People Matters October 2022: Learning

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Believe it – we will never stop learning


n the last few years, upheavals in the working world and advanced digital acceleration made reskilling and upskilling the buzzwords of the day. From learning how to operate and even create new technologies, 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 employees. But in the rush of enthusiasm, let's not forget that learning has always been a constant. The desire to learn is as old as time, and | October 2022

it is not confined to business purposes alone. We learn for simple interest, for the actualisation of our own selves, for our own advancement in personal and professional matters, and given the choice, we learn at our own pace and according to our own aspirations and capabilities. 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 microlearning via mobile phones, whether learning in the flow of work or intensive traditional classroom learning, every style and inclination of learning can now be matched. Savvy organisations have quickly taken advantage of this to hyperpersonalise 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 innovation evangelist Daniel Strode; and more. This month's Big Interview features Holly Windham, Chief Legal and People Officer of Rackspace Technology, who talks about the synergy of legal and HR skills, and discusses some



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 learning programmes to leaders in Spanish-speaking countries, we anticipate even greater levels of diversity, inclusion, and community development upon the platform. As always, we welcome your views, comments, and suggestions regarding our stories. Happy Reading!

what goes around, comes around!

From the Editor’s Desk

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 certification programme, launches

I like boomerang, but not this colour...

Esther Martinez Hernandez Editor-in-Chief



M > @Ester_Matters F > estermartinez > October 2022 |



October 2022 v o l u m e x I ii issue 10

40 cover story


Leading the future of work requires new skills

By Dr M Muneer, Co-founder and chief evangelist at the non-profit Medici Institute



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


R Ramesh, Director for managed services & professional, Adecco India By Mamta Sharma


A CEO’s ultimate L&D guide for disruptive times

Sameer Nigam, CEO of intelligent learning management firm Stratbeans By Ramya Palisetty


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

Psychologically safe: Culture design for learning – and failing

Daniel Strode, HR leader, author, culture and innovation evangelist By Ramya Palisetty


Reimagining skilling through the metaverse

By Neeti Sharma, Co-Founder & President at TeamLease EdTech


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

Mastufa Ahmed

Marta Martinez

Mamta Sharma Digital Head

Prakash Shahi

Senior Editors

Design & Production

Mint Kang Rachel Ranosa

Shinto Kallattu

Senior Manager - Research and Content Strategy - APAC


Sudeshna Mitra | Asmaani Kumar Ajinkya Salvi | Aastha Gupta Samriddhi Srivastava Associate Editor

Manager - design, photography, and production

Jerry Moses

Senior Associates - Content

Senior Manager - Global Sales and Partnerships

Saloni Gulati

| October 2022


Sumali Das Purkyastha Published by

People Matters Publishing Pvt. Ltd. Owned by

People Matters Publishing Pvt. Ltd. Published at:

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

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.

This issue of People matters contains 78 pages including cover

big interview

Synergising legal and HR skills to solve human problems




How to escape quiet quitting: Let go of pre-pandemic workforce norms

Holly Windham, Chief

Katherine Loranger, Chief

Legal and People Officer, Rackspace Technology

People Officer at Safeguard Global

By Aastha Gupta

By Ajinkya Salvi

20 C u l t u r e

Is there a right time to retire in the corporate world?

By Mamta Sharma


24 E m p l o y e e e n g a g e m e n t

What if employers actually talked to employees?

By Brian Sommer

34 E m p l o y e e e n g a g e m e n t

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 y e e e n g a g e m e n t

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

74 B l o g o s ph e r e

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.

66 Th e r o a d l e s s t r a v e l l e d

The G-men of HR

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



From the Editor’s Desk


Letters of the month


Quick Reads


Rapid Fire


Knowledge + Networking

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

October 2022 |


Letters of the month

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How organisations are shaping the 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 benefits, the whole point is to create an environment where people do their best. - Sakshi Adhikari

The decline of the monarchy

It's hard to decide whether the world is better or worse off as each of the old monarchs passes one by one. We should never forget the evils of colonialism and imperialism. 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. - SWARNENDU BISWAS

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. - JANVI MAHESH 6

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October 2022 issue

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

Hoping we can see the world of work make this transition. 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 importantly in their own heads, or no one will want to follow them.


Interact with People Matters

Transitioning towards formality


Is moonlighting an idea whose time has come?

What a tricky and controversial 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 employee and come to a good faith and transparent agreement on this matter and then stick to it? - Kumar Shishir

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 layoffs 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 consideration 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.

- Priya Singhal

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 sending the leader for expensive training if they just take it like a paid vacation!

- vania sharma

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

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

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.

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

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 innovations. Read more about it here: xIGh50L5aXI #FutureOfWork #leadership #HR #innovation Deloitte India @DeloitteIndia To read Rohit Mahajan’s views on why women are well-suited to risk management and how to meet the shortfall, click here: @PeopleMatters2 follow

M > @PeopleMatters2


October 2022 |


AI platform raises $2.6 mn in Series A funding led by Tin Men Capital

HR Technology

Workforce management platform Voilà! secures $13.75 Mn in a Series A funding

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

PickMyWork to onboard 500k gig workers this fiscal year

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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-headquartered start-up which assists digital companies to acquire end-customers, including individual users and merchants, has announced plans to acquire over 500,000 gig workers in fiscal year 2022-23. The company has been onboarding 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. Notably, 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 8

| October 2022

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.

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 3,000 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 Memorandum 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 government has so far signed with domestic and global companies under the IT/ITeS policy, which will in total generate approximately 26,750 skilled IT employment opportunities in the state.

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

Employee Experience

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+ employees at 350+ organisations in 2022.

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 workers 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

Compensation & Benefits

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

Employee Management

Google sued over claims of unfair labour practices

Google contract workers have filed several unfair labour practice complaints against Alphabet 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

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.

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

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.

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1/3 of UK of employees willing to quit jobs over weak climate action particularly widespread among

centre in Council Bluffs, Iowa. The employees were supposedly 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% increments. Infosys is the latest tech company to do so, following the precedent of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Wipro, and Cognizant. October 2022 |


newsmaker of the month

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

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n early October 2022, an opinion 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 attention. It drew a slew of satirical memes and political commentary. In just 44 days, Truss gave up her post following a brutal market reaction to her government’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 country’s first Asian, first Hindu, and the youngest UK head of state in two hundred years.

| October 2022

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 spending – 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 nothing 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 dimensions of value-based leadership including self-reflection, a balanced perspective, true self-confidence and genuine humility. “She was talking about creating tremendous change without 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 planning for success.

Stax appoints Vera Korol as global head of people 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 function where she will be responsible for talent acquisition, talent development, compensation and benefits. She brings nearly

Cognizant hires former Infosys president Ravi Kumar to lead Americas market Software services exporter Cognizant has brought on former Infosys president Ravi Kumar as President, Americas, 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 business. 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.

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Eightfold AI appoints Darren Burton as chief people officer 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.

20 years of experience in both client-facing 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 operations roles.

