Article: Eva Majercsik of Genesys on ‘embracing empathy’ and the value of virtual learning

Learning & Development

Eva Majercsik of Genesys on ‘embracing empathy’ and the value of virtual learning

In a conversation with People Matters, Eva Majercsik, Chief People Officer at Genesys, discusses company values – Embrace Empathy, Fly-in Formation, and Go Big – in the context of upskilling employees.
Eva Majercsik of Genesys on ‘embracing empathy’ and the value of virtual learning

READ the October 2021 issue of our magazine: The Skills Gaps Conundrum

Eva Majercsik is Chief People Officer at Genesys. She leads all global programs designed to support and enhance the people experience at the enterprise technology firm. In her role, Eva oversees organisational and leadership initiatives, culture and engagement, total rewards and talent acquisition, retention and development. Eva brings more than 25 years of professional experience in human resources, services and sales, and is a firm believer that diverse and inclusive teams are fundamental drivers of innovation. She is passionate about providing strategic and organisational direction to allow employees to flourish, and is known for balancing vision with operational excellence.

Prior to joining Genesys, Eva was global head of HR, 3D Printing and Digital Manufacturing, at HP Inc., after serving as the company’s regional head of HR for the Americas. She was previously Global Director of HR, Cloud and Enterprise at Microsoft. Earlier in her career, Eva worked for more than 20 years at IBM, where she held several roles in the Global Services organisation before joining the HR function.

Here are the excerpts of the interaction.

How do you define the ‘new world of work’ and what are the most significant trends for you that will impact talent leaders globally?

The pandemic has turned everyday life upside down. From school to socialising and work life, a dramatic change has been forced on many individuals and businesses over the past two years, and it has surely had an impact on talent leaders as well.

At the onset of the pandemic, the urgency for all HR leaders was to prioritise employees’ physical and mental well-being. Protecting their health and alleviating stress became critical. This also opened the gate for important learnings and a chance to reimagine the future of work.

Culture is the foundation of an organisation defined by the goals and values of its employees. Leaders need to make sure their company culture is adaptable and integrates technology to strengthen it. HR leaders must ensure that employees feel supported, have a sense of belonging, and are empowered to do their best work. 

As part of this challenge, talent leaders should focus on empowerment: managers and employees alike must learn to interact differently now that so much of the workforce is remote and will likely be hybrid for the long term. Continuous dialogue is more important than ever, as is ensuring that employee goals are linked to business priorities, and that managers are properly equipped to provide frequent feedback as part of ongoing career development conversations.

Another challenge talent leaders face is helping employees return to the office. This is a chance to create a new, more effective operating model that is effective for the business and its people navigating a world of increasing uncertainty.

The acceleration of digitalisation and automation has exposed the skills gap forcing businesses to rethink their capability-building approaches. How can organisations offer the global workforce clear skilling pathways?

The business world is changing at a rapid speed, and what worked in the past might not work in the future. Reskilling and upskilling are more important than ever for the workforce. Organisations must ensure that their employees are equipped with the skillsets necessary to accomplish business goals. They can do this by creating a skills inventory – uncovering the abilities and skillsets of the employee population, along with the skillsets required for the roles and needs of the organisation. When you couple this with employee career aspirations, you may find yourself in a win-win situation. As a strategic partner to the business, HR can proactively ensure that the right talent is in place to meet company objectives. HR can identify future core competency needs and evaluate the demand and supply of future skills.

Globally we know that employees typically stay with organisations that are perceived as talent-friendly and progressive in the industry. They stick with employers that provide them with cutting-edge work environments and people practices, and this includes effective upskilling and development opportunities that benefit the employee and the business.

For L&D professionals, the spotlight is clearly on reskilling and upskilling, according to a 2021 report from LinkedIn. How do you see this playing out?

One important opportunity provided by the necessity of going remote in 2020 and 2021 is that it drove learning professionals to find more interactive and innovative ways to provide robust learning experiences to their people in a virtual world. 

The challenges can differ based on the training needs of the company. Whether you're starting fresh or giving your existing Learning and Development platform a makeover, continuous learning and training are critical despite their associated expenses. We are in a world where there is no shortage of information, and it can be difficult to decide what is best. My advice is to create standardised training modules online whenever possible. I find that bite-sized courses, coupled with a dynamic online training portfolio that uses a variety of methods to deliver its learning objectives, are an effective way to foster outcome-led learning. 

