ZS India’s Neha Arur on benefits of diversity cultivated by organisations
Neha Arur, Senior Director, Regional Human Resources Lead, ZS India, in an exclusive interaction with People Matters, shares how as an organisation, ZS India recognises the value of diversity and its role in creating an inclusive workplace. The company believes that a diverse workforce helps to cultivate an environment of innovation, collaboration, and growth.
She informs that varied employee communities at ZS India are employee-launched and employee-led. For example, inclusion and diversity groups, communities of interests, and affinity groups. These provide employees with several ways to connect with others and form communities beyond their work and physical location.
Adding diversity brings benefits to businesses. What top five benefits ZS India has cultivated so far by including diversity in the workplace?
ZS India has benefited from adding diversity to the workplace in numerous ways. We have had access to a larger, more diverse talent pool as a result of diversity in leadership, educational backgrounds across levels, and cultural backgrounds. Some of the benefits are listed as follows:
- First, a diverse workplace helps to create an environment of acceptance and respect, which encourages people to bring their authentic selves to work
- It has allowed for more perspectives and experiences to be brought to the table, which has resulted in increased creativity and innovation
- It has also had a positive impact on employee engagement and productivity, as people are more likely to enjoy their work and collaborate when surrounded by colleagues with different backgrounds
- Diversity at the workplace also gives us a competitive edge, as we are able to better serve customers from different cultures and backgrounds with a workforce that understands their needs
- Additionally, a diverse workplace has created a more inclusive company culture that supports everyone's growth and development with an enhanced sense of belonging
All the above have led to a more positive working environment, resulting in increased employee morale, better retention rates, and ultimately exceptional organisational performance.
Diversity includes minority and disadvantaged groups like People with Disabilities (PwD). According to Randstad India report, the majority of the companies in India lack accountability metrics, effectiveness, and policy-oriented actions when it comes to PwD, do you have insights into what hampers faster organisational inclusion of PwD?
There are two challenges to the inclusion of PwD – one of them being acceptance and embedding job/ roles for the specially-abled in the organisation design and the second being the lack of office infrastructure to access the facilities. It will require a change in mindset and patience on the part of a compassionate set of colleagues to embrace PwD.
This is a gradual process wherein inclusion becomes the norm against a need; it will require the leaders to step forward and set the tone from the top.
Organisations across the world are taking into cognisance the special needs of people and designing their workplaces to suit these needs. If we go by historical understanding, there was a first for mothers and creches too in the industry. Therefore, as we all evolve, there will be more improvements that will become the order of the day.
The global phenomenon of the rapidly widening skills gap has led to staffing challenges, making it harder for organisations to recruit and retain talent. What according to you should be prioritised by leaders to address the skill gap?
Skills gaps are an industry phenomenon globally because education systems produce graduates, not job-ready individuals. Therefore, it is important to address what is lacking in a workforce rather than evaluate if qualifications alone are going to become a point of hiring. By this, I mean that we should provide opportunities to scale learning and development that can assist every employee or individual to first address their immediate job requirements. Hence, it is critical that we as organisations up-skill, re-skill, and even cross-skill them to find fulfilment in their careers. At ZS, we provide access to several leading learning tech platforms for self-paced learning, instructor-led classroom training, knowledge series by experts and also provide customised learning pathways to continuously upgrade and be future-ready. Our pre and on-boarding programs for campus are aimed at imparting domain and industry knowledge for anyone to be successful in their career.
Further, there is also a need to encourage and embrace the larger picture and hone skills towards the future of work as mandated by the market and our customers. We constantly evaluate the same and gear our learning pathways to cater to future customer requirements and business demands.
In addition, having effective coaching for performance and a growth mindset is also important to put those skills to work.
How have you re-strategised your policies to retain talent as the great talent war continues to hit companies?
By offering our people a compelling employee value proposition (EVP) that attempts to encompass a holistic experience rather than just restricting retention through compensation alone. We continue to invest in driving favorable policies that address the overall wellness of our colleagues and drive meritocracy along with opportunities for career planning within the ZS ecosystem. That way, employees don’t need to look outside if they want to advance their career prospects.
While we do regular competition benchmarking exercises to ensure competitiveness, we believe our values and culture have been the core reasons for tenure and high number of boomerangs.
ZS has witnessed strong growth over the years, which has led to a large portion of India hiring during the pandemic, which implies the need to integrate and create the ZS experience the way tenured and pre-pandemic joiners have. As we are progressing on the return to work program, we are focused on creating and reinforcing our culture of care and collaboration that they have been missing out on.
Employee experience is one of the hot topics in a post-pandemic world. How has ZS India innovated itself to provide an improved experience to its people?
ZS India has shaped its culture based on three core values: treat people right, get it right, and do the right thing.
We do not lead by creating too many policies; instead, we provide broad guardrails and expect our people to emulate the values by doing the right thing. Our flexible and connected model provides a balance between working from home and the office, wherein there are no set days to work in the office but ZSers decide where it makes the most sense for them to work each day given client or teamwork, or the need to focus on individual tasks and projects. Onboarding welcome and integration, celebrations, cultural events, appreciation events, and family day are some of the ways we have adopted to integrate new ZSers into our culture.
Recognising the need to bring offices closer to people, we have set up new offices in Bengaluru, Pune and Noida to ease commuting and hire talent.
Our workplace layout has been improved to foster collaboration through agile spaces, interaction booths, coffee corners, and cafeterias in order to foster more individualised engagements, which were lacking after the pandemic. Similarly, interpersonal interactions are promoted over remote discussions.
Through multi-channel communication across town halls, office forums, ZS Day, manager meetings, floor connects, emails, and digital channels, we stay connected on the latest in the company.
Focus on wellness continues to be key in a post-pandemic world too. Through our holistic focus on physical and mental health programs, we provide attractive leave benefits, sabbaticals, short and long-term remote working options, dedicated on-site doctor / nurse presence and EAP partners to provide support to our people and their families.
What new elements should leaders focus on as they rethink and redesign a win-win workplace for both employees and employers in the hybrid era?
As we navigate through new workplace trends, there are five key aspects that organisations must continuously work towards:
- Trust, as it creates transparency: Build trust with your people and foster the same in all inter-personal interactions
- Authentic leadership: It is key to engaging any workforce wherein people get straight answers to their questions
- Managers who act like coaches operating with empathy will thrive and deliver outcomes against those with authoritative bossy styles
- Encourage collaboration to aid the virtual model by creating communication platforms to interac
- Inclusion is key to creating a sense of belonging and a great culture