People Matters Magazine June 2022: Work Tech After the Pandemic - Time for Review

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Organisations took a great digital leap forward in the last two year’s. Its time to review what’s been done and plan ahead once more.

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June 2022 |


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Worktech in business: what's the big picture today?


he last two years saw a digitalisation boom. Organisations around the world accelerated their tech plans and investments by two, five, even ten years, often embracing multiple solutions on very short notice in the rush to adapt to the pandemic conditions. Now that the crisis has receded – and in fact has been replaced by a very different set of concerns as organisations contemplate a worldwide economic slowdown that may yet escalate to recession, along with ongoing supply chain complications that have held over from the pandemic, oil | June 2022

price concerns stemming from the war in Ukraine, and of course the talent shortage that still seems to have no end. What worked during the pandemic must again be adapted to this new environment. Common themes emerge in the work tech market today, and in fact the broader tech market. We have already seen many tech companies that expanded dramatically during the pandemic as demand for their solutions boomed. Now, many of these same companies are slowing their projections or even cutting back on their activities as their customers respond to the uncertain economy by reviewing, streamlining, and consolidating. That's not to say that the demand for tech and work tech has fallen off, of course. It has simply evolved and changed shape, with organisations becoming more aware of and attuned to the specific needs of their business strategy and workforce.

Cost efficiencies continue to loom large on the horizons of many, making a robust use case and a discernible return on investment more important than ever. And meanwhile, adjacent considerations such as cybersecurity remain always at the corner of one's eye. In this issue, we pull together viewpoints on the work tech and broader tech landscape, looking at how organisations are responding to today's shifting needs in terms of adopting, consolidating, and reviewing their tech strategy. We bring in industry perspectives from leaders such as Priyanka Anand, VP & HR Head for SEA, Oceania, and India at Ericsson, Ester Maria Loidl, CHRO of Freudenberg Group, and Meenakshi Cornelius, the Head of Human Resources for the India Cluster at JLL; we also consider the market for tech and work tech as seen through the eyes of notable tech companies such as Dell, Rackspace, and Avaya.

Employee Experience in the New World of Work (08 August to 09 September); HR Business Partner in the New World of Work (29 August to 30 September). You can reach out to for more information and to enroll. People Matters BeNext has shown us all, over the past year, how interconnected community and learning are. Now that we have extended our virtual learning programmes to leaders in Spanish-speaking countries, we anticipate even greater levels of diversity, inclusion, and community development upon the platform. As always, we welcome your views, comments, and suggestions regarding our stories. Happy Reading! Esther Martinez Hernandez Editor-in-Chief follow

M > @Ester_Matters F > estermartinez >


Fourth wave?

From the Editor’s Desk



Our Big Interview this month features renowned business leader Shiv Shivakumar, currently Group Executive President, Corporate Strategy at Aditya Birla Group, who expounds on the nature of leadership as described in his latest book. We're excited for our flagship TechHR conference, which kicks off very soon in two different regions this August (India: 4 August; SEA: 25 August). In today's hybrid mode, we provide for a mix of virtual participation and much-welcome in-person interaction. Join us for a look at how the HR community can enable people in the world of work with #FreshEyes. And don't forget to keep an eye out for the results of our Are You In The List 2022 Awards People Matters BeNext, our cohort-based certification programme, launches three new courses in the coming months. Women in Leadership: Lead, Influence & Transform (18 July to 19 August); Designing

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Organisations took a great digital leap forward in the last two year’s. Its time to review what’s been done and plan ahead once more.

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June 2022 |



J u n e 20 2 2 v o l u m e x I ii issue 6



Tech at work today: what's on organisations' priority list? By Mint Kang


We cannot overlook the digital adoption gap Meenakshi Cornelius, CHRO, JLL India By Asmaani Kumar



Driving a balance between business continuity and empathy is vital Priyanka Anand, Vice President and Head of HR for Southeast Asia, Oceania, and India, Ericsson By Asmaani Kumar

cover story



Navigating the post-pandemic world with the help of technology


Ester Maria Loidl, CHRO of Freudenberg Group By Mastufa Ahmed


Coping with organisational cybersecurity challenges today

Lucas Salter, General Manager, Data Protection Solutions at Dell Technologies Asia Pacific & Japan By Mint Kang


In with the new, in with the old: How companies can retain and hire great talent By Geoff Thomas, Senior Vice President, APAC, Qlik


Will technology replace HR? By Clinton Wingrove, Principal Consultant, Clinton HR Ltd


Esther Martinez Hernandez

Senior Manager - Research and Content Strategy - APAC

Editor & New Product Content Strategist (Global)

Assistant Manager - Content - APAC

Mastufa Ahmed

Manager - design, photography, and production

Marta Martinez

Drishti Pant

Design & Production

Shinto Kallattu

Senior Manager - Global Sales and Partnerships

Content Manager and Lead - D&I

Bhavna Sarin

Saloni Gulati +91 (124) 4148102

Senior Associates - Content


Managing Editor

Shreejay Sinha

Sudeshna Mitra Asmaani Kumar Ajinkya Salvi

Senior Editor

Associate Editor

Published by

Mamta Sharma

People Matters Publishing Pvt. Ltd.

Senior Features Writer

Digital Head

Owned by

Rachel Ranosa Mint Kang


Jerry Moses

Prakash Shahi

| June 2022

Sumali Das Purkyastha

People Matters Publishing Pvt. Ltd.

Published at:

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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.

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

This issue of People matters contains 74 pages including cover


big interview



Serious about being inclusive? Choose language wisely

The world will be a chaotic place if we only have leaders like Steve Jobs and Elon Musk

Sarika Naik, Chief Marketing Officer & Chairperson, Diversity of Capgemini India By Sudeshna Mitra

Shiv Shivakumar, Renowned

business leader

By Shreejay Sinha

21 C u l t u r e

Changemaker: Bringing the workplace culture forward

Jasmmine Wong, CEO (Greater China and Singapore) of multinational automotive distribution firm Inchcape By Mint Kang


28 O r g a n i s a t i o n a l C u l t u r e

What makes a culture inclusive and flexible

Renata Mrazova, Chief People Officer of Home Credit By Mint Kang

58 L e a r n i n g & D e v e l o p m e n t

Tackle hi-tech talent development differently

By Dr M Muneer, Chief evangelist at the non-profit Medici Institute

61 E m p l o y e e E x p e r i e n c e

Secrets for growth and delivering exceptional results

Ben Whitter, Renowned employee experience expert, bestselling author, & CEO By Rachel Ranosa

72 B l o g o s p h e r e

Helping talent teams better understand diversity analytics

By Sonali Damle, Chief People Officer at Innovaccer

64 T h e r o a d l e s s t r a v e l l e d

You need a 'CPO' to face the future

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

Featured In this issue Ben Whitter Ester Maria Loidl Jasmmine Wong Lucas Salter Meenakshi Cornelius

Poo-Jiuan Eng Priyanka Anand Renata Mrazova Sarika Naik Shiv Shivakumar

CONTRIBUTORS to this issue Geoff Thomas Clinton Wingrove M MUNEER



From the Editor’s Desk


Letters of the month


Quick Reads


Rapid Fire


Knowledge + Networking


June 2022 |


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Letters of the month

Work without jobs: Why it is time for organisations to reboot their work operating system Taking away the traditional hierarchies of titles and pay will not sit well with a lot of people! Indeed those who are most against such a revolutionary move, are probably those who have most trouble defining what exactly it is that they do at work or why their tasks are valuable to the company. - RUCHI SINHA

Managing heatwaves and the climate change agenda With more extreme weather events appearing on the horizon we cannot afford to play down climate change or the danger to our way of life. Every voice that can speak out should join the call for better management of the climate. Applause to People Matters for giving a space to this challenge. - ISHALI GUPTA

The power shift is a litmus test

We can be sure that the leaders who are stuck on command and control are also those leaders who believe in the cult of personality, who think that they should be the centre and the star around which their employees revolve. However the leaders who have emerged as truly great in the pandemic have been the ones who made their employees the centre instead. That was a litmus test even before the 'Great Resignation'. - PARUL PANDEY


May 2022 issue

| June 2022

The importance of people enablement in today's workplace

It's really interesting to see that organisations today are equating people operations and people enablement. It makes so much sense. People cannot do their work if they are not supported and empowered and given the proper communication and direction. A great takeaway. - ANINDITA BANERJEE

Interact with People Matters

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

On five hard truths of HR

These truths cannot be repeated often enough. HR is as valuable a department as any other, and also as competent in many of the important digital skills from analytics to crisis management. We should all learn to value our HR people more. - HARIRAJ SINGH

Great sharing of insights around the hybrid movement. Thanks to the authors for making it into a clearcut and actionable formula for HR Professionals to focus upon.

Love this equation and how simply it illustrates the important things about employment. It clearly shows that hiring and retaining talent is just like Price, Quality, Time, where you will get what you pay for. We cannot have our cake and eat it too. - BABITA ALICK

Xpheno @Xpheno_ "We are delighted to welcome Venkatesh Tarakkad to the DealShare family.", says Vineet Rao, Founder & CEO, @DealShareIndia.Click @PeopleMatters2 article… to know more. #xpheno #peopleeffectchange #ceo #people #news #dealshare SPJIMR, Mumbai @SPJIMR SPJIMR Prof. Dr. Tanvi Mankodi in her article published in @PeopleMatters2 writes why those who aspire to start their businesses from the ground up need to be hands-on in the hiring process. Read the article here: article/strate…#IamSPJIMR #SPJIMR #StrategicHR #HR


The algorithm that powers your employee value proposition

PeopleStrong @peoplestrong @annellaheytens (@awscloud) & Marvin Victoriano (inspiro) had an enlightening chat with @prakasharao on #Growth & #Agility Blueprint for a talent-driven economy. Brought to you by #PeopleStrong in association with @PeopleMatters2

Stay ahead of the trends to discover possibilities

Here we see so clearly that the relationship between technology and innovation cannot be downplayed. Technology is born from innovation and in turn it births fresh innovation by taking away the barriers to knowledge work and value-add. Furthermore there are great points about being open and experimental – but carefully! As well as the value of great leadership in making all of this possible. To make the best of great technology, we must indeed have great and innovative leaders as well. - Preeti Bose

NASSCOM Foundation @NASSCOMfdn "A truly inclusive organisation will stand out as inclusion will not be just an HR or DEI leader’s agenda, but a business agenda" says @nidhibhasin7 , CEO, @ NASSCOMfdn in a conversation with @ PeopleMatters2 laying emphasis on mainstreaming inclusion.

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The 3 C's: Key organisational shifts to thrive in the new normal

HRGurukul @gurukul_hr Designing people systems is critical to business outcomes, says Krish Shankar, EVP HR, Infosys @kshankar21 @PeopleMatters2 @rucsb #HR #WorkTrends…

Cigna International Markets @CignaInt Your company’s employee value proposition must be unique, relevant and compelling - argues Michelle Leung, Cigna’s HR Manager. Read more in People Matters. #HR #LeadershipInsights #Talent follow

M > @PeopleMatters2


June 2022 |


HR Technology

HR tech company PMaps raises ₹5 crores Series A funding

Cornerstone OnDemand to acquire SumTotal

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Cornerstone OnDemand has entered into a definitive agreement with Skillsoft to acquire SumTotal, a provider of learning and human capital management software-as-a-service for customers in highly regulated and complex industries. According to the official statement, Cornerstone will continue to innovate its products, technologies, and services with an unwavering

Blue-collar workforce management platform BetterPlace acquires OkayGo BetterPlace, a full-stack tech platform for frontline workforce management, has acquired OkayGo, an on-demand bluecollared gig workforce management platform for enterprises, for an undisclosed amount. This acquisition aims to reduce the cost of hiring for enterprises by 15-20% by providing them a pool

Adzuna acquires Getwork to drive growth in North American market US-headquartered job search engine Adzuna has announced the acquisition of Getwork, the 10

commitment to customer success, and the most flexible options to support the skills transformation, people experience and talent management priorities of an expanded global customer base.

HR tech platform PMaps has raised ₹5 crores in a Series A funding round led by Indian Angel Network and Lets Venture. PMaps’ vision of making hiring inclusive, faster and better was the driving force behind the investment. The funding round will facilitate the company’s GTM initiatives aimed at accelerating customer acquisition and strengthening key partnerships.

| June 2022

of pre-skilled and pre verified workers ready to be deployed for short-term tasks. Through this acquisition, BetterPlace will lead the charge for providing the right opportunities for India’s 90 mn strong gigworkforce by enhancing the offerings of BetterPlace Select, the company’s short term, long term

enterprise job search arm of job market data company LinkUp (formerly JobDig), for an undisclosed amount. Both Adzuna and Getwork will continue to operate as independent brands. The acquisition, which is intended to drive Adzuna's growth in North America, comes just after Adzuna expanded into Switzerland, Belgium, Spain, and Mexico. Adzuna now operates in 20 markets globally, but the US remains the fastest-growing part of the business, according to Doug Monro, CEO and co-founder of Adzuna.

and task based workforce management offering, the company said in a statement.


India shows strongest hiring trend in APAC region followed by Australia: Survey According to the ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey, in the third quarter of 2022, 63% expect to increase their staffing levels, 12% anticipate a decrease in hiring intent and 24% do not anticipate any change, resulting in a seasonally adjusted Net Employment Outlook of +51% which is a record high in 8 years.

Employee Experience

Employees advise deployment of technologies which integrate with each other: Survey A recent study by Pegasystems has found that nearly three out of four employees (71%) feel their job complexity continues to rise as customer demands increase. At the

same time, employees at all levels report feeling overloaded with information, systems, and pro-

cesses, making it difficult for them to adapt to these new challenges and meet their customers’ growing needs. The findings show that 42% of respondents think that digital transformation may have even increased their job complexity – a surprising perception that should cause some organizations to reexamine their digital approach.

Employee Management

Coinbase layoffs: CEO warns of ‘crypto winter’

Popular crypto exchange Coinbase is laying off a fifth of its employees as the company prepares for what CEO Brian Armstrong believes is an incoming "crypto winter". The decision to cut staff by 18% aims to "ensure we stay healthy during this economic downturn," he said in a companywide message that was later shared on Medium. He added that "several realities" had dawned on him after a series of discussions with the management team. Affected staff members are invited to consult with their HR business partner or senior leader. However, to minimise potential backlash from disgruntled employees, the company decided to cut laid-off staff members' access to Coinbase systems.

similarly qualified males, resulting in lower pay, and denied them promotions or transfers to other teams that would have allowed them to advance their careers.