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Cornerstone India appoints Nishchae Suri as managing director Cornerstone OnDemand has appointed Nishchae Suri as managing 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 Cornerstone’s local 1600 plus team to deliver strong results. He has over 25 years of global experience 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.

Glassdoor appoints Danny Guillory as chief people officer Glassdoor has appointed Danny Guillory as the new chief people officer. He is based out of Glassdoor's San Francisco headquarters and leads a distributed team that includes Learning & Development, People, Policies & Processes, Talent Acquisition, and Workplace Experience. Prior to joining Glassdoor, Danny was vice president, chief diversity officer and interim chief people officer at October 2022 |


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


General Motors appoints Arden Hoffman as chief people officer Automobile giant General Motors has appointed Arden Hoffman as senior vice president and chief people officer. Hoffman 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 transitioned from a private startup to a publicly traded company. Hoffman has also worked with global business giants namely Goldman Sachs and Google. British Telecom names Athalie Williams as chief human resources officer British Telecom (BT) Group has appointed Athalie Williams as its new chief human resources officer. She will join the executive 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 leading 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 transformation advisor with Accenture (formerly Andersen Consulting) and general manager, cultural transformation at NAB.

| October 2022

Adani Green Energy hires Pramath Nath as HR head One of India's leading Indian renewable energy companies, 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. IndiGo appoints Sukhjit S Pasricha as group CHRO IndiGo (InterGlobe Aviation) has appointed Sukhjit S Pasricha as group chief human resource officer effective November 1. This is a homecoming for Pasricha as he earlier served IndiGo as head of HR & Admin (vice president-HR & Admin) from April 2013 to January 2018. He joins Indigo from Kotak Mahindra 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 different industry sectors and complex businesses (both-B2B and B2C). Finastra appoints Helen Cook as chief people officer Financial software applications company Finastra has appointed Helen Cook as the chief people officer. In the role, she is responsible for the people organisation and advancing the company's objective to be a diverse and inclusive employer. Based at Finastra's HQ in Paddington, 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.

Ten Questions



Rajesh Rai

Vice President – People Team, Head of Human Resources, India, GlobalLogic By Mamta Sharma


sise and work towards their job characteristics

Where does the HR function stand today?


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

And the significance of millennials and gen Zs?


What is HR 4.0?

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


Driving factors of HR 4.0?

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


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


First thing HR professionals need to change?

HR 4.0 is heavily focused on flipping the pyramid – moving away from a heavy focus on the executives and managers as the target audience of efforts and moving more towards the 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-

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

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


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 experience and not just what they do at work October 2022 |



October 2022 | OCTOBER

Synergising legal and HR skills to solve human problems


eing the Chief Legal and People Officer of a billion-dollar company is an intensive role, but one that enables the leader to synergise experience from both backgrounds for the benefit of both the organisation and its employees - as Holly Windham has demonstrated for cloud computing services pioneer Rackspace Technology. Windham is a legal professional 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 Southwestern Oklahoma State University in 1988 and her Juris Doctorate in Law from Pepperdine Law in 1991. Having developed an excellent 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 professional.

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 organisational dynamics when I was at the university, keeping 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 exciting. I believe that the practice of employment law puts general counsel and the role of CHRO on the same wavelength, especially for a global company where we have workers' councils in different countries and employees all over the world. This gives us an opportunity to understand those laws and regulations when we hire and also when October 2022 | OCTOBER


By Ajinkya Salvi


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




lems. HR professionals for a living, solve human problems. 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.


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 perspective 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 internal 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| October 2022

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 subsequently as an HR team was quite different. Our approach was benchmarked on how we were advancing the business needs of the company. As HR professionals, 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 solutions for the different functions within the business. The approach that we believe in is: lawyers for a living, solve human prob-

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 policymaking, as a HR person? At Rackspace, the legal 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 partners, to ensure that our policies 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 business, 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 challenge i.e growing your talent pool. You can work really hard at hiring and bringing

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 internal 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 opportunities. We have received positive feedback where people have told us how Racker University 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 investing in some new methodologies 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 certified. 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 available, the talent will be ready for it.


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


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 employees to have choices. And the biggest challenge is to make sure the employees are choosing your company. I think there are a few ways that we can ensure that, starting with compensation. The organisation has to pay competitively, with the competitive benchmark so volatile that what you paid yesterday, might be different today. The second way to ensure this is to give the employees 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 different 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

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 professional lingo, we used to call it “passively disengaged”, which we have discussed in the HR circle for years. October 2022 |



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 organisation and what you need to improve, which is okay for an organisation’s grand scheme of things. It is the “passively disengaged” or the “quiet quitters”, that the organisation doesn’t necessarily recognise 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 corrupting 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 challenges that we face now with so many people work| October 2022

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 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 leaders 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 environment, 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. Unfortunately, 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 understand 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. Professionals 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 working here at the company, what they want to do in future and more. Hence, we have built the policies and programmes around Rackers’ [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

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

October 2022 |


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 organisations to take precedence in attritions as well as stay ahead in employee retention. I feel that it is important to know what works for your people. So what works for one organisation does not necessarily work for another and every organisation has different needs. 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. 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 environment. 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.


an organisation. At Rackspace, we have a programme where we concentrate on different parts of wellness. We have a spotlight recognition 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 physically present to do that. Hence, it is of utmost importance that the managers provide more flexibility that works for everyone’s schedules. 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 physical engagement activities for employees returning to the office. For example, we planned a blood drive where we encouraged our employees 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-


C u lt u r e

Is there a right time to retire in the corporate world?

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


ennis superstar Roger Federer, 41, recently announced his retirement from the game, while Bollywood superstar Amitabh 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 20

| October 2022

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 corporate world?

Retire Early?

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

are able to meet their basic financial 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 without 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

October 2022 |

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become part timers, gig workers, 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 promotions among other things,” says Nishith Mohanty, partner at global consultancy firm Korn Ferry. Mohanty identifies three archetypes 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 standards 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 sometimes 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


high chance of failure – BUT those leaders who have truly tried to create a viable business model, staying in touch with the market, focusing on serving real customer pain points, gain a LOT from this experience. 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?

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Talent advisor and Hyderabad-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

The impact of someone experienced, working just a few hours a day, is significantly more than a young person spending eight hours 30-plus years model and then retiring is obsolete with the increase in technology, automation, robots , AI, ML etc,” he says. Menon says the concept of retirement 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 conditions. In today's network economy, thanks to technology and globalisation, and advanced medical improvements, most of us can aspire to live up to 80-plus


| October 2022

unless one suffers from an ailment. Even the work we do is more intellectual and so the impact of someone 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, identity, impact, importance, power, and the like. Everything from the daily routine to self-concept is determined by one's job to a significant extent. Mohanty sheds light on the common pitfalls people overlook when they approach retirement decisions. 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

be because they aren't good at it or don’t get recognised for it, or it may simply be the paradox of availability - 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

value without your company business card? Will you be relevant without 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 hemisphere 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. October 2022 |

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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


Brian Sommer

What if employers actually talked to employees?

