Article: Shine together, Make life brighter, and shape the future: Rajeev Bhardwaj, CHRO, Sun Life Asia Service Centres


Shine together, Make life brighter, and shape the future: Rajeev Bhardwaj, CHRO, Sun Life Asia Service Centres

Today’s leaders have a responsibility to empower their employees as making their life brighter is directly proportional to sustaining a successful organisation, believes Rajeev Bhardwaj, CHRO, Sun Life ASC.
Shine together, Make life brighter, and shape the future: Rajeev Bhardwaj, CHRO, Sun Life Asia Service Centres

On paper, employee value propositions is an interesting theory to apply but on practical terms, it takes a lot more than just actions and planning to execute. For organisations, HR leaders and employers alike, building and sustaining an enticing EVP is as important as sustaining business itself. So what kind of tenets a successful EVP can derive from?

In an exclusive interview with People Matters, Rajeev Bhardwaj, CHRO Asia Service Centres, Sun Life Financial, shared his insights on the concept of EVP and the approaches that leaders can learn from, be it AI, HR technology, well-being and more. Here are the excerpts from the interview:   

What does the concept 'employee value proposition' hold for Sun Life ASCI in a post COVID Scenario?

At Sun Life ASC, we aim for the ‘employees first’ mentality.  Our employees can help shape a brighter future for our clients and communities, and each other. Three key pillars form the foundation of how we approach Employee Value Proposition: Shine together, Make life brighter, and shape the future -

Together, we shine brighter.

We strive to offer a supportive, flexible, and inclusive work environment where our employees can thrive and explore their fullest potential. We offer a friendly, open and flexible culture, where employees are empowered to do their best work. 

Together, we make life brighter. 

An organisation in today’s times, should support and empower their employees to help others achieve lifetime financial security and live healthier lives. Our employees embrace the responsibility to make the world more financially resilient, environmentally secure, and economically prosperous. As part of our growing team, our employees have a positive effect on people in the community and around the world. 

Together, we can make the future brighter.

Leadership has to be optimistic about a brighter future and we drive to innovate. Be part of leading change and driving innovation by pushing boundaries and using data to drive bold actions. At Sun Life, we’re driving transformation, sustainability and innovation for our Clients, Employees, partners, and communities. 

With organisations still dealing with the Great resignation, how can leaders better prepare for talent retention?  

  • A Human-centric approach –In the post pandemic era,  HR leaders / companies need to adopt a more humane and compassionate approach towards their employees and rework on their EVP policies which are more human-centric and empathy-driven. Creating a flexible workplace, promoting hybrid work policies, supporting mental and health well-being at the workplace are some of the ways organisations can create a more humane work environment for the employees and retain talent.
  • Creating an ‘Inclusive’ and flexible workplace –Creating a flexible and inclusive workplace will help companies retain talent in the long run. Ensuring a fair, flexible office environment with established boundaries between roles, teams and departments and right guidance/support will help employees adjust to the new normal. Use of digital technologies will also play a critical role in creating seamless digital work experience between employees. 
  • Creating a strong personal employer brand and leading from the front – An employer is a brand as well and how an employee sees/ values this brand is a key reason for an employee to stay back. While employer branding is largely seen as a HR domain, it is critical in these times for all departments and the Leadership to come together and strengthen the employer brand proposition. Communicating brand purpose, values and mission on a regular basis is key to retaining talent.
  • Leveraging digital technologies at the workplace - Use of digital technologies and tools can go a long way in creating a seamless work experience for employees.  Smart workplace automation and use of digital tools can help create an enhanced working environment. For e.g. AI and AI-driven chatbots have proven to be instrumental in delivering strong employee experiences e.g. - conversational AI-chatbots like Amber, Nina have been deployed by HR at Sun Life ASCI and these have worked successfully in building and keeping connect with employees in remote & hybrid situations. 

How are you enabling awareness, access and adoption of the provisions within revamped EVP to attract Gen-Z talent?