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Employee Management

Google has agreed to pay $118 million to settle a lawsuit alleging pay and promotion discrimination against women at the company. The case is a class-action lawsuit filed in San Francisco Superior Court in 2017 by three female former Google employees who claimed that the company placed them in lower-paying jobs than

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Google pays $118 million to settle gender discrimination lawsuit

Compensation and Benefits

New South Wales and New Zealand elevate the impact of their parental leave policies While ministers in Australia are taking note of the low percentage (12%) of men availing of paid parental leave, government leaders in New Zealand are taking account of inflation in their policy changes. In an announcement by Michael Wood, Workplace Rela-

tions and Safety Minister, New Zealand is granting new parents an extra $40 a week when they avail paid parental leave entitlements starting July 1. This means from the previous $621.76, new parents will start receiving a maximum rate of $661.12 every week, a 6.3% increase before tax. In addition, the minimum rate for self-employed individuals will also be hiked to $212 per week, equivalent to 10 hours of the minimum wage of an adult worker. In terms of paid leave, eligible employees may avail up to 26 weeks of paid parental leave. June 2022 |


newsmaker of the month

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Newsmaker: The beginning of a downturn?



he economic tailwinds have drastically changed in a matter of weeks. Inflation rocked many countries across the world. Data by Pew Research Centre suggests that 37 of the 44 advanced economies have witnessed a doubling of inflation over the past two years. Stock markets around the world tumbled with signs of a possible recession. Wall Street’s S&P 500 sank more than 20% below its record set earlier this year. The technology-focused Nasdaq Index which entered the bear market territory in March, dropped 4%. Central Banks across the world are taking steps to curtail inflation. The US Federal Reserve delivered its biggest interest rate rise in a quarter of a century. Major economies

| June 2022

around the world increased interest rates, with the exception of a few countries like Japan, where consumer prices rose mildly. Economic analysts point to excess money printing by governments as one of the key reasons that have led to the current crisis. The strained oil and gas supply chains as well as the reduction of food grain supply from Ukraine after the Russia-Ukraine war have led to consecutive shocks to the global economic order. The current economic crisis has also affected cryptocurrencies, which were widely promoted as being insulated from fiat-based global economic shocks. In what has been dubbed the “Crypto Winter”, Bitcoin tumbled to its lowest level in 18

months by mid-June. Bitcoin has lost more than 70% of its value since reaching its peak. Ethereum, another widely followed cryptocurrency, has been sliding down over several weeks. The collapse of the Terra blockchain has led to signs of stress in the wider ecosystem. Further, crypto hedge Fund Three Arrows Capital suffered large losses and said it was considering asset sales or a bailout. The impact of the flux in the global economy is already felt in many parts of the world. In Sri Lanka, the external debt crisis has caused deep distress to its population. Most recently, the country announced a two-week nonessential fuel sale. Afghanistan, Venezuela, Russia, Lebanon, Syria, Libya, and Yemen are among the countries that are facing deep economic distress. As one leading HR expert, Brian Sommers noted, the current economic environment will force a major rethink – “The focus on the great resignation may fade quickly as companies find out that they may have to just use the workforce they have right now, and scale back some of their growth plans. More than anything else, I think what we're realizing is that companies are not so focused on growth at all costs.”

Capgemini India appoints Aarti Srivastava as CHRO Capgemini India has appointed Aarti Srivastava as Chief Human Resources Officer. Prior to this role, she was the CHRO for Business Services Global Business Line at Capgemini. A seasoned people leader with over two decades of expertise in multiple dimensions of human resources, she has also served in various HR leadership roles at FIS Corporation and Deutsche Bank. PayPal appoints Priti Acharya as the new Director, India Head of Talent Acquisition PayPal has appointed Priti Acharya as the new Director, India Head of Talent Acquisition. Prior to joining PayPal, Acharya was associated with Falabella in the same designation. She has more than twenty years of experience during which she has worked for companies such as Target, Dell, Goldman Sachs and AQR Capital Management. Sendinblue appoints Laure Rudelle Arnaud as first Chief People Officer Paris-headquartered Sendinblue, a global digital marketing platform for small and medium-sized businesses, has announced the appointment of Laure Rudelle Arnaud as the company’s first Chief People and Impact Officer, effective since May. Before joining Sendinblue, she was the Head of People for NFT startup, and previously, she was SVP of Human Resources for HQ & Group June 2022 | jUNE

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Zoom hires Meta's People Ops VP as its new Chief People Officer Zoom Communications has appointed Matthew Saxon as Chief People Officer, taking over from Lynne Oldham. Based in the US, Saxon joins Zoom from Meta, where he was Vice President of People Operations and headed the tech giant's global People Operations organisation. Before that, he was Senior Vice President Compensation, HR Operations and Shared Services, at US-based health insurance provider Humana. He has significant international experience as well, having headed the complete HR function for the Asia Pacific and Middle East region at Motorola Solutions, and earlier in his career, held several HR leadership

positions with Campbell Soup Company in Australia.

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IMF appoints Krishna Srinivasan APAC director The International Monetary Fund has named Indian national Krishna Srinivasan as Director of the Asia Pacific Department. His work in the new role commences on 22 June. Before taking over from current APAC Director Changyong Rhee, who announced retirement plans in March, Srinivasan was assigned to oversee developments in major economies, such as China, South Korea, Hong Kong SAR, Mongolia, and many Pacific Island countries. Prior to focusing on Asia Pacific, he was Deputy Director in the Western Hemisphere Department, monitoring the economies of Brazil, Canada, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, and the Caribbean. He also worked in the European Department as IMF mission chief for the UK and Israel, as well as in the IMF's Research Department, contributing to studies on the G20.


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Executives for food services and facilities management company Sodexo. Syfe appoints Saurabh Seth as Head of Talent Acquisition for India Digital investment platform Syfe has appointed Saurabh Seth as its new Head of Talent Acquisition in India. With over 15 years of experience in technical recruiting, Saurabh Seth is an industry veteran who has supported companies like Uber, Amazon, Walmart Labs, Flipkart, Ola, Myntra, Swiggy and Yahoo in finding tech talents. Prior to Syfe, he was the Associate Vice President at Careernet Consulting where he spearheaded the creation of HR solutions for several high-growth startups across India and Asia-Pacific. Polygon hires ex-Airbnb Director Bhumika Shrivastava as Global Head of HR Ethereum scaling platform Polygon, which onboards users to Web3, has appointed Bhumika Srivastava as the new Global Head of HR. Previously, Bhumika was the former Head HR and Director for Employee Experience at Airbnb. Her experience of over two decades directing HR will prove invaluable for Polygon’s continued commitment to sustainably onboard millions of new users to Web3. She counts Snapdeal, Adobe and Yahoo as her previous employers. DigniFi names Kristy Nordmann as Chief People Officer Fintech company DigniFi, which provides services mainly to auto dealers and small businesses, has appointed Kristy Nordmann as Chief 14

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People Officer. Nordmann has experience in designing and managing HR practices and has held key roles in several successful startups like TrueSpace, Blackstone and Cambio. She has specialised in talent acquisition and retention initiatives that focus on how people contribute to and champion the company’s values while boosting individual and team performance. Bharti AXA Life Insurance names Dhanashree Thakkar as Head of Human Resource Bharti AXA Life Insurance has elevated Dhanashree Thakkar as Head of Human Resources. Prior to this role, she was the Vice President - HR since 2020. A human resource veteran with close to twenty years of experience, Dhanashree brings rich international expertise to the table. Previously, Dhanashree was the Chief People Officer at Group Office Future Group, where she supervised the group's restructuring and workforce optimization efforts. She also counts McDonalds, Korn Ferry, Mahindra & Mahindra, and Kotak Life Insurance as her previous employers. Industrial Research (IR) names Katrina Small as Chief People Officer Performance management and analytics firm Industrial Research (IR) has appointed Katrina Small as Chief People Officer. Katrina boasts two decades of extensive experience in HR disciplines, including Organizational Development, Workplace Culture & Talent Management, Health & Safety, Rewards & Recognition, and Employee Experience & Engagement. Her previous work experience ranged across industries and counts Newell Brands, Virgin Australia, Qantas and Maia Financial as her previous employers.

Ten Questions



Poo-Jiuan Eng

Senior Vice-President of HR, APAC, Schaeffler By Mastufa Ahmed


processes and systems, and incorporating them into corporate beliefs, will be the only way to ensure that positive changes stay

What have you learned about management from the two years of disruption? The importance of learning, unlearning, and relearning by confronting the discomfort and insecurities that come with changes


Why the emphasis on agility?

Digital systems, internal and external collaboration, and being vulnerable and authentic as leaders


Key factors that are shaping work and the workplace in 2022?

Organisational culture, business transformation, and agility at all levels


Top area HR leaders should focus on in 2022?

Fostering an environment where employees can excel and achieve collaborative progress


How to sustain the positive changes from the pandemic? Experience management will be critical to business success; organisations that offer great

Experience management will be key to scale business growth employee experience beyond just compensation will attract the best talent.


How might the return to work play out?

Keep a pulse on employee expectations towards new approaches to work by actively engaging them in conversations to design policies that meet their needs


Thoughts on change management?

Integrating changes to existing

r a p i d - f i r e


Some things to focus on today?

An organisation that puts agility to practice across all levels drives innovation through diversity and inclusion, and engages with communities will have a strong chance to lead the pack


Technologies to bet on in 2022 and beyond?

Digital HR tools, analytics, and advanced technologies that further support transparency across various operational HR processes


Your focus at Schaeffler for this year?

Capability, capacity, and culture; by promoting upskilling and reskilling of the workforce and creating an ecosystem that promotes diversity, innovation, employee experience, and operations excellence June 2022 |




The world will be a chaotic place if we only have leaders like Steve Jobs and Elon Musk


A company full of angular leaders is unlikely to succeed, and, therefore, we need both the dreamers and the grounded. Renowned business leader Shiv Shivakumar explains why in an interaction with People Matters By Shreejay Sinha


mong India's most celebrated – and cerebral – business leaders, Shiv Shivakumar has just come out with his third book. Foreworded by Sachin Tendulkar, The Art of Management rests on three pillars – managing yourself, managing your team, and managing your business. Shiv, currently the group executive president at the Mumbai-headquartered conglomerate Aditya Birla Group, has decades of corporate-leadership experience, having led Nokia India and PepsiCo in South Asia with remarkable grace. Given his stellar academic | June 2022

background – Shiv is an IIT and IIM alumnus – and his ascent through the ranks, he is by himself authentically positioned to share the finer nuances of business management, from his early days with Unilever in 1984. Yet, in a testament to his humility and creative originality, he gathered 21 remarkable individuals for this book, all role models in their own right, and conducted extensive interviews with them. As he picks the brains of his subjects, a thoughtfullyeclectic mix of leaders that includes chef Vikas Khanna, General (retired) V.P. Malik, journalist Shereen

Bhan, and banker Renuka Ramnath, Shiv comes across as a deeply curious soul genuinely interested in his guests and looking to deliver value to his readers. What emerges in the end is a nearly 300-page




June 2022 |



labour of love, full of fascinating insights, gleaned from delightfully easygoing conversations. People Matters caught up with Shiv for an interview.

To a question of yours, Harsha Bhogle says that between talking and listening, the latter is ‘by far’ the superior skill. In the postpandemic era of the Great Resignation, how critical is it for managers to listen to their employees? I think it’s crucial for leaders to listen to people, especially since we are communicating a lot via the web. Leaders need to reach out and solicit opinions when the default option could be to stay silent on a web call. In physical meetings, leaders always looked for body-language cues and some leaders would try and read between the lines of what was being said. In the Great Resignation world, employees want to be heard, whether you do something about their suggestions is a different matter. You make an interesting observation about time, of it being culture-dependent. You have ‘on-time’ countries such as the US, Japan, and Germany, and then ‘flexitime’ nations like in Asia. This categorisation explains itself when we look at the prosperity gap between the two sets of countries. How


| June 2022

It’s crucial for leaders to listen to people, especially since we are communicating a lot via the web can India’s cultural attitude to time change? I think India’s attitude to time is changing, we have airlines now competing with each other to announce their own time record, we have quick-service food brands offering you moneyback guarantees if they are late, we have delivery apps promising delivery between 10 and 20 minutes. We have live TV also to thank for some punctuality. Live TV does not wait for any celebrity, it starts irrespective. While the country is still not that time-conscious, I see elements of accountability as the larger public holds people in position to a time schedule. We have many policies which have come to

ensure that we pay SMEs on time, so there is change. In the book, Shereen Bhan says that as a woman, it’s been harder for her to break into the decisionmaking roles. We have far fewer women leaders compared to men, and this is a global phenomenon. Why are the odds stacked so heavily against women, and how can we ensure a greater gender balance in leadership roles? Women play multiple roles in society – of a colleague, of a parent, of a partner, of a responsible family member etc. This wide range helps them connect the emotional dots, plus also helps them multitask much better.

maternity leave through the leave period, assuring them of a good job when they got back. For women to take on leadership roles, they will need to gain more operational experience, either by taking the roles, or doing shortterm projects. Women need more mentors and sponsors in the organisation. They also need to see some role models to fuel their aspiration.

In the book, you dwell at length on the value of consistency in leaders. You also argue that organisations need cool-headed men and women. Steve Jobs or Elon Musk can hardly be accused of being coolheaded or even consistent, but they have created admirable products and companies. How do you look at them as leaders? An exception is never the


The average lifespan of enterprises has shrunk, thanks to creative destruction enabled by forces such as technology. Parallelly, employee tenure has also dropped. That means we are in for massive uncertainty. How can companies prolong their existence, and how can employees stay relevant? Whether it’s an employee

or a company, there is no substitute to staying ahead and thinking ahead. At the heart is being relevant. Many leaders quote examples and logic from when they studied or did something ten years ago. That’s the most unapplicable thing in a fast-moving world. So, you need forward-thinking leaders and forwardthinking corporations. A company or a brand continues in perpetuity by stating a promise and overdelivering on that promise. BIG

This is a challenge globally. I think the intake is not such a problem anymore, as more and more girls are in schools and professionaldegree colleges. So, companies need to recruit evenly between men and women. In PepsiCo, we always recruited more women, in one year, we had 72 % of all new roles filled in by women. Women in PepsiCo were paid the same as men in five bands, more in three bands and slightly lesser in three bands. The challenge for women starts when they take a maternity break. This is sad, but true. I think organisations and industries need to get together to get young mothers back to work on the terms of the young mother, and not the corporation. I would make it a point to speak to every woman employee who went on

Many leaders quote examples and logic from when they studied or did something ten years ago. That’s the most unapplicable thing in a fastmoving world June 2022 |




ing normal. That irritates people. So, a good leader will manage time on the web better than others, and that will earn him respect and gratitude.


In a WFH world, a leader has to be present without being intrusive rule. For every Alfred Sloan you will have a Henry Ford, for every Reginald Jones, you will have a Jack Welch. We can’t have angular leaders only; the world will be a chaotic place if we have only more Jobs and Musks. People also value decency, consistency, professionalism, fairness etc. The world needs both the dreamers and the grounded. Jobs and Musk are hugely successful and revered in their own right. No one can take that away. You need visionaries like them to challenge the world of its dogmas. But, can a company full of them succeed? The answer is NO! That leadership style needs balance from people below them. | June 2022

A distributed workforce has allowed the role of technology to expand vastly. Often, this has meant more isolation and less teambonding. How can leaders keep their teams engaged and motivated? Leaders need to reach out a lot more in a WFH environment. They need to engage as many people in small talk and seek opinions. They should not create an inner circle of people who come to the office and an outer circle who work from home. That will be detrimental to all. In a WFH world, a leader has to be present without being intrusive. A lot of leaders are undisciplined on web calls; time overruns, and agenda overload are becom-

Finally, will degrees, and by extension universities, become irrelevant, as work fragments into tasks, requiring the pooling together of niche human skills and even machines? No, I think we will see degrees overlapping with skills. We will see many employees opting for short-term skill courses. The syllabus of the degrees will need to change to reflect the practice of today and the experience of tomorrow. Degrees will no longer be about memorising something; the practical application and experience will be more important. Handson, real learning will be valued. Companies will want finished products, be it engineers or HR professionals or MBAs, and companies will not have time for a managementtrainee scheme. Bosses do not have the time for on-the-job training. Robots and automation will come in for repetitive tasks, for hazardous tasks. In the future, we will find machines and human beings working side by side, we will see some new policies for this soon.

