People Matters October 2022: Learning

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– we will never stop learning

In the last few years, upheavals in the work ing world and advanced digital acceleration made reskilling and upskilling the buzzwords of the day. From learning how to operate and even create new technolo gies, to gaining capabilities that would make us better at adapting to change and more efficient in hybrid or fully remote work models, everyone quickly became proponents of learning and development, eager to skill ourselves and our employ ees.

But in the rush of enthusi asm, let's not forget that learning has always been a constant. The desire to learn is as old as time, and

it is not confined to business purposes alone. We learn for simple interest, for the actualisation of our own selves, for our own advance ment in personal and profes sional matters, and given the choice, we learn at our own pace and according to our own aspirations and capabil ities.

Today, learning as a concept and a process has been thoroughly studied, broken down, enabled with a massive spectrum of tools and technology. From coaching with the human touch – whether in person or virtually – to microlearn ing via mobile phones, whether learning in the flow of work or intensive trad itional classroom learning, every style and inclination of learning can now be matched. Savvy organisa tions have quickly taken advantage of this to hyper personalise learning, integrating the improvement of employees' skills into work as smoothly as possible.

In the same granular fashion, what people learn has also been separated into essential components

and paired with the exact needs of a job role, allowing organisations to upskill and reskill their employees with a high level of precision.

That said, the journey of learning is an ongoing and indeed never-ending one, and every organisation is at a different stage of its own journey, depending indeed on the needs and capacities of the business, the needs and capacities of the job, and the needs and capacities of the individual learner.

In this month's issue, we look at some different approaches organisations take to learning, and where they stand in the evolving landscape. We hear from industry leaders and domain experts such as Piyush Mehta, CHRO of Genpact; Katherine Loranger, Chief People Officer at Safeguard Global; culture and innov ation evangelist Daniel Strode; and more.

This month's Big Inter view features Holly Wind ham, Chief Legal and People Officer of Rackspace Tech nology, who talks about the synergy of legal and HR skills, and discusses some

2 | OctOber 2022
From the e ditor’s d esk From the e ditor’s d esk

of the burning questions for HR practitioners today.

On 3 November, we launch People Matters EX Conference in Indonesia for the first time ever. Join us in Jakarta for a riveting, insightful clash of cutting-edge ideas aimed at EXponentially furthering employee value proposition, and advancing a corporate agenda of business needs, yet being people-centric and ecologically sustainable.

And right after that on 9 November, we return with People Matters Total Rewards and Wellbeing Conference, poised to Re:Frame – Be Ready To Break The Mould! People and culture leaders and rewards professionals will come together at Leela Ambience, Gurugram to reframe how they can work together as a leadership team, and how they can build a stronger and meaningful company culture to make attraction, retention and engagement more ‘sticky’.

People Matters BeNext, our cohort-based certifica tion programme, launches

two new courses in the coming months. Reframing Your C&B Strategy: Agility, Equity and Sustainability (07 November – 09 December 2022); HR Business Partner in the New World of Work (21 November – 23 December 2022). You can reach out to for more information and to enroll.

People Matters BeNext has shown us all, over the past year, how interconnected community and learning are. Now that we have extended our virtual learn ing programmes to leaders in Spanish-speaking coun tries, we anticipate even greater levels of diversity, inclusion, and community development upon the plat form.

As always, we welcome your views, comments, and suggestions regarding our stories.

Happy Reading!

THE COVER STORY (BEHIND THE SCENE) ?? what goes around, comes around! i like boomerang, but not this colour...

3 OctOber 2022 |
Follow F > estermartinez > M > @Ester_Matters
Esther Martinez Hernandez
From the e ditor’s d esk YAY!

Leading the future of work requires new skills by Dr M MunEEr, Co-founder and chief evangelist at the non-profit Medici Institute



A CEO’s ultimate L&D guide for disruptive times saMEEr nigaM, CEO of intelligent learning management firm Stratbeans by raMya PalisEtty


work trends may come and go, but learning and skills are forever


Reimagining skilling through the metaverse by nEEti sHarMa, Co-Founder & President at TeamLease EdTech published by People


NotE to tHE READERS the views expressed in articles are those of the authors and do not reflect the views of people matters. although all efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the content, neither the editors nor the publisher can take responsibility for consequences arising from errors or omissions in the information provided. reproduction in any manner without prior permission from the publisher is prohibited.

4 | OctOber 2022 C o N te N ts this issue oF PEOPlE mATTERS CoNtaiNs 78 pages iNCludiNg Cover editor-iN-ChieF Esther Martinez Hernandez editor & New produCt CoNteNt strategist (global) Mastufa Ahmed maNager - desigN, photography, aNd produCtioN Marta Martinez seNior editors Mint Kang Rachel Ranosa seNior maNager - researCh aNd CoNteNt strategy - apaC Jerry Moses seNior assoCiates - CoNteNt Sudeshna Mitra | Asmaani Kumar Ajinkya Salvi | Aastha Gupta Samriddhi Srivastava assoCiate editor Mamta Sharma digital head Prakash Shahi desigN & produCtioN Shinto Kallattu seNior maNager - global sales aNd partNerships Saloni Gulati
contents Oct O ber 2022 v O lume xI II I ssue 10 Cover story 38 40
maNager - subsCriptioN Other
Das Purkyastha
Matters Publishing Pvt. Ltd. owNed by People Matters Publishing Pvt. Ltd.
at: 501, 5th Floor, millennium plaza, tower a, sushant lok-1, sector-27, gurgaon122009, haryana, india. tel: +91 (0) 124-414 8101
The game changer for organisations PiyusH MEHta, CHRO of Genpact by MaMta sHarMa
Why L&D programmes are vital to business by Jai Maroo, Executive Director at Shemaroo Entertainment
On building impactful, futuristic workforce skilling strategies
raMEsH, Director for managed services & professional, Adecco India
MaMta sHarMa
Psychologically safe: Culture design for learning and failing DaniEl stroDE, HR leader, author, culture and innovation evangelist by raMya PalisEtty
5 OctOber 2022 | C o N te N ts Featured In thIs Issue DanIel strODe HOlly WInDHam KatHerIne lOranger PIyusH meHta rajesH raI sameer nIgam COntrIButOrs tO thIs Issue brIan sOmmer jaI marOO m muneer neetI sHarma r ramesH rIcHarD smItH rubI KHan y sHeKar vIsty banajI regulars 02 From the Editor’s Desk 06 Letters of the month 08 Quick Reads 13 Rapid Fire 72 Knowledge + Networking 30 Synergising legal and HR skills to solve human problems
tecHHr How to escape quiet quitting: Let go of pre-pandemic workforce norms
loranger, Chief
Holly Windham, Chief Legal and People Officer, Rackspace Technology
People Officer at
Gupta 20 c ulture Is there a right time to retire in the corporate world? by MaMta sHarMa 24 e m P l O yee engagement What if employers actually talked to employees? by Brian soMMEr 34 e m P l O yee engagement Quiet quitting: Trendy topic or fun framing? by Prof. ricHarD sMitH, Vice Dean, Corporate and Global Partnerships at the Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School 61 e m P l O yee engagement The employee unboxed: Moonlighting isn’t a bad idea! by y sHEKar, Management research scholar (Ph.D.) from University of Mysore. He is an executive coach and co-founder of a start-up 66 tH e r O a D less travelle D The G-men of HR by Visty BanaJi, Founder and CEO of Banner Global Consulting (BGC) 74 b l O g O s PH ere What needs to be done before building an inclusive workplace by ruBi KHan, Assistant Vice President – People Initiatives,Talent Management and OD at Max Life Insurance Company Limited.

Letters of the month

How organisations are s H aping

t H e future of work

Indeed everything that HR implements must first and foremost be for the benefit of people, to make them more engaged and more fulfilled in their work. Because it is only through engaged and enabled people that the business can succeeed. This is the primary and most important way in which HR supports the business strategy. Whether through tech or policies or new bene fits, the whole point is to create an environment where people do their best.

The decline of the monarchy

It's hard to decide whether the world is better or worse off as each of the old mon archs passes one by one. We should never forget the evils of colonialism and imper ialism. Yet the latter day

monarchies have also done their part to pull away from these old wrongs. At the end of the day it feels more like a celebrity passing. Lots of sound (and social media!) but no real effect on the world.

How to find, keep, and develop talent in the energy sector

This is very interesting because the energy sector is so important, yet its hiring and employer practices are still often oldfashioned and the whole image of the sector is an old and conservative one. Unsurprising that there is a great drive now to bring younger talent in, because the sector must renew itself to be up to date with changes in the world and especially sustainability and renewable energy.

Will we see a shift from 'days off' to 'days on'?

Hoping we can see the world of work make this transi tion. For all that corporates and business owners would love for people to live to work, the hard cold reality is that we are human and we work to live. Leaders ought to invest the effort to make that switch in policies and work culture and most im portantly in their own heads, or no one will want to follow them.

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oCtober 2022 issue qui C k reads letters o F the mo N th

Interact with People Matters

Transitioning towards formality

Really useful article showing a huge systemic problem that all too often, flies under the radar because not enough people at high levels are looking at it. We must protect our workers at all rungs of society from exploitation, give them fair and honest terms, make sure that in times of crisis they are not overlooked. This is the only way to uplift our society.

Is moonlighting an idea whose time has come? What a tricky and contro versial issue!

Both sides of the debate are right but then both sides of the debate are also wrong. Instead of leaning on custom and tradition or using the law like a crutch or worse, a stick to beat people with, should we not cut right to the chase and behave like civilised people, i.e. discuss between employer and em ployee and come to a good faith and transparent agreement on this matter and then stick to it?


people matters values your feedback. write to us with your suggestions and ideas at

The critical role of leadership in M&A success

Great take! Too often the analysis of M&A looks only at the financials. At most it looks at the lay offs and the business and human impact. But all these are lag indicators relying on existing factors such as the condition of the business and most of all the competence of the leadership. Does the M&A evaluation take into con sideration the quality of leaders and whether they are capable of steering the organisation through the transition, and does the process include training leaders specially for it? If not, it should.

What should you glean from leadership training?

Leaders need to be sincere enough to admit they don't know everything, they aren't always right and they can gain and benefit from training. That's a great start and this article shows well how to go the further mile by focusing on the right skills and benefits to pick up. No point send ing the leader for expensive training if they just take it like a paid vacation!

Wipro @Wipro

Wipro's employee wellness program won the 2022 @PeopleMatters2 and @MediBuddyapp Best Wellness Programme award at this year’s People Matters TechHR India conference. Read how our programs are raising the bar for corporate wellness initiatives. Read more:

Devic Earth @DevicEarth Does your office use air-cleaning devices? Is it important to monitor air quality at your office? Here is the full interaction of @PeopleMatters2 with Subhashini Ponnappa, Dr. Srikanth Sola, and Dr. Sandeep Ghanta on indoor air pollution.


HRCurator @HRCurator 'Developing future ready #leaders, upskilled employees game changer for organisations' skilli… @PeopleMatters2 #leadership #learning #FutureofLearning #HR #HCM #HRM #HumanResources

Planful @Planful Looking for new ways to encourage your #hybrid employees? Our Chief of Staff to the CEO and Chief People Officer Melissa Dreuth spoke with @PeopleMatters2 to break down positive communication and realistic expectation setting. Read here.

Jacob Morgan @jacobm

@PeopleMatters2 discusses how the future of work is dictating HR innova tions. Read more about it here: xIGh50L5aXI

#FutureOfWork #leadership #HR #inno vation

Deloitte India @DeloitteIndia

To read Rohit Mahajan’s views on why women are well-suited to risk manage ment and how to meet the shortfall, click here:


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> @PeopleMatters2
qui C k reads letters o F the mo N th

H r tEc H nology

Series A funding

Workforce management cloud platform Voilà! has closed $13.75M CAD Series A funding. The invest ment round was led by Walter Ventures, with participation from Desjardins Capital and Investisse ment Quebec. Telegraph Hill Capi tal, Panache Ventures, Fondaction, Investissements Norco, and the

American firm Azure Capital also participated in the funding round. The latest cash injection will allow Voila! to invest further in their product offerings and talent team, according to the company.

PickMyWork, a Delhi-headquar tered start-up which assists digital companies to acquire end-custom ers, including individual users and merchants, has announced plans to acquire over 500,000 gig workers in fiscal year 2022-23. The company has been onboard ing 10,000 gig workers per month while simultaneously foraying into new geographies. It currently works with 300,000 gig workers as part of its network.

Infosys, Wipro, TCS, and HCL hire over 105,000 fresh graduates in 2022

India’s top four IT giants — Infosys, Wipro, TCS, and HCL— have hired more than 105,000 fresh graduates so far in this fiscal year amid global uncertainty. Nota bly, the recruitment rate is higher than last year’s number for the same period. The IT majors are expected to hire a total of 1.57 lakh freshers by end of this fiscal, sources privy to the development said. HCL Tech may hire more than 30,000 freshers by March 2023, while TCS revised its fresher

hiring guidance from 40,000 to 47,000 for this fiscal. However, overall hiring is expected to witness a fall of more than 30% due to a lower attrition rate.

AI platform raises $2.6 mn in Series

A funding led by Tin Men Capital

Singapore-based AI platform has raised $2.6 million in Series A funding. The company, which was founded by IIT and NIT alumni Akanksha Jagwani and Avni Agrawal, deals in creating no-code deep space AI models

for computer vision platforms. The funding round was led by Tin Capital, a Singapore-based venture capital firm focused on business-to-business tech startups in South-East Asia.

Tech Mahindra to recruit

employees in Gujarat over next five years

One of India's largest IT services exporters, Tech Mahindra, will be recruiting around 3,000 staff in Gujarat over the next five years. The company signed a Memoran dum of Understanding (MoU) with the Government of Gujarat under its IT/ITeS (IT-enabled services) policy on October 18. This MoU is one of 15 that the Gujarat govern ment has so far signed with domes tic and global companies under the IT/ITeS policy, which will in total generate approximately 26,750 skilled IT employment opportunities in the state.

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Workforce management platform Voilà! secures $13.75 Mn in a
rEcruit ME nt PickMyWork to onboard 500k gig workers this fiscal year

E MP loy EE Ex PE ri E nc E

Only 39% staff can be their 'authentic selves'

A recently released report by e-learning and analytics company Emtrain found that only 39% of employees can be their 'authentic selves' at work. This is actually an improvement over 2020 when fewer than one-in-three (32%) said they could be themselves on the job. 27% of employees also say workplace conflict has caused them to leave a job, down from 29% in 2020. However, 46% of

the respondents also believe that their manager would not take a harassment complaint seriously, up from 41% in 2020. The findings are based on more than 90 million responses from 300,000+ employ ees at 350+ organisations in 2022.

Singaporeans threaten to quit if forced to come back to the office full time

A report by Employment Hero finds that 81% of Singaporean workers are keen to take on a permanent remote position, and 46% of remote and hybrid work ers would even consider leaving their jobs if employers forced them to return to the office fulltime. Gen Z and Millennials aged 18-35 were the main drivers of this

Even in a recession, a third of UK employees are willing to quit their jobs if their employer takes inad equate action to reduce its carbon footprint, reveals a new study by Supercritical. This sentiment is

Google sued over claims of unfair labour practices

Google contract workers have filed several unfair labour prac tice complaints against Alpha bet for allegedly firing them after they conducted union-related activities. The Alphabet Workers Union (AWU) filed the complaints on behalf of two members who were working at Google’s data

particularly widespread among Gen Z, with over half (53%) of 18-24-year-olds willing to consider leaving an employer based on net zero credentials. On the other hand, 70% of UK employees would be proud to work for a company committed to climate action, and more than half (54%) consider the steps a company has taken to reach net zero an important factor when deciding whether to work for them. 60% would choose to work at a company that has a clear plan to reduce or eliminate its carbon footprint over one that doesn't.

trend, with 60% of those surveyed within this age group being more likely to still work fully remotely. While 41% returned to the office full-time this year, about half (49%) stated that their return was due to their employer’s directive rather than by choice.

co MPE

IT major Infosys joins peers TCS, Wipro and Cognizant to roll out salary hikes

centre in Council Bluffs, Iowa. The employees were suppos edly terminated after they tried to discuss their pay and working conditions at the facility.

One of India’s largest IT services companies, Infosys Ltd, has given 10-13% salary hikes to a large proportion of its employees. Top performers received 20-25% incre ments. Infosys is the latest tech company to do so, following the precedent of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Wipro, and Cogni zant.

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1/3 of UK of employees willing to quit jobs over weak climate action
nsation & B E n E fits

Liz Truss, Lettuce and the Lessons on Leadership in a Crisis

In early October 2022, an opin ion piece in the Economist compared the brevity of Liz Truss’s premiership to the shelf life of a lettuce, as it became increasingly imminent that the UK government crisis would eventually lead to the Prime Minister’s resignation. The Daily Star, a tabloid newspaper in the UK captured this observation in the form of a livestream that captured the world’s atten tion. It drew a slew of satirical memes and political commen tary.

In just 44 days, Truss gave up her post following a brutal market reaction to her govern ment’s economic package. What followed was the sacking of the Finance Minister Kwasi Kwarteng and policy roll-backs just three weeks into her term by a second finance minister, Jeremy Hunt.

The resignation was followed by a quick leadership election within the conversative party. Rishi Sunak was chosen to lead the country, who previously lost out to Truss in the race to the premiership. Sunak is widely seen as a stable candidate as he led the UK through the COVID crisis as finance minister under the former Prime Minister Boris Johnson. He is also the coun try’s first Asian, first Hindu, and the youngest UK head of state in two hundred years.

