Article: Divya Sathyan on future of work & total rewards

Performance Management

Divya Sathyan on future of work & total rewards

In an interaction with People Matters, Divya Sathyan, Director and Head – HR, Genesys Telecom Labs, India shares how flexibility is now a key component of the way we work and hence the way we compensate and recognize employees.
Divya Sathyan on future of work & total rewards

Passionate about empowering individuals to reach their full-potential Divya Sathyan, Director and Head – HR, Genesys Telecom Labs, India has been focusing on the silver lining of the pandemic. She is optimistic about the flexibility at work that has become the new normal at work. It is great to see how the global health crisis has helped break old stigmas of working from home, freelancing, flexi hours, and digitization. 

“Remote working has enabled a healthy trend towards productivity and performance. The very fact that boundaries between home and office have faded has enabled employees to choose an ideal time around the 24 hours that’s available to him,” said Sathyan. 

How has the pandemic impacted your industry and its talent and skills demand?

Where and how people work and do business is going to change with this pandemic. A growing array of web-based technologies will enable and, in many cases, require any time, any place distributed work. Emerging internet cloud and mobile technologies are increasingly shifting work lives away from the corporate office altogether and towards an in my own place on my own terms/time regimen.

The impact was initially felt until we could get accustomed to the new norm, however Genesys India being a progressive organization has a good percentage of population of Virtual employees who are delivering value. Genesys is a diverse organization with its talent pool spread across 50+ countries and believes in empowering individuals in making the right decision. We have never been constrained by geography, we form communities and relationships in a variety of new ways.

Given the impact the pandemic has had on the industry, how has it impacted your business priorities and people strategies?

The most important aspect of the new norm was the fact that we discovered how united and effective we are as ONE TEAM. We were forerunners to declare work from home options to impacted countries much ahead of our peers in the Industry. Our employee first approach set by our CEO and due consideration towards the safety and welfare of employees was much appreciated by our employees. 

The outcome was not a surprise as our employees delivered value and ensured our customer needs were addressed with utmost dedication.

In Genesys India the leadership team has time and again displayed the employee first attitude, we understand work from home is new to most of our employees and have provided support on setting up home offices and helped employees purchase ergonomic equipment and offered infrastructure allowance which would help them handle additional cost towards internet and mobile bills.

We have had virtual sessions targeted on the mental well-being of our employees. Our employee assistance programs, our medical insurance benefits and policies have helped our employees sail through the pandemic.

We created Genesys Coronavirus Task Force to monitor the outbreak, establish work and travel related policies that may be necessary to put into place, and to provide employees with updated information during this global health issue. Task force representatives also kept our employees, customers and partners informed about Genesys perspectives as this situation continues to unfold.

We had an intranet portal which gave constant updates of the situation of our Genesys offices across locations from time to time, policies around expense reimbursement on account of COVID, periodic leadership updates & employee surveys which tapped into the thought process of employees. 

Do you think that post pandemic trends like remote working; flexi hours become a common trend? What other trends at work, do you think are here to stay? 

Genesys as an organization celebrates its employees, we had a robust work from home/virtual working policy in place. We believe in empowering employees and want them to take responsibility for their actions and would not like to monitor their in and out time unlike most other organizations. We do not define a stipulated number of working hours but truly believe when we give the freedom for employees to choose their work hours it reflects in their deliverables.

The concept of remote working is the new norm and I believe a lot of flexibility will come into play. The cynicism about working from home and the stigma around the effectiveness of it has faded off with this recent pandemic.

It will also be a “She-conomy”, with the above flexibility I foresee women around the world entering the workforce at an unprecedented rate. Because of increased access to education, mobile technologies, flexible working hours, remote working, women will create more work for themselves.

The approach around virtual engagement is picking up with a lot of benefits around gamification, online learning sessions, virtual events. Virtual coffee sessions and informal meetings which are shorter are becoming effective.

