People Matters September 2022: On the many different ways to work

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9-5 jobs might be t he baseline, but they are no longer the expected norm; the new world of work is open to a far greater variety of arrangements


We will always find new ways to work

How do we describe our working arrange ments? Very frequently, it will be with the phrases “9 to 5 (or 6)” and “5 (or 6) days a week”. In other words, we describe a fixed period of time each day, for a fixed number of days. And until quite recently, that fixed period of time would be spent in a fixed location that was determined less by what worked for us, and more by what worked for our employers – regardless of whether we were comfort able or even able to be at our most productive.

What we need to remem ber, though, is that such a way of working is a relatively new invention in the

history of jobs and employ ment. It was created by industrialisation when people's roles were primar ily to serve the machines of the production lines. The machines worked on a fixed and immovable schedule, and so human beings had to follow that same schedule no matter what. And back then, that was considered a “new working arrangement”.

Now, we have come full cycle. Even before the pandemic, the gig economy enabled and popularised casual working arrange ments that actually date back to pre-industrial times. Flexible work, working only as needed, working only on the tasks most suited to one's life beyond work. And the pandemic made these even more broadly accept able as people and organi sations scrambled to find ways of continuing working life around lockdowns and movement restrictions.

So what arrangements can we expect to see in the new world of work, and how can organisations imple ment these to make them selves more attractive as

employers, by catering to the varying and valid needs of today's workforce? And what are the challenges organisa tions can expect to encoun ter as they introduce greater flexibility and variety?

We can see a preview of the answers to these ques tions in how organisations have managed remote and hybrid work, and even the return to office lately – from change management, to employee engagement, and even employer branding, an entire microcosm of initia tives and responses can be predicted going forward.

This month, we look at some broad-based perspec tives of different work arrangements, the evolu tion, and the challen ges involved. We hear from industry leaders and domain experts including Anjali Chatterjee, CHRO of AirAsia India, Joey Kwek, Head of HR at Singapore-based Senoko Energy, and Anjani B Kuumar, HR Head at MX Player

And our Big Interview features Annick de Vanssay, Group CHRO of Sodexo, who talks about how improving

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

the workplace experience increases an organisation's attractiveness to talent.

People Matters L&D Conference, India’s largest learning and development conference, is back on 12 October – have you booked your seats yet? Aiming to highlight the pivotal chan ges set to transform every industry in the years to come, People Matters L&D Conference will explore how capability building will and should help organisations be built for disruption. We look forward to welcoming you!

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

People Matters BeNext, our cohort-based certifica tion programme, launches three new courses in the coming months. Design

Thinking and Agile for HR

(10 October – 11 November 2022); DEI: Implementing Unbiased Strategies in the New World of Work (31 Octo ber – 02 December 2022); Reframing Your C&B Strat egy: Agility, Equity and Sustainability (Date: 07 November – 09 December 2022). You can reach out to for more information and to enroll.

People Matters BeNext has shown us all, over the past year, how interconnected community and learn ing 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.

3September 2022 |
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Esther Martinez Hernandez Editor in-ChiEf Follow F > estermartinez > M > @Ester_Matters From
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yoyo?? nice, but can we see some colour? i want black but in colour? Awesome

we see a


9-5 jobs might be the baseline, but they are no longer the expected norm; the new world of work is open to a far greater variety of arrangements




hybrid work right

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4 | September 2022 30 Will
shift from ‘Days
to ‘Days
31 Getting
anjali cHattERjEE, Chief
Officer at AirAsia
36 Is moonlighting an idea whose time has come?
42 Transitioning towards formality: How do we break down informal work arrangements?
46 Strengthening the
culture a
ERi, Senior Vice President
Leader, Synchrony in India 49 Tips
reclaim your
51 Adapting
workplace a
B KuuMaR, Head
HR at MX Player
C o N te N ts this issue oF PEOPlE maTTERS CoNtAiNs 68 pAges iNCludiNg Cover editor-iN-ChieF Esther Martinez Hernandez editor & New produCt CoNteNt strAtegist (globAl) Mastufa Ahmed mANAger - desigN, photogrAphy, ANd produCtioN Marta Martinez seNior editors Mint Kang Rachel Ranosa seNior mANAger - reseArCh ANd CoNteNt strAtegy - ApAC Jerry Moses seNior AssoCiAtes - CoNteNt Sudeshna Mitra | Asmaani Kumar Ajinkya Salvi | Aastha Gupta Samriddhi Srivastava AssoCiAte editor Mamta Sharma digitAl heAd Prakash Shahi desigN & produCtioN Shinto Kallattu seNior mANAger
globAl sAles ANd pArtNerships Saloni
contents Septem B er 2022 volume xI II ISS ue 9 Cover story 28

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

joey Kwek,

of Division,

coherence in the hybrid age


5September 2022 | C o N te N ts regularS 02 From the Editor’s Desk 06 Letters of the month 08 Quick Reads 64 Knowledge + Networking Featured In thIs Issue andy ponnerI anjalI Chatterjee anjanI B Kuumar annICK de vanSSay dan terneS gurprrIet SIIngh joey KweK COntrIButOrs tO thIs Issue andy ponnerI manoj ShIKarKhane dr m muneer pavan SonI rIChard r. SmIth vISty BanajI 20 organisations are shaping the future of work vanssay, Group Chief Human Resources Officer of Sodexo Mastufa Ahmed teChhr 24 l eader S h I p What should you glean from leadership training? By dR M MunEER, Co-founder and chief evangelist at the non-profit Medici Institute 54 Strategy The critical role of leadership in M&A success GuRPRRiEt SiinGH, MD, head or assessment, culture and development at Russell Reynolds Associates By MaMta SHaRMa 58 t he road le SS travelled Policy
66 Blogo S phere On workplaces in the
Human Resources and Corporate Services, Senoko Energy

Letters of the month

HR as t H e accele R ato R

Cross-functional skill sets are long proven to be the most effective and it's great to have HR leaders with a background in other fields. The extra perspective and judgement from this additional experience and skill is so useful in elevating the role to another level and it really can be seen in how they talk about their work and how they approach their role. Hope to see more of such interviews where we can all learn how to leverage knowledge from other professions.

The story of Jaipur Rugs

Such an amazing story and so rare to see it in an English language publication! Kudos to People Matters for bringing this tale of love to us first at TechHR India,

and now in print. So many lessons we can take from this to make ourselves bet ter business people, better leaders and indeed better human beings.

Five mantras to improve workplace judgement

As a hiring manager number 1 is my favourite. Unstructured interviews have their place but when it comes to choosing between two equal candidates, the structured way of analysing them is the most fair. Only by practising a strong level of consistency in how we assess and evaluate candidates, can we be sure of mak ing the right decision for the team and in fact for the whole business.

The war for talent and the future of work

We talk about 'war for talent' all the time but this is the first I have seen actual mil itary doctrine applied, very refreshing and relevant take. We should see some lessons from the 'Art Of War' next? I look forward to such an article if it should be published.

6 | September 2022 september 2022 issue qui C k re A ds letters o F the mo N th

your feedback.

Interact with People Matters

Larsen & toubro Infotech @LtI_Global

LTI’s @ManojShik pens his thoughts on the future of the workplace in the era of the metaverse! More in his article for @ PeopleMatters2 here

Leadership needs upskilling for climate change

Seems that climate change can be dealt with appropriately if we are to view it as a risk, which it is, and take steps in risk mitigation. But somehow the mentality for all these decades has been that it's a buzzword or a fad, or even some kind of publi city stunt, which is an impoverished way of thinking. Perhaps it's not upskilling that we need so much as it is mentality change and mind set change.

Executive presence & how HR leaders can master it

Interestingly many HR leaders do not have a strong executive presence or indeed much of a presence. The pandemic forced many to the forefront and placed leaders squarely in the hot seat with partnerships needed with the business functions, but it seems that most HR leaders still struggle with building that certain level of 'weight' and 'standing' to influence the true decision makers. For all that we talk about HR driv ing business, it's still a rare HR leader who has a voice in the big busi ness decisions.

Building serious digital muscle

The future of work is surely digital. Less sure is the trans formation process which has been long drawn and painful in many organisa tions, often because of inad equate change management and sad to say, the attitude of many business leaders that the human workforce is less important than AI, robot ics, automation. Definitely much work is needed to put the emphasis back on people, skilling them, getting them adjusted to changes rather than 'quiet firing' them by bringing in technology and allowing it to overwhelm human adaptability.

Beware of the deceitful impression manager

Indeed, the workplace is often full of snakes! We see them in the people who are always getting others to do their work for them, while they take the credit and the pay raise – in the incompe tent manager who is elevated to high ranks as a reward for brownnosing the leadership – even in leadership them selves. This article should be read by every recruiter and manager and indeed every CEO who thinks themself a great judge of char acter.


#LetsSolve #Workplace #Metaverse @ PeopleMatters2

Skillsoft India @SkillsoftIndia

What are some of the steps compa nies can take to enable women at the workplace via learning? Find out in this @ PeopleMatters2 article by @divyeshsindh wad with a focus on DEI

E42 @E42_ai

In this piece by @PeopleMatters2, @animeshsamuel , our CEO and Co-founder elaborates on how the #HR sector can bridge the gaps in the areas of #employeeengagement & #employ eeretention by employing #AI workers: #E42 #E42AI #AIatWork #Automation

Planful @Planful

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

Intuit India @IntuitIN

Intuit's Jharna Thammaiah, in conversa tion with @PeopleMatters2, shares her insights on emerging hiring trends, future of work, HR tech solutions, and more

Mave Social @MaveSocial

"Recruitment is one of the core respon sibilities of the HR department, with the hiring team being composed of individu als with the skills to conduct the vetting process."

Read more on how #AI supports the hiring process: via @People Matters2

7September 2022 |
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HR tEc H nolo Gy

HR Tech firm Atlas raises up to $200 Mn in series B from Sixth Street Growth

Atlas, an industry leader in employer of record (EOR) solu tions and technology, has raised series B strategic equity invest ment of up to $200 million from

R Ec Ruit ME nt Tesco plans for India expansion; to hire 1,000 people

British retail giant Tesco has announced its plan to expand its operations in India. As per the announcement, the company will also hire 1,000 people across its technology centres in Bengal uru. According to various media sources, the hiring will be across multiple profiles like software engineers, system engineers, data scientists, product managers, architects, finance experts, and digital transformation and robotic process automation (RPA) experts.

Sixth Street Growth, the growth investing business of global investment firm Sixth Street, to support the company’s continued global expansion. The investment will further enhance the Atlas technology platform, offering more user flexibility through additional self-service and auto mation features, which will enable companies to scale faster, regard less of the number of people they are hiring. The funds will also support software localisation and real-time, in-region customer service support, the company said in a statement on Thursday.

Recruitment platform

Ashby secures $21.5 million in Series-B funding

Recruitment platform Ashby has raised $21.5 million in funding. The Series B round was led by F-Prime Capital with participa tion from Elad Gil, Lachy Groom, Semper Virens, Base Case Capital and Gaingels, bringing Ashby’s total raised to $34.5 million. The latest funding brings the hr tech firm's total capital to $34.5 million till date.

India shows highest (+54%) employment outlook in APAC region: Report

According to the ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey, the global labor market remains strong with steady hiring ex pected for the remainder of 2022. Organisations in the IT industry

Atlassian Corporation to hire over 1,500 employees by end of FY24

Atlassian Corporation, a provider of team collaboration and pro ductivity software and the maker

report the most optimistic Out look (+42%); followed closely by Banking, Real Estate, and Insur ance (+37%). The brightest hiring intentions for next quarter are in Asia Pacific (+40%) and South and Central Americas (+39%), with the greatest expectations in Brazil (+56%) and India (+54%). Employ ers in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) anticipate relatively stable hiring (+21%), yet Outlooks for countries near Ukraine fall by as much as -17% since last quarter.

of Jira, Confluence, Bitbucket and Trello products, announced its plans to recruit over 1,500 new employees by the end of FY24. This is in alignment with the company’s major recruitment drive as the organisation reinforces its commit ment to the India market.

8 | September 2022 qui C k re A ds

E MP loy EE Ex PER i E nc E

According to a new report from Milieu Insight, in collaboration with Intellect, half of employ

co MPE n Sation & B E n E fit S 60% employees seek immediate access to their earned wages: Instant Financial Report

ees across Singapore, Indonesia and The Philippines experience burnout from work at least a few times a month. The results also show that Singapore’s workers are arguably faring the worst when it comes to burnout, with only 57% of Singaporeans rating their mental health to be “good”, “very good” or “excellent”, compared to 68% in Indonesia and 78% in the Philippines.

Wall Street behemoth Goldman Sachs to layoff hundreds

World-renowned banking firm Goldman Sachs is the latest company that has joined the ‘layoff’ bandwagon. According to various media sources, Goldman Sachs plans to cut several hundred jobs this month, a move which may not surprise many. This is because the Wall Street giant has conducted an annual culling cycle before, which has been on pause during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With financial constraints getting hold of the global job market amid the recession fears, a news study conducted by Instant Financial found that 60% of the respondents believe that all employers should offer staff immediate access to their earned wages every day. The study further revealed that 40% of respondents who resigned during the pandemic reported that they could have stayed back in case the would get hands on a portion of their salaries immediately. Another 56% said they probably would have stayed a month to over a year longer in their job if they had access to their earned pay.

New Zealand lifts living wage for lowincome earners

The national living wage in New Zealand has increased to $23.65 an hour, an amount meant to represent how much money each worker needs to fully take part in society. The 2022-2023 rate was based on 68% of the average hourly earnings in the country, which were at $34.76 in June 2021. It is also 90c more than the previous living wage of $22.75 last year. While the new living wage is voluntary for employers, more than 300 companies have already expressed their commitment to pay their workers at least half of the rate.

E MP loy EE ManaGEME nt 35% of firms willing to set up flex office spaces in non-metro cities

Hybrid working continues to be the most preferred workspace strategy, with 63% of the firms currently embracing it, as per a survey of large, mid-sized and small firms conducted by real estate profes sional services and investment management firm Colliers. Firms from the consulting, BFSI, and engineering sectors are at the fore front of adopting hybrid working. Three days a week in the office is the most popular hybrid working style for India Inc, with 26% of the firms preferring this. The survey indicated that this hybrid pattern allows businesses to pursue busi ness goals without hindrances while offering better work-life balance to employees.

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Only 57% of Singapore based employees rating their mental health to be in a “good” state: Report

The decline of the monarchy

– and the weight and splendour given to her funeral proceedings, the monarchy's importance and relevance in the modern world are in question.

Looking at the transitions of the past century, it is clear that although most monarchies around the world have reinvented them selves into a vehicle for amplify ing noble causes and charitable work, very few command political power.

became entwined with the person; and the next head to wear that crown cannot match the former image.