It's note-worthy that the UK has seen three Prime Ministers in a span of two months. Sunak is also the fifth PM in six years. Coincidentally, that exodus of leaders can be traced back to the Brexit referendum – and a lack of clear understanding, on all fronts, of what that mandate actually meant. The social and economic repercussions, while obvious to external observers, somehow went unnoticed or ignored by leader after leader, with successive Prime Ministers simply digging the hole deeper in attempts to cater first to populist sentiment and then what they perceived to be the desires of vested interests.

Truss’s failed budget may have been the lowest point so far in that downward spiral,

with its reckless slashing of income and boosting of spend ing – oft-touted libertarian measures which many asked for but, when push came to shove, decided they didn’t want after all. In many ways, the rejection of those measures underscores that a great deal of the rhetoric around economic policy is noth ing more than that: rhetoric. And leaders who fall for it will quite simply fall.

Writing in the Kellogg Insight, former CEO of Baxter International and a professor of management at Kellogg, Harry Kraemer noted that apart from the economic blow, Liz Truss failed as a leader. And that she fell short of the four dimen sions of value-based leader ship including self-reflection, a balanced perspective, true self-confidence and genuine humility.

“She was talking about creat ing tremendous change with out having an understanding of what all the implications of that change could be,” he said.

The slide of UK leadership holds a number of lessons for aspiring leaders around the world, and Truss’s record shortlength term drives the point home. Right from the need to consult with others, not make promises one can’t deliver, and to listen to criticism, while plan ning for success.

10 | OctOber 2022 qui C k reads Newsmaker
the moNth

corn E rston E i n D ia a PP oints n is H c H a E anaging D ir Ector

Cornerstone OnDemand has ap pointed Nishchae Suri as man aging director at Cornerstone India. In his new role, Suri will lead the overall business of Cornerstone in India and will be responsible for spearheading strategic growth, operations and leading Corner stone’s local 1600 plus team to deliver strong results. He has over 25 years of global ex perience in the industry and has held many leadership positions including president at EdCast (acquired by Cornerstone in 2022); senior partner, KPMG in India; managing director & CEO at Mercer and global partner at Hewitt Associates.

20 years of experience in both client-fa cing and operations roles in professional services organisations. Before joining Stax, Korol was working with A&M Taxand, a division of Alvarez & Marsal where she held the position of chief people officer. Earlier in her career, she was a consultant with Deloitte before moving into business oper ations roles.

cognizant H ir E s for ME r i nfosys P r E si DE nt r aV i Ku M ar to l E a D aME ricas M ar KEt

Eightfold AI has appointed Darren H. Burton as chief people officer, reporting directly to Ashutosh Garg, CEO and co-founder. Burton has over two decades as a strategic advisor, executive, and talent leader. Earlier, he led premiere organisations including DuPont, Campbell Soup Company, IBM, and Raytheon Technologies. Most recently, he was the chief people officer of KPMG LLP and a member of its management committee.

stax a PP oints V E ra Korol as glo Bal P l E

Global strategy consulting firm Stax LLC has appointed Vera Korol as global head of people. In this new role, Korol will lead Stax's people success func tion where she will be responsible for talent acquisition, talent development, compensation and benefits. She brings nearly

Software services exporter Cognizant has brought on former Infosys president Ravi Kumar as President, Amer icas, said the company in a regulatory filing. Kumar, who will start working on January 16, 2023, will be reporting directly to Brian Humphries, CEO of Cognizant. He takes over from Surya Gummadi, who will take over leadership of Cognizant's $5 billion health sciences busi ness. Cognizant Americas accounts for more than 70% of the company’s total annual revenues, and Kumar will be responsible for the strategic direction and operational performance of the business in the US, Latin America, and Canada.

g lass D oor a PP oints Danny guillory as c H i E f PEo P l E offic E r

Glassdoor has appointed Danny Guillory as the new chief people officer. He is based out of Glassdoor's San Fran cisco headquarters and leads a distributed team that includes Learning & Development, People, Policies & Processes, Talent Acquisition, and Work place Experience. Prior to joining Glassdoor, Danny was vice president, chief diversity officer and interim chief people officer at

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Eig H tfol D ai a PP oints Darr E n Burton l E offic E r
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qui C k

Dropbox. He brings more than thirty years of experience in managing people, DEI and recruitment.

gE n E ral Motors a PP oints a r DE n HoffPEo P l E offic E r

Automobile giant General Motors has appointed Arden Hoffman as senior vice president and chief people officer. Hoff man will assume her new role on January 1st, 2023, replacing Kim Brycz, who is retiring from a career at GM that spans nearly four decades. Hoffman will report to GM Chair and CEO Mary Barra. Prior to this, Hoffman served as vice president of people at Dropbox, where she worked to scale the company and culture across a number of global offices as it tran sitioned from a private startup to a publicly traded company. Hoffman has also worked with global business giants namely Goldman Sachs and Google.

Britis H tE l Eco M na ME s at H ali E Willia M s an r E sourc E s offic E r

British Telecom (BT) Group has appointed Athalie Williams as its new chief human resources officer. She will join the exec utive team of the BT Group in December, succeeding Debbie White, who has been CHRO at BT Group since December 2021. Williams comes with more than 30 years of experience in lead ing complex enterprise-wide organisations and workforce transformation programs to deliver business value. She has been serving BHP for the last 15 years in various senior roles including chief people officer and vice president of HR. Prior to BHP, she was an organisational strategy and workforce trans formation advisor with Accenture (formerly Andersen Consulting) and general manager, cultural transformation at NAB.

aDani g r EE n En E rgy H ir E s Pra M at H n at H as H r HE a D

One of India's leading Indian renewable energy compan ies, Adani Green Energy, has appointed Pramath Nath as its Head of Human Resources. Prior to joining Adani Green Energy, Nath was CHRO for the Asia Pacific and India region at GE Power. He has more than 15 years of experience working as an HR professional and has served at organisations like KPMG India, Hewlett-Packard, Reliance Retail, and others.

i n D i g o a PP oints s u KHJ it s Pasric H a as

IndiGo (InterGlobe Aviation) has appointed Sukhjit S Pasricha as group chief human resource officer effective Novem ber 1. This is a homecoming for Pasricha as he earlier served IndiGo as head of HR & Admin (vice presi dent-HR & Admin) from April 2013 to Janu ary 2018. He joins Indigo from Kotak Mahin dra Bank where he served as group CHRO (president - HR). Altogether he comes with over 25 years of experience in corporate HR roles and business HR roles across differ ent industry sectors and complex businesses (both-B2B and B2C).

f inastra a PP oints H E l E n coo K as c H i E f offic E r

Financial software applications company Finastra has appointed Helen Cook as the chief people officer. In the role, she is respon sible for the people organisa tion and advancing the company's objective to be a diverse and inclusive employer. Based at Finastra's HQ in Padding ton, Cook is a key member of the Finastra Executive Leadership Team, reporting to CEO Simon Paris. She was formerly CHRO of Natwest Group and has also been with Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley, bringing a total of 25 years' experience to the table.

12 | OctOber 2022


Rajesh Rai


Where does the HR function stand today?

A core part of the business ecosystem; we are now on the cusp of HR 4.0 2

What is HR 4.0?

The next iteration of our profes sion; a new way of thinking about how we do business and how we can help our employ ees and clients in their digital transformation journey


Driving factors of HR 4.0?

Three major paradigm shifts in the world: the fourth indus trial revolution with “smart everything”, the COVID factor which is causing us to reeval uate what we mean by the “workplace”, and the rise of the millennials and gen Zs in the workplace 4

The impact of “smart everything” on HR?

Automation of many HR processes for more agility and efficiency, integration of new software applications into a company’s daily business activities

employee base


Ideal characteristics of today's “workplace”?

A working model that enables employee well-being, ensure business continuity, and create value


One way HR 4.0 will help organisations?

Enabling people to empha

sise and work towards their job characteristics


And the significance of millennials and gen Zs?

The young generations are the architects of the new evolved workplace, and they must have a say in building it


First thing HR professionals need to change?

Flip the pyramid – move away from a heavy focus on the executives and managers and move more towards the employee base


Top things to focus on?

Build critical competencies and skills to ensure a marketready and relevant workforce, but also safeguard that an employee, their families, and their work life are supported by compassion, trust, and focus on their well-being


One tip for doing that?

Create programmes and tools that support their full life expe rience and not just what they do at work

13 OctOber 2022 |
14 big i N terview oCtober 2022

SynergiSing legal and Hr SkillS to Solve Human problemS

New work arraNgemeNts, New learNiNg aNd developmeNt skills aNd CateriNg to employee Needs are some oF the massively importaNt aspeCts iN the New world oF work. iN aN exClusive iNteraCtioN with HOllY WINDHAm, ChieF legal aNd people oFFiCer, raCkspaCe teChNology, the iNdustry leader shared her iNsights oN people strategies iN moderN times aNd how her legal expertise has helped her devise employee solutioNs by Ajinkya Salvi

Being the Chief Legal and People Officer of a billion-dollar company is an intensive role, but one that enables the leader to syner gise experience from both backgrounds for the benefit of both the organisa tion and its employees - as Holly Windham has demon strated for cloud computing services pioneer Rackspace Technology.

Windham is a legal profes sional with over twenty years of experience, who stepped into the domain of human resources when the Rackspace leadership asked her to do so three years back. She did her Bache

lor's in Sociology from South western Oklahoma State University in 1988 and her Juris Doctorate in Law from Pepperdine Law in 1991.

Having developed an excel lent rapport with both teams and acute understanding of their operations, Windham has meticulously led from the front while bringing her skills as a lawyer into play as a human resource profes sional.

You are one of the few HR leaders with legal expertise. How does this skillset help you in matters of human resources?

I have been a lawyer for most of my career. But I did

study sociology and organ isational dynamics when I was at the university, keep ing me abreast with HR. Hence, the opportunity to wear both hats of being a Legal as well as an HR person at this stage of my career has been really excit ing. I believe that the prac tice of employment law puts general counsel and the role of CHRO on the same wavelength, espe cially for a global company where we have workers' councils in different coun tries and employees all over the world. This gives us an opportunity to understand those laws and regulations when we hire and also when

15 big i N terview oCtober 2022

we acquire companies. The legal department and the HR department work hand in hand on those matters routinely in any company. I also believe that from a legal and regulatory perspec tive in employee matters, it is more efficient. It made me appreciate the bigger picture.

I got the opportunity to take over the CPO role at Rackspace Technology when my CEO came in. He was relatively new to the company and was building his new management team. He liked how the legal team was approaching problems and solving them for inter nal clients and customers. It puts a great face to how the legal teams are seen all over the world, especially at Rackspace, where we are considered the business enabler. And that’s the kind of mindset the CEO wanted from his HR team. Therefore, I was given this oppor

tunity on the basis of the management style and the skillset that my team and I would bring to HR, to think more about being a business enabler than being an HR function.

It is not a novelty for HR functions to benchmark themselves against HR metrics. Yet what we did as a legal team and then subse quently as an HR team was quite different. Our approach was benchmarked on how we were advanc ing the business needs of the company. As HR profes sionals, we delved deeper into the organisational needs. Our purpose became not just about handling the playbook and saying “This is how we do it as an HR team.” Instead, we worked on providing different solu tions for the different func tions within the busi ness. The approach that we believe in is: lawyers for a living, solve human prob

lems. HR professionals for a living, solve human prob lems. The synergy of lawyers and HR professionals in solving human problems is what inspired me and as the head of both legal and HR teams, I saw their benefits as well.

You’ve talked about the synergy between the lawyer and the HR. Besides being the business enabler, how has your skillset enabled you in matters of policymak ing, as a HR person?

At Rackspace, the le gal department actually owns the policies for the company, especially as a public company. Our policies and our compliance function sit well within the core of the legal department. That's an area where we work very closely with our business partners and our HR part ners, to ensure that our poli cies are appropriate and that our compliance is always where it should be. And hence, there's a synergy present with the legal and the policy part of the busi ness, allowing me to utilise my skillsets to address the human resource challenges.

What is the biggest human resource risk organisations can face in the new world of work?

I believe that the biggest risk is probably the biggest chal lenge i.e growing your talent pool. You can work really hard at hiring and bringing

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in new talent, yet once they enter the door post-recruitment, it's a different cup of tea irrespective of whether they are a new talent or a tenured one. In this new world of work, there are new opportunities every day, where an employee sitting in Goa, India, can work for someone in San Antonio, Texas. The world of work has opened up a lot for employ ees to have choices. And the biggest challenge is to make sure the employees are choos ing your company. I think there are a few ways that we can ensure that, starting with compensation. The organisa tion has to pay competitively, with the competitive bench mark so volatile that what you paid yesterday, might be different today.

The second way to ensure this is to give the employ ees the opportunity for learning and development, which is critical, especially in the technology industry. People want to grow in their careers, they want to continue to develop skills. Here at Rackspace Technology, we have created our own learning platform called Racker University and we are able to train technologists on all kinds of differ ent certifications to keep them current. We encourage them to learn the latest technologies because technology moves really fast. We also enable non-technologists by helping them learn to become

a leader. We give them 52 to 100 hours of learning every year, to develop themselves in a way they see fit, along with paid time, provided as learning hours to develop themselves. At Rackspace, we have an Innovation Day where we say no to inter nal meetings yet we get together to be creative and collaborative. The idea is for the organisation to put the message forth that they want people to grow here, not somewhere else.

latest technological skills that they can utilise in the new business areas where we are making investments. These opportunities will enable our talent to develop better competitive skills, make more money and find better career growth oppor tunities.

We have received positive feedback where people have told us how Racker Univer sity has given them a new lease on their career. This kind of learning and devel

The new world of work demands new ideas for learning and development. How is Rackspace faring in this regard?

We have been invest ing in some new method ologies and technologies. The Racker University is an example where we invested in newer technologies that are more in demand, we built our own curriculum from scratch, and hired better trainers. Employees can look up the trainers, go into a programme of their choice, learn those new technologies and get certi fied. The programme is on an accelerated basis: they spend 90 days to pick up the

opment opportunity can enable you to just continue to learn and grow in different ways. And when the time comes that a more highlypaid opportunity is availa ble, the talent will be ready for it.

Does 'quiet quitting' present an element of risk to CHROS as they create new working policies? What are your thoughts?

“Quiet quitting” actually sums up the mentality of workers who have become disengaged. In our profes sional lingo, we used to call it “passively disengaged”, which we have discussed in the HR circle for years.

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The idea is for the organisation to put the message forth that they want people to grow here, not somewhere else

What we know from research is this: people who are actively disengaged are really still emotionally involved in the company and they have the capacity to change. They are vocal about it and they show you the signs. They are almost asking for help because they want it to be better. And you can work with “actively disengaged people”, and sometimes they are the best source to tell you what's wrong with the organisa tion and what you need to improve, which is okay for an organisation’s grand scheme of things.

It is the “passively disen gaged” or the “quiet quit ters”, that the organisation doesn’t necessarily recog nise right away. And they can really bring down the morale of an organisation as well as their colleagues if they are not putting in that extra effort. Their attitude is negative and pervasive, which can be really corrupt ing for an organisation. When you have people that are “passively disengaged”, they are much harder to save, maybe because they have already let go of their emotions and they just don't care anymore. And it's much harder to bring that person back into the state of being engaged.

Quiet quitting has existed forever. One of the chal lenges that we face now with so many people work

ing remotely, is spotting it. I think that the best way to spot it is to have very handson management in the sense of being connected with your employees. HR lead ers can make an extra effort to have those ‘one-on-one’ conversations to follow up with people when they raise an issue and not let it linger.

In a physical office envi ronment, you can tell by the look on someone's face or by their punctuality, participation in discussions and more, how much effort they are putting into their work and into the company. Unfor tunately, we are currently working in a remote-work environment, and it is so easy to let those indicators slip. I do believe that is one of the reasons why people become quiet quitters: the lack of connection. They haven't either formed it or they've lost that emotional connection to their colleagues or to the managers, and to the purpose of the business. HR leaders and

managers need to under stand the importance of communication here.

Research has shown that employees are reevaluating when and where they work before taking a job. Could you share some tips with your fellow CHROs and HR managers on how to tackle this in the new world of work?

Keeping ‘wellness’ in mind is an important tip I would like to share. Nowadays, It is not just about coming to work, doing a good job and getting yourself a paycheck. Profession als can work from anywhere in the world now and they have a lot of choices. Hence, we have to think about the wellness of the employees holistically. Since COVID-19, employees are asking themselves a lot of questions in regard to why they are work ing here at the company, what they want to do in future and more. Hence, we have built the policies and programmes around Rack ers’ [Rackspace employees] wellness. Every month, we are focused on some aspect of well-being whether it's nutrition, health, or being heart healthy. Rackspace encourages volunteerism, as it is known to increase your mental well-being.

Mental health is a big thing and building up the culture and awareness is really important in

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One size doesn’t fit all; it is important for CHROs to know what really motivates their team and collect the necessary data through surveys and polls

an organisation. At Rack space, we have a programme where we concentrate on different parts of wellness. We have a spotlight recog nition programme where peer-to-peer recognition is observed, where you can recognise somebody for doing a good job or taking care of a customer or being a good team member. Those rewards translate into credit points which Rackers can use for purchases at the end of the month.