Changemaker: Bringing the workplace culture forward Jasmmine Wong has spent the last five years reshaping the culture of her company to be more attractive to today's younger talent. In an exclusive interaction, she tells People Matters about the journey By Mint Kang


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asmmine Wong, the CEO (Greater China and Singapore) of multinational automotive distribution firm Inchcape, is looking to hire entrepreneurs who can work within the corporate structure, people who can innovate within an existing framework of constraints. It's a difficult profile to find, especially in the automotive industry, which she characterises as being more than a little conservative and resistant to change – not the most appealing environment for innovative people. But that makes it all the more critical for companies to overhaul their approach, Wong told People Matters. The automotive industry is undergoing a period of prolonged major disruption because of Elon Musk's Tesla and the sustainable energy transition, and she believes there's no going back: not with today's global awareness of sustainability and climate change, not to mention the additional upheaval caused by ongoing supply chain issues and chip shortages. Companies need to find ways of attracting June 2022 |


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and retaining talent who can bring the business forward into the future. It's tricky, though. Today's talent is particular about what they want from work, the workplace, and the leadership. “These are very creative people, who will often surprise you,” Wong said. “But they are very difficult to hold on to. They look for bosses who are on the same wavelength as them, who can inspire them, who empower and trust them, who understand them, who push just as hard as they do to create that fit between them and the role. That's a very high expectation of the boss.” Wong herself has spent the last five years investing in making her own company attractive. She joined Inchcape in 2017, coming from a regional leadership position at Nestlé, and immediately realised that the company's existing workplace and work culture would hold it back both in doing business and in finding new talent.

Reshaping the workplace is hard, hard work

“It's the small things that you notice first,” she said. “When I first came in, people would address me as 'Ms Wong'. In this part of the world, we represent the major Japanese automakers, and Japanese work culture is very hierarchical, very 22

| June 2022

traditionalist, very maledominated. That rubbed off on our culture.” On top of this, individual departments were deeply segregated, to the extent where people even felt they needed permission just to mingle, and the physical layout of the workplace intensified the siloes – photos of the old office layout show a stereotypical old-fashioned cubicle farm, the decor plain and undifferentiated, with high separators and very few meeting rooms.

being far away on a different level,” she said. “It wasn't easy, and it took us a while.” The second thing that struck her was just how much time she was spending on paperwork. Almost every day, she would have to personally sign off on time sheets, because payroll processes were entirely manual and structured to require layers of approval. And it wasn't just payroll. Applications for leave and medical benefits required still more manual paperwork.

The idea of a hybrid, flexible working environment is no longer new. It has become the norm, and if you don't follow it, you will become very unattractive to new talent Coming from the FMCG industry, where the workplace culture is much more open, Wong saw immediately that this hierarchy was slowing the entire company down: discouraging cooperation, inhibiting the flow of information, making all kinds of communication more difficult. Breaking down those barriers was critical – starting by trying to get people to call her by her given name. “We had to make sure people understand that we are here to work with everybody, that we're on the journey with them rather than

Modernising that system was an entire journey in itself. For that, Wong joined forces with Jenny Leong, Director of Human Resources and Internal Communications for Greater China and Singapore, who came on board the year after she did, and the two of them pushed through a major digitalisation of HR processes. Manual time cards and medical claims forms were out; clocking in and claiming benefits via smartphone were in. They digitalised external processes as well, after Wong noticed just how much

with new colleagues who did things very differently and needed to be educated about the industry. “It was an extremely difficult time,” Wong recounted that period. “My first year was horrendous. The second year was just as bad. But in the third year, things began to settle down. And then COVID happened.”

We cannot take for granted that things will happen the way we assume. Always evolve. Always be ready to change When crisis works in your favour

Once people had come to terms with the massive disruption of the pandemic, Wong noticed something curious. They were also coming to terms with the changes she was making in the workplace, and they were doing so much more quickly than she would have originally expected. “If not for COVID, we would have taken a much longer time to progress,” she said. “During the pandemic, the cultural barrier became much lower, and also the willingness to experiment became much

higher. Where people might have been uncomfortable in the past and needed a lot of convincing, they instead started to be more tolerant of changes.” One of the biggest mindset changes was in attitudes toward flexibility. Both Wong and Leong – who joined Inchcape from The Walt Disney Company – were keen on transitioning to a hybrid environment, but they did not want to impose an unwanted setup on the staff either. Mid-pandemic, they decided to take the opportunity to overhaul the office space, and surveyed the staff on how they wanted to work going forward. “We wanted to give them something that they liked,” Leong explained. “And the survey showed that people wanted a working environment that is different from what they had before, an environment that gives them more empowerment and more engagement. And because we gave them a say in what they wanted their environment to be like, because we empowered them that way, we started to see a lot more engagement.” So the office space in Inchcape's Singapore headquarters underwent a full refurbishment, with separators removed to open up the layout, meeting spaces added to encourage collaboration, and an overall more airy, modern feel introduced June 2022 |

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time and resources were going into filling in applications for car purchases. That project alone took several years, creating a system that streamlined all the required forms, automatically populated all the information required, and even handled all related applications and claims, such as insurance, as part of a single process. And then there was diverse hiring. Wong was the first woman to be hired into the regional leadership position, a daring decision for a company that works so closely with Japanese clients, and once there, she started bringing in more women, and people from outside the industry. “As a woman, I have no qualms about bringing diversity into the organisation, because I recognise that the way men and women look at things is very different,” she said. “So I brought a very diverse team on board, and when I hired, I hired from outside the industry. I looked for people with potential, regardless of who they were or where they were from.” And it was an uphill battle all the way, she recalled. People couldn't get used to a less formal culture; they had trouble adapting to the new technology and even spent time and resources trying to circumvent the new systems; they were frustrated with having to deal


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to reflect the cultural shift that Wong and Leong have together been driving. And meanwhile, people's attitudes to hybrid work were undergoing a similar evolution. “This is part and parcel of talent recruitment and retention,” Wong said. “The idea of a hybrid, flexible working environment is no longer new. It has become the norm, and if you don't follow it, you will become very unattractive to new talent.” Leong has seen this first-hand in her recruitment efforts. Candidates are actively asking what the workplace is like, she said: “They ask us about the details of the working environment and the working hours. And that has actually helped us to attract people. We can say that we focus on deliverables rather than just coming to the office. And the interesting thing is that many people who aren't familiar with the automotive | June 2022

industry wouldn't realise our approach is quite different from what other companies, our competitors, are doing.”

What will help a company survive the next wave of change?

If a company, or an entire industry, is to do well in today's environment, everyone in it needs to have three fundamental traits, Wong believes. “Data centric. Digitaldriven. And able to do more with less,” she said. “Easier said than done.” There are a few simple ways to assess this, though. Firstly, digital savviness can be very easily seen by someone's digital footprint: their social media presence, their general awareness of today's most common technologies, how active they are on various online channels. Secondly, a person's ability to do more with less can

be gauged by their ability to adapt to different situations – whether they have the flexibility and judgement to respond appropriately to something that happens outside the location, time period, or even culture that they are familiar with. And finally, Wong puts weight on someone's ability to communicate effectively with consumers even when not physically present. “It's not easy to find such people,” she said. “I have interviewed so many people, and while many of them claim to meet the requirements, they don't necessarily have the skills.” She has successfully hired several, many of them younger talent who also bring the much-coveted entrepreneurial mindset. Keeping them beyond the first six months is still a challenge – these people have options, or believe they have options, and are ready to move on and experiment. But that's where the company, too, has room to grow and evolve, she believes: not just to be attractive to young talent, but also to be future-ready. “We should always be curious about how to be even better than the competition. Life, the world, is always changing. We cannot take for granted that things will happen the way we assume. Always evolve. Always be ready to change.”

Serious about being inclusive? Choose language wisely inclusion policies for LGBTQ staff. What do you think about this? Numerous studies clearly indicate that there are economic and bottom line benefits to having an inclusive and a diverse workforce

and this is not only in the US, but across all countries. It helps to create a lot of new creativity, innovation and inspiration for all people around. For Capgemini, diversity is not an option. It's a busiD i v e r s i t y

Organisations are increasingly recognising that they need to invest in diverse talent. But the key challenge lies in the behaviour of existing employees. Capgemini's Sarika Naik explains why By Sudeshna Mitra


arika Naik, Chief Marketing Officer & Chairperson, Diversity of Capgemini India, is firm about there being some right ways to make a workplace inclusive to all genders. In a June episode of People Matters Podcast, she noted that even using the right words is crucial to make LGBTQ employees feel comfortable in their skins. Here, we bring you some excerpts from the conversation.

A study by Out Now Consulting found that the US economy could save $9 billion annually if organisations were more effective at implementing diversity and June 2022 |


D i v e r s i t y

ness imperative that we want our workforce to be reflective of our clients that we serve. Only when we are more inclusive to attract the best of creative, innovative and inspirational talent, are we going to be able to serve our clients with innovative solutions. So really, if you ask me it's a question which is no longer debated that having a diverse workforce with people from the LGBTQ community is actually leading into better profits.


Do you think that redrawing diversity policies and ensuring employment irrespective of sexual orientation can have a sustainable impact on employee retention in a market running short of talent? Absolutely! There is an acute shortage of talent in the market. Advancing technologies, generational shifts and evolving dynamics around the nature of work, coupled with the need to be future ready have only added to this shortage. Therefore, organisations across the globe are increasingly recognising that they need to invest in diverse talent. And while policy changes are important, the key challenge is how you can change the attitudes of the existing employees and managers and welcome more people from the LGBTQ community into the workforce. | June 2022

All recruitment officers of Capgemini are trained to avoid any bias that might arise in the process of interviewing candidates from the LGBTQ community. In addition, we are also looking forward to training existing employees such that they are more accepting of people from the LGBTQ community. I feel that not only supportive policies, but also, creating a safe environment where people can

or a team or a function but is the collective responsibility of every individual in the organisation to open their doors. People should learn to welcome candidates from diverse cultures, backgrounds. At Capgemini, the commitment starts right from our CEO. We actually launched a program in 2017 called Out Front. The objective of this particular program is to create

bring their whole selves to work will ensure narrowing of the talent gap that we are facing.

a barrier free workplace and ensure that all employees irrespective of sexual orientation can bring their whole selves to work and realise their full potential. We realised that members of the LGBTQ community feel very isolated sometimes in an organisation. In fact, they wouldn't know whom to reach out to under such cases. So the ally network formed under this programme offers a safe

What should be the role of HRs in educating people about overcoming their homophobia and being nonjudgemental at the workplace? I think every single person has a role to play. This is not something which rests only with one person

als. All employees should be aware whether to use ‘he’ or ‘she’ for them.

The new age workforce calls for a changed method of workforce management. For years, leaders have kept away from direct dialogues with employees. But does the situation call for an employee-leader dialogue exchange for awareness creation?

In a team, the managers play a very critical role in making sure that the environment for any LGBTQ employee is safe and inclusive Generation Z looks at things in a very different way. So, I think that direct dialogue with them is a must in order to assess their needs. Gen-Z prefers to receive and give authentic feedback. Inclusivity should not be restricted to brand statement but also should reflect in actions. I believe that it is crucial to maintain open communication lines and channels throughout the hierarchy. For example, at Capgemini we have rolled out an initiative titled AAA which means ‘Ask Ashwin Anything’.

Through this, our employees are allowed to speak directly with Ashwin Yardi who is our India CEO. Also, one more important aspect of the direct dialogues is that it throws up some of such issues which otherwise the leadership wouldn’t imagine that Gen-Z is concerned about. We are also trying to gamify some of these engagements to make it fun, interesting and easy for the younger generations. I think, messaging correctly, across hierarchies and in a manner the future generation will be able to receive is going to be the success mantra for any issue going forward.

What message would you like to give to our audience/ readers observing Pride Month? I would say that life is beautiful. Each one of us is unique and every individual comes with a rich experience of innovation and creative and the more we share our experiences, the better life will be. I personally advocate that it's not just for the organisation or the leadership, but each one of us has a role to play in making sure that we are a better society overall. The role in doing so may be small, but we need to identify and believe in it. And that is the only way to build societies that will last and endure for the future. June 2022 |

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place where such employees can talk to open up.We don't limit our initiatives to just Pride Month, we run these throughout the year. However, in a team, the managers play a very critical role in making sure that the environment for any LGBTQ employee is safe and inclusive. So, there are workshops which are customised for managers. Even our new hires necessarily go through a program during their induction process where they learn the value of being inclusive. I'm very proud of some of the policies that we have been able to induce. We offer partner medical insurance coverage for employees in the same sex relationship and we also cover gender affirmation surgery, in the medical coverage for transgender people, along with a month of leave, to make transition a bit easier for them. I believe that there are minute details which are often overlooked but can make a big difference. We have incorporated the system of having gender neutral washrooms to make people comfortable in their own skins. Also, as a part of the collective responsibility of people across all the levels at a workplace, language should be paid proper attention. People should choose language and pronouns wisely while addressing LGBTQ individu-


What makes a culture inclusive and flexible: Home Credit's Renata Mrazova In a time when talent is scarce and moves on readily, how do you shape your organisational culture to adapt to constant change and new expectations? Renata Mrazova, Chief People Officer of Home Credit, talks about the traits that have helped her company to adjust to the trends of recent years

Organisational Culture

By Mint Kang



hen a company operates in dozens of different geographies, across as many different cultures with their own norms and workplace practices, its organisational culture needs to be an inclusive one by default. And that imperative is all the more existential when the company's very business relies on the ability to integrate with local cultures and meet very specific micro-needs. For a closer look at the intricacies of building an organisational culture that's inclusive enough to encompass a huge range of local differences, cultures and mentalities, while still maintaining the integrity of its overarching values, People Matters had a conversation with Renata Mrazova, Chief People Officer of Hong Kong and Prague-headquartered non-bank financial institution Home Credit. Home Credit is in the business of | June 2022

instalment lending to borrowers who have little or no credit history, often meaning those who have been shut out of the traditional banking system, and that requires a high understanding of local approaches and attitudes.

Tell us about Home Credit's approach to inclusiveness: what underpins the culture? I think Home Credit's success has been always driven by a culture of curiosity and learning, whichis a very

What's the first step to getting your leaders started on this journey? We put a lot of focus on teaching our leaders techniques like listening skills. Listening skills are really one of the most underestimated leadership skills, because success and delivering results is always connected with speed, and pausing to give the space to other people, to really listen to their voices and different opinions, is one of the biggest challenges for most companies. And we create an environment where leaders can care, where we strengthen empathy and support the leaders to show vulnerability, because that

We found that our culture needs social interactions, connection, collaboration, deep relationships, but we also saw that after the pandemic is over, it will be difficult to go back to what it was before is a way of creating psychological safety. It's a continuous journey and requires us to keep pushing the leaders forward. Also, the role of human resources is very critical. If the human resources people sit around the table, they can help to facilitate such discussions. They can be, in a way, a mirror of the leadership behaviour. They can point out situations where leaders do not have the awareness of their own impact. They can slow down the discussion, they can monitor people who have something to share and who can speak out. They can give

feedback to the leaders that instead of just pushing your own view, maybe it's time to go deeper and understand why the other person is sharing something different.

Organisational Culture

solid base for building a diverse and inclusive working environment. It instils an approach where people actively try to find out what are the specifics and strong elements of each culture that they are working with. Of course, culture is created by the people who work in the company, and each person is different. We have introverted people, we have extroverted people, we have experts, we have people who love to manage big teams. So what we try to do in Home Credit is support the development of adaptive leadership rather than standardising the processes. We try to approach people topics in an individualistic way.