Employee engagement

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



magine 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 ‘relationship’ if they only have one meaningful conversation in an entire year and that is the annual performance review? Employees are human beings. As such, they crave, in differing degrees, contact with others, feedback 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 | October 2022

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, coaching when it is needed, etc. Noncommunicative or overtaxed bosses create a suboptimal or undesirable work environment.

We can see the evidence of this inattention everywhere in the modern workforce. 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 quantity of people leaving their employers is even being described as The Great Resignation. And these trends extend beyond just

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, cultivate 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 appropriate job training, etc. Employers may also have to pay overtime to existing employees to provide coverage for the missing person while that position is still open. And let’s not also

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 subsequent employee forget that this kind of turnengagement levels over can create morale prob• And, of course, have fewer lems with the remaining unfilled positions today. workers, which could trigger even more attrition further down the road. Ignoring what your employees could tell you If your executives really knew and understood your is a costly luxury that few companies can afford. workforce, they might have Managers who will not make been able to: • Avoid some of the worst the time to really know and aspects of the great recesunderstand their employsion ees may be some of the most • Make better decisions costliest individuals within regarding the return to the firm. These managers the office mandate may be creating some of • Reduce the workload that the worst morale, employHR must deal with ment brand and operational • Improve operational results your firm has ever results experienced. Can your firm • Improve morale and really afford this? October 2022 |

Employee engagement

current employees. We also have a rash of ghosting, where recently hired individuals fail to show up to work. Employers, business executives and others are starting to look inward to understand why all of this is happening, and why now. In what may be a quick rush to judgment, some employers want to blame these activities on a new generation of workers. But any effort to verify the cause shows that this is a multigenerational set of issues. No, we must dig deeper to find out what’s really going on. Only through that insight can companies develop appropriate corrective actions.


be strictly professional or possibly personal matters. Believe it or not, the For example, a boss that most important job of a treats employees as strictly manager/executive/boss job-seekers and not career is to create a work environfocused may be creating a ment that makes employees big retention problem, espestay possibly years longer cially for the high potenthan they otherwise would tial and high-performing have. Stop and reread that employees. Likewise, schedsentence a couple of times. ule concerns can be a major Great bosses don’t have driver of attrition espeto throw tons of money at people to get them to stay. No, cially in retail and nursing they need to listen to people, occupations. Some employees want more work hours find out what each individual wants and needs and then and the potential for overcraft policies, work schedules time pay. Some need flexibility around their schedand other job attributes and ule to better accommodate accoutrements into a pleasfamily needs. Waiting until ing mélange. a worker has completed a Any idiot can bark out full year of employment commands, create unworkto discover that they have able or unpleasant policies, and ignore employees. But to some specific personal be a great leader, a boss must needs is too late. Such a long wait is also an indictment of take time to meet with their team and discuss the matters a manager’s lack of training, empathy or understandthat will impact productiving of what it takes to be a ity, career advancement and successful leader. retention whether these

Employee engagement

The key item


| October 2022

The listening skill

Some leaders simply do not know how to listen to people and some will not make the time. While the time problem 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 communication 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 communication 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 individual makes such a profound change in their personality 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.

soul sucking and wealth destroying parasites.

Create listening opportunities

Many employees have anxiety about the annual performance review. It is in this meeting where employees 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 absolutely stress people.

Listening to one’s employees need not be painful for either the worker or the supervisor Supervisors do not look forward to these discussions 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 consequences. But listening to one’s employees need not be painful for either the worker

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. 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 opportunity to converse at length with this person on a variety of subjects. When not concerned about an immediate 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 breaking down communication barriers. October 2022 |

Employee engagement

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 treatable issues today. Sometimes managers do not realise that their inattentiveness to their workers is creating attrition, overwork and more problems. This type of manager can give you 100 reasons why they aren’t meeting with their staff but rather are preparing reports, meeting with company leaders/ customer/suppliers, buried in bureaucracy, etc. When I see this occurring, I realize 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, politically oriented and self-serving manager. Personally, I believe every company needs to rid itself of these


Employee engagement

Some employees don’t communicate


No one in a leadership role should be expected to thoroughly know and understand 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 themselves and be heard. For example, I would hold quarterly 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 employees, 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 | October 2022

team and often were hilarious to view. More seriously, managers should have some time allotted for employees to interact 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 understand what is motivating today’s Generation Z jobseekers, then that executive 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 interactions between workers and leaders within a firm and mentor programmes put structure around this communication activity and

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 consideration for employment at that company. Spying on employees says you do not trust them. And without trust there can be no relationship nor any sharing of information. 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 cosmopolitan when it comes to these matters. They’ve known about subtle changes in the workforce for some time and have been crafting appropriate measures to deal with these all along. Great leaders also create the kind of work environment that respects the individual 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 triggers 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 performance review cycle to determine if certain individuals in managerial positions are not fully up to the requirements 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. October 2022 |

Employee engagement

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 technology to spy on its quiet quitting workers. The story states: “Over the past 2½ years, more companies 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 workforce. No one wants to work for a company that is that paranoid and distrustful of its own employees. I would opine that these technologies actually exacerbate the quiet quitting phenom-


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, Chief People Officer at Safeguard Global

In t e r v i e w

By Aastha Gupta


ver the past month there has been no escaping the term “quiet quitting”. It has been all over the Internet, leaders and analysts have weighed in for and against, even colleagues at the workplace may have been discussing 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 quitting 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 Katherine Loranger, Chief People Officer at global workforce management 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 30

| October 2022

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

In t e r v i e w

upend their personal lives to integrate their work experiences into their home in 2020. And they did, by most accounts, a great job. We know that The Great Resignation 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 Safeguard Global, we call it Work in Any Way. Are we too focused on return to office as a measure for productivity? Or have we built OKRs and

There seems to be a growing 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? October 2022 |


The pandemic prompted employees to rethink their priorities 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 management – allowing employees to work how, when and where best suits their lifestyles – will come out on top.

In t e r v i e w

In your experience, what are the top three things that HR can do to ensure both workforce happiness and employee productivity? 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-pandemic 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 productivity.

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 investment we make, organisationally. Too often managers and leaders view the activities of managing – 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 contributors, 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

Rather than hiring someone to fit a certain mold, hire someone to challenge and question the status quo to ignite innovation and productivity 32

| October 2022

their people correctly?

Finally, in which direction do you think the whole “quiet quitting” 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

HR leaders will need to address strengthening employee engagement by fostering a productive, happy workforce many workers, this has always been how they work, for others, it’s a reaction to the burnout and disenchantment with leaders 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 strengthening 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 engagement challenges and retaining talent. Companies who don’t listen to their employees will continue to struggle with “quiet quitting”. October 2022 |

In t e r v i e w

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 understand how their work fits within the company’s larger goals. And managers need to remember that good management makes their jobs easier – attrition can really set teams and organisations back. The loss of institutional 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.