Providing agility to employees returning to the office is also of utmost importance. For instance, we manage data centres around the world and they have to be operated 24X7, requiring people to be phys ically present to do that. Hence, it is of utmost importance that the managers provide more flexibility that works for everyone’s sched ules.

Rackspace encourages its employees to come back to the office not because it's being mandated but because they want to be here at the office. We plan a lot of phys ical engagement activities for employees returning to the office. For example, we planned a blood drive where we encouraged our employ ees to come back to the office, take part in the blood drive, and see and meet their colleagues. Also, we have organised food events, for example barbeques and off-

site lunches. It’s an interest ing exercise in creativity for HR leaders - how to motivate employees with activities.

What do you think the future of work holds in the next few years or decades?

Collecting as much data as possible is of utmost importance. Data-driven decisions will enable organ isations to take precedence in attritions as well as stay ahead in employee reten tion. I feel that it is impor tant to know what works for your people. So what works for one organisation does not necessarily work for another and every organi sation has different needs. One size doesn’t fit all. It is important for CHROs to know what really moti vates their team and collect the necessary data through surveys and polls.

During COVID-19, we did employee surveys to find out

who wants to return to the office. After receiving the data, we found out that the majority of people actually want a flexible work envi ronment. Hence, data-driven decision-making is really important to understand what motivates Rackers and what does not!

I also feel that it is also important to do your exit interviews and to find out why an employee is leaving. It enhances a CHRO’s data-driven decision-making process.

I also believe that the future of work requires physical presence. Nothing can happen without being in person. Hence, the return to work is quite a possibility that many organisations are tackling. Yes, hybrid work is the future but people are required in offices too, and that is where organisations and individuals need to come to a compromise.

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selecting the time of retirement can be tricky. If you leave young, you have a particular set of risks and challenges that you might face and if you retire late, you might miss other opportunities/passions you always wanted to pursue

by Mamta Sharma

Tennis superstar Roger Federer, 41, recently announced his retire ment from the game, while Bollywood superstar Amit abh Bachchan is still going strong in his work at 80.

Most people look forward to retiring and spending their lives chilling out and relaxing by the time they are 60, and some even much earlier.

However, selecting the time of retirement can be tricky. If you

leave young, you have a particular set of risks and challenges that you might face and if you retire late, you might miss other opportunities/passions you always wanted to pursue.

So, how can we ascertain the right time to retire in the corpor ate world?

Retire early?

There aren’t many people who hang up their boots at 40, but it is often seen that such people

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become part timers, gig work ers, and advisors/coaches/board members.

“This way they get to do the work they love the most (e.g. client work in the case of a consulting firm) and stay away from the rat race, the people management 'hassles' and things like appraisals and promo tions among other things,” says Nishith Mohanty, partner at global consultancy firm Korn Ferry.

Mohanty identifies three arche types of people who retire early.

Coaches: Loving it but want to focus on their core. These people love what they do and want to do more of it, but they also want to get away from the 'corporate rat race'. They become advisors, freelancers, consultants and board members among others. People usually do this the moment they touch 45-50 years of age, after they have become financially independent.

“We can assume that means they have created portfolio incomes which match their expected stan dards of living without having to work at full-time jobs. Many workers like this are able to add a tremendous amount of value to their companies, teams, peers, etc. while maintaining a healthy work life balance. The challenge some of them face is that they some times lose touch with the reality of the markets, don’t strive enough to learn from feedback, and therefore are not able to keep pace with the changing needs of their customers,” says Mohanty.

Renegades: Disillusioned and wanting a change. These people leave their jobs at any age, but typically earlier than above. This happens usually with people who

are able to meet their basic finan cial needs early, and then realise that their work is the biggest 'jail' they have put themselves in. “Many of them get a calling, realise their 'purpose' and want to explore what that means for them. Nothing is worse than doing work which takes your life out of you, and if you can afford it, you must find something else to do. However, a romantic notion of purpose with out a check on reality can be a death knell to careers – people become unhappy with their new realities and find it harder to go back as well,” says Mohanty.

Entrepreneurs: Starting something of their own. This is the third kind – which is a positive mix of the above two. They rebel against the existing business models that traps most people, and want to focus on building value in a certain way. With a keen sense of what will sell, they are able to create a new business model around themselves.

“Many leaders do this at pretty much any age. And obviously, as with entrepreneurship, you have a

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high chance of failure – BUT those leaders who have truly tried to create a viable business model, stay ing in touch with the market, focusing on serving real customer pain points, gain a LOT from this experi ence. Even if their ventures fail, they go back to their old careers with new learning, energy, and wisdom, which helps them in the long run,” says Mohanty.

Retire Late?

Talent advisor and Hydera bad-based Options Executive Search founder Achyut Menon does not plan to hang up his boots early.

“I don't think I will retire. The concept of study 20-plus years, work

unless one suffers from an ailment. Even the work we do is more intel lectual and so the impact of some one experienced, working just a few hours a day, is significantly more than a young person spending eight hours,” he contends.

In fact, he adds, “We already see remote work, gigs, fractional work and interim executives so the concept of tenure is less important than the impact.”

Menon says the currency people will have in good stead is skills and one has to constantly learn, unlearn, and relearn.

Common retirement mistakes to avoid

People who retire often feel a huge sense of a loss of purpose, iden tity, impact, importance, power, and the like. Everything from the daily routine to self-concept is deter mined by one's job to a significant extent.

Mohanty sheds light on the common pitfalls people overlook when they approach retirement decisions.

30-plus years model and then retir ing is obsolete with the increase in technology, automation, robots , AI, ML etc,” he says.

Menon says the concept of retire ment dates back to the industrial economy and is based upon labour versus machine dynamics.

“Also, the mortality rates of humans were different and so was the physical work and stress. The retirement age of 58-60 years was arrived at based on these condi tions. In today's network econ omy, thanks to technology and globalisation, and advanced medical improvements, most of us can aspire to live up to 80-plus

Not planning for how you will stay relevant in the post-retirement world. Who will call you? Who will you call? What value will you add to whom?

Not staying in touch with reality. Many people find it hard to realise how the world is changing rapidly, and that they need to know what’s happening to stay relevant.

Not being good at something. Many people plan what they will "do" once they retire. In fact, there are always things to do, but many of the things people feel they would like to do may not necessarily give them a sense of fulfillment. It may

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The impact of someone experienced, working just a few hours a day, is significantly more than a young person spending eight hours

be because they aren't good at it or don’t get recognised for it, or it may simply be the paradox of availabil ity - these might be things people always enjoyed doing because they didn't have enough time to do them, but now that they have all the time in the world, suddenly it’s not fun anymore.

Not planning a return to work strategy. Many people who exit early don’t have a viable plan to return to work should they feel the need to do so.

Preparing for a life after retirement

Find out what gives you a sense of fulfilment. These can range from the sublime (helping others succeed, or creating positive change, etc.) to the ridiculous (flying for meetings and enjoying bumping into friends at the airport lounge).

Mohanty says these things are important and your life will be meaningless without these. “Find a way to ensure that you are engaged in things that are meaningful to you when you retire. If you have a clear sense of this already, go for it.”

Start your retirement planning 10 years before you retire: Have a view of what you are good at, and what you can do once you retire – and then start planning for it 10 years prior.

“This may mean building your own client base, your networks, your plans, and most importantly, your skills, early on. It won’t be easy for you to start your new gig immediately, so start early and moonlight your way into your retirement vocation,” he adds.

Be independently productive. Are you able to sell, deliver or create

value without your company busi ness card? Will you be relevant with out your organisation?

“If yes, then you will likely find that retirement is liberating and allows you to focus on what really matters to you. However, if you haven't developed that muscle in your life earlier , you won't be able to do so after you retire. So plan accordingly,” Mohanty notes.

“Stay relevant, (skilling or upgrading), stay fit (physically and mentally) and be financially prudent to save up and meet the increasing demands of health – as most of us in the non-western hemi sphere do not have access to social security, pension, or enough savings to even beat inflation,” says Menon.

“In short, forget about Retiring. Think ReFIRE!! I am convinced the future of work is not so much about jobs as about our ability to earn financially through multiple sources of income. Information and experience are passe – INSIGHTS and WISDOM are the critical add ons,” he adds.

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What if employers actually talked to employees?

Executives are so surprised when employees quit without notice or when jobseekers don’t show up for the first day of work. smart HR executives will dig into the causal factors behind these recent trends to understand why such surprises are so commonplace today

Imagine a marriage where the two people involved do not communicate with each other or rarely do so on anything but the most task intensive matters. Would any of us be surprised that one or both leave?

Well, some employees believe their relationship with their boss is akin to two strangers coexisting under the same roof. How do two individuals have a ‘rela tionship’ if they only have one meaningful conversa tion in an entire year and that is the annual perform ance review? Employees are human beings. As such, they crave, in differing degrees, contact with others, feed back about their efforts, praise when it is warranted, coaching when it is needed, etc. Noncommunicative or overtaxed bosses create a suboptimal or undesirable work environment. Why should any of us be

surprised that people leave situations like this? No one likes to be ignored or unheard.

Employees are human beings. As such, they crave, in differing degrees, contact with others, feedback about their efforts, praise when it is warranted, coach ing when it is needed, etc. Noncommunicative or overtaxed bosses create a suboptimal or undesirable work environment.

We can see the evidence of this inattention every where in the modern work force. So many people are discreetly seeking a new employer and planning their exit that the term 'quiet quitting' has become part of today’s workforce vocabulary. The sheer quan tity of people leaving their employers is even being described as The Great Resignation. And these trends extend beyond just

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current employees. We also have a rash of ghosting, where recently hired indi viduals fail to show up to work.

Employers, business executives and others are start ing to look inward to under stand why all of this is happening, and why now. In what may be a quick rush to judgment, some employers want to blame these activ ities on a new generation of workers. But any effort to verify the cause shows that this is a multigenera tional set of issues. No, we must dig deeper to find out what’s really going on. Only through that insight can companies develop appro priate corrective actions.

The stakes are high Turnover, as any good HR executive will point out, is an expensive and productivity-killing activity. With high turnover, companies must spend ever greater sums to identify net-new potential jobseekers, culti vate relationships with these potential applicants, conduct one or more rounds of interviews, extend and accept a job offer, onboard the new employee, provide the new hire with appro priate job training, etc. Employers may also have to pay overtime to existing employees to provide cover age for the missing person while that position is still open. And let’s not also

forget that this kind of turn over can create morale problems with the remaining workers, which could trigger even more attrition further down the road.

If your executives really knew and understood your workforce, they might have been able to:

• Avoid some of the worst aspects of the great reces sion

• Make better decisions regarding the return to the office mandate

• Reduce the workload that HR must deal with

• Improve operational results

• Improve morale and

subsequent employee engagement levels • And, of course, have fewer unfilled positions today.

Ignoring what your employees could tell you is a costly luxury that few companies can afford. Managers who will not make the time to really know and understand their employ ees may be some of the most costliest individuals within the firm. These managers may be creating some of the worst morale, employ ment brand and operational results your firm has ever experienced. Can your firm really afford this?

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Believe it or not, the most important job of a manager/executive/boss is to create a work environment that makes employees stay possibly years longer than they otherwise would have

The key item

Believe it or not, the most important job of a manager/executive/boss is to create a work environ ment that makes employees stay possibly years longer than they otherwise would have. Stop and reread that sentence a couple of times. Great bosses don’t have to throw tons of money at people to get them to stay. No, they need to listen to people, find out what each individ ual wants and needs and then craft policies, work schedules and other job attributes and accoutrements into a pleas ing mélange.

Any idiot can bark out commands, create unworkable or unpleasant policies, and ignore employees. But to be a great leader, a boss must take time to meet with their team and discuss the matters that will impact productiv ity, career advancement and retention whether these

be strictly professional or possibly personal matters.

For example, a boss that treats employees as strictly job-seekers and not career focused may be creating a big retention problem, espe cially for the high potential and high-performing employees. Likewise, sched ule concerns can be a major driver of attrition especially in retail and nursing occupations. Some employ ees want more work hours and the potential for overtime pay. Some need flex ibility around their sched ule to better accommodate family needs. Waiting until a worker has completed a full year of employment to discover that they have some specific personal needs is too late. Such a long wait is also an indictment of a manager’s lack of training, empathy or understand ing of what it takes to be a successful leader.

The listening skill

Some leaders simply do not know how to listen to people and some will not make the time. While the time prob lem is curable, the inability to listen can be destructive. There are bosses that: Only listen to what their own superiors have to say. They deem any communica tion from subordinates to be unimportant. This behavior, in clinical terms, is called “imperious”. And, trust me, no one wants to work for someone like this.

Lack empathy. They simply can’t imagine what it must be like to stand in the shoes of any of their employees. Maybe they lack context in their life as they’ve never had, for example, children of their own. But a lack of empathy often implies that the only voice they hear is their own rattling round in their brain. The concerns, body language and other tells, clues and communica tion from their subordinates never seem to make an impact. While I applaud the efforts of those who try to teach people to be more empathetic, your firm may not have the luxury of waiting until this individ ual makes such a profound change in their personal ity makeup and may have to seek a different solution. Be wary of managers with a high IQ but a low EQ. Lack the time to listen.

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A supervisor who has dozens or hundreds of direct reports simply may lack the time to give any individual any one-on-one, quality time with them. If your firm has large spans of control and has not assessed whether these leaders are making time to meet with individuals on a frequent basis, then your firm is failing its workforce in a material way. Will not make the time to listen to subordinates. This may be one of the most common and treat able issues today. Sometimes managers do not realise that their inattentiveness to their workers is creating attrition, overwork and more prob lems. This type of manager can give you 100 reasons why they aren’t meeting with their staff but rather are preparing reports, meet ing with company leaders/ customer/suppliers, buried in bureaucracy, etc. When I see this occurring, I real ize this is a person who is not trained well for role in management. However, most of this is a correctable issue if the firm has mentors and others who can coach this manager into a better performing state. Care only about their own career and not about those of subordinates. This is often a nasty, polit ically oriented and self-serv ing manager. Personally, I believe every company needs to rid itself of these

soul sucking and wealth destroying parasites.

Create listening opportunities

Many employees have anxiety about the annual performance review. It is in this meeting where employ ees may find out how they are ranked, whether they will get anything above a cost-of-living adjustment in their salary for the next year, or how their supervisor has viewed their contributions for the preceding year. Those discussions abso lutely stress people.

or the supervisor. The best managers communicate with employees all the time. They take a bit of interest in each person’s work, and even personal life to the extent that the employee wants to share.

Supervisors do not look forward to these discus sions either. They know they may have to share some uncomfortable news with employees and would rather do most anything other than to deliver it. They also know, if they are even somewhat empathetic, that some discussion items will come as a surprise to the employee or carry with them negative career conse quences.

But listening to one’s employees need not be pain ful for either the worker

Great managers find ways to meet with each employee in informal and formal settings. For example, when sharing a cab ride to the train station or sitting next to a coworker on a flight, a manager has a golden oppor tunity to converse at length with this person on a variety of subjects. When not concerned about an immedi ate annual performance review dangling over their head, an employee might share genuine thoughts about career aspirations, continuing education needs, insights about difficult clients/customers, and so on. In these conversations, a smart leader should be thinking one thought: “What can I do to address one of these concerns and greatly improve this person’s job performance or career outlook?”

Likewise, if you require your workers to return to the office, then you should make the effort to have lunch with a different employee every single day, if possible. Sitting across a table and sharing a meal can do wonders for break ing down communication barriers.

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Listening to one’s employees need not be painful for either the worker or the supervisor

Some employees don’t communicate

No one in a leadership role should be expected to thor oughly know and under stand each and every employee working for them. Different employees have different levels of comfort in discussing issues with management. This could range from being completely wide-open and candid to remaining very quiet to the point of being secretive. Some employees will always be very private individuals. Nonetheless, managers should strive to create a multitude of ways for employees to express them selves and be heard. For example, I would hold quar terly meetings with the entire staff and would offer up a $100 reward to the employee who surfaced the most outrageous rumour. I would leave the room while they generated their list of rumours, and return to either validate or debunk each one. For some employ ees, it was the safest way they knew to surface some difficult issue or concern without having it being known that they were the one who brought the matter up.

At those meetings, I also paid $100 to the employee who produced the most interesting travel photo they took while out working with clients. These pictures were amazing insights into the

team and often were hilari ous to view.

More seriously, managers should have some time allot ted for employees to inter act with them. I have tried to operate an open-door policy, and told new hires from the get-go that they can always drop by my office any time they saw the door open. If the matter they wish to discuss was of a very personal or ethical nature, I would happily move the conversation to another location.

Some top executives need help, too!

Even top executives need to get out of their comfort zone and mingle with different employees, jobseekers and even graduating students. It’s just not appropriate to assume that everyone thinks, acts, and behaves just like you.

If a CEO does not under stand what is motivating today’s Generation Z jobseekers, then that exec utive needs to do some campus recruiting and be present at the firm’s job fairs and other events. It is through these informal interactions that managers can gain insights into today’s workforce and its specific wants and needs.

What you should/should not do now

Harvard Business Review had a great article in September encouraging firms to make mentoring mandatory. I concur with that viewpoint as mentoring triggers a large number of semiformal inter actions between workers and leaders within a firm and mentor programmes put structure around this communication activity and

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help ensure that it will take place.