Have you seen people's expectations changing in the last couple of years? Yes, topics such as wellbeing and flexibility are very much more on the table. I think it's not so much connected to the pandemic as generational diversity. We have more than three generations in our workforce, and in some markets five generations. They all have different requests and totalJune 2022 |


Organisational Culture

ly different motivations. So the flexibility and individualistic approach, which I mentioned earlier connected to inclusiveness, is a must. I see that the companies which struggled with flexibility at the beginning of COVID are now struggling with their employer brand. They struggle to keep the people, they struggle with attrition, they also have difficulties hiring people. It's because the employer brand is created by the employees, and now the employees are able to share everything that

This way of thinking where companies focus so hard on keeping the people and become frustrated that people leave? It needs to change they see and think and feel about the company through technology and social media. This is why listening, flexibility, the hybrid way of working, are now critical topics.

How have you adjusted to the demand for greater flexibility, at Home Credit? We have a very entrepreneurial and dynamic culture, so it's been easier for us to adjust. In many markets we are innovating constantly and testing approaches. We are not a traditional conservative employer, and we do not believe in extreme 30

stances, so unlike some companies at the beginning of COVID, we did not come out and say that we will never go back to the office. Instead we have been very mindful about what flexibility should be for our own needs. We found that our culture needs social interactions, connection, collaboration, deep relationships, but we also saw that after the pandemic is over, it will be difficult to go back to what it was before. So we knew that we will need to look into new ways of working.

| June 2022

We are also testing our theories with data. These days, it's very important that companies should establish good reporting procedures, good data knowledge, and the capabilities for data science and data analytics. We are collecting and monitoring and analysing data around working models, and we see more and more that people need a certain amount of going back to the office and having social interactions with their colleagues. People struggle with feeling lonely, not being engaged, not feeling like part of something bigger.

These things are important for a culture and for long term sustainability. But you need to put it in the framework of flexibility. People need to feel that the manager trusts the employee, that people are empowered, that they can actually decide how they deliver the things that are expected of them.

What's your perspective on getting talent to come and stay in this era of great talent mobility? We feel very strongly about our culture, and we believe that this is a unique proposition, why people join and why people enjoy staying with us. So when we talk with people, we want to share it with them and test whether it's something which they feel connected with, which they feel is important for them. But what we see more and more is that loyalty to the employer is not important to the younger generations anymore. Younger people are the most motivated by learning: they want to learn by doing, they want to learn about different companies and different environments, and they change jobs much more easily. The average length of stay of employees has become much shorter than it was 10-15 years ago. So this way of thinking where companies focus so hard on keeping the people

Attrition is one of our top priorities because of the Great Resignation and the impact of COVID. So we organise a lot of surveys to understand engagement. We go deep on the exit interview. We don't want to work only perceptions, we want to have the real data. And in specific areas where we struggle with high attrition, we have found that with our particular approach, attrition goes down and people

to leave, and I accept that and I support them, and I keep the Home Credit door open for them to come back. And I can tell you that we have quite a solid number of people who left Home Credit to try something different and then returned, and they are the best ambassadors for our culture.

stay longer on average. I think actually, it's the culture of Home Credit. It's how we say goodbye to people if they decide to leave that: we manage it in a very caring and professional way, and we always communicate that we wish them the best, we hope to stay in touch. It's the long term approach that we have used since the beginning. Of course the new things that we try, with job rotation, training and

Does this approach work to keep people staying longer?

development, more conversations with people – these have a very positive impact too.

How do you think things might change for the next generation of employees? I don't have a crystal ball, but I do think that a more and more individualistic approach, together with more and more flexibility, are the trends which will stay with us. So we will need to continue looking at how we can reorganise ourselves and how we can strengthen our culture to do that. The development I mentioned and creating a culture of learning, I think that will continue to be the big motivation for the younger generation, because they have grown up with technology and they have a different approach to how they work and learn. They might not go with the traditional route of high school and then college; they might want to start working earlier so that they can experience professional life, and they might catch up on their studies through online channels later. So we will see change not only in the companies, but in the community and in society as youngsters take a different approach to engaging with the labour market. It's beautiful on one side, but it's challenging on the other. June 2022 |

Organisational Culture

and become frustrated that people leave? It needs to change. We need to accept that people will leave much more often than in the past. As to getting people to stay, the question for me is, what can I do for their development? Perhaps it's sharing with them different opportunities and different roles, so that they will stick with Home Credit longer. But that certain moment will come when they want







Organisations took a great digital leap forward in the last two years. It's time to review what's been done and plan ahead once more

| June 2022


June 2022 |


ing and change management. The rush of the pandemic left little time for such preparations, and even now, many organisations are still catching up. Technology is a key part of any conversation around the employee experience; the customisation of EX needs to extend all the more to work tools, to provide functionalities that employees need and remove the ones that obstruct their workflow. Some commonalities continue to stand out in this review process, such as the need for cybersecurity, the demand for cloudbased services to reduce reliance on internal capabilities, or the now-pervasive use of data in all aspects of work. Other relatively new areas have emerged that call for additional scrutiny of the use case: surveillance tech, for example. In this month's cover story, we look at how various types of work tech fit into the post-pandemic environment, and what the business case looks like for organisations as they make their investments. We consider some of the trends and implications around today's applications of work tech. And we evaluate how the future needs of the workforce may further shape the use of work tech as well as the broader industry landscape going forward.


he pandemic fast-tracked organisations' tech and IT strategy by anything from four years to an entire decade. From the simple automation of work processes such as basic HR, finance, or administrative services, to more advanced solutions around organisational communication and collaboration, to complex data-driven and AI-powered tools for employee engagement, diversity, and even mental wellbeing, the adoption of work tech boomed. Now, as we return to a post-pandemic normalcy, organisations around the world are stepping back to review what they have implemented. They are assessing the tools available to them and the suitability of various solutions for their individual circumstances and operating environment. With the pressure of that first remote rush relieved, they can now afford to be more particular about what they choose to invest in. Many will have already learned, through the trial and error of the early months, what works for them – and what they can leave out. Other needs have also entered the spotlight. Ideally, technological adoption should be preceded by preparing the human element – the workforce – through train-


Tech at work today: what's on organisations' priority list?

In the post-pandemic months, what's the state of digitalisation and how are organisations reviewing their implementation of technology? People Matters hears from industry leaders on what the priorities are and what to look out for next



By Mint Kang



igitalisation has made work simultaneously easier and more difficult – easier in that it consistently reduces manual processes and frees people up for more valueadded work, more difficult in that it requires an entire, separate set of investments and skills to implement and maintain. And the last two years of pandemic-driven digital acceleration only emphasised these diametrically opposite impacts on how organisations operate. In today's economic landscape, digitalisation is taken for granted. There is no way to effectively compete other| June 2022

wise. But now that the crisis has subsided, the way organisations digitalise is changing. It's no longer about niceto-haves or keeping up with the Joneses. Companies in the business of providing tech services say that the current uncertainty has led to a much more strategic approach: some scaling back, some consolidation, emphasis on certain wellchosen priorities. “What we are observing is not a total return to business-as-usual for our customers across the board,” said Sandeep Bhargava, Managing Director APJ for cloud solutions

provider Rackspace Technology. “Fears of recessions, personnel crunches, inflation, and supply chain issues, are just some of the factors that contribute to an unpredictable economic outlook.” A common theme now seems to be that tech implementation has moved into a review and optimisation phase, with business and IT leaders now much more cognisant of what meets their specific needs. Unsurprisingly, many companies have one eye trained on the bottom line. Lindsay Brown, Vice President and General Manager for Asia Pacific and Japan at collaboration software firm GoTo, told People Matters: “At a time when analysts, economists, and inves“What we are observing is not a total return to business-as-usual for our customers across the board” Sandeep Bhargava, Managing Director APJ for cloud solutions provider Rackspace Technology

tors around the world are predicting a market downturn in the not-too-distant future, businesses must further optimise their tech stack with cost efficiencies and prudent IT budget management in mind.”

Selectiveness is the new rule

each with only one functionality. Sometimes a platform has 700 functions and people use only 10 of these. Tools and platforms almost always need to be simplified. The question is, which of these functions is useful for a company's specific needs?” Consolidation has in fact emerged as a major priority for a large number of organisations. In one study conducted by Frost & Sullivan on behalf of GoTo, 62% of business and IT leaders indicated that the consolidation of their communication, collaboration, and IT management tools is a priority this year, and 95% said it

is already underway in their organisation. “IT Workloads over the past two years have increased with one of the key challenges being identified as software that people are using for their work isn’t always up to the job,” said Brown. “This has led to a demand for solutions that are fit for purpose; that can interoperate with an organisation’s existing tech stack; that can scale as the organisation grows; that are user friendly so it is quick to implement and adopt which increases time to value, and that offer good value for money.” June 2022 |


At a time when analysts, economists, and investors around the world are predicting a market downturn in the not-too-distant future, businesses must further optimise their tech stack with cost efficiencies and prudent IT budget management in mind


In the aftermath of the first rush to remote, many organisations have ended up with a surfeit of tools and platforms, not all of which meet their specific needs. And what's happening now, according to tech providers, is an extended review of whether a tool is relevant to the organisation and, if so, whether it can be made more useful; or if not, what can replace it or whether its use should be discontinued entirely. Sami Ammous, Vice President Asia-Pacific and Japan (APJ) at communications solutions provider Avaya, described organisations' current approach as “deliberate experimentation” to match their IT strategy to the business strategy – and, he suspects, there is considerable existing disconnect between the two that companies are now trying to fix. “Users are not always getting what they need from the current IT strategy,” he remarked during a conversation with People Matters in Singapore. “Sometimes they have multiple platforms


The paradigm of adopting digital tools which empower employee productivity and efficiency, whilst granting them the flexibility needed to adapt and grow in their own environments, is expected to evolve



Agility and ease of use are high on the agenda


Given the uncertain market outlook, organisations need their tech infrastructure to be easily scalable – in both directions – and adaptable, especially with the lessons of the pandemic still fresh in mind. For instance, cloud adoption shot up in 2020 and 2021 as businesses tried to find digital alternatives to on-site services; the trend is still going strong simply because of the flexibility it allows. Ease of management is an adjunct to that: the initial hiccups in 2020 were learning points around tech introduction and change management for many organisations, and in today's market, the preference leans toward tools that can be more smoothly introduced. “With the new devices and platforms employers are introducing to the workplace, they want to make sure there is flexibility to change, systems are secure and easy to manage. This is all because COVID has taught us that the workplace needs to remain agile and keep up with a | June 2022

dynamic work environment when the need calls for it,” commented Jacques Bertrand, Executive Vice President of collaboration tech firm Crestron Asia. Flexibility and agility are not confined to the technology itself, though. The scalability of the IT team has become equally critical, especially at a time when tech talent is scarce and going for huge premiums in many markets. Some recent studies suggest that when it comes to IT, organisations would rather outsource their personnel needs alongside their infrastructure needs, both for the sake of efficiency and as a costsaving measure. Agreeing, Rackspace's Bhargava said: “An exten"COVID has taught us that the workplace needs to remain agile and keep up with a dynamic work environment when the need calls for it" Jacques Bertrand, Executive Vice President of collaboration tech firm Crestron Asia

sion of the economic uncertainty we are seeing involves organisations embracing external teams from managed service providers (MSPs) as a proponent of their internal IT teams. The battle for world-class talent is lengthy and expensive, and our customers don’t wish to put their cloud journeys on hold for costly recruitment drives. Dedicated thirdparty support from MSPs who are exceptionally familiar with their partner’s businesses is a rising trend as we see a drought of professional talent globally.” Finally, cybersecurity continues to be a consideration, and most organisations by now have an ongoing awareness of it which manifests either in tech implementations – as shown by one Rackspace study earlier this year which found that security is now companies' greatest concern when moving their operations to the cloud – or in active investment. PwC’s Global Digital Trust Insights report for 2022, for instance, predicts that nearly 70% of organisations will spend more on cybersecurity this year.

What should companies keep an eye out for next?

Jiabin Fabian Huang, global managing partner of Chinabased RPA solution provider Cyclone Robotics, told People Matters about four trends

Finally, while it may not be possible to forecast the exact needs of the future given the current uncertain environment, surveys do indicate what other businesses are generally doing right now. GoTo's Lindsay

Brown shared a few of the insights from the company's research in partnership with Frost & Sullivan, revealing that the top selection criteria organisations use when choosing new IT software include support for IT process automation, ensuring performance and reliability, improving employee productivity, and of course, having state of the art security solutions. And Crestron's Jacques Bertrand offered a couple of examples of how to gauge whether a particular solution will fit smoothly into an organisation's operations: “When people get together to share information and collaborate, they want the technology to work for them always in a consistent manner,” he remarked. For example: “10 seconds is all it should take from the time they step into a collaboration space to the time the meeting begins.” June 2022 |


grow in their own environments, is expected to evolve. Cyclone Robotics expects the future workforce to become champions at driving humanhybrid entrenchment.” 4. Solutions that support adaptive/composable enterprises: modularity and composable solutions will be key to supporting more agile delivery by helping organisations adapt more rapidly to changing demands, Huang predicted. “This allows an enterprise to reduce the time for the deployment and ultimately contributes to productivity,” he added.


that he believes are worth paying attention to. 1. Experience-driven solutions: research by Gartner indicates that by 2026, 60% of large enterprises will use the concept of “Total Experience” to transform their business models to achieve world-class customer and employee advocacy levels. 2. Data and insight-driven solutions: with today's automation technologies, organisations have the ability to gather and evaluate data that can be employed for analytical purposes for better decision-making, on the micro as well as macro levels. “Data has always been one of the most valuable assets to an organisation,” commented Huang. 3. Automation and AI-powered solutions: in the future, automation solutions are likely to be critical enablers for business. Citing research from the World Economic Forum that forecasts that as early as 2025, work is likely to be split 50/50 between humans and machines, Huang said: “The paradigm of adopting digital tools which empower employee productivity and efficiency, whilst granting them the flexibility needed to adapt and


We cannot overlook the digital adoption gap: JLL India’s Meenakshi Cornelius

“Accelerating digital adoption requires behaviour, mindset shifts, and understanding the benefits of technology adoption. Moreover, we encourage change to be driven from the top by Leaders and management,” advised Meenakshi Cornelius, CHRO, JLL India By Asmaani Kumar



pioneered at JLL and what it takes for global enterprises to lead HR transformation in a digitally-driven business landscape. Here are some key excerpts.



eenakshi Cornelius is the Head of Human Resources for the India Cluster at JLL and has over 23 years of experience in telecom, ITES, real estate, and professional services. She has worked across different facets of HR and has played critical roles in driving change management and leadership-building projects In India and the Middle East. In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Meenakshi shares with us the digital innovations | June 2022

service delivery, Consistent employee and Manager experience, Enhanced insights for decision-making, Future AI (artificial intelligence) enhancements, and building more strategic HR focus. Technology isn’t limited As technology becomes more and more central to HR to our essential functions such as payroll & benefits transformation, how is JLL automation but is also a part keeping up with the latest of more strategic endeavinnovations and solutions? ours such as talent acquisiWhat are the priorities? tion, building capability, and I believe that technology well-being, and delivering keeps us relevant as a function. Given that digital trans- People Analytics, HR Operation Reporting, and BI & formation is changing the Data Management. Buildways of working and thinking capabilities and compeing across industries, HR tencies have been an impormust champion the case for tant area of focus, leading digital adoption to remain us to collaborate with exteragile. Today, the strategic nal partners. For example, role of HR has risen; it has on the Talent Acquisition a seat at the table in most organisations and has strong front, we’ve not only innopartnerships at the CXO level vated internal processes & technologies for efficient to lead people's strategy and and timely screening of our decision-making. At JLL, from an HR stand- talent pool but also partnered with other technology point, we have invested in solutions for a comprehenseveral digital solutions for sive digitally-driven Talent Effective and efficient HR

acquisition process. We aim to embrace the opportunities of digital innovations in the most optimal ways to lead HR operations for the best possible employee experience to fuel business outcomes.

to evaluate, but it’s beyond the dollar value; it’s also about enhancing the experience for our employees, stakeholders and clients.


