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The war for talent rolls on

There's a curious paradox happening in the world of talent acquisition.

On the one hand, largescale layoffs have been dominating the headlines across industries. Some companies have said that they overextended themselves during the pandemic and now have to right-size because the demand for their products and services is below projected levels. Others, under pressure from investors, are restructuring and looking to cut costs.

But on the other hand, just as many companies are hiring, and they are vigorously evolving their talent attraction and retention strategies in their quest for

business success. Many of the challenges they anticipate are a continuation of changing employee expectations that we saw during the pandemic. From flexibility as a priority, to the importance of well-being, to the simple fact of specialised talent being in a minority: these are entirely familiar.

However, organisations are also fully aware of financial constraints as the cost of living and the cost of capital rise. And the most forward-thinking organisations are also aware that these constraints apply to employers and employees alike, and are prepared to take this new factor into account.

Against this challenging backdrop, we look at what some organisations are doing to maintain a robust talent acquisition and retention strategy. One thing is clear: the concerns and

considerations that many organisations face are quite similar, and the approaches that prove successful also have many commonalities.

In this issue, our cover story brings together assorted perspectives on the fundamentals of talent acquisition in an uncertain world. We hear from global leaders taking both a broad view and zooming in on what their own organisations are doing, from Clement de Villepin of Thales to Christiane Bien of Vitesco, Amit Prakash of Marico to Lim Chee Gay of TDCX, and more.

Our Big Interview features Maryjo Charbonnier, the global CHRO of IBM's giant spinoff Kyndryl, who shares her experience of building the culture for a startup so huge it's bigger than many multinationals.

Speaking of talent acquisition, we just wrapped the

2 | FEBRUARY 2023 From the e ditor’s d esk From the e ditor’s d esk

India edition of our Talent Acquisition Conference in February. A big thank you to all our partners, speakers, participants and members of our community, who came together to make this a huge success.

Our next big event happens in Singapore on 13 April, when we'll be bringing learning and skilling professionals from around Southeast Asia together for our L&D Conference to stay on top of the latest learning trends, best practices, hot topics and innovative Learning solutions.

Watch this space as we open more paths and bring more ways for our community to Become The Answer.

If you haven't yet checked out our exciting new platforms, take a few minutes out of your day to tune in to my podcast, People Matters Unplugged, which brings candid conversations on

people and work straight to your digital doorstep. For the hottest trends, look on LinkedIn for our Big Questions series, live in both India and Southeast Asia, which invites leaders to put in their thoughts on the fresh trends and burning questions of today's world of work. Our latest discussions were on the brand new topic of generative AI and its impact on work and the workforce. Catch us live on LinkedIn every month as we bring you more bold and innovative discussions.

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

Happy Reading!

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Follow F > estermartinez > M > @Ester_Matters From the e ditor’s d esk THE COVER STORY (BEHIND THE SCENE) Love it, but make it black. Done


28 HR fundamentals that help win the war for talent

32 The world needs more engineers: here’s what Thales is doing

CLEMEnt dE ViLLEpin, Senior HR leader at engineering multinational Thales

35 Motivating talent in the FMCG industry in 2023

aMit praKasH, CHRO, Marico Limited

MaMta sHarMa

38 How we can redefine talent management

CHristianE BiEn, Head of HR - Division Powertrain Solutions at Vitesco Technologies

41 G-P founder Nicole Sahin talks about remote work at Davos 2023

niCoLE saHin, Founder and Chair of G-P

44 Evolving talent acquisition strategy in 2023

MoHan KuMar, Head of Talent Acquisition, Intuit BY raMya paLisEtty

editor-iN-ChieF Esther Martinez Hernandez

editor & New produCt CoNteNt strategist (global)

Mastufa Ahmed

maNager - desigN, photography, aNd produCtioN

Marta Martinez

seNior editors

Mint Kang

Rachel Ranosa

seNior maNager - researCh aNd CoNteNt strategy - apaC

Jerry Moses

seNior assoCiates - CoNteNt

Asmaani Kumar | Aastha Gupta

Samriddhi Srivastava

assoCiate editor

Mamta Sharma

assistaNt editor

Jagriti Kumari

CoNteNt marketiNg lead

Ramya Palisetty

digital head

Prakash Shahi

desigN & produCtioN

Shinto Kallattu

seNior maNager - global sales aNd partNerships

Saloni Gulati

maNager - subsCriptioN Sumali Das Purkyastha

published by People Matters Publishing Pvt. Ltd.

owNed by People Matters Publishing Pvt. Ltd.

published at:

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NotE to tHE READERS the views expressed in articles are those of the authors and do not reflect the views of people matters.

although all efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the content, neither the editors

nor the publisher can take responsibility for consequences arising from errors or omissions in the information provided. reproduction in any manner without prior permission from the publisher is prohibited.

4 | FEBRUARY 2023 C o N te N ts this issue oF PEOPLE maTTERS CoNtaiNs 69 pages iNCludiNg Cover
FEBRUARY 2023 vol U m E xiv iss UE 2
Cover story 26
5 FEBRUARY 2023 | C o N te N ts Featured In thIs Issue ChRistiAnE BiEn ClEmEnt dE villEpin mARYjo ChARBonniER mERvYn dinnEn mohAn KUmAR niColE sAhin shAswAt KUmAR COntrIButOrs tO thIs Issue Amit pRAKAsh AnKitA poddAR AnthonY smith lim ChEE GAY m mUnEER RAKhEE shARmA sAmRiddhi sRivAstAvA vistY BAnAji REGUlARs 02 From the Editor’s Desk 06 Letters of the month 08 Quick Reads 13 Rapid Fire 64 Knowledge + Networking 14 BiG intERviEw The art of building organisational culture Maryjo Charbonnier, Chief Human Resources Officer of Kyndryl By
intERviEw Moments thinking is critical to improving the EX dimension continuously haswat Kumar, Sr. VP- Global Customer Success & Delivery of Darwinbox Asmaani
22 19 Emplo YEE En GAGE m E nt Is a four-day workweek really worth it? BY antHony sMitH, Chief Operating Officer at Atlas 47 Bi G Q UE stions The risks and rewards of Generative AI: Navigating the future of ChatGPT in the world of work BY saMriddHi sriVastaVa 50 s t RA t EG i C h R Get ready for the top-5 HR challenges of 2023 BY M MunEEr, Fortune 500 consultant, author and startup investor/mentor 54 sK illin G 7 ways reading can boost your career success BY raKHEE sHarMa 58 t h E R o A d l E ss t RA v E ll E d Countering the merchants of emplocide BY Visty BanaJi, Founder and CEO of Banner Global Consulting (BGC) 66 Blo G osph ERE Why we should rethink averages BY anKita poddar, Host of the podcast HR Bandit and blogs about all things HR
Mint Kang

Letters of the month

Skill S will be the new currency of the workplace

Rethinking talent experience is the need of the hour to keep up with the changing demands of the industries. An extremely important takeaway is that it isn’t just about establishing an alignment between talent strategy and business outcomes but also about a synergy between the organisation's purpose and goals and personalised skills and development of their employees. AI can be of special help here to access skill data in order to understand the people, their needs for the skills as well as to note the ones they already have. A personalised experience of learning will prove to be both engaging and empowering.

A data-driven approach to career development and employee retention

Graph databases and graph data sciences are here to improve our traditional perception and employment of employee data. It allows organisations to connect siloed data ensuring application of it in various fields like workforce planning analytics and career development recommendations for employees. With

its wide-ranging usage, the graph data can help organisations use different lenses to determine where upskilling is needed. In addition to this, it can also be leveraged to anticipate future skill demand. This will help in equipping employees for the upcoming technological change.

Why listening is key to employee engagement

The most under-rated skill ever is that of listening. I cannot think of anyone who says they would want their boss to listen less and talk more. Quite in reverse, any employee will be more engaged if they are given the chance to talk and be listened to. Too many bosses focus upon talking as much as they can in order to sound intelligent, and too few listen in order to be truly intelligent. And because of that, bosses who listen are all the more appreciated!

Caring, enablement, and human leadership

It is the other side of today's fears that employees, especially Gen Z, are becoming too entitled. Many leaders worry too much that we are pandering to the demands of the younger generation. Leaders were once young themselves and had needs that their own seniors did not understand. It is important to remember that what we see as entitlement may come from real and urgent needs we do not know about, so that we can practise compassion and enlightenment.

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qui C k reads letters o F the mo N th
JaNuary 2023 issue

Interact with People Matters

Creating a neuro-inclusive hiring process

Knowledge of neurodivergence has climbed higher and higher in the present day as our ability to recognise and understand it improves. Indeed, we have even learned to leverage neurodivergence and put it to best use. Important that hiring must catch up and make the proper accommodations for talent with neurodivergence.

Leverage employee experience for business success

With companies becoming more interested in finding talent within before looking outside, it is becoming increasingly important to reimagine organisation culture as one where employees feel their voice is valued. Priorities of companies in HR in 2023 would be to retain valuable and diverse talent, accelerate digital transformation and prioritise learning and development programs. Also, very importantly, it is hightime to recognise and fill the disparities that exist in the workspace. A push on the female tech-progression is needed so that gender parity can be ensured within organisations.

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

Disrupting the quiet quitting trope

Quiet Quitting indeed has become the part and parcel of the new normal. One of the practical steps every organisation can adopt to avoid the trend is becoming a ‘listening’ organisation. Moving away from the onesize-fits-all approach is the first step to be aware and develop an understanding of the employee differences and eventually, cater to them. Other steps include establishing a high performance, high compassion culture, constantly upskilling and reskilling the employees according to the time and needs, and developing an environment that embraces change and encourages innovation.

The hags of Indian business

Could not agree more! Biographies written to exalt and inflate leaders in golden light are interesting only to the leaders themselves and the people who wish to get into their good books. The rest of us will much prefer to read about more realistic true events that the leaders have encountered or created.


HireRight @HireRight

With HireRight’s 2023 Global Benchmark Survey now open, Marcellus Solomon, General Manager of India at HireRight, shares last year's survey's #talentacquisition and #backgroundscreening insights from #HR professionals in India with @PeopleMatters2.

G-P @GlobalEoR

G-P Founder @nicolemsahin spoke about the transformative impact of #RemoteWork on economic equity & opportunities, and in a recent interview with @PeopleMatters2 shared insights from her session about #AI, #Fintech & #HR Tech in #Employment. Check it out

Intuit India @IntuitIN

At Intuit, we want to grow our people’s careers meaningfully. We encourage our employees to own their career and navigate via self reflection, continuously identifying and assessing their strengths and growth opportunities' - @_mohan_ kumar @PeopleMatters2

Compono @Componotech

Yes - matching with the right business can lead to happier, more fulfilling careers @PeopleMatters2 #workculture #workhapiness #careers

HRCurator @HRCurator

Why we should rethink averages… @PeopleMatters2 #HR #HCM #HRM #HumanResources #HRData #HRAnalytics

Skillsoft APAC @SkillsoftAPAC

The list of the 10 most in-demand professionals for 2023 in Australia: the market has turned to digital services, forcing companies to #reskill their staff, hire technology workers and improve the online customer experience. bit. ly/3YfJDRK via @PeopleMatters2

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

H r tECH no Lo Gy raises $11mn in Series A led by SIG Venture Capital, an AI-powered employee service SaaS platform, has raised around $11 million in a Series A round led by SIG Venture Capital with participation from Exfinity Venture Partners.

BetterPlace acquires Indonesia-based MyRobin

Bengaluru-based SaaS and frontline workforce management platform BetterPlace has forayed into South-East Asia with the acquisition of a majority stake in Indonesia’s blue collar workforce

ECono M y & p o L i C y India's Union Budget focuses on infrastructure and tax relief

The Union Budget for 2023-24, announced on 1 February by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, pumps record capital outlays into railways, transport infrastructure, and urban infrastructure, as well as boosting affordable housing. The salaried middle class will

fulfillment platform, MyRobin, for an undisclosed amount. Launched in 2020 in Indonesia, MyRobin has enterprises such as Shopee, Astro, Sicepat, E-Fishery, Kopi Kenangan among its clients. BetterPlace

receive larger tax breaks, and MSMEs get additional credit boosts. There will be additional support for digital infrastructure and technological innovation. On the other hand, certain luxury goods including imported cars will be taxed more heavily. The Budget underscores the government’s emphasis on a technology-driven and knowledge-based economy, with strong public finances and a robust financial sector, against the

Existing investors 9Unicorns and Tri Valley Ventures also participated in the round. The company has plans to use the funds to scale growth and further advance capabilities of the platform. Headquartered in San Ramon, California, was founded in 2017 by Saurabh Kumar, Manish Sharma and Udaya Reddy.

recently raised $40 million as part of their extended Series C round which resulted in international investor Macquarie Capital joining the captable, along with Jungle Ventures, Unitus, BII, Capria and 3one4 Capital.

7,000 staff

gramme to cut costs and streamline its operating strategy. The company's quarterly earnings call in early February revealed a fall in revenue from video channels and increased operating losses, including a drop in advertiser and affiliate revenues. CEO Bob Iger said he is he is targeting $5.5 billion of cost savings across the company and the layoffs will help achieve this. This is the third time Disney will have restructured in the last five years, and the second round of layoffs in three years.

backdrop of strong growth where the Indian economy has increased in size from being 10th to 5th largest in the last nine years.

McKinsey cuts 2,000 jobs

McKinsey is undertaking one of its largest rounds of job cuts in history, with plans to eliminate almost 2,000 positions. Most of these will be support staff in nonclient-facing roles. According to the company, it is still hiring for client-facing positions. The move is reportedly intended to preserve the compensation pool for its partners. McKinsey posted a record US$15 billion in revenue in 2021 and surpassed that figure in 2022.

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The Walt Disney Company is laying off 7,000 people, mostly in streaming and non-sports content, as part of a restructuring pro- Jo B s & Layoffs Disney lays off

PwC adds 30,000 new jobs in India

Global consulting giant PwC is adding 30,000 new jobs in India to further expand its presence in the

Dell lays off nearly 7000 employees as demand for PCs drops

Dell is getting rid of 6,650 employees, affecting roughly 5 per cent of its global workforce, as demand for personal computers continues to decline. Dell's Co-Chief Operating Officer, Jeff Clarke, has claimed that the company is facing tough market conditions with an uncertain future, and that

country. PwC's India workforce currently has over 50,000 people. To further this agenda, PwC India and PwC US have entered into a joint venture in India to accelerate growth, expand client relationships and enhance quality, the company said in a statement. Sanjeev Krishan, Chairperson, PwC in India, described India as a strategically important geography for the PwC Network and said the company will continue to focus on enhancing local capabilities and capacities. The move is part of PwC's its new global strategy, The New Equation, launched in 2021.

