Article: Redefine EX with total rewards, culture and technology: Insights from WorldatWork India’s CHRO roundtable, Bangalore


Redefine EX with total rewards, culture and technology: Insights from WorldatWork India’s CHRO roundtable, Bangalore

In this era of continuous change, what is the driving force behind designing the right employee experience? Senior leaders and decision-makers explore how HR can play a bigger role in the new work exchange in this exclusive roundtable discussion.
Redefine EX with total rewards, culture and technology: Insights from WorldatWork India’s CHRO roundtable, Bangalore

The future of work is now increasingly on-demand; it’s no longer limited to a place and is being shaped by the evolving relationships between employees and employers. In this context, the vision is to redefine work both as a concept and in practice, ensuring that it’s more people-focused, data-driven, transparent, equitable, personalised and, at the same time, superfast and rewards infused. 

“This is an exciting time to be in the HR space. As work constructs are changing, the way organisations structure their pay and rewards programs is also changing. This will play a massive role in deciding whether your organisation delivers on its promises,” noted Dr. Scott Cawood, CEO of WorldatWork, in his keynote address at the roundtable discussion on HR Driving Employee Experience in the New Work Exchange.

The senior HR leader roundtable held at The Oberoi, Bangalore, was hosted by People Matters in association with WorldatWork India, which brought together industry experts such as Dr. (H.C.) Kumar Visvanathan, Head of Shared Services, Mindtree; Roopali Sundar, Head-HR, Visteon and Amit Prakash, Lead HRBP (Corporate), Ajio B2B-Reliance Retail and many other leaders with diverse experiences and expertise to capture ways to reinvent work with EX and rewards, front and centre.

Moderated by Mihai Popoaca, President, WorldatWork and Neha Gupta, Global Rewards Partner, Europe & Africa at AP Moller - Maersk, the event ignited an insightful conversation on skill shortages, the critical role of total rewards, the digital EX and more. 

Redefining the Skill Gap Conundrum

What businesses today look for when hiring is a critical question to ask. “When we post job descriptions demanding IIT pass-outs with 3-4 years of experience, are we sending the right messaging to our internal and skilled employees?” raised Amit Sarin, Total Rewards Manager at Caterpillar. To which Karthik Nellaiappan, VP-HR at Standard Chartered Bank-Global Business Services, added that organisations might overlook the aspirations of internal employees in favour of getting new hires which may cause some friction. 

“The way we measure skills is changing,” quipped Shonalie Gupta, Associate VP-HR at ANSR. There is indeed a need to create a kind of equity with the right rewards and pay structure, which recognises the skills both new hires and current employees possess beyond the colleges they pass-out from or their years of working. An interesting question that Pavan Desiraju, Head-HR, Prudential India, then asked: “Are we measuring experience or are we measuring potential?” Answering this becomes especially crucial as the cohorts getting hired today come with so many diverse skill sets and experiences, even when they are from Tier-2 or Tier-3 cities and colleges, as highlighted by Ranjan Saxena, Associate Director-HR at ANSR.

Strengthening a Skilled Workforce for The Future

As emphasised by Athia Sheik Ismail, Senior Comp & Ben Partner at LinkedIn, jobs are evolving fast as changing business models and technologies are transforming the world into a global village. “What makes a person successful in their role is also changing, skills need to be continuously built so learnability becomes an important value,” added Shveta Srivastava, Head-HR Tech Transformation at Wipro Ltd

This is why, as pointed out by Nilesh Deshpande, Director-HR at DXC Technology, learning about the skills your organisation needs in the near-to-short term become important. Upskilling comes after. “Democratising the learning process becomes an important step to empower employees to chart their own career growth plans,” added Rajat Sethi, Head – Talent Management & Compensation and Benefits at Daimler Truck Innovation Center India. Even going back to educational institutions and starting skill-building from there will become rewarding eventually. Sushmita Malik, VP-HR at 24x7ai, supported this and said, “When we take the skills to the talent pool, we will have a larger skilled workforce.” 

