Article: Setbacks are growth opportunities: Poonam Agarwal shares BSH Home Appliances' resilient talent strategy


Setbacks are growth opportunities: Poonam Agarwal shares BSH Home Appliances' resilient talent strategy

In this interview with Poonam Agarwal of BSH Home Appliances, gain valuable insights into HR trends, workforce management, and fostering a growth mindset.
Setbacks are growth opportunities: Poonam Agarwal shares BSH Home Appliances' resilient talent strategy

Poonam Agarwal is the Head - Human Resources at BSH Home Appliances. She brings with her 21 years of extensive experience in managing Human Resources functions across diverse industries, including Manufacturing – Specialty chemicals, Engineering, Pharma, and Automotive. With a Master’s degree in Organic Chemistry and Human Resources, and an additional specialisation in Labour Laws and Labour Welfare, her expertise spans strategic HR management, talent acquisition and development, employee engagement, and organisational effectiveness.

In conversation with Poonam, we dive deeper into BSH Home Appliances’ approach to HR management, employee engagement, and fostering an inclusive and growth-oriented culture. 

Here are some excerpts.

As the Head of Human Resources at BSH, what trends do you believe will dominate HR practices and workforce management this year? Anything that you would like to highlight unique to your industry?

The consumer durables industry is undergoing rapid transformations, demanding a strategic approach to HR practices and workforce management. Vital to staying competitive in this swiftly changing landscape are initiatives focused on upskilling and reskilling.  HR practices must evolve to include robust learning and development programs centred on design thinking and cognitive learning, empowering employees to adapt to technological advancements. Digitalisation plays a pivotal role in revolutionising HR processes, offering opportunities to streamline operations and enhance decision-making. Leveraging advanced tools and artificial intelligence—from onboarding to performance management—is key to optimising efficiency and driving organisational success.

The industry demands an adaptable and people-centric approach to HR practices and workforce management. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives are paramount, necessitating inclusive culture, diverse recruitment strategies, and opportunities for underrepresented groups. Technology integration streamlines processes and enhances employee experiences, while upskilling ensures employees remain adept in a changing landscape. Agile work practices promote adaptability and responsiveness.

Cultivating a consumer-centric culture drives employee purpose, growth, and collaboration, aligning performance with consumer satisfaction. 

The focus on upskilling and reskilling employees ensures they have the necessary skills to succeed in the changing consumer industry landscape. Clear performance metrics, coupled with continuous feedback, foster a high-performance culture (HPC), motivating employees towards excellence and ultimately benefiting consumer satisfaction and organisational success.

Employee engagement and culture play a significant role in fostering a positive work environment. Could you share some initiatives that BSH Home Appliances has implemented to drive engagement and strengthen culture?

At BSH Home Appliances, fostering employee engagement and a positive work culture is paramount. To achieve this, we have implemented several initiatives aimed at driving engagement and strengthening our organisational culture. Transparent communication channels are a cornerstone of our approach, ensuring that employees are well-informed about company news, updates, and targets. We facilitate this through regular town hall meetings, newsletters, intranet platforms, and open-door policies that encourage feedback and dialogue between employees and leadership. 

Moreover, we prioritise ongoing feedback mechanisms, utilising employee surveys and various formats for feedback exchange, alongside our open-door policies. This approach fosters an environment where employees feel empowered to share insights, ideas, and concerns, nurturing a culture of transparency and continuous improvement.

In addition to communication, we place a strong emphasis on employee well-being by offering comprehensive wellness initiatives. These include annual health check-ups and holistic well-being sessions focused on both physical and mental health. We believe that prioritising employee wellness contributes to a happier and more productive workforce. Furthermore, we are committed to supporting career development by providing various opportunities such as learning programs, mentorship, coaching, and support for education and digital certifications. These initiatives reflect our dedication to nurturing a supportive work environment where employees can thrive both personally and professionally.

With employee wellness as the cornerstone of a thriving organisational culture, can you shed light on the initiatives BSH has in place to support its employees' welfare and provide flexibility?

At BSH, we understand that employee wellness is important to fostering a thriving organisational culture. Keeping this in mind, we have implemented several initiatives aimed at supporting our employees' welfare and providing flexibility to ensure a healthy work-life balance.

At the core of our strategy lies a commitment to fostering a dynamic work environment through flexible arrangements. We prioritise empowering our team members with the freedom to optimise their schedules, enabling them to achieve their best work-life balance while driving impactful results for our organisation.  In addition to flexibility, we place a strong emphasis on holistic wellness through our comprehensive programs. Partnering with the leading health platforms, we offer wellness programs that address physical, mental, and emotional well-being. These programs include resources such as annual health checkups and counselling services, providing our employees with the support they need to thrive in all aspects of their lives. Furthermore, we understand the importance of providing confidential support for personal and work-related challenges. Through our Employee Assistance Program in collaboration with Silver Oak, employees have access to confidential support services, fostering resilience and mental health within our workforce.