Boeing lays off 2,000 HR and finance staff

the layoffs will help the company to navigate the current economic downturn and be better poised for a market rebound.

PayPal lays off 2,000 staff in cost-cutting drive

PayPal is downsizing its workforce by 2,000 amid a macroeconomic slowdown impacting business operations. The cuts, which affect about 7 per cent of employees, took place over February. CEO Dan Schulman, who is himself retiring at the end of 2023, said that while the company has made “substantial progress in right-sizing our cost structure, and focused our resources on our core strategic priorities, we have more work to do.” PayPal’s stock has been battered by the slowdown in growth in payments volume on its platform after the pandemic began to recede. In response, the company has vowed to reduce expenses — including through job cuts and the shuttering of offices.

Boeing is cutting white-collar jobs in a round of layoffs announced in February. Nearly 2,000 employees from the HR and finance divisions are being terminated through a combination of attrition and layoffs. The company revealed that it is outsourcing about one-third of these jobs to Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) in India and that it will continue to modify its corporate structure by “lowering staffing within some support functions.” The move is intended to focus more resources on manufacturing and product development, and follows on a similar reduction of finance staff in 2022 as well as increased hiring in the engineering and manufacturing departments last year.

CoMpEnsation & BEnEfits Zoom CEO Eric Yuan takes a 98% pay cut

Zoom has announced pay cuts for its executive and management staff, at the same time as it is laying

off 1,300 employees or approximately 15% of its workforce. CEO Eric Yuan will be reducing his salary by 98% for the coming fiscal year, and other members of the executive leadership team will reduce their base salaries by 20%. Yuan has admitted that Zoom's exponential growth during the pandemic was not sustainable once the crisis ended. Departing employees will receive up to 16 weeks' salary and other forms of support including healthcare coverage, annual bonuses, vesting of stock options, and outplacement services.

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Generative AI – the new wavemaker of the automation age

Everybody's new favourite chatbot, ChatGPT, got its start with the help of Twitter's biggest troll. Back in 2015, Elon Musk was one of the founders and backers of OpenAI, and although he bowed out of the venture in 2018 claiming a conflict of interest with his work in Tesla, he hasn't been shy about commenting on OpenAI's groundbreaking tool – calling it “scary good” with an emphasis on scary.

ChatGPT's breakthrough into the mainstream followed the emergence of text-to-image models such as Stable Diffusion and OpenAI's own DALL-E, and has in turn been followed by other Big Tech companies eager to jump on the bandwagon. Shortly after ChatGPT's emergence, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced a new AI breakthrough with Bard, which will be opened for "trusted testers" with plans for public release in the near future. And Microsoft built AI into its Bing chatbot, pushing it to apps and Skype.

Just how good is this technology?

AI tools, like other automation technologies in their own time, is being touted as a revolutionary technology that can make our lives easier, faster, and more efficient. And generative AI in particular is being held up as a replacement for the human mind – no longer just physical skills, but also mental abilities including

creativity, long believed to be a signifier of human thought.

Advocates of generative AI say it improves access to innovation, giving unskilled workers a means to express their creativity while enhancing what skilled workers can do.

However, deeper exploration of AI systems' actual capabilities has turned up a variety of limitations. ChatGPT is notoriously incapable of attributing its sources, and individual users have reported that its responses are prone to misinformation. Google Bard made a factual error in its very first promotional video that caused Alphabet's share price to drop by almost 8% (it attributed the very first photos of planets taken outside the solar system to the wrong observatory). The Bing search engine chatbot got several companies' financial results wrong.

The training of these systems also presents a cause for concern. The datasets and data collection methods used to give generative AI its predictive ability are a black box, lacking in transparency and – as the lack of attribution shows – a potential hotbed of plagiarism. Getty Images, for example, is suing the maker of Stable Diffusion for training its model on Getty's paywalled, copyrighted images to such an extent that a large number of Stable Diffusion's generated images have reproduced Getty's watermark.

Text to text, meanwhile, is little better. ChatGPT has been described as a data privacy night-

mare, with no clarity around what was used to train it and no guarantee that an individual's personal content will not be regurgitated in responses to strangers.

How shall we receive it?

In the midst of all this excitement in the world of AI, Internet pioneer Vint Cerf, dubbed one of the fathers of the Internet for his work on the computer communication protocols underpinning the entire World Wide Web, has been warning investors off the chatbot hype. “There's an ethical issue here,” he said, and suggested the world needs to consider the potential consequences of these systems before investing in them. Other tech leaders, including Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, have echoed this sentiment.

In China, the pushback goes even further. regulators have recognised the potential risks of AI and banned all ChatGPT services over fears of uncensored replies, claiming that the tool spreads misinformation.

Is such an extreme reaction warranted, whether positive or negative? It may be early days yet. The technology is still evolving, and so are laws and regulations, not to mention the social norms around it. But if generative AI follows in the footsteps of all the automation that's come and gone before it, one thing is clear: the way we live and work will definitely be changed in one way or another.

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oF the

s Caro L s urfaCE EVE r C H i E f pEop LE

As part of a major executive reshuffle, Apple Inc. has appointed its first ever chief people officer. Carol Surface, formerly of health technology company Medtronic, has been named to the new role effective March. She will be taking over the human resources duties from Deirdre O’Brien, who will continue in her role as head of retail. Surface will be responsible for overseeing the tech giant's workforce of over 164,000 employees globally. This appointment marks a major change in Apple's management structure, giving a higher profile to the HR role.

Hir E Vu E appoints n ata L i E d opp as C H i E f pEop LE o ffiCE r

End-to-end hiring platform

HireVue has appointed Natalie Dopp as its Chief People Officer. She will be responsible for engineering a globally scalable people function and building on the company’s environmental, social and governance programmes. Dopp has over 20 years of global experience in human resources across multiple industries, including technology, oil and gas, non-prof it and insurance. Her most recent role was at Integrate, where she led the HR team through the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Before that, she implemented the foundation of the HR function at LifeLock.

pp E rfry appoints Jo EE dE

oud H ury as n E w H r LE ad

E-commerce furniture and home goods marketplace

Pepperfry has appointed Joee De Choudhury as the new lead

for its human resources team, effective immediately. With over 10 years of experience in the field of human resources, Choudhury has worked across several sectors, including ecommerce, information technology, and real estate. She joined Pepperfry in the year 2020 and this is her second stint with Pepperfry. Previously, Choudhury led the talent acquisition team, where she was responsible for developing and executing hiring plans.

Ga ELEVat E s nEEtu s in GH as CH ro

Naviga, a provider of software and services, has elevated Neetu Singh to Chief Human Resources Officer. Earlier, she was Vice President of Human Capital Management. She joined the company in August 2022. Neetu comes with more than 20 years of experience in driving HR while implementing talent strategy and facilitating change management for fast-growing global product-based IT organisations. Previously she worked with FarEye, Winshuttle, News Corp and Landis+Gyr among others in various roles and capacities.

E ntur E s appoints a t iwari as C H i E f op LE o ffi CE r

House of D2C celebration brands Join Ventures has appointed Pooja Tiwari as Chief People Officer. With over 17 years of experience in human resources, proven leadership and a track record of success in a variety of industries, Tiwari brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the role in aligning strategy, capabilities, people and culture to deliver results and accelerate growth. She was previously associated with

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qui C k reads February, where she served as Assistant Vice President - People & Culture.

arwa L appoints aM it sa H oo as G Lo Ba L H E ad of Hu M an rE sourCE s

IT services company Narwal has appointed Amit Sahoo as its Global Head of Human Resources. With over 18 years of experience as a Business Partner, Sahoo has led successful HR organisations at various companies including Omnicom agencies (Areteans & TA Digital), Cigniti Technologies Ltd, and Capgemini Technology Services India Ltd. He was named 'HR Leader of the Year 2021' by the Economic Times and featured in Forbes India's '100 Great People Managers 2021' list by the Great Manager Institute.

utur E G E n E ra L i i ndia Lif E nsuran CE H ir E s rEE na t yaG i as CH ro

Future Generali India Life Insurance Company Ltd. has appointed Reena Tyagi as Chief Human Resource Officer. With over two decades of experience, she specialises in HR business partnering, building HR strategy relevant to business objectives and external environment, operational excellence, and execution. Before joining Future Generali India Life Insurance Company Ltd, she was CHRO at ManipalCigna Health Insurance Company Ltd.

VELL s i ndia H ir E s p r EEM ita in GH as CH ro and EV p

Havells India has appointed Preemita Singh as CHRO and EVP, effective since February. Preemita has more than two decades of rich and diverse experience in

leading HR in BFSI, IT and consulting sectors. Before joining Havells India, Preemita worked with Hero FinCorp as CHRO from September 2019 to January 2023. She also worked with ICRA, Max Life, EY, and Thermax in various capacities.

Marriott p r E sid E nt st E ps down, CEo a nt H ony

Capuano ta KE s oVE r

Marriott International President, Stephanie Linnartz, has stepped down to become CEO of Under Armour. She is succeeded by current CEO, Anthony "Tony" Capuano, who was appointed President and CEO effective from February 24. Both Linnartz and Capuano have been with Marriott for almost 30 years and only held their latest positions for two years each, having been appointed following the unexpected passing of former President and CEO Arne Sorenson in February 2021.

rosoft appoints Mi K i susa K a as n E w p r E sid E nt of Mi C rosoft Japan

Miki Tsusaka has been appointed the new President of Microsoft Japan, responsible for leading engagement with customers and business partners, and all product, solution, service and support offerings in Japan. She takes over from Ahmed Mazhari, who will return his focus to his position as President of Microsoft Asia. Tsusaka joins Microsoft from Boston Consulting Group (BCG), where she served as a Senior Partner and Managing Director. At BCG, she worked for clients across a wide range of industries in Japan and overseas, helping them to develop and implement growth strategies, improve profitability, redesign organisation and promote digital transformation.

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qui C k reads

Mervyn Dinnen HR, Talent, and Worktech Analyst


Challenges that talent acquisition teams will face this year?

Skill shortages will intensify and internal talent mobility will increasingly come under the remit of the TA team rather than HR/Talent Management


The most important factor in 2023?

The way we support employee wellbeing, and support our people during a pending global cost of living crisis, will determine if we are seen as an organisation that is good to be a part of, that values and supports them, and one in which they can thrive


One key driver for employees and candidates today?

The opportunity to learn new skills and capabilities – this needs to be front and centre of all recruiting efforts


One way to be attractive to skilled candidates?

Embrace more remote/flexible/ hybrid approaches to work, to accommodate candidates who may be based in a different location or require greater flexibility

Before getting into the field, each industry, organisation and leader needs to understand what their employees and their firm needs and align the two to move ahead


How to stand out from the competition?

Develop a highly personalised approach to candidate messaging and the candidate experience, and improve quality of interviews


One way to better reach hidden/underrepresented talent pools?

Audit the accessibility of website and job postings, and applica-

tion and interviewing technology, to ensure that they do not exclude underrepresented groups from being interviewed or hired


Impact of generative AI on talent acquisition?

It will offer candidates greater insights into what companies they like to work for, and what are the best opportunities being offered


How to balance tech with the human element?

Personalisation is key; job applications are highly personal to the applicant and should be respected as such by the TA team, which means delivering personalised responses with actionable feedback


One way to achieve that?

Talent intelligence data needs to be accurate, and it needs to be a partnership between the TA team and HR


What to focus on within that data?

Have a a proper overview of the skills and capabilities the organisation have, and those it will need

13 FEBRUARY 2023 | Rapid-Fire
t e N q uestio N s i N terview
rapidF ire

The arT of building organisaTional culTure

shapiNg the Culture oF a CompaNy is Never easy, aNd the diFFiCulty sCales up with the size aNd NewNess oF the orgaNisatioN. iN aN exClusive iNteraCtioN, people matters spoke with maRYjO CHaRBONNIER, ChieF humaN resourCes oFFiCer oF kyNdryl – the world's largest spiNoFF, aNd also the world's largest provider oF maNaged it iNFrastruCture serviCes

Just sixteen months ago, IBM separated its managed infrastructure services business into a new, publicly traded company, Kyndryl. With 90,000 people in more than 60 countries and approximately $19 billion in revenue, Kyndryl is the world's largest standalone IT infrastructure services provider. It was also one of the world's biggest spinoffs when the separation completed, and it happened at a time that was both incredibly challenging, and filled with opportunity for the tech industry.

What does it take to drive the transformation strategies and initiatives of such an enormous spinoff, particularly the people and work aspect?

People Matters met up with Maryjo Charbonnier, Chief Human Resources Officer

of Kyndryl, who shared her experience with shaping the culture of a brand new company that just two years ago was a division, albeit an enormous one.

With almost thirty years in the profession, Kyndryl is the second spinoff Charbonnier has been part of – the first was Broadridge, the brokerage services group of ADP in 2007. Here's what she told us about her latest experience.

What has it been like, building the organisational culture for a spinoff as enormous as Kyndryl?

It was a challenge to spin off during the pandemic, when the market was in a very disrupted place. But we also had a huge opportunity in the form of the freedom to form new partnerships and support our custom-

ers in in new ways. To do that, we knew that part of what we had to change was the culture. And by culture, we mean the spoken and unspoken messages: what behaviour is tolerated, discouraged, or encouraged, what systems and symbols we share and use to communicate.

So where did we start on that journey, knowing that it takes a lot of energy to get 90,000 people moving? We started by really listening to our employees about what mattered to them. We already had a well defined foundation to build on, because we like to think of ourselves as a startup, and we had a culture to begin with. So we asked employees: what is important to them? We listened to what they told us they wanted to keep and what

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they wanted to change. And we decided right from the start that we would really focus on behaviours.

We chose behaviours because that is how values and principles are expressed in a culture, and I like to say that if you can't express the culture, then you haven't really defined it.

Our six behaviours are divided into two categories. The first is about how we want to interact with ourselves, our customers, and our communities, and those are restless, empathetic, and devoted. The second is about how we want to organise our work, and those are flat, fast, and focused. We wrote these down, we codified them, and then at our very first executive meeting ever, just three months after we became a public company, half of the meeting was spent talking about the culture and the

leadership behaviours.

Yes, we talked about the business too, but we really wanted to send a message about the importance of culture.

How did you trickle that discussion down into practice?

We developed a training system for the people managers. Within the first year, we trained almost 80% of all our people managers on the leadership behaviours, as well as rolled them out on all 90,000 employees. That's 80% of 7,000 people managers.