Talent Retention with Total Rewards

“We need a clear, consistent and differentiated total rewards strategy and experience to keep the talent engaged,” said Harish Bubna, Head-Compensation at Intuit India. In designing this, we must look at what motivates employees and then map it to their individual aspirations and personalise the experience, added Meenakshi Virani, Head of HR for Zee Technology and Innovation Centre

Sirisha Palepu, Head-HR at Cisco, Neerja Bhardwaj, Head of HR at GE Research-General Electric, and Girija Shetty, Lead-People Excellence at Amagi Corporation, also called for recognising the values of employees and aligning the rewards blueprint to DEI and other issues that are meaningful to society, by citing examples such as leaves for pet parents and cash benefits for using EV cars.

“Do people feel valued by the organisation as individuals vis-a-vis a resource,” is a question posed by Dr Madana Kumar, VP & Global Head of Leadership Development at UST Global. This is critical because it feeds into talent retention and is visible in something as simple as L&D strategies, whether we are only training our people for the monetisable skills or are also investing in their holistic development. 

Strategies for the Right Compensation and Beyond

Srinivas Vedula, Total Rewards Director at Micron Technologies, brought us back to the importance of pay, citing compensation as the biggest reason for attrition. While we talk about the personalisation of benefits, a food for thought, as proposed by Dhruv Jha, Partner-Business Growth at Compport, is also the personalisation of pay, and he offered the suggestion of skill-based incentives where employees get paid more as they acquire more skills. 

However, while compensation is one part of the equation, Neha Kapoor, Senior TR Analyst at Caterpillar, and Amit Sondhi of Emids also talk about the importance of meaningful work, wellness, trust and transparency in communication. Also raised by Sandeep Nainwal, Head of People at Revolut, “While we look for reasons why people are leaving, why aren’t we looking for reasons why people are staying?” That is where so many of the answers lie, and the values of intangible elements like manager and peer relationships can come in. 

Getting EX right with Technology and Culture

Total compensation and rewards strategy should indeed underscore the company culture with consistent messaging. But as highlighted by Kanupriya Gupta, International Total Rewards Health at Intel, “How do we make these benefits accessible from everywhere to our employees?” This is where the employee experience led by digital interventions comes in. There is always a chance for rewards strategies to fail if employees don’t have the best UX when accessing them. In the digital era, single clicks will definitely be a game changer. 

Additionally, Mohammed Rizwan, Head of Human Resources, Reverie Technologies, also pointed out the increasing use of chatbots to solve employee grievances and to keep a pulse on their feedback. Technology can also be leveraged to get clarity on roles and responsibilities, empowering employees from a growth perspective. 

These use cases of technology are bound to add value to the overall EX, along with an authentic, transparent and consistent leadership style, as shared by Synthya Jayaram, APAC Leader - Employee Health, Wellness of State Street. The future of work indeed calls for leaders to solve skill gaps while elevating EX with the right rewards strategy. However, as we design innovative practices and rewrite the rules of the game, technology and culture will continue to be predominant.

Sheetal Raut, Managing Director, WorldatWork India, shared her closing remarks, “It is great to see HR leaders come together to find innovative solutions to help employees achieve their learning goals. At WorldatWork, we strive to equip HR professionals expand their impact at work. We will continue to organize more such events to facilitate exchange of ideas.

WorldatWork, now also in India, brings together the best professionals from around the world to provide the foremost education, leadership and community dedicated to elevating employee experiences and organizational performance. For over 65 years, WorldatWork has set the standard in rewards best practices, professional development and human capital leadership. Over 90% of the Global 500 companies trust and rely on WorldatWork education and certified professionals to power their employee rewards, engagement and retention efforts.

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Topics: Leadership, Employee Engagement, #TotalRewards, #EmployeeExperience, #Future of Work, #HRCommunity

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