culture. These are: 1. Caring focuses on relationships and mutual trust 2. Purpose is exemplified by idealism and altruism 3. Learning is characterized by exploration, expansiveness, and creativity


4. Enjoyment is expressed through fun and excitement 5. Results is characterized by achievement and winning 6. Authority is defined by strength, decisiveness, and boldness 7. Safety is defined by planning, caution, and preparedness 8. Order is focused on respect, structure, and shared norms These are fitted into an integrated culture framework

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according to the degree to which they reflect independence or interdependence (people interactions) and flexibility or stability (response to change). "Each style has advantages and disadvantages, and no style is inherently better than another."7 For our present purpose, the key is that the more distant a targeted culture is from the existing one on the grid, the greater the effort needing to be expended, resistance to be over-

come and time demanded. Excessive force, urgency and ridiculing 'the old way' can certainly BREAK the existing culture. Equally certainly, heavy-handed haste and humiliation of heritageholders cannot MAKE a successful culture to replace the earlier one. Let us look at an example of an immense cultural transformation that worked. I got it directly from a friend who is among the most successful stars on India’s HR horizon. Though he, in a true partnership with his boss, was responsible for the recast, he still shies away from taking credit for it and, hence, remains unnamed here. Though the actual plan may vary from case to case, I would be surprised if more than one of the five principles I have gleaned from this case were missing in any successful cultural transformation: 1. Be aware of the pride attached to traditions of the organization and the culture that has brought it success in the past. Respect it sincerely and leverage it (see 3 below) to support the transformation. Never trash the existing culture and deal severely with over-eager transforming crusaders who do so 2. As far as possible, avoid announcing a grand plan of change. Whenever a glimpse of the path has to be provided,

trumpeting, the organization’s culture was substantially different (bar a few core principles) in a decade. Please note the time span. The next ten years took the transformation still further and, more importantly, consolidated and embedded the new culture i.e. gave the new culture its own history, heroes and legends. 5. Don’t position yourself (even if you are the CEO and certainly not if you are the CHRO) as the saviour coming to the rescue of a rotten operation from fools and villains. If you are truly successful, fame will find you.

A vaccine is not a cure

It is important to emphasize that the foregoing was not a blueprint for actually managing a cultural transformation programme. That would have required at least an entire book to itself. We


1. Visty Banaji, Pyrrho, please pay another visit - A DIY kit for sniffing out BS in HR, People Matters, 23 March 2017, (https:// 2. From Charlie Munger’s 2007 USC Law School Commencement Address where he said: 3. "I frequently tell the story of Max Planck, when he won the Nobel prize and went around Germany giving lectures on quantum mechanics. And the chauffeur gradually memorized the lecture and he said, 'Would you mind, professor Planck, just because it's so boring staying in our routines, would you mind if I gave the lecture this time and you just sat in front with my

4. 5.

6. 7.

chauffeur's hat?' And Planck said, 'Sure.' And the chauffeur got up and he gave this long lecture on quantum mechanics, after which a physics professor stood up in the rear and asked a perfectly ghastly question. And the chauffeur said, 'Well, I'm surprised that in an advanced city like Munich I get such an elementary question. I'm going to ask my chauffeur to reply.' " Rutger Bregman, Humankind: A Hopeful History, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2020. Daniel R Denison and Aneil K Mishra, Toward a Theory of Organizational Culture and Effectiveness, Organization Science 6(2), April 1995. J S McClelland, A History of Western Political Thought, Routledge 1996. Charles de Montesquieu, Editors: Anne M Cohler, Basia Carolyn Miller and Harold

have simply touched on a few essentials to be observed before embarking on such a programme and during it. This column should inoculate you against an attack of Culturechanguenza Vulgaris for at least the next twelve months. No vaccine is 100% effective but this one should protect you (and your incoming CEO) against most strains of the virus. "But", I hear you say, "my CEO has already launched the exercise and paid a crazy advance to some fast-talking 'consultagions'. Should I show him this article?" That, dear friend, would be a career-shortening move. Administering a vaccine after the onset of the disease can have dire consequences. At this stage the best you do is go along for the ride and hope only superficial damage is done before a premature 'Mission Accomplished' is announced.

