Article: Employee well-being is not just a priority, it’s a way of life: Hyundai Motor's Charles Walter

Employee Engagement

Employee well-being is not just a priority, it’s a way of life: Hyundai Motor's Charles Walter

While policies and practices covering health, insurance and medical assistance have found enhancements when it comes to employee wellbeing, the critical factor to build resilience, sustain compassion, and stay on the course of the purpose is striking a balance between leadership empathy, reflective policies and practices, and a reimagined workplace, says Walter.
Employee well-being is not just a priority, it’s a way of life: Hyundai Motor's Charles Walter

The pandemic has prompted a profound rethink of how we work and most importantly, how we perceive work outcomes. Hybridisation has become the new normal, ushering us into a new world of work focused on acquiring and developing new-age skills, retention of top talent, and holistic employee well-being.  

To achieve its global vision of ‘Progress for Humanity’, Hyundai Motor India has been working on a futuristic model (under the Future of Work Programme) building on experiences gathered over the last few years.

Charles Joseph Walter, Senior GM Human Resources, Hyundai Motor India (HMIL) says the company aims to establish a more relevant and meaningful model that reflects the needs of its business operations/continuity, the well-being of its employees, and ends up elevating the customer experience.

This, he says, is being done in a co-created way, through workgroups, such as the Millennial Board, that involve its employees and leads.

During an interview with People Matters, Walter shares HMIL’s ‘reimagination’ act that overviews job evaluation and redesign, reinforces high-performance culture through differentiated pay and benefits, new-age learning and upskilling, aiding career growth, enhanced employee experience with a special focus on transforming culture, diversity, and inclusion, holistic well-being management, and accelerated digitalisation.

Walter comes with over two decades of human resources management experience spanning across the information technology, consulting, and manufacturing industries. With marque experiences in the areas of people strategy, mergers and acquisitions, people integration, brand building, change management, reimagined workplace practices, leadership development/coaching, HR research, and consulting, he has hands-on greenfield, fast-paced overseas leadership exposure in a joint venture setup.

Here are the excerpts from the interview

Safeguarding employees during the pandemic and ahead

As for our people, we are committed to establishing an innovative corporate culture and improving employee safety. We are promptly responding to the ever-changing industry environment by strengthening our brand image as technologically advanced, sustainable, and innovative.

We understand that time is our most precious possession and we want to empower our employees with quality time. Our empathetic leaders keep our employees at the core aiding enhanced engagement at all levels, and the line-managers in Hyundai are ‘People Managers’ extending care within and beyond the workplace. Building policy and  practices have taken the ‘co-creation’ route where even young employees under the 'Millennial Board' or 'Junior Committees' have a role to play. Our above-and-beyond well-being initiatives (extended to family/dependents) have helped our employees tide over the tough times in a better way. We are also building a culture that promotes creativity and embraces change as a driver of growth.

Reprioritising the employee experience

We have encouraged ‘co-creation’ involving our internal stakeholders at all levels. Employee engagement to employee experience has been transformational and the journey continues. While we don’t like to categorise it as reprioritising, we would like to say we have ‘reimagined’ employee experience taking an involved approach, dwelling on key ‘must-have’ experiences against the pandemic's backdrop, and most importantly, leveraging the power of the palm-held device (smartphones) making it an 'anytime, anywhere' experience.

Our priorities have found newer avenues in areas relating to well-being and health and have found inroads into the near ecosystem (involving family/dependants). Leveraging technology has yielded more than desired results with APP-ifiction of employee experience here to stay.

Focus on employee well-being

Employee well-being is not just a priority; it’s a way of life - it’s a family thing at Hyundai.

The need of the hour is to ensure our people at work are stress-free and the work environment is conducive to staying productive and healthy. While policies and practices covering health, insurance and medical assistance have found enhancements, the critical factor to build resilience, sustain compassion and stay on the course of the purpose is to strike a balance between leadership empathy, reflective policies and practices, and a reimagined workplace (ease-of-work being realised).

Rethinking performance management in the post-pandemic world

Our performance management system is set dynamically with employee-led goal setting, round-the-year measurement, and continuous feedback. In the past year, we had enhanced the performance experience by deploying a new platform with linear workflows, role-based impact, and agile outcomes.

With the Covid-19 situation becoming the ‘new normal’, our reimagination efforts have been pegged on a few enablers (areas that can be better done), sustainers (areas that we need to keep doing well), and enhancers (areas that require attention and change). Our goal is to step-up from ‘continuous’ to ‘complimentary’ and ‘collaborative’ to ‘co-creative’ in the performance management space; making it more relevant, reflective, and rewarding.

How benefits impact employee retention

At HMIL, we support focused and sustained engagement, lingering workplace experiences, accelerated elevations and exposures targeting high-performing individuals, planned job rotations to develop multi-skilling and future leaders, exposure to new learnings and technology to stay ahead, a reward/recognition system that reflects outcome and impact at work have helped us sustain industry-leading retention of talent.

Our benefit structure stays extremely competitive benchmarking ourselves with a comparator group (not confined to the auto industry) as we transform ourselves into a ‘Beyond Mobility’ organisation.

Role of AI and data analytics in improving employee productivity and safety

AI and data analytics have always found high resonance, with our drive towards ‘high performance’ gathering pace both find more application in our context. We had stayed pioneers both in thought and realistic deployment; our Smart Factory and Safety-First initiatives are grand testimonies and we are experiencing intended results. Our upskilling engines under the ‘Digital Transformation’ banner have been firing on all cylinders, with the pandemic situation helping us accelerate learning virtually spurning out data analysts, specialists, and practitioners in a concerted way keeping in mind our near-futuristic programs.

Our employees have spent over 5000 hours during the past calendar year on ‘new age skill development’ which includes AI, Big Data, Industry 4.0, Programming, and Analytics. Our entire leadership team had undergone an immersive Digital Leadership Programme helping them to be ‘Digital Savvy & Ready’. Besides, more than 50 employees are actively involved in futuristic and transformational projects supported by mentors/advisors and are directly overviewed by leadership.

Key to leading hybrid teams effectively

The key driver in leading hybrid teams is to secure the environment by staying ‘connected and committed’ aiding self-ownership, internalising practices, procedures, and patterns at work, and keeping uninterrupted service levels

On gaining a competitive edge in the talent war

While scouting for talent in the new age and transformation skill landscape has become tougher; our enhanced engagement experience framework supported by empathetic leaders has kept our efforts a bit away from a war-like situation.

The best way to win the war on talent is to retain talent with us.

Our leadership programmes over the past years have more people-centric structures, we are also on the cusp of evaluating key roles, tag differentiated pay/benefits to high potential employees through a balanced assessment framework, and most importantly an environment that resonates with empathy and care.

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Topics: Employee Engagement, Employee Relations, #PerformanceBeyondProductivity

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