What businesses should not do is acquire technology to spy on workers. A recent Wall Street Journal article told of how firms are using surveillance tech nology to spy on its quiet quitting workers. The story states: “Over the past 2½ years, more compan ies have started to spy on their employees, despite patchy evidence that use of workplace monitoring tech increases productivity.”

Just imagine what happens to your firm’s employment brand when word gets out (and it will!) that you spy on your work force. No one wants to work for a company that is that paranoid and distrustful of its own employees. I would opine that these technol ogies actually exacerbate the quiet quitting phenom

enon and other problems in today’s workforce instead of helping solve it.

Instead of spying on workers, wouldn’t just talking to them be more humane and enlightening? Even if these people are working from home, all it takes is for a manager to pick up the phone and call this person to speak with them directly.

For myself, I would ask a potential employer if they utilise such monitoring methods. If the answer is “yes”, then I would ask to have my name removed from considera tion for employment at that company. Spying on employ ees says you do not trust them. And without trust there can be no relationship nor any sharing of informa tion. If you use these sorts of tools, do not be surprised at what you will reap from them.

Some closing thoughts

Great firms and great managers should not be surprised by recent workforce trends. Why? Because great leaders are always talking to workers and potential job-seekers. They are quite aware and cosmo politan when it comes to these matters. They’ve known about subtle changes in the workforce for some time and have been craft ing appropriate measures to deal with these all along.

Great leaders also create the kind of work environ ment that respects the indi vidual and helps them achieve a win-win situation with their employer. This sounds incredibly simple to state but is a continuous process for managers and how they craft a winning employment brand that trig gers outsized retention.

The challenges for CHROs and operational leaders may be mostly focused on ensuring they have the right kinds of leaders within the firm. Don’t wait until the next annual perform ance review cycle to deter mine if certain individuals in managerial positions are not fully up to the require ments of running a modern firm. Get the people who know how to truly listen to workers and hopefully your great resignation, quiet quitting and other adverse HR trends du jour will go away.

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How to escape quiet quitting: Let go of prepandemic workforce norms

The conversations around “quiet quitting” are an alarm ringing about the need for us, as leaders, to re-think our employees’ work experience, says Katherine loranger,

Over the past month there has been no escaping the term “quiet quit ting”. It has been all over the Internet, leaders and analysts have weighed in for and against, even colleagues at the workplace may have been discuss ing it in detail – what it is, what does it entail, how long has it been around, is it right or wrong. But how does one deal with the repercussions of quiet quit ting in today’s day and age, especially with a workforce that is both more driven about work and more persistent about focusing on mental wellbeing?

People Matters spoke with Kath erine Loranger, Chief People Offi cer at global workforce manage ment company Safeguard Global, to understand the nuances of quiet quitting and other workforce trends HR should keep an eye out for. Here's what she said.

everyone perceives quiet quitting differently. Some say it is just “doing your actual job” while others think it's “not doing enough” at work. How do you see quiet quitting?

Quiet quitting is less about how people are working and more a statement about how they feel about their work experience. We know that people were asked to

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upend their personal lives to inte grate their work experiences into their home in 2020. And they did, by most accounts, a great job. We know that The Great Resigna tion was an adjustment of people realizing that their work wasn’t fulfilling enough for them to spend such large parts of their day doing it. And now we have “quiet quitting”.

Sure, you could say its people doing their job requirements and nothing more, or you could say that people aren’t feeling fulfilled in their work, but continue to do it – so, the question is how are organisations designing work experiences that helps employees feel fulfilled? Employees who feel their work experience is helping them grow are not the ones saying they are “quiet quitting”. The people who don’t have this kind of people-centric work experience are.

While quiet quitting has been been in the spotlight recently, what are some other workforce trends, particularly related to workforce happiness, that HR should keep an eye on?

The volume of conversations that are being had about “quiet quitting” is the alarm ringing about the need for us, as leaders, to re-think our employees’ work experience and ask ourselves –Is it flexible, people-centric and supporting people in living and working their best lives? That is the future of work and at Safe guard Global, we call it Work in Any Way.

Are we too focused on return to office as a measure for productiv ity? Or have we built OKRs and

KPIs that measure outcomes of people’s work vs output? Have we embraced asynchronous work to account for teams spread across different time zones and the fact not everyone is their most productive at the same time? Most importantly, are we asking our people what THEY think would make their work experi ence better for them and the company? If “quiet quitting” tells us anything, it’s that people don’t feel heard by their managers, leaders, and the organisation they work for.

There seems to be a grow ing discontent among the workforce today. And this seems to be a global trend rather than something that is region-specific. What do you make of it?

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If “quiet quitting” tells us anything, it’s that people don’t feel heard by their managers, leaders, and the organisation they work for

The pandemic prompted employees to rethink their prior ities around work/life balance and what they want from their employer. We then saw the Great Resignation, with employees increasingly viewing flexibility as a right. Companies who adapt to employee demands and embrace a flexible, “work in any way” approach to workforce manage ment – allowing employees to work how, when and where best suits their lifestyles – will come out on top.

In your experience, what are the top three things that HR can do to ensure both workforce happiness and employee produc tivity?

Take your candidate search global. Embracing a global hiring approach will expand your talent pool, allowing you to hire the best and brightest talent.

Let go of outdated, pre-pan demic workplace norms. Embrace flexibility and trust your employees to increase engagement

and job satisfaction. Don’t hire for culture fit, instead hire for culture value-add. Research shows that teams with diverse backgrounds and thoughts are more successful. Rather than hiring someone to fit a certain mold, hire someone to challenge and question the status quo to ignite innovation and productiv ity.

We now have “quiet firing” as well! What are your thoughts?

This is a tough one! I think part of the challenge is in how managers view their work. People are the most important invest ment we make, organisationally. Too often managers and lead ers view the activities of manag ing – and all it entails – as a “side job” or part of their job. And it’s not – it’s the core of their job. Now, some of this depends on how organisations structure their teams… if you have managers that are also individual contribu tors, that makes it more difficult. So how does a company figure out how to ensure each manager that also has the bandwidth for both their individual projects and the work associated with managing

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Rather than hiring someone to fit a certain mold, hire someone to challenge and question the status quo to ignite innovation and productivity

their people correctly?

What role can managers play in dealing with both “quiet quitting” and “quiet firing”?

HR leaders and managers must collaborate to build work policies and processes that work best for each team. For HR leaders, it means providing training and best practices to newer managers about the need for consistent 1:1 meetings that includes having meaningful discussions about the work, identifying gaps in resources or processes that hinder their employees’ ability to do their jobs, and building a connection between manager and employee. It is important employees under stand how their work fits within the company’s larger goals.

And managers need to remem ber that good management makes their jobs easier – attrition can really set teams and organisa tions back. The loss of institu tional knowledge and the time and expense spent recruiting for new candidates eats away at resources that could be allocated to accomplishing exactly what the manager’s teams are trying to achieve.

Finally, in which direction do you think the whole “quiet quit ting” discussion will go now? What is your solution to “quiet quitting”?

Quiet quitting is not a new thing. It is a naming of something that has been a part of the work experience forever. Yes, it’s catchy with the alliteration, but it’s just a reality of how some workers create boundaries. For

many workers, this has always been how they work, for others, it’s a reaction to the burnout and disenchantment with lead ers demanding that their work experience revert to how it was prior to the pandemic.

Remember, everything changed for people when they moved from work/life balance to work/ life integration. HR leaders will need to address strength ening employee engagement by fostering a productive, happy workforce. Embracing a “work in any way” approach will give companies a competitive edge not only in attracting talent, but also in combating employee engage ment challenges and retain ing talent. Companies who don’t listen to their employees will continue to struggle with “quiet quitting”.

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HR leaders will need to address strengthening employee engagement by fostering a productive, happy workforce

Quiet quitting: Trendy topic or fun framing?

phrase “Quiet Quitting” has caught on as it captures the of the pandemic on the lives of many people but can framed more accurately?

When the new phrase “Quiet Quitting” began to surface on social media, my colleagues and I discussed the idea and sought to under stand the meaning of the trend. We wondered how a workforce concept can quickly rise from casual TikTok posts to a trend ing management concept in the Harvard Business Review. Over the last year, several researchers have noted the increased human capital focus related to well-being in the workplace and we have witnessed survey results indicat

ing lower engagement around the world. So, it is perhaps not surprising that the sentiment of today’s workforce quickly reson ated with this new alliterative phrase, “Quiet Quitting.”

After some review, it seems that this phrase is used in two different ways. One concept is removing yourself from the “climb the ladder” mindset or decelerating career ambition to focus more on other aspects of life. This is often considered a rebalancing. We sometimes see this with new parents, for example, who value time with their new child more than spend ing overtime hours at the office. Certain life events can also trig ger this type of rebalancing. In the US, we witnessed this after the 9/11 terror attacks and we also see this in other parts of the world that have suffered natural disasters, wars, and other lifechanging events. So, while this concept is not new, the phrase “Quiet Quitting” has caught on as it captures the impact of the pandemic on the lives of many people. Around the world, scores of individuals and families are making life changes as a result

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of their experience and reflection during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The other use of the term “Quiet Quitting” is less positive in nature. In this context, people who are not happy with their job or employer may decide to put in minimal effort. Some might phrase this as slowing the work effort, but keeping the paycheck. In this interpretation, people are doing the bare minimum, perhaps a step short of actively trying to get fired.

Because of these two very different meanings, the conver sations about “Quiet Quitting” can be unclear. The two ways of thinking about the same term can create confusion. Keeping with the idea of alliteration to describe the phenomenon, perhaps we could use the phases of “Career Coasting” and “Boundary Balan cing” to address aspects of the first definition. In this case, a person may temper ambitions while still meeting expectations by taking measures to contain work hours and managing worklife pressures.

The other meaning could be called “Revenge Recalibrat ing.” In this case, a person may be using work modalities or talent shortages to take advan tage of the employer by not work ing to full potential. “Cyber-loaf ing” is also a term we’ve seen used to describe people who are doing other things while working online. While these concepts may not be new, they seem to really resonate with people today.

One of the reasons for the acceptance of these concepts can be traced to the common experi-

ence of the pandemic. When an entire population experiences a significant phenomenon, we call this a “cohort effect,” a unique and unprecedented period of time when an entire population experiences life-changing events simultaneously. If we go back in time, we see the cohort effect make an impact on society and work during the world wars and the Great Depression. These are significant events that change people’s outlook and mindset. The coronavirus pandemic has been a cohort effect as it affected the entire population on the planet in some way. As a result, the concept of Quiet Quitting is resonating because it’s been a time of reflection as people reassess their priorities

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Evidence suggests that people who have become tired of the busy corporate work life may be downsizing and simplifying their lives

and consider the fragile nature of humanity. We have also seen a new emphasis on well-being, which is aligned with the idea of people taking better care of them selves.

Some researchers have high lighted generational differ ences in the workplace. While we may see Gen Z leading the social media-infused quiet-quit ting conversation, the concept is resonating with older generations as well. Evidence suggests that people who have become tired of the busy corporate work life may be downsizing and simplifying their lives.

It is noteworthy, however, that the “Revenge Recalibrating” concept of Quiet Quitting and the “don’t try” mindset, is receiving some backlash from older work ers who have previously poured their time and energy into their jobs. There is still a sense that young workers should be focused on getting the right start in their careers by working hard.

Attractive in the short term, but risky in the long term One of the potential hazards of social media trends is the lure of an idea without understanding the consequences. Before jumping on board with Quiet Quit ting, employees need to consider the long-term impact of their actions. Most people take pride in what they do and naturally have dreams and aspirations they wish to accomplish. People may think: “Wouldn’t it be great to be the boss someday” or “I’d like to earn a certain salary so I can afford to do something special.” Pulling back or “Career Coasting” early in life could bring conse quences that affect the longterm career path, earnings, and expectations. It’s important to think about future satisfaction as well as the situation today.

Quiet quitting could also stir up internal tension for some people, particularly high achiev ers. As much as one may want to scale back on work, it is easy to

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feel still that pressure to create a good work product and maintain stature, not to mention avoid ing the potential for letting down colleagues. The internal narra tive might be: “I promised myself I wouldn’t do this, but here I am working at 10 p.m. to finish this presentation because it’s not where it needs to be, and this is a reflection of my work.”

Does this hype on the Quiet Quitting amount to a trendy topic or a fun framing of an existing situation? On consideration, I would suggest it is a bit of both. While there are many considerations for workers who are re-evaluating their careers and priorities, there are signifi cant implications for employ ers working to improve engage ment, motivation, and retention of their workforces.

It seems that many employ ers have more work to do as they consider the impact of the pandemic on workplace well-being. Some workplaces are allowing more remote work, more flexibility, and new models of working. However, many organisations have not addressed the well-being needs that people used to find in the work place, which may not be avail able. Much of this has to do with social interaction, psychological safety, and the social cohesion of the office that creates a sense of belonging. So how do employers foster that in our new reality?

Employers that are working to create deliberate and informal interactions are on the right track. It is important to create and foster a workplace culture

that keeps people engaged and motivated toward goals. It is a good opportunity to “Re-recruit” employees and discusses what creates a mutually beneficial arrangement to create a positive outlook toward work.

This happens not through elab orate company-wide events but through more casual interactions with people at an individual level. Leaders need to find ways to create more purposeful opportun ities for people to get together to collaborate, innovate, or social ise. After all, change happens one person at a time.

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Prof E ssor r ic H ar D sM it H is Vice Dean, Corporate and Global Partnerships at the Johns Hopkins University Carey Business school. about the author e mployee e N gageme N
There are significant implications for employers working to improve engagement, motivation, and retention of their workforces
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People and organisations never stop learning. In times of stability, it is an option for growth: picking up new skills and insights that can boost innovation and refresh the business strategy. In times of uncer tainty, it is a hedge against the future: laying in a store of additional capabil ities in preparation for possible upheavals and contingencies. And in times of actual disruption, it becomes an urgent prerogative – they have to adapt by learning new skills, new strat egies, entire new approaches to how they work and operate.

While learning in itself is a constant, some aspects do change over time: primarily, what people learn, and how they learn it. The skills that gain prom inence vary from decade to decade and industry to industry – the most sought-after skills today, for example, are digital skills, but within that broad category are dozens of different specialisations ranging from various types of programming, to data science, to . And then there are evergreen skills such as 'soft' or 'power skills', support skills such as finance and management, or even basic interpersonal skills.

Likewise, methods of learning gain or lose favour as organisations evolve their understanding of what they need and what works for them. For instance, the trend has swung away from class

room learning, once considered effi cient, and towards learning in the flow of work; lengthy catch-all courses with educational institutions have been replaced by specialised certifica tions offered not just by schools, but by corporate or industry bodies. And even formal mentoring and coaching have expanded to be not just a perk for leaders, but a useful tool for employees throughout the organisation.

Besides all these, organisations need to pay especial attention to the oppor tunities and challenges involved in learning and skilling. Workforce learn ing is more than a box to tick off – it is critical to the execution of business strategy, now and in the future, and far-sighted organisations recognise this. But at the same time, learning and skilling is often one of the first things to be deprioritised when the economic situation starts to become difficult, and even during good times, there can be a gap between the organi sational learning strategy and the actual implementation on the ground.

This month, we catch up with how learning and skilling trends have evolved over the course of the last year and what the learning landscape looks like. We touch on various approaches to learning that have taken off recently, and look at the opportunities and chal lenges inherent in organisational learning strategies.

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Other work trends may come and go, but learning and skills are forever
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Leading the future of work requires new skiLLs

The future of work is not quite as we had visualised – between new technology and new employee expectations, changing environments and evolving workplace cultures, it is imperative for leaders to develop new skills and mindsets to keep up by Dr M Muneer

Much has been writ ten and discussed about the future of work, by all types of experts, in the last two years, ever since the pandemic caused major shifts in workplaces and boardrooms. But very little has been said about the new skills needed for leading the future of work beyond managing the immediate turbulence.

Almost a decade ago, my esteemed colleague Rita McGrath, currently the No.1 global thought leader on innovation, had written about competing in a world where competitive advan tages are transient of CompetitiveAdvantage) The rapid advancement in technology, COVID-19, the Ukraine war, trade barriers, and politics are all accelerat ing the pace of change. And to top it all off, the way we

used to work has undergone massive transformation. Do we want to go back to the old working style with its highly stressful work environment, time-consuming travel, imbalance between life at and away from work, and so on, or do we want to live in 15-minute cities where we can transit between both

With the WFA (Work From Anywhere) and hybrid formats that are in vogue now, leaders are finding it tough to juggle work commitments, perform ance reviews, and empathy, among other things. CHROs are finding it easier to adapt a blanket three-daysat-office on alternate days, citing team meetings and collaboration, but in real ity there seems to be a trust deficit and skill deficit – a lack of trust in employees to deliver work if allowed consecutive days of work from anywhere; and a lack of competence or inclination to identify and imple ment the right metrics to assess employee deliver

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is horrible to see is that even marquee companies such as Infosys have fallen into this trap.

Leading the future of work will require adapting a new system of KPIs that will help measure the deliv erables and performance of individual employees. This means leaders should be able to define clearly the productivity goals for each role and then let employ ees work at their pace, from anywhere. Team sessions, when needed, could be done in person at corporate offices or work hubs scat tered around suburbs, or at venues decided by the teams themselves.

Creative thinking, idea tion and problem solving may require teams to come together, which in turn calls for people to start trusting their own team members and assessing them based on their deliverables. We must shed the attitude of “unless proven other wise, all employees are not trustworthy to deliver their work.”