That said, a few of the constitu tional monarchs – notably those who took the throne within the last few decades, and typically those who are head of state for a less influential government – have still been able to build their own base of political support.

Thepassing of Queen Eliza beth II, aged 96, marks a key moment in global politics. She was the longest reigning monarch in modern Britain and perhaps one of the most influ ential in the world. She was 27 when she became Queen and reigned for over seven decades, witnessing the dissolution of the old British empire and the growth of an entirely new world order in the post-war years. Her influence extended well beyond her country even after decoloni sation, with dozens of countries in the Commonwealth of Nations recognising her crown all the way to her deathbed.

But in this century, for all the pop culture acclaim given to the British monarchy – with the late Queen appearing in more than a hundred films and television shows alone, a huge contrast to the discretion surrounding the image of almost every other remaining monarch in the world

In Asia, while a considerable number of monarchs remain, only a handful still have absolute power. Saudi Arabia, Oman and Brunei are among that minority. Most, including Thailand, Japan, Malaysia, Cambodia, Morocco, Jordan, Kuwait and Bahrain, have long since stepped back and assumed the role of constitutional monarchies. They have varied dis cretionary powers and still com mand the deep respect of their people – but they are not rulers as the word was once understood.

Over the last few decades, more over, it has increasingly appeared that the reverence and respect shown to today's monarchies have been attached more to individ ual monarchs, than to the crown itself. After the passing or the abdication of some of Asia's most beloved monarchs, their succes sors have still retained the respect of their people, but have not been able to command the same heights of devotion shown to the former kings and queens. Part of today's challenge, of course, is that the previous monarchs, like the late Queen Elizabeth, reigned for so long, and with such influence, that the institution of the monarchy

But perhaps one of the great est challenges to the role of the monarchy is the combination of capitalism and meritocracy – for all that meritocracy was initial ly conceived as a satirical term. Traditional monarchies, where titles and responsibilities are inherited and can only be accrued by birth or marriage, seem like an institution of the past. In terms of actual power, image and mindshare, or cultural influence, many monarchies have been long since overshadowed by the 'new ruling class' of capitalism: the concentration of wealth and attending political influence that has become an entrenched feature of many modern economies. And in some cases, the monarchy, or at least the associated aristocracy, has merged with that capitalistic concentration such as to become indistinguishable from it.

Now that yet another mainstay of the old monarchy has departed this world, will the remaining socio-cultural influence of the monarchistic tradition continue to hold its shape – or will its sub sumation by modern pressures speed up to the point where some day only the most generic pop culture references remain?

10 | September 2022 qui C k re A ds NewsmAker oF the moNth

G ic'S aM y Hanlonic H i S n o K ia'S n E w o P l E o ffic ER

Telecom giant Nokia has announced the appointment of Amy Hanlon-Rodemich as the new Chief People Officer of the Finlandbased company. Hanlon-Rodemich would also be joining esteemed names like Pekka Lundmark, Nishant Batra and Melissa Schoeb as the newest member of the company's Group Leadership Team. In her new role, Hanlon-Rodemich will be tasked to transform Nokia's HR function to deliver unique, personalised experiences to employees. Her appointment will be effec tive from October 24th 2022.

P a PP oint S B HR i G u j o SH i S di REcto R of G lo Bal PEo P l E initiativ ES St R atEGy

SAP has appointed Bhrigu Joshi as director – global people initiatives strategy and regional director for people initiatives, Asia Pacific & Japan. In this role, Joshi will lead the global strategy for the newly formed people initiatives func tion at SAP. Prior to this appointment, Joshi served as director – HRBP, technol ogy & innovation board area at SAP and led the HR business partnering for technology and innovation board area of SAP in India & Singapore, supporting more than 1700 employees (all developers) and 10 CXOs. He is also the co-lead for Future of Work for SAP in the APJ region.

ERt l a BS a PP oint S Sa MEER Raj Pal a S H u M an ca P ital E ad ER

Global new age deep tech company Bert Labs has

appointed Sameer Rajpal as Bert human capital leader. Rajpal will work closely with the chief executive officer, chief growth officer, and technology leaders to iden tify requirements for new talent. He comes with close to two decades of experience in strategic and innovative human resource management practices, high performing talent acquisition, organisational change management, performance and compe tency-based management in India and in

un ES a PP oint S Matt van ld ERE a S cH i E f P Eo P l E ffic ER

Global cross-border payments company Thunes has announced the appointment of Matt van Geldere as the company’s new Chief People Officer. He will be responsible for leading the global human resources, talent acquisition, training and leadership, and develop ment, as well as building and maintaining company culture, diversity, and inclusion. Prior to joining Thunes, van Gelder served in various global HR and transformation leadership roles at ad-tech giant Criteo. He also had different global and regional HR leadership positions at Easynet Global Services.

i Mon E y a PP oint S

ni M a Ka M at H a S HE ad

o P l E and cultu RE

Bengaluru-based fintech startup Fi Money has appointed Poornima Kamath as head of people and culture. Kamath brings over 20 years of experience in talent and culture transfor mation to Fi Money’s leadership team. She has previously worked in leadership roles at Microsoft and the Indian bottling arm of

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The Coca-Cola Company, where she served as associate vice president and chief diver sity and inclusion officer. Prior to that, Kamath was responsible for leading global teams during her 12-year stint at Micro soft. She has worked across engineering, research, services, and support business groups across APAC, South Africa, and Europe.

P Sin H a join S vE danta lu M iniu M a S c HRo

Dilip Sinha has joined Vedanta Limited's aluminium busi ness as chief human resources officer Sinha, who comes with 24 years of rich experience in the areas of human resource management, will be responsible for heading the entire spec trum of HR responsibilities for the aluminium business of Vedanta in his new role. He joins Vedanta from JSW Steel where he served as senior vice president & headhuman resources. Previously, he worked with Reliance Retail as head of human resources, Rajan Raheja Group as group head & CHRO, ASTARC GROUP as group head (global) HR and Future Group, Mumbai as chief people officer.

uva a PP oint S to M B Rown S c H i E f H u M an RES ou Rc ES offic ER

Cloud data protection provider Druva has appointed Tom Brown as CHRO. Bringing more than 15 years of experience leading human resource organisations to Druva, Brown will focus on empowering a global workforce while ensuring the organisation is best positioned to support the rapidly expanding demand for SaaS-based data resiliency. Brown joins Druva from Coupa, where he was the vice president of global

human resources. He also previously had senior international human resources roles at Automation Anywhere, eBay, and Juni per Networks.

ni Ban ER j EE join S KnowB E4 c H i E f H u M an RES ou Rc ES offic ER

Ani Banerjee has joined KnowBe4, provider of the world’s largest security awareness training and simulated phishing platform, as CHRO. He will oversee KnowBe4’s HR operations across 11 countries and will be responsible for developing new initiatives to enhance the company’s organisational culture, its recruitment channels, and its diversity, inclusion, and equity strategies. Banerjee’s 30 years’ experience in innova tion and global HR leadership has been at Dell, Yahoo and AOL, throughout North America, Asia and Europe. Prior to join ing KnowBe4, he was at VMware for eight years in a variety of international HR leadership roles, which culminated in his most recent one, as the company’s global HR head for SaaS transformation business units.

id R ic K & St Ru GG l ES na MES onat H an McB R id E a S lo Bal M anaG in G Pa Rtn ER of it S d E&i PR actic E

Heidrick & Struggles has appointed Jonathan McBride as global managing partner of the firm's global diversity, equity & inclusion (DE&I) practice. McBride is a former head of the Presidential Personnel Office in the Obama White House. He has also served as the global head of inclusion and diversity at BlackRock where he oversaw the operating committee and held other leadership roles. He joined Heidrick & Struggles in 2021 as a partner in the DE&I practice and chief human resources officers practice, based in Los Angeles.

12 | September 2022 qui C


Dan Ternes

Chief Technology Officer, Blue Prism APAC

How do you see the future of jobs?

Job roles will undergo wholesale changes – how we work, where we work, what our deliverables are, who our colleagues are, what our responsibilities are 2

Impact of automation on these changes?

Enormous – and largely positive at a corporate level and also at an individual level

3 Your thoughts on automation's reputation as a job destroyer?

Wrongly tarnished. It will displace, yes, but also create new roles – the key is realising that automation augments human expertise rather than eliminates its need 4

So the positive impact?

Building a cohesive and productive workforce that positively impacts bottom lines


Top challenges of tech implementation?

Cultural and organisational,

Future-proofing your organisation is an exercise that starts today, not in a few years’ time

redesigning structures and practices and upskilling employees to operate effectively within these new structures – a years-long programme


Top benefits of tech implementation?

Competitive differentiators: enhanced customer experience, new, improved products and services, top-line revenue growth


Role of learning and skilling in tech implementation?

Preparing a workforce for the future of work; ensuring that organisations and their employees keep pace with the rapid rate of changes in the industry


How will productivity look in the future of work?

The collective output generated by the collaboration between human workers and technology, as well as the value added by the augmented workforce


How to actually measure such output?

Qualitative rather than quantitative – much of the “raw output” will be automated and humans will fulfil higher value activities

10 Suggestions for organisations?

The future of work will bear little resemblance to that of the recent past so employers and employees should prepare accordingly

13September 2022 |
t e N q uestio N s i N terview
r A pidF ire

Annick de VAnssAy on how orgAnisAtions Are shAping the future of work

oNe oF the most visible diFFereNCes employers CAN demoNstrAte to tAleNt ANd prospeCtive ClieNts is to improve the physiCAl experieNCe oF the workplACe ANd mAke it A destiNAtioN thAt embrACes hybrid workiNg, CollAborAtioN ANd soCiAlisAtioN. aNNICk DE VaNSSaY, group ChieF humAN resourCes oFFiCer oF sodexo

The most valuable resource for a company is its workforce, and its continued success depends on healthy, motivated employees. This makes it imperative for leaders to make sure that employees feel appreciated and engaged both within and outside of the office. In an interaction with People Matters, Annick de Vanssay, the Group Chief Human Resources Officer of Sodexo, talks about how it is crucial for organisations to create a supportive and connective working environment at work that enhances personal engagement and well-being, and how HR technologies are taking centre stage

in addressing workplace challenges.

Annick de Vanssay, who has held the position of Group CHRO since August 2021 on an interim basis, was officially appointed on April 1st 2022. She leads the global HR function at Sodexo and represents HR on the Executive Committee.

The wave of people leaving their jobs over the past few years is showing no signs of slowing down. What can organisations do to stem the tide of mass exodus and how should they rethink talent management?

COVID-19 has made work more flexible for some, but it has also taken a mental toll

on many employees as they grapple with longer working hours, social isolation and job insecurity, The global prevalence of anxiety and depression has increased by 25% according to the World Health Organisation. In a recent study by the Singapore Institute of Mental Health (IMH), 13% of over 1,000 participants reported symptoms of anxiety or depression during the pandemic.

As the pandemic pushed employees into reconsidering their career priorities, it has fueled the great resignation wave globally. Besides placing greater importance on work-life balance, another often cited reason why employees are

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leaving their jobs was due to work burnout and mental fatigue. Being disconnected from colleagues and friends due to remoteworking arrangements also contributed to the tide of mass exodus.

A company’s most precious resource is its people. Fulfilled, motivated people are the key to a company’s ongoing success, and we need to ensure that employees feel valued and engaged both within and beyond the workplace. As such, organisations need to shift their priorities and develop a workplace environment that is wellsuitable and supported for hybrid working, focus on connecting with employees and improve personal engagements, as well as improving workplace environment to better support the mental wellbeing of employees.

At Sodexo, we provide

success and fight the war for talents.

Human resource technologies — which may cover everything from background checks to benefits to well-being — are progressing at a breakneck pace. What are your thoughts on the current state of HR technology?

wellbeing services that support our diverse employees’ priorities and challenges. These include our professional Employee Assistance Programme, “Sodexo Supports Me”, that provides free, 24-7 confidential counselling to employees and their families when they need it. Our well-being programme also gives our employees access to webinars conducted by professionals to provide our teams with the tools and resources to cope with the various challenges of our new normal.

While organisations have different criteria and search parameters for new hires, together with the shortage of talents, organisations need to start realising that their primary asset is tapping the potentials of existing employees. Upskilling and empowering the current workforce are crucial for organisations to

HR technologies have grown in importance and taken centre stage when it comes to addressing workplace challenges due to the pandemic, with many HR professionals being forced to adapt quickly, using technology to better serve and support remote workers.

Despite the growing importance of HR technology, many organisations still struggle with utilising it effectively and developing a robust and useful HR technology solution remains a challenge. According to a recent study by the HR Research Institute, while almost two-thirds (63%) of respondents say their HR tech supports the organisation’s business goals and strategies well or extremely well, 37% say their tech support goals and strategies only moderately well or worse. Roughly a quarter (27%) complain their HR tech stack doesn’t have enough of the solutions or features they need.

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For organisations to fully utilise the benefits of HR technology, it is important that adequate support and training are provided for a smooth implementation, together with in-house technical expertise.

HR technology ultimately complements the workforce, and thus having the right support plays a key role in maintaining and keeping things going in the workplace.

experience to successfully attract the best talent.

One of the most visible differences employers can demonstrate to talent and prospective clients is to improve the physical experience of the workplace and make it a destination that embraces hybrid working, collaboration and socialisation.

To create a more equitable experience for those working remotely,

Fulfilled, motivated people are the key to a company’s ongoing success, and we need to ensure that employees feel valued and engaged both within and beyond the workplace

How are companies adopting next-generation work tech solutions in the return-to-work phase, with shifting business needs?

Which areas of businesses are organisations deploying the tech the most?

As the world starts to ease back into their normal life pre-pandemic, employees are also adjusting to the return of workplace. This transition period allows organisations to rethink and offers a chance to design a more harmonious workplace environment.

Employers must continue to pay attention to workplace

we also need to focus on employee well-being, to reduce the risks of burnout and fatigue, and allow the autonomy to experiment with new working practices. This is enabled by technical tools and infrastructure to facilitate digital collaboration and communication.

More organisations are adapting physical workspaces and improving the remote working experience to fully embrace hybrid working. This will enable employees to take on different roles, work collaboratively across teams,

and adapt their skills and knowledge to a constantly changing marketplace.

In fact, our in-house research finds that 68% of senior executives believe collaborative workspaces in particular will be more important for employees when a widespread return to the office becomes possible.

It is also important to look at creating a sense of purpose when implementing hybrid workplaces. For instance, remote employees can reduce their personal carbon footprint when commuting decreases. At the same time, to create a more sustainable workplace, smart technology can be used to decrease energy usage.

