Rakhi Shaha is a seasoned HR professional with over 17 years of experience in the IT industry, she excels in designing and implementing programs & processes for the HR functions for India and other countries. She has vast experience in building high performance teams, establishing the global HR Shared Services practice, pioneering talent management initiatives and leading HR transformation efforts in the M&A space. In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Shaha shares thoughtful ways in investing in an EVP that thrives on empathy and aligns with the changes in the current working environment.
Here are some excerpts.
In the current environment of people and work, what makes a strong EVP? What is the value addition of an EVP in terms of attracting and retaining talent?
After the pandemic, the definition of EVP has broadened, and it now encompasses much more than just building a strong employer brand. It is about treating employees as ‘people’ rather than just workers, providing them an exceptional life rather than just an experience, focusing on how they perceive their career rather than just giving them a remuneration.
Recognizing this transition, we believe that a good EVP must have five key elements: firstly, respect, growth opportunities, flexibility, work-life balance, and remuneration.
For example, in addition to a salary, giving them additional monetary benefits such as health/gym memberships, mobile remuneration, relocation, comprehensive insurance coverage etc. motivates them as it meets their financial needs. Also, it is critical to care for your staff not only professionally but also personally. Employees should be treated with empathy, and their time should be valued. Also, if necessary, step in to assist them in accomplishing their goal so that they may effectively manage their time. By effectively managing their time, employees can achieve optimal work-life balance and stability.
Over the last two years, there has been a drastic shift in the working environment, and organisations are aligning their EVPs to reflect this trend.
In an increasingly hybrid working environment, what are the shifting talent needs? What are some of the best practices in enabling and sustaining not only an engaged workforce but a strong work culture?
This new environment is clubbed with the war of talent- the great resignation phenomenon and digital transformation have made talent needs even more important. Firstly, it is essential to maintain productivity by assuring consistent and quality engagement with employees working remotely. It is very easy to feel disconnected, hence, it is key to build on the ‘feelings’ (or emotional) aspect and understand the employee’s mindset on a regular basis. Secondly, it is important to invest in building and sustaining the company culture - one that goes beyond work and organising activities which interests the employees. Lastly, employees nowadays want to be heard, thus, it is important to have a system of continuous feedback.
Taking cue from the needs, some best practices could be making the employees lead specific initiatives -be it fun or learning sessions. Also, it will be great to make the hiring process enjoyable, maybe using gamification or something like it, which they remember and talk to potential hires about. Also, for feedback, some people like to provide this in person while others prefer to be anonymous; we need to ensure that there is an option to use all available formats.
It is all about placing people first now- it is essential to listen to the employees, understand and add a personal touch which probably was missing in the pre-pandemic world.
When it comes to professionals finding purpose and meaning in their work, what are some of the strategies that can make a difference? How can organisations better align their values to their employee values from a social responsibility standpoint?
We believe that creating a common purpose is at the heart of employee engagement because it makes people feel valued and relevant in the organisation. Following the pandemic, firms are aligning their EVPs to the change and ensuring that their employees remain invested in the organization by encouraging the company to address societal and cultural challenges through a shared purpose.
Rather than having ‘closed-door ‘meetings between senior leadership and HR on the company’s stand on social concerns, companies should consider having an open forum for conversations on crucial matters that the firm and its employees believe is essential to acknowledge. With this strategy, we can certainly establish a strong community together and an inclusive environment.
Furthermore, global firms should establish cross-region programmes in which employees from other regions can connect with one another and exchange their opinions, thereby assisting organisations in fostering an inclusive workplace. This will also enable them in using peer coaching to hold employees accountable for taking individualised action on societal issues and prioritising societal issues that align with the organization's goals.
Given the turbulent times that organisations and working professionals have found themselves in, what they increasingly prioritise is a workplace that cares for their wellbeing. How can companies then build a community that is collaborative, highly communicative and upholds wellbeing practices?
Following the pandemic, organisations are focusing on developing human-centric EVPs, in which they are now aiming to forge stronger bonds with their employees through better communication and assuring their overall well-being. Employers are taking efforts to promote holistic well-being by holding people accountable for personalising well-being progress, encouraging mental health champions to have open discussions about it, and defining clear dos and don'ts for how managers may support employee wellness.
We also believe that when it comes to drafting policies, companies should seek inputs from their employees, as they are the ones who will ultimately benefit from them. By doing so, employees from all regions will feel valued and will be able to share their concerns. We, at Mobileum, focus on taking an approach that is for, by, and around people by being cognizant of their ‘state of mind’. By doing so, we will be able to create a strong community in which all employees are respected and feel a part of it.
Finally, from your years of experience in the field, what is one word of advice you would like to share with fellow HR leaders for greater talent retention and engagement?
Firstly, understand the business to have a strategic approach and to strive towards providing a balance. because we continue to be the bridge between employees and the employer, represented by the leadership. This approach may pave the way for honest conversations as teams navigate through challenging business environments.
To sustain a positive work culture, I believe HR must be credible with all stakeholders.
Secondly, close alignment of talent strategy to business priorities is now very important. It is critical for HR to be agile and quick in creating programs that focus on upskilling and cross skilling. There is no single point strategy that can work but a more comprehensive one which focuses on building capability to enrich the career of employees, providing them a flexible work environment and that takes care of their financial and mental well-being.