Prof. Richard Smith

Quiet quitting: Trendy topic or fun framing?

Employee engagement

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



hen the new phrase “Quiet Quitting” began to surface on social media, my colleagues and I discussed the idea and sought to understand the meaning of the trend. We wondered how a workforce concept can quickly rise from casual TikTok posts to a trending 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-

| October 2022

ing lower engagement around the world. So, it is perhaps not surprising that the sentiment of today’s workforce quickly resonated 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 spending overtime hours at the office. Certain life events can also trigger 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

Evidence suggests that people who have become tired of the busy corporate work life may be downsizing and simplifying their lives 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 October 2022 |

Employee engagement

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 conversations 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 Balancing” 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 Recalibrating.” In this case, a person may be using work modalities or talent shortages to take advantage of the employer by not working to full potential. “Cyber-loafing” 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-


Employee engagement 36

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 themselves. Some researchers have highlighted generational differences in the workplace. While we may see Gen Z leading the social media-infused quiet-quitting 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 workers 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.

| October 2022

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 Quitting, 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 consequences 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 achievers. As much as one may want to scale back on work, it is easy to

There are significant implications for employers working to improve engagement, motivation, and retention of their workforces 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 elaborate company-wide events but through more casual interactions with people at an individual level. Leaders need to find ways to create more purposeful opportunities for people to get together to collaborate, innovate, or socialise. After all, change happens one person at a time.

Employee engagement

feel still that pressure to create a good work product and maintain stature, not to mention avoiding the potential for letting down colleagues. The internal narrative 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 significant implications for employers working to improve engagement, motivation, and retention of their workforces. It seems that many employers 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 workplace, which may not be available. 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


Professor Richard Smith is Vice Dean, Corporate and Global Partnerships at the Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School. October 2022 |



| October 2022

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


October 2022 |


room learning, once considered efficient, and towards learning in the flow of work; lengthy catch-all courses with educational institutions have been replaced by specialised certifications 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 opportunities and challenges involved in learning and skilling. Workforce learning 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 organisational 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 challenges inherent in organisational learning strategies.


eople 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 uncertainty, it is a hedge against the future: laying in a store of additional capabilities 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 strategies, 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 prominence 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-


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



uch has been written 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 advantages are transient (The End of Competitive Advantage). The rapid advancement in technology, COVID-19, the Ukraine war, trade barriers, and politics are all accelerating the pace of change. And to top it all off, the way we | October 2022

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 work and personal lives within just a short walk?

With the WFA (Work From Anywhere) and hybrid formats that are in vogue now, leaders are finding it tough to juggle work commitments, performance 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 reality 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 implement the right metrics to assess employee deliverables irrespective of where he or she works from. What

otherwise, the company trusts all employees to do the right thing in the workplace. This could also help resolve the current controversy around moonlighting. If there is no conflict of interest and if the employees 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 planning. This means the decision 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.


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


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 deliverables and performance of individual employees. This means leaders should be able to define clearly the productivity goals for each role and then let employees work at their pace, from anywhere. Team sessions, when needed, could be done in person at corporate offices or work hubs scattered around suburbs, or at venues decided by the teams themselves. Creative thinking, ideation 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 otherwise, 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

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 October 2022 |



and with sophisticated hologram-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 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. 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 transient, only a growth mindset can bring forth innovation and experimentation. Discovery-driven planning is key to grabbing shortlived opportunities. Learn to push the strengths of your people and encourage or mentor them to acquire new skills. As Infosys 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 building 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 introduced as an alternative means of getting the job done. Agility cannot happen without new skills when technology disrupts business 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

Great leaders know the value of their people and will do everything to keep them ready for the future of work 42

| October 2022


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 building 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.”


empathy in toxic workplaces. enough evidence of middle Leaders need to bring class people extending their empathy into workplaces support to migrants and of the future, even if it is in other vulnerable populametaverse or hybrid mode. tions who are not adequately The Gen-Z workers who cared for by by the governwill be joining the future ment. These new attitudes of work and workplaces are and behaviours should be very demanding in terms the driving factor for values of work/life balance, and within. if leaders do not keep this The ability to change and aspect at the centre of work manage a new culture that is design, a lot of talent will in tune with the needs of the be elusive. Frequent disrupnew workforce and future of tions, work overload, new work will be most handy. A skill needs, pressures of culture that brings transparother kinds, demanding ency, encourages employees bosses, stress from non-work to speak their minds, forces and financial… the issues leadership to accept disconemployees face will never firmation data, and overcease and leaders should all moves from a top-down show more patience and to a more inclusive manageempathy to align them to the ment will augur well for the new culture. Several studies future of work. The concept in the post-pandemic workof empowered employees at places indicate that as many all levels can no more be a as 60% of employees want to hollow campaign. To idensupport more social causes tify and execute the new now, and we have seen cultural elements, involve

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


Muneer is the co-founder and chief evangelist at the non-profit Medici Institute. Tweet him @MuneerMuh October 2022 |




The game changer for organisations

ering digitally ready organisations as we embrace the future of work? People are—and will continue to be—organisaOrganisations gearing up for unpredictable times ahead tions’ biggest asset. I truly must concentrate on their people: they need a diverse believe businesses that group of future-ready leaders and upskilled employees devote similar effort, investto realise their full potential, says Piyush Mehta, CHRO ment, and focus to the interof Genpact nal initiatives as they do By Mamta Sharma to the external, to improve employee experience, will be the real heroes of tomorrow. Doing so can not only help employers increase retention, 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 strategy that focuses on teaching individuals through L&D to reskilling groups of people who work together to increase their collective ith the nature of build future-proof careers, intelligence can further help work rapidly changorganisations and employees businesses adapt to an evering due to the autohave to become agile in the changing environment. mation and artificial intelway they look at the skills of Tapping into talent analytligence (AI) revolution, jobs the future to make sure they ics: Continuous talent in industries, ranging from align with their future needs analytics is becoming essenand aspirations. information technology to tial for organisational manufacturing, are being In an interaction with growth. Leveraging the data transformed – in more ways People Matters, Piyush can help HR leaders not only Mehta, chief human than one. see attrition risks ahead Today’s workforce expects resources officer (CHRO) at of time, but also help them Genpact, talks about the need hold prompt retention and employers to build meaningful experiences that are for improved employee expe- succession planning discushighly personalised, respon- rience, reskilling and learnsions. ing, among other key issues. sive to their needs, and Hiring multilingual talent: constantly improved. To When domain, digital, and stay relevant in the rapidlydata come together, compaWhat should HR leaders advancing digital world and keep in mind while empow- nies, industries, and individ| October 2022



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 relentless 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?


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 inclusive. So naturally, diversity, equity, and inclusion within a company and its leadership are a top priority for them. It is not a "nice to have" for this generation, but a “must have”, that is core to their personal identities. At Genpact, we recognise 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


uals transform. Which is why, having multilingual employees – those with deep knowledge of their industry or function, awareness of how to harness the potential of digital technologies at scale and understand how to interpret 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 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 and will ensure a strong future ready pipeline to shape the organisation’s future.

