Article: From purpose to engagement to experience


From purpose to engagement to experience

In this exclusive C-Suite discussion during the People Matters Virtual Ex Conference 2020, leaders across the regions and industries came together to address the shifts brought by pandemic by reimagining the organization, and leadership – from purpose, to engagement, to experience.
From purpose to engagement to experience

When we talk about organizational culture, it is commonly linked with the cognitive culture of the company. It relates to the articulated values of the company and what matters the most in that organization. However, cultural problems emerge when there is an inconsistency between the cognitive and emotional cultures within the business. If the shared values of the organization do not align with the feelings and attitudes of individual workers, the company culture will collapse.

While it is not unusual for a gap to exist between the two, it is during times of crisis that the difference becomes extremely apparent; importantly, it is at times of crisis that the true values of a business become clear.

This is why it is so important that employers are mindful of the steps they’re taking to ensure cultural consistency while their team is in lockdown (crisis). It is a time to consider the purpose of the organization during the crisis and how they can openly communicate this to staff to ensure that actions and decisions are aligned with the company priorities.

In this exclusive C-Suite panel discussion during the People Matters Virtual Ex Conference 2020, leaders across the regions and industries came together to address the shifts brought by the pandemic. They discussed how they reimagined the organization culture from purpose to engagement, to experience. 

Chaired by Philippa Penfold, CEO and Co-Founder, People Collider, the discussion saw views, experience, and focus areas shared by Christopher Wehner, MD, BMW Group Asia, Dr. Santrupt B Misra, CEO, Birla Carbon; Director, Chemicals & Director, Group HR, Aditya Birla, Nitin Chugh, MD & CEO, Ujjivan Small Finance Bank, and Shreyasi Singh, Founder & CEO, Harappa Education.

Here are the top key lessons from our experts to responding to the new normal and managing the crisis:

Communicate more and often

Getting your organization to realize its full potential starts with creating a culture that encourages robust communication. Given the extended work from home and surrounding uncertainty, the right communication strategy is critical more than ever now in the times of widespread work from home.

"At BMW, we are putting a lot of effort in communicating with our employees. It is inevitable to have a great communication culture to navigate the uncertainty posed by the pandemic,” shares Christopher Wehner, MD, BMW Group Asia.


Dr. Santrupt B Misra, CEO, Birla Carbon; Director, Chemicals & Director, Group HR, Aditya Birla also stressed on the need of making information available to the workforce.  “Organizations should offer employees accurate and timely information to help them carry their jobs to perfection and support their performance,” says Dr. Santrupt B Misra.


The way you treat your employees will decide how your employees will treat your customers:

Nitin Chugh, MD & CEO, Ujjivan Small Finance Bank shares the example of his bank where they felt that pandemic has given the bank an opportunity to push their inclusion agenda. “For Ujjivan, the leadership was clear on the fact that to respond to the ongoing crisis, there is a need to communicate often to employees, and more importantly listen to them.” The company was regularly was in touch with its employees and keep a check on their well-being and any discomfort they were facing.

The company rolled out a program where on a voluntary basis, the bank employees were asked to connect with the bank customers through social messaging and keep a check on their well-being and help them in getting any medicine, ration, or any other supplies or help they would need.

Nitin and his team observed a great level of commitment where all employees participated in this program and they have been able to connect with all of their customers in a short span of time.  The company also received a lot of messages and appreciations from customers for this initiative.

Ujjivan's case study sum up the perfectly, the need of human touch to drive employee experience, customer satisfaction, and making employees feel inclusive.

Investing in experience –consistently

It is critical for organizations to drive employee-centric culture. Organizations’ success will depend on how they sailed through this crisis together.

Shreyasi Singh, Founder & CEO, Harappa Education, shares that “Change is not an overnight process. One has to invest in building a culture that would not fail in times of crisis like this.” 

Being one of the new-age, and a young company operating in a disruptive environment and the times when the demand for L&D has increased, Shreyasi shared the moments when the employees felt overwhelmed about the ongoing pandemic, work, and uncertainty. What worked well for Harappa was to create a great experience for their employees through a series of activities. In fact, the company hired a lot of people amidst the lockdown. They conducted an immersive onboarding program for them virtually.

Dr. Santrupt B Misra also stressed on the case of a superior employee experience. He shares, “Our years of investment in engagement, learning culture, values, and technology which helped us to keep the performance and productivity bar high in the times of pandemic.”


Last but not the least, Work from Home, was one of the key highlights of this session and Christopher led this discussion as he quoted the example of BMW Singapore that they managed to pull off the “work from home” shift as they observed great motivation among employees and witnesses increased productivity. Hence, the company is planning to make work from home a norm in the future by freezing two days a week for work for home which offers employees to connect more with family, cut down their commuting time, and work at their comfort.

He also suggested to make sure work from home works, invest in technologies as like having a great culture of learning, and a great culture of communication, it is inevitable to imbibe a great culture of virtual work environment and infrastructure.

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Topics: Leadership, Culture, Employee Engagement, #PMEXConf

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