It has been a huge undertaking, but employees are telling us it's paying off. Recently, we did our engagement or employee listening survey for the first year since we spun off, and 88% of Kyndryl employees said their manager behaves consistently with

the Kyndryl way. That means they recognise what the Kyndryl way is, and they recognise how it needs to manifest in managers' behaviour.

This coming year, we're going to be working a lot on the system side of things. Culture gets manifested through behaviours, systems and symbols, and for the systems, we're really trying to make our people processes so much simpler for managers and employees, streamlining the legacy of complexity that comes with a business the size of ours. We're really trying to put information at our managers' fingertips, building their capability so they spend more time with employees and less time on administrative tasks.

With 90,000 people to look after, it's a huge undertaking. How are you managing the changes?

Part of change is learning how to change. It's getting good at it, so you can do it over and over again. And when we roll out change, we have something of a recipe now that we follow. We gather all of our executives once a month to talk about really critical changes that we're making – we call that eX power to enable our executives. And we gather our managers, all 7,000 of them once a month, to update them on what's changing

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and give them the capability training to work with it – we call that our eMpower series. And finally we roll it out to employees. We're getting better and better at it with practice.

Have you been adjusting your employer branding to match this internal focus?

From my perspective, the employer brand is the value proposition you offer employees that creates differentiation from your competitors for talent. And I think in the long term, the things that differentiate you are more intangible. That's why I like to think that our investment in culture is a long term part of our value proposition. And while we'll

world people are also hungry for that understanding of themselves and their situations, whether it's their commute, their personal life, their challenges, or their career aspirations. And so as part of our listening campaign, we created a empathy index. Now we can actually measure empathy in the culture, and I'm really pleased with the results we got back: people really feel like they can belong, that they trust their manager and they feel like they can be themselves at work.

Zooming out to look at the industry situation, what are your thoughts on the current talent shortage we're seeing in the tech

a shortage of tech skills. That's built into our business strategy, which has three 'A's: alliances, meaning partnerships with other companies; account focus, which is about how we work with our clients; and advanced delivery, which is how we leverage automation.

Our expanded use of intelligent automation tools and new ways of working continues to free up our people, and we’ve now redeployed over 4,500 delivery professionals to serve new revenue streams and backfill attrition.

Across the company, we have several learning organisations focused on different capabilities. There is of course a group focused on our technology learning, and another one that focuses on leadership behaviours and building people management and people leadership skills. And then we have our go to market academy, which works on building sales and customer solution skills.

What are your takeaways from the whole experience of the Great Resignation and the quiet quitting phenomenon that so many people seem to be worried about?

always get better at our culture, I don't think we'll change our commitment to it. I also want to talk about empathy here, because I think in a post pandemic

sector? How are you coping with the gap between business needs and talent supply?

No matter what happens in the economy, there's just

In the post pandemic world, we've seen a couple of things really matter to our employees. One is flexibility. And that's why we developed our own flexible work policy and encouraged managers at

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the local level to make those decisions independently. Not all jobs can be done remotely – we also have customers that want us on site – so the local manager really needs to have a discussion with the team about how flexibility can work.

I like to say, you have to earn the commute nowadays. That means making sure that if people are going to make the commute, we are clear about why they have to come back to the office.

found that the desire for flexibility definitely varies by commute times.

People who have long commute times and live in big cities, where there's high cost of living, are much more sensitive to the hybrid work and want more of it. Family dynamics also affect this – we do see a regional pattern where family care often falls to women, although not exclusively –and so what we hear from our employees is 'Help me juggle work life balance, no

ate health and safety, everything else that we had to scrutinise and bring up to the mark in a very short time – I always tell my own teams, there's never been a better time to be in HR. HR professionals are called to step up to deal with a whole range of issues that weren't as front and centre 30 years ago.

A second thing that's changed is the digitisation of HR and the degree to which all of us have had to build the skills to run a digitally enabled HR organisation. That has dramatically changed in my career, and I always encourage HR talent to really understand the technolo gy and the part it plays within HR itself as well as within the entire organisation.

The second thing is purpose. When you read the research about the Great Resignation or quiet quitting, it's because people don't feel like all their talents are being used, and they feel like no one knows them. So we've been really focused on creating a sense of belonging, helping to make people's skills discoverable, and encouraging everyone to tell us what their career interest is so that we can understand each person better. That's what makes people want to come to work for you and be here beyond just the job.

Interestingly, we have

matter what my family looks like'.

With your experience in the profession, you've seen a lot of changes both in the environment and in the way organisations respond to circumstances. How about the HR profession itself: what are the biggest changes you've observed here?

I think HR has gotten increasingly important: to the CEO, to boards of directors, to the bottom line. When you think about what it took to get through the pandemic – the focus on social justice, on corpor-

The third thing that's really changed is data and analytics. I think data and analytics have given us a lot of power to build talent solutions, especially now that we have all the right privacy and governance in place.

This is the time for any good executive team to work together and really wrestle with the questions that are out there. And the CHRO can be a great facilitator of that, by bringing perspective, sensitivity to employees and the voice of the employees, and the data that can help executive teams, a CEO, and a board to make good decisions.

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When you read the research about the Great Resignation or quiet quitting, it's because people don't feel like all their talents are being used, and they feel like no one knows them

Is a four-day workweek really worth it?

The four-day workweek is increasingly popular, but actually implementing it may not be as smooth as people expect. Worklife balance cannot be ignored, and organisational culture will heavily influence whether the transition is possible at all

Alternatives to the fourday workweek

The transition to a four-day workweek is gathering steam worldwide. Companies and governments across Asia, including Japan, Indonesia, India and South Korea, are testing the viability of the shorter week – or already implementing it – to foster work-life balance. Following a successful six-month trial period, a hundred companies in England signed up to deploy the new model.

Companies worldwide are grappling with burnout and

exploring potential solutions, including the adoption of a four-day workweek. However, implementing such a change requires careful consideration of various factors such as company culture, industry demands, and technological readiness. What works for one business may not work for another, making it essential for companies to conduct thorough due diligence to determine whether a four-day workweek is a viable solution for their organisation.

There are alternative solutions to fostering work-life balance if a shift to a fourday workweek is too radical. Business leaders might consider a softer transition, such as integrating a 9-dayon, 10th-day-off type model. Each employee works an extra 45 minutes for the nine days and has the 10th day off. Teams' days off are staggered to ensure business continuity and success. Another option would be to implement half days on Fridays as a sound way to make this transition.

Implementing the rotation model described above has the additional benefit of helping to create an agile organisation. It requires a backup structure built on a robust knowledge management system to ensure continuity. Every team member is assigned a "buddy" to serve as their backup. Team members upload client details and

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up-to-date statuses into the company's knowledge management system, so their buddies know their workloads and what is needed to move forward when their day off rolls along.

This approach helps create more agility, as people can cover the existing employee's position when a talent is ready to move into another role or leaves the organisation. It also supports the more modern career path of lateral moves within the organisation, enabling talent to learn jobs outside their normal purview, which could lead to discovering a new passion. It opens the door for internal promotions or lateral moves

instead of hiring externally.

Can your organisation support a four-day workweek?

A key question when considering the feasibility of a fourday workweek is whether you are setting unreal expectations, which could have the opposite effect than intended. I have seen a four-day workweek fail when an organisation's employees already suffer from high burnout, attrition, stress and workloads. For companies considering a shorter workweek, determine whether less time to get work done will cause your employees even more stress.

For example, if your employees are already work-

ing 10 to 12 hours a day, it could be de-motivating to say, "Hey, look, team, we're super excited. We're going to announce that we're moving to a four-day work week." However, your employees may have a different view. They don't see it as getting anything because there's no way they can get all their work done in four days. They are thinking, "How the heck is that even possible?"

Essentially you're telling people, "Hey, for you to enjoy that fifth day off or that 10th day off, you now need to work 14 hours a day to get caught up." There's an expression, "you're giving me the sleeves off your vest." The idea is, of course, that vests don't have sleeves.

The result is that people don't truly disconnect on that fifth or 10th day because they worry about everything they need to accomplish. Offering a false benefit makes things worse. Your employees may view it as a PR stunt. A healthy work-life balance should already be part of a culture for a successful four-day workweek model. I highly recommend that companies do a pulse check before considering transitioning. It is essential to understand and respect how your talent structures their day. Look at leveraging automation and technology to support a fourday workweek structure. Set your employees up for the

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A key question when considering the feasibility of a four-day workweek is whether you are setting unreal expectations

new model by encouraging less client-facing activity on day four to ensure minimal disruption to the business.

The four-day workweek can promote muscular agility and work-life balance if done well. If not executed well, it could backfire and employees will end up working more, which could harm the business.

Challenges for international companies

For international companies, shifting out of a traditional five-day workweek does present some challenges. First, you can't implement a blanket-wide policy for all your locations. Every country's labor laws are different, so you must consider the feasibility of the model on a country-by-country basis. In Spain or Brazil, for example, companies engage with workers through collective bargaining agreements. Organisations must ensure that their collective bargaining agreements, comparable to union agreements in the U.S., allow you to change the workweek. In Spain, hypothetically, you may not be able to request your employees work more than eight hours a day –whether for a four-day workweek or the 10th day off model.Second, if you're an American company, for example, and want to expand into the Netherlands or Spain with a four-day workweek model, you'll need

to know the depth of the collective bargaining agreements. And if you decide to move forward with the transition, it will require going before an external council to plead your case. Consider partnering with an employer of record that takes full accountability for the employment of your people. An employer of record can navigate and help your organisation understand the nuances of worker contracts, including collective bargaining agreements. It has the legal expertise and knowledge of the country or local laws to ensure you are compliant. It also helps you avoid going before an external council if you want to change something in the agreement, saving you time

and money. Ultimately, it allows you to offer flexibility and options to attract the best talent, regardless of location.

When done thoughtfully, a four-day or nine-day-on, 10th-day-off is an impressive feature to offer to employees and an excellent way to promote work-life balance— something the majority of workers crave. However, before implementing such a move, ensure it makes sense for your organisation. It's worth putting in the time to determine your company culture, how your employees structure their day, and their current work-life balance.

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A healthy work-life balance should already be part of a culture for a successful four-day workweek model
a nt H ony sM it H is Chief Operating Officer at Atlas

Moments thinking is critical to improving the EX dimension continuously

In conversation with Shaswat Kumar of Darwinbox, we explore how technology plays a critical role in transforming the EX ecosystem

As we continue to put our best foot forward and make the most of every opportunity in 2023, employee experience (EX) is an equally important area that calls for innovation. In the evolving world of work, where flexibility remains a central value, organisations must make concerted efforts to plug any experience gaps. They must keep a pulse on the changing employee needs and dive deeper into building a people-centric culture. In this exclusive interview, we get strategic insights from Shaswat Kumar, Sr. VP- Global Customer Success & Delivery of Darwinbox, on what it takes to reimagine EX for the future of work.

In 2023, what key talent trends will impact employees’ expectations from their organisations?

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It is worthwhile to step back a couple of years and understand the turmoil that everyone has been through. There has been media amplification around the great talent war, talent switching jobs and then jobs going away and layoffs. But what remains central is how employers need to engage their employees more as they seek meaning and purpose in their jobs. The need for organisations to invest in their career growth will come to the fore, and employers will have to demonstrate their commitment towards that. There will also be a lot more friction or opportunity to improve employee-manager dynamics in the overall ecosystem.

Health and wellness will remain a constant priority, which is a factor of postCovid behaviour and the rise in the average age of the organised workforce.

This means that organisations will have to look at EX beyond system design. EX ultimately is the holistic connection an employee lives through daily as they work in the organisation. Systems such as Darwinbox are working towards enabling that larger ecosystem of experience beyond platform experience. This enablement is critical because the biggest challenge remains behavioural change. If leaders or managers are not changing their behaviour, then the

change in EX that people expect will not happen.

For the new-age workforce, a sense of purpose plays a central role in their productivity. How can organisations strengthen that sense of ownership and purpose among their workforce? Additionally, how does a sense of belonging factor in?

There is this hype around ownership behaviour, founder’s mentality, a growth mindset, aligned behaviour and engagement science that seeks to answer what makes an employee strive beyond the normal scope of duty within an organisation. However,

employees also want to see that same sense of transparency and ownership in the employer.

When creating a sense of purpose, we must consider what the organisation stands for and what employee demographics will align with it. In Asia, there is this pressure to hire and scale up fast, and that’s exactly where we need to check how recruitment channels filter these purpose-driven values. While intelligent tools are on the scene, hiring through networks and referrals will play a key role in finding culturally fit talent. Purpose-driven organisations often struggle when

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When creating a sense of purpose, we must consider what the organisation stands for and what employee demographics will align with it

onboarding mid to seniorlevel talent because purpose gets ingrained when employees grow from within.

Inevitably, organisations driving purpose and culture will have to think about whole behaviour across teams, team interactions, the workspace and finally, the connection between behaviours and their consequences. This calls for thinking about positive and negative outlier behaviours.

How you drive their consequences will define the culture you want to build.

Among our clients, Vibe and Recognition platforms are super-popular modules that are used to drive engagement at hyper-speed. Recognitions across peer channels often give meaning and purpose to the individual who is now motivated to do more. Along with this behaviour change, role models and archetypes are

also developed within the organisation. Belonging is about gaining confidence to operate in your working environment. That happens most powerfully through peer and leadership recognitions which can be done at scale and adds momentum to the organisation.

Given that most employees are dispersed and working flexibly, how can organisations plug employee experience gaps by embracing technology? How is Darwinbox supporting enterprises in creating a more engaging EX?

For organisations, Darwinbox’s technology pulls in those thousands of moments that make up an employee experience. Signature moments will play a crucial role in amplifying the cultural values of a workplace, and they will involve a unique inter-

play of the system and offline behaviour items. For example, the system’s intelligence will first recognise that an employee has been on sick leave for more than five days. It will then nudge the manager or the Business Unit head to reach out to the employee to find out if the organisation can do anything to support them. This reflects a culture of care which is visible through this signature moment. And when we talk about offline behaviours, along with the reach out, feedback from the returning employee on where the organisations can improve will be equally important to reinforce that culture of care.

This is how organisations can stitch together thousands of such moments to build an experience layer. It’s not a one-time journey; there is this consistent back and forth between action, data and improvement strategies. As you start doing this well at a level of detail, you need to dive even deeper. Technology will be the greatest enabler in this process.

At Darwinbox, when we think about our purpose and empowering the last mile, we’re aware that technologies change-from there might even be a shift from touch to voice. When we looked at corporate use cases where communications happen only through specific channels, it led to

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our strategic partnership with Microsoft to amplify more collaboration and engagement on MS Teams. Darwinbox’s complete platform is now available on MS Teams, and this will be one of the biggest rollouts to make the system even more powerful and accessible to remote teams.