Coming back to employee experience, given that JLL is a multi-national enterprise, what is the role of technology in strengthening collaboration across teams, especially with flexible working models? Collaboration has been an important area of focus since the world experienced lockdowns due to the pandemic. While we are now operating from offices, we have changed how we operate and are leveraging multiple digital platforms, bringing people together quickly and empowering them to integrate and collaborate well. In addition, cloud-based HR platforms are available for resource management, workforce planning, and implementing one of our firmly held philosophies, Employee SelfService.


we can redesign to improve the employee experience. For instance, Managers leading global or regionally distributed teams need access to their team information; their first contact point is the HR department. Implementing digital dashGiven that JLL is investing boards that managers can in so many digital solutions, easily access for relevant information makes it more could you share with us a efficient to access inforchecklist that could benefit leaders before deciding and mation and seek help from HR. In addition, we must implementing any HR techuse technology to make the nologies? processes that govern the Different ways of evaluemployee cycle more accesating these digital investsible and error-free. Finally, ments depend on whether when it comes to pain points we need global, regional, and problem statements, or local solutions. However, two primary questions must the intention is always to re-image the organisational be pondered: How do we strategy and design to take enhance employee experience? Secondly, which are the our strategic priorities to the next level and become operational pain points and taxing processes that require even more agile and futureready. Aside from these two manual intervention? critical questions, ROI is The employee lifecycle has several touchpoints that always an important metric

How do we enhance employee experience? Secondly, which are the operational pain points and taxing processes that require manual intervention? June 2022 |



We have inbuilt platforms that bring all the relevant information in one place for better accessibility across geographies. Employees now have a personal dashboard designed for easy access and better control over relevant critical metrics. They can address their queries efficiently to HR teams and manoeuvre through information to find answers, whether around leave policy, benefits, rewards, careers, and more. Integrating AI and Cloud platforms will enhance employee experience by enabling autonomy and accessibility to critical data. This has changed how we collaborate within teams and even with external stakeholders.

Given your emphasis on tech-driven employee selfservice models, are there any pain points leaders need to consider to accelerate digital adoption? While discussing technology, we must acknowledge the presence of a digital adoption challenge when working with a multi-generational workforce. Gen Z employees tend to fare much better when adopting digital solutions. However, what I wish to highlight is that organisations of a scale such as ours need a robust change management strategy for adoption across all levels—as an example, rais| June 2022

ing a manual hiring request on a simple mail vs using a tech-driven workflow platform. This needs change in ways of working and adoption. Change can be taxing at the start but can lead to better outcomes in the long term and helps streamline the process of talent acquisition that addresses your skill needs aptly. What we can do to accelerate digital adoption is to have a strong framework for change management which should be driven from the top. Leaders can be the best role models to lead and set the right examples.

What are some words of advice to our community of HR leaders on empowering a digitally ready workforce? I often share an interesting quote by Steve Jobs with my teams: "Technology is nothing. What's important is that you have faith

in people, that they're basically good and smart — and if you give them tools, they'll do wonderful things with them.” So the way I see it, technology is a vital enabler as we embrace and experiment with different solutions and working models. Technology plays a significant role in building an employer brand, supporting talent acquisition models, and designing the best employee experience. Anytime learning is one of the greatest benefits, where employees can upskill themselves at their own time and pace. Businesses must also invest in analytics because it brings back critical trends that will impact how we formulate employeecentric policies and business strategies. As the world changes rapidly, we must invest in digital solutions to keep pace and be relevant.

Driving a balance between business continuity and empathy is vital: Ericsson’s Priyanka Anand


What makes a sustainable work tech model? Priyanka Anand, Vice President and Head of HR for Southeast Asia, Oceania, and India, Ericsson, talks about today’s digital trends and the challenges and opportunities that technology creates for the HR function By Asmaani Kumar


riyanka Anand has been Vice President and Head HR, Southeast Asia, Oceania & India at Ericsson since January 2018. With a career spanning over 20 years, she brings a wealth of knowledge and experience. Turning talent management into an instru-

strategy across the geography with around 25000 employees. In addition, she collaborates with Business Leaders in developing and implementing benchmark HR practices that inspire employees to achieve outstanding business results. In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Priyanka shares what goes into building sustainable work tech models with a people focus.

ment to drive business transformation and strategy has been her key focus area, alongside developing able leaders & transforming organisational culture. In her current role, What are some of the digiPriyanka leads a team of 60+ HR professionals across more tal trends and innovations than 10 countries, driving HR that will have a substanJune 2022 |



tial impact on the business landscape? The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the immense significance of ‘connectivity’ given that it enabled businesses and life to continue without disruption. The next wave of digitalisation will ride on the back of 5G technology which will reshape and reimagine business models, providing them with a competitive edge. 5G is a platform for innovation which will drive greater efficiencies, profitability, and agility for businesses. It will enable digital transformation across sectors including manufacturing, healthcare, energy and utilities, public safety, automotive, education and many more. This will undoubtedly impact the skill sets in demand, how we work, and why we need to reskill our workforce. According to a NASSCOM-Zinnov report, India will face a shortage of 14-19 lakh tech professionals by 2026. Therefore, to match the pace of digital transformation with 5G, it is of utmost significance for organisations to invest in re-skilling and to upskill the workforce to prepare for the future. With Ericsson being a pioneer themselves in the digital arena, how is the enterprise building a sustainable work tech model? How does it foster | June 2022

collaboration and productivity in a distributed workforce? I believe the key to a sustainable work tech model for any organisation is to have the right balance of employee productivity and satisfaction enabled with the right technology solutions across the lifecycle of an employee. At Ericsson, we aim to achieve this balance through various platforms and initiatives that support our people to feel safe, engaged, and productive. From prioritising the employees' financial, mental, physical, and emotional well-being to futureproofing them through various

upskilling initiatives, we are enabling an environment where employees can perform their best. Some of our upskilling initiatives include – Degreed, which is an anytime / anywhere learning platform; ‘Leaders as Coaches’ that aims to enhance the skills of leaders; ‘Time To Learn TV’ that focuses on collective learning; ‘Digital Academy’ for competence-building in technologies like AI/automation through digitalisation and data science; and ‘5G Academy’ for employee upskilling on 5G RAN, 5G Core and Cloud RAN. To empower a sustainable work tech environment, we

The key to a sustainable work tech model for any organisation is to have the right balance of employee productivity and satisfaction enabled with the right technology solutions

have focused on - supporting our employees to help them deal with uncertainties, providing a flexible work environment, ensuring the right tools are available at the right time and relying on our leaders to coach teams. At Ericsson, our people have always been a cornerstone of our success. We continue to adopt ways and tools that enable employees to collaborate, cooperate and be more productive, irrespective of where they work.

We ensure open communication within teams across the organisation so they do not feel isolated. As I said earlier, the well-being of our workforce has been our top priority during and post the pandemic, and some of the initiatives we have undertaken towards this are: • Employee Wellness Program that is focused on interventions around their physical, financial, emotional, and social wellbeing • Set up a 24X 7 Employee Assistance Program to provide one-to-one support to employees. • Pulse Survey from time to time to re-assess the


Data itself is of no value unless it is an insight which is actionable… with such insights, organisations can improve the overall employee experience


How can businesses retain the human touch in a digital workplace? The pandemic has forced organisations to rethink the future of work and the workplace. In this time of increased digitalisation, retaining the human touch is crucial. At Ericsson, we are driving a balance between business continuity and empathy has been vital. Even as we have maintained the focus on meeting customer needs and providing seamless connectivity, we continue to ensure that our employees are well supported as they deal with a post- pandemic environment. We regularly hold open forums and consistently engage employees in two-way communication. Hence, they feel supported and safe while extending flexible work policy and support with IT tools and collaboration platforms.

employee sentiment and understand how to augment our existing Programs • Regular “Coffee sessions” (called Fika Sessions in Swedish) where teams catch up over coffee, discussing anything but work. Such engaging sessions ensure a feeling of togetherness and help maintain employee wellbeing. There are many ways HR tech models can also strengthen various aspects of work culture. Combining technology and culture allows an organisation to have twoway communication with the employees and ensure they are heard. For instance, at Ericsson, we carry out Pulse June 2022 | 43


in a hybrid work environment, it is crucial for HR departments to regularly educate, spread awareness and ensure that all employees are using updated security firewalls across their digital devices Surveys from time to time to assess the employee sentiment and understand how we can further augment our existing programs across initiatives with various objectives, including employee wellbeing/ engagement and diversity and inclusion. This helps us make positive changes based on the feedback and responses. Also, employees feel heard and valued and respected at work.

Given the increasing investments in HR tech, data and analytics today, what are some of the pain points that need to be addressed when imple| June 2022

menting these technologies? For instance, how can leaders approach data quality and cybersecurity concerns? Data itself is of no value unless it is an insight which is actionable. For example, with data generated through feedback and timesheets, organisations can understand how satisfied their employees are, what are their problem areas and where they wish to see the transformation. With such insights, organisations can improve the overall employee experience. However, HR departments must avoid complex work processes while introduc-

ing such a new mechanism. If the procedures are not followed, implementing, and adopting new tools /techniques becomes even more challenging. In a nutshell, the purpose of introducing the mechanism is defeated. Leaders must approach data quality concerns by investigating data quality problems, setting clear guidelines for data governance and most importantly, by training teams and conducting data quality training to ensure they are always up-to-date on the latest procedures. Beyond this, in a hybrid work environment, it is crucial for HR departments to regularly educate, spread awareness and ensure that all employees are using updated security firewalls across their digital devices.

What are some words of advice to our leaders on building digitally ready and digitally empowered employees and businesses? Given the rapid pace of digitalisation happening across industries, a digitally ready and equipped workforce will be critical for building a successful business. Thus, the advice I’d give is to invest in upskilling and existing reskilling employees and ensure learning and development become a part of the organisational culture in a way that lays the foundation for years to come.

Navigating the post-pandemic world with the help of technology In an exclusive interview with us, Ester Maria Loidl, CHRO of Freudenberg Group, talks about talent management practices in the hybrid era and how the company is utilising technology to simplify HR processes, close DEI gaps, and more By Mastufa Ahmed




he world is undergoing a time of economic and political upheaval. There are many changes taking place in the workplace too that will transform the future of work. What we're experiencing today may be the biggest revolution in work in our lifetime. The pandemic ended up being the biggest business disruptor across all sectors. As experts say, this is an unprecedented opportunity for leaders to redefine and reimagine their work, the way they engage their staff, and how they adapt to a new global era. People Matters caught up with Ester Maria Loidl, CHRO of Freudenberg Group to find out how the company is navigating the complicated post-pandemic work. The German familyowned global technology group develops technologies

and services for about 40 markets and for thousands of applications. Esther Maria Loidl is the global head of human resources at Freudenberg Group and a member of the management board. Esther Loidl brings more than two decades of experience in wide-ranging people management roles. She began her career in the tourism industry in 1991 before moving to Brose, an auto supplier, in Mexico. After a variety of personnel positions at Brose,

Loidl joined the Freudenberg Group in 2013, initially assuming responsibility for human resources at its Sealing Technologies Business Group. Since August 2017, she has been in charge of HR at the Freudenberg Group. Here are the edited excerpts.

What effects has the pandemic had on your business? How are you navigating the complicated postpandemic world? June 2022 |



What was exciting for me was the speed and flexibility with which each and every one of us and we as an organisation switched to crisis mode. Many things that we had discussed before, whether mobile working, online meetings and collaboration using digital tools, were possible practically from one day to the next and were implemented without much difficulty. There are many advantages to this, especially in making working hours and work locations more flexible. At the same time, we are a manufacturing company and more than 50% of our employees do not have the possibility to choose their workplace or work location flexibly. The pandemic has also taught us that we need to rebalance the distribution of jobs globally: Many of the country's experts and manag-

ers are located in Germany. In the medium term, the group would like to work on developing strong local and regional leadership, both in manufacturing and administration. The goal is to balance know-how and expert knowledge across all regions.

management, succession candidates are systematically identified for expert and leadership functions, to ensure the long-term stability of the leadership team. To boost our attractiveness, Freudenberg provides numerous benefits that are being continuously expanded to attract new and retain How are you retaining existing employees. The talent amid this global labour crisis? Can you share benefits tend to vary from region to region and site to some insights about your site, but are usually more talent management pracgenerous than the minimum tices in the hybrid era? The goal of the talent man- legal requirements in the agement process is holistic relevant country. As part of and focuses on professional the Talent Management propersonnel development as gramme, Freudenberg supwell as the successful identi- ports numerous continuing fication and advancement of education programs at all potential future executives. hierarchical levels. We also In the process, employees consider the maintenance of receive balanced and calia good work-life balance as brated feedback from their important in helping to ensuperiors. They also review sure and improve employee their next development steps health and well-being. with them. As part of talent How has your work tech landscape evolved over the past two years of disruption? Digitalisation is changing

Mobile working, online meetings and collaboration using digital tools, were possible practically from one day to the next...There are many advantages to this 46

| June 2022

processes play an important role in this. The use of digital and globally usable tools is a prerequisite for this; a successful example is the introduction of Workday at the Freudenberg Group.


Can you give us an overview of diversity and inclusion at your organisation? How are you leveraging work tech to fill DEI gaps the pandemic brought to the fore? Diversity and Inclusion is anchored in the Group’s valDigitalisation is changing the ues and principles. Freudenworld of work at a rapid pace, and berg is convinced that teams with people of various ages this also applies to HR and genders and with diverse cultural backgrounds are the world of work at a rapid Group-wide HR IT project. more successful. In 2021, peopace, and this also applies In addition to the uniform ple from 136 nations worked administration of HR masto HR. One important task together. An international is to globally standardise ter data for all Freudenberg working group is devising HR processes within the employees throughout the specific measures to further Freudenberg Group. One Group, Workday includes strengthen activities as part and harmonises the proexample: We were faced of an inclusive working enviwith the challenge of unifycesses in talent management ronment while serving as a ing HR processes, from the as well as around the topic of sounding board and multipliadministration of master compensation with regard to er. The goal of various initiadata to talent management checking salaries and calcutives is to create a working and succession planning, lating bonuses. All open posi- environment in which every and mapping them in one tions are advertised via the person feels appreciated, IT system within the framesystem and are visible. respected and heard. work of a special structure As CHRO, I am responsible with eleven business groups, What role can leaders play for all of the company's apvery different IT landscapes, to ensure a better alignment proximately 50,000 employees and branches in more than of HR technology investworldwide and in this role, 60 countries. The choice: the ment and business goals? it is important to me that we The global HR strategy system should be intuitive to have a working environment use and expandable in terms and its goals form the basis at Freudenberg in which all of the integration of further for meeting the challenges employees, regardless of genthat will arise in the coming der, age, ethnic origin, sexual processes - fell on the cloudbased software Workday. The years, such as the battle for orientation or religion, feel talent. Digitalisation and the comfortable, respected, implementation of the sysglobal standardisation of tem was Freudenberg's first heard, and valued. June 2022 |


Coping with organisational cybersecurity challenges today

Digitalisation isn't slowing down – and neither are cyber attacks. What are organisations doing, and what are some best practices to pursue? People Matters speaks with Lucas Salter, General Manager, Data Protection Solutions at Dell Technologies Asia Pacific & Japan



By Mint Kang



yber attacks have been on the rise for the last few years, and the shift to remote work that accompanied the pandemic has worsened the situation. Data from 2021 indicates that cyber attacks increased by over 50 percent year on year, with organisations facing between 800-1,000 attacks weekly, or even more depending on their location and industry. And these attacks are very costly. A single ransomware attack today, for example, can cost an organisation upwards of $2 million. “The acceleration of digital transformation in organisations and the shift to work from home have created a broader surface attack area | June 2022

and more valuable data,” explained Lucas Salter, General Manager for the data protection solutions division at Dell Technologies Asia Pacific and Japan. “That increases the benefit to cyber criminals. The environment has gotten more complex, the problem has gotten more complex, and it's not going away.” People Matters caught up with Salter to ask for his perspective on what organisations are doing to cope and what else they can do in an era of heightened cyber danger. Here are the highlights of the conversation.