The road less travelled

stress its continuity with the past and explain why a redirection is essential. Preferably put the burden of the explanation on external causes – rather than point a finger at failure within. 3. Effect the change element by element, incrementally. Moor explanations to the core values cherished by the organization. Sometimes simple activities (an awards event, a new training format or even a redesigned application form) can profoundly alter the cultural tone without openly declaring such an intent. Constantly experiment and do not hesitate to withdraw. A tactical retreat is perfectly feasible when each element is only one out of many indirect steps to reach the main objective. 4. Have patience. In the mega-conglomerate we are discussing, without much fanfare and

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

Samuel Stone, The Spirit of the Laws (Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought), Cambridge University Press, 1989. 8. Boris Groysberg, Jeremiah Lee, Jesse Price and J Yo-Jud Cheng, The Leader’s Guide to Corporate Culture, Harvard Business Review, Juan-Feb 2018. 9. Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France, Penguin,1968. 10. Daniel R Denison, S Haaland, and P Goelzer, Corporate Culture and Organizational Effectiveness: Is Asia Different From the Rest of the World? , Organizational Dynamics, Vol. 33, No. 1, pp. 98-109, 2004. 11. Kim S Cameron and Robert E Quinn, Diagnosing and Changing Organizational Culture: Based on the Competing Values Framework, Jossey-Bass, 2011.

october 2021 |


Past Month's events

Knowledge + Networking

Recrafting employee experience for the Indian IT Industry People Matters & Randstad 29th Sept 2021 Online In today's world of work, what it means to be an employee has changed. Candidates for a job are looking not just at the work and the pay, but at the entire experience of working for the organisation: the leadership style, the growth and development opportunities. But are companies matching these expectations? Not many would agree. In this panel discussion, Randstad India in association with People Matters discussed how leaders from the IT industry can recraft the employee experience journey in the new world of work.

People Matters EX APAC Virtual Conference People Matters 9th Sept 2021 Online People Matters EX APAC Virtual conference was a full-day event that featured four virtual tracks and deepdived into different aspects of the EX with keynotes, case study sessions, panel discussions, and dedicated virtual exhibition space for service providers to showcase their latest offerings. We successfully hosted it with over 1,300 delegates and explored how EX translates in every decision in the talent strategy.


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

Moving from Disruption to Strategy: A blueprint for the next 3 years in EX Qualtrics 7th Sept 2021 Online To maximise the success of the experience transformations underway in every workplace right now, it’s critical HR and people leaders align their programs with business priorities. This will help demonstrate the full impact of the work undertaken to ensure HR maintains its critical position at the leadership table. The series of masterclasses discussed best practices based on proven examples of how other organisations are designing and improving their EX programme as they look to the new normal.

Futurist Forum - A Masterclass on Architecting the Future of Work People Matters 17th Sept 2021 Online This masterclass with Dave Ulrich, Co-Founder & Principal, The RBL Group was designed for top CHROs. It delved deeper to help talent leaders equip themselves with strategies, skills, and tools so they can rise to the opportunity and help drive the larger business transformation.

People Matters Are you in the List Awards People Matters 3rd Sept 2021 Online As HR leaders played a pivotal role in spearheading their organisations through the uncertainty, stress, and change, they developed and defined a new core set of skills which is going to be a prerequisite of emerging HR leaders in the second year of the pandemic and beyond. It is these very visionary and talented HR leaders that the People Matters Are you in the List 2021 Awards which is in its 10th year of running aimed to recognise - the new generation of HR leaders who rose to the challenge of 2020 and became the answer to the challenges in the People and work space and have redefined HR for the future HR leaders.

Upcoming events Women in Leadership: Lead, Influence & Transform

Design Thinking & Agile for HR Teams People Matters BeNext 22nd Nov - 24th Dec 2021 Online This programme 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-centered progress. We will uncover creative practices and seek solutions for complex HR problems through the prism of Design Thinking & Agile methodologies.