The voice of the employee is rising in importance. How can employers build more robust feedback systems to keep a pulse on changing employee needs? What are some best practices you would recommend?

Annual surveys often come with the risk of late action. With platforms like Darwinbox, we enable action post-feedback as instantly as possible by using data drive changes. When employees see their feedback being acted upon at speed, this will

make them more confident and honest when giving feedback. Deconstructing feedback from big surveys to multiple moments where you can do better will be critical.

For instance, employees today want ongoing performance discussions, but this isn’t about the system as much as how frequent the conversations are with managers. To enable this as an employer, the specific problem is how to measure behaviour change in managers and support them in becoming mentors to those who report to them. Darwinbox’s survey module engine can then be used to get feedback on this moment in the employee ecosystem. These insights will help you understand which managers are getting it right and who needs to be enabled more. We must step back and

understand the big outcome or change we want to drive from an organisational behaviour perspective. Getting into moments thinking, measuring those moments at scale, looking at data and tracking behavioural change is the best way to improve the EX dimension continuously.

If you could share three things organisations must do immediately to create a more seamless and holistic EX, what would that be?

Firstly, understanding what outcomes are important for stakeholders. Advanced organisations may break these stakeholders into different persona types, which is the whole science of experience. The next step is to collect data and know your current status quo regarding these outcomes. Third, start designing your strategies and track how you measure and drive that change.

At Darwinbox, we are going to our new clients and asking them to outline the expected outcomes from this transformation for their stakeholders. We then drive programs anchored to tracking the delta on this change. For old clients, we are going back and trying to understand the important outcomes, looking at data and level of adoption and improving adoption to craft a more engaging EX.

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C over story 26 | February 2023

Attracting and retaining talented employees has been a challenge since the world started to come out of the pandemic. To begin with, employees who were laid off during the great standstill of 2020-2021 found better options and established themselves. Then, people realised during the pandemic that there are better ways to organise work, life, and well-being than the previously accepted norm. That raised the bar for employee expectations post-pandemic.

Now, 2023 has started on a note of inflation and economic downturn, and amid these worries, nearly half of employees across regions and most age groups are considering changing jobs. They are either searching for better pay that will help them tide out the economic situation, or hoping for a role and organisation that will allow them greater flexibility – or both.

So what's going to help organisations win the war for talent in this post-pandemic period?

For a start, they need to understand the change in employee and candidate expectations. Rather

than hide behind the excuse of generation gaps or cling to the traditional ways of doing things, forward-thinking organisations must be open to new ways of keeping their talent close and evoking employee loyalty. In some cases, the deceptively simple medium of pay and benefits is sufficient; in more cases, though, flexibility and work culture has come into play with much more weight than pre-2020. And managerial capability is taking a more important role, more frequently, as employees and organisations alike realise just how enormous a part managers play in making a workplace attractive to new and existing talent.

This month, our cover story reviews present-day employee and candidate expectations, and looks at how organisations can continue to hire talent that is a good fit despite economic uncertainty and a rapidly changing environment. We look at the challenges and opportunities of post-pandemic talent acquisition, and the impact on adjacent considerations such as employer branding, engagement strategies, and skill fit.

C over story 27 February 2023 |

HR fundamentals that help win the war for talent

the uncertain economic conditions. Ultimately, what remains constant is the need for Chief Human Resources Officers (CHROs) to identify, to attract and to retain the right talent. This means paying close attention to the following core principles:

• Focusing on engagement

• Making employee wellness a priority

• Innovating and reimagining HR processes using data analytics and predictive solutions

• Practising Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) in hiring

The cost of disengaged employees

Talent acquisition is a top priority for HR leaders in both stable and uncertain times. It's not an easy task. Here are some important principles that practitioners need to bear in mind

The relationship between workers and employers is undergoing one of the greatest changes post-pandemic. From the Great Resignation to the Great Reshuffle and to quiet quitting, many employees are rethinking their relationship with work – a trend that is having ramifications on companies.

With employees prioritising roles that offer better flexibility, work-life balance, hybrid and remote working arrangements as well as employee wellbeing, organisations are increasingly re-examining their workforce models and policies to ensure that they can continue to attract and retain talent.

Organisations are also looking into their HR needs with greater urgency, given

One thing the Great Resignation laid bare is the critical need for employee engagement. The highest quit rate has been among not engaged and actively disengaged workers, a Gallup study has found. Another poll by Gallup showed that engaged workers drive 23% higher profits, while employees who are not engaged cost the world US$7.8 trillion in lost productivity, equal to 11% of global GDP.

More than ever, employee engagement is a strategic business objective as engaged employees lead to long-term employee retention, higher employee performance, improved quality of work and organisational success. Conversely, poor employee engagement results in a high attrition rate,

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leading to hiring managers having to re-hire and train employees. This not only costs organisations time and effort but has a negative impact on productivity.

To make engagement work, organisations should focus on continuous conversations and encourage open dialogues between employees and managers to improve working relationships. Rather than having a quarterly or half-yearly performance review, they should exercise on-spot feedback and practice engagement from day one. For example, organisations can conduct weekly pulse surveys to listen to employees and to allow them to give feedback on the work environment.

The regular cadence of such surveys aims to create a continuous feedback loop that proactively identifies and addresses common problems before they snowball into a more complex issue.

The future of work is employee well-being

Gone are those days when only employers set high expectations for employees and their work outcomes. Physical, financial and mental well-being have increasingly been key contributing factors to employee wellness. Today, with employee expectations being higher than ever, it is important to look at employee experience holistically. This means both

employers and employees have a role in designing a work culture that prioritises the individual’s wellbeing while meeting the organisation’s objectives.

One thing that has changed is that employees now expect to have a life outside of work and they want their employers to contribute positively to their physical and mental health and well-being. While there are initiatives that an organisation can implement to promote well-being among employees, workplace flexibility is still the key factor.

Providing this flexibility makes an organisation a more desirable place to work, and also more attractive to potential hires.

As long as the results and desired productivity are achieved, companies should be prepared to be flexible in their workforce models; some are even going so far as to implement a four-day work week.

Innovating with data analytics and digital tools

A major landscape shift for CHROs is the advent of HR technologies that can be used as hiring as well as learning and development tools. By collecting and analysing critical HR data, companies can derive actionable insights to improve workforce, people, and talent management performance.

Case in point, TDCX’s proprietary Flash Hire re-

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cruitment platform enables hiring managers to gauge a candidate’s competency and alignment with the job requirements more quickly through its artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities. In addition to the ability to customise questions, the platform analyses the candidate’s attitude, personality and behavioural traits based on the job requirements. Through Flash Hire, TDCX has reduced hiring time by up to 62%.

Actionable insights can be combined with digital tools to boost employee productivity and encourage workers to further their career trajectory through learning and coaching for better outcomes. Additionally, digital tools can help organisations reach out and engage talent on a global scale.

While companies innovate their HR strategies by leveraging data analytics and digital tools, such efforts

should also be balanced with a human touch. Many companies are already using technology such as robotic process automation and AI to improve hiring, boost employee productivity and encourage learning and career growth, and such instances will only continue to increase. However, even as they digitalise, it is important that companies consciously ensure that they keep a human touch in interacting with their employees. This is particularly important given the employee experience also determines how positive the customer experience will be.

Why diversity, equity and inclusion matter

DEI is essential in recognising the value of diverse voices. It emphasises inclusivity and employee wellbeing as central facets of success, but in order to bring these values to life, HR must implement programmes

and initiatives that actively make the office more diverse, equitable and inclusive.

A DEI strategy is not only vital to creating and maintaining a successful workplace, it also contributes to business success. By bringing together people of various backgrounds, organisations gain from new and creative ideas that spur innovation. With the adoption of remote working and the use of collaboration technologies, HR can now include talent from diverse backgrounds. For instance, remote working has proven as an accessible option for people with disabilities and has helped them find and maintain employment. This has also increased diversity in the workforce and expanded the talent pool. A recent study found that 73% of caregivers use the time they save from working from home to care for their children, and 70% use it to spend more time with their partner or spouse.

Ultimately, to be successful in winning and retaining talent, organisations need to be pay attention to these key fundamentals. Doing so would help them to differentiate themselves in terms of the employee experience and help their organisations drive success.

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Li M C HEE Gay is the Group Chief Human Resources Officer of TDCX.

The world needs more engineers: here’s what Thales is doing

The engineering and technology industries are hungry for talent, but it’s not easy for large companies to recruit in the numbers that they need. Clement de Villepin, the senior HR leader at engineering multinational Thales, shares the approach he and his team take

Thales is a firm whose products affect every household, but it’s not a household name. One of the world’s largest defense contractors and a major manufacturer of electrical systems, the French multinational operates in 68 countries and has over 81,000 employees. And it’s out to hire even more. In 2022, Thales hired over 12,000 people worldwide, and the firm is targeting to recruit at least that number again this year, says Clement de Villepin, Senior Executive Vice President of Human Resources.

In an exclusive conversation with de Villepin during his recent visit to Singapore, People Matters heard from him about Thales’ talent strategies and the hiring outlook for the engineering and technology industry.

What is the talent acquisition outlook in the region currently?

Here in Asia, the candidate to job ratio is around one for two, meaning that for one graduate you have two open positions. It is not too bad compared to other parts of the world, but it is still a challenge. The market for high tech and deep tech is developing very quickly, and the supply of talent is slower compared to the demand. And so that obliges us to have a very professional talent acquisition process.

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Our value chain of talent acquisition has four main areas. The first one is attractiveness. The second one is sourcing, the third one is assessment, and the last one is onboarding. All of them are critical, and we have set up a dedicated organisation to cover those four steps.

And I would say that here in Asia, our most important challenge is probably to make our brand more visible. Even though we are a historical player in the region, this is our 50th anniversary of Thales’ presence in Singapore, we are still not very well known. One reason is that we are not a B2C business. Even though the technology in your credit card or your iPhone may have been produced by Thales, even though our product offerings are very large, most of our candidates don’t know about our portfolio.

In terms of culture, we are probably a bit shy. We are an engineering company. We are passionate about technique and the technical aspect, and to promote ourselves is maybe not in our DNA. So it’s probably on us to speak

a bit louder, and that’s something we are working on.

Can you tell us more about your talent acquisition process?

We have a dedicated sourcing team which is focusing on locking in a pipeline of candidates. We are also investing in technology to access the highest number of candidates that we can, and we are also taking advantage of this sourcing approach to get a diverse profile. In Asia we are working with 33 nationalities, which is a specificity of the region which is important to us. We are convinced that we learn from the differences. Having people with different backgrounds is offering a good environment to innovate.

We are also focusing on developing gender diversity within our business, which is not easy. Just look at engineering schools, where we

still have more males than females. We are connected with universities and schools all over the world to see how we can encourage women to become engineers, and I think that in Asia we are seeing good progress.

Next is assessment and this is very important to us. We want to set up a fair assessment for our people, so most of the time, we are asking our candidates to do technical tests. They may not necessarily be engineers, but if they have learned by themselves or by experience, they are able to demonstrate that they are technically skilled enough to enter the company.

And of course, we check that there is a cultural fit between the candidate and the company. To us, the soft part is as important as the technical part.

In creating your candidate pipeline, do you also go to

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the schools to build a next generation of engineers?

We are very convinced that we need more engineers to address some of the social challenges the world is facing. So it's part of our social investment that we visit the schools to motivate young pupils to become engineers. We have been modeling that in Europe, and what we observed is that to speak to a teenager when they are 16 is probably too late, because the mind is most of the time already made up, and it is even more true for women. So we start even earlier.

In Europe, we have 600 engineers who are visiting schools on almost a monthly basis. They speak with children that are eight to 10 years old, and they speak about the experience of being an engineer. And we started that around 15 years ago, and now we have some people entering the company and saying “10 years ago an engineer came in and I became interested”.

So it works. But it is a very long term investment.

Thales has a very large portfolio. How do you manage internal mobility between the different fields?

We have three channels that we work on very actively. The first channel is that at least once a year, every employee has

a development interview, where they can discuss with their manager about career expectations. The HR function is recording and looking at those interviews.

The second channel is that we are posting ad hoc job offers, locally and also internationally. And we have many, many people moving internally.

most important roles is really to support the manager. I always insist on that. To be a manager is to manage your people and to develop them. But it is not always an easy role. You need to have support, and as HR our role is really to support the manager: in succession planning, in recruiting, in developing people, in managing difficult situations, in being sure that a team is working together. Sometimes it's important for a manager to have a counterpart, to have open discussions to see how we can manage human situations.

The third channel is a tool more specific to the HR function. It's a very structured process of talent review. Every year we have a collective discussion around employee preparing, development planning and succession planning. A manager can say, “I will need a HR person in this country” and I, knowing my HR community, will be able to put a suitable person in place. Also as HR, we are meeting people very regularly and learning about them, and we can identify if a person may be able to do a certain job.

Does this mean that the HR team is working very closely with the managers?

Yes. To me, one of our

When we are able to establish this level of relationship, I think that as a function, we are really able to deliver value for the business. Which means I am quite demanding that our HR people need to understand the business. When you're an HR person, if you want to support a manager, you need to understand the product, you need to know about the customers, you need to know the challenges.

How about Thales’ retention strategies, what is your approach for keeping people with the company?

That's a key question for us. I feel that we are able to keep our people in the long term, but we have revamped

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wHEN you'RE AN HR PERSoN, If you wANt to SuPPoRt A MANAGER, you NEED to uNDERStAND tHE PRoDuCt, you NEED to KNow ABout tHE CuStoMERS, you NEED to KNow tHE CHALLENGES

our employee value proposition last year to make it more explicit, and also engaged our management to make it happen. This is an EVP based on three pillars. The first is about being passionate about technology. When you join Thales, you're able to work with worldwide experts, and when you are a young engineer it is very important to have the opportunity to work and to learn with these people.

The second pillar is about global well-being and the well-being of people. Respect for people is part of the DNA of Thales, because our business activities impact citizens. I am always posi-

tive and happy to hear engineers explaining to me spontaneously about the impact of what they are doing on the next generation. This idea of having an impact on society is really important to us.

For the well-being of people, work-life balance is another really important thing. Even before Covid we have worked a lot on smart working. We are offering hybrid work, meaning that people can have two days of home office per week or even three. But we do consider that physical presence is also important, I would say not every day but at least every week

as our job is about working together. An engineer alone can be very innovative, very clever, but you cannot work without collaboration. So we need to motivate people to come to the office and offer them a good working condition in order for them to be happy in the office.