You're working with organisations across a wide

range of industries. What are you seeing in terms of their attitudes toward cybersecurity today? We are generally seeing attitudes of heightened awareness, where they are looking at how to potentially sustainably solve the problem or stay ahead of the problem. But we also still see some organisations that think they are not at risk because they're not a bank or a critical infrastructure organisation. In reality, we are seeing every vertical in every industry attacked without discrimination. Investment in cybersecurity is also increasing. In the Asia Pacific and Japan, IDC forecasts that the compound annual growth rate of cybersecurity spending up until 2025 will be greater than 14%. That double-digit increase in spending demonstrates that organisations realise there's a gap between their capabilities and their needs, and they are trying to

do something more to solve the problem. The challenge that they have is that it's a complex problem to solve, but they are facing a resource shortage in security skills, and in some cases, they are trying to do it with a flat to declining budget.

It's no longer a matter of whether they are compromised, it's a matter of when, and so their ability to respond and recover is the determining factor

What should continuity after a cyber attack should look like – what should the objective be? Firstly, organisations need to get their services back up and running. Whatever June 2022 |


As a cybersecurity provider, what kind of asks are you seeing from organisations today? More organisations are adopting a cyber resilience approach over and above cybersecurity alone. They

are recognising that it's no longer a matter of whether they are compromised, it's a matter of when, and so their ability to respond and recover – to be resilient – in the face of a successful cyber attack is the determining factor as to how successful they will be in continuing to deliver services to their customers, or if they are in the public sector, their citizens. So organisations are looking for the capabilities and services that solve for an entire cybersecurity framework. They want to be able to drive a holistic strategy for both cybersecurity and cyber resilience. When we think about cybersecurity strategies, prevention is always going to be better than cure. However, the industry has acknowledged that 100 percent prevention is not something that can necessarily be achieved. So what we're seeing now is that organisations are shifting some of their investment over to minimising or mitigating the impact of a successful cyber attack as a way of enhancing their business continuity strategy. In other words, they are including a cyber attack as a potential disaster to be planned for.


The shortage of cybersecurity talent comes up a lot today, even more so than the already well-known problem of tech talent in general. What do you see organisations doing to cope? Since hiring is a challenge, they are turning to outsourcing. They are looking to extend their partnerships with organisations

that can help them solve the problems at a bigger scale and leverage shared services. So, service providers like what we do at Dell, but also industry-level organisations and government-driven initiatives. Security is a problem that everybody experiences, and so organisations are increasingly deriving a more collaborative approach with both industry and government to attempt to do more with less.




services they might provide – banking, health care, even if it is something less critical, they need to be able to get those services available and accessible as quickly as possible. Next, cyber attacks impact data. And so a fundamental challenge that organisations will face is getting those services back up and running, fast, and with integrity, to ensure that their data isn't compromised. For example, if a health care organisation has been impacted by a cyber


If an organisation is out to ramp up its cybersecurity capabilities, what are some do's and don'ts to begin with? 1. Patch your systems 2. Educate your employees 3. Understand where your data is and how it's being managed 4. Identify critical systems and assets to ensure that they are sufficiently protected 5. Work with your service providers to mitigate the risk of supply chain compromise and vulner-

Response and recovery at speed, with integrity, is important for any organisation to maintain the trust, brand and reputation of their customers, and also to enable their workforce to continue to work attack, they would need to ensure that their patient data is recovered with integrity and is in its unchanged form from when it was originally written. Around those central issues of service restoration and access, you have the public relations aspect and of course the workforce aspect. Response and recovery at speed, with integrity, is really important for any organisation to maintain the trust, brand and reputation of their customers or citizens, and also to enable their workforce to continue to work. | June 2022

abilities outside of your control 6. Build out a cybersecurity strategy that leverages a known cybersecurity framework, and work with the guidance of your industry or country regulators 7. Ensure that you have a plan for the availability and recovery of your systems and data in the event of a cyber attack You should also consider capabilities such as network segmentation, multi factor authentication, a zero trust framework and strategy.

Out of these areas, the ones to focus on would be employee education, patching your systems as fast as possible, leveraging multi factor authentication, developing a plan for a zero trust framework, and building out a resilience and recovery strategy for your critical systems data. Employee education in particular would include encouraging your employees to take a risk based approach to how they go about their business, their data, and their interactions with technology. A lot of this is common sense: if you receive an email that looks suspicious, report to your organisation and don't click on it. If you see a USB drive lying around, report it to your organisation, don't put it in your laptop. In today's world, people are operating at an unprecedented pace and scale. We are using more messaging services, we have more valuable data in our control, and we are constantly leveraging technology. And so people need to stay alert. We need to have robust security practices in place, keep our eyes on vulnerability and patch management, and ensure that we have a very sound last line of defense in place to ensure availability and recovery of data with integrity if and when they need it.

In with the new, in with the old: How companies can retain and hire great talent Hiring and retaining the skills we need isn’t easy, and it will only get harder over time. But technology, especially data analytics and the tools that derive from it, can give HR teams an edge By Geoff Thomas


their colleagues still not in the office on a daily basis. So, whether the Great Resignation is a real phenomenon or only anecdotally true, one thing is for sure: organisations are facing a talent crunch and they lack the data to make decisions quickly in response to rapidly changing conditions.


he arrival of 2022 was supposed to mark our triumphant return to the office. But this ‘return’ is not equally true for everyone. With the configuration of work altered, perhaps permanently, the great challenge for Human Resource (HR) teams is: What is the new normal and what are the workforce's expectations? There is no playbook for what HR is facing today because there is no precedent for what the world has just gone through and – in many ways – is still going through. While the pandemic may have become an endemic in some places, the flux that we have lived with has an air of permanence as people return to the office to find large empty spaces or are greeted by desks and community spaces re-arranged to fit the new normal, with many of

The challenges that HR face

With organisations accelerating their digital transformation, and business models being reinvented, the competition for talent continues unabated in the pursuit of people who are adaptable and who have the skill sets required for the new world of business. This is made even more challenging, where in spite of inflation and a looming recession, people are still leaving their jobs. The new generation of June 2022 |


systems for them to efficiently function and allocate resources in wake of this new model.



Retain talent by giving HR the insights they need


Today's HR systems are simply not capable of supporting the kinds of insights HR teams need for the new landscape workers comprising Gen Z and millennials would rather be out of work than be unhappy at work, say 56 percent of respondents in a 2022 Randstad Workmonitor survey. That survey, which reached 35,000 workers across 34 markets, is reflective of a sea change in attitudes in the workplace. It revealed that 40 percent had actually quit because their jobs did not fit "with their personal life." Aside from relying on sparks of rumours about who's leaving, how can leaders retain their best talent? Chief Human Resource Officers (CHROs) face many challenges in this time where normal attri| June 2022

tion models no longer apply, and new levels of complexity surround employee health and wellness, beyond conventional medical insurance. They also face daily responsibilities such as remaining up-to-date on government guidelines to keep the workforce safe and motivated, and dealing with issues like vaccine hesitancy and filling skills gaps in the company, all of which cannot be resolved through partnership with business leaders alone. Today's HR systems are simply not capable of supporting the kinds of insights HR teams need for the new landscape. Too much data, as always, is spread across disparate

What if organisations were better equipped to retain people, and only had to fill the gaps for where skills are needed? How do CHROs achieve this? Predictive engagement is an area that organisations can build up to better understand which employees intend to leave. It provides insights for the business to plan for and negate gaps that managers perhaps cannot yet see. Organisations need to step up and arm their HR teams with the tools they need, such as self-service analytics that can be easily understood by a HR professional – not a data scientist – to perform tasks like measure “contemplation” rates in addition to resignation rates; measure the impact of attrition on profit; and discover better ways to measure employee engagement to better understand how to influence employee “stickiness” and improve productivity. These easy-to-understand analytics tools can empower business users with comprehensible and actionable insights. HR teams need to have their finger on the pulse, and there's noth-

For example, beauty retailer Sephora discovered this when it embarked on transforming its Human Resource Management (HRM) system. As part of its digital transformation strategy, the brand wanted to leverage unique technology to drive full value through dynamic analysis. Sephora made available to all its managers a single source of truth for all their HR data. No matter where they are based, managers throughout the organisation now have access to this data in realtime, increasing visibility and saving substantial time. These tools help modern-


Organisations need to step up and arm their HR teams with the tools they need, such as self-service analytics that can be easily understood by a HR professional

ise and automate talent acquisition so that CHROs can partner with managers within the organisation to easily understand the talent pipeline and hiring needs, while ensuring diversity and quality in new hires. When one gets down to it, people do not leave companies because the organisation is all bad. Every organisation has something going for it. Sometimes a check-in or message at the right time, could be the difference between keeping the workforce motivated and engaged versus not. If organisations can prevent people from leaving, suddenly, they are in a better position to meet needs, not just fill neverending gaps. By optimising HR systems and establishing an intelligent, modern analytics platform to help HR teams have a holistic view of employee sentiment and performance, HR can turn the Great Resignation challenge into an opportunity. Maybe your success could even turn into a new trend: The Great Retention. You never know.


ing worse than providing them a dashboard that posts outdated information which does not allow for current insights. When you give your CHRO and their teams the tools they can easily use and understand – that's when they can access predictive insights on retention based on employee engagement and satisfaction to get a more accurate sense of the employee sentiment. It also allows CHROs to partner with managers within the organisation to better understand the talent pipeline and hiring needs, while ensuring diversity and quality in new hires.


Geoff Thomas, is Senior Vice President, APAC, Qlik June 2022 |


Will technology replace HR? The past two years have not just demonstrated but actively accelerated the critical need for HR to have technological acumen

key stakeholders, and build personal credibility.

The critical need for technological acumen

By Clinton Wingrove




ack in 2020, I wrote about the challenges that HR faced in keeping pace with technology. I had restated my long-held belief that contemporary HR must have five skill sets not formerly associated with their function. Business acumen Understanding how each and every HR process impacts the organisation’s bottom-line (financial or social responsibility etc) so that they can prioritise strategic initiatives, including digitisation projects.

Technological acumen

Understanding the power of contemporary technology so that they can lead digitisation initiatives and not have them driven by IT or Procurement.


| June 2022

Analytical acumen

Understanding how to ensure the collection and availability of quality HR data (comprehensive, valid, reliable, differentiating, useful, and defensible).


Demonstrating the courage to challenge the status quo, resist flawed requests, fight for what will work and what is right, call-out and standup to bias.

Personal effectiveness

Demonstrating the ability to command airtime, influence

The past 2 years have demonstrated, accelerated, and highlighted the critical need for HR to have technological acumen. HR technology is often referred to as though it is a single offering and many vendors want us to believe that, arguing that best-of-breed applications are inferior to their ERP applications. However, contemporary HR technology offers numerous forms of power that we can deploy and easily integrate, including but not limited to: 1. Transaction or process management e.g., improving the efficiency and effectiveness of recruiting, payroll, on-boarding, filing and retrieval, etc.; 2. Communications e.g., video conferencing, teamworking, collaborating, networking, ticketing;

HR needs to be directly involved in assessing the effectiveness, efficiency, and long-term consequences of technology deployment saved many organisations by enabling their employees to work remotely. But, their use has come at a cost which we are only just experiencing but which was largely predictable. Numerous studies indicate that the number of meetings has doubled with around 75% of those failing to achieve their objectives if they had any! Face-to-face conversations have decreased and, with that, there has been a corresponding drop in the levels of empathy, trust and loyalty, and an increase in anxiety, loneliness, and cynicism. Conscious attention levels in virtual meetings have been measured at little over 33% leading to low quality decisions. For many in HR, the focus of attention is still on how June 2022 |


the power of social proof to market them effectively. HR needs to be directly involved in assessing the effectiveness, efficiency, and long-term consequences of both types of technology deployment. It is not necessary to be experts in all of these areas, but we do need to know enough, or to engage with those who do, to be able to make sound decisions about HR technologies, many of which (especially AI applications) are progressively becoming fraught with data privacy, security, and legal issues. As a simple example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen a dramatic increase in the use of virtual meeting platforms. Clearly, the use of these has


3. Behaviour engineering e.g., performance management, employee recognition, employee feedback, stress management; 4. Productivity optimisation e.g., ToDo lists, project management, ticketing; 5. Compliance and monitoring e.g., entry/exit security, remote-staff monitoring and activity tracking, whistle blowing; 6. Analytics e.g., data validation, data management, data aggregation and integration, analytics, interpretation, prediction, and visualisation. We continue to see the dominance of a small number of software vendors/implementers embedding themselves in large corporates and pushing hard their single-platform solutions. At the other end of the scale, we see a proliferation of start-ups creating innovative solutions to very specific challenges, and then deploying


warning that how we are communicating is having an adverse effect on others, and probably identify early indicators of potential anxiety, stress, and imminent performance degradation. The opportunities are huge.



3. Virtual Reality technology can be used to replace routine operations. We see this increasingly in administration, manufacturing, and logistics. But far more wide-reaching developments are now within reach of even medium-sized organisations. Let’s consider three areas of potential interest.

1. Humanoids

Robotics have advanced to the point where we can consider robots that operate, process data, and even look like and act like humans. They can be on-site, work almost 24x7, and need little if any supervision. This opens up a huge potential wherever interpersonal interactions are required. What about interviewing candidates? What about interacting with customers – serving or even handling complaints? What about negotiating with vendors? What about providing training services … or even great presentations?