Technology has emerged as the great enabler, driving business continuity and new ways of working. As such, more business leaders and human resources are involved in this digital revolution to ensure a seamless transition for employees in onboarding these tools and avoiding user fatigue, especially as our reliance on technology is only increasing.

When you look back at work tech solutions that you have deployed over the last two years, what’s working for you in the hybrid world and what needs to change?

With a shift to hybrid

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and remote working over the last two years, productivity applications such as Microsoft Teams and engagement tools such as Kahoot! have been fundamental to supporting our business. Smart glasses that we’ve deployed in places such as Australia also enable us to stay connected with the frontline teams and conduct virtual safety walks.

Specific to HR, we have also increased the number of virtual reality training solutions and mobile on-boarding tools. This allows us to reach a wide spectrum of employees more effectively.

Finally, we are embarking on a substantial overhaul of our HRIS to future proof our business.

How do you see the investment in the HR tech space? What do you look for before investing in HR solutions?

The pandemic has forced an adoption of technology which has touched every corner of the workplace and changed the way we engage, hire and support our employees. For HR executives, the push to leverage technology tools and platforms were already in place – from recruiting and talent acquisitions, to managing employees’ benefits. However, the pandemic has accelerated

the way HR tech is being used in the workplace during the past two years.

Today, the key to attract and retain talent is through a digital environment that provides flexible working arrangements. We will see more organisations plan to decrease their spend on traditional HR technology, and increase investments in more forward-thinking HR technology, such as hybrid-working tools and infrastructures, as well as diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) technology to cater to the demands and needs of employees in a post-pandemic workforce.

At Sodexo, we work with

a large network of startups from around the world to pilot the latest solutions at our sites. By piloting emerging technologies, we get to test their potential impact of new solutions on the client and consumer experience. This way, we are able to make informed investment and deployment decisions and bring the best possible products and services to market.

One of the ways we partner with start-ups is through our Sodexo Accelerators Programme. The programme connects us with local start-ups in the regions and countries we operate to bring new

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HR technology ultimately complements the workforce, and thus having the right support plays a key role in maintaining and keeping things going in the workplace

innovative solutions to meet our business challenges.

HR technology offers a great way to support workplace diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. Do you see a change in how corporations are leveraging work tech to fill those gaps the pandemic brought to the fore?

Once regarded as “nice to have but not critical”, DE&I technology has taken on new importance amidst the pandemic as it has proven and demonstrated its ability to improve overall company’s financial performance.

HR and leaders can leverage modern D&EI technology and tool to spot trends in DE&I practices helping ensure that the initiatives they have in the planning would work and resonates well with employees before implementing it in the workplace. There is also a new focus now for organisations to create transparency around pay equity analytics, removing unconscious bias from hiring using such tools.

The pandemic has changed the workforce entirely and across the globe, we are witnessing serious talent shortage. To overcome this challenge, HR tech allows organisations to hire workers from anywhere around the

world remotely, without having the need to relocate, facilitate easy onboarding by digitalising management tasks. Such tools are also used to streamline recruitment processes, and more importantly, aimed at tackling discrimination by helping to take a lot of human bias out of interviewing.

increase productivity and flexibility, more organisations recognise that redesigning job requirements will ensure operational effectiveness and sustainability in the long run.

The transition towards a hybrid workforce in the next two years will come with more ABW due to

How do you see the adoption of HR tech two years down the line? What are your priorities and new focus areas as we come out of this pandemic with respect to the adoption of HR technology?

In the last two years, we have witnessed the rise of Activity Based Working (ABW) — a concept where employees are provided with a variety of unassigned work settings to support them in their varied activities for the day – due to the pandemic. As a result of lockdown measures imposed across the globe, organisations were forced to implement work from home strategies which have now evolved into hybrid work policies.

With ABW proven to

the demand for flexible working spaces. We expect that more organisations will look at ways to redesign and reinvent their office spaces to be more collaborative, enabled by smart HR technologies, as well as implement strategic measures and tailor their hybrid work arrangements to cater to their business needs whilst scaling down their real estate.

At Sodexo, our employees’ well-being has always been our top priority. Now that the latest COVID wave is beginning to crest in different countries, HR leaders and employers will continue to plan on ways to tackle the great return to the office. Our focus will be on strengthening mental health support in the workplace.

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Today, the key to attract and retain talent is through a digital environment that provides flexible working arrangements

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

For the evolving energy sector, driven by ongoing trends such as digitalisation and sustainability, it is imperative that companies invest in technology and try new strategies to fill the talent shortage when looking at the future of work

The energy sector is going through a massive trans formation.

According to the Inter national Energy Agency, fossil fuels – coal, gas, and oil, the trad itional fuels for power genera tion – will be supplanted by renew able energy, derived from natural sources that are constantly replen ished, as soon as 2026. This development is part of the collect ive efforts of countries to reduce carbon emissions, and also reflects the desire of consumers and corporations to be more respon sible for the world we live in.

The evolution of this indus try includes shaping the future of work and providing exciting opportunities for people joining the sector to embark on a truly exhilarating journey of change.

Joey Kwek, head of division, human resources and corporate services, Senoko Energy, one of Singapore's largest power generation companies (providing about one-fifth of the nation’s electri city needs), says the pandemic has also accelerated the energy tran

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sition and pushed the industry to embrace digitalisation and remote technologies in the form of robot ics, automation, and machine learning, which has resulted in a demand shift for various skill sets.

The types of jobs required in the energy sector are increasingly diversifying into digital and IT spheres, and it is imperative that companies fill the talent short age when looking at the future of work, or else it could become a roadblock, hindering progress in an era of accelerating the energy transition.

While many industries have moved seamlessly into remote working, the energy sector continues to retain much of its on-site workers due to the nature of the industry. “However, flex ible working arrangements in the form of remote working are becoming increasingly import ant for talent retention, and the energy sector will have to adapt accordingly to ensure that we can attract the right talent,” says Kwek.

In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Kwek talks about the challenges of talent attraction and retention in the energy indus try and what the future workplace and workforce will look like for it.

What does the future of work look like in the energy sector?

The new generation of employ ees look for greater flexibility and mobility. Hence, there’s an increasing need for companies in the energy sector to take on a flex ible approach to the talent model and tap into a broader talent ecosystem.

As we prepare for the future of work, it is also about transforming and growing employees by equipping them with the knowledge, skills, and experience that are most valuable for their roles

There is also an increasing pivot towards remote working or hybrid working model for the energy sector which will require equip ping employees with new digital tools and aligning expectations across the organisation. This trend was especially prominent during the pandemic, resulting in remote working becoming the new norm. Hence, the right initiatives need to be in place to protect the well-being of employees and main tain efficiency.

There will always be a need for on-site workers in the energy sector, so leaders will have to know how to create a sense of direction around the work, ener gise employees and empower their teams to maintain productivity.

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The new generation of employees, now more than ever, look for what their employers represent and if this resonates with their principles and personal beliefs

The new generation of employ ees also looks for meaning in their work and if there is an impact on what they do. For the energy sector, it is constantly innovat ing to produce and supply energy through sustainable means.

What are the major challenges faced by the energy sector in recruiting, retaining, and developing talent?

The energy sector can be diffi cult to understand for an outsider, making it less appealing for young graduates and profession als, especially in technical roles such as engineering. Jobs in our industry are often viewed as backend and not glamorous, which makes it a challenge for the industry to attract new talent.

With increasing competition for talent from other industries, the energy sector will need to invest in technology and try new strat egies to overcome the challen ges in talent recruitment and stay ahead of the curve. We will also need to implement initiatives to build a better understanding and appreciation of the sector to attract the right talent.

Developing existing talent through upskilling is more than just providing training. As we prepare for the future of work, it is also about transforming and growing employees by equipping them with the knowledge, skills, and experience that are most valuable for their roles.

Another challenge is that the new generation of employees, now more than ever, look for what their employers represent and if this resonates with their princi ples and personal beliefs.

In the case of power generation companies, with environmental consciousness rising among younger employees, it is impera tive that we make concerted efforts to lower carbon emissions and contribute to a cleaner and greener world.

Whether it is understanding new technologies or helping employees have a better under standing of renewables, organi sational leaders will need to lay the foundation and evaluate the results to prepare themselves for the changing world of work.

What has Senoko Energy done to build a meaningful workplace culture and prepare for the future of work?

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At Senoko Energy, we value a culture of openness and dyna mism. We believe in teamwork and have built a strong culture that encourages cooperation and collaboration across the organisation which is also crucial in the future of work.

In addition to maintaining transparent communications with employees on the company’s business performance, successes, and challenges as part of our efforts to build meaningful workplace culture, we also ensure that leaders foster two-way dialogue through various channels.

Such initiatives will become even more crucial in main taining regular and transpar ent communications as we adapt to changing scenarios. We also collect feedback through formalised channels such as engagement surveys to ensure that the voices of our employees are heard.

We have also implemented a comprehensive Talent Manage ment Programme geared towards nurturing young talents and bridging the gap between age groups within the organisation.

Called Management Competency & Capability Programme, qualified employ ees are selected through a rigor ous process and provided tailormade learning programmes and development opportunities under the mentorship of our senior leaders to accelerate their growth.

Along with competitive remunerations based on merit, opportunities for personal and professional growth, and the focus on new energy solutions

with an eye on the future. During the pandemic, we actively advocated the contri butions of power generation employees by highlighting their hard work and sacrifices that enabled us to have some semblance of normalcy, espe cially during periods of lockdown. Lastly, we recently embarked on a cultural transformation journey aimed at preparing our employees for the future and to be part of the energy transition, which will entail significant changes in the energy sector. To thrive in the energy transition, our employees need to adopt a new mindset of taking charge, being innovative and embracing changes as opportunities for growth.

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To thrive in the energy transition, our employees need to adopt a new mindset of taking charge, being innovative and embracing changes as opportunities for growth

What should you glean from leadership training?

easy for those in the leadership seat to think they're on top everything but they still need to keep themselves up to date! Here are some pointers on what leaders should target when they skill themselves

Two traits of Indian CEOs and senior executives always astonish me when ever we plan a thought leadership event for them. The first is that most of them think they know a topic well by just having seen a short video of it in YouTube – be it Balanced Score card, Discovery Driven Plan ning or Theory of Constraints. The second is that they want to know who else will be attending the event, wondering if people of similar stature are coming, in the absence of which, they will

be construed as not knowing the topic! Learning is not the priority, it seems.

Do Indian business leaders think they don’t need to learn any new skills now that they have reached their level? My friend and our non-profit venture mentor, the late President Kalam used to agree with my view: They probably think no one could be qualified to teach them!

Unfortunately this kind of thinking will lead them to the pinnacle – not of efficiency – but of their inefficiency. Every leader, no matter of what level, abso lutely needs to hone their skills, and all the more so as corporate learning systems lag behind the speed of business. The pandemic has proven that beyond doubt. In the post-pandemic business world, you cannot succeed without new skills.

In a recent article in this maga zine with my esteemed colleague from Stanford, Dr Jeff Pfeffer, we had established why truth is a must for leadership programmes to stick, and not mere motiva tional or inspirational speeches.

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Here in this article, I want to point out a few leadership skills one must acquire from any leadership training.

What's the big deal with leadership training?

Leadership training is a multi billion-dollar industry globally, and yet most of the programmes on the market fail to deliver the essential leadership skills desired. Enterprises routinely seek outside help to hone up the leadership skills of their employ ees at different levels. In fact, if you want to get noticed for a promotion to a higher role, you should have shown some traits of leadership skills at your current position. And, what is a better way than taking a good leadership training course to find out what skills you will need?

Newly minted managers will require a wide range of skills to motivate and manage their teams, yet these skills are seldom if ever taught well in business schools. Furthermore, these skills are not uniform. Each of us needs to discover our unique leader ship style to effectively align with the organisation we lead and to manage leaders who have varied leadership styles.

On top of this, we must remain up to date with the needs of the day. For instance, recent tectonic shifts in businesses have brought back some new aspects of leader ship that were not prominent till recently: for instance, knowledge of psychology, understanding of well-being, and empathy.

And finally, let us not forget the need to set a good example.

Each of us needs to discover our unique leadership style to effectively align with the organisation we lead and to manage leaders who have varied leadership styles

A larger ethical issue amongst Indian business and political leaders is that they don’t walk the talk – but they expect others to do it. For example, you cannot ask your followers to use Indian-made products (even if substandard), while using high-end imported items for your own personal use. Charity begins at home, as the saying goes, but alas, not many leaders follow that.

What should one aim to get out of training?

Whichever trainer or training modules you use to acquire new leadership skills, there are a few things you need to glean from it in order to ensure that you get proper returns on your invest ment of time and money.

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First and foremost, find out your leadership style, or if you already know that, learn how to improve it further. Find out what defines you as a leader.

There are thirteen or so leader ship styles defined by some institutions ranging from auto cratic to visionary (autocratic or authoritative, affiliative, bureaucratic, coaching, democratic or facilitative, delegative, emer gent, pace-setting, servant, stra tegic, transactional, transforma tional and visionary) that cover pretty much all types in existence. Where do you fit in?

While there is no one style that

A good leadership skill is to identify the conflict and have the foresight to resolve it early. Good leadership training should teach how to do this well, but what’s alarming is that over 60% of managers have never received adequate training in this area

will guarantee success in isola tion, depending on the organisation, teams and the situation, different leadership styles will find the desired results. However, I can bet 70% of leaders don’t really know what style they have. Within the same organisa tion, leadership team members will have very different styles. That’s the best example of divers ity bringing success. Different styles will be needed for specific situations. Getting to know your leadership style early will help to build on it further for driving results for your role.

Second, acquire the ability to manage uncomfortable discussions. From firing some one to confronting someone highly political within the organi sation, leaders have the toughest test in confronting and manag ing uncomfortable discussions. Such situations are hard mainly because there is conflict or some sort of misalignment. Avoiding such discussions will normally backfire. A good programme would help you with the right resources to address this critical task. The idea is to have a rational conversation, nurture empathy, use critical thinking and manage emotions to solve the problem in a creative manner.

Third is a related area –conflict management. The American Management Associ ation says, on an average, 24% of a manager’s time is spent on managing conflicts. Any area of business can cause a conflict that can disrupt normal work – and it is not just confined to work places. A good leadership skill

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is to identify the conflict and have the foresight to resolve it early. Good leadership train ing should teach how to do this well, but what’s alarming is that over 60% of managers have never received adequate training in this area. Ask yourself: have you been trained to handle conflicts at work?

Fourth is the skill of building relationships within the team. A Jack Welch may say he need not be loved within GE, but great teams need an engaging leader who has the ability to build working relationships. Teams with good employee engagement have 43% fewer quality defects and 37% less absenteeism. A leader can learn how to share more of self during meetings such as stories of relevant anec dotes from the past, how to really say thank you or hold team build ing workshops, for instance.

