Employee Well-being and Culture:
As we look towards a fast-moving future, where should you be looking to refocus, reassess and reshape your company culture? The relationships we build within our workforces, and within the wider business landscape, will play a vital role in navigating the new world of work.
This session explores the future of workplace culture and the importance of employee well-being in the Asia-Pacific region. The expert insights come from Aarti Thapar, Director of Customer Success at LinkedIn Talent Solutions; Pei Ying Chua, APAC Lead (Economic Graph) at LinkedIn, Sharif Khan, General Manager for HR in Asia at Microsoft; and Anuradha Razdan, Executive Director and Vice President for HR at Unilever.
They look at hiring trends and discuss how they are helping their organizations navigate the new world of work, including:
Remote working: why cultures must evolve to accommodate, support and inspire increasingly distributed workforces
Diversity and inclusion: how this can be kept front of mind to ensure certain groups aren’t left behind
Employee support: why change is needed to combat burnout and give employees better management and engagement
The panel discusses the changes needed to support a workforce that has adapted to working from home during the lockdown, and how that might evolve in a new world of work. Anuradha makes the point that creating a culture of accountability, transparency and empowerment is key to this, and that people must be measured for outcomes of impact rather than how much time they spend online.
Sharif shares his experiences from Microsoft, revealing that management has been the key to empowering the workforce as a whole: “What’s been the bedrock of allowing us to move forward has been our leadership values and our management behaviour. This whole concept of there being ‘power in empowerment’ allows our management to step up and create that inclusive culture and inclusive work styles that suit everyone in one way or another.”
The group also discussed the changing demographics of the workforce and how they place demands on shifting cultures. Anuradha reveals that 55% of Unilever’s workforce in India are millennials, and that the choice and flexibility that they want are inspiring Unilever management to consider alternative working models.
Diversity and inclusion
Equal hiring across genders and ethnicities has vastly improved in recent years, but there’s still plenty of work to do, especially as the business landscape shifts. Aarti cites research that shows senior management treating diversity and inclusion in one of two ways: those who see it as a key lever for weathering the COVID-19 crisis, and those who are temporarily setting it aside to focus on day-to-day operations.
Sharif points out that the growth in flexible working can be a huge enabler for diversity and inclusion. He suggests that as more jobs are able to be done remotely, and with more variety in approaches around working hours and arrangements, many more people will be able to take advantage of opportunities that were previously out of reach.
He continues by saying that the ways in which employee performances are assessed may need to change. Different individuals will face different circumstances because of how their lives have been affected by the virus, which calls for a more holistic and inclusive approach when evaluating a person’s work.
One of the biggest threats to workforce productivity and engagement is burnout. Pei Ying shares that comments of burnout within the global workforce doubled from March to April as lockdowns took hold. In the future, there may be opportunities for businesses that focus on employees’ mental health to show real leadership, especially in Asia where mental health awareness has often lagged behind other regions.
Anuradha concedes that talking about mental health has carried a stigma but emphasizes that the causes of burnout can be specific to an individual employee. That’s why she advocates a highly individualized approach to employee support, so that any member of the staff that needs support can get help that is relevant and valuable to them. Relatively simple measures like helplines and well-defined lines of communication with managers are suggested as essential tools to deploy.
Sharif adds that employee support should focus less on data and more on truly listening to the feelings and needs of the individual. In his view, keeping this front-of-mind and asking the right questions is the ideal way to gain a fuller understanding of an employee’s well-being.
APAC Talent Solutions
GM HR Asia
HUL & Vice President HR
Unilever South Asia
Take a deeper dive into these topics and gain more insights into reshaping your company’s culture by registering for our free on-demand conference, available any time. Please note this session is a recording from the live event that aired on June 4th.