Article: HR Leaders’ strategies for elevating employee engagement in global organisations

Employee Engagement

HR Leaders’ strategies for elevating employee engagement in global organisations

By prioritising employee experience, organisations can unleash the full potential of their workforce in today's dynamic work landscape. HR leaders offer insights and practical strategies to help organisations become pioneers in enhancing employee engagement and experience.
HR Leaders’ strategies for elevating employee engagement in global organisations

Can employee experience seamlessly integrate into organizations? According to a study by Ramco Systems in collaboration with Ecosystem, 83% of surveyed HR leaders achieved enhanced employee experience through self-service access to employee apps. The study surveyed 89 global organisations across the Asia-Pacific region to identify best practices in supporting payroll functions for promoting financial well-being.

The study, titled 'Future of Employee Experience,' highlighted key components that boost employee engagement and experience, including compensation and benefits, measures for financial well-being, flexible work culture, and AI-driven HR technologies. To gain a deeper understanding, People Matters turned to HR leaders, seeking insights into what strategies worked for enhancing employee experience within their organisations.

Employee Experience: Impact of Compensation, Benefits, and Recognition

Workplace engagement can be enhanced through compensation and benefits, providing financial security and performance motivation, recognition for cost-effectiveness, morale boost, and added value. These elements play a crucial role in enriching employees' experience. Shefali Sharma Garg, Co-Chief Talent Officer at Publicis Sapient, India says, “At Publicis Sapient, it’s not about the compensation alone. Our orientation is we let our people choose the environment and the conditions that help them thrive. This in turn leads to the question of how we nurture our people and provide them opportunities to develop skills and capabilities that will continue to help them to grow and build fulfilling careers.

  • We moved away from the annual promotion process in 2021 and made it more fluid and dynamic based on the active ‘listening’ of our people.  Our people get promoted basis their readiness and they do not have to wait for an episodic cycle of promotions. We shifted from a twice-a-year promotion cycle to monthly promotions.
  • The underlying belief is that if our people are performing well and are embracing the organisation’s core values, we need to nurture them and provide them opportunities to develop skills that will continue to keep them motivated and most importantly help them grow in line with their capabilities. In doing so, we help our people own their growth.
  • We have a large learning universe to encourage people to continuously learn. The focus is to ensure they get the right experiences internally and externally.
  • In addition, we provide financial assistance to our people who want to pursue further education externally while working at Publicis Sapient to achieve their career goals.”

Ajay Sreedhara, HR Head at Cleartrip shared, “Aligning with the company's culture, values, and long-term goals is critical to a successful compensation and benefits strategy. Some of the steps we have taken are

  • Compensation research and benchmarking against the market, and baseline our salary ranges that are very competitive. 
  • Periodic compensation review also takes place to ensure benchmarking.
  • Performance-linked pay
  • Long-term equity program - An opportunity for employees to make wealth
  • Benefits like comprehensive and industry health insurance, wellness programs
  • Flexible work
  • Robust Rewards and recognition program
  • Invest in employee learning and development
  • Employee Assistance Programs

While the compensation or the cash component is one of the significant factors, we look at ‘Total Rewards’.

Thirukkumaran Nagarajan, VP and HR Head at IBM India and South Asia added, “In the current environment, employee engagement is vital for organisations more than ever before. Employee experiences must be meaningful, simple and cohesive. At IBM, our approach to employee engagement has resulted in highly driven IBMers. We believe that employee engagement is the foundation of transformational change. Our employees can believe in IBM’s future because they are helping to build it. What has been most interesting, is that we are co-creating an evolved culture together with IBMers, using data to ensure our transformation is insights-led. It is important for us to stay in conversation with IBMers,  so we remain close to what matters to them the most.”

Sujatha Shivsankar, Chief – Culture, People Experience, IDE, Performance & Talent at KPMG India shared, “People Experience, as the name suggests, starts with putting people in the center – At KPMG, it involves creating innumerable moments that accentuate positive emotions and good feelings for our colleagues throughout their journey with the Firm. We are a purpose-led firm and our values are core to who we are and what it means to work at KPMG. Over the past year, we have crystalized our Employee Value Proposition – which clearly articulates the experience that we commit to delivering to our people. We are committed to fostering an environment where each of our colleagues is engaged in work that matters, supported by a community that values difference and cares for each other. Our people will thrive as they gain learning that will last a lifetime and be recognized for the impact they make.” 

