The role of CHRO has undergone a revolution. Growing more and more to become a true business function, HR has become a strategic partner with other key roles in the C-suite to morph organizations into businesses of the future. Technology, new generations in the workforce, and a greater emphasis on leadership are giving CHROs an opportunity to create a future-ready organization. But with great opportunity comes great challenges. In this interview with Sukhveer Singh Ajay, Head of People & Culture, Foodpanda Malaysia, we will discuss how to successfully rethink their approaches to HR and create a great experience for everyone at work.
Here is an excerpt from the interview:
Q: There is an extreme level of complexity characterizing today’s global business environment. How it has impacted or reinvented the agenda for today and tomorrow?
There are three ways in which today’s global business environment has been impacted or reinvented.
The first being engagement. One of the biggest shifts that occurred throughout the pandemic is the level of engagement required in our HR activities to remove the risk of employee isolation. The team had to pivot and adapt in such a short period of time, drawing deep to innovate programmes that could still connect the team at large. One of the main initiatives that kicked off during this period was the MCOlympics, an inter-department engagement activity that consists of fun quizzes, trivias, and challenges.
The second is ownership and accountability. Traditional working environments often focus on the amount of hours one spends working but the shift to work from home (WFH) has ultimately proven that with trust and flexibility, employees can exceed regular levels of productivity. The move to WFH also came with a larger sense of responsibility which equated to a larger sense of ownership and accountability. We have seen varying levels of increased productivity and been able to identify key individuals who have thrived on this non-conventional approach.
Finally, there is mental health. The importance of mental health took precedence in 2020. Many were dealing with the multiple ripple effects of the pandemic. Anxiety and stress were at a tipping point for many. Many leadership teams, mine included, took the decision to ensure employees knew that we thoroughly understood this situation, so if it meant taking a day off or seeking counselling, we did provide available resources to help employees cope. Managers were mandated to enquire on the mental health of employees to initiate a more open, honest and transparent working relationship.
Q: HR tech is already here. Nearly every HR process has been impacted by major technology innovations, being either redesigned or completely reinvented. What are the real purposes of tech innovations? Is it for cost-reduction, or is that merely an implication of tech investments?
In my opinion, the real purpose of tech innovations are to migrate the perception of HR into the new age. Gone are the days where HR is solely connected to payroll and processing of employee files. The scope of work within HR has tripled to include a more evolved and balanced consensus between employee and employer. HR in this day and age is really driven by progressive leadership with the science of people and data as driving factors.
While few organizations can claim they have mastered managing diversity, the complexity has increased with the introduction of more millennials and generation Z into the workforce. By 2025, millennials will account for 75 percent of the global workforce. How is your organization gearing up for the upcoming overhaul in the workforce generation?
Each company has its own definition of diversity and this is fundamentally set by the leadership teams. They play an exceptionally crucial role in the acceptance of what can be classified under diversity.
Millennials and Gen Z subscribe to a “woke” sense of ideology and personal responsibility. While this may not always go hand in hand with the Boomers and Gen X, it is important to take into account. We see a major shift in consumer behaviour due to it and it is only a matter of time before it catches up with professional expectations. A good leadership team will know to stay ahead of the curve and work in diversifying their definition of diversity within their organisation, refuse this and risk being alienated by the future generations.
Q: A lot has been written about the expectations and aspirations of a modern workforce. How would you empower the mindset and wants of a modern employee?
Fundamentally, with trust, fairness and an open and transparent relationship, the modern employee is more likely to thrive and improve productivity. Besides that, self-improvement in a personal and professional capacity is also essential for the modern employee to continue the learning curve. It provides ample opportunities for new interests and optimising skill sets to grow into a more informed employee.
Q: Employment for life is a thing of the past, with 66 percent of millennials expected to leave their jobs within five years or less. This makes developing and living the right employee value proposition a core value for long-term success and competitiveness. How are you innovating with your EVP in this context?
Employment for life is definitely a thing of the past and this is even more apparent in the quick commerce industry especially on this side of the world where there are only a handful of key players for job seekers to pick from. As leaders, what needs to be done when innovating successful EVPs is to first acknowledge and accept the ever-evolving nature of this industry and then strategise accordingly. The main priority is always to keep compensation and benefits competitive, however, that aside it is also crucial to include a range of training & leadership programmes focused on fuelling professional and personal growth which will empower young individuals. The goal is to create a professional ecosystem which is able to engage the workforce by way of empowerment and ownership.
What kind of cost-benefit evaluation one must consider while implementing a culture and environment that attracts a modern workforce?
More often than not, the cost-benefit analysis only takes into account the interests of the company as a singular module. To attract and retain a modern workforce it is crucial that leadership teams look beyond their vested interest and prioritize instilling a culture and environment that continuously fuels growth, promotes fairness and rewards ownership and accountability.