Katarzyna Kern is the Global Head HR and Managing Director, Poland, at ANSR.
Katarzyna ("Kasia") leads ANSR’s Eastern Europe operations from her base in Poland. She has over 18 years' business experience, working as HR Director in international and local companies across the IT, retail, shared services centres, and travel and tourism industries.
Prior to joining ANSR, Kasia held senior HR roles at Sabre Inc., Alexander Mann Solutions and OTCF S.A. Kasia holds a master’s degree in Psychology and is a lecturer at two universities in Poland, specialising in applying practical aspects of psychology to business management. She is a certified executive coach, business trainer & facilitator and advocate of happiness at work.
Starting career at the age of 22, she became the HR Director in a global company, supporting 1,500 employees and over 500 leaders across the globe at the age of 31. A strong advocate of Happiness at Work, Kasia was instrumental in popularising the concept in Poland and organising the first ever international conference on Happiness at Work in Poland in 2019.
In this exclusive interview with People Matters, Kasia talks about the how of keeping pace with evolving employee expectations to drive success, closing the loop on employer branding efforts and the risks of losing focus on flexibility, wellness and DEI amidst enabling a return to the workplace.
Here are highlights of the interaction.
What does employee value proposition (EVP) encompass for ANSR in the new world of work?
The coronavirus has changed the relationship between employees and their work, and the EVP must evolve to reflect these changes. Winning the hearts and minds of new workers requires an environment that considers them as people, not workers; a workplace that offers an exceptional experience, not just work.
Not only at ANSR, but at every company, employee engagement drives both performance and retention outcomes. Employee engagement is a direct result of a strong company culture.
By providing upskilling/reskilling opportunities, exposure to the latest in technological advancements, leadership support, and an open mind about what makes the organisation a great place to work, companies can evolve to keep pace with employees’ expectations to really drive success.
At ANSR, we believe in building deeper relationships, offering flexibility, autonomy & growth opportunities, ensuring holistic well-being and thus helping our people find purpose. In short, results and relationships will become top-of-mind for organisations in the new world of work – the ability to achieve great things with great people but in a slightly different way than before COVID era.
How are you enabling awareness, access, and adoption of the offerings within revamped EVP for existing talent? How does it differ for potential talent that the organisation is looking to hire?
One of the biggest myths to debunk is that if you build a strong EVP, it will naturally build brand awareness and attract talent. But ‘building’ the employer brand is only the job half done. Once you have a great EVP, you need to invest budget, time, and effort into getting that message across your career site, social media, and other marketing platforms.
Having said that, I feel employee advocacy is the strongest level of endorsement a company can receive. So, it is critical to create awareness internally through newsletters, company blogs, town halls, and emails.
After all, EVP should be a leadership imperative, not an HR initiative. Leaders must understand their role in shaping an organisation’s EVP, regularly connect with employees, and reinforce and strengthen organisational culture.
This helps employees build a strong sense of purpose and be highly engaged while at work.
For many organisations, EVP emerges as an afterthought to rising attrition. What are your thoughts on this?
According to a Gartner report, organisations that effectively deliver on their EVP can decrease annual employee turnover by just under 70% and increase new hire commitment by nearly 30%. However, several companies fail with their EVP because it comes as an afterthought to rising attrition.
For me, all the HR actions related to EVP, Employee Engagement, Employees Development, Happiness at Work should be visible and vibrant across organisations all the time. Authentic care by the company and effective communication from the leaders become essential here.
A well-defined EVP can provide the building blocks for organisational success when it truly becomes part of your organisational DNA, by reinforcing it at all levels in the organisation.
What do you think are three top factors that a company needs in its employer brand today?
- Leadership that balances results and relationships
- Mental Health and holistic well-being of people
- Personal and professional growth opportunities
Flexibility, wellness, and DEI are top of the mind for organisations across the globe as they enhance EX for their distributed workforce. What risks do organisations carry if they lose focus on these elements amidst a desire to return to the workplace?
Today, more and more employees favour flexible work conditions. According to Gartner research, among employees who are currently working remotely or in a hybrid arrangement, 75% say their expectations for working flexibly have increased. The pandemic showed us how performance improves when employees were given flexibility over where, when, and how they work. Asking employees to return to work every day will, at least for the short term, have a negative impact on their performance. It will also negatively affect the organisation’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts because underrepresented groups of talent have seen significant improvements in how they work since being allowed more flexibility.
I think HR leaders should consider a more human-centric approach to their return-to-work policy to help employees sustain high performance while minimising remote work fatigue in the hybrid world.
What is your advice for organisations seeking to reimagine their EVP? What can they not miss and what should they be wary of?
I believe it is quite important for organisations to reinvent their EVP for a post pandemic workforce. The pandemic changed the way leaders work - they learned to lead with empathy, compassion, clarity, trust, and emotional intelligence. Embedding these values into your EVP, even after employees start returning to work on a regular basis, will help you retain happy employees whose trust and respect you have earned throughout the challenging times.