Fifth is something the pandemic has brought to prom inence: Being agile and adapt ive. If leaders need one critical thing for the future of work, it is the ability to quickly manage change. A good example is how some companies had quickly miti gated the harsh effects of lockdowns. Being roughly right but fast to act, instead of precise and slow is the new mantra. Ask for resources to help you step out of your comfort zone to make quick decisions, to take responsibility for change, and to walk the talk on agility.

Finally, learn to build mental safety. There are many more essential skills that can be acquired from a leadership train-

Building mental safety is a skill every leader must have in his or her toolbox. Minimising management toxicity at workplaces and building a positive and safe environment for all team members are essential for success

ing programme but this last one is critical in today’s workplaces, where well being is a major demand by the Generation-Z workforce. Building mental safety is a skill every leader must have in his or her toolbox. Minimis ing management toxicity at workplaces and building a positive and safe environment for all team members are essential for success. Only with this can leaders build an environment for employees to thrive, learn, contribute and chal lenge.

Mun EER is the co-founder and chief evangelist at the non-profit Medici Institute. Tweet him @MuneerMuh

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9-5 jobs might be the baseline, but they are no longer the expected norm; the new world of work is open to a far greater variety of arrangements

The technology-powered gig economy brought back a whole slew of casual working arrangements that were once common before industrialisation made nine-to-five hours the norm – work flexibly and only at the times when you are ready to work, work only to earn as much as you need, independ ently choose the tasks that suit you best. While those arrangements had their own pros and cons, many people found them beneficial enough that the gig economy gained broad-based appeal to many work ers.

Incorporating these varied work setups into formal organisational processes has taken longer, though. For example, gig workers had very little legislated support until recently; freelance workers are still often at a disadvantage in contractual disputes with their employers; and even in today’s pro-hybrid environment, organisations are still seldom open to part-time work above the most basic functions or extended forms of flexibility such as the four-day week.

That said, the pandemic made different working arrangements more of a necessity than an unusual option. And even now that economies are reopening, the idea lingers that non-standard arrange ments are not just workable, but benefi cial, especially in the present environ ment of skill shortages and talent attrition.

One immediate question then is: what

arrangements are suitable for the new world of work? How would these make an organisation more attractive as an employer? Two demographics are of particular interest here: next-generation talent who are keen on flexibility and highly accepting of unorthodox work ing arrangements, and those who may have reached a life stage where they hope for the space to give their personal and family life as much attention as their work. What can organisations implement to better meet their needs?

Following on that is the question of how organisations can carry out that implementation. It is a multi-function task, even if done only in a single department. Processes will have to be over hauled – pay, performance, administra tion, even simple things like attendance. Digital systems may have to be changed; office setups may have to be reviewed. And of course, culture and mindsets will have to be brought up to date with these changes even before the organisation can begin. It’s a double question: what practi calities need to be attended to, and how can the changes be best managed?

In this month’s cover story, we explore how widespread new work arrangements have become and the prospects for their gaining further traction. We look into issues of implementation and change management, and consider the impact on engagement and employer branding, among other aspects of work.

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Will we see a shift from ‘Days Off’ to ‘Days On?

The battle for top talent has caused many employers to revisit work arrangements. Here, we take a look at how work mindsets are shifting to accommodate arrangements such as flex time, remote work locations, paid time off, alternative work schedules, and other options


people working in different modal ities, many human capital leaders are striv ing to revise the policies, practices, and rules asso ciated with work arrange ments. Recently, I travelled to Northern Europe and one of my connecting flights was cancelled. As a result, I had the opportunity to spend several quality hours in the airport lounge where I overheard this conversa tion:

Staff (Voice from the speaker phone): “Boss, I am not feeling well, so I will not be at work today.”

Boss (in the lounge): “But you work from home, so you are at work already.”

Staff: “Yes, but I don’t feel well.”

Boss: “Are you going to the hospital? Is this a serious condition?”

Staff: “No, I think I just need to rest at home.”

Boss: “ You can rest while working! The bottom line is that you are already at work and since you can have this conversation with me, then you are capable of working. Have a good day at work! Goodbye.”

This exchange exemplifies a slew of changing expectations for work arrangements. New questions are emerging such as: Does someone working remotely still have access to the use of sick days? That in turn gives rise to other questions such as: What is the difference between going away on holiday and working from a different location? – or what does it mean to be ‘At work?’

Traditional employ ment models often include parameters for performing work activities that often specify the work arrangements. For example, a newly hired engineer work

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ing in a manufacturing plant after university may be provided with several paid holidays, a set number of days of personal holiday, and perhaps a small number of sick days. More recently, employers are bundling these into a general category of Paid Time Off (PTO) days. In other words, we are expected to be at work on normal days except for ‘Days Off.’

The global skills shortage and the battle for top talent has caused many employers to revisit work arrangements such as flex time, remote work locations, paid time off, alternative work schedules, and other options. Given the changes in work modalities and flex ibility, how might the nature of work and work arrangements evolve in the future?

A page out of history

To consider the impact on work arrangements, we might take a lesson from

In the historic ‘Pay for Output’ work arrangement model, there were no holidays, no work hours, no vacation days, and certainly no specified weekends

history. The modern form of employment and nature of a ‘Job’ took shape in the late 1800s as companies became larger and mass manufacturing began. Even tually, the concepts related to working hours, weekends, benefits, and work arrange ments were formalised as management and labour unions evolved. If we take a step back to the forms of work before this time, we would find a ‘Pay for Output’ or piece-rate arrangement.

In other words, instead of paying a set wage, a worker would be compensated for the number of pieces or parts produced.

In the historic ‘Pay for Output’ work arrangement model, there were no holi days, no work hours, no vacation days, and certainly no specified weekends. Instead, the work arrange ments were managed by the worker. We still see examples

of this model in some occu pations. University profes sors are a good example. Typically the university will require a professor to teach several courses and have expectations for research output along with some level of service that benefits the university and/or soci ety. For professors in most research institutions, there are no days off or vacation days – there are only expect ations for ‘Days on’ (teaching days, graduation, occa sional meetings, etc.).

Of course, this ‘Days on’ model may only be appro priate for some professional occupations, yet it may provide some ideas as we consider new work arrangements.

'Days off' to 'Days on'

As the war for talent continues in many geographic locations and industry sectors, will we see

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This approach requires some clarity in the value, time, and complexity of tasks to create a fair work arrangement

more organisations change work arrangements from ‘Days off’ to ‘Days on’? The recent rise of gig or contingent work and the increased adoption of remote work provide a strong case for this shift. In the infor mation technology area, for example, leaders may have the option of hiring contractors or gig workers for specific output such as programs, applications, or interfaces. They would also have the option of hiring employees based on trad itional work arrangements.

A potential new emerging option is a blend of both

where the business hires the employee with annual targets for output (the ‘Days on’ approach), instead of traditional models based on work hours. This approach requires some clarity in the value, time, and complex ity of tasks to create a fair work arrangement, yet holds potential in some profes sions and industries.

The ”Days on” work arrangement concept may seem radical in some contexts and would only be possible in organisations with cultures anchored in trust. Yet, the evidence based on the future of work

would suggest that we might see more of a shift in this direction.

Revisit assumptions

The challenges associated with finding and retaining key talent as the future of work models evolve are pressing human capital leaders to reconsider work arrangements. In doing so, it seems prudent to revisit the assumptions we have about employment, challenge the conventional systems, and consider trials for new work models. At the same time, we are all in the process of learning and explor ing and as we experiment and research various work arrangement approaches, the concept will slowly refine. By challenging convention, I hope that we will see human capital lead ers emerge with a stronger, more holistic perspective with new ideas to engage talent in the organisation for competitive advantage.

In my future visits to airline lounges, I don’t expect to find fewer people voicing out work discus sions on speakerphone, but perhaps we might find that the boss-staff conversations will be more about the work, rather than concerns about the details of work arrangements.

About the Author

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P Rof ESS o R Ric H a R d S M it H is Vice Dean, Corporate and Global Partnerships at the Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School.

Getting hybrid work right

Productivity and engagement will continue to be a concern in all work models – are people managers prepared to address these? anjali chatterjee, Chief Human Resources Officer at AirAsia India, elaborates on how leaders can make these work for everyone in the most common of the new working arrangements, the hybrid model

The pandemic has brought on a range of changes in work paradigms, including new ways to recruit, engage, and retain workers while providing them with the value and purpose they now expect. For companies to compete for talent, they must find flexible solutions that help all workers.

People Matters had a freewheeling conversa tion on this challenge with Anjali Chatterjee, Chief Human Resources Officer at AirAsia India. Anjali is a global talent management professional with over 30 years of experience and her key focus is to facilitate the creation and deployment of effective people strategy in line with business strat egy. Her portfolio includes companies such as Tata Communications, LG Elec tronics, and Jet Airways.

Some companies are going fully remote and some organisations are betting big on their hybrid plans. How do you see these new modes of work shaping the future of work?

After years of all of us working from an office set-up, we suddenly transi tioned to Work From Home (WFH) due to the pandemic,

and WFH had its positives and also its own challen ges from an individual and organisational point of view. Human beings, at their core, are social creatures, and at work, it is always more engaging to collaborate. So, while many organisa tions are going fully remote, I personally think that the hybrid model is here to stay. This gives people the flexibility they want along with corporate social interactions. For organisations, it gives them the opportunity to further focus on engage ment and well-being while providing flexibility; and to provide a work environment that is supportive, product ive, and flexible. This also helps us better manage our environmental impact and align with the organisation's sustainability goals.

The hybrid work style that most organisations have adopted is fraught with challenges, including engagement and trust issues. What according to you are the key questions that leaders need to address to make the hybrid model work for everyone?

The key questions to making hybrid models work for employees and organisations are:

• How well are people

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The last two years have been a lesson in understanding that we are emotional human beings at our core

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managers prepared to manage work and produc tivity and engagement in this hybrid model?

• Do managers possess the skills to manage a work force?

• Can they build trust and inclusion?

• Can they communicate well?

• Can they drive focus, accountability, and productivity?

• Can they continue to maintain or further create a strong culture of creativity and innova tion?

• Can they move from the culture of counting the number of hours in the office to an outcomedriven and high-perform ance culture?

People are quitting at record levels, according to a McKinsey report on the great attrition. In India, more than 60% of respondents expressed a desire to leave their current posts. Is India ready for this?

No one can ever be ready for this great attrition. The pandemic has made people rethink their priorities. No longer are they willing to burn their candles at both ends and work very long hours. They are rethinking their goals and aspirations and are looking for better benefits, flexibility, and well-being for themselves and their family.

So, how are you attracting and retaining talent at AirAsia India?

We continue to focus on our culture while making it fun and very engaging. At the same time, the focus on health and wellness continues to rise; and of course, we have like any other organisation started on a flexible culture while continuing to focus on productivity; which will help us in our talent attrac tion and retention.

What has changed in AirAsia India over the last two years of disruption in terms of talent management, EVP and business priority?

I will divide this into two parts:

1. Bringing in a higher level of empathy and "humane ness" in our interactions with all the people around us. The last two years have been a lesson in

understanding that we are emotional human beings at our core and look for kindness and empathy from all people around us, both person ally and professionally. I really feel the change in myself and all my colleagues. 2. There has been a huge jump in adoption of tech nology—which helps us plan our personal and professional lives in a much more efficient way, giving us time for other important things, be it personal wellness or professional development

How do you raise this level of empathy and humaneness as a senior HR leader? How do you measure progress?

This question is close to my heart and I have been working on further improv ing my level of empathy as a leader.

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I tried many ways, but what worked for me is reverse mentoring. I get my team members to give me feedback on a regular basis. More importantly, when they do feel I need to show more empathy at that particular time or during that meeting they just nudge me via a message or via sign language which I immediately pick up. This has helped me immensely and again via feedback I get to know if I am improving.

What skills should HR leaders equip themselves with? What are the top areas that HR needs to focus on?

• Business & Commercial Acumen

• Understanding finance and financial structures and how business is done • Ability to work with key stakeholders, i.e., customers, shareholders, and senior management and boards

• In-depth knowledge of data and analytics; how to make data-driven business decisions.

• Understanding the future of technology and bringing in technology solu tions to support business success

Where do you see HR functioning five years down the line? What would be their key focus areas? HR roles will become very diversified and there

HR roles will become very diversified and there will be an emerging class of specialists to support business success

will be an emerging class of specialists to support business success. A lot of standard processes will be outsourced. Some roles I can visualise in the immedi ate future are Head Benefits, Head Data Analytics, Chief Wellness & Happiness Offi cer, Head of Skills & Talent Development, Employee Relationship Manager (like we have CRM in Market ing), and HCM Digital Direc tor. The key focus areas will move to business success rather than just HR alone. HR heads will be asked to contribute to the business in this new, highly techno logical, and ever-trans forming business world.

What’s your leadership style? Has anything changed about it in the last two years?

I am listening to employ ees and taking more notes— and reverting at the right time. Have developed a greater sense of compas sion and empathy by priori tising humility and respect for everyone. Well-leadership styles do certainly change as our environment chan ges and we also evolve with time; and the last 2 years have made me into a "Servant Leader," wherein I am putting the needs of others first and working towards enriching them, while at the same time being purposeful and focus sing on business goals.

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Is moonlighting an idea whose time has come?

New work arrangements are one thing; but can organisations take that further step to reimagine age-old employment contracts and enable arrangements such as moonlighting, rather than pushing it back in the post-pandemic world?

Industry experts offer some perspectives


ces giant Wipro, last week revealed that the company terminated 300 employees after finding out that they were working for one of its competitors at the same time.

He had termed moon lighting, or the practice of taking up extra jobs or multiple work assignments outside while working full time with an organisation, usually without the employ er's knowledge, a complete violation of integrity "in its deepest form".

Moonlighting has taken the IT industry by storm with major players coming out strongly opposing the practice, calling it unethical, cheating and a violation of integrity.

Premji also sparked a debate last month by tweet ing his view on the prac

tice. “There is a lot of chatter about people moonlighting in the tech industry. This is cheating - plain and simple,” he tweeted, leading to another round of chatter on social media among professionals on the issue.

Weeks after Premji’s tweet, another IT major, Infosys, echoed similar sentiments and warned its employees that moonlighting could lead to termination. IBM followed suit, making it clear that moonlighting, as a prac tice, is not ethical and the company does not promote such behaviour at the work place.

"All of our workers when they are employed, they sign an agreement which says that they are going to be working full-time for IBM. So moonlighting is not ethically right for them to get into,” said Sandip Patel, managing director, IBM India.