People Matters & Degreed 5th Oct 2021 Online While over two-thirds of companies see the trend of learning experience as urgent or important, only 5% believe they have mastered the content and technology capabilities needed to make online learning an accessible tool and a compelling experience. In this virtual session by People Matters and Degreed, we will look 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.

Diversity and Inclusion: Overcoming Unconscious Bias People Matters BeNext 15th Nov - 17th Dec 2021 Online This programme 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.

Designing Employee Experience in a Hybrid world People Matters BeNext 11th Oct - 12th Nov 2021 Online This programme 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.

People Matters L&D Conference 2021 People Matters 21st Oct 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 will discuss our community's questions to help us reflect and find collective answers.

october 2021 |

Knowledge + Networking

People Matters BeNext 4th Oct - 5th Nov 2021 Online This programme is designed for women leaders interested in accelerating their career growth within their organisation and learning critical skills for women heading a team. It will help them overcome obstacles facing workplace gender imbalance and speed up the realisation of their potential as a woman leader.

Reinventing learning: Fueling a training model where employees own their skills


Book Review: ‘Decoding People’s Pulse’ The book ‘Decoding People’s Pulse’ by Paul James, a wellknown HR professional, is all about how HR can partner with people to create impactful experiences and reimagine the approach to designing surveys for driving performance

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By R. Venkatanarayanan



ow to decipher and decode employee experience? How do we align with the changing requirements of a diverse workforce and craft meaningful policies? The book ‘Decoding People’s Pulse’ leads you to the answers to such questions. The book is a sharing of experiences by Paul James (PJ), a well-known HR Professional, with over 30 years of industrial experience. It is not merely that, but it also traces the origin of his thoughts while he was working as Head HR at Thirumalai Chemicals in understanding what made highly involved, intrinsically driven tech-

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nical workforce either stay or leave the company. Paul has taken the road less travelled by HR professionals by undertaking a survey research to arrive at interesting conclusions instead of working on assumptions. This book was released recently on 18th September 2021 at a ceremony in Chennai by M. Raj Kalyanarajan, Senior Director of PCA Automobiles India Pvt Ltd., of the newly setup car major Stellantis Group at Thiruvallur, Chennai. Also in attendance were R. Venkatanarayanan, President HR & IT of Rane Holdings; A. Thirunavukkarasu, CHRO Hatsun Agro Products Ltd;.P.N. Rajendran, Executive Vice President of Yokohama Tires; Sampathkumar, Vice President Fives India Engg & Projects Ltd., Mrs. Hannah Paul, Head HR of CMC&H;

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The book offers several in-depth analyses on what factors contribute to the way people are and how they can be supported in transitioning from being disconnected or disassociated people to a highly involved and connected or passionate workforce

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Raju Elangovan, MD E-merge; Amaladoss,Director HR, TEMPEL Precision Metal Products India Private Limited; Prasanna Padmanaban, Vice President, Barclays Global Service Centre; Senthil R, Head – HR & IR, Yokohama Tires; E.I.R.Ravindranath, Advisor HR; Anbarasu, Retd. Head HR of SRF; K.S Ravikumar, Legal Head of Asahi Glass; Thendral Mani MD, BETeam; Ramesh Kannan, Sr.Manager HR, Flex; K.S.Sivakumar, Sr.Manager HR, Reynolds Pens, Damodaran DGM-HR of Kosei Minda; Jeyabarathi Opns Head Tiger Analytics; Ramnath,GM HR Rane NSK;Shankar of Maven; Valentina Balagopal, Jonathan Samuel, Karen Jonathan, Eugene Thangaraj, and Josline Nikhita from PSCS Analytics and Vignesh, Asst. Manager HR of TCS. On the release, Raj Kalyanarajan stated, “I am delighted to release the book written by PJ. I got acquainted with PJ when I was engaged as an IR Advisor when PCA took over operations in Thiruvallur. I never realized that PJ had the expertise in HR and specifically Organizational Behaviour, which incidentally is an area of interest to me as well though not to the depth that of PJ.” Kalyanarajan further added that the book talks about organizational behaviour, the human mind, about making connections between workforce commitment and intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. But the specialty is that it draws connection to the influence of family towards satisfaction (fulfillment). This is customizing to the Indian context as culture

plays a big role in how all of us behave. Work life balance matters as without engagement at home, one cannot expect an employee to be engaged at work.