The third pillar is about offering a long term perspective. Our huge portfolio means you can work on space, developing satellites, you can work on digital security, developing chips for smartphones, or developing banking technology, you can work in defense, you can cover many technologies and many different activities. And it is in our interest to also make multiple activities available to our employees, because every time they learn new technologies, they become more expert, richer in their knowledge.

I just want to highlight the fact that here in Asia, we have a quite unique representation of portfolio activity. We have a research centre, we have a digital factory, we are doing digital security, we are also doing defense. We are really able to offer a huge diversity of experience for people who are passionate about technology.

And I want to say that we are lucky enough that retrenchment is not a topic for us. We have plenty of things for engineers to do.

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Motivating talent in the FMCG industry in 2023

Monetary benefits and job security are not enough to motivate the younger generation, which rather prioritises work-life balance, mental well-being, and purpose-driven roles while weighing their opportunities

The talent landscape has seen a major shift in the past few years with employees getting more demanding. To be the

employer of choice for the workforce of the future, organisations must adapt to the changing preferences of the new-age workforce.

The future workforce believes in driving meaningful outcomes and expects organisations to give them the freedom to be themselves and trust them to get the job done.

amit prakash, CHRO, Marico Limited, says monetary benefits and job security are not enough to motivate this generation, which rather prioritises better work-life balance, mental well-being, and purpose-driven roles while weighing their opportunities.

"The workforce of tomorrow is mindful of the kind of companies they want to be associated with, one who respects individuality, have significant sustainable impact, ensures flexibility and support them in their own purpose towards society," he added.

In an interaction with People Matters, Prakash talked about the top talent trends that will be fundamental for any organisation to create a future-ready workplace. Here's what he shared.

Upskilling: The key to building the workforce of tomorrow

The need for upskilling and reskilling of employees is more pressing than ever in today's rapidly changing economy. With technology and globalisation transforming the workplace at an unprecedented rate, organi-

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sations must ensure that their employees have the right skills to stay ahead of the curve.

Organisations that invest in upskilling and reskilling their employees will be well-positioned to compete in the global economy. For instance, we offer a variety of online learning programmes that enable our members to upskill and reskill for their roles and prepare them for the changing landscape of work, thus grooming them into leaders of tomorrow.As a result, we have observed better engagement and work productivity among our employees.

Career breaks are not end of your career path, but rather can lead to a re-energised career growth

We recognise that the newage workforce envisions

their careers very differently. Simultaneously, the current family dynamics also have seen a major transformation along with the evolving role of a caregiver.

While for some career breaks may arise out of different life stages or family needs, for others, career breaks may mean a chance to pursue their passions.

The noteworthy point is that the corporates of tomorrow need to respect the choices and celebrate the individuality of the modern Indian workforce. Therefore, we at Marico Limited, decided to break the stereotype by introducing Phoenix, a gender-neutral second career programme that aims to cater to the talent

aspirations of anyone who has taken a minimum oneyear career break, without deep-diving on the reason for their break.

Work productivity vs working hours

In the past year, we have seen a shift in corporate culture towards prioritising work output over work hours.Along with offering more flexible work models and remote work options, organisations have also started prioritising their employee’s work productivity over their work hours.

The new-age talent expects their organisation to trust them to deliver outcomes to the best of their abilities, instead of over-monitoring



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them. As more companies have started acknowledging this, we can expect more businesses to focus on building the right capabilities and aiding distinct growth opportunities for their employees to explore their full potential instead of calculating their work hours.

For instance, at Marico, we have never monitored the attendance of our members in the past 32 years. Even during the pandemic, we made sure that we followed the same ethos, and we found that our member productivity and efficiency increased despite the lack of physical presence.

Future workforce dedicated to contributing towards mankind and environment

Purpose-led goals act as catalysts to improve productivity, enhance engagement and provide job satisfaction. The future workforce believes in driving meaningful outcomes and expects organisations to give them the freedom to be themselves and trust them to get the job done.

Companies need to motivate their members by supporting their individual purpose over and above chasing profits.

At Marico, we encourage members to decide their own goals and help them carve the development paths. We understand that the definition of success is different for each resource, as an


organisation, we attempt to understand individual purposes, and mentor them towards achieving it.

We have thus charted a refreshed EVP – “Go Beyond, Grow Beyond and Be the Impact” to keep our organisation contextual to the evolving talent aspirations. We observed that there is greater representation of younger minds in driving sustainability initiatives. As an organisation, we enable members to ‘live their purpose’.

Diversity a prerequisite to trigger innovation

Diversity and inclusivity have become an essential component to achieve business excellence. We strongly believe that the diverse

background, expertise and perception of multi-cultural and multi-generational workforce spurs innovation and enhances productivity.

Furthermore, employees are inspired when their company encourages them to ‘be themselves’ and respect their individuality. Right from their opinions to their sexual orientation, and even their learning and development needs to achieve both personal and professional goals. We recently revamped our diversity and inclusivity policies and established the Inclusion & Diversity (I&D) Council with an aim to curate a culture where diverse perspectives across levels are equally heard and valued.

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How we can redefine talent management

Good compensation alone won't be enough to solve all your talent acquisition and retention problems.

Christiane Bien, Head of HR - Division Powertrain Solutions at Vitesco Technologies, talks about other integral parts of talent strategy

In these tumultuous times of layoffs happening simultaneously with the war for top talent, employers need to look at more than

one angle of talent attraction and management. In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Christiane Bien, Head of HR - Division

Powertrain Solutions at Vitesco Technologies in Regensburg, Germany, shared some thoughts on the significance of talent management in combating today's uncertainties.

What prompted Continental AG’s Executive Board to spin off the Powertrain division as a company, Vitesco Technologies, in its own right in 2019?

Powertrain was one of the five divisions of Continental AG. The idea behind the spinoff was to give the company an opportunity to create a standalone setup and get new investors so that there could be a focus on sustainable growth and electrification transformation. Our company therefore has a very clear strategy to focus on electrified and sustainable business.

Additionally, having a separate entity allows for focusing on specific markets and investors. It is good to have a unique space to communicate better in a specified business. A separate entity gives you an opportunity to stay focused and get the right investors. It was an excellent decision by Continental AG. Indeed, it allowed us to be more organised in the right direction.

Vitesco Technologies was founded to act as a more independent and entrepreneurially flexible company,

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what does that mean to the leadership and specifically the HR leadership?

A one answer-fit approach cannot help you sustain in the changing surroundings and businesses. It is important to find flexible and different answers in diverse settings. For instance, a similar situation in India and Germany cannot be addressed in the same manner.

Ten years down the line, we will be in a different situation. Hence, we need to be prepared to find the right answers. As an HR leader, I believe that a separate entity gives you the freedom to think in a more precise manner.

What problems and innovations have you noticed in the sustainable automobile industry globally which surprised you?

After the pandemic, there was a sudden spike in customers’ inclination toward sustainable mobility which is something that surprised me. The sustainability aspect was of big interest. Covid pushed people and businesses to focus on sustainability. Now, customers are constantly enquiring about what we are doing to ensure that emissions are going down, or how sustainable is our approach.

What are the challenges and issues you anticipate in the sustainable automobile


industry regarding HR management?

Having a global roadmap towards electrification is the need of the hour. The world is moving towards electrification, but we still have some years to prepare ourselves to stay ahead in the market. Workforce transformation is anticipated as the current challenge for the sustainable automobile industry. Developing the desired competencies among the workforce must be prioritised.

I would see this as one of the main challenges for us as HR to support and to find the right approach to transform our workforce at the right time and with the right methods to make sure that

we can. Being an HR leader, I have to provide the right processes, the right methods, and the right content, and keep everyone engaged.

The demand for sustainable mobility is growing worldwide and this is expected to lead to the creation of green jobs. How can companies prepare the future workforce to bridge the gap?

To bridge the future talent gap, we need to bring transformation in training. Companies can collaborate with educational institutions. Interacting with them and knowing more about the curriculum will help companies identify the gap that needs to be closed. As part of

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industry-academia collaboration, different measures for instance online training sessions can be organised as per the requirements of the industry. Having such initiatives in place will for sure lead to a sustainable solution.

What are the skilling needs of green jobs globally? How do you strategise talent management to stay ahead in talent attraction and retention?

It depends on the jobs themselves. However, innovation is the key to success in the job market. Partnering with universities can help industries create a future workforce that meets the business requirements. Additionally, having a career expert relevant to our industry can help companies check and ensure that they have the right experts on board or not.

What we do is find the right answers for the different talents we have in each country. We have a specific set of different target groups and we focus on finding the right answers to attract them.

To manage the talent and groom them further, we have training programs such as LinkedIn courses. Internal training programs are also there to develop people.

Additionally, training our leaders on how to treat employees respectfully and take care of them, and creating a

safe work environment are very important.

Family days or open days, open doors celebrations, and team outings are other aspects of taking care of your employees to keep them motivated. Meeting the needs and demands and wishes of our employees and asking them for feedback on a regular basis are some of the strategies that help manage your talent. These processes should be done on a regular basis as talent management is a constant process.

Feedback for leaders from employees is another aspect that must be taken care of. Further, we have a talent management tool and a clear cycle of performance and potential evaluation. We have global talent programmes and local ones too. We also have employee resource groups to connect with colleagues worldwide.

Offering good compensation cannot solve all the

problems. Work-life balance and engagement level of employees are an integral part of the talent management strategy.

What needs to be prioritised by global HR leaders to lead in the future of work in sustainable mobility?

For me, the first priority of HR leaders is always to understand where is the business going and what can be contributed, what can be foreseen, and what can be provided in terms of the right tools and methods to support this growth or the challenges faced.

A deep understanding of the business and setting the right priorities should be taken care of. However, there is no one approach that fits all. Finding the right answers to the problems in all the different countries and for all the different functions needs to be prioritised by the HR leaders globally.

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G-P founder Nicole Sahin talks about remote work at Davos 2023

Remote work has been hugely popularised as a way to hire globally, and it is also a solution to the challenges of talent sourcing and access to employment. Here's why the chair and CEO of G-P discussed its importance during the World Economic Forum this year

At the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Davos last month, equitable and inclusive access to employment, employment protection, and good quality jobs were high on the agenda. Accordingly, the Davos conversations included a number of speakers representing industries and organisations that advocate for, or support access to employment.

Among this company was nicole sahin, Founder and Chair of G-P, who spoke about the role that remote work plays in ensuring equal access to employment opportunities and creating greater economic equity, as part of the Centre for the New Economy and Society. G-P was earlier selected as part of the WEF's Global Innovators Community, a group of start-up and scale-up companies that works with public and private sector decision-makers on using new technologies to address pressing long-term global concerns.

People Matters asked Sahin about her presentation at Davos and the





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experience of being part of a global community that actively works toward alleviating economic and social inequities. Here's what she shared.

What were the key points of your presentation?

When I founded G-P and the EOR industry in 2012 I saw this not only as a business opportunity that would enable companies to hire anyone, anywhere in the world, but also as a way to promote cross-cultural empathy and economic equity. Companies that want to win must hire globally and our global employment platform makes it possible for them to look beyond their backyards and

local borders and tap into emerging talent markets. At the same time, this means that people are no longer restricted by their geographic location to only local employment opportunities.

Now, they can access quality employment with some of the world’s largest companies. It’s all made possible without having to move to a large population centre, bringing economic prosperity to underserved communities throughout the globe. As a result, we are starting to see premium talent in emerging economies demand “Global Salaries.” Two years ago, a person’s salary would be benchmarked in country,

and what we're seeing more frequently now is that salaries are really based on what the employee brings to the company.

I also focused on the impact of AI in the world of labour. While AI will in some cases replace jobs, my view is that many jobs are not going away but they're becoming much more efficient. Highly skilled talent will always be in demand and that means there will also be a need to continue to educate people in STEM and humanities as the labor landscape continues to evolve. I raised these points to this audience because of the strong concern and many questions about how work is changing, including the availability of enough talent with the right skills as we move forward into the future.

Interacting with the other speakers and with the members of the audience, what were your observations of their thoughts and expectations on employment and the future of the workforce?

My session was standing room only, which I see as indicative of the interest in co-creating the future of work.

Many of the questions revolved around talent sourcing and the challenges being faced because of the on-going talent shortage in

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many of the world’s largest economies.

This level of engagement is because it is about how we create opportunity and sustain ourselves –it is important to everyone and critical to the running of companies. Accessing a global workforce is currently helping organisations ride the economic storm by launching operations in new markets, finding new revenue streams, being flexible in terms of hiring, and having a diverse company culture.

Today, talent sourcing is not confined to geography or local jurisdictions, as technology allows companies to access highly skilled professionals quickly and compliantly in every corner of the world. Remote work is set to become a driver of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and is having a great impact on how companies scale and do business today.

All this makes the topic relevant, and people left the session with a clearer picture of what’s to come in terms of the workforce’s future and how it will change our lives. We are going through very critical and exciting times, and I’m glad my company is part of it, breaking down barriers and unlocking opportunities for everyone, everywhere.

What trends did you observe at this year's WEF




meeting that might change the way work, employment, etc. are being addressed today?

Related to the future of work, many governments are investing in digitising their systems, which is better for their constituents as well as business.

I was excited to see the talk focused on trends that centre around fintech and platforms like ours at G-P. The ability to access quality employment and for companies to access a global talent pool, is only half the battle. Making certain that talent is both fairly and securely paid with

their preferred in-country currency and that companies can do this easily, is essential. These platforms democratise access to resources and opportunity.

What are your hopes and expectations for the outcome of this year's gathering?

Davos is about people who want to change the world by collaborating. My expectation is that many partnerships will be born from Davos, and ideas shared, that will ultimately support a positive and exciting transition into our collective future.

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Evolving talent acquisition strategy in 2023

How can talent acquisition leaders attract and retain top talent in a world peppered with continuous disruptions?

We get some suggestions from Mohan Kumar, Head of Talent Acquisition, Intuit

The looming recession and wage inflation has inadvertently given rise to the phenom-

ena of mass layoffs across the globe. While analysts and strategists are trying to decode and predict the

trends of the future of work, we try to understand the fine act of balancing hiring, retaining and training talent in these uncertain times from Mohan Kumar, Head of Talent Acquisition, Intuit India.

In an exclusive conversation with us, Kumar points out that ‘while candidates do have the opportunity to choose, they are eager to move only for career changing offers.’ He also listed the many ways in which TA teams need to continuously evolve their strategy to hire the best and most diverse talent, inculcating a learning mindset among the employees so they are able to seek opportunities beyond their current role, the need to build a conducive culture of diversity, inclusion and belongingness so employees can bring their whole selves to work, and what it means to have an infrastructure in place that is supportive to employees returning to work after a break.