At Genesys, the purpose of our HR function is to strengthen the organisational capability and cultivate an engaged workforce to drive company performance, while embedding employee engagement, career development, and diversity and inclusion in all that we do.

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What aspects of the new ways of learning will persist for the long term? And how can L&D leaders up their ante to meet the sophisticated needs of employees?

The need to find more ways to reach our learners virtually has allowed us to become truly global in our learning offerings. This will continue in the future, as it means that all our people get equal access to learn and grow regardless of their physical location.

Organisations should implement a Learning and Development strategy that is aligned to the business objectives. This creates a transparent culture where it is clear how such plans contribute to the overarching corporate strategy. Managers play an important role in monitoring and responding to the learning needs of their teams.

Managing a culture that is focused on performance, career development, and a growth mindset is the key to success for any organisation. In a future where hybrid teams will become the norm, managers will need to lead differently. And similarly, employees should feel empowered to own and drive their careers.

  • Managers should: Share ownership of performance the new normal, it’s important for employees to take the initiative to discuss their career goals, seek feedback, and participate in fostering collaboration with their teammates.
  • Foster intentional, frequent communication: Remote workforces miss out on day-to-day human interaction, such as coffee chats and nonverbal signs. Managers must be deliberate and transparent in providing continuous communications and feedback via all communication channels. And employees should be proactive in seeking out these conversations.
  • Ask your employees how they feel: Sometimes a simple question – such as “How are you feeling today?” – can make a world of difference. It can be difficult to assess how each employee is adjusting to remote – or hybrid – work. We all face different challenges. Managers must embrace empathy and listen, understand, and learn from their employees’ feedback. They'll have a more engaged and productive workforce as a result.
  • Have those hard conversations: Performance discussions always had the potential to be challenging, but they become significantly more complex – and more important – when conducted remotely. Even more so when these come as a surprise, or as a “once a year” event. Although performance conversations can be difficult, the sooner they happen, the better the chances of success. Managers should provide ongoing, timely feedback on performance – and if this does not happen, employees should feel empowered to drive these.

How has the learning landscape changed in your organisation in 2021? How are you measuring the impact of your skilling initiatives?

In the true spirit of a “growth mindset,” our leadership and HR team is continually learning and improving our approach. Our People Strategy is directly aligned to our Genesys business strategy as we drive collaboration, innovation, and a culture of empathy and inclusion. Since I joined Genesys to lead HR, we have been focused on transforming the culture into that of an experience company, such that our behaviours and our mindset position us to lead the Experience-as-a-Service category. We launched a People Strategy anchored in empathy that encompasses all aspects of the employee experience, as well as aligning with Genesys strategy and values while instilling a sense of belonging, among other initiatives. 

Some of our top learning priorities this year:

  • We launched our Genesys Values, which guide us along our journey and drive the right behaviours to define our culture.
  • We launched a Growth Mindset program for all of our people managers to enable them to lead their teams to inspire bold moves and harness the “Power of Yet” in their work. 
  • We launched our new performance management approach that is closely coupled with career development. This focuses on continuous, year-round feedback rather than one annual performance review, while bringing career development front and centre.
  • We improved the way we provide learning across the company by upgrading our online learning platform with new personalised, bite-sized content and the addition of mobile learning, so our employees can learn something new anytime, anywhere.
  • We are embedding key Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) education in everything we do, particularly within our training and learning initiatives. This includes, amongst other things, company-wide online learning for Unconscious Bias, and manager enablement training for mitigating bias in the interview process.

What are your top learning priorities and top challenges? How are you overcoming the bottlenecks? 

We've taken our learnings during the pandemic to create the Genesys Workplace of the Future focused on flexibility, inclusion, and empathy. This learning journey continues today – we will continue to listen, learn, and adapt for our people.

We believe in an employee-first approach to building an engaged, inclusive, and resilient workforce. The Genesys purpose – deliver the power of empathy to every experience – applies to our customers, but also to our employees. Our Empathy at Scale framework (Listen & Learn, Understand, and Act) allows us to respond to the changing needs of our workforce to continuously deliver a superior experience for our people. 

Our company values – Embrace Empathy, Fly-in Formation, and Go Big – and our commitment to sustainability guide our talent and HR strategy. Our HR function continues to evolve as we address challenges such as ensuring employees’ health and well-being, retention, upskilling, and ensuring work flexibility and productivity.

 

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Topics: Learning & Development, #TheSkillsConundrum

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