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

October 2022 |




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


and larger responsibilities. During the last quarter, our employees completed more than 2.5 million training hours, leveraging our online on-demand learning platform, Genome. We’ve also been able to successfully 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

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 Furthermore, the war for talent has reached unprecedented levels, so it is no longer only about hiring talent, but also about retaining talent and developing talent for the long term. Again, 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. Therefore, we have invested in fostering a culture of continuous learning to enable people who invest in themselves to get access to new opportunities | October 2022

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 emphasis on two significant developments: the correlation between the employee experience and business results, and establishment of a mutual relationship of trust

between employees and their company. Behaviours that emerge in this scenario will include humility and inclusiveness, speed to outcome, and ability to deal with ambiguity. Also, at the core of employee experience is a deep focus on transformation to adapt to the new ways of working, which is largely dependent on evolving culture, processes, and creating a frictionless technology environment necessary to empower efficient and successful employees. It is true that today’s workforce expects meaningful employee experiences that are highly personalised, responsive to their needs, and constantly improved. However, merely adopting the best and most updated technology does not necessarily 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 important 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

– which guides us and communicates our values across the business and to our employees, clients, partners, 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 business 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 leaders 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 leaders, and diversify the top talent in our global roles. October 2022 |


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 Headspace, 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 rallying teams around a shared purpose of a relentless pursuit of a world that works better for people


consequent remote working have greatly influenced businesses and people to focus on their wellbeing, beyond just standard health and safety concerns. And according 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 technology 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 sentiment and morale in realtime. Unlike other employee engagement surveys, Amber serves as a continuous 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 employees is designed to be quick and easy, it is hyper-personalised, empathetic, and intu-


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





itans of industry such as Jack Welch and Sam Walton have emphasised the need to read and heed the harbingers of disruption and proactively 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 multidisciplinary thinking also continues to expand. In such a universe, organisations must rethink how they approach capacity building. It is no longer viable to bank on hiring as a sure-shot method of acquiring specific niche talent when needed. The talent market is highly fragmented, with some of the most scarce skills being in crucial demand. Organisations must identify broad buckets | October 2022

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 potential 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 additional capacities required, enabling organisations to quickly ramp up teams and capitalise on such opportunities. Learning and development take centre stage in such a situation. An organisation’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 multidisciplinary skillsets, developing talent that can straddle disciplines becomes a key enabler. Maintaining such a focus across the organisation 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 multidisciplinary 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 deployment of resources to new multidisciplinary projects, creating an agile organisation that is future-ready and capable of speedily capitalising on opportunities in a VUCA world. Digital skills are an example 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 accelerated by the impact of COVID-19. This will further accelerate the advent of the gig economy, which will significantly alter the composition of the workforce. Learning and development programmes will play

The onus falls squarely on the learning and development 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 development and opportunities that keep employees ahead of the curve. The additional benefit to the organisation is that a culture of continuous learning also spawns a culture of curiosity, which acts as an internal driver for growth.

Curious, driven employees with a desire to keep growing eventually develop into leaders who then strengthen the culture of learning, furthering this virtuous cycle and creating more leaders. The result is an organisation with a growth mindset, where people’s careers are accelerated, and leaders are built. Given how essential learning and development programmes are to organisational success, organisations


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

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 business partners, such as IT, Finance, and HR, the learning and development function must make the same shift and become business outcome-oriented. Establishing more evident linkages between learning and development programmes undertaken and business outcomes allows for organisations to justify a greater investment and sustained focus on the same. Learning and development programs are a vital building block of organisational success. The opportunity 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 partnership, 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.


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 journey of any organisational transformation. Transformations 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 organisational goals. For this, existing talent must buy into the transformation and feel that it offers them personal growth and that they continue to be valued by the organisation. Upskilling programmes help them adapt to the new paradigm and send a clear message that the organisation remains invested in its success. The current state of the talent marketplace firmly places the advantage in the hands of candidates rather than employers. Organisations must clearly distinguish themselves from competitors for talent in terms of the employee value proposition that they offer. A culture of learning can be a powerful differentiator.


Jai Maroo is the Executive Director at Shemaroo Entertainment October 2022 |


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





hen we talk about a skilled workforce 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-

| October 2022

ments, soft skills are also becoming increasingly important and even mandatory. Given the needs of the day, it is critical that organisations 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 & professional, 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 experience 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 experience or knowledge is essential. It is not difficult to get certifications. From a career training or academy perspective, there are many institutions and companies that offer training programmes. There are also many centres which specialise in training fresh graduates and making them ready

across a multitude of skills. These institutions work with other workforce solution 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 skilling strategies, and the importance of technology and measurement tools in creating impactful skilling programmes.

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

October 2022 |


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

Other such families include Oracle Agile PLM with UX design using Figma, analytical thinking and tool knowhow, SharePoint or other collaboration techniques with a manufacturing background, Sitecore 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 training efforts across the skills required for each family. C OVER

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

– 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 containers and micro services. Such demand means there are quite a few standard offerings, but the need for customisation and integration requires technological know-how across a multitude of skills. So organisations need to start thinking of skill families rather than independent skills – for example, Oracle SOA with web logic along with database skills, Unix and shell scripting.


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 need to predict demand patterns and keep abreast of business needs based on strong forecasting techniques Role of technology and measurement tools in creating impactful skilling programmes

Today, classroom training is passe. Training increasingly 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 accurately, technology and tools play a very important role. AI also allows learning to be customised to an individual’s learning style and capacity, making it more effective and targeted to individuals. The metaverse can play a huge role in making train| October 2022

ing feel closer to the classroom experience, with simulations to make the environment more realistic. Also, it can feel instructor-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

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 technology 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 apprehensive about taking in people who are just trained. This is why certifications, shadowing other projects, doing model projects or contributing through crowdsourcing and other broadbased approaches may be a good idea to build one's portfolio and demonstrate that experience.