In sharp contrast to the

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staunch opposition of big firms, we then see food delivery start-up Swiggy's latest employee-first ‘Moonlight ing Policy’ which – subject to approvals – allows its employees to pick up gigs or projects beyond work that add to their professional and mental well-being.

However, just because the policy is named for moon lighting doesn't mean it actually enables moonlighting, say observers: there is a difference between a Swiggy driver working for Amazon vs a software engineer working for the same client through two companies.

“The idea of a Swiggy rider also working for Amazon or an Uber driver also driving for Ola is NOT moonlighting! They are all gig workers. Moonlight ing is when an individual employed by a company also does paid gigs for others,” says Hari TN, co-founder, Artha School of Entrepreneurship, author and an angel investor.

Is it harmful, or not?

Employers' perspective on the issue of moonlighting is divided. Whereas some regard it as cheating/deceit ful and, therefore, unethical, others do not see much harm, provided that the free lance project, or second job, does not impact the employ ee’s productivity or involve cross-leveraging of confi dential data.

“Consequently, based on business requirements, including confidentiality and intellectual property rights (IPR) issues, an emer gence of company policies that are either restricting moonlighting and dismiss ing defaulting employees from service, or allowing their employees to take up internal or external gigs, is being observed,” says Minu Dwivedi, partner at corpor ate law firm JSA.

Rohitash Gupta, an ex-CFO at an NSE500 firm, feels the noise against moon

Rajeev Chandrashekhar recently.

While addressing an event of the Public Affairs Forum of India (PAFI) in September, Chandrashekhar said this is the age of employee-entrepreneurs and the corporates, and companies must now understand there has been a structural shift in the minds and attitudes of the young Indian tech workforce. “The days when employees signed up with big tech majors and spent their lives on the job are long gone.”

Chandrashekhar added

The noise against moonlighting is just the latest expression of the same age-old struggle – old gen versus new gen, an attempt to tilt power in favour of the already powerful, maintain status quo, and so on

lighting is just the latest expression of the same age-old struggle that human history is filled with - old gen versus new gen, an attempt to tilt power in favour of the already power ful, maintain status quo, and so on.

“We know who will silently lose this battle, but employ ers are probably delaying accepting the defeat,” he adds.

Moonlighting also found support from union minister of state for electronics and IT and skill development

that today’s youngsters have every sense of confidence and purpose about want ing to monetise and create more value. So, the efforts of companies that want to pin their employees down and say that you should not work on your own start-up are doomed to fail.

“Any captive models will fade. Employers expect employees to be entrepre neurial while serving them. The same people can apply it personally to themselves," he said, adding that a time will come when there will

37September 2022 | C over story

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be a community of prod uct builders who will divide their time on multiple projects. Just like lawyers or consultants do. "This is the future of work."

He, however, agreed that moonlighting should not be in violation of any contrac tual obligations.

What does the law say?

Moonlighting in all formsanother full-time job, parttime job or side hustle – has been clearly prohibited in most employment contracts present today and the law backs these up.

“In India, certain statutory provisions provide for exclu sive service and impose restrictions on double employment such as the Delhi Shops and Establish ments Act, 1954, the Factories Act, 1948, and the Industrial Employment (Standing Orders) Central Rules, 1946. Further, restrictive covenants in employ ment contracts which are intended to operate during the subsistence of an employee’s employment are also enforceable under the Indian laws. Hence, the contractual provisions against moonlighting will be enforceable by employ ers against a defaulting employee,” Dwivedi says.

Industry experts say most of the employment contracts prevailing today are the remnants of age-old one-sided agreements

in favour of employers. Employees have no choice but to sign these blindly because they have no power left once they have accepted a particular job offer.

“Without taking the cover of an unfairly drafted employment contract, can a company come out and say that what their employ ees do during their spare time is a violation of a contract? And then expect that employees will continue to give their best and not consider forming employee unions?,” contends Hari in an article in Founding Fuel.

“When a client pays a services provider, like say Wipro, for 8 hours of an employee’s time, is it fair for Wipro to prevent that employee from doing what she wishes to do beyond the 8 hours? Even in outcomebased contracts, is it fair for a company to say that their employees are not allowed to

do what they want to do in their spare time? Even after returning home from work, is an employee not allowed to indulge in her passion for painting and putting up her paintings for sale at an art gallery? Will Wipro determine what she does over the weekend and in her timeoff? Does this constitute moonlighting?” he asks.

Current practices vs fears around moonlighting Gupta says to be able to guess the future of moon lighting, one needs to look at what happened to all the other sacrosanct legal clauses in the same one-sided employment contract – e.g. confidenti ality, protection of IP, no conflict, non-solicit, and non-compete.

He notes that any employee who is changing jobs starts searching for a job on an average of six

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months before actual resig nation. In other words, while employed, they are giving interviews in competing firms, potentially shar ing confidential knowhow gained at the current employer.

Most junior to mid-level employees invariably join a competitor within the non-compete period and then most successful startup founders did side hustle and their unicorns were born while they were employed in large firms.

A leading example, he says, is Steve Jobs, after having a dispute with John Scully, created a compet ing company called Next by poaching Apple employees. "There goes non-solicit, IP and non-compete clauses of today."

tors (probably the highest governing role in a public company) are allowed to be running their own full-time business and be independ ent directors in seven public firms and many more private firms – are their attention, and interest not divided? he asks.

Gupta also says that employers themselves hire contract staff for the same job roles for which they concurrently hire fulltime employees and many times pay much higher. Since contract staff are not explicitly barred from taking up other jobs, such employers are definitely not averse to the concept of moonlighting. It is just that they want it to happen on their watch, want it to control it and allow it when

Independent directors are allowed to run their own full-time business and be independent directors in seven public firms and many more private firms – are their attention, and interest not divided?

The Ambanis, Musks and Adanis create new compan ies every now and then and successfully run those companies in parallel and are seen as visionaries, says Gupta, adding that nobody tells them that their atten tion will be divided. Independent direc

it suits them.

“Employers are aware that their sacrosanct employment clauses have been blatantly violated every single day by count less seemingly powerless employees and yet they refrain from taking legal action for good busi

ness reasons. Name-calling such people as cheating is a preposterous knee jerk reaction and neither explains the business problems of moonlighting nor paves the way for a mutually accept able solution,” he contends.

For example, when a client-vendor dispute arises, most mature business people sort it through negotiation and make a contrac tual amendment to effect the revised understanding and neither go to the media call ing each other cheats, nor move courts for contrac tual breach, he says, recom mending that organisations need to deal with this issue in a mature way while keep ing the future in mind.

What should a sound moonlighting policy look like?

Hari says companies can establish a few reasonable restrictions on what their employees can or can't do. For instance, they can say that disclosure of confiden tial information is unacceptable. Working for a set of named competitors is unacceptable. And employ ees must give a certain number of defined hours to the company, say 45 hours a week.

Beyond that, what employ ees do is none of their business, nor should an employee have to disclose this – such would be a violation of an employee's

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privacy rights, he believes.

Gupta lobbies for the need to evolve mutually beneficial solutions. Just like whistleblowers get protection in most companies, similar protection should be given to people who disclose their other gigs.

“This will allow compan ies to know about any poten tial conflicts etc and assert some degree of control. Employers can also give option to full time employees to move to fixed term or part-time contract if they

ment platform Advan tage Club says that from a policy framework, all risks in COEBC (Code of Ethical Business Conduct) must be covered.

“There are some deal breakers such as breach of non-compete, working during stipulated hours, data security, IT or other assets misuse, cross-sell ing (selective), perform ance dropping, POSH and many other aspects which we would cover to maintain a good working culture. On

Beyond defined hours, what employees do is none of their business, nor should an employee have to disclose this – such would be a violation of an employee's privacy rights

are found doing other undis closed non-conflicting gigs. Companies who want to prohibit moonlighting at all costs can surely do so but should set an example at the top to earn a moral right. The board of directors and CXOs should not take up any role or pecuniary inter est in unrelated companies or businesses. Companies should think hard on how to achieve the goal of paying per output and outcomes rather than a mere number of hours,” he adds.

Raj Tanwar, chief strat egy officer and HR head at global employee engage

the softer aspects, we must provide excellent support on factors like well-being and educate on how to balance it or deal with health impacts as deemed fit,” he adds.

Gupta feels newer and smaller organisations with a hunger to differen tiate themselves against the powerful large compan ies will change their poli cies first to accommodate moonlighting, albeit with some degree of control and oversight. However, larger companies may be the last to accept it and will first spend most of their energies in lobbying with regulators,

setting legal precedents etc.

Among the labour law reforms that are in the pipeline, the Occupational Safety, Health and Work ing Conditions Code, 2020 imposes a restriction on double employment in a factory and mine.

“However, the draft Model Standing Orders for the Services Sector, 2020, which will be applicable to the IT sector too, while retaining the provision on 'exclusive service' goes a step ahead by enabling workers to take up an additional job/assign ment with their employ er’s prior permission and subject to conditions, if any, imposed by their employer,” Dwivedi says.

Critical considerations for HR leaders HR leaders should not think like lawyers and should start to think like fellow employees and humans doing justice to the word "human resources", says Gupta.

“The framing of the question needs to change from 'moonlighting is cheating' to 'moonlighting is an issue for my business because....' or 'will moonlighting be called cheating a decade ahead?' - such alterna tive framing of the prob lem will pave the way for a mutually beneficial future. Critical considerations while permitting moon lighting are giving employ

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ees fair choices, protecting confidentiality, respecting personal time and privacy, and measuring productivity for the pay to be able to say whether it works for them or not,” he adds.

Tanwar says that after all the negativity around contractual, part-time, retainers, and gig work ers, they finally had to be accommodated anyway. The same is true for moonlight ing. “Accept it today rather than being late and use it to your advantage to create a strong EVP and stand out as an employer of choice. It's in your hand whether you see it as a threat or as an opportunity,” he advises.

He feels, in fact, that it is the need of the hour.

“Encompassing all perspectives, we have to work on a framework to enable it rather than push ing it back. Also, not every one will be adopting moonlighting in the same way as not everyone is a part of the gig or contractual work force. Still, we have robust frameworks to enable such types of employment or engagements. In the same way, we need to find ways to allow/enable moonlighting.

“For a minute, we have to think of moonlighting as a concept to fulfill our dreams, not as a medium to earn money only i.e. there are loads of people with different passions, but due to parental pressure, they

adopt another career. So today if they wish to live their dreams again and can make some money too, why not? It does add up to make a great place to work,” he adds.

And Hari thinks it may be not just an opportunity, but a necessity eventually.

“It's an idea whose time has come. Mindsets need to change. If a company sticks to old fashioned ideas in a new world, it will fail to attract talent,” he points out.

Finally, HR leaders should keep an eye on how existing legislation interacts with considerations around moonlight ing. Firstly, data privacy acts may make it impos sible for employers or any institution to know what their employees are doing outside their job. For example, employers

may not be able to charge employees for misrepresentation about their moon lighting gig in a court of law if the employee invokes the Fifth Amendment in the US or uses rights given in the Indian Constitution under article 20(3).

Secondly, what is the the definition of "full time"? Legally in most jurisdic tions, it is defined by a minimum number of hours a week (30 in the US, 35 in Singapore, 45 in India). This runs counter to the 24x7 control hinted at by restrictions in employment contracts. Will this even tually create a viable legal challenge to such restric tions? It's hard to tell. But ex-CFO Gupta has some final words on the matter.

“Best is to work with the trend to be able to shape the future rather than work against it,” he suggests.

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Transitioning towards formality: How do we break down informal work arrangements?

The state of the informal workforce across the Asia Pacific has become increasingly of concern in these uncertain economic times. At the United Nations Responsible Business and Human Rights Forum, APAC held this September in Bangkok, representatives from the government, businesses, trade unions, civil society and international organisations came together to discuss the challenges in this transition and the strategies for leading this shift

After multiple disrup tions across the business landscape, especially during and post-pandemic, it is all the more critical to address the informal economy – an enormous sector sprawling across the entire APAC region, comprising some of the most vulnerable popu lations in multiple coun tries. These workers have no protections and no guar antee that their employ ment or even basic human rights will be upheld. For the sake of humanitarian ism, legal and social interventions are greatly needed to help them transition from the informal to the formal sector; to promote the creation, preservation and sustainability of formal sector jobs that can take these workers in; and to prevent the informalisa tion of formal sector jobs that might displace new segments of the workforce.

In 2015, the Inter national Labor Organiza tion adopted Recommenda tion 204 on formalising the informal economy, ’ build

ing upon the 1977 Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy (MNE Declara tion). This recommenda tion provides guidance for ILO member states to uplift their informal workforce. However, the pandemic has delayed or set back many efforts.

At the United Nations Responsible Business and Human Rights Forum, APAC held this September in Bangkok, representatives from the government, busi nesses, trade unions, civil society and international organisations came together to share lessons learnt and strategies that can help address the challenges of vulnerable populations and businesses in the informal economy.

Reports cited by the panellists at the session on ‘Combatting Informality and Spurring Formal Employ ment to Achieve Decent Work and Social Justice’ showed the concerning situ ation wherein more than 68% of the workforce is

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employed in the informal sector across the APAC region. In certain countries, such as India, the rough estimate goes up to 90%, while in Bangladesh, it is 85.1%. What makes these numbers concerning is how vulner able these populations continue to be, absent from policies that protect their socioeconomic rights and offer them reliance during times of distress like the pandemic. It becomes urgent then for social dialogues comprising representatives of various stakeholders plus businesses and workers in the informal sector to come together and chart an alter nate, equity drive, inclusive, rights respective future of work.

Key challenges that need to be addressed for sustained transition to formalisation

One of the primary challenges in designing poli

cies and interventions for the informal workforce is the limited understand ing of their lived experiences. Several intersectional identities from lens beyond informality, such as gender, caste, religion, region, migrant status and more, come in when we have to understand why and how they became part of the informal workforce. And this larger intersectional ity has to be front and centre in leading these transitions across the APAC.

Secondly, although this primarily concerns MNCs, the supply chain trace ability when it comes to the informal workforce is

quite complex; there are so many mediators in between at different levels in the organisational system that pose a definite challenge, and we have to acknowledge the impact of the g aps these create. Finally, the compli ance narrative backed by auditing tools and tech nologies doesn’t recognise or address the impact on human rights and access to social justice in the informal workforce. It’s troubling that businesses are often more concerned about cross ing off the tick boxes in the compliance checklist rather than realising the more human purpose of this tran sition to formalisation.

One of the primary challenges in designing policies and interventions for the informal workforce is the limited understanding of their lived experiences

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Employment formalisation v/s enterprise formalisation

When leading projects for transition to formalisation in the APAC countries, it was found that employment formalisation and enter prise formalisation each had their unique context that was critical to breaking down the overall informal work arrangements. What’s common between the two is the need to address gaps in policies and governmental frameworks at every level, from the province and state to the nation. Also common is empowering both employ-

transition. The employ er’s perspective is equally critical, and accessibility must be created to navigate complex formal processes from business registration to license application.