Shaji Mathew, Group Head of HRD at Infosys shared, “At Infosys, consistent feedback and learning have helped us improve our offerings on employee experience. We have used a two-pronged approach of holistic compensation and greater engagement to retain employees. We also used data and analytics to pinpoint the direct interventions we need to make regarding individual compensation. Additionally, we are introducing an AI assistant for every employee to help improve their experience. This will provide personalised information for each employee across the world. We have been very supportive of what employees need to do and want to do. We have accelerated our focus on employee wellbeing and engagement as we feel that this is of great importance in today’s work environment.”

HR Technologies driving employee engagement 

In the age of AI, HR technologies have emerged as powerful tools for enhancing employee engagement by streamlining HR processes, improving communication, and personalising the employee experience. 

Sreedhara added “By embracing HR Tech, we can enhance the employee experience by reducing administrative burdens, improving access to information, and enabling employees to focus on more meaningful aspects of their work. Moreover, these technologies can contribute to greater employee engagement. Enhancing employee experience via HR tech and tools can improve efficiency, and empower employees to take more control of their work-related tasks. We have also enabled some self-service technologies like

  • Employee portal that serves all HR-related tasks, and access to policies and processes across the employee life cycle - Onboarding, performance management, benefits enrolment, and expense management.
  • Employee feedback and surveys
  • Databank for predictive analysis (early warning systems) and manage employee engagement.”

Shefali shared, “We leverage technology to nurture our people and provide them with tech-driven opportunities to develop skills and capabilities. For example, through an AI-driven process, we offer a Netflix-style approach to enable learning at scale. Delivered through Marcel - a custom-made AI-led learning platform – our people receive a variety of features, and services, content that connects them to opportunities, knowledge, expertise, and each other. It allows us to break down internal and geographical silos and unlock opportunities across the group of Publicis.”

For the technologies enabling employee engagement at IBM, Nagarajan shared, “We have invested in designing highly personalized, digital experiences for employees to help them succeed in a hybrid, distributed, and agile environment. We also adopted an organisation-wide approach of extreme collaboration, communicating with impact and cultural intelligence, which cuts across traditional silos and can enable IBMers to be resilient. These experiences are being constantly improved and continuously aligned to the needs of the business and clients. We are also bringing in new ways of working with automation and more technological empowerment to managers, along with simplification. Now, AI-enabled technologies & processes such as chatbots, proactive advisory nudges and deep insights derived from data analytics are the primary tools being leveraged, in order to make the right people decisions. With the recent launch of Watsonx – IBM’s pioneering data & AI platform – we are continuing to explore the potential of AI in HR,  as IBM is client zero for its own technology & digital transformation solutions”

Gaurav Sharma, Chief People Officer at Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages, shared, “As a people-centric organisation, HCCB strives to empower every employee with the tools needed for successful career development. Our Performance and Talent Management has undergone an incredible digital transformation. Technology has helped weave a stronger linkage between our employees, managers, and the overall HR function. Through digitized platforms such as Success Factors that are integrated with assessment tools and processes, we built a platform for associates to reflect & showcase their Talent Profiles. This has acted as a precursor to Career Conversations with the Managers, helped us create a steady pipeline of talent and offered enhanced talent insights to leaders. 

  • Career GPS – A tool that allows talents to build their talent cards, and highlight their key work experiences, cross-functional projects, outstanding recognitions, career Aspirations and personal preferences.
  • Career Conversations – The information gathered from the Career GPS, allows the leaders to invite associates for a structured Career Conversation which focuses on associate experience, progress and pivoting of Individual Development Plan, exploring suitable career opportunities, and identifying the next role based on associate aspirations. It also helps locate potential successors for the team and nominate DRs for the next roles. The career conversations facilitate the People Development Forum sessions, which utilize inputs from multiple sources for more effective discussions. It focuses on talent segmentation: HiPo identification, talent health of incumbents, Succession Planning for Function, Zonal, Cluster Leadership and potential exports to the system. 

Performance Management System (Work that Matters Most – WTMM)

  • Clear, simple, and focused set of individual priorities – highlighting key areas where you can contribute the most to the overall business strategy and goals
  • 5 adjustable targets reflecting WTMM

Refreshing conversations -

  • Ongoing documented productive conversations, regular two-way feedback, and coaching 
  • Feedback from multiple stakeholders

AI integration - HCCB chose Leena AI as a digital transformation partner to address employee queries in real-time. The 24x7 AI-enabled HR assistant chat offers instant responses to questions on policies, company updates, induction and onboarding processes, thereby ensuring a seamless experience for all employees.”