2. Artificial Intelligence


HR was always the function that lacked quality data. Over the past two decades, | June 2022

many organisations have addressed this – one of the benefits of ERP applications. But the potential uses to which that data can be put are vast and currently largely untapped. Frankly, even standard statistical tools such as SPSS and Statistica offer the ability to draw intelligence from such data. AI takes us a stage further. For example, even as far back as the late ’90s, by combining data about each employee’s arrival time (from security swipe cards), login times (to network and applications), speed of response to notifications such as emails and application prompts, etc, it was possible to detect patterns that could predict attrition by individual and by department. With the data that we now have, AI can compute personality profiles, predict functional and dysfunctional employee groupings, identify causal connections between demographic data and performance, detect in realtime potential lies in what others are saying, flag up a

We have all become aware of the power of gamification as a behaviour engineering tool – the use of reminders, triggers, and responses to influence how individuals think, feel, and act. These are now widely deployed in effective performance management and project management tools. But, virtual reality tools take this to a new level. We are now faced with the opportunity for employees to live and work in a truly realistic virtual world. This is already being widely deployed in training and pre-sales situations. But, imagine for a moment that, rather than being on a webcam, your employees worked with virtual reality headsets, interacting with each other as though all in the same physical space. These are exciting times and we are only just scratching the surface of what can be done. What can you do to increase your technological acumen – to ensure that technology does not replace you? Clinton Wingrove is the Principal Consultant, Clinton HR Ltd

Dr M Muneer

Tackle hi-tech talent development differently Everyone is fretting over tech talent today. But it's not just the engineers who are in demand, especially in advanced product fields. We take a look at how to develop sales talent for the hi-tech sector

Learning & Development



hether the Great Resignation crossed over to India or not, it has always been a challenge for enterprises to recruit, develop and retain talent in the hi-tech area. According to our research, most HR heads admit that on a scale of 1 to 7, tech talent recruitment has become a highly difficult task (at 6 on the scale). The issue is compounded by an acute shortage of quality talent, and Indian recruiters have made it a norm to issue two appointment letters for the same open position! The pace at which the technology space has been developing is breathtaking. Funding to tech startups continue to flow unhindered and the number of unicorns is ever on the rise. The frantic rush to digitisation by large enterprises has also contributed to the talent supply constraints. The problem lies mostly in too many companies chasing too less quality talent. Instead, some of them could have | June 2022

actually focused on developing the next level talent to suit their needs. This realisation is slowly dawning on many companies today and they know that every rupee spent on training and development is a rupee well spent. Take the case of developing hi-tech sales talent. Of all the talent development initiatives, the investment in sales training is on the rise these days because revenue growth is replete with all types of hurdles. Every basic training initiative planned for hi-tech sales executives

should aim at delivering the following: Information on the company, information on the products or services, information on the customer segments, strategic accounts and the competition, how to make effective sales pitch, and detailed information on field sales procedures and accountability. How can enterprises equip a sales person to sell high technology products and services better? Fundamentals of industrial selling apart, as the market for high technology items changes, sales people are

Hi-tech sales: a different ball game

As most training and development professionals agree, marketing and selling new hi-tech products require a different approach. Sales folks typically get apprehensive about how the customers would react to new tech and whether they might just dislike it. The average sales executive hates to face new sales objections from existing key accounts. These new modifications or technology drive them out of their comfort zones and into

To meet the overall organisational sales goals, it is still the average sales performers who need to be brought up to speed on the new products uncharted waters. Of course, there are always the bright stars who love to take challenges head on. These top performers individually might achieve their targets, but to meet the overall organisational sales goals, it is still the average sales performers who need to be brought up to speed on the new products. And that will need a hybrid of product training (what it is, how it works, and so on) and sales process training (how to qualify leads, understand customer pain points, and so on). Remember that any talent development programme for hi-tech sales folks must include the following two goals: excite and motivate,

and educate and equip to sell. Here are seven steps to accomplish this: 1. No quick-fix solutions. Do not let your product expert address a class of experienced sales executives and drone through a voluminous, boring PowerPoint presentation. It may be quick and easy to do, but it will not address the two goals. A leading consumer durables client, when they were launching their version of energy-saving, internet-ready air conditioners, conducted branch and district level sessions to train sales people at all levels on the unique features of the model. Sadly, it was a quickfix technical session that did June 2022 |

Learning & Development

being asked to sell newer tech products aggressively – but they don’t understand how these products work or how the customers benefit. Too much re-engineering is becoming overkill in tech space and customers pay a higher price for features they hardly use or need. The current sales team may be competent enough to sell existing products of your company owing to previous training. They are probably in their comfort zones by now despite the economic downturn, they know inside out how the products work, how to handle every conceivable sales objection, and how to solve the hitches of installation or use. New additions to the sales force may require training, but that could be adequately delivered by the experienced staff internally.


Learning & Development 60

not add value to the sales team, and they eventually went back to doing a proper programme, with role-play and other tested methods, to increase effectiveness and to motivate the team. Recall the story of a man who asked a watchmaker what time it was. The sales folks want to know what time it is but not how to make the watch. They need to know how to sell the product, not to make it. 2. Analyse the audience you want to train. Understand the level of technical competence and sales skills they have currently and take stock of their proficiency in each area. What are their qualifications and training? Determine the level of proficiency needed for effective technical selling. 3. Decide on overall objectives. Does your objective include making the sales folks find the leads on their own, or do they work on the leads provided by marketing team? Do you want them to qualify prospects, make the sales pitch, sell, provide customisation, and install too? Or do they just qualify prospects and turn them over to technical specialists for one-on-one modifications? 4. Use the right media tools to deliver the training. Auditorium training is relatively inexpensive to conduct, but it can be cumbersome to implement when there are a large | June 2022

Where is the follow-up plan? Skill and talent development programmes should not be just an isolated event number of delegates with multiple skill levels and language barriers. Zoom or Webex works for short modules. The future is of course Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality where the training when done right will be an absolutely breathtaking experience. Another option is to separate the knowledge portion of the training from the skills training. The knowledge part can be completed through self-paced training using workbooks, videos, podcasts, or mobile platform. Star performers may opt out of the basic level training and move to advanced levels. At the end of such adaptive training, participants must take a test to certify their proficiency for the skills, which can be included in the course module – whether in-person or automated. 5. Develop course structure, agenda, content and proficiency tests. Multiple levels of people should be deployed to get all the areas covered appropriately and the trainers should be well versed with the role-playing

segments and games if any. 6. Build a project plan. This is to ensure that the trainers have access to the right resources, adhere to timelines, and meet the overall goals of the skilling agenda. Get the necessary management support, and get product experts and top sales folks to attend the pre-planning sessions. Other elements to be included in the plan are the process to track the learning impact and certify their proficiency levels, and follow up tracks. 7. Where is the followup plan? Skill and talent development programmes should not be just an isolated event when it comes to the hi-tech industry. Send product updates and market learning including new feedback from customers as updates to the attendees. Set up learning groups informally in WhatsApp or Telegram to help them stay connected and share best practices in the field. Once these seven steps are done, your hi-tech sales teams will be more prepared to break their comfort zones and they will sell better on a regular basis. As they succeed and upskill themselves regularly to meet their targets, they are likely to remain more loyal to the company. ABOUT THE AUTHOR

As the chief evangelist at the non-profit Medici Institute, Muneer drives social change through diversity and innovation. Twitter @MuneerMuh

Ben Whitter's secrets for growth and delivering exceptional results By Rachel Ranosa


his was taken about a year ago," Ben Whitter flashed a photo on the screen. The image captured a poignant lesson from the pandemic for the man regarded by many as a leader in employee experience. In that photo, the bestselling author isn't in a corporate setting. Rather, he is seen standing in the great outdoors of Snowdonia in Wales – a land symbolic of his own personal journey. "We've been planting trees and regenerating this land," he said of his team's conservation project from 2021. "We've been working with

our clients ever since to create a stronger connection between people and the planet." Ben's photo has become his "reference point" for how much life has changed for him, his team and the organisations they help grow, in the face of a global crisis. "If it weren't for the

pandemic, I never would have had the time to really explore my own human experience, my own values; what's massively important to me in that deep, profound way," Ben recalled. What may be considered a time of slowdown for many was for him a time of growth.

Employe e Expe rie nce

If you're delivering a great business on the back of a broken workforce, it's not going to work well in the long term,” says Ben Whitter, the renowned employee experience expert, bestselling author, and CEO

"Many organisations around the world are looking at employee experience as a way to rise above the challenge … to deliver superior and differentiated business performance." That's the battlecry of most employers June 2022 |


Employe e Expe rie nce

It was also during this period of reflection that Ben released Human Experience at Work, his latest title debuting as the #1 bestselling HR book in the UK and US. Renowned for developing and popularising the concept of the employee experience, Ben has earned the title of "Mr. Employee Experience" – and rightfully so. He is the creator of the Holistic Employee Experience (HEX) model for optimising business and human performance, and is CEO of HEX Organization. He has spent the past two years sharpening his focus on human-centred leadership in a time of disruption. "My entire existence is obsessed with this topic of employee experience," Ben said. "Many organisations around the world are looking at employee experience as a way to rise above the challenge … to deliver superior and differentiated business performance." That's the

'People are questioning what the human experience is to them and what it means to them. Organisations, employers and leaders are caught up in this' 62

| June 2022

battlecry of most employers. On an individual level, however, employees today are revaluating their expectations of the workplace, "looking at new possibilities to configure their own lives in a way that's going to give them the quality and fulfilment that they want from their experiences," he said. "This has been largely a global awakening in many aspects. People are questioning what the human experience is to them and what it means to them. Organisations, employers and leaders are caught up in this because – as people – they also need to navigate, understand and rediscover what it is to be human."

Human experience is top of leaders' agenda

In his new book, Ben chronicled "massive levels of experimentation" when it comes to business models,

workplaces and work configurations. "One thing is absolutely clear: change has come and it's come in a very big way." Workers are driving this change, and that change includes organisations knowing "what employees will tolerate from businesses, what they'll accept, and what they'll expect". Having experienced a certain degree of freedom and flexibility from working remotely, many have come to expect what Ben calls a "lighter-touch leadership approach" even after the pandemic. This change is fundamental and somewhat irreversible, he said. "We're not going back to work the way it was, and we're probably never going to be the same again." Organisations are having to adapt and change at a rapid pace, but the most

Strengthening connections

Companies are now responding with more compassion, Ben observed. This entails listening to them more closely. "What's come up through our research is that people really want to be in control of their own experience," he said. "Personalisation and customisation in the context of your organisation are going to be critical in the years ahead. So, how can we enable people to become the

'If you're delivering a great business on the back of a broken workforce, it's not going to work well in the long term' true architects of their own experience? "We're looking at this connection between planning and performance, strengthening the people element and their connection to the planet and the environment," he said. Human performance and business performance are converging. "One without the other is weak. If you're delivering a great business on the back of a broken workforce, it's not going to work well in the long term," Ben said. "If you have a business that's built on the human experience, research shows, you are leading with a purpose. It's not just some marketing exercise. The

purpose of the organisation is critical." Organisations "deliver exceptional results" when human centricity runs across their support functions in HR and beyond HR. "They have leadership and CEOs taking it very, very seriously because they're absolutely driven by experiences," he added. "In 2022, this is the name of the game for long-term success. Is your business admired and respected? Is it trusted on the inside and outside? Is it having a positive impact on the world? "If we're starting to answer some of these questions positively, then we're going to be in a very strong position for the future." June 2022 |

Employe e Expe rie nce

successful ones rely on expert guidance. "Coaching is a key part of that because we're all going through this change as practitioners and leaders," Ben said. With that, redefining the human experience is now top of the business agenda for many. "We've been given an opportunity to explore ourselves in ways that we couldn't imagine. People are asking more questions about how they can configure their experiences around their life, as opposed to working a nine-to-five job," he said. "It's about exploring our values, our truth, our purpose, our mission in life, and how they fit into an organisation. If you have alignment between those two things, that's the utopia of employee experience."


Visty Banaji

You need a 'CPO' to face the future No, it’s NOT a chief people officer that you need for steering a course through uncharted waters half a century later. Who’s this mysterious new presence in the C-suite?

The road less travelled



lmost fifty years have gone by. We are in 2066 and visiting the headquarters of a large company. We walk to the corner office on the top floor and find the familiar 'CEO' descriptor below the name. But, what’s this? Where we would have expected the CHRO and CFO cabins, is one as large as both would have been together. On the door is the legend 'CHO' which, we later discover, stands for Chief Happiness Officer – happiness (of customers, employees, investors and society at large) having become the metric for measuring organisational performance.1 But here’s another puzzle: Just opposite and just as large is the room for the 'CPO'. Could the wily HR guys have sneaked in a Chief People Officer after consigning the chief bean-counter to a tiny accountant’s cubicle several floors below? No fears. Successive waves of automation, productivity intensification and contrac| June 2022

tualisation have brought the employee strength so low that the HR leader’s workspace is just as tiny as and next to the accountant’s. Maybe it’s that cheeky tech chap, claiming credit for all improvement, congratulating himself publicly as the Chief Progress Officer. It couldn’t be, though. All the worthwhile tech has long since been outsourced. That must be it, then. Since the traditional corporation has been fissured2 beyond recognition and most of the juicy bits now lie outside its

boundaries, it’s the Chief Purchase Officer who must have grabbed pole position. Not at all. The purchase head honcho has indeed become far more important but, even so, merits a place only on the next lower floor. Who then is this mysterious 'CPO' who holds no legacy from any function with which we are familiar today? Okay. Let’s end this futuristic suspense. "The next few decades could be a boom time for philosophy, as we make concrete many of the

challenging ethical choices that trouble us… By 2062, every large company will need a CPO – a chief philosophical officer…"3 Toby Walsh’s concerns were primarily focused on the ethics of using Artificial Intelligence. As we shall see shortly, it is not only AI that poses ethical challenges and ethics is not the sole domain of Philosophy that can make a critical difference to large corporations. Best of all, none of these contributions need await the advent of the CPO, decades hence.

The fact that managers are often gullible4 only confirms the (sometimes doubted) fact that they are human. Trusting beliefs that we can comprehend (and, in many cases, even the seemingly profound ones that are incomprehensible)5 is the default setting for the human race.6 Apart from the normal gullibility hazards to which Homo Credulens is exposed, today’s corporate environment adds three more. The emphasis on working cooperatively in teams makes even highly original minds hesitate to express independent, outlandish views. "The likelihood that a smart individual will behave foolishly (and gullibly) is, paradoxically, often increased when that person is partic-

millennials, while doubtless losing an abundance of raw energy within the organisation, also brings with it a huge stream of impulsivity and herd thinking. Given time, of course, several of them acquire the personal expertise that is the surest antidote to getting swept away with the tide of fashionable opinion.9 At any given point in time, however, the proportion of people who have acquired such expertise and the wisdom to deploy it effectively is strictly limited (which is one reason to hold on to people

It is not only AI that poses ethical challenges and ethics is not the sole domain of Philosophy that can make a critical difference to large corporations a broad variety of seemingly quite different operations, including making choices, taking responsibility, exerting self-control, showing initiative, and avoiding passivity. All aspects of selfregulation (including regulating thoughts, controlling emotions, managing performance, and restraining impulses) use this resource." 8 The greater the pressure for performance and discipline, the less energy available for speaking against the consensus. Finally, the large inflow of

beyond their best use-by dates).10 If the general run of managers face so many gullibility gulches, in the case of HR some of these become deep, beguiling valleys with few escape routes back to the plateau of common sense. The problem starts early. HR people are chosen (or self-select themselves) for their pleasant and agreeable personalities. In a fascinating study of the gullibility displayed by a towering intellect like Alfred Russell Wallace June 2022 |

The road less travelled

The epistemologically effective executive

ipating in a group decision process that is made up of other smart individuals… Groupthink refers to a process in which individually intelligent people, when in a certain group context, convince each other of the rightness of an incredibly stupid course of action..."7 The ability to stand up against group consensus requires considerable mental energy. The problem is that the same resource needed for standing up to peers (and, more so, to seniors) in Groupthink situations is "used for