(This is exactly how governments think – if you doubt that, check any of the application processes at government offices or PSUs.)

The first skill the leaders of the future of work must have is the ability to instil trust among employees, and to walk the talk by showing explicitly that unless proven

otherwise, the company trusts all employees to do the right thing in the workplace. This could also help resolve the current contro versy around moonlighting. If there is no conflict of interest and if the employ ees deliver on their KPIs, why should employers worry about what they do in their spare time?

Embrace and adapt the model of working from anywhere, and do it fully with employee well-being at the centre of all plan ning. This means the deci sion to work from office or anywhere must be left to individual teams and groups instead of making it

mandatory for certain days. Employees are much more responsible when not micromanaged.

The future of work is fluid

The kind of work, who will do what and from where, and how, will all change. Communication, technology, workspace and many other considerations will come up in the future of work. As a stakeholder in India’s first metaverse company, I see avatars taking over in an augmented/virtual reality work world with an almost real touch and feel experience of working together in meeting rooms. The same rooms could be replicated

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Walk the talk by showing explicitly that unless proven otherwise, the company trusts all employees to do the right thing in the workplace

and with sophisticated holo gram-based headsets, one can see oneself and others in almost physical form in the metaverse workplace. The experience is truly magical, and very different from the flat medium of Zoom.

Employees need flexible work hours, and the major ity will choose to have the freedom to decide what they want. Leaders should respect this and allow what is optimal for both the company and the employee. It is critical to listen to what employees really want and plan this into the schema of things if you want to lead in the future of work.

Leaders need to have a growth mindset now more than ever. This is no more a popular slogan by consultants or employers. To develop talent internally and to channelise intelli

gence and experience for driving growth avenues, leaders must embrace this. In a business environment that is constantly changing and opportunities are tran sient, only a growth mindset can bring forth innova tion and experimentation. Discovery-driven planning is key to grabbing shortlived opportunities. Learn to push the strengths of your people and encour age or mentor them to acquire new skills. As Info sys co-founder Kris Gopal says, while recruiting for a position, don’t just select on the basis of skills needed for the position but also for the ability to acquire new skills. New demands from the marketplace will require such talent management by leaders.

That leads to the next skill leaders must have for the future of work – driv

ing an ecosystem for build ing new skills all around. The nature of work and its delivery, including the use of technologys requires special skills not readily available. Upskilling is the most important aspect of career progress in the years to come. For many roles re-skilling is also critical especially when AI is intro duced as an alternative means of getting the job done. Agility cannot happen without new skills when technology disrupts busi ness models and processes. Motivating employees to upskill in large firms is an important task and if done right, it can reduce attrition rates. Great leaders know the value of their people and will do everything to keep them ready for the future of work. Contrast this to how many IT companies complain of the reluctance of middle level employees to re-skill, and claim they eventually have no choice but to ease these employees out.

Another thing the pandemic has highlighted to many of us is the dearth of

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Great leaders know the value of their people and will do everything to keep them ready for the future of work

empathy in toxic workplaces. Leaders need to bring empathy into workplaces of the future, even if it is in metaverse or hybrid mode. The Gen-Z workers who will be joining the future of work and workplaces are very demanding in terms of work/life balance, and if leaders do not keep this aspect at the centre of work design, a lot of talent will be elusive. Frequent disrup tions, work overload, new skill needs, pressures of other kinds, demanding bosses, stress from non-work and financial… the issues employees face will never cease and leaders should show more patience and empathy to align them to the new culture. Several studies in the post-pandemic work places indicate that as many as 60% of employees want to support more social causes now, and we have seen

enough evidence of middle class people extending their support to migrants and other vulnerable popula tions who are not adequately cared for by by the govern ment. These new attitudes and behaviours should be the driving factor for values within.

The ability to change and manage a new culture that is in tune with the needs of the new workforce and future of work will be most handy. A culture that brings transparency, encourages employees to speak their minds, forces leadership to accept discon firmation data, and over all moves from a top-down to a more inclusive manage ment will augur well for the future of work. The concept of empowered employees at all levels can no more be a hollow campaign. To iden tify and execute the new cultural elements, involve

all senior management and introduce metrics to drive the execution at all levels with the CHRO in charge.

In the new workplace where all employees will never be together at one office, the task of build ing a cohesive culture, open communication, and shared values gets complicated. It is therefore imperative for leaders to ensure they don’t make empty promises, and that a healthy community is built around various teams.

As Eisenhower had famously said, “It is a terrible thing to look over your shoulder when you are trying to lead – and find no one there.”

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Mun EE r is the co-founder and chief evangelist at the non-profit Medici Institute. Tweet him @MuneerMuh about the author
Employees need flexible work hours, and the majority will choose to have the freedom to decide what they want. Leaders should respect this and allow what is optimal for both the company and the employee

the game changer for organisations

Organisations gearing up for unpredictable times ahead must concentrate on their people: they need a diverse group of future-ready leaders and upskilled employees to realise their full potential, says piyush Mehta, CHRO of Genpact

With the nature of work rapidly chang ing due to the automation and artificial intel ligence (AI) revolution, jobs in industries, ranging from information technology to manufacturing, are being transformed – in more ways than one.

Today’s workforce expects employers to build mean ingful experiences that are highly personalised, respon sive to their needs, and constantly improved. To stay relevant in the rapidlyadvancing digital world and

build future-proof careers, organisations and employees have to become agile in the way they look at the skills of the future to make sure they align with their future needs and aspirations.

In an interaction with People Matters, Piyush Mehta, chief human resources officer (CHRO) at Genpact, talks about the need for improved employee expe rience, reskilling and learn ing, among other key issues.

What should HR leaders keep in mind while empow

People are—and will continue to be—organisa tions’ biggest asset. I truly believe businesses that devote similar effort, invest ment, and focus to the inter nal initiatives as they do to the external, to improve employee experience, will be the real heroes of tomorrow. Doing so can not only help employers increase reten tion, but can also enhance efficiency, and strengthen the bottom line. Here are some key trends that I feel HR leaders can benefit from, while preparing for the future of work.

Reskilling at a broad base: Developing a company strat egy that focuses on teach ing individuals through L&D to reskilling groups of people who work together to increase their collective intelligence can further help businesses adapt to an everchanging environment.

Tapping into talent analyt ics: Continuous talent analytics is becoming essen tial for organisational growth. Leveraging the data can help HR leaders not only see attrition risks ahead of time, but also help them hold prompt retention and succession planning discus sions.

Hiring multilingual talent: When domain, digital, and data come together, compa nies, industries, and individ

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ering digitally ready organisations as we embrace the future of work?

uals transform. Which is why, having multilingual employees – those with deep knowl edge of their industry or function, awareness of how to harness the potential of digital technologies at scale and understand how to inter pret and leverage data – has become important today.

Leadership skills 2.0: To evolve in an unpredictable future, organisations will need to focus on developing leadership that is future ready and diverse. Taking bets on likely high perform ers and evaluating them on potential versus experience, and prioritising key behav ioural skills such as learn ing agility, curiosity and risk-taking abilities, will be a game changer and will ensure a strong future ready pipeline to shape the organi sation’s future.

Gen-Z and millennials make up the future workforce. What are some of the organisational strategies to attract and retain these employees?

The future workforce –the younger generation – is

growing up in a world that is more diverse and inclu sive. So naturally, diver sity, equity, and inclusion within a company and its leadership are a top prior ity for them. It is not a "nice to have" for this generation, but a “must have”, that is core to their personal iden tities.

At Genpact, we recog nise the strong connection between diversity, inclusion, and innovation and firmly believe in the notion that divergent backgrounds and diverse perspectives lead to breakthroughs. We have a broad range of programmes and initiatives to allow our diverse set of employees a fair playing field where they can be their authentic self every day.

We’ve also observed that

the global pandemic has greatly influenced today’s youth to focus on aligning their core values to those of the companies they work for – a shared purpose that extends beyond profit and keeps the company and its employees moving towards a collective goal.

We recently articulated our purpose: the relent less pursuit of a world that works better for people. It serves as our north star and reflects our culture across the business and to our clients, partners, and communities.

How can learning management systems for employees' upskilling keep pace with changing market trends and emerging technologies post-pandemic?

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Taking bets on likely high performers and evaluating them on potential versus experience, and prioritising key behavioural skills such as learning agility, curiosity and risk-taking abilities, will be a game changer

As the pace of change accelerates and employees expect their businesses to invest in their professional development, there has been a strong push for busi nesses to focus on adopting effective learning manage ment practices. One of the specific trends that firms are seeing is in critical skills in areas like cloud, analyt ics, and supply chain, all of which have been accelerated due to the pandemic. With this, reskilling and upskill ing has become important.

and larger responsibilities.

During the last quarter, our employees completed more than 2.5 million train ing hours, leveraging our online on-demand learning platform, Genome. We’ve also been able to success fully redeploy around 6,000 reskilled individuals using our internal redeployment platform, Talent Match, to support our clients' shifting needs. Using our proprietary and unique data and analytics certification programme – DataBridge, we have

between employees and their company. Behaviours that emerge in this scenario will include humility and inclusiveness, speed to outcome, and ability to deal with ambi guity.

Also, at the core of employee experience is a deep focus on transforma tion to adapt to the new ways of working, which is largely dependent on evolv ing culture, processes, and creating a frictionless tech nology environment necessary to empower efficient and successful employees.

It is true that today’s work force expects meaningful employee experiences that are highly personalised, responsive to their needs, and constantly improved.

Furthermore, the war for talent has reached unprec edented levels, so it is no longer only about hiring talent, but also about retain ing talent and developing talent for the long term. Again, this is where learn ing comes into play to not only ensure businesses have the skills they need in a changing world, but also to help employees reach their full potential.

Therefore, we have invested in fostering a culture of continuous learn ing to enable people who invest in themselves to get access to new opportunities

trained more than 58,000 employees globally.

The pandemic has accelerated digital transformation, yet many organisations have not reaped the rewards in terms of employee experience. How can HR leaders improve the human-centric approach to work?

I believe the new world of work has placed empha sis on two significant devel opments: the correlation between the employee expe rience and business results, and establishment of a mutual relationship of trust

However, merely adopting the best and most updated technology does not neces sarily equate to providing the best experience to your workforce. A deliberate and strategic vision aligned with the changing needs of the employees is the more impor tant deciding factor now, according to me, and can help HR leaders improve humancentric approach to work.

What has been Genpact’s strategy for identifying, developing, and linking future-ready talent to value, focusing on employee wellbeing in a remote working world, and rallying teams around a shared purpose?

The global pandemic and

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This is where learning comes into play to not only ensure businesses have the skills they need in a changing world, but also to help employees reach their full potential
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consequent remote working have greatly influenced busi nesses and people to focus on their wellbeing, beyond just standard health and safety concerns. And accord ing to our Tech for Progress 360: Engage employees, strengthen company culture study, 30% of the surveyed executives believe advanced analytics technology has the most potential for managing employee well-being.

One of the key technol ogy interventions that has turned out to be a wonderful tool for us, especially in this remote work model, is our AI-powered chatbot, Amber, which enables us to keep a pulse on employee senti ment and morale in realtime.

Unlike other employee engagement surveys, Amber serves as a continu ous listening post and can reach out to all employees at multiple milestones in their journey with Genpact and understand their experience.

The chat with the employ ees is designed to be quick and easy, it is hyper-person alised, empathetic, and intu

itive. On basis of its analysis, it shares actionable intelligence and live people analytics which enables HR leaders to proactively address and resolve any employee concerns.

In addition to this, we also offer our people 24x7 access to helplines with trained psychologists, free access to the meditation and wellness app Head space, access to critical medical services, day-care, and many more helpful resources and tools to help maintain their overall wellbeing.

Another key aspect that gained importance with remote working was the need for companies to define their purposes –beyond profits – and roles in society and the world. It has also been proven that purpose-led companies have 40% higher retention rates than competitors that aren’t purpose-oriented.

At Genpact, we are rally ing teams around a shared purpose of a relentless pursuit of a world that works better for people

– which guides us and communicates our values across the business and to our employees, clients, part ners, and communities.

To identify, develop and link future-ready talent, we have designed a Leadership Direct programme (LDP) to “rewire” our leadership talent pool by infusing 100 high potential “future ready” leaders into the top 1,000 of the company. We have hired graduates from top busi ness schools (B-schools) offcampus in key roles as part of this programme.

Apart from this, we’ve also designed a Learn/Lead/ Illuminate (LLI) programme to accelerate leadership transformation and help our service delivery lead ers become future-ready to take on Global Operating Leader roles. Collaborating with best-in-class experts, this immersive programme focuses on the core tenets of leadership, helping to propel individual growth, elevate the leadership capabilities of our service delivery lead ers, and diversify the top talent in our global roles.

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why L&d programmes are vitaL to business

Capacity building is no longer a matter of going out and hiring – it requires strategic thinking and the careful design of learning and development programmes that are aligned with business needs by Jai Maroo

Titans of industry such as Jack Welch and Sam Walton have emphasised the need to read and heed the harbingers of disruption and proactive ly embrace change before it is forced on us. Decades later, this advice continues to hold true more than ever. We live in a world where the frontiers of knowledge are continuously being pushed. New super-specialisations are developed every day. Consequently, the universe of opportunities waiting to be unlocked through multi disciplinary thinking also continues to expand.

In such a universe, or ganisations must rethink how they approach capacity building. It is no longer viable to bank on hiring as a sure-shot method of ac quiring specific niche talent when needed. The talent market is highly fragmented, with some of the most scarce skills being in cru cial demand. Organisations must identify broad buckets

of vital skillsets and build talent reserves that can be deployed when key opportunities present themselves.

Today, especially given the pace at which innovation and disruption create poten tial avenues for new business, organisations must be prepared for the possibility that the skills to pursue key blue-sky opportunities may not exist. Partial or adjacent skill sets can be leveraged by developing the addi tional capacities required, enabling organisations to quickly ramp up teams and capitalise on such opportunities.

Learning and develop ment take centre stage in such a situation. An or ganisation’s learning and development function must be closely aligned with businesses and be keyed into the potential directions in which each business may develop. As innovations

create the need for multi disciplinary skillsets, devel oping talent that can straddle disciplines becomes a key enabler. Maintaining such a focus across the organi sation enables the learning and development function to capture the broad buckets of intermediate-level skillsets for which they need to develop talent pools through appropriate programmes.

When the organisation anticipates an opportunity for a new multidisciplin ary project, then they have already partially developed the required capacity. They can then run the appropriate programmes to equip them with the next level of skills required for the opportunity. This facilitates the speedy de ployment of resources to new multidisciplinary projects, creating an agile organisa tion that is future-ready and capable of speedily capital ising on opportunities in a VUCA world.

Digital skills are an ex ample of a broad skillset required to function in an organisation where remote working is commonplace. The digitalisation of our world has been inevitable for some time now, a journey that has only been accelerat ed by the impact of COVID-19. This will further accelerate the advent of the gig economy, which will significantly alter the composition of the work force. Learning and develop ment programmes will play

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a key role in equipping the existing workforce with the skills required to adapt to the paradigm shift in how work is done and how people collaborate.

Learning and development is also a critical piece in the change management jour ney of any organisational transformation. Transform ations typically involve an infusion of new talent intended to supercharge the organisation’s growth journey, whether through the mergers and acquisition route or simply through the setting up of new functions. Their success depends on their ability to work with existing talent towards the achievement of larger or ganisational goals. For this, existing talent must buy into the transformation and feel that it offers them per sonal growth and that they continue to be valued by the organisation. Upskilling pro grammes help them adapt to the new paradigm and send a clear message that the or ganisation remains invested in its success.

The current state of the talent marketplace firmly places the advantage in the hands of candidates rather than employers. Organi sations must clearly dis tinguish themselves from competitors for talent in terms of the employee value proposition that they offer. A culture of learning can be a powerful differentiator.

The onus falls squarely on the learning and develop ment function to support the leadership in establishing this culture. The goal should be to build an organisation that the talent market perceives as a career accelerator, focused on providing de velopment and opportunities that keep employees ahead of the curve. The additional benefit to the organisation is that a culture of continu ous learning also spawns a culture of curiosity, which acts as an internal driver for growth.

Organisations must be prepared for the possibility that the skills to pursue key bluesky opportunities may not exist

Curious, driven employees with a desire to keep grow ing eventually develop into leaders who then strengthen the culture of learning, fur thering this virtuous cycle and creating more leaders. The result is an organisa tion with a growth mindset, where people’s careers are accelerated, and leaders are built.

Given how essential learning and development programmes are to organisa tional success, organisations

must invest in driving the appropriate programmes. However, one of the reasons that organisations hesitate to do so is the inability to establish clear linkages between these programs and their eventual outcomes. Like many other functions, which evolved from support functions to strategic busi ness partners, such as IT, Finance, and HR, the learn ing and development func tion must make the same shift and become business outcome-oriented. Estab lishing more evident link ages between learning and development programmes undertaken and business outcomes allows for organi sations to justify a greater investment and sustained focus on the same.

Learning and development programs are a vital building block of organisa tional success. The oppor tunity to build a sustainable competitive advantage based on learning exists. The onus is on the learning and development function to own the transition towards strategic business partner ship, to build an agile and future-ready organisation, and to establish a culture of learning and curiosity that can act as an accelerator towards the organisation’s efforts to develop capable leaders.