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

Being a leader in the space of learning solutions, how October 2022 |


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 community do to close the skills gap in the future. Nigam, who is a keen follower of disruptive technol-

What are the big disruptions 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 evolving business landscape, the requirements of skills are quite fragile as you can’t bet on one set of skills, especially 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 attention on and what are the fads that can be ignored.



n 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 workforce. As a result of these changes, skills requirements for jobs have been evolving rapidly. As leaders and organisations understand its implications on hiring, recruitment, retention and engagement, 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

ogies and the many ways of creating new business opportunities 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 performance and engagement. With a distributed workforce across several industries today, he has also introduced multilingual learning management systems and is working towards many more innovative solutions. Excerpts from the interview:



is Stratbeans supporting organisations to re-imagine their programmes and delivery modes to meet the needs of the new-age learners? 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 existing and emerging technologies 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 industry-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 delivery 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 sourcing, reskilling and the point of trade among them. 4. Bringing scalability and automation in personalised 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 Stratbeans, 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 strategy 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 54

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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


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 invite 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. Additionally, 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.

and encouragement to such influencers, to manage and contribute to peer learning. We found that peer learning • Modernise LMS and LXP and performance support stack with 'point solutions' reduces the barrier in the reto enhance performance skilling/upskilling journey. support, connect between Our competency inventory SMEs and get answers solution from our R&D cenfrom existing knowledge tre in Bengaluru, which sits base through AI-based on top of any LMS system, deep search, so you are has the ability to accurately able to convert SOPs into drive the learning experivideos and simulations. ence and offer precise customised experience for each • Facilitate internal experts to become vocal thought learner for reskilling. leaders sharing their knowledge, and offer them Finally, what are some the resources and support major learnings you would through policies and apwant to share with leaders preciation. and the community as they • Invest in active skilling design their skilling stratesystems such as videogies for a disruptive busibased coaching and roleness landscape? play simulators. These are According to my journey especially important for and understanding of the employees who come in evolving L&D space, these direct contact with cusare the learnings leaders tomers (such as the sales must incorporate to empowand support teams) er organisations: • Create knowledge influenStratbeans is a partner for People cers within the organisaMatters L&D India Conference 2022, tion. held on October 12 at Grand Hyatt, Mumbai. • Provide the right tools October 2022 |




Psychologically safe: Culture design for learning – and failing

build a culture of learning in today’s disruptive times? For me, it starts with first embedding a ‘growth mindset’ within the company. This mindset was first articulated by Dr Carol Dweck in her research, where a person or even a company acknowPeople say they want compensation and benefits. But it's ledges their weaknesses culture design that truly matters, according to HR leader, and looks for opportunities author, culture and innovation evangelist and learner at to improve. This mindset heart Daniel Strode depicts that people want to By Ramya Palisetty learn, explore and try new The emergence of newer things – even if they may fail technology might have left in the end. And it’s a mindmany leaders in a difficult set that encourages people to position, where they are persist in their endeavours, trying to keep pace with the not quit when faced with constantly evolving world a challenge and work with of work. But for Strode, even others to help them succeed. though technology has been So, the question arises, the reason behind a lot of how do you build a growth skills change, when it comes mindset where people want to learning, he feels it is to learn? For organisaactually an aid. In an exclutions to do so, they have to sive interview with People make themselves ‘psychoMatters, he shares the need logically safe’, where leadfor a growth mindset to bring ers create an environment about change, why a leader ulture and innovawhere it is safe to fail, safe needs to be a listener first tion evangelist Daniel to learn, and safe to try new and doer later, the unconStrode has pioneered things. One achieves that ventional paths to harnessthe eight essential traits by taking consistent action ing the power of technology of successful companies each day; removing ambiguto design better L&D stratwhich every organisation ity, mismatches and threats egies, and why each one of can embed deep into their (setting the direction), celeus should turn the conversacompany culture in these brating courageous converdisruptive times. The author tion away from ‘should we sations (praising people for of the recently released book, do something’ to ‘let us try it being brave), being empaand see what happens’. The Culture Advantage: thetic and curious (underEmpowering Your People To standing that people In your book, The Culture have different views and Drive Innovation, says that Advantage, you have rather than compensation respecting it), never rushand benefits, leaders should decoded the innovation ing to give advice (letting focus on culture design of a your people come up with the puzzle as a way to futurecompany, which is far more ideas) and clarifying roles proof business. How can important today. and responsibilities (making organisations and leaders | October 2022



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. 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 In recent times, what are flow of work. One of the most the radical shifts you have come across in learning and interesting evolutions I have development? What are come across in the learning some vital steps that leadspace is to do with technology. ers need to consider when The very thing which is drivdesigning their L&D strateing a lot of skills change is gies? actually an aid when it comes I would say that things to learning. are changing, and changing Firstly, I see the general faster than ever before. We trend towards learning in are living in a world of expo- the flow of work – learning nential change – there are as you do/ learning as you technologies such as 5G, arti- go along; just in time. And, ficial intelligence, the intersecondly, using technology net of things, metaverse and to help you learn faster. For Web 3.0 all happening at the example, as a learner, you same time as one another. may learn better through Earlier, just one of these podcasts, or videos, or even technologies would have reading and now, more and 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 everyone goes home happy.


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 workplace 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 understand that everyone expects to be treated as an individual, which means truly listening to everyone’s voice and then taking the necessary 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 individual, is to realise that a leader’s job is to serve the people and that the technical

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 October 2022 |



more platforms are offering CHOICE to learners, which is important. Equally, there are companies 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 training 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 leaders 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 spending 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 partner 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 transformation and innovation through technology is inherently a culture change programme, one which arises through a need to adapt the mindset of a company; to help companies recognise that technology 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 conversation away from 'should we do something' to 'let us try it, and see what happens.' Daniel Strode was a keynote speaker at India’s largest learning and development conference, People Matters L&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


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 technology, for either conventional 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. October 2022 |


any type of device, from tablets to head-mounted displays. The metaverse comprises various building blocks such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (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.


ver the years, technology-driven environments including social networks, video conferencing, 3D, AR/VR, and virtual games have enabled digital transformation for educators, businesses, and Individuals. Now the latest term “Metaverse” has been coined to represent the further facilitation of digital transformation in every aspect of our lives. Gartner defines a “Metaverse” as a collective virtual shared space created by converging virtually enhanced physical and digital reality. It is persistent, providing enhanced immersive experiences, as well as device-independent, and accessible through



Many industries are exploring substituting conventional in-person learning with digital, VR-based learning alternatives. Instead of getting employees to travel to offices/ learning centres, metaverselike spaces can be used to skill virtually. Retail industries 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, engineering companies can use the metaverse to skill employees in trades such as plumbing, electrical, machine operations or other desirable fields, using AR to create virtual, life-like and simulation-based learning experi| October 2022

ences, even real-time case studies to test how employees might respond on the ground. And of course the metaverse can also be used in the healthcare industry, especially 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 unprecedented era of the knowledge economy. However, the shift from a labour-intensive economy 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 themselves by picking and choosing 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 generation 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 increasingly using game-based learning to provide immersive and engaging experiences to learners and AR and VR have become the crux. Knowledge retention through practical learning becomes a reality 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 different from what the industry had expected two years ago. The pandemic caused a sea change in the workplace and skilling is no exception. While we may not know exactly what the future holds, the prospect of the metaverse is exciting. ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Neeti Sharma is the Co-Founder & President at TeamLease EdTech.

Y Shekar

The employee unboxed: Moonlighting isn’t a bad idea! In these times, knowledge workers are much in demand; can we blame professionals, who seem to be least bothered about employer loyalty, for scouting out multiple work avenues to earn some extra income?

mobile phones as the ubiquitous medium for personal and professional interactions. Within that, we are adapting to the frequent updates and changes in the devices, software and apps. Such adjustment journeys have been challenging at times when we lack full understanding of technology's applications and importance. One such ongoing journey of adjustment is that of the information explosion. Thanks to the Inter-

net boom, information has become democratised. Citadels of power, enshrined in corporate offices, which safeguarded various kinds of information as ‘business secrets’, came crumbling down when large scale automation forced that information 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, accessible to all. Pricing methods, sourcing partners, new product launches, distribution channels deployed, quality norms implemented, and many such initiatives became transparent in a process-oriented organisation.

