Article: ‘EVP a handshake between employer and employee’: Insights from Aon webinar on driving disruption-proof growth

HR Consulting

‘EVP a handshake between employer and employee’: Insights from Aon webinar on driving disruption-proof growth

Aon's Rahul Chawla believes that an organisation's EVP should emphathise with the context of the company in a way that managers and leaders can “walk the talk”.
‘EVP a handshake between employer and employee’: Insights from Aon webinar on driving disruption-proof growth

As we enter yet another phase of disruption, with AI taking over the world of work, it is important to take a step back and assess the impact of emerging tech and the widening skill gap on growth.  

How can we, in today’s volatile environment, work towards sustainable growth for the organisation and for the employees? 

To discuss this, PeopleMatters, in association with Aon, spoke with Shefali Sharma​, Head of People & Culture, Toku, Michelle Yong, Global HR Consultant, Shell, and Rahul Chawla, Partner and Head of Human Capital Solutions, Aon SEA. 

With all panel members coming from distinct backgrounds – scale-up to traditional large companies – the discussion brought forth unique and important perspectives on data gathering, skill requirements, trust and safety layer of AI, and much more. Here are some key insights: 

From a complex past to a balanced future 

Aon’s Rahul Chawla set context around the importance of discussing how disruption-proof growth can be achieved, considering the continuing chaos the world of work is dealing with.

 “We have geopolitical tensions, technological disruptions, evolving demographics – all these factors are playing a part in how we shape our workforce and our customers today,” he said, adding that the pandemic created and exacerbated a health and wealth gap that is creating pressures on organisations and employees to ensure that well-being is front and center when talking about workforce strategies.

“Today, every industry is going digital with massive investments being made in cutting-edge operating and service models. The narrative is also shifting towards generative AI and ML. That imperative has created a demand for special skills. And the focus is not to just capture revenue market share from a business standpoint, but also capture data and market share,” he said. 

EVP and growth goals 

Michelle Yong from Shell, among the most well-known oil and gas brands in the world, defined EVP as a handshake between the employer and the employee. “This means there's an agreement between what an employee can provide to the organisation and what the employee expects in return, so that both achieve their own goals and aspirations,” she said. 

Shefali Sharma, who is the Head of People & Culture at Toku, a fast-growing scale-up that provides bespoke cloud communication solutions to enterprises, feels HR leaders must have visibility on the organisational goals. 

“In many organisations HR departments have no visibility of these goals because many HR departments are still considered to be very administrative,” she said, adding that HR leaders can then create an EVP that resonates with employees and contributes to the overall success of the organisation. “So for instance, at Toku, we promote ambition, innovation, resilience, opportunity to tackle unique challenges –  we provide a unique experience to our employees and this is how we define our EVP.”

Chawla called EVP a point-in-time statement. “You have programs and processes in place and you are focused on the outcome you're trying to deliver to an employee – that is how I would position an EVP. It is about trying to build belonging through benefits practices,” Chawla said.  

So what role can HR leaders play? “There is a shift that HR leader needs to drive, especially in an organisation with diverging priorities. Suppose we have an EVP that is centered around mobility, and belonging, creating a balance between costs and investments. In that case, we can organise our HR teams towards these outcomes,” he elaborated. 

Walking the talk with EVP

A pertinent question about EVP was raised by an audience member: How can EVP be clearly understood and communicated at every level of the organisation?

Chawla answered by saying that he believes EVP should emphathise with the context of the organisation in a way that managers and leaders can “walk the talk”. “EVP formulation is a bottom-up process that gets informed by an organisation’s business strategy and needs in terms of capabilities and skills. If done correctly, communication can be more of a conversation than a hard sell,” he said. 

Conceptually, it can be broken down into the manner in which an organisation :

  • Looks at compensation, benefits and well-being holistically to build and sustain motivation

  • Drives a sustainable working life with policies around DEI, location strategy, technology/tools and flexible working 

  • Helps realise people's potential with future skilling, mobility programs and building psychological safety

  • Communicates this to the external market to reduce cognitive dissonance thus falling in a virtuous cycle. 

Understanding skill requirements

“If we consider an in-demand skill set as a proxy for capabilities that you're trying to build in an organisation to keep it future-ready -- Aon's view is that the bedrock of this is gathering intelligence on three factors: 1) Makeup of your job architecture 2) Skill level of current and potential workforce 3) Your approach to creating talent - Build or Buy,” Chawla said. 

By leveraging all this intelligence and a well-crafted EVP, organisations can capture strategic talent that can enable it to be future-ready, he added. 

Yong further talked about how HR leaders need to be able to define what skills they need – which ones they would want the workforce to have internally and which skills can be outsourced. “It is also important to inculcate a learning mindset amongst the employees,” she said. 

Reflecting on a scale-up perspective, Sharma talked about how, with Toku, the in-demand skill set changes very quickly based on client requirements. 

“There are so many instances of us making opportunistic hires – so we create a role based on the goal as we are interviewing candidates, because things are just moving so quickly. I think one needs to factor like the business to implement strategies catered to the organisation,” Sharma said, adding that one thing that works for Toku is doing a skills gap analysis on an annual basis to see how it matches against organisational goals. 

Boosting brand value 

For the past few years, organisations have started to focus more on leveraging the power of data to boost growth across segments. By analysing everything – from what the workforce wants to how employee expectations are changing, organisations are slowly and surely moving towards creating the perfect EVP and, by extension, the right employment brand for themselves. 

Scale-ups like Toku depend on alternative data sources, speaking with candidates and peers within the industry to better understand employees’ push and pull factors. 

“Another thing that's worked for us is pulse survey. We hold an annual pulse survey covering various topics such as wellbeing, benefits, management, and try to understand where we stand and how we can improve,” Sharma said, adding how data analytics really played a big role in Toku’s recent rebranding efforts and how they were able to put forth a very comprehensive brand image across the world. 

Summing up, Chawla said the key to building inclusivity and diversity in the organisation is a customised EVP, which is backed by enhanced data intelligence and an employer brand that is true to what it stands for. “So the employer brand comes as a cherry on top after work on and get all these ingredients working for you,” he said.  

AI as an enabler

“I think the paradigm shift in the world of work with AI coming into the picture is putting the HR function in the limelight. AI can spew out anything and everything but it has to be fed with the right information. It consumes a lot of data and works on prompts,” Chawla explained, adding that the day is not far when AI will be regulated. 

“This means there will be a trust and safety layer and humans will man that layer. Now those humans will need to be devoid of biases – that is where HR comes in and it will need to deploy the right tools so the right people design and man critical algorithms.”

“We should see AI as an enabler, not as a threat. I also think HR leaders need to look at the issue of data compliance and policies that governs any kind of generative AI software an organisation uses,” Yong said. 

Agreeing with both Chawla as well as Yong, Sharma said it is critical to strike a balance between automation and the human touch. 

“I think it's just about finding the right balance between automation and the human touch. And I think AI should be used as a tool to support decision-making rather than just solely relying on it,” she said.  

Increasing collaboration by focusing on inclusivity 

Along with the focus on AI, organisations today are also actively working on pivoting their policies towards an increasingly hybrid workforce. An audience member asked the panel for more insights into the steps that can be taken to promote a greater sense of community among teams. 

Addressing this, Chawla talked about how building belonging was a critical step towards creating a feeling of community. While we focus on building diverse teams, it is important that we also focus on inclusivity. Research shows diversity without inclusion does more damage than having homogenous teams,” he said. 

Click here to watch the entire virtual discussion. 

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Topics: HR Consulting, Talent Management, Leadership

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