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Jai Maroo is the Executive Director at shemaroo Entertainment about the author

on buiLding impactfuL, futuristic workforce skiLLing strategies

Organisations need to understand the latest trends impacting the job market, says a r ramesh, director for managed services & professional, Adecco India –they need that knowledge to train the workforce in the multitude of skills required today by Mamta sharma

When we talk about a skilled work force today, we no longer think in terms of a single skill; rather, business requirements today have morphed into a complex skillset with at least two main skills and one or more secondary or auxiliary skills. Some jobs may even expect employees to have hands-on knowledge or experience with more than five skills!

And this is just hard skills: on top of these require

ments, soft skills are also becoming increasingly important and even mandatory.

Given the needs of the day, it is critical that organisa tions have some structured way to train their workforce in a multitude of skills and ensure that people get hands on experience working on different types of projects.

A R Ramesh, director or managed services & profes sional, Adecco India says that the first step should be for employees and job seek

ers to learn the technology and get certified. Then, they need to get hands on experi ence by picking the right projects – those which give them the opportunity to exercise those skills.

“If the candidate does not have certifications, then they do not even get through the screening stage. In the initial selection process, the ability to prove past experi ence or knowledge is essential. It is not difficult to get certifications. From a career training or academy perspective, there are many institutions and compan ies that offer training programmes. There are also many centres which specialise in training fresh gradu ates and making them ready

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across a multitude of skills. These institutions work with other workforce solu tion companies to place the trained graduates with their customers,” he adds.

In an interaction with People Matters, Ramesh shares insights on how organisations can build impactful, futuristic skill ing strategies, and the importance of technology and measurement tools in creating impactful skilling programmes.

Critical power skills that must top an organisation's skilling agenda

Firstly, it is important for organisations to understand the latest trends impacting the job market.

Over the last few years, the world has moved away from the traditional way of executing projects – the waterfall/V-process models

– to a more agile led DevOps methodology. With this, the expectation is to have a team of seven to nine members who will be able to provide a workable product that is deployable every 8–12 weeks. This means that proficiency across technologies is a must.

This is even more relevant in an environment where the prevailing demand is for plug and play using contain ers and micro services. Such demand means there are quite a few standard offerings, but the need for customisation and integra tion requires technological know-how across a multi tude of skills. So organisa tions need to start thinking of skill families rather than independent skills – for example, Oracle SOA with web logic along with data base skills, Unix and shell scripting.

Other such families include Oracle Agile PLM with UX design using Figma, analytical thinking and tool knowhow, SharePoint or other collaboration tech niques with a manufacturing background, Site core Developer with Dotnet development background, or NodeJs with JavaScript and RestJs.

To put together this kind of broad-based knowledge, organisations need to build a skill family suite, and angle their talent train ing efforts across the skills required for each family.

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Organisations need to start thinking of skill families rather than independent skills

Today, classroom training is passe. Training increas ingly involves self-learning, online, and self-paced with certifications to assess the level of competence. To create and deliver these types of training, and to assess the outcomes accur ately, technology and tools play a very important role.

AI also allows learning to be customised to an indi vidual’s learning style and capacity, making it more effective and targeted to individuals.

The metaverse can play a huge role in making train

ing feel closer to the class room experience, with simulations to make the environment more realistic. Also, it can feel instruct or-led, especially if a digital twin is used for the tutor and the trainee, making it more interactive and engaging.

Benefits of metaverse upskilling

The metaverse is expected to be the future and with technological advances, it can practically be used across all scenarios. Given this I see an immense benefit in getting people upskilled on the metaverse.

It is not just about using the metaverse. The future

also centres on creating citizen developers with the help of low code/no code platforms. Organisations must keep an eye on all these latest developments and ensure their strategy can maximise the benefits for themselves and their customers or employees.

Challenges to implementing a skilling strategy

Organisations place considerable importance on skills that remain relevant beyond the first bandwagon – else the efforts and money invested into skilling talent go down the drain. Hence, they need to predict the demand patterns and keep abreast of business needs based on strong forecasting techniques.

Also, the changes in tech nology are so rapid that new technologies and tools emerge every quarter, and so being agile is key. To address this, moving to skill families is a must.

Another challenge is that employers are very focused on experience, and tend to be apprehen sive about taking in people who are just trained. This is why certifications, shad owing other projects, doing model projects or contributing through crowd sourcing and other broadbased approaches may be a good idea to build one's port folio and demonstrate that experience.

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Role of technology and measurement tools in creating impactful skilling programmes
Organisations need to predict demand patterns and keep abreast of business needs based on strong forecasting techniques
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a ceo’s uLtimate L&d guide for disruptive times

sameer nigam, the CEO of intelligent learning management firm Stratbeans, shares his suggestions on closing the skills gap as leaders and organisations grapple with L&D challenges posed by new-age learners by ramya Palisetty

ogies and the many ways of creating new business oppor tunities through them, has over three decades of experience working in the learning and development space. At Stratbeans, he has been eager to build digital learning products and solutions to improve employee perform ance and engagement. With a distributed workforce across several industries today, he has also introduced multilin gual learning management systems and is working to wards many more innovative solutions. Excerpts from the interview:

In the last few years, the great reshuffle, war for talent, adoption of hybrid workspaces, upcoming recession and emergence of newer technologies such as AI and automation have been major drivers affecting the workplace and the work force. As a result of these changes, skills requirements for jobs have been evolving rapidly. As leaders and or ganisations understand its implications on hiring, re cruitment, retention and en gagement, there is a need to look at learning and career development so as to upskill and reskill employees to be future-ready. But how does

one fulfil the skills gap to empower organisations?

In an exclusive interview with Sameer Nigam, CEO, Stratbeans, ahead of the People Matters L&D India Conference 2022, we speak to the disruptive leader on the challenges in L&D and its snowball effect on HR function, what is it that newage learners are looking for and how can organisations design learning solutions based on these needs, the role of learning solutions and what can we, as a com munity do to close the skills gap in the future.

Nigam, who is a keen fol lower of disruptive technol

What are the big disrup tions in skills demand that leaders and organisations are grappling with today? How does it impact today’s corporate L&D space?

In today’s rapidly evolv ing business landscape, the requirements of skills are quite fragile as you can’t bet on one set of skills, es pecially in technical fields. The greatest outcome of the technology revolution is that there is a large bouquet one can pick from and hence, it is difficult for leaders to choose and decide what is it that they should focus their atten tion on and what are the fads that can be ignored.

Being a leader in the space of learning solutions, how

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is Stratbeans supporting organisations to re-imagine their programmes and delivery modes to meet the needs of the new-age learn ers?

At Stratbeans, we offer flexible solutions to organisations that focus on a particular challenge rather than a particular technology. In that sense, our role is to work as an integrator of ex isting and emerging technol ogies so that our customers can attend to challenges of reskilling, hybrid work and performance support.

Due to our vast exposure to all industries, we are required to offer indus try-specific responses to programme delivery as well as delivery modes.

We are seeing that newage learners are found across all age groups today. Gone are the days when we could pinpoint millennials by age, now it is a way of

life. We come across online, mobile-first and tech-savvy learners in all age groups. And hence, our responsibility lies in digging deeper to uncover specific learning tastes and offer technologies which sit on top of LMS and LXPs, so as to serve content excellence, on-the-move de livery and personalisation.

According to you, what are those key challenges that L&D leaders must address to close the skills gap? What is the role played by learning solutions?

The challenge of the learning gap comes up later in the game. First, leaders must try to overcome these five challenges as they begin to design learning solutions for their organisations:

1. Identifying the specific competencies in levels and numbers, which is projected for short and medium terms.

2. Taking inventory of the existing level of skills and knowledge within the organisation.

3. Identifying the cost and feasibility of skills sourc ing, reskilling and the point of trade among them.

4. Bringing scalability and automation in person alised skilling of each employee on the basis of their competency gap vs the demand placed by the specific project/process they are a part of.

5. And lastly, tracking the competency change in real-time.

I believe that the role played by learning solution providers is to help at least in one area listed above. There are very few providers who can handle all parts of this value chain. But since all of them are connected, at Strat beans, we are orchestrating all these points as one unified problem.

What are some vital steps that leaders need to consider when designing their L&D strategies today? How do we drive and accelerate futureready upskilling?

In my opinion, the vital steps in designing any strat egy begins with formulating the purpose correctly and then breaking it down into an action plan. In the case of L&D, the purpose has to flow from the business strategy of the organisation, which

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is ‘to create shareholder and stakeholder value, and stay competitive in the industry.’

Future-ready upskilling will happen with the active participation of learners, who are acquiring the skills as well as supporting their peers. Many organisations, in recent times, have taken sufficient steps in shifting the ownership as they in vite active participation of learners in this journey. The role of leaders is shifting to that of facilitators in this reskilling process. Leaders must provide simple tools as well as encouragement, so that people can share their knowledge with sufficient depth and variety. Addi tionally, the availability of active learning experience platforms is a key to the success of such programs driven by leaders.

Our company, Stratbeans offers many innovative solutions to the industry, both free of cost and paid.

We found that peer learning and performance support reduces the barrier in the re skilling/upskilling journey. Our competency inventory solution from our R&D cen tre in Bengaluru, which sits on top of any LMS system, has the ability to accurately drive the learning experi ence and offer precise cus tomised experience for each learner for reskilling.

Finally, what are some major learnings you would want to share with leaders and the community as they design their skilling strategies for a disruptive business landscape?

According to my journey and understanding of the evolving L&D space, these are the learnings leaders must incorporate to empow er organisations:

• Create knowledge influencers within the organisa tion.

• Provide the right tools

and encouragement to such influencers, to manage and contribute to peer learning.

• Modernise LMS and LXP stack with 'point solutions' to enhance performance support, connect between SMEs and get answers from existing knowledge base through AI-based deep search, so you are able to convert SOPs into videos and simulations.

• Facilitate internal experts to become vocal thought leaders sharing their knowledge, and offer them the resources and support through policies and appreciation.

• Invest in active skilling systems such as videobased coaching and roleplay simulators. These are especially important for employees who come in direct contact with customers (such as the sales and support teams)

StratbeansisapartnerforPeople MattersL&DIndiaConference2022, heldonOctober12atGrandHyatt, Mumbai.

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Leaders must provide simple tools as well as encouragement, so that people can share their knowledge with sufficient depth and variety

psychoLogicaLLy safe: cuLture design for Learning –and faiLing

People say they want compensation and benefits. But it's culture design that truly matters, according to HR leader, author, culture and innovation evangelist and learner at heart Daniel strode by ramya Palisetty

build a culture of learning in today’s disruptive times?

Culture and innova tion evangelist Daniel Strode has pioneered the eight essential traits of successful companies which every organisation can embed deep into their company culture in these disruptive times. The author of the recently released book, The Culture Advantage: Empowering Your People To Drive Innovation, says that rather than compensation and benefits, leaders should focus on culture design of a company, which is far more important today.

The emergence of newer technology might have left many leaders in a difficult position, where they are trying to keep pace with the constantly evolving world of work. But for Strode, even though technology has been the reason behind a lot of skills change, when it comes to learning, he feels it is actually an aid. In an exclu sive interview with People Matters, he shares the need for a growth mindset to bring about change, why a leader needs to be a listener first and doer later, the uncon ventional paths to harness ing the power of technology to design better L&D strat egies, and why each one of us should turn the conversa tion away from ‘should we do something’ to ‘let us try it and see what happens’.

In your book, The Culture Advantage, you have decoded the innovation puzzle as a way to futureproof business. How can organisations and leaders

For me, it starts with first embedding a ‘growth mind set’ within the company. This mindset was first articu lated by Dr Carol Dweck in her research, where a person or even a company acknow ledges their weaknesses and looks for opportunities to improve. This mindset depicts that people want to learn, explore and try new things – even if they may fail in the end. And it’s a mind set that encourages people to persist in their endeavours, not quit when faced with a challenge and work with others to help them succeed.

So, the question arises, how do you build a growth mindset where people want to learn? For organisa tions to do so, they have to make themselves ‘psycho logically safe’, where lead ers create an environment where it is safe to fail, safe to learn, and safe to try new things. One achieves that by taking consistent action each day; removing ambigu ity, mismatches and threats (setting the direction), cele brating courageous conversations (praising people for being brave), being empa thetic and curious (under standing that people have different views and respecting it), never rush ing to give advice (letting your people come up with the ideas) and clarifying roles and responsibilities (making

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your expectations with people clear from the get-go).

In today’s era, where employees are grappling with questions like: Do I like who I am working with?, Am I growing?, Is what I am doing of value? And do I make an impact?, how can leaders build an ideal work place that caters to the needs of each individual?

How leaders treat their people impacts everything, for better or for worse. And hence, leaders have to under stand that everyone expects to be treated as an indi vidual, which means truly listening to everyone’s voice and then taking the neces sary actions. The role of a leader is often misunderstood within companies. The first step to take in order to build a culture where each person is treated as an indi vidual, is to realise that a leader’s job is to serve the people and that the technical

aspects of the job role come secondary to the primary focus, the people. Once you understand that their contribution is bigger, you can be free to help people create impact aligned with their values, and ultimately every one goes home happy.

contributed to a seismic shift in the way we work, but now – with all coming at the same time – we have to learn and adapt faster.

I would say that things are changing, and changing faster than ever before. We are living in a world of expo nential change – there are technologies such as 5G, arti ficial intelligence, the inter net of things, metaverse and Web 3.0 all happening at the same time as one another. Earlier, just one of these technologies would have

This means skills are having a shorter than ever shelf-life i.e. becoming less useful, faster than before. And as a result, we need to learn more and learn in the flow of work. One of the most interesting evolutions I have come across in the learning space is to do with technology. The very thing which is driv ing a lot of skills change is actually an aid when it comes to learning.

Firstly, I see the general trend towards learning in the flow of work – learning as you do/ learning as you go along; just in time. And, secondly, using technology to help you learn faster. For example, as a learner, you may learn better through podcasts, or videos, or even reading and now, more and

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In recent times, what are the radical shifts you have come across in learning and development? What are some vital steps that lead ers need to consider when designing their L&D strate gies?
Just one of today's emergent technologies would have contributed to a seismic shift in the way we work, but now all are coming at the same time and we have to learn and adapt faster

more platforms are offering CHOICE to learners, which is important.

Equally, there are compan ies using virtual reality as a way to train their people in real-world situations, in a shorter span of time than a traditional class-based training, at a much lower cost and with better results. For instance, the giant US employer, Walmart is a case study in the use of VR to train. They have 2.3 million employees and in their Walmart Academies, the employees use VR headsets to immerse themselves in real situations, in a virtual environment. They use headsets to learn about what to do when shoppers rush into shops during a sale and fight over products, how to respond to angry customers, and key management skills.

The results showed that not only is the train ing faster – what may have

earlier taken 45 minutes to complete is now being concluded in just five minutes within the virtual environment – they also found that test scores have increased by 5-10% compared to traditional classroom-based methods of learning, which is quite interesting.

Finally, what are some major learnings you would want to share with lead ers and the community on promoting a culture of innovation and learning by harnessing the power of technology?

The differences we can see between those who have embraced technology, and those who have shied away from it are stark reminders of the importance of spend ing time getting to grips with technological trends, and doing plenty of research, so that when the time is right,

you can take full advantage.

Culturally, we have to fight against the short-term view: the risk to jobs (we all thought the internet would destroy jobs, but in fact, jobs increased so did GDP), the potential redundancy of our existing investments (Kodak invented the digital camera but didn’t want to use it), and the egos we have, which tell us that we know better than a computer program. Our innovation efforts are much more successful, when we choose to deliberately part ner with technology. For example, if you are a taxi driver and you use Google Maps to help you navigate traffic, your customers will have a better service and be much happier.

In the end, digital trans formation and innov ation through technol ogy is inherently a culture change programme, one which arises through a need to adapt the mindset of a company; to help compan ies recognise that technol ogy is business, and business is technology. Technology is not just an add-on bolted to existing structures, it needs to be ingrained deep within the culture to work well.

One has to consistently try to turn the conversa tion away from 'should we do something' to 'let us try it, and see what happens.'

atIndia’slargestlearninganddevelop mentconference,PeopleMattersL&D India Conference 2022 on October 12.

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reimagining skiLLing through the metaverse

A step up to more intensive and effective forms of learning through emergent technology – the metaverse may be a game-changer for skilling in many industries by neeti sharma

Over the years, technology-driven environ ments including social networks, video conferencing, 3D, AR/VR, and virtual games have enabled digital transform ation for educators, busi nesses, and Individuals. Now the latest term “Metaverse” has been coined to repre sent the further facilitation of digital transformation in every aspect of our lives.

Gartner defines a “Metaverse” as a collect ive virtual shared space created by converging virtu ally enhanced physical and digital reality. It is persis tent, providing enhanced immersive experiences, as well as device-independ ent, and accessible through

any type of device, from tablets to head-mounted displays. The metaverse comprises various building blocks such as augmented reality (AR), virtual real ity (VR), mixed reality (MR), artificial intelligence (AI), non-fungible tokens (NFT), blockchain services, 3D modelling, game design and development, and more, with multiple service layers under each of these blocks.

The metaverse offers endless possibilities to reimagine skilling in India. Poor infrastructure has always been a roadblock to the implementation of skilling programmes in the country. But a virtual space provides a solution with endless potential to scale.

For example, the adoption of technology and especially the combined power of AI, AR and VR has enabled many edtech companies to shift from traditional learning to leveraging tech nology, for either conven tional education, upskilling, reskilling or new skilling.