Our commitment to promoting employee health and wellness extends to our benefits package as well. We offer robust health insurance benefits, which include special provisions for elderly parents/grandparents, ensuring that our employees and their families are well taken care of. Additionally, we provide wellness incentives such as gym membership discounts, encouraging our employees to prioritise their health and well-being.

As the business landscape keeps evolving especially with the introduction of new technologies, a growth mindset will remain extremely important for personal and organisational development. How does BSH foster a culture of continuous learning and a growth mindset among its employees?

Our comprehensive training and development programs cover a wide range of areas, including technical skills, industry knowledge, leadership, and soft skills enhancement. Employees have access to workshops, seminars, online courses, and certifications to continually expand their skill sets and stay abreast of industry trends. In addition to formal training programs, we encourage a culture of coaching and mentoring, providing opportunities for employees to learn from experienced professionals and industry experts. This includes initiatives such as reverse and peer mentoring, allowing for valuable knowledge sharing and skill development.

Furthermore, we foster a culture of innovation by providing platforms for ideation, such as our R&D setups, and leveraging our UX team for innovative solutions. We believe in the importance of feedback as a tool for growth and maintaining a robust feedback culture through tools like 360-degree feedback, Feedback Explorer, Pulse check, Impact surveys, and Feedforward. We firmly believe that feedback is a gift and utilise it to drive continuous improvement across the organisation.

Career growth is facilitated through Employee Development Dialogues (EDD), enabling employees to pursue career opportunities aligned with their aspirations through Employee Development and Succession Planning (EDSP).

Moreover, we embrace new technologies and digital tools to enhance learning experiences and enable continuous learning. This includes utilising e-learning platforms such as LinkedIn Learning, Coursera, Udacity, Udemy, GetAbstract, and Good Habitz, as well as providing access to customised learning journeys and online resources for self-paced learning. We also provide collaboration tools like Miro, Synthesia, Qualtrics, and others to assist in the learning process and encourage collaboration among employees.

The concept of a growth mindset harmonises seamlessly with BSH's emphasis on cultivating a high-performance culture, where continuous learning and improvement are paramount.

By instilling the belief that setbacks are opportunities for growth rather than obstacles, BSH nurtures a workforce that embodies resilience, adaptability, and a relentless pursuit of excellence. BSH Group encourages all employees to aspire for leadership roles and mentorship positions. Our unique talent management programs not only identify potential leaders but also provide them with the necessary development opportunities to grow into leadership positions within the organisation.  

Inclusivity is not only critical to productivity but also inspires innovation and accelerates growth. How does BSH promote an inclusive culture, ensuring collaboration and equity across diverse talent? Could you highlight any specific programs or strategies in place to achieve this?

One of our pivotal initiatives revolves around hosting frequent diversity and inclusion awareness sessions, catering to employees across all levels within the organisation. These sessions serve as dedicated platforms aimed at heightening awareness, nurturing cultural competence, confronting biases, and nurturing inclusive behaviours and mindsets.  Our agenda encompasses a wide array of topics, including but not limited to LGBTQ+ rights and advocacy, fostering women's networks, and implementing strategies tailored to cultivate a more inclusive workplace environment. Through these sessions, we aim to empower our workforce with the knowledge, tools, and perspectives necessary to champion diversity, embrace inclusivity, and foster a culture where every individual feels valued, respected, and able to thrive.

In addition to awareness sessions, our inclusive hiring practices ensure a diverse talent pool through bias-free recruitment processes. We employ diverse candidate sourcing strategies, craft inclusive job descriptions, and ensure diverse interview panels are in place. Furthermore, we provide unconscious bias training for hiring managers to mitigate any potential biases throughout the recruitment process.

Furthermore, we celebrate Diversity Week every June across BSH offices globally. During this week-long event, we host various activities, campaigns, and initiatives that highlight diverse cultures, backgrounds, and perspectives within our organisation. These activities include cultural celebrations, diversity-themed workshops, and seminars aimed at promoting understanding and appreciation of diversity.

In closing, as organisations strive to attract and retain top talent, what advice would you give to HR leaders in building an employer brand that resonates with prospective employees? How can they successfully attract and retain talent?

To effectively attract and retain top talent, HR leaders must prioritise building an employer brand that resonates with prospective employees. This begins with defining a compelling Employer Value Proposition (EVP), highlighting the unique culture, opportunities for growth, and benefits offered by the organisation. Providing a positive candidate experience, from recruitment to onboarding and beyond, is crucial, with clear, transparent communication and personalised interactions (touch points). Investing in employee development, promoting diversity and inclusion, and fostering a positive work environment are key aspects of a strong employer brand. Encouraging employee advocacy and actively monitoring and adapting the employer brand strategy based on feedback and insights further enhances its effectiveness. By implementing these strategies, HR leaders can create a compelling employer brand that attracts top talent and fosters long-term retention within the organisation.

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Topics: Leadership, Talent Acquisition, Learning & Development, Diversity, #HRCommunity

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