Employee engagement


n an age when technological 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

The rise of knowledge and collaboration To keep up with this transformation, organisations October 2022 |


Employee engagement

desperately need ‘knowledge-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 someone 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 practices. An example of this revolutionary change can be found in the auto industry. 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 information 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 collaborate. 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 information under the hood or holding 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 behaviour exist?

Keeping information under the hood or holding back something as a ‘trade secret’ is not only a business deterrent but also highly challenging 62

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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 Unboxing the employee

modate international players’ schedules to participate in IPL. IPL is not an official game under ICC. In its own way, IPL portrays an official status especially when it comes to selection of players. With the use of technology, 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 innovation, IPL has transformed cricket and also made itself into a formidable industry that guzzles data with the use of latest technologies and provides employment opportunities to those adept with technological skills. IPL coexists with the traditional form of Cricket – Test Match, ODI and T20!

Employee engagement

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

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 insurance, education loans, etc. It also invested in the employee’s relationship in terms of providing training, 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 relationOctober 2022 |


Employee engagement

ship has been reduced to a contract – commercial terms and cold clauses. Organisations have also become highly process-led in their operations and result-oriented 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 opportunities, risks, and challenges of charting a career. She expects the best from her organisation for her to give her best.

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 During pandemic times, the disruption meant different things to different people. Some saw advantages in the work-fromhome (now anywhere), while others experienced challenges in not being part of the traditional ‘office set-up’. Either way, technology 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,


insofar as the employee is concerned. One, the employee had to find solutions 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 problems had to be managed on a day-to-day basis by the employee. In the process, she discovered her problem-solving capabilities, determination, resilience, etc. Two, she became directly

| October 2022

connected to the client during their online meetings. Until now, she interacted 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 professional capabilities and self-confidence, and understood the value such exposure unlocked within her. The employee was unboxed from the organisation – she became the organisation in the onlookers’ eyes. The online world presented her

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 technologies of their liking to work on. It was a matter of ‘choice’ in the online world! Everyone acknowledges the fact that the desire for income drives people to work for an organisation. Neither party – the employer or employee – is over-invested 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 employees are in demand in the global market because the pandemic made work go to

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.

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 employees are terminated to make an example, other knowledge 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. Eventually, 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 (knowledge worker) will be the king. Organisations will need to demonstrate sensitivity to their employ-

What are employers to do now?

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. 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 consortium takes on complex projects and puts in the best talents to deliver outstanding results. The commercials 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 services. Either way, it seems that moonlighting will have to be accepted as a new model of work!

Employee engagement

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

part ways with the employer anyway. Whether terminated 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. Applying force through rules, laws, regulations etc. will


Y Shekar is a Management research scholar (Ph.D.) from University of Mysore. He is an executive coach and co-founder of a start-up. October 2022 |


Visty Banaji

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?

The road less travelled



he 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 malicious 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 bringing 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. | October 2022

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 Working Definition: "A [G-job] is a form of paid employment that is so completely pointless, unnecessary, or pernicious 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 referenced) are from Graeber’s book mentioned in the previous paragraph. Graeber’s focus, of course, is not limited to HR but some of his observations 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-

esque bureaucracy, with its attendant dystopian consequences.2 Duct tape jobs are there to patch up a glitch or fault in the system or organisation 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 unnecessary supervisors who only assign work to others that people could otherwise have allocated between themselves. While Type 1 taskmasters are merely useless, Type 2 taskmasters 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 pointless because they are performed in support of a pointless enterprise." A taxonomy worth remembering as we look more closely at G-jobs in HR.

The road less travelled

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 downsizing in the blue-collar sector also brought a rapid multiplication 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 someone else look or feel important. • Goon jobs are G-jobs with an aggressive or threatening 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 October 2022 |


The road less travelled 68

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 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-vicarious measures of the core results expected from the function. Additionally, there are some other ways the G-concoction gets concentrated to make HR go from Good to G-rate. Several HR leaders have high power needs that make them inveterate empire builders. These empires | October 2022

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 poisonous without reducing its essential uselessness. Less lethal G-jobs multiply when HR becomes the locus of stone age systems trying to cajole patchwork processes to work. Huge amounts of G-work plaster 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 designing a self-correcting system from the ground up using the latest technology and methods. Then there are the ethically questionable G-roles for 'managing' the authorities because non-compliances and safety hazards haven’t been eliminated. IR jobs are notorious for getting filled with G-work arising from handling chronic grievances because others (e.g. timekeeping and payroll) give the lowest priority to automating or replacing systems that cause employee unhappiness.

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 '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 proportion and much less pleasant 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 implemented despite their objections makes no difference.

The road less travelled

One of the reasons even negligible investment needed for HR systems gets shoved into the postponable category, year after year, is that it’s not exciting to talk about at the convention, conference or cocktail circuit. On the other hand, creating a dedicated diversity or ethics position literally overflows with conversation potential. 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 graveyards (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 celebrities or movie stars) under the fond hope that a year full of employee mistreatment

HR Business Partners facing irate managers and employees 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 withering fire that meets G-roles on the front lines. However, they don’t get off entirely G-free. If they are spotted as prize HR talent, they may get allocated to special initiatives the CEO and CHRO are pushing at the time. Such high-stake work October 2022 |


The road less travelled 70

has been the making of many an HR leader. However, should the project turn out to be ill-conceived fluff, regardless 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 departments is through the over-engineering of the function. As Clayton Christensen pointed out, 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.8 A previous 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 bursting 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 written without HR specifically in focus, every one of his B-job classifications finds a parallel G-job type in HR. The correspondence goes a | October 2022

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

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 Making HR G-free the right frame of mind for Attractive as I find Graeber’s this task it would be useful UBI-linked global solutions, to re-read the Hammer blow they are neither possible nor delivered decades back in necessary for cleaning the 'Reengineering Work: Don’t G-ills of HR. The ideas given Automate, Obliterate.'10 below may also not benefit As Hammer puts it: "It is all HR departments. The best time to stop paving the cow CHROs never permit G-jobs paths. Instead of embedding to be created or continued. outdated processes in siliOn the other hand, there are con and software, we should those who positively revel obliterate them and start in imagining and installing over." This is the time to idenmore and more G-jobs. This tify (even if elimination takes section is useless for both place in a phased manner) of these categories. Perhaps HR initiatives, activities and those who want to launch a roles that are to be consigned G-cleanup (after succeeding to Davy Jones' Locker (DJL). as a G-creator) will benefit the One simple way to find most from these suggestions. G-jobs is to look for sections A fresh incumbent CHRO and roles that are not (whether internally chosen making a direct contribuor an external recruit) tion to enhancing aggreusually gets an opportungate employee happiness11 ity to review and recast the either through the Design of

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

Can individuals escape From Their G-aram hell?