In this new mode of remote working, how are you measuring productivity & performance? 

Remote working has enabled a healthy trend towards productivity and performance. The very fact that boundaries between home and office have faded has enabled employees to choose an ideal time around the 24 hours that’s available to him. At Genesys we have had great business outcomes because of our productivity trend. The intent & commitment of the leadership to display the employees first attitude ensured that employees take complete accountability of their performance resulting in healthier trends towards performance. This decision to extend the working from home mandate was meant to get employees safely through this crisis and was deeply appreciated by employees and their families.

Did you also revise the KPIs for your employees, keeping in mind the changes the pandemic has brought along? Have you made any changes to your compensation & benefits model? Please share if you plan to introduce any new benefits amid the pandemic.

The KPIs have remained intact, rather we have been forerunners in moving away from the traditional balanced scorecard approach towards “Performance Conversations” which is used for providing constant feedback towards goals and also allows employees to focus on their professional development.

In our R&D functions we use Objective & Key Results to plan what people are going to produce, track their progress vs. plan, and coordinate priorities and milestones between people and teams. We also use OKRs to help people stay focused on the most important goals and help them avoid being distracted by urgent but less important goals.

With remote working becoming the new normal & more companies adopting gig working models, what upcoming trends do you think will emerge in the Total Rewards space? 

The trend towards the gig economy has begun and there is a huge rise in short term assignments. In this digital age, the workforce is becoming more mobile and work can increasingly be done from anywhere, the pandemic was a live experience in my view. As a result, job and location are being decoupled. That means that freelancers can select among temporary jobs and projects around the world, while employers can select the best individuals for specific projects from a larger pool than what’s available in any given area.

The current reality is that people tend to change jobs several times throughout their working lives and the gig economy can be seen as an evolution of that trend. From a total reward perspective, the ability to contract with experts for specific is a lucrative option employers would go after.

How is the role of HR Changing with the pandemic? What do you think are the core competencies the HR of the present and the future need to build? Lastly, how are you dealing with this crisis? 

The coronavirus pandemic has caused tremendous disruption in lives and in business, and human resources (HR) is key to supporting companies and catalysing changes in the workplace. The issues are complex—supporting employees, educating the importance of empathy to leaders, looking at working from home with a new lens.

To get past this phase, businesses must adapt to the future of work, and the capability to move with speed and agility is a critical capability HR can influence. HR is in arguably the best position to see overall processes and offer a complete viewpoint, ensuring coordination, communication and collaboration across units, functions, business groups.

We encouraged a two-way communication channel for leaders to reach out to team members informally and for employees to also share their work from home experiences/challenges from time to time. Our Employee Advisory committee creatively designed and implemented virtual interactive sessions / activities and ensured we had many memorable virtual celebrations. We work towards making HR onboarding a wow factor in Genesys, we believe the first impression is a lasting impression and really makes it special to our new joiners. The pandemic did not deter our spirits and we made that experience seamless by coming up with a virtual onboarding kit which was widely appreciated by our new joiners. 

Lastly, as a leader, how are you ensuring that you keep calm, sail through and help others also in these tough times? Share your tips.

As a women leader multi-tasking is natural to me. I have learnt the art by being an ambitious professional in the last two decades as a HR leader. I do a bit of yoga and listen to soothing music to calm my nerves. This pandemic has been demanding as HR is being looked upon as that change agents who could balance the needs of the new norm.

I don’t think of myself as a super woman, I seek help and learn from my counterparts whenever I need help. The perfectionist in me has made me anxious in the past but not anymore, I have chosen to aim for personal progress instead of perfect results, and don’t punish myself at every turn. 

I strongly believe in teamwork and prefer to focus on the strengths of my team members rather than trying to improve upon their weaknesses. I truly believe in fun at work and would like to see the positive side of any situation being the optimist that I am!

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Topics: Performance Management, #RethinkPerformanceandRewards

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