The road less travelled 66

(who almost or, according to some, actually, beat Darwin to the theory of evolution), Michael Shermer surmises that it was his high (projected) score on the agreeableness dimension of 'the Big Five' that hobbled his ability to see through the fake claims of phrenology or of those claiming to communicate with the dead.11 Aiding this predisposition to gullibility that accompanies the agreeableness many HR people possess is their constant exposure to the smoothest talking of business developers. Perhaps it is because "[n]o other domain of management attracts as many charlatans, quacks and snake-oil-salesmen as HR"12 that we are led down blind valleys from which the only escape is via the consultant’s bank. The most persuasive partners consulting firms possess are, of course, reserved for luring CEOs into costly commitments. Management gurus have even greater access to CEOs and the latters’ unwillingness to appear intellectually wanting makes them tolerate twaddle they would never accept from team members.13 Even internally, CEOs have to contend with 'players' who can divine the top person’s mind and 'bossspeak' before s/he can. It is then not surprising that "[t] hey can become mentally | June 2022

rigid; have business tunnel vision; even fall into groupthink with their 'trusted team'. The most dangerous reaction is to resort to the pre-, quasi-, anti-scientific world of gurus, mantras and soothsayers who confidently promise magic silver bullets to cure all ills. They certainly are tempting. Perhaps that is why so many otherwise reasonable, rational people fall victim to weird wackiness."14 The answer, obviously, is

are able to exercise only one of these modes, whichever one it is, you're in deep trouble."15 It is precisely in achieving this balance that Philosophy springs to the aid of the corporate executive. Throughout the centuries, it has been the task of Philosophy to pierce through the wall of currently dominant belief with the crow-bar of skepticism. Pure Pyrrhonism no more suits our purpose than

not to become disagreeable, closed to new ideas or distrustful of everyone. As Carl Sagan put it: "What is called for is an exquisite balance between two conflicting needs: the most skeptical scrutiny of all hypotheses that are served up to us and at the same time a great openness to new ideas. Obviously, those two modes of thought are in some tension. But if you

dogmatic rigidity. Starting with Socrates’ salutary admission of his own ignorance, battling Descartes’ demon for a minimum of thinking space, being awakened by Hume, the passionate skeptic, from dogmatic slumber and then, like Kant, building the foundations of pure reason which have been used, in the last two centuries, as a launching rampart by a galaxy of

ment about the tram (British, you see), she did pose the question of blowing up a fat person blocking the exit to a cave where flood waters were rising. Talk about being sizeist! There is a good reason the trolley problem has raised serious debate and even more books, papers and lectures than the potential number of the obliterated obese. "The aim of trolleyology is to provide a principle or principles that make sense of our powerful reactions and that can reveal something to us about the nature of morality."17

The moral manager

Specifically, to what extent is it permissible to sacrifice the interests and rights of a few individuals for the sake of the well-being of a larger number? There is almost no people policy I can think of that is free from implicit assumptions about this question. Yet, there is also almost no occasion that I can recall where these assumptions were made explicit and debated. The moral choices we make as managers are not as often between what’s clearly 'good' and 'bad' as

Was Philippa Foot really responsible for the death of thousands of fat men? Indirectly, certainly. Her essay16 spawned the whole genre of trolley problems of which a substantial branch line delighted in dropping (or not) fat men from bridges onto wayward railway trolleys to save a larger number of people tied to the tracks where the trolleys were headed. Incidentally, while she made no mention of a fat person in her essay’s thought experi-

between differing amounts of either vector i.e. the least bad or the most good. It is when principles clash that we need the capacity to make fine moral distinctions and be in a position to explain them convincingly to the employee population at large. Another area where choices become difficult and emotionally fraught is in dealing with misdemeanour, punishment and clemency. All of us feel uplifted when Bishop Charles-François-Bienvenu Myriel tells the gendarmes to release

It is when principles clash that we need the capacity to make fine moral distinctions and be in a position to explain them convincingly to the employee population at large

The road less travelled

brilliant thinkers to craft a habitable (if far from waterproof) epistemological house. Epistemology (the philosophical study of the nature, origin, and limits of human knowledge) is just one strand of the astoundingly rich legacy of Philosophy. To tap it we only need to understand the core lessons (leaving to our philosophical guides the detailed arguments on which the conclusions are based). This dose of Epistemycin, taken under a philosopher’s direction, will allow us to think clearly and independently without being swept off our feet by emotionally charged language, to trust people without being gulled by those who wish to turn that faith to their personal advantage and be simple and direct without becoming simpletons or dictators.

Jean Valjean who they have found with silverware stolen from the Bishop’s house. Our hearts positively soar when the Bishop pretends additionally to have gifted Jean a pair of silver candlesticks and which, he insists, the latter should carry away as well.18 Where does that heart of ours go when we are about to pass terminal judgement on employees who have committed serious misconduct? I am not suggesting there should be no punishment and I have elsewhere suggested criteJune 2022 |


The road less travelled 68

ria for clemency.19 The point here is only to emphasise that when there is more than one ethical principle at stake (assuming retribution is even ethical) and when the punishment is close to capital (termination, in the corporate context), the greater the thought that must precede it. These are extremely difficult questions. Are the answers to be found by living a virtuous Aristotelian life or in an enlightened version of Utilitarianism or in the sterner commandments of deontological credo or behind Rawls’ veil of ignorance. A philosopher-guide can help us fashion a moral weave that we are comfortable wearing and displaying in public without feeling ashamed. Even when choices are not so intellectually taxing, they can demand immense courage. Take the case of

| June 2022

conflicting stakeholder claims. All is well as long as stakeholder interests converge. But when they do not, most conventional strategic and financial decisionmaking models are premised on maximising shareholder value. It is the supreme test of the CPO’s worth at the top table to affix successfully at least equal importance to people's happiness, fairness to customers, social contribution and the future of the planet.

The wisdom of the sages

Does Philosophy have something to contribute to the individual leader’s mental strength and the attitude with which s/he faces life? Indeed, it does. "…[F]or the power of philosophy is such that she helps not only those who devote themselves to her but also those who come into contact with her."20 Until recent times every

major school of Philosophy had a clear derivation from its metaphysical and epistemological foundations to the ethical principles it prescribed and, consequently, to the code by which individuals were expected to compose their minds and organise their lives. But how does one choose from the richness that two and a half millennia of Philosophy lay before us? Here, once again, is where the trusted CPOs in our midst can play a role by giving us tastings from the variety that is available till each of us finds what’s best suited to our own temperaments and needs. While making our choices, of course, we need to guard against falling for the 'new age' sprouters of pseudo-profound bullshit.21 Life is far too profound and complex to fit into such simplistic models and solutions. Business leaders (and CHROs) could do worse than making a close study of the Stoic view of life. Its practical utility (especially in times of great stress) for leaders is corroborated by the fact that rulers,22 men of public affairs,23 and even prisoners of war,24 considered great by history’s near unanimous verdict, have been prime exemplars of the Stoic Philosophy. Those too impatient to wait for guidance from their yet-to-berecruited resident philoso-

phers could start with the highly readable 'Guide to the Good Life' by William Irvine.25

The philosopher leader


1. Visty Banaji, “HR’s business should be happi-

one of the greatest philosophers ever born to tutor (they didn’t have the CPO title then) the next generation. Aristotle’s pupil, Alexander, went on to conquer most of the known world. By then, Philip too had been assassinated. Again, not by a philosopher, though it is an open question whether the young man trained by the philosopher had a hand in it. Finally, we come to the ruler personally turning to Philosophy. Plato’s philosopher-kings may be too extreme a model for modernday CEOs since they were expected to be celibate and

9. Richard K Wagner, Smart People Doing

ness raising”, 2019.

2. David Weil, The Fissured Workplace – Why

3. 4.


6. 7. 8.

Work Became So Bad for So Many and What Can Be Done to Improve It, Harvard University Press, 2017. Toby Walsh, 2062, Speaking Tiger Books, 2020. Hervé Laroche, Véronique Steyer and Christelle Théron, How Could You be so Gullible? Scams and Over-Trust in Organizations, Journal of Business Ethics, June 2018 Hervé Laroche, Véronique Steyer and Christelle Théron, How Could You be so Gullible? Scams and Over-Trust in Organizations, Journal of Business Ethics, June 2018 Daniel Gilbert, How mental systems believe, American Psychologist, February 1991 Stephen Greenspan, Annals of Gullibility: Why We Get Duped and How to Avoid It, Praeger Publishers, 2008. Roy Baumeister, Ego depletion, the executive function, and self-control: An energy model of the self in personality, in B R Roberts and R Hogan (Editors), Personality psychology in the workplace, American Psychological Association, 2001.

10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17.

Dumb Things: The Case of Managerial Incompetence, in Robert Sternberg (Editor), Why Smart People can be so Stupid, Yale University Press, 2002. Visty Banaji, Forward to Methuselah: How older talent can rejuvenate organizations, 2017. Michael Shermer, The borderlands of science: Where sense meets nonsense, Oxford University Press, 2001. Visty Banaji, Pyrrho, please pay another visit - A DIY kit for sniffing out BS in HR, March 2017. Dan Sperber, The guru effect, Review of Philosophy and Psychology, December 2010. Adrian Furnham, Management MumboJumbo: A Skeptics' Dictionary, Palgrave Macmillan, 2006. Carl Sagan, The Burden of Skepticism, lecture delivered in 1987. Philippa Foot, The Problem of Abortion and the Doctrine of the Double Effect, Oxford Review, Number 5, 1967. David Edmonds, Would You Kill The Fat Man? – The Trolley Problem and What Your

forswear the ownership of property. A far more amenable (if even less attainable) ideal is provided by Marcus Aurelius, arguably the greatest emperor the Roman Empire produced. His study and practice of Stoicism yielded a set of Meditations that continue to be devoured by the literate public around the world. Now which CEO wouldn’t want to be considered among the best of his brethren and have his works read two millennia later?

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

18. 19. 20. 21.

22. 23. 24.


The road less travelled

The CEO who has read thus far might be in a quandary. How much of this Philobabble should s/he heed and what extirpate? Let’s give him some royal (after all we are dealing with royalty’s modern equivalent) examples from history. One choice would be to follow Domitian’s directive which banished all philosophers from Rome in 95 CE. Domitian was assassinated in 96 CE. The assassins, to the best of my knowledge, were not philosophers. Still. Just saying. Alternatively, there is the example of Philip of Macedon. While it is difficult to imagine him having much truck with Philosophy himself, he did appoint

It is the supreme test of the CPO’s worth at the top table to affix successfully at least equal importance to people's happiness, fairness to customers, social contribution and the future of the planet

Answer Tells Us About Right and Wrong, Princeton University Press, 2015. Victor Hugo, Les Miserables, Penguin Classics Deluxe edition, 2015. Visty Banaji, Dealing with misdemeanor at work, July 2019 Seneca, Robin Campbell (Translator), Seneca: Letters from a Stoic: Epistulae Morales Ad Lucilium, CVIII.4, Penguin Classics, 2004. Gordon Pennycook, James Allan Cheyne, Nathaniel Barr, Derek J. Koehler and Jonathan A Fugelsang, On the reception and detection of pseudo-profound bullshit, Judgment and Decision Making, Vol. 10, No. 6, November 2015. Anthony R Birley, Marcus Aurelius: A Biography (Roman Imperial Biographies), Routledge, 1993. Emily Wilson, The Greatest Empire: A Life of Seneca, Oxford University Press, 2018. James B Stockdale, Courage Under Fire: Testing Epictetus's Doctrines in a Laboratory of Human Behavior, Hoover Institution Press, 1993. William B Irvine, A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy, Oxford University Press USA, 2009.

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June 2022 |



>> Sonali Damle

Helping talent teams better understand diversity analytics

b lo g o s p he r e

Many factors contribute to building a culture; inclusivity is one such vector that, when done right, creates a sense of belonging and has a tremendous ability to develop intrinsic motivation amongst people. But that is the tip of the iceberg — Inclusivity, especially as it relates to a diverse workforce, is a force multiplier. Bringing in new ways to look at the same situation is the beginning of creating a unique solution, a disruption, and a foundation for innovation; after all, innovation craves diversity.



ot very long ago, an organisation’s culture wasn’t something that made headlines as much. In fact, it was considered just one of the many factors relevant to employee satisfaction. However, according to a recent survey, 47% of the people actively looking for new opportunities now cite an organisation’s culture as their driving reason for looking for | June 2022

work. Unsurprisingly, about 46% believe that culture is “very important” when choosing a job. So what makes a great culture? Fundamentally, an organisation’s culture is the way we behave at scale. How we behave is defined by what the company sets as expectations, operating principles and ethics and how these behaviours are recognised, rewarded or punished.

Why is diversity more than just a catchphrase?

Helen Keller famously said, “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” Each set of individuals brings new thoughts, new skills, new creativity, new energy, and new perspective. And when complementing groups combine, magic happens! A Deloitte report revealed

that diverse thinking enhances innovation by 20%. Another statistic points out that equal representation of just one vector of diversity, men and women, in organisations is linked with a 41% increase in revenues. Racial and ethnic diverse teams are 35% more likely to perform better, while organisations with an inclusive culture are also likely to have 2.3 times more cash flow per employee.

Hiring managers and leaders should be cognisant of the needs of different sections of society to weave a fabric of diversity

Data and leadership response

b lo g o sp he r e

Judging a candidate based on their credentials alone is the first step to building an inclusive culture, and entrusting data points with this task over manual, “gutfeeling” methods works like a charm for any organisation (they are also associated with building 3x high-performing teams). Leveraging to intrigue and entice job data analytics can substanseekers tially reduce recruiters’ How to ensure hiring diverLearning the art of embrac- bias from the entire hiring sity? process and help fast-track ing diversity Fundamentally, hiring right resourcing, screening, and A young working professionis more about hiring without offer rollouts. al might have different priora bias than anything else. Bringing data analytics ities than a middle-aged emEverything starts from the into the picture can widen ployee. Veterans and people top of the funnel. An organiyour talent pool, expose from the neglected sections sation needs to be extremely recruiters to diverse candiof society might sometimes cautious about how they audates, and eventually help need an extra cushion to thentically talk about their build a much more diverse adjust to your organisation people-first policies. Awareworkforce from top to botbefore they emerge as top ness inside and outside the tom. Simply put, inclusive employees. A person from organisation is the first step one part of the world might workplaces are created in this direction. The idea when you act on the princinot have the same priorities flow would consist of factors as someone from another ple of “horses for courses.” like: There is an excellent corplace. Women may put more • Stating your clear stance weight on a particular thing relation between how you hire people and those who on culture than men. And being incluengage them. Anyone can• Establishing strong habits sive is all about respecting not wake up magically to a of condemning racial, gen- and empathising with all diverse organisation — it der, region, ethnicity, or these perspectives without takes heart and soul to lay any other form of bias being influenced. • “Walking the talk” in Therefore, as a hiring man- the foundation at all levels. Hiring managers and leadterms of inclusion & diager, one should be aware of ers should be cognisant of versity factors contributing to the the needs of different sec• Learning ways to address needs and demands of an specific needs employee. Additionally, lead- tions of society to weave a • Regularly revisiting poliership teams should focus on fabric of diversity. cies to fine-tune the culcustomising policies to suit ture code ABOUT THE AUTHOR the needs of different groups • Showcasing best practices and avoid thinking from a Sonali Damle, Chief People Officer at Innovaccer internally and externally “one-size-fits-all” prism. June 2022 |


RNI Details: Vol. XIII, Issue No. 6, R.N.I. No. HARENG/2010/33504. Published and Owned by People Matters Publishing Pvt. Ltd. Published at 501, 5th Floor, Millennium Plaza, Tower A, Sushant Lok-1, Sector-27, Gurgaon - 122009, Haryana. Editor: Esther Martinez Hernandez

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