Sujatha added, “Technology is at the heart of everything that we do, from connecting people across geography to curating bespoke experiences. The use of technology is embedded in all our experience elements and programmes heightened by the Hybrid work model we operate in. Ensuring that people across locations are able to ideate, participate, and provide feedback is foundational to our thinking around PEx interventions. Early on in our journey, we took a lifecycle view to enhance the experience for our people – this meant Identifying Moments that Matter along the tenure of professional and curating programmes and practices that lead to joy and superior experience. Broad brush strokes no longer work for a diverse talent pool like ours, hence, taking a cohort-based approach and allowing for programmes to be nuanced based on the unique needs of each group makes our interventions relevant for our colleagues.”

Commenting on Flipkart’s self-service technologies for employees, Krishna Raghavan, Chief People Officer, added, “In today’s digital age, we also leverage self-service tools, employee apps, and AI-driven technologies to empower every Flipster. We have created dedicated online chat rooms and virtual whiteboards that foster collaboration among employees, regardless of their location. We have introduced a chatbot that regularly connects with our employees to gauge their efficiency in managing both work and home life. Additionally, our ‘Flipster Connect’ sessions provide a direct platform for our leaders to engage with employees, offering insights into the organisation’s larger priorities and making them feel an integral part of our bigger picture. To maintain a continuous feedback loop, we employ various listening mechanisms like MyVoice and Sia, which help us understand our employees’ sentiments and design solutions to keep their morale high. Additionally, we have harnessed AI-driven technologies with tools like ‘Thrive’;, which is our internal talent marketplace. This platform allows us to source suitable candidates internally, matching their skills with open positions within the company, further promoting growth and development within our talented workforce.”

Shaji added, “We conceptualized InfyMe, a mobile-first platform that helps employees with first-hand information and access to systems and processes from any place, at any time. The application has transformed the employee experience in the current work environment with an accessible and secure ecosystem. The platform is deeply ingrained within our culture and helps reimagine employee experience with hyper-personalization.”

Wellness programmes for a diverse workforce  

Employee wellness programs are designed to enhance their overall health and well-being, which, in turn, can positively influence their job satisfaction and productivity.

Raghavan shared, “At Flipkart, we are committed to empowering our employees to maximize their potential and consistently work towards enhancing their experience - both from a short and long-term perspective. As an employee-first organisation, we have undertaken a series of initiatives aimed at improving the well-being and satisfaction of our valued team members. One of the cornerstones of our commitment is the FlexBen programme, which is designed to be universal and inclusive, ensuring that all our employees have access to comprehensive benefits coverage. This programme goes beyond the traditional norms to embrace diversity and inclusivity. It encompasses a wide range of benefits, including coverage for LGBTQIA+ couples, the flexibility to choose additional child care or parent care coverage, and an array of wellness options tailored to the needs of every employee. When it comes to healthcare, Flipkart’s employee insurance plan is designed to be inclusive and progressive. Our all-encompassing approach goes beyond traditional pay and medical insurance, offering customized incentives to meet individual requirements, with ‘myWellness’ serving as the core principle. Employee health is a critical component of our people initiatives, reflected strongly in our philosophy of ‘We Care’. Recently, we launched the ‘Healthy Flipkart Project’, with an aim to make Flipkart the healthiest workplace in India. This includes free voluntary health check-ups for employees and addressing the health gaps our employees face through personalized measures. Thousands of employees have already availed of the services under this project further to its launch a few weeks ago. Communication is at the heart of our culture. At Flipkart, we understand the importance of work-life balance. To facilitate this, we provide generous annual leaves, privilege leaves, and unlimited wellness leaves. These are particularly significant, allowing our employees to take time off for physical or mental health reasons without hesitation. Flipkart is also dedicated to providing flexible work arrangements to support our employees’s diverse lifestyles.”