Unfortunately, the G-problem 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 vigilant, 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 Manhattan or Berlin. Notes: 1. 2.

3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13.

David Graeber, Bullshit Jobs: The Rise of Pointless Work, and What We Can Do About It, Penguin; 2019. Randy Hodson, Vincent J Roscigno, Andrew Martin and Steven H Lopez, The ascension of Kafkaesque bureaucracy in private sector organizations, Human Relations, September 2013. Robert Greene, The 48 Laws Of Power (The Modern Machiavellian), Profile Books, 2000. Visty Banaji, The Dogs of (Office) War, People Matters, People Matters, 25 February 2022. Stephen Fry, Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold, Penguin, 2018. Visty Banaji, Draining the (training) swamp, People Matters, 24 August 2020. Juvenal (Trans A S Kline), Satires, X, 81, Poetry in Translation, 2011. Clayton Christensen, The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail, Harvard Business Review Press; 1997. Visty Banaji, Minimal HR for maximal effect, People Matters, 12 January 2017. Michael Hammer, Reengineering Work: Don’t Automate, Obliterate, Harvard Business Review, July-August, 1990. Visty Banaji, HR’s business should be happiness raising, People Matters, 24 September 2019. Visty Banaji, ‘If you want people to do a good job, give them a good job to do’, People Matters, 24 June 2021. Leonard Cohen, First We Take Manhattan, Famous Blue Raincoat: The Songs of Leonard Cohen, 1988.

The road less travelled

jobs,12 their Durability or the Development of people in present/future job competencies. The further jobs get from this reliable foundation, the likelier they are to be G-fluffed and become candidates for elimination. 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 briefing them about the characteristics of G-jobs. Apart from the direct contribution 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 benefit employees or the business. 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 'agnipariksha' of an employee referendum. In its full form, this would require a level of corporate democracy that few organisations have attained. For the time being,

Visty Banaji is the Founder and CEO of Banner Global Consulting (BGC) October 2022 |


Past Month's events

Knowledge + Networking

Physical Event: People Matters L&D Conference India People Matters 12 October 2022 India’s largest learning and development conference, 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 evolving business landscape, and together explored how capability 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 People Matters BeNext 19 September – 21 October 2022 The latest edition of this programme was conducted for women leaders interested in accelerating their career growth within their organisation and learning critical skills for women heading a team. Watch this space to find out when this BeNext course specially to help women overcome obstacles in the leadership journey will return.

Online Programme: Design Thinking and Agile for HR

| October 2022

People Matters BeNext 26 September – 28 October 2022 The latest edition of this programme was held for leaders eager to gain practical, hands-on approaches to organisational L&D strategies, connecting policies and practices to business performance. Watch this space to find out when this BeNext course will return – prior knowledge of capabilities-building, and L&D strategizing will be useful but not indispensable.

Ongoing Programmes People Matters BeNext 10 October – 11 November 2022 This programme is for HR leaders committed to finding creative solutions to complex problems facing their teams, moving from an understanding of Agile processes to a whole new mindset of creativity, innovation and people-centred progress.


Online Programme: Strategizing Organizational L&D: Performance, Productivity & Impact

Online Programme: DEI: Implementing Unbiased Strategies in the New World of Work People Matters BeNext 31 October – 02 December 2022 This programme is for leaders invested in creating lasting mindset shifts and developing a more inclusive employee experience through the implementation of impactful DE&I initiatives and strategies. Develop a more diverse, inclusive and equitable workplace through practices and strategies that uncover and overcome biases.

Upcoming events Physical Event: People Matters EX Conference Indonesia

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 December 2022 This programme is designed for organisations with existing rewards programs interested in reframing their compensation and benefits strategy to create a more agile, equitable and sustainable strategy 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 Registration now available.

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

Knowledge + Networking

People Matters 03 November 2022 The world of work is changing and so are the expectations 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 Matters EX Indonesia 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.

Physical Event: People Matters Total Rewards & Wellbeing Conference

People Matters BeNext 21 November – 23 December 2022 This programme is for leaders and practitioners interested 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.

October 2022 |



>> Rubi Khan

What needs to be done before building an inclusive workplace

b lo g o s p he r e

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


iversity 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 identity. Yet, at the same time, few organisations are already thriving as diverse and inclusive workplaces. As rightly said, diversity is a fact, whereas inclusion is a choice. Diversity varies from demography to age, gender, religion, caste, and community. Inclusion is welcoming, sustain-

ing and strengthening diversity 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 organisations with aspirations to become inclusive begin with initiatives, programs and standalone interventions. Consequently, the impact of such interventions is not sustainable. The core to building an inclusive workplace is to identify, create and strengthen PALS: P-Progressive culture A-Allyship L-Leaders’ sponsorship S-Sustainable practices

Progressive culture

An organisation can be inclusive through its forward-thinking 74

| October 2022

parity, promotion and performance evaluations, sabbatical and returning mothers, people with disability etc. These policies strengthen the organisation's core and bring a framework for everyone. Progressive culture fosters a progressive mindset that helps to build and reinforce employee connections and social capital within the organisation.


Institutions can only be inclusive 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 contributors, collaborators, accomplices and advocates. These allies not only guide and lead inclusion but can give insights from representing various cohorts and can influence policies, practices and initiatives within the organisation. Allyships bring us closer to the business, field, and reality, as well as helps in seeking the commitment of various

October 2022 |

b lo g o sp he r e

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 organisation 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 psychological 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 contributing to building an inclusive workplace. Organisational policies are essential enablers to embedding inclusion in the workplace. For example, policies related to LGBTQ, maternity and paternity leave, recruitment policies, pay


stakeholders in embedding inclusion as a fabric of the organisation. 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.

b lo g o s p he r e

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 Struggles 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 prominent anchor and sponsors of inclusion 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

| October 2022

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 interventions where they learn about inclusive behaviour and unconscious biases. They are very much involved from the beginning. They drive the agenda of inclusion in the workplace. Leaders demonstrate 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 inclusive environment.

Sustainable interventions

Leaders and employees need to demonstrate tenacity, openness and a high sense of awareness to embed inclusion as a core of the organisation survey cited those participants who shared their experience of an inclusive 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.

b lo g o sp he r e

As inclusion has become a global plan for organisations, we want to put our best foot forward. We want to deploy the best practices. 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 commitment if the ecosystem is inclusive. 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 ceiling, 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 principle of equity and not equality. Moreover, the needs of different generations and employees as per their career ladder are different. Therefore, equity and not equality should be the principle while offering developmental interventions like mentoring, reverse mentoring, coaching, shadowing and capability journey. A Deloitte


Rubi Khan is the Assistant Vice President – People Initiatives,Talent Management and OD at Max Life Insurance Company Limited. October 2022 |


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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