Here are the key points he shared.

As the head of talent acquisition, can you share with us some of the new challenges that talent acquisition teams will face in the year 2023?

We are a highly competitive yet resilient talent market, and there are plenty of opportunities for candidates to choose from. This brings

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along the challenge and need for organisations to be distinct and communicate their employee value proposition (EVP) more effectively to attract diverse talent.

There is also a large candidate pool who are satisfied with the status quo, but will only consider a move if the new opportunity offers them something that is career changing. Thus, the talent acquisition (TA) teams need to move from traditional practices and find new ways to build visibility, engage employees through relevant content and find the right channels to nurture talent pools.

TA teams will need to continuously evolve their strategy in attracting and hiring the best diverse talent in the following ways:

• Building inclusive hiring practices that provide the best experience.

• Nurturing talent communities to build proactive relationships and thus, a strong pipeline of talent.

• Continue to build employment brand recall through messaging and channels which are most relevant to talent and align them with core values of a company so as to establish the organisation as an employer of choice.

What strategies do you have in place at Intuit to successfully balance hiring

externally versus focusing on retaining and training talent within the organisation?

At Intuit, we want to grow our people’s careers meaningfully. We encourage all our employees to own their career and navigate via self reflection, continuously identifying and assessing their strengths and growth opportunities. We encourage them to have a continuous learning mindset and take advantage of the learning opportunities to advance their careers; seek mentorship via formal/informal networks internally and externally to obtain clarity about their growth aspirations and seek internal mobility opportunities as they see fit for their careers. In fact, our employees are open to having career conversations with their managers more often, paving a way for growth opportun-

ities beyond their current role.

As we endeavour to develop our talent to do the best work of their lives while fostering a culture of belongingness; we’ve enabled easy ways for employees to find and access internal opportunities. We’re continuously learning and evolving the process, prioritising on creating more visibility of internal jobs, removing friction in the process, simplifying and enhancing the end-toend experience and creating an environment where employees feel empowered to own their careers and are not afraid to seek these opportunities and apply for them.

Intuit India was recognised as the silver employer in the 2022 edition of the India Workplace Equality Index (IWEI). Can you tell us what programmes have been

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designed towards strengthening diversity, equity, inclusion and belongingness in the organisation?

At Intuit, diversity isn’t something we do – it’s who we are! We are committed to building a talented, engaged, diverse and equitable workforce across levels. The organisation is all about putting people first and it is our people who champion diversity, equity and inclusion within our company and externally as well, helping create an environment where they can bring their whole selves to work.

It is this conducive culture that enables our people to bring different voices to the table as they realise their full potential for the customers they find solutions for and the teams they are part of.

We have employee networks and diverse communities that help drive belongingness and inclusion across the organisation and they’re designed to run with minimal intervention from leaders. They drive employee listening tours, bubble up opportunities to enhance the experience and inspire experiments.

Our DEI strategy aligns with our True North Goals by focusing on three key stakeholder groups: employees, customers and communities and we focus on the following key aspects:

• Having the right employ-

ee representation across levels

• Targeted programs such as returnee programs (we have a program titled Intuit Again), mentorship initiatives and external partnerships towards diverse groups aimed at growth and development

• Equitable talent practices and policies

• Employee resource groups to drive high impact programs

• Equitable products and services

• Community support where it matters the most


A career break is particularly common these days, especially among women. How can organisations and TA leaders help create an infrastructure to exponentially increase the percentage of women rejoining work after a break?

As per a report by Centre for Talent Innovation, 36 per cent of women take a break from work with only 58 per cent of them able to rejoin full-time. Organisations need to take the first step in creating an equit-

able and supportive pathway for women returning from a career break. There needs to be an understanding of the supportive infrastructure and initiatives to help returnees refresh their skills, apply learned skills in a supportive team environment backed by learning opportunities, mentorship, learning and career development tools. All this will translate into more successful transitions and expand the rejoining workforce.

At Intuit, we offer a returnship programme –Intuit Again, for technology professionals who have had to take time off for caregiving or other personal responsibilities. Our returnship program was launched in 2015 and supported women as a pathway back into the tech workforce after a career break. Over time, the program has expanded to all genders, aligning further with our culture of diversity and inclusion.

In the end, an empowered company culture with its foundation in authenticity, will always puts the needs of its employees first. And as these employees rise higher in their job roles through mentorship, career development and training programs and internal mobility, it will bring in better business revenue while strengthening employer branding. The endeavour to be the best today begins with people!

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The risks and rewards of Generative AI: Navigating the future of ChatGPT in the world of work

ChatGPT will not necessarily replace jobs; instead, those who do not learn to effectively use these tools may be replaced by those who do. People Matters hosted a set of discussions on this conundrum in February

While the seeds of modern AI were planted by early philosophers, we have come a long way to now getting accustomed to using unpredictable and fun AI tools like ChatGPT. Generative AI, also known as creative AI, is an excit-

ing field of artificial intelligence that has gradually begun to change the world we know today.

Unlike other AI technologies that are designed to perform specific tasks or solve problems, generative AI can generate new and original content, designs, and ideas.

Hence, many tasks and processes in the workplace can be automated and optimised with just a few clicks. Yes, there is fun and excitement because human love for technology is being translated in the best possible way, but can we ignore the potential risks and concerns

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generative AI holds?

The risks and rewards of generative AI and its uncertain future in the world of work were the focus of People Matters’ latest LinkedIn Live sessions under its Big Questions series.

The AI evolution

Be it workplace analytics, performance management, employee engagement, retention or even recruitment, HRs have grown accustomed to using AI for several years now. Such tools are designed to automate specific tasks and streamline HR process-

human creativity. But also, we can’t ignore the fact that generative AI can potentially perpetuate bias if the data it is trained on is biased. Hence, the impact of generative AI on HR can be both good and bad, depending on how it is used,” suggested futurist Diana Wu David.

Privacy risks: The dark side of generative AI

With the increased use of this technology comes an increased risk to privacy. When it comes to Human Resources, one of the most significant privacy risks of

is that AI systems can remember conversations for a long time as part of their algorithms, potentially learning sensitive information about employees or job candidates. This information could be accessed and used in ways that violate their privacy, either by the company or by third parties who may seek to obtain it. To ensure data privacy, all AI tools need to be monitored, and companies must work with their IT and legal teams to establish and maintain standards that comply with relevant regulations,” said Dr Fermin Diez.

es, such as resume screening or scheduling interviews. However, now generative AI tools have come to the forefront, constantly pushing the boundaries of what is possible. This means that HR teams can use these tools to stay ahead of the curve and adopt new and innovative approaches to HR-related tasks.

“Previous AI technologies mostly focused on recommendation engines and auto-completion of text. In contrast, generative AI can create unpredictable and exciting outputs. This kind of AI taps into our love for

generative AI is employee data protection. Generative AI algorithms collect, store, and analyse employee data and Dr Fermin Diez, Deputy CEO and Group Director at NCSS, highlighted that these significant data need to be protected and secured to prevent unauthorised access, use, or disclosure. Employers must ensure that they comply with data privacy regulations and that employees have control over their data too.

“While generative AI in HR can be incredibly useful, it also poses significant privacy risks. One concern

He further added, “While bringing AI tools in-house may limit some data privacy issues, it also introduces new complexities. As technology continues to evolve, legislators must keep pace with these advancements and establish rules to protect individuals' privacy. As it stands, legislation tends to lag behind technological developments, creating a gap that can leave individuals vulnerable to privacy violations.”

Will AI replace or enhance human labour?

With the advent of ChatGPT, many people are beginning to wonder if this new technology can take over their jobs. Our panellists believe that generative AI will not necessarily take over HR jobs, but rather enhance and augment the work of HR professionals. It is essential to recognise

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It is essential to recognise that while ChatGPT can automate some tasks, it cannot replace the interpersonal and human skills necessary in HR roles

that while ChatGPT can automate some tasks, it cannot replace the interpersonal and human skills necessary in HR roles.

“I don't believe that ChatGPT will necessarily replace jobs, but rather, those who do not learn to effectively use these tools may be at a disadvantage when compared to those who do. It may require some management and learning, but it's not much different from

common for people to feel anxious about incorporating emerging technologies into their work. However, I believe that it's important to understand the changes taking place in our industry and learn how to capitalise on them. While technology may automate certain aspects of our work, there are still many skills and qualities that are uniquely human and necessary for success. In fact, it's often our

tional Council for Social Service, Singapore, said, “Critical thinking is irreplaceable by AI.” Individuals must continue to develop and use their critical thinking skills to analyse complex systems, make informed decisions, and evaluate the accuracy and reliability of AI-generated outputs.

the management and learning required to effectively search the internet. Just as when searching the internet, the quality of the answer you receive from ChatGPT depends on the quality of the question you ask. Overall, I believe that ChatGPT is a valuable tool that, when used effectively, can enhance and streamline certain job functions, rather than replace them,” Dr Fermin Diez told People Matters.

“In today's world, it's

personalities and human aspects that enable us to contribute in meaningful ways,” added Diana Wu David.


role of critical thinking

in a world of AI

As we discuss the potential of ChatGPT and other generative AI tools, one thing that we need to remember is that AI is not capable of the nuanced and contextual analysis that humans can provide. Highlighting the same, the Deputy CEO of the Na-

“One of the essential skills we must teach our students is critical thinking, even with the availability of tools like ChatGPT for research. Critical thinking is irreplaceable by AI. It allows us to analyse complex systems, evaluate risk-reward dimensions, and consider human factors in complexity analysis. While AI systems can only deal with related items, humans can still perform tasks that require a deeper level of analysis. Therefore, it's crucial to encourage critical thinking in students, and as an instructor, I've integrated ChatGPT-generated answers into my course as a means of assessment. Instead of accepting ChatGPT's answer as truth, I want my students to evaluate it critically and express their thoughts on it. We should not blindly rely on computer-generated answers but exercise our judgment and critical thinking skills,” he advised.

togainfurtherinsightsfromindustry expertsonthepressingissuesintoday'sever-evolvingworldofwork,do follow people matters'BigQuestion series on linkedin.

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Get ready for the top-5 HR challenges of 2023

HR just can't seem to get a break. Since 2020 it's been one challenge after another. So, what's going to keep HR practitioners busy this year?

The challenges HR has been facing ever since the onset of the pandemic are numerous and unprecedented. Much of these challenges have been dealt with in different ways with mixed results, sometimes leaving employees to fend for themselves and their wellbeing.

Will these challenges continue in 2023 with the pandemic's residue still lingering? Here is a look at five particular challenges that will keep HR busy in 2023, and what practitioners can do to manage the year better.

1. Remote work and hybrid models

The shift towards remote work that started with the pandemic will continue. The debate between WFH and work from office is not yet settled, and some kind of hybrid models will be in place in most companies. HR teams will need to develop policies and programmes that support remote workers. Virtual employee

engagement activities and remote career development opportunities will be an area of interest for many.

Companies will be exploring several remote and hybrid models this year including some of the following:

Fully remote: Some companies are choosing to be fully remote, allowing all employees to work from

work. Most tech companies including Google and Microsoft have opted for this model.

Rotational: A few companies are opting for a rotational model where employees spend certain days in the office and certain days WFH. Twitter has opted for the rotational model.

Regional: A regional model where employees in

WordPress (owned by Automatic) has a fully remote workforce.

Hybrid: Many companies are adopting a hybrid model, where employees have the option to work from the office or from home. This model provides the benefits of both remote and in-office

different regions work from the office or from home based on local requirements. Hubspot is using this model.

Time-based: A few are using a time-based model, where employees work from home during off-peak hours and come into the office during peak hours,

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M Munee
HR will need to assess each department and individual needs and plan from a business point of view...these models will constantly evolve and the key is in supporting the employees throughtout this transition anywhere.

or vice versa. Buffer has chosen this model. HR will need to assess each department and individual needs and plan from a business point of view. These models will constantly evolve and the key is in supporting the employees throughtout this transition.

2. Increased focus on employee wellbeing and mental health

HR teams will have to prioritise employee wellbeing and mental health in 2023, recognising the impact that the pandemic has had on the mental health of workers. This could include implementing mental health benefits, promoting healthy work-life balance, and providing other ad hoc support to employees. Companies can choose from a wide variety of options to address these issues in the current year and some of the following are indicative:

• Offer mental health benefits such as access to a therapist or counselor. Buffer has made mental health a top priority, offering comprehensive mental health benefits to its employees, as well as promoting work-life balance and mindfulness practices.

• Promote work-life balance by offering flexible work arrangements, such as remote work or flexible schedules. SAP has

implemented a variety of initiatives such as mindfulness and wellness programmes, flexible work arrangements, and open and honest conversations about mental health.

• Provide resources and support for employees' mental health such as mental health days, stress management workshops, and online support groups. Aetna, a health insurance company, has started off mental health days, counseling services, and stress management workshops.

• Incorporate mindfulness and wellness programmes into the workplace, such as yoga classes, meditation sessions, and healthy eating initiatives. Salesforce has made employee well-being a priority by offering mental health benefits, flexible work arrangements, and mind-

fulness initiatives.

• Encourage open and honest conversations about mental health to create a supportive and inclusive environment for employees. TINYpulse, an employee engagement platform, has made mental health a central part of its culture, offering mental health benefits and promoting work-life balance and mindfulness practices.

3. Greater use of artificial intelligence and automation in HR HR teams will have to learn to leverage AI and automation to streamline processes and make datadriven decisions. This could include using AI to screen resumes, automate performance evaluations, and predict employee turnover. AI-based humanoids such as “Evueme” are already available for great recruit-

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ment experiences and depth of evaluation. An AI-powered automation platform can automate HR processes such as employee onboarding and benefits management. India’s first metaverse company WowExp has VR based onboarding solutions incorporating AI.

Many companies are planning for greater use of AI and automation. As AI and automation continue to evolve, companies will need to adapt and remain agile. Companies like HUL have used the metaverse in board meetings, and others have tried out AI-powered talent acquisition platforms that help with candidate sourcing and screening, interview scheduling and resume parsing.

For example:

• Textio is an AI-powered platform that uses machine learning to analyse job postings

and provide feedback on language to help companies attract a more diverse pool of candidates.

• Evueme is an AI-powered video interview platform that automates the interview process and enables HR teams to evaluate candidates based on their responses to different kinds of skill testing and questions.

• myRefers automates employee referral programs and helps companies source high-quality candidates from their employees' networks.

• Namely streamlines HR processes such as payroll and benefits administration.

Many more tools are available to meet various needs.