By eliminating the need for physical spaces, skilling programmes can be conducted from anywhere and for anyone. In theory, this means that the metaverse provides greater access to Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities. By eliminating the need for travel, prospective students can be skilled through AR and VR, thereby creating a larger pool of resources across the country.

India is expected to have 1 billion smartphone users by the end of 2026, and the metaverse skilling revolution will go hand in hand with this growth.

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Many industries are exploring substitut ing conventional in-person learning with digital, VR-based learning alterna tives. Instead of getting employees to travel to offices/ learning centres, metaverselike spaces can be used to skill virtually. Retail indus tries are mulling the possibility of using metaverse to upskill and reskill their distributed workforce, through real-time, virtual store walkthroughs that are also interactive.

Similarly, engineer ing companies can use the metaverse to skill employ ees in trades such as plumb ing, electrical, machine oper ations or other desirable fields, using AR to create virtual, life-like and simula tion-based learning experi

ences, even real-time case studies to test how employ ees might respond on the ground. And of course the metaverse can also be used in the healthcare industry, espe cially training in fields that support high-risk surgeries, nursing and many more types of hands-on work with high stakes.

The great resignation trend of 2021 has shown that people are now looking for flexible work and learning options. Traditional workspaces are slowly becoming obsolete as we enter into this unpreced ented era of the knowledge economy. However, the shift from a labour-intensive econ omy to a knowledge economy requires upskilling, unlike anything we have seen in the past. The metaverse offers a unique opportunity for gig

workers to transform them selves by picking and choos ing the particular skill set they are interested in. Moreover, the metaverse offers on-the-go skilling options that gig workers require. Studies have shown the current and next genera tion of workers are likely to prefer working from home and the metaverse is the perfect solution for L&D teams. Concepts such as virtual and augmented reality are known in the gaming industry. However, these concepts have also become common in the skilling space.

L&D teams are increas ingly using game-based learn ing to provide immersive and engaging experiences to learners and AR and VR have become the crux. Know ledge retention through practical learning becomes a real ity through the metaverse. For example, learners can now look at a 3D map of a machine and understand the concepts that are applied to the machine in real life.

The future of learning is likely to look very differ ent from what the indus try had expected two years ago. The pandemic caused a sea change in the workplace and skilling is no excep tion. While we may not know exactly what the future holds, the prospect of the metaverse is exciting.

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nEEti sH ar M a is the Co-Founder & President at TeamLease EdTech. about the author

The employee unboxed:

Moonlighting isn’t a bad idea!

these times, knowledge workers are much in demand; can blame professionals, who seem to be least bothered about employer loyalty, for scouting out multiple work avenues to earn some extra income?

In an age when techno logical advancement has been unboxing layer after layer of change — either transformational or disruptive— the scope of employment generation has increased.

This period has seen humans adjusting by shedding old ways, adapting and realigning to the new forms and needs of the moment to stay afloat.

For example, we are at present in the process of integrating the idea of

mobile phones as the ubiqui tous medium for personal and professional inter actions. Within that, we are adapting to the frequent updates and changes in the devices, software and apps. Such adjustment jour neys have been challen ging at times when we lack full understanding of tech nology's applications and importance.

One such ongoing journey of adjustment is that of the information explo sion. Thanks to the Inter

net boom, information has become democratised. Cita dels of power, enshrined in corporate offices, which safeguarded various kinds of information as ‘business secrets’, came crumbling down when large scale auto mation forced that informa tion to be shared.

Information relating to employees, customers, suppliers, and in some cases about competition, regulation, policy, etc. that were hitherto known only to a handful of people, now became part of a common pool of information, access ible to all. Pricing meth ods, sourcing partners, new product launches, distribution channels deployed, quality norms implemented, and many such initiatives became transparent in a process-oriented organisa tion.

The rise of knowledge and collaboration

To keep up with this trans formation, organisations

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e mployee e N gageme N t

desperately need ‘know ledge-workers’. Knowledge roles call for skills that were deep in a particular area or in a given domain. General skills that could be trained over time are often overlooked in favour of some one who can be hired from outside with the requisite skill set.

Meanwhile at the global level, ‘collaboration’ has become the new mantra. The concepts of the value chain, understanding the shifts in bargaining power (supplier, customer), and openness to collaborating with erstwhile competitors became part of successful business prac tices. An example of this revolutionary change can be found in the auto indus try. Nobody ever imagined that three major auto rivals would collaborate for common information – but then General Motors, Ford

and Chrysler co-founded Covisint in 2000 to share various kinds of informa tion about global suppliers to the auto sector! Although each company was a giant brand, highly resourceful, financially profitable and fiercely independent in decision-making, the speed of change in information necessitated them to collab orate. Soon, Nissan, Peugeot, Renault also joined, making Covisint a pan-American IT firm. Covisint currently exists as part of Open Text, a Canadian software company.

In today’s context, even a start-up looks at outsourcing and globalisation as integral elements to their business models. Keeping informa tion under the hood or hold ing back something as a ‘trade secret’ is not only a business deterrent but also highly challenging.

The speed and scale of information being shared has made several existing laws irrelevant or draconian – unviable for implementing them in the context of the society or business. There are frameworks for ethics and morals, which again are getting transformed in the context of rapid changes. One such striking example is from the sports industry –the IPL!

ethics, Morals and IP … IPL!

When the IPL (Indian Premier League) happened in 2008 in India, ardent Cricket fans were in denial. There were many deeprooted questions about morals, ethics and team spirit.

How can rival team members play together? It is unethical!

How can team morale and spirit of the game be upheld where personal rivalry, difference in ethnicity, culture, habits and behav iour exist?

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N gageme N
Keeping information under the hood or holding back something as a ‘trade secret’ is not only a business deterrent but also highly challenging

What happens to the game-strategies and ploys to outsmart the opposition’s key player who is now your team-mate? It is immoral to discuss the weakness of your national team’s mate with your traditional rival, now in your team, to win an IPL game! What happens to the closely guarded secrets of the national team members? Will there not be a breach in code of conduct? What happens to the national spirit when players’ focus shifts to IPL, which is less sport and more enter tainment?

IPL is therefore doomed for disaster, was the fore cast. Fifteen years hence… every IPL season is a muchawaited event in the calen dar. So much so that ICC, which is the regulator and governing body for global cricket, adjusts its own calendar of events to accom

modate international play ers’ schedules to participate in IPL. IPL is not an official game under ICC. In its own way, IPL portrays an offi cial status especially when it comes to selection of play ers.

With the use of technol ogy, there’s transparency not just about the players but also about the umpire’s decision and third umpire’s explanation to a referral case. The public sees everything – nothing that’s happening on-the-ground is hidden. With innova tion, IPL has transformed cricket and also made itself into a formidable indus try that guzzles data with the use of latest technolo gies and provides employ ment opportunities to those adept with technological skills. IPL coexists with the traditional form of Cricket –Test Match, ODI and T20!

Unboxing the employee

Next, we see that in the disruption that COVID-19 caused, the unboxing of employees became a new phenomenon.

Hitherto, employees came under the umbrella of ‘the company’. The company provided its employees a safety net, called career. It offered the employees comforts or perquisites, normally of the soft type –accommodation, transportation, healthcare insur ance, education loans, etc. It also invested in the employee’s relationship in terms of providing train ing, emotional support when unexpected events occurred, and so on and so forth. These instilled a sense of loyalty and ownership in the employee who became faithful to her employers. There was an era when employees aspired to retire from the company they joined!

With changing times and changing perspectives, the employer-employee relation

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The employee of today is a selfaware achiever, who is ambitious and understands the opportunities, risks, and challenges of charting a career

ship has been reduced to a contract – commercial terms and cold clauses. Organi sations have also become highly process-led in their operations and result-ori ented in their expectations. These make employees work in an objective manner. To that extent, the employee of today is a self-aware achiever, who is ambitious and understands the oppor tunities, risks, and challen ges of charting a career. She expects the best from her organisation for her to give her best.

insofar as the employee is concerned. One, the employee had to find solu tions to her specific problems of managing WFH despite her organisation supporting her financially. But a home cannot ever become an office-like place, which meant the additional workload of those prob lems had to be managed on a day-to-day basis by the employee. In the process, she discovered her problem-solving capabilities, determina tion, resilience, etc.

Two, she became directly

with immense opportunities to seek her specific capabilities, which hadn't been the case until now. She multitasked, but also for herself this time.

At workplaces, employees are encouraged/expected to think-out-of-the-box, show creativity and work like an entrepreneur. They are also evaluated on such parameters. When COVID19 disrupted work schedules and companies also decided to defer annual increments and promotions, employees brought these same parameters into the online world. The capable ones discovered opportunities that not only provided additional income but also tasks and tech nologies of their liking to work on. It was a matter of ‘choice’ in the online world!

During pandemic times, the disruption meant differ ent things to different people. Some saw advan tages in the work-fromhome (now anywhere), while others experienced chal lenges in not being part of the traditional ‘office set-up’. Either way, technol ogy revealed to the world the power of work-fromanywhere and provided the opportunity to connect the customer directly with the employee (doer) during their online meetings.

Two factors worked in tandem during that period,

connected to the client during their online meet ings. Until now, she inter acted with her manager and business leader. But during the online meetings, there was no hierarchy, and the ‘doer’ became visible to the client (market). She now became aware of her profes sional capabilities and self-confidence, and under stood the value such expos ure unlocked within her. The employee was unboxed from the organisation – she became the organisation in the onlookers’ eyes. The online world presented her

Everyone acknowledges the fact that the desire for income drives people to work for an organisation. Neither party – the employer or employee – is over-in vested in the relationship. When new opportunities appear, existing contracts get re-negotiated, which also determines which party has the better bargaining power.

The disruption that the pandemic brought to this equation is the unboxing of the employee, giving the employee the right to negotiate. Capable employ ees are in demand in the global market because the pandemic made work go to

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It is a matter of practicality – retaining the talent pool will have the same effect and should receive the same investment of effort as holding onto your customers in a free market
e mployee e N gageme N t

the individual rather than the individual finding work. In the current scenario, the best resource in the world will get the job – either on contract basis or they will get poached. Either way, the existing employer is likely to feel the impact.

What are employers to do now?

Traditional wisdom states that employers should apply ‘force’ – referring to contractual terms, bring-

part ways with the employer anyway. Whether termin ated or resigned, neither makes a difference to the next company. There’s no stigma associated with being ‘laid-off’ since it's well known that employees are laid off for the benefit of the company.

Hence, new wisdom is required.

Earlier examples are good cases to learn from. Apply ing force through rules, laws, regulations etc. will

ees' desires. It is a matter of practicality – retaining the talent pool will have the same effect and should receive the same investment of effort as holding onto your customers in a free market! Implementing terms rigidly from the contract will be detrimental – it will appear draconian to the market. In any case, new recruits will bargain and will have negotiating power.

ing up confidentiality or conflict-of-interest clauses, upping ethical or moral values. But these aren’t going to stop the employee from doing what she wishes to do. Market forces are stronger. If such employ ees are terminated to make an example, other know ledge workers will hesitate to join such an employer. Further, if this is practiced for long, the good ones will

act as deterrents but only in the short run. Eventu ally, the dam will burst, and the water will overflow. The opportunity lies in the examples of Covisint (for collaboration) and IPL (for innovation).

We are moving into times where the employee (know ledge worker) will be the king. Organisations will need to demonstrate sensi tivity to their employ

One way around this is to ‘lend’ employees to a multi-company project team, which is formed through a collaboration of companies - a consortium. The consor tium takes on complex projects and puts in the best talents to deliver outstanding results. The commer cials are worked out in such a way that the company and the employee are both rewarded. In the case of IPL, for example, the player shares his earnings with his country’s cricket board! The employee also returns to the original company at end of the project.

The other form is to accept the gig model and become a platform for servi ces.

Either way, it seems that moonlighting will have to be accepted as a new model of work!

about the author

y sHEK ar is a Management research scholar (Ph.D.) from University of Mysore. He is an executive coach and co-founder of a start-up.

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Vi St Y BA n AJ i

The G-men of HR

G-men? That’s not God-men in our midst. Nor is it FBI agents embedded within HR. Then what?

t he road less travelled

The G-men of HR are those who do G-jobs in HR. What are G-jobs? Peep at the title of the book referenced in the first note. Why not go with the B-job nomenclature? Because we wouldn’t like to settle for the alimentation of an alien animal when we can access a solid, indigenous and familiar ingredient from our own country.

A wizened ex-CEO of my acquaintance once teased me. "We never had so many people floating around in the Personnel Department in my time, Banaji". With a mali cious gleam in his eye, he continued: "It’s no wonder employees, in general, consider HR lazy. I think that’s unfair. In the whole company, HR people work the hardest – at doing nothing!" Irritated as I was, I began to see how HR could be bring ing such ridicule on itself: we do have more than our fair share of G-jobs and we seem intent on widening our lead. This column will look at the causes, consequences and cures for G-jobs in HR.

Graeber’s G-rant David Graeber wrote the book (literally) on 'Bullshit Jobs'.1 Our base premise for G-jobs in HR will not depend on the broad socio-economic trends and the state of capitalism that Graeber uses but there are several valuable pointers we can gain from his seminal work.

Let’s start with a Work ing Definition: "A [G-job] is a form of paid employment that is so completely point less, unnecessary, or perni cious that even the employee cannot justify its existence

even though … the employee feels obliged to pretend that this is not the case." All quotes in this section (unless separately refer enced) are from Graeber’s book mentioned in the previ ous paragraph.

Graeber’s focus, of course, is not limited to HR but some of his observa tions could’ve been tailored for us. Take, for, example HR’s perceived immunity from downsizing. "When managers began trying to come up with scientific studies of the most time-

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and energy-efficient ways to deploy human labour, they never applied those same techniques to themselves – or if they did, the effect appears to have been the opposite of what they intended. As a result, the same period that saw the most ruthless application of speed-ups and downsiz ing in the blue-collar sector also brought a rapid multi plication of meaningless managerial and administrative posts in almost all large firms."

The book contains an amusing, though no less telling for that, typology of G-jobs:

• Flunky jobs or 'feudal retainers' exist only or primarily to make some one else look or feel important.

• Goon jobs are G-jobs with an aggressive or threat ening element to them. They come closest to the characters of a Kafka-

The root cause enabling G-men to flourish in HR is the impossibility (or costineffectiveness) of non-vicarious measures of the core results expected from the function

esque bureaucracy, with its attendant dystopian consequences.2

• Duct tape jobs are there to patch up a glitch or fault in the system or organisa tion that ought not to have existed in the first place.

• Box-ticking jobs exist to allow an organisation to be able to claim it is doing something that, in fact, it is not doing.

• Taskmaster jobs fall into two subcategories. Type 1 consists of unneces sary supervisors who only assign work to others that people could otherwise have allocated between themselves. While Type 1 taskmasters are merely useless, Type 2 task masters do actual harm. These are taskmasters whose primary role is to create G-tasks for others to do or even to create entirely new G-jobs.

• Imaginary friend jobs are

intended "ostensibly to humanise an inhuman corporate environment but who, in fact, mainly force people to go through elaborate games of make-believe… in office environments where everyone would probably be happier just being left alone."

• Flak-catching jobs are created to be "at the receiving end of often legitimate complaints but who are given that role precisely because they have absolutely no authority to do anything about them."

• Second-order bullshit jobs are not pointless "in and of themselves, but which are ultimately point less because they are performed in support of a pointless enterprise." A taxonomy worth remem bering as we look more closely at G-jobs in HR.

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t he road less travelled

t he road less travelled

Causes and costs of G-job concentrations in HR

Why does HR possess the lion’s (or at least cattle’s) share of G-jobs in most organisations? The root cause enabling G-men to flourish in HR is the impossibility (or cost-ineffectiveness) of non-vicari ous measures of the core results expected from the function. Additionally, there are some other ways the G-concoction gets concen trated to make HR go from Good to G-rate.

Several HR leaders have high power needs that make them inveterate empire builders. These empires

have to be evidenced by a growing number of HR factotums floating around and fattening their teams. Only Parkinsonian work can be created to fill that excess capacity – which is a more elegant, if somewhat antiquated, way of saying G-work rushes in where R-work (Real work) is too scarce to tread.

All G-work that fills vacuums is, of course, not time-passingly harmless. A contra instance is when a CEO expects HR to play the role of the 'heavy'. Several CHROs don’t rise to the bait but, those that do, pair with the CEO to carry two out of

Greene’s '48 Laws of Power'.3 The CEO can keep his hands clean (Law 26) while his HR collaborator poses as a friend to peers while acting as a spy (Law 14). Another column has dealt in some detail with a few less obvious facets of office politics.4 For our present purpose, it only suffices to note that gangsterism added to a G-job makes it poison ous without reducing its essential uselessness.

Less lethal G-jobs multi ply when HR becomes the locus of stone age systems trying to cajole patchwork processes to work. Huge amounts of G-work plas ter are needed to keep such Rube Goldberg HR systems from falling apart. A particularly pointless G-activity is the attempt to inspect the quality of HR work instead of design ing a self-correcting system from the ground up using the latest technology and methods. Then there are the ethically question able G-roles for 'manag ing' the authorities because non-compliances and safety hazards haven’t been elim inated. IR jobs are notori ous for getting filled with G-work arising from hand ling chronic grievances because others (e.g. time keeping and payroll) give the lowest priority to auto mating or replacing systems that cause employee unhappiness.