The SME & MSME factor in the world of informality

When addressing the unique challenges of enterprise formalisation, it often concerns emerging SMEs and MSMEs. Coming back to the compliance narrative, for SMEs and MSMEs, it gets challenging because it hampers their costs, time, and sustainability in the



With 1.2 billion jobs dependent on the ecosystem, the future of work also needs to account for the unpredictability of the natural environment

ees and employers in the informal sector to recognise the need for and the benefits that can yield from formal work arrangements. However, when it comes to employment formalisa tion, opportunities for social dialogues with stakehold ers as well as empowering their agency and creat ing opportunities for advo cacy and participation in trade unions need to happen. For enterprises, the cost of formalisation needs to be accounted for, and the role of government develop mental assistance in this

business landscape. Moreover, it shifts their gaze from the purpose and mission behind actually shifting to the formal economy; it becomes imperative to constantly expose them to the values and benefits of formal work ing arrangements. Moreover, another chal lenge that adds to the complexity and costs of formalisation for these emer ging enterprises is the power dynamics between them and the buyers at the upper rungs of the supply chain. Finally, what’s been seen is that SMEs and MSMEs are

the takers rather than the markers of solutions for protecting the rights of the informal workforce. This lack of agency is often part of the complex transition to formalisation, which is why this process must be relooked at repeatedly to ensure that the outcomes are rights respective, equitable and inclusive.

Emerging informal spaces: Climate change and the gig economy

With 1.2 billion jobs depend ent on the ecosystem, the future of work also needs to account for the unpredict ability of the natural environment. The informal workforce bound to be affected by climate change and its associated policies include those working in agriculture, fisheries and other ecosystem-dependent jobs; those leading sustain able practices such as waste management and building green infrastructure; and those in jobs and services that contribute to pollution at present. One must look into the workforce and the impact on the communities they serve, how to address the exploitative work condi tions, the informal workers' agency, and the need to build agile, adaptable working practices.

Coming to the gig econ omy, which emerged due to the hyperconnected world, two sections of the workforce are informalised to some

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extent. One is the web-based workers who carry out their responsibilities only over the digital medium, while the other section includes the platform workers who have to carry out their servi ces in person. Both these parties often face chal lenges of low pay and no representation, and these emerging informal workers also need to be paid heed to by policymakers.

The way forward in leading the transition from informal to formal working arrangements

Having outlined the context and the challenges to real ising the mission of ILO Recommendation 204 and the MNE declaration, the following are the critical steps that panellists recom mended, having learned from their experiences in the field working with differ ent stakeholders and differ ent informal workers and enterprises across the APAC region:

• An integrative, social dialogue-driven approach recognising the needs and concerns of all stake holders from the govern ment, businesses, trade unions, civil society and international organisa tions and most import antly informal workers and enterprises.

• Addressing policy gaps in governmental frameworks that concern formalisa tion by ensuring all

clauses and processes are clarified, and there is a clear division and under standing of responsibil ities at the state and local levels of enforcement.

• Empowering the agency and opportunities for advocacy by the informal workforce by increas ing accessibility to trade union participation and leading workshops that generate awareness on what entails formal work arrangements.

• Investing in upskilling and reskilling initiatives aligned to the industry demand by partnering with businesses so that the informal workforce can easily pick up jobs in the formal sector and increase productivity.

• Leading capacity-building workshops for enterprises in the informal sector so they can easily transition to the formal sector and navigate complex govern

ment processes. In addition, developmental assist ance needs to be offered to reduce and manage the costs of formalisation.

• Facilitating formal job creation by providing consistent support to existing and emerging businesses to preserve and create employment opportunities. However, these are only beginner steps to this tran sition towards the formal economy as the process comes with its own complexity, shifting shapes across regions and commun ities. Recognising the broad trends, the core values and some of the successful strat egies can play a fundamen tal role in reimagining your approach to breaking down informal work arrangements and becom ing a meaningful player in the fight for the rights and social justice of the informal workforce.

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Strengthening the hybrid work culture

Regardless of working arrangements, employee experience remains a key part of talent management –and it is in fact all the more important as we transition away from the traditional nine to five office setup and toward more flexible, diverse working styles, says andy Ponneri, Senior Vice President and Business Leader, Synchrony in India


Ponneri is Senior Vice President and

Business Leader for financial services company Synchrony in India. A seasoned professional with more than 20 years of experience, Andy began his career with Ram Kaashyap Investments Limited in Hyderabad, India, as a Management Trainee in 1994. He later joined GECIS (a financial services unit of the American multi national conglomerate GE) as a Process Associate. At GE, Andy was a part of the pilot team which initiated the Call Center business in India. He has grown his career by taking on critical and broadening experi ences while continuing to deliver a strong perform ance. Known for his caring leadership style, Andy believes that “Happy people make great workplaces.”

In an exclusive conversation with People Matters, he shares how Synchrony prioritises employee flex-

ibility and choice through its talent management strategies that are ready to balance employee needs and the need for business growth and success.

Here are some excerpts.

What emerging talent trends have redefined Synchrony’s people strategies and policies?

We had seen that before the pandemic, the work hours were limited to the 9 to 5 routine, but during and post-pandemic, we found that employees have gotten increasingly used to the flexible ways of working. Flexibility also allowed them the oppor tunity to put more of their life into the work they do as they got to spend more time with their families. So, inevitably, employee flex ibility and choice became two driving factors, and we had to incorporate that into the business strat egy as well. After all, we attempted to balance meet-

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ing employee needs while ensuring the business continues to be successful.

As a result, post this transition, we have declared ‘New Way of Working’, which was all about ensuring a set-up where every one had the freedom to work from home. Now, we’re also setting up our regional engagement hubs across India which we have divided into five regions: north, south, east, west and central. The intention is to try and get people to meet wher ever they are and get the flavour of the work culture of Synchrony.

As employee experience becomes synonymous with talent management today, what are your key focus areas when redesigning employee experience for the new world of work?

We started to change a lot of our employee policies since the onset of the pandemic, and one of the things we focused a lot on is our employee wellbeing, both mentally and physically. Even though we did lose some of our team members to the pandemic, what I loved about our company was how driven we were to go out of our way to help our people in need, be it through giving off-days, financial support or strength ening our connections with them as we all went through this challenging time experiencing several difficult situ ations. In other countries, we have seen salaries cut, and we never did any of that because our focus was always the well-being of our people.

But a burning question today is, ‘How do we stay in touch with the employee experience?’ We have had

to ensure that a new joiner who has never experienced our work culture can do so virtually. We have an in-house app that has facili tated this in some ways by offering support to our people. However, we’re still figuring out how to showcase our values and empower employees to experience moments of truth, to see what is writ ten on paper come to light. We as individuals are trying to emulate and distribute value, and we are assess ing employee feedback to continuously improve and reinvent our strategies; it is indeed a constant state of evolution.

To extend the conversation around employee experience and zero in on diversity and inclusion, how is Synchrony setting its DEI agenda?

For me, the proof of the pudding when it comes to DEI policies are the stories I come across and the real impact on the ground.

Inevitably, employee flexibility and choice became two driving factors, and we had to incorporate that into the business strategy as well

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At Synchrony, we want to welcome people regardless of where they come from; some of the interest ing work we have done is in hiring veterans and empow ering them to support their families even after their years of service.

Another successful tangent has been in the arena of women's diversity. Reports have shown how the workforce participation of women in India is even lower than that in Bangladesh. As part of our DE&I agenda, we are currently at a 49% women

diversity, with over 105 PwD employees and 40+ veterans and family members of veterans. Increasing access to opportunities for marginalised communities is imperative, and so much of that starts with our hiring strategies.

As workplaces become more hybrid, what will be the role of coworking spaces in building and sustaining employee connections and engagement?

After listening to our employees, we initiated these regional engage-

ment hubs where they can connect and engage with each other. This is truly a test to see how it will work and what will be its impact on strength ening the work culture of Synchrony. We cannot really underestimate the impact these engage ment hubs have on build ing connections and driv ing engagement in a set-up that is primarily remote. By taking the initiative to make these facilities avail able and accessible to our people, we’re also aligning with the need to ensure employee choice and flex ibility in our talent strat egies.

Finally, what would be a word of advice or lessons you learned in leading talent management that you would like to share with our community?

As leaders, we need to be ready to align and manage new employee expectations by listening to what they have to say. Again, technology allows us plenty of opportunities to pick up on critical insights that can form the bedrock of creating and testing policies. We are always on the lookout for implementing best practi ces, which is possible when we pay attention to the employee voice and see the impact on the work culture and the workforce.

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We need to be ready to align and manage new employee expectations by listening to what they have to say

Tips to reclaim your worklife balance

In the post-pandemic world of work, no discussion of working arrangements is complete without touching upon work-life balance. Here are some simple tips to help us delineate what we work for, and what life really is

Whenwas the last time you pleaded on an online call: “Give me just five minutes. I will wrap up my lunch and join right back!”

Is this a regular phenomenon in your life? If you must literally beg for ‘your’ time to have lunch, isn’t there something fundamen tally wrong with the way you manage your life? Who is running your life – you or the situation? Are you willingly paying a real cost for a notional benefit?

All too often we latch onto the lure of a raise, a better package, and a more visible role, while know ingly ignoring the real cost of lost health, compromised self and family time, and an opportunity to add dimen sions to our lives. Of the many things that we learned from COVID-19, one of the less satisfactory is that work goes on even though life is fragile. But that lesson is fast fading as if the pandemic were a bad dream. Here is the time to reclaim our lives, one meeting at a time.

Below are three practical tips on how you may bring more life to your work and put work where it belongs.

Put a premium on your time

It all starts with knowing what’s the best utilisation of your time. As Jeff Bezos puts it, “as a senior leader you get paid to make a small number of high-qual ity decisions”. It’s important to think like your boss’s boss and focus on decisions that you and only you can take and that will have a lasting impact. For everything else, you have others or, better still, tech nology. Putting a premium on your time calls for an ability to prioritise inces santly and to let go of routine decision-making.

As a heuristic, any deci sion in which you don’t apply thinking is a good candidate to be delegated. And you will be surprised to find that quite many of your daily decisions may be under this category. You can then put your scant attention on ‘High Lever age Activities’, those that offer a significant and last ing impact for the invest ment done. Such as writ ing a blog, reading and reviewing a book, visiting a new place, or even taking a power nap.

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Your Zone of Concern is always wider than your Zone of Influence, for you remain anxious about a far greater number of events than you can meaningfully address

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You need to learn to take a pause, be comfortable with inaction, and learn not to seek gratification from your phones or other devices

Take micro-risks

Life has no default. Perhaps the only default is death. All the rest can be relooked at, experimented with and learned from. Even the eight hours a day, five days a week phenomenon is less than a century old, yet we assume that to be a de facto of corpor ate machinery. But in real ity, countries like Germany have already implemented a shorter working week and scores of companies are following suit. The key is to take a micro-risk with your job. Saying no to a meeting after 6 pm is a micro-risk. Declining a meeting that you don’t add much value to or get much benefit from is a micro-risk. Maybe some day, moonlighting with a

startup idea is a micro-risk. You need to take this risk to explore the limits of possi bilities and push the system around you.

Shrink your ‘Zone of Concern’ and expand your ‘Zone of Influence’

Everyone has these two zones – the Zone of Concern comprises all those matters that bother you, whether or not you can do anything about them, and the ‘Zone of Influence includes only those elements you can actually do something about. Your Zone of Concern is always wider than your Zone of Influ ence, for you remain anxious about a far greater number of events than you can mean ingfully address. The wise

step to leading a less stress ful and more productive life is to radically shrink your Zone of Concern by ignoring, dele gating, or outright eliminat ing work or thoughts. With this freed-up time and mental space, you can now expand your influence onto things that really matter. But first, free up your plate.

Here's a bonus one. For most of us, a pause or a gap is deeply unsettling. One of the core reasons that we subconsciously gravitate to our phones, given every single opportunity, is to fill that scary silence. We need to constantly engage our mind in some activity, even if it’s mindless. What’s the maximum amount of time you have focused on office work or even personal chores before getting interrupted by a call or a WhatsApp message or the like? And these are the moments where the real stuff happens, the creativity flows, and often history gets created. For that, you need to learn to take a pause, be comfortable with inaction, and learn not to seek gratifi cation from your phones or other devices. A good prac tice is to keep your phone in a drawer and look at it only once in 90 minutes, and then only for 5 minutes each time. You will be surprised how little you have missed, or are being missed, and how much you can achieve.

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dR . Pavan Soni is the Founder and Innovation Evangelist, Inflexion Point Consulting

Adapting talent strategy for the modern workplace

The budding conversation about new work arrangements still revolves very much around basic talent strategy – how does an organisation get that right in order for new arrangements to work? anjani B Kuumar, Head of HR at MX Player, shares some thoughts

The pandemic has caused us to rethink how we work. Over the past two years, companies have scrutinised their working models, cultures, and values. Organisations are forced to consider the changing needs of the work force and meet those needs, increasingly by offering flex ibility and autonomy

"Enabling people to take ownership of their work and providing them with the flexibility they need has been a successful strat egy for us," says Anjani B Kuumar, Head of HR at video streaming platform MX Player. In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, he shared his insights on the prospects of a 4-day workweek idea, leveraging new technologies, and meeting the changing needs of a hybrid workforce.

Do you believe that the four-day workweek, which several countries are experi menting with, will be successful in Asia?

The 4-day work week has been an interesting experiment in workplace strategy in recent years Before imple menting a four-day work week, we first need to define what it really means – lesser hours or condensed hours. The same number of hours condensed into fewer days may not necessarily ensure productivity and happiness.

In my view, a true 4-day

week would mean working for 4 days without increasing the hours each day. While a lot of pilot programmes have shown potential benefits in terms of increasing employee happiness, their longev ity is something that will depend on a lot of factors. One of the key factors in the success of a four-day workweek is that produc tivity should not take a hit. To maintain 100% produc tivity in 20% less time will require a conducive environment with new technologies, an efficient support system, and an apt workplace culture.

For this model to be successful globally, companies will first need to check if their environment and culture are enabled for this. Another import ant factor is that it might be difficult for a few func tions and industries to function with the four-day workweek, like those that require round-the-clock customer support. Technol ogy, specifically AI, can be an enabler for this.

What talent strategy do you have to keep ahead of the disruptive devel opments emerging in the modern workplace?

The unique mix of media and technology makes our workforce and culture vibrant and dynamic, which has helped us in both

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talent attraction and talent retention. Having such an amazing culture in place makes it very easy for us to showcase what we have to offer and find talented people who are a great fit and add value to our culture.

