Article: 'Necessary roadplan': Castrol India’s Maria P Valles on strategies for HR leaders to tackle future of work

Strategic HR

'Necessary roadplan': Castrol India’s Maria P Valles on strategies for HR leaders to tackle future of work

Creating a future-ready workplace in sync with evolving industry trends is a key focus area for HR leaders today. Maria P Valles, vice president, people and culture, Castrol India shares critical strategies that can help them to prepare for the ever-evolving future of work.
'Necessary roadplan': Castrol India’s Maria P Valles on strategies for HR leaders to tackle future of work

Workplaces are changing and there is a need to synchronise with the evolving trends and experiment with new ways of working - be it hybrid, flex, as well as emerging physical differences in the workplace.

Thus, creating a future-ready workplace in sync with current industry trends is an important focus area for any HR leader in present times.

Towards this end, Maria P Valles, vice president, people & culture, Castrol India, in an interaction with People Matters, shares focus areas and critical strategies that can help HR leaders to prepare for the future of work. 

Valles brings over 28 years of rich experience in human resource management and leadership, having worked across various industries before joining Castrol India in 2003. In her current role, she works with the leadership team to support the delivery of strategic business plans as well as the modernisation and transformation of the organisation.


The field of HR is changing rapidly, with many new regulations impacting how we interview, how we remunerate employees, create specialised training courses, protect data privacy, implement agile ways of working, etc. Valles says HR professionals need to update themselves with new skill sets and take up training and courses that help them stay ahead of the curve.

Watch out for emerging trends

Keenly follow emerging trends in people processes and practices in your own as well as other allied sectors, suggests Valles, adding that HR leaders need to make a conscious effort to keep their finger firmly on the pulse to know what is changing, if it is of relevance to their organisation and employees, and if so, how it can be adopted?

Embrace digital

Tech-savvy HR professionals use analytics to predict and assess everything from employee retention to recruitment strategies, to the success of wellness programmes. “The digital aspect is here to stay and to more we embrace it, the more it will serve us,” says Valles.  

Understand how the company succeeds

Valles says HR leaders need to know and contribute to the company’s vision, strategy, and financial success. “Otherwise, they won't have a seat at the table and at a basic level, they will not be able to execute effective workforce planning or attract, hire, and train the right talent.”

Stay up to date on compliance and statutory requirements

HR leaders should understand the play of equity in the workplace (not just equality) and explore DE&I processes and policies to ensure a diverse workforce, she adds.

Valles further suggests critical strategies that HR leaders should adopt for a new era of work.

First and foremost, focus on the capability and skills offered, she says.

“Identify the future skills needed like digital, agile, commercial skills etc. and balance it with human skills and thus prepare for change. Understand the new skillsets needed for the organisation to thrive. This also involves working on the future vision and strategy of the company and then communicating it effectively to employees and create engagement.” 

Secondly, look at reward and compensation packages that are attractive to the modern worker. That includes not just parental leave and flexi timings but also caregiver leave, financial wellness programmes, and a slew of benefits that support critical life events in employees’ personal lives.  

Current and future leadership benchmarking: Valles tells HR leaders to continuously review leadership skills needed to lead the organisation in the right direction, and look for diversity in leadership roles to bring in new mindsets. Start hiring at the mid-level and build a leadership pipeline. Train employees to recognise unconscious biases within the organisation so that diversity hires are accepted and given the necessary space to succeed.

Focus on employee wellbeing: Employee well-being matters, and this is increasingly becoming a focus area for organisations with a rise in stress levels and the demands of a fast-paced life. Mental health awareness has been on the rise and companies need to give equal importance to employees’ mental health and wellbeing along with physical health.

Create the best employee experience: As the workforce becomes more transient, it is increasingly important that companies offer an employee experience that keeps them engaged and motivated and prioritises their overall wellbeing. Therefore, it is important to create a culture of trust, transparency, respect, and empowerment in the workplace.

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Topics: Strategic HR, Leadership, #Future of Work, #HybridLeadership

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