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The temptation to offer more and more sophisticated products for which the customer no longer sees the utility at the price that complexity costs, spells doom

One of the reasons even negligible investment needed for HR systems gets shoved into the postpon able category, year after year, is that it’s not exciting to talk about at the conven tion, conference or cock tail circuit. On the other hand, creating a dedicated diversity or ethics position literally overflows with conversation poten tial. In some organisations, such roles are truly valued and valuable. On the other hand, if they sprout up just to match with the Jainses company next door, they are likely to be G-manured and G-filled G-generators.

Trophy (and other) G-jobs create ripples of G-activity in all directions. Possibly the most lethal of these are unending swarms of 'spartoi'5 demanded by CEO / CHRO pet projects that become talent grave yards (see below). A less egregious, though equally wasteful, the ripple effect is G-training (whether manned in-house or outsourced) that incurs huge costs for ephemeral benefits. An earlier column details some of the more glaring G-training practices.6

Pride of G-sweepstakes place must surely go to the HR G-roles who organize outings and entertainment (replete with sports celeb rities or movie stars) under the fond hope that a year full of employee mistreatment

'paap' can be washed clean by the annual award-night 'hajj'. These are the equivalent of the spectacles staged by shaky Roman emperors to keep the population of the city content.7

Far greater in propor tion and much less pleas ant in execution are those HR G-jobs that have to face unfriendly employee fire on a day-to-day basis. Whether the policy causing fury was taken past them or whether it was imple mented despite their objec tions makes no difference.

HR Business Partners facing irate managers and employ ees over policies they had no hand in crafting become G-fodder. There is no extra charge for the ulcers they acquire along the way.

Some of the best HR talents are spared the with ering fire that meets G-roles on the front lines. However, they don’t get off entirely G-free. If they are spot ted as prize HR talent, they may get allocated to special initiatives the CEO and CHRO are pushing at the time. Such high-stake work

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Apart from the direct contribution HR people make to the business, they should have at least half their KRAs dedicated to Championing, Contacting / Communicating with employees and Creating innovative solutions to benefit employees or the business
t he road less travelled

has been the making of many an HR leader. However, should the project turn out to be ill-conceived fluff, regard less of the potential of the persons allotted and the high profile of the task, in the ultimate analysis, it will just add G-work? High-quality people cannot save strategically flawed or badly planned missions from failing or themselves from becoming G-men in the process. A more frequent and insidious way in which entire G-sections are created in HR depart ments is through the over-engineering of the function.

long way to explaining why HR tends to be the G-job torchbearer in many organi sations.

Making HR G-free

Attractive as I find Graeber’s UBI-linked global solutions, they are neither possible nor necessary for cleaning the G-ills of HR. The ideas given below may also not benefit all HR departments. The best CHROs never permit G-jobs to be created or continued.

A fresh incumbent CHRO (whether internally chosen or an external recruit) usually gets an opportunity to review and recast the t he road less travelled

As Clayton Christensen pointed out, the tempta tion to offer more and more sophisticated products for which the customer no longer sees the utility at the price that complexity costs, spells doom.8 A previ ous column provided one way in which frugal HR can mitigate this problem.9 Till an organisation takes such ice-cold shrinkage baths, however, the ranks of its HR are likely to continue burst ing with G-men of high competence and sincerity, delivering G-products that are of little interest to their internal customers.

The perceptive reader will have noticed that, though Graeber’s treatise was writ ten without HR specifically in focus, every one of his B-job classifications finds a parallel G-job type in HR. The correspondence goes a

On the other hand, there are those who positively revel in imagining and installing more and more G-jobs. This section is useless for both of these categories. Perhaps those who want to launch a G-cleanup (after succeeding as a G-creator) will benefit the most from these suggestions.

results and resources of the entire HR organisation only once in her or his tenure and that can’t be too long after assuming charge. To get into the right frame of mind for this task it would be useful to re-read the Hammer blow delivered decades back in 'Reengineering Work: Don’t Automate, Obliterate.'10 As Hammer puts it: "It is time to stop paving the cow paths. Instead of embedding outdated processes in silicon and software, we should obliterate them and start over." This is the time to iden tify (even if elimination takes place in a phased manner) HR initiatives, activities and roles that are to be consigned to Davy Jones' Locker (DJL).

One simple way to find G-jobs is to look for sections and roles that are not making a direct contribu tion to enhancing aggre gate employee happiness11 either through the Design of

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jobs,12 their Durability or the Development of people in present/future job compe tencies. The further jobs get from this reliable foun dation, the likelier they are to be G-fluffed and become candidates for elimina tion. In addition, a minimal number of jobs contributing to governance and control may also need to be retained.

An even simpler G-task sniffer is to ask the HR staff themselves after brief ing them about the characteristics of G-jobs. Apart from the direct contribu tion HR people make to the business (e.g. recruitment), they should have at least half their KRAs dedicated to Championing, Contacting / Communicating with employees and Creating innovative solutions to bene fit employees or the busi ness. The rest are likely to be GRAs and should be given one-way DJL tickets. People can be surprisingly frank about the G-work in their portfolios if they are assured they will be retained and given alternative work that utilises their talents.

A far more radical way to conduct a G-elimination exercise would be to subject major HR initiatives and activities to the 'agniparik sha' of an employee refer endum. In its full form, this would require a level of corporate democracy that few organisations have attained. For the time being,

a few supplementary questions in the periodic engage ment survey should raise sufficient danger signals for a perceptive CHRO to action.

Can individuals escape From Their G-aram hell?

Unfortunately, the G-prob lem does not give much scope for non-systemic solutions. If the CHRO is a G-creating type, the chances of avoiding a GRA-filled department are limited. A watchful CEO and a vigi lant, HR-involved Board can contain the Samson weapon wielded by such CHROs. Beyond a point, however, only by putting the CHRO to pasture can more G-waste be prevented. In the meantime, prudent G-mired individuals can only request transfers to happiness creating jobs of the kind mentioned in the previous section. Bolder spirits, who demand an end to all G-waste in HR are likely to meet the fate Cohen

sings about:

They sentenced me to 20 years of boredom

For trying to change the system from within.13

Perhaps the brave will have better luck in Manhat tan or Berlin.


1. David Graeber, Bullshit Jobs: The Rise of Pointless Work, and What We Can Do About It, Penguin; 2019.

2. Randy Hodson, Vincent J Roscigno, Andrew Martin and Steven H Lopez, The ascension of Kafkaesque bureaucracy in private sector organi zations, Human Relations, September 2013.

3. Robert Greene, The 48 Laws Of Power (The Mod ern Machiavellian), Profile Books, 2000.

4. Visty Banaji, The Dogs of (Office) War, People Matters, People Matters, 25 February 2022.

5. Stephen Fry, Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold, Penguin, 2018.

6. Visty Banaji, Draining the (training) swamp, People Matters, 24 August 2020.

7. Juvenal (Trans A S Kline), Satires, X, 81, Poetry in Translation, 2011.

8. Clayton Christensen, The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail, Harvard Business Review Press; 1997.

9. Visty Banaji, Minimal HR for maximal effect, People Matters, 12 January 2017.

10. Michael Hammer, Reengineering Work: Don’t Automate, Obliterate, Harvard Business Review, July-August, 1990.

11. Visty Banaji, HR’s business should be happiness raising, People Matters, 24 September 2019.

12. Visty Banaji, ‘If you want people to do a good job, give them a good job to do’, People Matters, 24 June 2021.

13. Leonard Cohen, First We Take Manhattan, Famous Blue Raincoat: The Songs of Leonard Cohen, 1988.


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Visty Bana J i is the Founder and CEO of Banner Global Consulting (BGC) he road less travelled

Past Month's events

Physical Event: People Matters L&D Conference India

People Matters

12 October 2022

India’s largest learn ing and development confer ence, People Matters L&D has highlighted the pivotal changes set to transform every industry in the years to come!

CHROs, CLOs, Senior HRs, L&D CEOs, L&D Functional Leaders, L&D Professionals, Learning Leaders, and more gathered to find out how they can acquire new capabilities and adapt to the rapidly evolv ing business landscape, and together explored how capab ility building will and should help organisations be built for disruption. It was our pleasure to host you all and we hope to see you again next year!

Online Programme: Women in Leadership: Lead, Influence & Transform



BeNext 19 September – 21 Octo ber 2022

The latest edition of this programme was con ducted for women leaders interested in accelerating their career growth within their organisation and learn ing critical skills for women heading a team. Watch this space to find out when this Be Next course specially to help women overcome obstacles in the leadership journey will return.

Online Programme: Strategizing Organizational L&D: Perfor mance,

Productivity & Impact

People Matters

BeNext 26 September – 28 Octo ber 2022

The latest edition of this programme was held for leaders eager to gain prac tical, hands-on approaches to organisational L&D strat egies, connecting policies and practices to business performance. Watch this space to find out when this BeNext course will return – prior knowledge of capabil ities-building, and L&D strat egizing will be useful but not indispensable.

Ongoing Programmes

Online Programme: Design Thinking and Agile for HR

People Matters

BeNext 10 October – 11 Novem ber 2022

This programme is for HR leaders committed to finding creative solutions to complex problems facing their teams, moving from an understanding of Agile pro cesses to a whole new mindset of creativity, innovation and people-centred progress.


People Matters

BeNext 31 October – 02 Decem ber 2022

This programme is for leaders invested in creat ing lasting mindset shifts and developing a more inclusive employee experience through the implementation of impact ful DE&I initiatives and strat egies. Develop a more diverse, inclusive and equitable work place through practices and strategies that uncover and overcome biases.

owledge + Networki N g
Programme: DEI: Implementing Unbiased Strategies in the New World of Work
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Upcoming events

Physical Event: People Matters EX Conference


People Matters

03 November 2022

The world of work is changing and so are the ex pectations of people involved. Workplaces are not the same anymore. This shift in employee perspectives and expectations needs to be acknowledged and accepted. Join us at People Mat ters EX Indonesia for a riveting, insightful clash of cutting-edge ideas aimed at EXponential ly furthering employee value proposition, and advancing a corporate agenda of business needs, yet being people-centric and ecologically sustainable.

Physical Event: People Matters Total Rewards & Wellbeing Conference

People Matters 09 November 2022

Join us to Re:Frame – Be Ready To Break The Mould! As we enter a new era of employee engagement, people and culture leaders and rewards professionals need to work together as a leadership team to build a stronger and meaningful company culture to make attraction, retention and engagement more ‘sticky’. This 9th of November, leaders willl come together at Leela Ambience, Gurugram to Re:frame – The Opportunity Within.

Online Programme: Reframing Your C&B Strategy: Agility, Equity and Sustainability

People Matters

BeNext 07 November – 09 De cember 2022

This programme is de signed for organisations with existing rewards programs interested in reframing their compensation and benefits strategy to create a more agile, equitable and sustainable strat egy that drives business-wide change. This program would also be suitable for start-ups looking to move beyond the founding stage and gain a better understanding of how to craft a comprehensive rewards program. Early Bird Registra tion now available.

Online Programme: HR Business Partner in the New World of Work

People Matters


21 November – 23 Decem ber 2022

This programme is for leaders and practitioners inter ested in how the HRBP drives cultural shifts that align with the changing needs of teams and organisations. Learn how the HRBP can create greater impact and value with a peoplebased approach to leading the transition to the new world of work. Early Bird Registration now available.

kN owledge + Networki N g
73 oCtober 2022 |


What needs to be done before building an inclusive workplace

Inclusion is welcoming, sustaining and strengthening diversity by embracing and respecting differences in the workplace

Diversity and inclusivity are the most talked about topics these days. Some organisations have built a diverse and inclusive workplace; while others aspire to create their iden tity. Yet, at the same time, few organisations are already thriving as diverse and inclusive work places.

As rightly said, diversity is a fact, whereas inclusion is a choice. Diversity varies from demography to age, gender, reli gion, caste, and community.

Inclusion is welcoming, sustain-

ing and strengthening divers ity by embracing and respecting differences in the workplace.

A McKinsey report of August 2022 states that an inclusive organisation is two times as likely to exceed financial targets, three times as likely to be high performing, six times more likely to be agile and innovative and eight times more likely to achieve better business outcomes.

However, many organisa tions with aspirations to become inclusive begin with initiatives, programs and standalone inter ventions. Consequently, the impact of such interventions is not sustainable. The core to build ing an inclusive workplace is to identify, create and strengthen PALS:

P-Progressive culture


L-Leaders’ sponsorship

S-Sustainable practices

Progressive culture

An organisation can be inclu sive through its forward-thinking

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and progressive approach toward people and diversity.

Before building an inclusive organisation, it is essential to identify and define the purpose of being inclusive. An organisa tion needs to have a vital purpose behind being inclusive, and employees should be aware of the intent of being inclusive, keeping the organisation's context in mind.

The purpose of an inclusive workplace is to create a safe and respected workplace. A workplace where an employee feels psycho logical safety to bring their their authentic self to work. They are open to sharing their point of view without fearing being judged, in an environment where ideas cultivate innovation, and honest disagreements are welcome. As a result, people feel empowered and enabled.

Progressive culture fosters a progressive mindset contribut ing to building an inclusive work place. Organisational policies are essential enablers to embed ding inclusion in the workplace. For example, policies related to LGBTQ, maternity and paternity leave, recruitment policies, pay

parity, promotion and perform ance evaluations, sabbatical and returning mothers, people with disability etc.

These policies strengthen the organisation's core and bring a framework for everyone. Progres sive culture fosters a progres sive mindset that helps to build and reinforce employee connec tions and social capital within the organisation.


Institutions can only be inclu sive if they can build strong allies within and outside the organisation. Allyships is a structured, systematic way of driving and embedding inclusion through employees. Allyship allows employees to become contribu tors, collaborators, accomplices and advocates. These allies not only guide and lead inclusion but can give insights from repre senting various cohorts and can influence policies, practices and initiatives within the organisa tion. Allyships bring us closer to the business, field, and reality, as well as helps in seek ing the commitment of various

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stakeholders in embedding inclu sion as a fabric of the organisa tion. Companies can also look at collaborating with diverse external communities representing different cohorts and standing for them in society. Henceforth, allies can catalyse, drive, and create an inclusive workplace.

Leaders' sponsorship and support

As per the McKinsey report, 82% of the CEOs from some of the world's largest organisations have prioritised culture in the past three years, increasing employee engagement and improving diversity and inclusion. However, a previous Heidrick and Strug gles study showed that only 27% of leaders reported that their company was broadly inclusive.

As a result, the onus of building a diverse and inclusive organisation is often human resources or the diversity and inclusion head/lead.

Inclusion has to be driven from the top. Leaders and people managers are the most promin ent anchor and sponsors of inclu sion in the workplace. Leaders and people managers first need to identify the stage of inclusion in their enterprise to understand the differences experienced by the employees. Apart from gaining

understanding through various surveys and audit data, they are stepping up and getting engaged with people, listening to them, and doing open houses and town halls, where people can discuss, voice out and feel heard. Organisations are also leveraging AI to connect with a more extensive base of employees through closed-loop feedback.

Once the leaders understand the gap, they can create a firm purpose of what being inclusive means to their organisation— bringing solid context to their people. Hence, every employee finds meaning in the inclusive workplace.

Leaders should go through sensitisation and awareness inter ventions where they learn about inclusive behaviour and uncon scious biases. They are very much involved from the beginning. They drive the agenda of inclusion in the workplace. Leaders demon strate behaviour like authentic listening, open communication, empathy and running inclusive meetings, delegating with an intent to give opportunities and creating empowerment. They provide honest feedback, develop talent through coaching, resolve conflict fairly, and create an inclu sive environment.

76 | OctOber 2022

Sustainable interventions

As inclusion has become a global plan for organisations, we want to put our best foot forward. We want to deploy the best practi ces. However, it is significant for us to step back and see what will be sustainable in our ecosystem. There are various touch points within an employee life cycle which can strengthen one's sense of belongingness and commit ment if the ecosystem is inclu sive.

Every employee represents a different age and gender and goes through different life stages. Hence, an organisation can create interventions around the same.

A new employee joining the organisation is looking forward to a welcoming environment and approachable leadership and support system.

An employee returning from maternity leave would need an assurance of protection of her role, performance ratings etc.

Instead of solving a glass ceil ing, let us solve for the broken rung – the career stage where women aspire to be promoted to a first-level manager, which if they don't make it hits them badly.

One shoe doesn't fit all. Hence developmental interventions should be based on the princi ple of equity and not equality. Moreover, the needs of different generations and employees as per their career ladder are different. Therefore, equity and not equal ity should be the principle while offering developmental inter ventions like mentoring, reverse mentoring, coaching, shadowing and capability journey. A Deloitte

survey cited those participants who shared their experience of an inclu sive culture:

47% of the employees surveyed said it is where they feel comfortable being themselves.

39% said it is an environment that provides a sense of purpose where they feel like they make an impact.

36% said it is a place where work flexibility (parental leave, ability to work remotely, flexible scheduling etc.) is a top priority.

Building an inclusive workplace is a movement to be sustained at your workplace consciously. Leaders and employees need to demonstrate tenacity, openness and a high sense of awareness to embed inclusion as a core of the organisation.

77 OctOber 2022 |
ru B i K H an is the Assistant Vice President People Initiatives,Talent Management and OD at Max Life Insurance Company Limited. about the author
Leaders and employees need to demonstrate tenacity, openness and a high sense of awareness to embed inclusion as a core of the organisation

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Know More RNI Details: Vol. XIII, 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
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