The idea is to base the talent strategy on under standing the needs of the ever-evolving workforce. This requires a lot of active listening and being recep tive and proactive to changes. The modern work force values flexibility and autonomy to carry out their responsibilities. Enabling people to take ownership of their work and provid ing them with the flexibil ity they need has been a successful strategy for us.

The hybrid work style comes with several chal-

lenges, including engagement and trust issues. What, according to you, are the key questions that leaders need to address to solve this predicament?

There are several challenges posed by remote and hybrid working, such as communication, perception bias, and digital fatigue, among others. The questions that leaders need to address will depend on the industry and culture of the company. For us, communication and engagement were challen ges that we had foreseen and taken proactive steps, like enabling organisational connections through news letters, leadership connects and using advanced HR tech nology to keep the communi cation going. This helped our teams collaborate effectively even while working

completely remote, at the peak of the pandemic.

As we moved ahead, we realised the challenges posed by remote working in terms of hindering creative collaboration and put forth a hybrid working model.

Another question that the leaders need to address is the inherent culture of the workplace. At MX Player, we have taken conscious efforts to inculcate trust as a part of our value system. We have implemented a No Attendance Policy to empha sise that we absolutely trust our employees to have the best interests of the company at heart.

In addition, there must be sincere efforts to understand the pulse of the work force and address issues like perception bias head-on. Culture is top-driven, and our leadership team, which comprises new-age lead ers, live by the values of integrity, trust and flexibility, which has helped us drive the same culture in all teams.

What top technology trends do you think will catch up fast as organisa tions adapt to the new world of work?

The new world of work, with more flexibility and focused productivity, has been facilitated by tech nology. Collaborative tools like Slack have helped our company to keep the

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connection alive while work ing with distributed teams across the world. Cloudbased self-serve platforms are enabling and easing efforts toward rewards & recognition, wellness, and engagement. Holistic well ness has become an import ant priority for businesses and requires technology enablement in the form of gamification and advance ments in the wearable tech space.

An important part of adapting to the new world of work is how organisa tions ensure effective learn ing and development for the workforce. With the changing landscape of work, learning has also undergone a change that goes beyond the change from classroom-based learn ing to online learning. With the gamification of courses and self-paced learning, we are facilitating talent development for the evolv ing workforce. As a digital-first company, we have also focused on leveraging AI to ensure a seamless employee experience. Our AI-enabled people bot helps with employee feedback and actionable insights through analytics. It also helps with employee queries and processes with an interface that aims to replicate human connections.

What are some words of advice you would like to share with our community

when developing new work arrangement strategies?

We have seen unpreced ented changes over the past few years and will continue to do so. The agility and abil ity to adapt to these changes will help design new work strategies that help attract and retain talent. One way to stay on top of these rapid changes is to understand the needs of your work force. While the flexibil ity provided by work-fromhome is attractive, people have started to miss workfrom-office for the personal level of connection and collaboration it provides. This led to a hybrid work

ing model, which a lot of companies have now adopted. This is just one example, but active listening will help companies act on people’s needs and come up with a win-win situation for both the business and the workforce.

While technology will definitely define the next decade of workplace trends, the differentiator will be how we can ensure person alisation. Digital fatigue is real, and while technol ogy will facilitate new work arrangements, we will have to find ways to keep the personal connection with the workforce alive.

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Digital fatigue is real, and while technology will facilitate new work arrangements, we will have to find ways to keep the personal connection with the workforce alive
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How can leaders equip themselves with skills to make M&As successful?

Quite a range of skills are during and after the M&A process, and then the leaders of both entities need to prepare themselves for post-completion changes. Gurprriet Siingh, MD, head or assessment, culture and development at Russell Reynolds Associates, goes into detail on what's involved

The critical role of leadership in M&A success s tr A tegy

Mergers and acquisi tions (M&A) activity continues to remain robust in the post-pan demic world and leadership readiness is a critical factor for the success of any such transaction. This starts right at the beginning i.e. in selecting the right partner to merge with or acquire, says Gurprriet Siingh, managing director and head of assessment, culture and development at

Even if everything looks like it’s going well, the surest way to build trust and ensure people remain calm and balanced is to be transparent and to listen

executive search and leadership advisory firm Russell Reynolds Associates.

In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Siingh talks about the role and impact of leadership in M&A success and how leaders can equip themselves with skills to drive the integra tion between two organisations.

How important is the leaders' role in a successful M&A?

Ensuring you pick the right synergies is key to value creation and ensuring strong cultural sim ilarity (not sameness) heightens chances of success.

Post-acquisition integration wouldn’t be possible without leadership that focuses on key priorities, ensures cultural inte

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gration (about 48% leaders sur veyed assert that a lack of cultur al understanding of both cultures is a key factor in the failure of an M&A) and ensures talent integra tion. Most M&As will have some or a lot of redundancy – making the right choices of which lead ers to keep and which to let go, is critical.

Top skills that leaders should possess to drive M&A success?

Be calm, composed and centered: There is a lot of uncer tainty, flux, and volatility during an M&A. This could be all the way from the Competition Commission's delays/challenges to man aging share prices through the integration to managing emotions of key talent on both sides of the merger. Hence, leaders have to keep a cool head.

Empathetic but assertive influencer: Leaders must be able to marshall others’ emotions and energies through the volatil ity. They must be able to rapidly build relationships at the target company, enroll key leaders to support the process and collabor ate with these leaders to drive key messages and decisions.

Balance: Balance short term deliverables and performance through the M&A timeline, while keeping focused on achieving long-term value from the M&A.

Communicate. Communicate. Communicate: This holds true at both ends, your own organisa tion and the target organisation. Often we over-focus on the target organisation and miss the fact that there will be concerns at our end too. Show up often. Overcom-

Leaders need to dial up empathy, show up often, create spaces of psychological safety and treat everyone like adults by being clear and direct about reality but by also being empathetic and supportive when needed

municate. This is one instance where more is less. And com municating doesn’t only mean that you show up to talk. More often than not, show up to listen. Even if everything looks like it’s going well, the surest way to build trust and ensure people remain calm and balanced is to be trans parent and to listen.

Often when I’ve been part of mergers, we’ve maintained a high degree of openness by ensuring that everyone knew the princi ples behind how banding/grad ing will be arrived at. Why and how assessments will be run and what decisions will be influenced by the assessments. People will

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assume the worst. Make sure you prove them wrong!

How can leaders equip themselves for a successful M&A integration?

Be involved at the outset in understanding the key drivers of value. Be present for due dili gence meetings with the auditors. Focus on a few key levers that drive value. Get those right and on time.

Other than this, only two things matter: culture and leadership. Make sure you invest in under standing the two cultures, and even consider involving a third party who will give you an ob jective survey – an insider will have many biases and blind spots. Understand what works across both cultures and what’s radically different.

Think in terms of Us, or New Company as a whole, and not in terms of Us vs Them. Usually, the acquirer comes in with a coloniser's mindset and believes they are superior, but this is a pitfall.

You should operate from humil ity and curiosity – you bought the other firm for a reason, and that is they will add value to you. Value that value. And understand what it is about their leadership, culture, ways of working/think ing that generate value that you were willing to pay a premium in order to procure for yourself.

What are some of the leadership capabilities needed to bring together companies with different cultures?

• Hard-nosed but empathetic and gracious

• Relationship building

• Influencing

• Systems thinking

• Inspiring facilitator/leader

• Cultural sensitivity

How does one tackle the hard question of leaders themselves being made redundant by M&As?

Directly. Leaders and employ ees are adults. They all know that redundancies will be part of the process to unlock value. They are ready for it. Treat them as adults, inform them clearly. Be direct but gracious and graceful. Build a strong outplacement into the M&A planning.

Any lack of clarity or transpar ency will only tend to heighten the anxiety that is already run ning high. The press will do you no favours, analysts and repor ters will be writing about the “value unlock” and about “redundancies/synergies”, so there will be a lot of information out there. Leaders must know how to com municate effectively in order to address unvoiced concerns and

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assuage how people feel.

How are decisions on which leader (from either side) will be taken into the new management team (for mergers), and how are fates of leaders of the acquired company decided?

This is usually decided via a third-party assessment where the leaders are assessed. There is greater equality when a new company is formed because it is new ground and almost a revised organisation structure that needs to be staffed. In a merger scenario, this might, at times, be unequal.

There are cases where leaders of both companies have been assessed in order to select the right leader for the new company but there are equally cases where only the leaders of the target com pany have been assessed. There is no one established template.

Sometimes, it is known which roles in the acquiring company are weak and those are clearer placements. At other times, biases and favouritism can sometimes spoil the show. However, in the last few years, it has become a best practice to assess leaders on both sides of an M&A to identify the best fit for the roles.

How does a company retain top leadership talent during M&A?

This is not very different to retaining and engaging employ ees, although the emotions are certainly heightened in an M&A scenario.

What we need to ensure is that transitioning leaders are treated with respect. That leaders who

Leaders must be able to marshall others’ emotions and energies through the volatility. They must be able to rapidly build relationships at the target company, enroll key leaders to support the process and collaborate with these leaders to drive key messages and decisions

are made redundant are treated fairly and have been communicat ed to, effectively.

At times, even leaders at the acquiring firm are uncertain. Therefore, communication is critical at both ends.

Leaders need to dial up empathy, show up often, create spaces of psychological safety and treat everyone like adults by being clear and direct about real ity but by also being empathetic and supportive when needed.

Ensuring consistency of com munication is vital. Ensuring employees continue to feel valued is even more critical.

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Policy coherence in the hybrid age

Full-range organisations are a mass of tensions, including those between the distinct cultures and conditions of different functions. Thoughtless implementation of the current 'trend' can take these to breaking point. Instead, we should focus on PC Policy Coherence

applicable to such a minus cule proportion of people. As I should have realized long earlier, numbers never tell the whole story.

Having antici pated (and, hope fully, resolved) the challenges of remote working while people were still euphoric with its novelty, I thought there was no more to be said on the subject.1 Even so, I gave HR practitioners fair notice, a year later, to insti tutionalise flexibility into performance-enhancing choice processes before the tide of CEO thinking lost its new-found affection for it.2

The predicted reactions followed within months, even from corporates which had most of their work forces tucked heretofore within offices. Given that even the possibility of Work From Home (WFH) was available only to a tiny fraction of India’s working population – the numbers from my back-of-the-envel ope calculation spoke loud and clear – I felt I had dedicated sufficient column centimetres to a subject

Like much else in India, the workforce in the formal commercial sector follows an unspoken varna-cular. Under the benign eye of the CEOvartin – and sharing the same air-conditioned comfort – are the twice-born (or dvija) employees who can have an easy rebirth in a remote location. For the vast majority of the population working in manufacturing, factory support or field sales and service, no WFH option is possible. The precariat, of course, does not even enter into the reckoning. Small as their relative numbers may be, the din the dvija create is disproportionately high. Consequently, it is the rare CEOvartin or HR depart ment that can turn a deaf ear to their clamour for WFH, especially when it is accompanied by the patter

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of feet following the piper playing the great resigna tion tune.

The two columns mentioned above dealt with the need to have substantive physical proximity for the larger part of the workforce and how to make produc tivity and happiness gains from flexibility. However, as the WFH wave reaches Full Range organisations (FROs) that have many jobs which just can’t be placed off-site, we need to under stand the special problems these organisations face if they have to retain Policy Coherence (PC). WFH is just a recent example of the frequent challenges HR faces when FROs need to meet differential policy demands while retaining PC.

Before finding solu tions to such challenges, we first need to develop a shared understanding of the purpose policies serve, particularly in the people domain. Readers who have spent a lifetime designing effective and elegant laws for governing organisations’ inner workings can skip Policy 101 contained in the next section.

The Point of Policies Sound People Policies have three E-characteristics (for once 'e' is not the ubiquitous 'electronic') that are essential for them to work. Since this is P101, perhaps it’s best

to start with a very basic example. Let’s assume you are formulating policy for an enterprise that (surprise, surprise) requires people to be available for work. Here’s how the three 'E's might take shape.

Enablement of an organi sational goal is the prime justification for having a policy in the first place. The actual targets, working instructions or daily direc tives are rarely contained in the policy. At the other end, policies exclude the near-permanent core values of the organisation, though they certainly need to be consistent with these values and, in certain cases, exem

plify or facilitate them. In our simple example, if people have to contrib ute to their groups’ activities throughout the work week, there may be a policy specifying the times of the day when everyone must be simultaneously present (we leave the virtual or physical thorn for later plucking). Even a simple policy like this may have incentives and penalties built in to encour age conformity. For instance, more than a certain number of late clocking-ins might cost a day of paid leave.

Efficiency is the core reason for having the policy in the first place. After all one could, in our example,

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Before finding solutions to such challenges, we first need to develop a shared understanding of the purpose policies serve, particularly in the people domain

achieve the same outcome with the supervisor telling each team member when to turn up the next day. Apart from the obvious toll on everybody’s time, what ever gains the customisation might bring would be more than lost by the engage ment of conscious recollec tion in place of habit and the effort needed for getting multiple people available for a common activity. Tech nology, however, is making it increasingly possible to stretch the tailor-made envelope without some of

or be otherwise obvious to everyone. Thus, going back one last time to our example, even if everyone doesn't need the same hours for delivering on their goals, it would be the rare organisation that can pull off intra-team differ ences in working hours on a sustained basis. People may, for a time, shut their eyes to Policy Inequity / Incoher ence (PI) caused by poor design, differential application or varying access to redress. In the medium to long term, however, lack

belonging, and the convic tion of fairness that are essential for building high-performance organisations. The speed and seriousness of the corrosion can be moderated greatly, however, when people have been conditioned to certain disparities. Using this criter ion we can distinguish three types of Policy Incoher ence / Inequity, in increas ing order of corrosive ness. As shorthand for PIs within organisations, we shall borrow from the index named after Corrado Gini and used by economists all over the world to measure income and wealth dispar ities. To compensate for the overly prosaic example employed in the previous section, we’ll range further afield in this one.

its attendant costs. The aforesaid column on flex ibility deals with precisely this means of gaining both performance and employee satisfaction. One critical requirement, of course, is that the possibility of choice should be available to every one. And this brings us to our third policy prerequi site.

Equity, in the context of policies, means that they should be applicable to all employees and, if they aren’t, the reasons for the discrimination should be linked to the logic of work

of PC can cost organisa tions their entitlement to be considered fair. Permit ting fissures to develop beyond a point between the rights, responsibilities and consequences applic able to various categories of people can lead to irrevers ible alienation and rupture. In the rest of this column, we shall examine the prob lems caused by PI and how they may be ameliorated to restore PC.