Companies should look at many ways to meet this challenge head on:

• Invest in AI and automation technologies to streamline processes, increase efficiency, and improve decision-making.

• Train employees to ensure they have the skills necessary to work alongside AI and automation tools.

• Implement change management programmes to help employees adjust to the new technologies and processes as part of their work culture.

• Develop ethical and responsible AI practices to ensure that the technology is used in a way that aligns with their values and benefits society.

• Incorporate AI into the strategy, identifying areas where the technology can add value and help achieve the goals.

• Collaborate with external partners such as AI vendors and academic institutions, to stay up-to-date on the latest developments in AI and automation

4. The continued rise of DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) initiatives

Boards of directors will continue to prioritise diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace, recognising the business benefits of having a diverse workforce. HR will play a key role in creating and implementing initiatives to increase diversity and promote an inclusive workplace culture, even as allegations of discrimina-

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tion are on the rise with the divisive politics in India.

Glob ally, there are many pioneers in DEI like Microsoft, AirBnb, Spotify and Deloitte that have brought in excellent initiatives that inckude unconscious bias training, commitment to gender pay parity, diversity in hiring, inclusive language in job postings, and flexible work arrangements to support employees from underrepresented groups.

Here are some ways HR can tackle DEI initiatives in 2023.

Establish DEI goals and metrics: HR must set the goals and metrics to track progress and hold accountablility – Goals around diversity in hiring, representation in leadership positions, and pay equity.

Create a diverse and inclusive workplace culture: Build a culture that values diversity, equity, and inclusion. Examples include diversity and inclusion training programmes, encouraging open and honest conversations about DEI, and creating psychological safety.

Implement unconscious bias training: This will help employees understand the impact of their biases and promote a more equitable workplace.

Diversify recruitment efforts: Ensure that job postings and candidate pools are inclusive and representative of the communities they

serve. This could include partnering with organisations that serve underrepresented communities and using inclusive language in job postings.

Foster a feedback-rich culture: A culture where employees feel comfortable providing constructive feedback and suggestions for how HR can improve its DEI efforts.

Review and revise HR policies: This is to ensure the promotion of DEI. Look at revising employee benefits, flexible work arrangements, and performance evaluation processes.

5. The need for reskilling and upskilling employees

The rapid pace of technological change has accelerated the need for employees to reskill and upskill. HR will have to play the key role in equipping and encouraging employees to acquire new skills to survive the AI era.

Companies will find it increasingly tough without skilling employees. Newer technologies are rapidly changing many processes, quality talent is in short supply, and competition is coming from many new areas.

Despite the increasing costs of learning and development, HR must know that the return from a wellequipped workforce will be far higher than the costs

incurred in training them. Here are some of the critical skills HR will have to plan for this year and beyond:

• Data analytics and interpretation.

• Digital transformation –understanding and implementing digital technologies to improve business processes and customer experiences.

• Artificial Intelligence –knowledge of AI applications and the ability to implement AI solutions in various business operations.

• Cyber security – expertise in protecting against and mitigating cyber threats to maintain data privacy and security.

• Remote work and collaboration – skills for effective remote work, team collaboration, and virtual communication.

• Emotional Intelligence –ability to understand and manage emotions, relationships, and communications within the workplace.

• Agility and adaptability – ability to quickly adapt to changes, learn new skills, and take on new responsibilities in a fastpaced business environment.

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Mun EE r is a Fortune 500 consultant, author and startup investor/mentor. He is also the co-founder of the non-profit Medici Institute. Twitter: @MuneerMuh.

7 ways reading can boost your career success

It might seem like a simple task, but reading can provide fresh perspectives to help you overcome obstacles in the workplace

Whether you're aspiring to rise through the ranks or you’re already an established business leader, reading can help you unlock your full potential and achieve career success.

Sure, having the right skill set is part of the equation. But just as important is the knowledge and understanding required to apply those skills correctly. How can you equip yourself with that kind of wisdom?

Reading for success

Reading is a fundamental skill that helps us acquire new knowledge and learn new things. It is also a great way to improve

our communication and writing skills. Not only that, but reading can also help boost our career success. There are many reasons why reading can help us achieve success in our careers.

For one, it helps us develop a better understanding of the world around us. When we read news articles or books, we learn about different cultures, current events, and different points of view. This knowledge helps us become more knowledgeable and well-informed individuals, which is an attractive quality in any job.

In addition, reading helps improve our memory and concentration. Studies have shown that people who read regularly have a more powerful memory than those who don’t. When we read, we exercise our brain muscles and improve our thinking skills. This can be beneficial in any career where we need to remember important details or solve complicated problems.

killi N
If you want to be one of these in-demand employees, you’ll realise that reading is a great habit to cultivate

Lastly, reading can also make us more articulate and better communicators. When we read regularly, we expose ourselves to different styles of writing. This helps develop our own writing style and vocabulary. We also learn how to express ourselves better when communicating with others. Good communication skills are essential.

Whether you’re writing emails to colleagues or creating presentations for clients, strong communication is essential to career success.

If you’re looking for ways to boost your career success, then make sure to add reading to your list of priorities! Here’s how:

Reading enhances your attention span and memory

With the average attention span of an adult being only about six to eight seconds, it's no surprise that we often have trouble remembering things or focusing on tasks. Furthermore, our ability to retain information generally decreases as we age. However, reading can help improve our attention span and memory regardless of our age.

When we read, we are actively engaged in trying to understand the text and follow the story. This requires us to focus and pay attention for sustained periods of time. In contrast, when we are passively listening to someone speak or watching television, our minds are more likely to wander.

By regularly engaging in activities that require us to focus and pay attention, we can train our brains to be better at concentrat-

ing and remembering information.

Additionally, reading has been shown to improve brain connectivity and increase activity in areas responsible for language, memory, and critical thinking skills. All of these benefits can help keep your mind sharp as you age and could even help prevent cognitive decline.

Reading enhances not just emotional but also physical well-being by strengthening memory, recall, and by helping a reader empathise better with people around having lived the character they are reading. An increasing body of research now shows that reading enhances brain function and what we know

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By reading regularly, you will train your brain to better process and understand information, which will give you a significant advantage in both your personal and professional life

as the theory of mind by stimulating parts of the brain that help people understand social relationships and navigate them better. These skills are priceless for personal and career success both. Reading is also the quintessence of knowledge which is power. And the power that flows from knowledge is bound to translate into career success.

Reading increases knowledge and improves problem-solving skills

Apart from improving your focus, reading also increases your knowledge and sharpens your problem-solving skills. In business, those who can identify problems more quickly and come up with more innovative solutions are in greater demand across industries than those who can’t. Now, if you want to be one of these in-demand employees, you’ll realise that reading is a great habit to cultivate.

When you read, you are constantly exposed to new information. This not only helps you

learn more about the world around you, but also teaches you how to think critically about the information you're taking in. As your critical thinking skills improve, so too will your ability to identify and solve problems at work. In short, reading makes you smarter and better equipped to handle whatever challenges come your way in your career.

Reading encourages self-exploration and promotes critical thinking

When we read, we have to engage with the text to understand it. This process of engagement encourages us to explore our own thoughts and feelings on the subject matter, and to critically evaluate the arguments put forward by the author. The ability to think critically is one of the most important skills that you can develop in your career, as it will help you to make sound decisions, spot errors and inconsistencies, and communicate your ideas effectively.

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Reading stimulates imagination, creativity and innovation

If you're looking for a way to jumpstart your imagination, creativity and innovation, reading is a great way to do it. When you read, your brain is working to process the information and create new ideas. This can help spark new innovative thinking in your career.

In addition, reading can also help broaden your perspective and understanding of the world. By exposure to new people, places and cultures through books, you can become more open-minded and culturally aware. This broader perspective can come in handy when brainstorming new ideas or solutions to problems in your field.

Reading broadens perspectives and inspires self confidence

Because reading helps you to become more open-minded and understanding of others, both in and out of the workplace, it can also inspire self-confidence.

When you read about how other people have overcome obstacles or attained success in their own craft, it can give you the motivation to do the same in your own life and an example to follow.

Reading strengthens overall cognitive ability

One of the most important skills that you can develop to be successful in your career is the ability to read and comprehend complex information. By reading regularly, you will train your brain to better process and understand information, which will give you a significant advantage

in both your personal and professional life.

Reading increases your emotional intelligence

Your ability to understand and manage emotions plays a big role in your overall success at work. Books can help you increase your emotional intelligence by teaching you how to recognise and understand emotions, as well as how to respond in productive ways.

To maximise career success, you must think beyond the norm. Nurture your creativity by reading and be more open to fresh concepts and distinctive views. Stretch your imagination and use it to come up with imaginative solutions to everyday work problems.

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One of the most important skills that you can develop to be successful in your career is the ability to read and comprehend complex information

Countering the merchants of emplocide

One reason CEOs, promoters and shareholders resort so easily to massive downsizings is that they suffer relatively little from these events, which destroy thousands of lives. Should we change the balance of pain?

The past few months have seen brutal downsizings in heretofore relatively immune sectors. Far from being essential for survival or even improving financial performance, several of these seem imitative parrot plays. Jeffrey Pfeffer, of the Stanford Graduate School of Business, captures it well. "Layoffs probably don’t cut costs… in fact, there is little empirical evidence that layoffs help improve profitability, and some evidence they actually hurt profitability."1

As bad as the actual pain caused to thousands of employees and their families, is the tension and demoralisation of those who remain.2 Next ,come the ripple effects of other firms following the examples of emplocide set by these generally model employers.

Reading the open letters from some of these bleeding heart CEOs, with love for their employees oozing

out of every 'mea culpa' teardrop, I was reminded of the concluding verse from 'The Ballad of Reading Gaol' about men killing what they love:

Somedoitwithabitterlook, Somewithaflatteringword, The coward does it with a kiss, Thebravemanwithasword.3

Whether such CEO love is delivered by the sword or the stiletto, most employees would prefer not to be its object. If there is no succour

to be found in love, shall we rely on mercy? We have no less a personage than Portia tell us:

Thequalityof mercyisnot strained; Itdroppethasthegentle rain from heaven


Unfortunately for her and for our faith in human nature, Portia soon realizes (if she didn’t expect it all along) that mercy is strained. So strained that it has to be squeezed out of

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Shylock by the threat of a far worse catastrophe befalling him if he doesn’t relent. And who are we to argue with Shakespeare’s judgment? Perhaps we too shall spot kindness glimmering behind CEOs’ masks only when there is the threat of greater unkindness being visited on them.

In a much earlier piece, I had hinted at this pain-sharing necessity.5 Do read that column for a fuller perspective on my views on downsizing. This time, however, I’d like to make specific suggestions to make business leaders more wary of declaring war on their workforces. Unless CEOs (as well as other members of the leadership team), shareholders (as well as other investors) and corporate reputations take concomitant hits, the pernicious trend of eliminating people as casually as waste paper will continue. What can be done to distribute the pain more equitably?

Progressive pain sharing

On May 27, 1942, Jan Kubiš threw a bomb that fatally injured, Reinhard Heydrich, one of the planners of the Holocaust and, at that time, acting Governor of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. Unable to find the attackers initially and in an attempt to placate Hitler’s fury, the Nazis decided that the village of "Lidice [which had no connection to the

assassination] was to be destroyed. The men were to be shot on the spot and the women were sent to a concentration camp… The village was to be burned to the ground and its remains levelled so that no trace remained… The Czechs paid a heavy price in blood for the death of the tyrant, with over 5000 victims of Nazi reprisals, …the majority innocent civilians6."What shocked and disgusted the world was that most of the people massacred had no responsibility for planning, deciding or carrying out the act that led to the reprisals.

Nearly ninety years later, almost every tech company overestimated the demand

for its services. The more honest (or brazen) CEOs owned responsibility for the miscalculation. In an attempt to placate shareholder fury at the capacity that had been added heedlessly, the ones responsible for the blunder decided to decapitate the innocents brought in recently (as well as many older hands for good measure). No one seems particularly shocked that almost every single eliminated employee had no part in the decisions that brought on the crisis.

As repugnant as these parallel cases of vicarious, collective punishment should be to any individual with even a margin-

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Unless CEOs, shareholders, and corporate reputations take concomitant hits, the pernicious trend of eliminating people as casually as waste paper will continue

ally developed sense of fairness, there are also perfectly rational economic reasons for targeting the top rather than the bottom of the pyramid. Depending on the level, each senior defenestration yields savings equivalent to at least tens and, more frequently, hundreds of operating and contractual employees.7

Thus, it is both just and rational that the leaders that brought the company to such a downsizing pass and those

level immediately below the CEO should lose twice the percentage loss of the operating and contractual employee levels. Intermediate level exit percentages can be suitably extrapolated. If levels are fuzzy, the same progressive impact can be achieved through a ranking by earnings. The CEOs' own continuation would be determined between that person’s conscience and the Board.

The major show of solidarity retained employ-

some seem tainted by sleight of hand.8 To be a credible show of empathy and of any significant help to the firm’s finances, such cuts should not be much less than 50% at the level of the CEO and progressively less with each succeeding level. Again, in the absence of well-defined levels, a CTC ranking would suffice.

whose continuation costs the company the most, must take the lead in paying the price for it too. The distress can be distributed through the organisation in the following ways.

The first suffering share is obvious: separations at all levels, with the proportion of people eliminated being higher at levels taking strategic calls and where reduction will save the most.

To my thinking, the CXO

ees can be asked to show is through a reduction in their Costs to the Company (CTC) including allowances and all benefits. Only half of this savings should accrue to the company, with the rest going towards a National Unemployment Fund which will be the subject of a future column. Even today, some CEOs and top teams make similar gestures though, if media reports are to be believed,

Have you ever wondered how some CEOs and Promoters bring their salaries down to Re 1 to demonstrate solidarity in times of hardship? Part of the answer lies in benefits that are not always accurately costed for the CTC computation (e.g., a huge company-owned house and lavish retirals). The real kicker comes, however, by way of long-term incentives and other means of wealth accretion which yield large incomes and tremendous appreciation in value with each passing year. Until these enter the computation, there can be no meaningful pain-sharing with those whose emoluments have been reduced to zero. Unimaginable as such a sacrifice may appear to us, we have a century-old precedent of a promoter voluntarily putting his wife’s jewellry in hock just so that employee salaries did not become nil.9 Further, while the impairment of current and future wealth accretion of senior executives, in general, may suffice, additional wealth should be

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clawed back from individuals making the judgment calls that brought the fortunes of the company so low.

Shareholders in pain

Even in tech firms, with their high rates of churn, the better employees have tenure measured in years rather than months. In the recent round of bloodletting, the most harrowing tales of bewilderment came from those who had been contributors at the same firm for a decade or more.