“At KPMG, we have invested disproportionately in developing our Wellbeing agenda. Care for our people is central to our thinking around experience. We have adopted a conscious well-being program where each employee takes charge of their own well-being. By looking at employee wellbeing holistically – Physical, Mental, Spiritual, Financial, Emotional and social, we curate programs that help our people thrive with us. A key element for us to create exceptional people experience is through continuous listening. In addition to our annual people survey, we use multiple methods to gather the ‘pulse on the floor’ which then becomes a key input to shape our thinking on programs and policies. Also, we make it a point to seek feedback after each intervention to know how our offerings were received, and how we could do better in the future. It empowers our people to feel included and be heard which fosters a more open, trusting environment at the workplace. Very recently we launched ‘People Squad’ – our people resource a group comprising professionals from across levels, locations and teams. We believe that with inputs, recommendations and critique from this team, we will be able to co-create programs and interventions that are meaningful to our people. It’s one thing to do what is popular, it is entirely different to do what is relevant & desired,” added Sujatha 

Commenting on the well-being programmes enriching employees' experience at Pulicis, Shefali added, “Our focus has always been building people holistically. One of our benefits for people is the Employee Assistance Program which supports them and their families in their mental wellbeing journey. We understand that one size does not fit all and our benefits strategy is inclusive. We support our people who are raising children with autism by covering expenses for the medical and education of the children. Our learning has been that building communities is a great enabler and people derive a lot of value from them. In this space, our focus is to support people with life-changing events: marriage, caregiving, maternity, etc. through varied programs and communities that we have built internally and we continue to foster the culture of enabling our multigenerational diverse workforce. We believe some of these benefits focused on people’s well-being is not just a good to have but a human imperative now.”

Shaji outlined well-being programmes at Infosys saying, “To focus on the health and well-being of employees, we have developed a Health Assessment and lifestyle Enrichment plan (HALE) as a focused response to the concerns about the wellness of our employees and how it is affecting their families. Through this award-winning program, we tackle concerns related to employee stress, health, and overall wellness through workshops, emails, health checks, online chats, fun quizzes, focused communication campaigns, etc. We recently launched the "Infosys Way of Life" (IWOL), an organisation-wide campaign to take forward its collective determination to nurture and sustain the essence of its culture. Culture stands as a powerful differentiator and a driving force behind our collective achievements, and IWOL has assumed paramount importance in fostering a cohesive cultural identity. We have focused on exploring and adopting the various attributes that bring our employees closer to fully living the Infosys Way of Life. Owing to our numerous employee-centric initiatives, we are seeing an increase in the number of employees coming to campus. On the attrition front, our trailing last 12-month attrition is down to around 17%, as of last quarter. Additionally, from the diversity lens, our women-centric initiatives have resulted in a 3-percentage point growth since March 31, 2019. As of June 30, 2023, we had 39.5% women employees.”

Enabling financial well-being for an engaged workforce 

Financial well-being is another key component for fostering an engaged workforce. Organisations can integrate flexible financial well-being initiatives to enhance the employee experience.

Amit Vaish, VP and Head HR at Optum Global Solutions India shared, “We believe that healthier lives and a better health system start with our own team members. We ensure that they have the information and resources to take control of their financial health. LiveWell, the employee engagement and well-being program at Optum, has a pillar dedicated to empowering team members to invest in their future. This comprises the National Pension system designed to enable systematic savings during one’s tenure with the organization, Financial Goal Planning, geared towards detailed financial learning for investments to meet financial goals, and Tax Planning Support — with resources and education to understand tax guidelines and in turn, manage taxes prudently. We regularly host sessions on financial planning with experts, to help team members tackle everyday financial challenges or to discuss investments and retirement planning. Other noteworthy measures include car lease benefits, daycare benefits, employee discounts portal, insurance benefits and extended paid leaves’ benefits, recognition and incentive programs, and our service anniversaries program. All of these benefits are integral to how, at Optum, we are caring, connecting and growing together.”

Raghavan added, “We believe in the importance of wealth creation for our employees. In December 2022, we announced a special one-time discretionary payout for employees holding Flipkart ESOPs, creating a significant wealth creation opportunity. This payout happened in the month of July 2023 for every single employee who is eligible for the same. We remain committed to enhancing value for all our employees through employee-centric policies, wealth creation opportunities for ESOP holders, and offering other enhanced benefits. This payout stands testament to our commitment to fostering a culture of recognition, where every employee, both past and present, is valued for playing an important role in our growth journey. We remain focused on empowering every Indian’s dream by delivering value through innovation in technology and commerce and our employees will continue to be the driving force behind this vision. At Flipkart, our employees are not just part of a team; they are our greatest asset. Our commitment to their well-being, inclusion, and growth is a testament to our belief that a thriving workforce is the key to our continued success.”

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Topics: Employee Engagement, Strategic HR, #ArtificialIntelligence, #HRCommunity

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