Supporting people to become passionate employees

‘Decoding People’s Pulse’ is all about how HR can partner with people to create impactful experiences. Tracing the journey of a HR professional passionate about research, the book gives its readers a ready to relate OD model. october 2021 |


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This OD model differs from others in the sense that it is contextually relevant and makes business sense. Further the book offers several in-depth analyses on what factors contribute to the way people are and how they can be supported in transitioning from being disconnected or disassociated people to a highly involved and connected or passionate workforce. Later, this book tells us about how Paul could prepare this as a product and support major companies in understanding employees’ climate. The work is a result of hard work ably supported by his longtime friend Dr, V.S.R.Vijayakumar Rtd Professor of OB from IMT Nagpur. This book differentiates his product viz., PSCS-ESS from the major service providers in this field and shows by rigorous statistical analysis that it is a reliable product to use. The PSCS-ESS survey helps to understand the workforce in terms of a quadrant arrived at using satisfaction and commitment as shown below. High

Job Satisfaction (JS)

C - Type

High - JS Low - C

A - Type

High - JS High - C



Disassociated Low - JS Low - C

Pledged Low - JS High - C

D - Type

Being a successful HR professional, Paul believes that the model proposed by him is an OD model which will help organizations to plan long-term strategies after identifying the workforce as explained in the figure aboveassuaged, passionate, disassociated, or pledged. This is a handy book for all HR professionals who are keen on making a difference in the workplace in the form of thought through action plans backed by reflective data. Moreover, it is industry and experience agnostic. In conclusion, Paul has beautifully presented the linkage of various factors that impact people that are insightful and will be of immense value to the readers. One could take a leaf out of PJ’s book to enhance workplace culture. P.S: PSCS-ESS surveys have been

carried out in reputed companies such as Delphi-TVS Diesel Systems Ltd., Siemens Building Technologies, Vedanta Aluminium Plant at Lanjigarh, L&T (RPM) JSW Salem, Apollo Tyres, Siemens Gamesa,ATC Tires, Sharda Motors, Omax Auto, Reynolds Pens, etc. This survey was also carried out in Thirumalai Mission Hospital and Thirumalai Charity Trust. PSCS not only takes up PSCS-ESS which is its main plank but also conducts surveys for assessing CSR Projects, Assessing IR Climate in industries and Places, Stress, etc.

B - Type

Low Low


Organizational Commitment (C)


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R. Venkatanarayanan is the President HR & IT & Rane Holdings


>> Craig W. Ross

The 5 disciplines of collaborative leadership

When 80 senior executives from 20 countries and 25 industries were asked what the biggest barriers to long-term strategic execution was, over 76% cited people failing to work together to make change happen ‘this will require influencing and aligning people over whom I have no authority.’ It was a defining moment of leadership for Anthony. Leading a digital transformation requires aligning cross-functional teams, often with a workforce that is geographically dispersed. Could he successfully guide

employees in collaborating across the enterprise? According to researchers, most leaders fail to meet this defining moment. A relevant study highlighted the inability of colleagues to collaborate effectively. When 80 senior executives from 20 countries and 25 industries were asked what the biggest barriers to long-term strategic execution was, over 76 per cent cited people failing to work together to make change happen. The truth of the matter is clear: Most leaders simply don’t know how to lead collaborative organisations. Yet, most professionals want to collaborate. They know that good things happen when they do. When team members have a common language and understanding of collaborative leadership essentials, cross-functional performance quickly improves. october 2021 |

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nthony was in trouble: because of his success in leading a large R&D team within his organisation, he was now tasked with leading an enterprise-wide digital transformation initiative. ‘I’ve been able to lead my direct reports effectively, but this,’ Anthony hesitated,


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By modelling and developing the collaborative leadership discipline required to succeed, change will come. There are five areas of collaborative leadership that are critical to focus on. These are what Anthony and his team and working towards. And while the digital transformation within his organisation is still in process, the early results are exceeding expectations. ‘We’re seeing levels of ownership, alignment and speed that we haven’t seen with similar initiatives,’ Anthony is reporting. ‘The early results are very encouraging.’