The GenZ workforce is more aware and prefers to work with companies which align to their ‘values’ – such as Sustainability, CSR and inclusive environment. At Sun Life ASC India & Philippines, we take active steps to communicate our shared purpose and values with our young employees on a regular basis. We also involve our team members in CSR and sustainable initiatives in both offices.  For e.g. Sun Life ASC also donated over 55,000 USD to The Akshaya Patra Foundation during the Covid pandemic.

Improving visibility to new opportunities for career growth in the organisation, career growth perks; training and DEI strategies can go a long way towards boosting the company’s employee value proposition. We offer many learning and training programs to our employees.  Our education assistance program offers financial support to employees who wish to pursue LOMA certifications. We also have special leadership programs that cater first time leaders, senior leadership and women leaders. Programs such as STRIDE, L.E.A.P and Sunrise are specially designed and introduced for women leaders. 

It’s always about continuously working to enhance seamless digital work experience for the employees. Nowadays companies have already adapted to a more tech-driven and automated way of working including  AR, VR and gaming experiences; virtual on-boarding processes, chat bots and automated tools for collaboration and online training modules for their career advancement. For  example, Sun Life ASCI in Gurgaon introduced The Digital First Initiative in 2019 which helped digitalise Sun Life ASC’s internal processes for its 3700+ employees wherein they will have a single user interface instead of multiple touch points for all their queries. The organisation also adopted an agile methodology using digital technologies for process improvements- artificial intelligence, data science, chatbots and Robotic Process Automation (RPA).

What points HR leaders can keep in mind while enhancing employee experience for employees working from home as well as returning to office?

  • Creating a safe working environment for employees – Making sure your office premises are fully disinfected, clean and safe are important to maintain the health of employees and maintain safe conditions at the workplace. Advising employees WFH on COVID-19 protocols and regular testing also becomes part of safety protocol for the organisation.
  • Allow employees to adjust to the workplace and approach with compassion – While employees are returning to workplaces or are WFH, their productivity levels and mental health may be down due to the pandemic. In such situations, HR leaders need to equip their teams with the right guidance and tools to help employees increase their productivity levels and regain their confidence at work. 
  • Technology is a boon; Leverage online tools extensively – Future learning technologies like augmented reality (AR) have provided more modern, interactive learning experiences that increase engagement and knowledge retention. Technology can help recent hires learn about their new environment and get up to speed more quickly. Use of collaboration tools such as virtual rooms, zoom meetings, booking bots, instant messaging etc. can play an important role in making hybrid work seamless.
  • Reskilling existing workforce in a digitally transformed world - Future of Work will be skills driven and not jobs driven. Organisations will need to accelerate their efforts at retraining and reskilling employees in the fast changing digital workplace to maintain a relevant workforce.  Organisations can design & deploy virtual training to ensure employees & managers are able to work seamlessly by leveraging technology tools available to them. Employees should have access to learning platforms to build skills wherever and whenever needed by using different delivery modes- even on mobile phones. 

What should be an organisation's focus as we transition into the new paradigms of working?

Greater focus on wellness and employee well-being will be the new metrics in future workplaces. In addition to employee engagement, employee satisfaction and performance, in 2022, companies will also need to focus on the physical and mental health of employees. Designing and managing an employee wellness program is an important step in improving the health and productivity of employees and potentially improving the overall cost of employer-provided health care. Conducting employee surveys to evaluate the personal wellness interests and needs of employees; conducting a health risk assessment. Evaluating health culture and conducting environmental audits of the workplace in general all go a long way.

At the core of the new Employee strategy, we need accelerated HR digital transformation which will be key to supporting business strategy and holistic profitability in the times to come. A key part of digital transformation in HR is Design Thinking - Design Thinking casts HR in a new role. It transforms HR from a “process developer” into an “experience architect.” It empowers HR to reimagine every aspect of work: the physical environment; how people meet and interact; how managers spend their time; and how companies select, train, engage, and evaluate people. Apart from thought-out digital transformation, design thinking can bring in the Agile methodology to the HR spectrum. Design thinking plays a game-changing role by bringing customer touch points throughout the project development cycle through agile methodology. Especially in HR, it focuses on knowing the pain points of your current and future workforce with empathy and a human-centred approach.

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Topics: #Culture, HR Technology, Talent Management, #RedrawingEVP, #Work Culture

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