The evolving world of work has left many leaders in a dilemma about the next steps to build an engaged and productive workforce. At Proctor and Gamble (P&G), one of the oldest firms established in India more than 180 years ago, wellbeing of the people has always been a core value, which didn’t change even during the pandemic. It is one of the reasons why the organisation could thrive and power through the many challenges and disruptions in the past two years.
To understand their journey better and the newly introduced policies where the uniqueness of each employee is celebrated, with equal opportunities to make a difference, we spoke to Srinivas PM, Vice-President and HR Head, Indian subcontinent, P&G, who has been with the organisation for nearly 23 years. While he began his journey at P&G in 2000 as a management trainee, he slowly began his rise to HR Manager leading different divisions including HR initiatives, compensation and benefits, sales, supply chain and business and organisation strategy before taking up the role of Vice-President and HR Head in 2021.
In an exclusive chat with us, Srinivas discusses why the organisation negated the use of a cookie-cutter approach, how they strive to deliver a superior employee value equation with the introduction of programs aimed at providing flexibility, care, recognition, coaching and mentoring to its employees in hybrid work model, the need to focus on emotional wellbeing for a happy and healthy workforce and why standing by the employees through thick and thin is the key to building resilient organisations.
So, take a look at P&G’s approach and initiatives in action to learn what can organisations do differently to attract and retain top talent and build an agile, resilient, engaged, productive and accountable workforce. Excerpts from the interview:
What are some of the radical shifts that you have seen in L&D in the past year? How did it impact your organisation’s corporate learning strategy?
The new decade has witnessed a paradigm shift in the way organisations do business. Change has been a constant and the last few years have been exceptionally challenging for everyone. But for P&G India, it has reaffirmed our learnings and strategy.
At P&G, we have always believed that every individual is unique and has diverse and dynamic needs that are constantly evolving with time. Hence, a cookie cutter approach will not work. This builds into our belief that there is no single equation for success, because no two people or careers are alike. Just as we strive to deliver a superior consumer experience, we aim to deliver a superior employee value equation as well.
Our objective is to help our people strengthen the skills they possess and the talent they bring to the table, by creating an environment of consistent and ongoing learning on the job. We believe that when our people possess core skills and expertise and are part of Multi-skilled and Multi-functional Teams (MFTs), they gain mastery along the way, learning from their leaders and peers, as well as from the meaningful tasks they are entrusted with, from day one. For us, the broad definition of skills is something one “can do” and “can learn”. It’s a pattern of effective behaviour that one can demonstrate through application. This is our strategy, where our endeavour is to provide our employees with both horizontal and vertical growth as they become specialists in their careers.
When it comes to empowering a skills-based workforce, especially in a hybrid setup, what are some of the unique steps taken by P&G? Could you share some examples and success stories with us?
At P&G, we strive to empower our people and enable them to bring their full selves to the workplace, through our policies and programs.
In line with our philosophy that a cookie-cutter approach will not work, we strive to be inclusive to every single person and their needs to be able to truly empower them. We celebrate the uniqueness of each employee’s journey because we know that loyalty and success stem from the times when people feel inspired to make a difference, have equal opportunity and multiple ways to continue growing, feel pride in making an impact and know they are being valued and rewarded for their contributions to their team’s and the company’s success.
Here are a few examples:
- We have seamlessly enabled a hybrid model of coming back to the workplace where we have empowered individual workgroups to own their individual hybrid work-styles based on their individual flexibility needs. They can work from the office, work from home and on-ground where the customers and consumers are. We also continue to cater to specific requests where more flexibility is needed, especially in situations that demand caregiving. With this, our office is back to its buzzing and vibrant days, as nearly all our people have returned to the workplace, basis their workgroup’s hybrid model and are leveraging the benefits from the culture of continued coaching, collaboration, and celebration at the workplace.
- Our ‘Share the Care’ inclusive parental leave policy provides all new parents including biological parents, domestic partners, adoptive parents, parents in same-sex couples eight weeks of fully paid parental leave.