Contrast their sense of ownership compared to the legal owners, who in the case of investing funds, may measure their stockholding tenure in months, weeks or even days. Employees who have been slogging eight, twelve and sixteen hours a day can’t but help feel outraged if they suffer 'jhatka' to feed the appetite of people who may have never stepped into the premises of the business, leave aside adding any value to its performance. In response, I can hear CEOs plead:

"We only did it to save the company from going under and in the interest of the many more employees whose jobs got saved as a result." I can buy that argument — provided the company passes three simple (but decreasingly palatable) checks to prove that the downsizing was really a last, desperate resort.

Assuming that maximal efforts were made to retrain and redeploy personnel internally before the downsizing, there should be no objection to freezing all recruitment (including contract workers) for a meaningful period (say, two years) after the reduction. Of course, there will need to be exceptions for critical roles that cannot be internally retrained (e.g., pilots in an airline), but these should be rare and clearly justifiable. As a result, we should see an end to the pernicious

inely struggling and have negligible profits, there will be no cost as a result of the cess. A better truth serum, for checking the therewere-no-alternative claims of companies, I cannot imagine.

Lastly, we need to remove any element of unfairness in the relative treatment of two supposedly equal stakeholders: employees and shareholders. During (and for a specified period after) the hard times culminating in layoff, there should also be a moratorium on bene-

practice of 'round stripping' salaries by driving out higher-paid loyalists and substituting them with freshmen or GIGs.

Somewhat more controversial may be the proposal to add a slimming cess on profits linked to the reduced percentage of (permanent and contract) employees, which will go to the National Unemployment Fund mentioned earlier. Better tax designers than I can work out the rates and close the loopholes. The beauty of this idea is that, for companies that are genu-

fits flowing to shareholders through dividend payouts, buybacks or any other mode. This should go a long way to easing downsizing demands on CEOs from shareholders.

Reputational pain

Corporates have been known to spend millions on developing and communicating their Employer Value Propositions (EVP). This paragraph can save them all this money while boosting employee citizenship behaviour.10 The answer lies in three simple words – No Emplocide Here. Of course,

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t he road less travelled

this will not preclude individual terminations as actions of last resort for non-improvable performance or egregious conduct. Most employees understand the fairness of such decisions. What they cannot understand or stomach are mass expulsions from their figurative homelands (for no fault of theirs) simply to create greater 'lebensraum' for shareholder returns. In the current mood of panic caused by imitative emplocide, I can think of no more magnetic EVP to attract and hold the best talent. Conversely, a reputational toll needs to be paid by employers who scatter employees to the winds like chaff.

It is logically ludicrous and morally repugnant to award 'best employer' honorifics to corporates that have just converted employees into EBITDA. Hence the first consequence of emplocide should be exclusion (for at least a couple of years) from consideration for all such evaluations and awards –whether for the corporate entity or individual leaders.

It is equally questionable to lure prospective employees into jobs, under the pretence that their performance will make their futures, when it is their CEOs’ misjudgments that might terminate their tenures.11

Of course, recent press coverage should alert prospective recruits to

employers who have put profits before people but memories can be short. Like the statutory warnings on cigarette packets, all employers must declare their previous 5-year record of downsizings in every corporate campaign and most definitely in any recruitment-related communication, whether on campus, in the media or to individuals.

While I have been less than charitable to the general run of shareholders, there is no doubt that

than an opponent of organizational fairness.

Critical questions

There are some critical questions that have remained unanswered so far. The first is: who will implement these pain-share possibilities (they actualise only when jobs are cut and, in any case, it is unlikely that all these ideas will be implemented at once). To me, the ideal is self-restraint on downsizing and self-imposition of pain when it occurs.

enlightened investors have made a huge difference in the elimination of other harmful business practices such as environmental degradation, use of child labour or trade in illicit produce. This has not necessarily been at the cost of financial returns.12 We need to place emplocide on the list of reputationally hazardous practices. Investor strength will then be an aid rather

My most recent inspiration comes from Brunello Cucinelli who is "… proud none of his roughly 2,000 employees were let go when sales were hit by the pandemic."13 Remarkably, he has set a ceiling on his firm’s profitability and, when earnings go higher, he pours them into better pay and working conditions for employees. Everyone, I suppose, can’t be Cucinelli

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(though reading Philosophy instead of doing an MBA might help!)14 and, for most corporates, a set of guidelines set by business associations and employer bodies might be an essential prod to action. Should such a stimulus fail to emerge or be effective, I am afraid the probability of legislative action will increase.

Possible intervention by the state will immediately raise the next question: what will such painshare programmes do to employment generation? Will it not scare away corporates from adding people in the first place? I really don’t think that will be the case if there is a profitable business opportunity and committed people are necessary for materialising it. On the contrary, the easing of laws governing retrenchment has gone hand in hand with employers 'de-generating' employment through automation or contractualisation. Those trends require bigger solutions and changing the cost of durable employment will not shift their trajectory significantly.


1. Elizabeth Lopatto, Why are so many tech companies laying people off right now? Didn’t they just have record-breaking profits?, The Verge, 26 January 2023.

2. Josie Cox, The toll of layoff anxiety, Work: In Progress, BBC, 7 February 2023.

3. Oscar Wilde, The Ballad of Reading Gaol, Complete Works of Oscar Wilde, Collins, 2016.

4. William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Act IV, Scene I.

5. Visty Banaji, People Are Not Beans, Angry Birds, Angrier Bees – Reflections on the Feats, Failures and Future of HR, Pages 347-350, AuthorsUpfront, 2023.

6. Callum MacDonald, The Assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, Birlinn Ltd, 2007.

7. Visty Banaji, But Who Will Guard the Guardians,

The closest home for readers of this column must be the question about the role of HR in all of this. At the operational level, the greatest contribution HR can make is to have extremely effective re-training and re-deployment programmes. Contributions at the process design level are even more vital. Some tech firms are using the lack of legal codes (or their non-implementation in the strictest sense) to get by with minimal payments to those being turfed out. The situation abroad is even worse.15 Ensuring a fair deal for those being separated and ensuring they are dealt with empathetically and gently must be owned by senior HR leaders.

Finally, we come to the person occupying the place at the table: the CHRO. That seat hasn’t been granted simply to rest a broad backside. It is from that vantage

Angry Birds, Angrier Bees – Reflections on the Feats, Failures and Future of HR, Pages 260-266, AuthorsUpfront, 2023.

8. Divyanshi Sharma, Weeks before firing 12,000 employees, Google CEO Sundar Pichai received massive pay hike, India Today, 30 January, 2023.

9. Visty Banaji, Is HR Too Fragile?, Angry Birds, Angrier Bees – Reflections on the Feats, Failures and Future of HR, Pages 526-533, AuthorsUpfront, 2023.

10. Rabia Imran, Mehwish Majeed, and Abida Ayub, Impact of Organizational Justice, Job Security and Job satisfaction on Organizational Productivity, Journal of Economics, Business and Management, Vol. 3, No. 9, September 2015.

11. Jason Aten, Google's CEO Answered Criticism Over Layoffs at a Heated All-Company Meeting. This 1 Word Stood Out, Inc., 2 February 2023.

12. Alexander Kempf and Peer Osthoff, The effect of

point that CHROs can moderate overhasty accretion of staff when the business mood is upbeat. More importantly, it is here that they should question (even if they can’t veto) plans for emplocide. I know and respect several CHROs who did protest such reckless reduction (and sometimes were made part of it). On the other hand, there have been some CHROs who have been eagerly complicit in finding clever ways to increase emplocide at minimal cost. Before claiming they were only following orders, they (and those readers who feel we must accept this 'new normal') should recall Hannah Arendt’s words: "The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil."16

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

socially responsible investing on portfolio performance, CFR Working Paper, No. 06-10, University of Cologne, Centre for Financial Research, 2007.

13. Flavia Rotondi and Chiara Remondini, Billionaire Cucinelli Sets Profits Cap to Thrive for Centuries, Bloomberg, 4 February 2023.

14. Daron Acemoglu, Alex He and Daniel le Maire, Eclipse of Rent-Sharing: The Effects of Managers' Business Education on Wages and the Labor Share in the US and Denmark, NBER Working Paper No. 29874, March 2022.

15. Annie Palmer, Jonathan Vanian, Jennifer Elias, Jordan Novet, Lora Kolodny, Ashley Capoot and Sofia Pitt, Here are the layoff severance packages Google, Microsoft, Amazon and other tech giants have promised, CNBC, 20 January 2023.

16. Hannah Arendt, The Life of the Mind, Mariner Books, 1981.

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It is logically ludicrous and morally repugnant to award 'best employer' honorifics to corporates that have just converted employees into EBITDA

Our Conferences

People Matters Talent Acquisition Conference 2023

Thursday, 09 February 2023

LOCaTION Ritz Carlton, Bengaluru

A very big thank you to each and every one of our partners, speakers, participants, and community members for helping to make People Matters Talent Acquisition Conference 2023 a success!

From understanding the power of HR tech to the role of gamification in talent acquisition, the pursuit of purpose and why we need to understand underrepresented talent and their challenges better, the conference tackled pertinent topics that have overwhelmed TA leaders across the world.

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Unconventional times call for unconventional ways of thinking. Three years into a global pandemic and, now, facing a war, an unstable economy, social unrest, supply chain

keep pace with disruptions, and help your workforce solve today’s most critical performance challenges while also developing the knowledge and skills employees will need to be successful in the future. We invite CHROs, CLOs, Senior HRs, L&D CEOs, breakdowns, and mounting climate change, we see how old patterns of doing business no longer cut through the grain and deliver impact.

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PAST U PCO m I n G 64 | February 2023

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65 February 2023 |

Why we should rethink averages

Averages are an easy way to quantify organisation-wide trends or circumstances. But they are a blunt instrument at best. Here's why – and how – we need to take a more nuanced approach.

There’s a famous story wherein a statistician tried crossing a river based on the knowledge that the average depth of the river was 6 feet. If he were alive today, he’d tell you why averages can be dangerous. However, instead of recounting what happened to this statistician, let me narrate stories from closer to home. Based on an annual engagement survey, the

average inclusion score of a team was rated 4+ out of a possible maximum of 5; yet concerns from new hires kept pouring in, and these new hires clearly felt far less included than 4+/5. It wasn’t until both metrics, the average and the individual, were put side by side that we realized that those who’d been around since before the pandemic bonded well together and were extremely good at staying connected. On the other hand, this team had a much smaller number of new hires who unintentionally were left out of most virtual coffee chats, informal huddles and ultimately felt highly neglected despite best intentions. In this case, the average score greatly overrepresented those who felt included, and underrepresented those who did not.

We know averages give us very limited information. Yet, our workplaces and dashboards are riddled with it. An average occupancy rate of 22% for example,

66 | FEBRUARY 2023 Blogosphere >> a n K ita p oddar blogosphere

tells us very little about attendance patterns and even less about the floors and buildings that could be possibly shut down. It gets even harder when we use averages as comparators across different populations.

For our roles, averages pose an even greater danger. One can’t look at totality and pull out an obvious answer to say this is how everyone is feeling. While the number may be interpreted as things going well or down the drain, everyone at the workplace is going through very different experiences. Trying to condense this diversity into a single number weakens our grasp of the true picture. It gets further diluted when we take these single numbers from across thousands of employees and condense further into an average to determine our response.

Yes, averages are easy but also highly misleading. Whenever an average is used to represent an uncertain quantity, it ends up distorting the results because it ignores the impact of the inevitable variations. If there was one movement I’d like to start in the worlds where HR and data intersect, it would be the movement to rethink how we look at averages.

If not averages, then what?

Think of averages as taking the easy way out. When asked questions and pushed for a quick single number for reference, we usually rely on averages. However, the trend is changing.

Over the past few years, given the obsession with data, we drifted away from direct employee

engagement such as round table discussions, adhoc one to ones and the like. As I find a reverse trend of increased connection circles and leaders leading ‘coffee chats’ and listening circles, the act of supplementing averages with anecdotes is heartening. One wise leader once said, ‘on discovering a conflict between data and anecdotes, always trust the anecdotes.’ Now while the original quote was intended for product feedback, the same can be embraced for most instances.

But I’d still like some quantitative data

I acknowledge that turning up without any numbers, armed only with anecdotes, can prove detrimental to a conversation especially given the amount of data we are surrounded with. And not once have I said that data isn’t good. It is averages by themselves that I have a beef with. Hence here are my top three alternatives to naked averages.

Never state the what without the why:

We have a phrase in my team that we use a little too frequently. Used to describe numbers that say very little on their own,

67 FEBRUARY 2023 | blogosphere
I acknowledge that turning up without any numbers, armed only with anecdotes, can prove detrimental to a conversation especially given the amount of data we are surrounded with

‘naked numbers’ are often a dangerous trap. My feelings for averages (if you didn’t already grasp) are identical to that for naked numbers. Hence my rule of never the what without the why. Even though it annoys some people, when asked for data, I first explain the story on what the number reflects before sharing the number. Doing that forces me to compare against other relevant metrics and supplement with anecdotes. Nowadays when I share numbers without a story, my listeners begin to worry.

Focus on the distribution, hide the averages:

If you don’t have the luxury of storytelling prior to presenting numbers, here’s an alternate approach. Delete averages altogether. We already use distributions while collecting data and love graphs too. One simple move such as expanding the single average to reflect the response distribution allows the reader to identify the fence sitters and the

naysayers. Knowing that a training received an average score of 4+ out of 5 does not tell us much but knowing just how many people responded with what score tells us a wee bit more about how the score ended up being 4+.

A distribution over time (e.g. training demand) also allows us to plan resources better. If during the year, for e.g., the average demand for a training was four instances a month but zero in the first and last quarter, distributing resources to facilitate four instances per month does us little good. So, knock the averages off your first page and replace it instead with graphs and distributions.

I am sure there exists a uniformly divided world where averages make perfect sense. Unfortunately, that world isn’t this one and most likely never will be. If you are crafting strategies for the world we live in, something as easy and opaque as averages is a very inaccurate metric to live by. Just ask those who’ve been tasked to report the average gender pay gap and nothing else. We live in a world riddled with data and it’s time to get smarter on what and how to use what we have.

So, the next time you hear someone mention averages, share with them the story of the statistician and that you’d like to save the next one from drowning. Let’s rethink that average.

68 | FEBRUARY 2023 a n K ita p oddar is the host of the podcast HR Bandit and blogs about all things HR at about the author
Know More People Matters' Digital Platforms Engaging 300K+ talent professionals in Asia daily Know More RNI Details: Vol. XIV, Issue No. 2, 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