The GINI Escapes

PI can corrode the team working, the sense of

GiniVer: We start with the vertical distinctions between levels. One would be blind not to notice these policy differences have existed historically. In India, particularly, they go back at least to the colonial origins of our corporate management structures (see the section on 'Chains of command – and servitude' in a previous column).3 Matters are not helped by our trad itional need and support for 'sultanism'.4 But there are limits and they are becom ing progressively lower with each new generation of employees. To take an example of inequalities that

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Policy inequity or incoherence can corrode the team working, the sense of belonging, and the conviction of fairness that are essential for building high-performance organisations
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were perceived to be unjusti fied but which went unchal lenged for a long time before they were overthrown, any one of the great revolutions in recent centuries will do. "France near the end of the ancien régime was char acterized by high levels of wealth and income dispar ities... The nobility owned a quarter of the land but was exempt from the main direct tax… Moreover, in as much as richer bourgeois were able to escape taxation by purchasing titles and offices, the actual burden fell largely on smaller farmers and workers."5 As in France then, so in today’s corpor ates: simply because people have put up with disparities is no guarantee that they’ll continue to do so indefin itely.

GiniFar: Only slightly less acceptable than Gini Ver is GiniFar – the (reason able) hope that what’s not seen by people won’t burn

them. This is the strat egy adopted by MNCs –especially the ones that are in India to exploit its wage arbitrage. Inter nal media and communi cations across country borders in these corpor ates are usually sanitised (through self-censorship) of references to the bene fits and perks available in the mother country. Expats often are placed as heads of subsidiaries not similarly blessed and cocooned in country-of-origin compen sation (and very generous benefits) to provide a choke point for requests seek ing greater inter-country parity. organisations also attempt to draw an opaque veil between, say, manufac turing locations and their HQ within India but these are decreasingly successful as social media and e-com munication rip such veils to shreds in no time. Rare is the case when inter-coun-

try differentials can be fully bridged but disparities brought on by, say, exploit ing loopholes in local laws (e.g paying lower wages to the precariat in India while coughing up a flexibility premium for short-term work in the mother country) are unconscionable.

GiniSee: Given the ubiquity of e-communication today, the most heart-burn ing differentials do not have to be within direct line of sight. Moreover, the camou flages provided by tradition and distance (that rendered disparities unobjection able) are increasingly being exposed. Most directly, of course, groups that hereto fore saw themselves treated on par with some others, suddenly find themselves disadvantaged on a parameter they consider important. This, incidentally, is the risk thoughtless hybridization runs when WFH is permit ted to departments (that were already considered somewhat spoiled) where it is possible and denied elsewhere e.g. in manufacturing. While organisations with mainly office-based activ ity may choose to ignore this concern, it will cause immense heartburn in FROs unless they affect some measures to regain PC. It is to these remedies that we now turn.

Containing PI Problems Preventing or mitigating

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Policy Inequity / Incoher ence doesn’t require the brains of an Einstein. It can, however, demand the daring of a Daniel, espe cially when confronted by a lionlike Business Partner who considers PC concerns typical HR Wokeism.

By far the best way to beat PI proponents is to head them off at the pass i.e. before the inequal ity becomes entrenched. To take as an example the WFH concession that is still causing heartburn in some firms, the glide path to normalcy should have been triggered (and, indeed, was

ing only with the relatively cut-and-dried matter of WFH. There could be poli cies where job and function demands leave us no options but to differentiate. Given sufficient planning leeway, it is worth examining whether the geographic isolation of conspicuous PI can be a worthwhile palliative. As we have noted, GiniFar is easier to manage than GiniSee. Locational differentiation also permits non-comparable facilities to be provided in places handicapped by PI and brings us to our third remedy.

Once we are dealing with

Having policies that are consistent and defendable to all employee categories is important to people and, hence, becomes a key HR deliverable in most sensible FROs) as soon as the peak crisis was passed. An earlier column had pointed out the neces sity of doing so even for organisations without PI problems.6 HR’s eagerness to respond to its Business Part ners (with their local priorities and pressures) should not lead to PI. Having poli cies that are consistent and defendable to all employee categories (PC, in short) is important to people and, hence, becomes a key HR deliverable.7

Of course, we are not deal

location-wide PI we can have several degrees of free dom to plan compensatory (though, preferably non-fun gible) benefits. Quite often, the disadvantaged locations are factory sites which have concentrations of employ ees in relatively small areas. Apart from schools and hospitals, which have tended to lose their charm in recent years, one has still-cher ished benefits like clubs, adult education centres and company transport. This is obviously only a game the big FRO boys can play.

The Restaurant at the End of the (Policy) Universe

The solutions we have exam ined so far are mitigatory. Going forward, I believe it should be perfectly feas ible to push the satisficing boundary of the last of the solutions (from the previous section) closer to opti mality. In its conven tionally deployed form, location-specific policies are handicapped because they are applied with a broad brush that cannot take cognizance of individual needs and colour pref erences. Also, because they are delivered en masse, they cannot permit clubbing of benefit sacrifices in favour of a spectacular (from an individual’s viewpoint) replacement. Seems a bit abstract? Let’s flesh it out.

Technology is now avail able both to glean (unobtrusively but with permission) benefit preferences appro priate for each personal ity type and to permit seam less, dynamic choices to be made from a palette that spans a range of Gs. A more detailed explanation of how this might be done as well as of the 5G framework is contained in a previous column.8

What is worth emphasis ing in our current context is the flexibility to combine benefit sacrifices that are forced (e.g. WFH unavail ability for factory-based employees) as well as volun-

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tary (e.g. non-use of sports facilities) into individually meaningful choices that are impossible to provide uniformly to all employees. Indicatively (though by no means exhaustively) these could include course-fee paid sabbaticals, mentoring from generally admired leaders, extra medical cover age for dependents with special needs or extended family and overseas scholarships for extra-talented children of employees. This is far beyond a cafeteria approach. It is an entire restaurant with a galaxy of choices – but with the same menu card for all. Once N=1, the bit depth of the policy palette is limited only by the imagination of HR while retaining a high degree of PC.

Some people (and they are not only limited to HR or to corporate settings) revel in their power to be arbitrary, inflexible or even brutal in the policies they devise. They are likely to dismiss any elaborate effort to maximise employee happiness while retaining PC. I can imagine such Policy Dictators (PoDi for short) ranting: "All this trouble for the sake of PC? I have no time for all this restau rant tamasha. If people can’t avail of a facility because of the nature of their job, just too bad. I recall when …" Employees who get mud PIs naturally view PoDis

rather dyspeptically. An employee aggrieved by Hybrid WFH policies (not available to her) wrote: "Like all PoDi policies it looked as if it had been not so much designed as congealed… In fact to see anything much uglier than a PoDi policy you would have to go inside and look at a PoDi. If you are wise, however, this is precisely what you will avoid doing because the average PoDi will not think twice before doing something so pointlessly hideous to you that you will wish you had never been born – or (if you are a clearer-minded thinker) that the PoDi had never been born. In fact, the average PoDi probably wouldn't even think once. They are simple-minded, thick-willed, slug-brained creatures, and thinking is not really some thing they are cut out for… The fairest thing you can say about them, then, is that they know what they like,

and what they like generally involves hurting people and, wherever possible, getting very angry."9

Ok, so I blasphemed by tinkering with Galactic scripture and replacing Volgons with PoDis. Before you sue me, however, you have to admit irritated employees use even less Lok Sabha language than Adams’ when they are upset with PI.



Visty Banaji, 'Working from Home is NOT a piece of cake', People Matters, 25 January 2021.

2. Visty Banaji, Big Data: Bigger performance – big gest delight, People Matters, 14 January 2022.

3. Visty Banaji, Twinkle, twinkle, leadership star, Can you unlearn what you are?, People Matters, 15 July 2021.

4. Visty Banaji, Music and management, People Matters, 5 February 2020.

5. Walter Scheidel, The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century, Princeton University Press, 2018.

6. Visty Banaji, 'Working from Home is NOT a piece of cake', People Matters, 25 January 2021.

7. Visty Banaji, Partner people first, People Matters, 21 October 2020.

8. Visty Banaji, Big Data: Bigger performance – big gest delight, People Matters, 14 January 2022.

9. Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy), Pan Books, 2016.

v i Sty Banaji is the Founder and CEO of Banner Global Consulting (BGC)

t he ro A d less tr A velled

63September 2022 |

Past Month's events

Online Programme: Designing Employee Experience in the New World of Work

People Matters

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

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Online Programme: Gamification & The Octalysis

Framework: Strategies To Drive Human Motivation


15 August – 16 September 2022

This programme is for leaders and practi tioners interested in how the HRBP drives cultural shifts that align with the changing needs of teams and organisations in the new world of work.


29 August – 30

September 2022

This programme is for leaders and practitioners interested in how the HRBP drives cultural shifts that align with the changing needs of teams and organisations in the new world of work.

People Matters

Ongoing Programmes

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

People Matters

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


05 September – 07

October 2022

This programme is designed for leaders interested in gamifica tion and learning how to master motivation and engagement in a fun but methodical approach.


19 September – 21

October 2022

This programme is designed for women leaders interested in accelerating their career growth within their organisation and learning critical skills for women heading a team. Over come obstacles facing workplace gender imbalance and speed up the realisation of your poten tial as a woman leader.

People Matters


26 September – 28

October 2022

This programme is for leaders eager to gain practical, hands-on approaches to organisa tional L&D strategies, connecting policies and practices to business performance. Prior knowledge of capabil ities-building, and L&D strategizing is useful but not indispensable.

kN owledge + Networki N
64 | september 2022

Upcoming events

Physical Event: People Matters L&D Conference India People Matters

12 October India’s largest learn ing and development confer ence, People Matters L&D aims to highlight the pivotal changes set to transform every industry in the years to come. With an urgent need to acquire new capabil ities and adapt to the rapidly evolving business landscape, get ready to explore how capability building will and should help organisations be built for disruption. We look forward to welcoming CHROs, CLOs, Senior HRs, L&D CEOs, L&D Functional Leaders, L&D Professionals, Learning Leaders, & more.

Online Programme: Design Thinking and Agile for HR

People Mat

ters BeNext

10 October – 11 November 2022

This programme is for HR leaders com mitted to finding cre ative solutions to com plex problems facing their teams, moving from an understanding of Agile processes to a whole new mindset of creativity, innovation and people-centred progress. Early Bird Registration now avail able.

Online Programme: DEI: Implementing Unbiased Strategies in the New World of Work People Matters


31 October – 02 December 2022

This programme is for leaders invested in cre ating lasting mindset shifts and developing a more in clusive employee experi ence through the imple mentation of impactful DE&I initiatives and strat egies. Develop a more di verse, inclusive and equit able workplace through practices and strategies that uncover and overcome biases. Early Bird Regis tration now available.

Physical Event: People Matters EX Conference Indonesia

People Matters

03 November

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

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

People Matters BeNext

07 November – 09 December 2022

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

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65september 2022 |

On workplaces in the metaverse Blogosphere

Remote and hybrid work was actualised in its truest sense in the post-pandemic world, but remote working still continues to have certain challenges that remain unaddressed. Today, one of the most important factors moulding remote work and in fact the whole future of work is the gradual assimi lation of the metaverse into the corporate world.

According to McKinsey, more than US$120 billion has been invested in the first five months of 2022 in build ing metaverse technology and infrastructure, which is

more than double the total investment of US$57 billion it saw in all of 2021.

The idea of the metaverse is not new for some, but the thought of invigorat ing existing technologies to create an evolved virtual world for everyone, while foreseeing the innumerable opportunities it can deliver, is fairly exhilarating.

For the uninformed, the metaverse is much more than just virtual reality, gaming, and digital avatars. It’s about experiencing reallife scenarios in the virtual world with a more engaging and collaborative approach.

But it is in the workplace where the metaverse will have the most significant impact on all of us.

The metaverse is set to reshape the world of work with engaging collaboration, AI-enabled colleagues, and learning and skill develop ment through augmented and gamified technologies.

Work in tandem, virtually! The metaverse allows remote working employees to connect in a more immer sive way that cannot be achieved with just a video call. Imagine sitting at home while experiencing going

66 | September 2022

in and out of your virtual office, or meeting rooms, giving a live presentation, hanging out in an employee networking lounge while virtually connecting to your colleagues, or visiting a conference centre, all in real time.

While this may sound like a much-hyped form of work ing with your team, wait till you see the productivity of such work models. Graphic units can ideate, design, and easily sketch in a collab orative virtual notebook, instead of doing back and forth by sending each other their files multiple times in a chat room.Event planning and exhibition teams could even build and design graph ics for their events more effi ciently, using collaborative virtual tools in real-time, as naturally as they would decorate their venues.

Shifting remote collabora tion from a one-dimensional experience to a multi-dimensional one will further uphold the existence of the metaverse for designers in the industrial sectors. Working on or even just monitor ing a simulation of realworld objects in interactive 3D will boost innovation.

A digital gofer

Through augmented work spaces, the metaverse aims to link real and digital lives while creating spaces for engaging and enhanced user interaction using

Augmented Reality/ Virtual Reality tools and even block chain.

In a metaverse-enabled workplace, employees will not just find their colleagues in digital avatars but will be joined by digital colleagues that are AI-powered humanlike bots. This will be noth ing like commanding a voice assistant speaker to order groceries or play a song, but

active and 3D-like engage ments to have an in-depth understanding through an interesting and enjoyable process.

Simulating real-life scen arios of teams working on a machine and allowing train ees to follow the same path to learn from the machine in a 3D and interactive manner simply elevates the level of learning.

While the metaverse is worth looking forward to, it is equally important to demystify its challenges. Companies need to strategise, not just on conceiving the idea of the metaverse but also on leveraging it to fuel the company’s growth

instead, it will be a whole new level of digital assist ance in one’s daily tasks.

These bots will cut down on the employees’ workload by taking up time-consum ing and complex tasks for the latter to focus on productive and value-added tasks.

Upskilling virtually

A study conducted by PwC revealed that employees trained in VR simulations learn four times faster than classroom learners and twice as fast as e-learners. Why? Because mixed reality offers a disruptive method of skilling that optimises and simplifies training through AR/VR. Metaverse-opti mised modules of skilling and training involve inter-

While the metaverse is worth looking forward to, it is equally important to demystify its challenges. Companies need to strategise, not just on conceiving the idea of the metaverse but also on leveraging it to fuel the company’s growth.

Leaders will have to chalk out a roadmap that ensures operating the metaverse is ethical and safe. A fresh approach is necessary to tap into potential applications that can boost the business. After all, technology has always sided with the ones who identify how to leverage it better.

About the Author

Manoj S H i K a RKH an E is the Chief Human Resource Officer at Larsen & Toubro Infotech (LTI).

67September 2022 | blogosphere

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