- We realised that we needed to reimagine a few things for our people, who joined the organisation during or right before the pandemic, as it was a critical transition period for them. So, we are curating valuable in-office and virtual moments with the right opportunities to come together for collaboration, coaching and celebration, for all our employees, especially for those who have joined us recently.
- We have also introduced leadership engagements for new hires, which is helping them gain insights, coaching and mentoring, as well as an opportunity for reverse-mentoring towards further enhancing our initiatives.
- A new-hire CARE toolkit is also being sent out to everyone joining the firm, or shifting locations, to help them settle into new cities. The toolkit contains details like food options, accommodation options near the office, utility solutions like laundry services, cab services, tiffin services, cleaning services, etc.
With this, and much more, we are investing our heart and mind in making P&G a great place to work for our people.
Skill building is often linked to productivity and performance, but how does your organisation change this narrative by placing employee wellbeing at the centre of your skilling strategy? What has been the impact witnessed?
At P&G, the wellbeing of our people is at the core of our priorities since our inception more than 180 years ago. We truly care for our people as well as their families. The pandemic re-emphasised the importance of focusing on the health, hygiene, and wellbeing of everyone, including employees at the workplace. It reiterated that the wellbeing of people is directly linked to their progress and hence, to the progress of organisations they drive. Therefore, for us, the wellbeing of our employees and their families takes centre stage and is the core driver that propels us towards growth. We believe that only when our people feel happy and healthy at their core, is when they will be able to bring their full selves to work.
Let’s take the example of mental wellbeing – in this dynamic and difficult environment, we are treating the mental wellbeing of our people as a priority. Our objective is to CARE for our employees and support their unique and diverse requirements in a holistic manner. We are doing multiple things to achieve this:
- Fostering an inspiring and inclusive work ecosystem by driving actions and programs across our citizenship focus areas of community impact, equality & inclusion and environmental sustainability. Our people share this commitment and contribute to these actions in their individual capacities, to spark a change and feel inspired.
- Driving proactive interventions to support our people including a bi-annual ‘pause & recharge week’, dedicated ‘no meeting zones’ to help them get more time for themselves.
- Creating a holistic environment and safe spaces where our people feel comfortable to speak up and share their thoughts. For this, we have introduced several initiatives including a ‘We Care Helpdesk’, mental wellbeing checkup as part of annual preventive health checkup and more.
- Providing a host of mental wellbeing enablers including one-to-one counselling sessions for every team member, through an empaneled counsellor, 24x7 Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) service available for all employees and their family members, a Mental-Health First-Aiders task force as the first line of response to signs of distress and a wellness allowance to reimburse employees for expenditure on mental wellbeing.
- Encouraging the leadership to be an equal and vocal ally in our efforts, by training them to identify mental wellbeing indicators within their workgroups, by spotting early signs of distress.
Together with this, and other significant initiatives, we are working to ensure that our people are happy and healthy at their core.
Additionally, while you empower a skilled workforce, how do you ensure individual and organisational growth during these times of disruption?
We are focusing on strengthening our people and thereby our organisation by fostering a mutually beneficial environment, the result of which is an agile, resilient, and accountable workforce. For instance, every individual at P&G possesses specialised skills and expertise, which is strengthened consistently through the course of their careers in the company. These highly skilled individuals form Multifunctional and Multiskilled Teams (MFTs), which in turn work with agility, accountability, and resilience, propel the organisation towards growth. With this, our people grow, our business grows and we, as an organisation, grow ensuring mutual success with formidable partnership. Our core belief lies in fueling the personal and professional growth of our people, which ultimately drives the organisation’s growth.
Finally, what would be your advice to our community on designing a future-ready and disruption-ready learning strategy?
In the new decade and the decades to come, our belief would remain consistent, that to solidify our future, to thrive as an organisation, amidst disruptions and challenges, we need to solidify our people today, and stand by them through thick and thin, in every way possible. Our people have always been and will always remain at the centre of all our strategies. Further, our aim is to be inclusive to every single person and their dynamic and ever-evolving needs. When we do this successfully, the result is a resilient organisation that can face and power through disruptions. We have witnessed this over the last two years and are convinced that this strategy will keep us future ready.