Discipline #1: Know why you need to collaborate

Organisations within industries experiencing hypercompetition and rapid technological changes must innovate to meet evolving customer needs, and to do

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so employees must collaborate to succeed. Organisations that are stuck in hierarchical, vertical power structures are losing to those companies that orient themselves to delivering value to the market horizontally across the organisation. As researcher David Teece and others make clear, the tacit knowledge created by cross-functional employee interactions creates a differentiated, competitive advantage. That’s because the social capital created among employees – not by singular employees – can’t be replicated by competitors. If teams want to win, they must collaborate.

Discipline #2: Know what collaboration is

Many assume most people know what collaboration is, however, this is not the case. Most people describe collaboration with the words part-

ner, team, cooperate, and coordinate, used as synonyms for collaboration. Those types of interactions, however, are not the same as collaboration. Collaboration is the act of dispersing power to activate a group’s collective talents, accelerate the development of relational capital and alignment to new knowledge. The words 'dispersing power' are essential in this definition. This means that power flows to ideas rather than to the people with the greatest authority. This is quite different from coordinating work, where team members integrate plans; collaboration is also different from cooperating, where employees assist and support peers as they execute their plans.

Discipline #3: Know when to collaborate

This must be emphasized: Successful collaborative leaders know when not to collaborate. When well-intentioned leaders don’t know when to collaborate, they can ruin their brand and reputation. Because effective collaboration is in such high demand within most organisations, the default for some employees is to collaborate as often as possible. But this only creates slow organisations as too many employees are collaborating too often. Employees should only collaborate when: 1) They

know new knowledge that must be created cannot be created by one person, 2) Collaborating will save time and resources, and 3) Collaborating will accelerate and strengthen alignment and ownership of plans among stakeholders.

Discipline #4: Know how to collaborate

Discipline #5: Know with whom to collaborate

Collaboration is a powerful method for creating new knowledge, aligning employees, and saving resources.

It is also a brilliant way to create a culture of inclusion. When team members get to participate in important discoveries, it elevates the employee experience. A big problem occurs, however, for the non-disciplined leader who believes that inclusion only means included. When too many people are invited to collaborate the other disciplines of the collaborative leader cannot be upheld. Then, value to the organisation plummets. Inclusion means employees feel valued and know that they are provided with equal access to opportunities and resources. While collaboration can facilitate the feeling of inclusion, the successful leader knows there are other mechanisms to accomplish an inclusive culture. Collaborative leaders, therefore, are disciplined in inviting

those stakeholders that will best create new knowledge and drive faster outcomes because of their participation. Leaders like Anthony have shared that the disciplines of collaborative leadership are largely common sense. 'But until now we suffered because we didn’t have the shared awareness or common language to put the wisdom into practice,' Anthony said. Leading collaboration requires five disciplines: Knowing why to collaborate, what collaboration is (and what it is not), when and how to collaborate, as well as with whom. With practice, every leader can succeed in delivering a defining leadership moment occurring within most organisations: leading collaboration across the enterprise.

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'I used to get frustrated when I heard people say, "We need to collaborate,’” Anthony said. 'Because that meant we’d be subjected to endless meetings and consensusstyle decision making. Now that we know collaboration is not a decision-making process we’re moving far faster and effectively.' The leader who knows how to lead collaboration engages stakeholders in the generation of new knowledge through divergent thinking. Then, knowing the value of collaboration expires if it is continued too long, the leader moves the team into convergent thinking. This is when the team moves out of collaboration and into coordination. Here, the person with the responsibility to make the decision facilitates that outcome or declares the decision.


Craig W. Ross is the CEO of Verus Global october 2021 |


RNI Details: Vol. XII, Issue No. 10, R.N.I. No. HARENG/2010/33504. Published and Owned by People Matters Publishing Pvt. Ltd. Published at 501, 5th Floor, Millennium Plaza, Tower A, Sushant Lok-1, Sector-27, Gurgaon - 122009, Haryana. Editor: Esther Martinez Hernandez

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

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