Giridhar (Giri) is the Executive Vice President – Global Human Resources at HGS. In his role, he is responsible for managing the entire employee life-cycle in the organisation, crafting HR strategies to drive business outcomes, driving a strong culture and Leadership succession planning, to support the business objectives of HGS.
Giri has close to three decades of work experience spanning across manufacturing, hospitality, BPM, and professional services industries. He has multi-functional and varied industry experience, ranging from start-up operations to setting up a large captive global delivery services centre. He has earlier worked with Indian Hotels Company Ltd (Taj Group of Hotels), 7.ai, and EY. His last stint was with EY, where he held senior leadership positions such as COO for EY’s Global Deliver Services in India and as GDS Global Talent Leader.
Giri has a post graduate diploma in Human Resource Management and is a passionate leadership coach. He has coached / mentored several leaders. He is an avid reader and also writes short blogs as a hobby.
In this exclusive interview with People Matters, Giri talks about technology-backed remote recruitment, updating performance metrics and management, leveraging upskilling opportunities to engage and retain future-proof talent, and how HGS is addressing the physical, emotional, financial, and mental needs of its workforce.
What key shifts do you foresee in talent management this year?
It has been two years now and the COVID-19 pandemic is still around. Many continue to work remotely and have responded well to this new working model.
This year too, recruitment will continue to be remote, backed by technology.
More processes within the HR function will be automated and human managers will be able to focus on complex tasks. Organisations will have increased their focus on creating opportunities for learning and development. Another important shift will be the change in performance evaluation methods of the employees.
Technology has leaped ahead, enabling the work-from-anywhere model all around the world. How has this evolved hybrid working ecosystem impacted the outlook towards performance management?
The hybrid working model has significantly impacted performance management. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to performance management, and there is certainly no proven methodology to get it right in the existing circumstances. Yet, talent leaders everywhere are doing their bit to make the process as seamless and empathetic as possible with a focus on keeping communication lines open.
The new performance metrics should be based on a qualitative assessment of employee achievements and their contributions to business success.
Processes need to be simplified and goals must be aligned to changing business needs.
More frequent connects, both formal and informal, should be made between the managers and employees to give real-time reviews on their performance.
In tandem with the discussion of productivity and performance comes the conversation about compensation. With the appraisal season inching closer for many, what aspects should managers be mindful of to ensure fairness and equity in compensation focused conversations?
Appraisals are something that every working individual waits for the entire year. This is an anxious period both for the HR managers and employees. One non-negotiable aspect to ensure fairness during appraisals is unbiased behavior. While numbers will always be a key parameter for appraisals, it shouldn’t be the only one. HR managers must keep an eye out for even the smallest contributions made by employees toward the company’s success. They must focus on the employee’s strengths rather than their weaknesses. However, calling out weak points is also important to ensure the employee’s overall growth. Managers should also note an employee's ’skill enhancement – that is, how many relevant skills have they learnt over the year.
Maintaining flexibility, investing in learning and development, and rewarding standout performance can instill a sense of fairness and equity among employees.
What is your advice for employers as they strive to attract, engage and retain skilled talent?
Organisations must treat employees as well as they treat their customers. As stakeholders, employees are as important as clients. At HGS, we practice this wholeheartedly. One of the aspects which is helping attract and retain talent at organisations is Learning and development (L&D). It has become a very engaging medium for employees. Organisations are increasingly finding innovative ways for L&D to engage their employees. For example, Gamification in L&D has become very popular among employees and many organisations now practice it. Under gamification, there are various avenues wherein employees engage and interact, not just with the in-house team but also with employees from other organisations. These methods keep employees motivated, engaged and, of course, up to date in their skillsets. In the long run, they ensure employees stay longer with the organisation.
Upskilling is a key medium for retaining and attracting talent. Hiring talent only from external sources is challenging now. Therefore, organisations must encourage employees within the company to upskill themselves. This method future-proofs their careers by equipping them with relevant skills. It is also cost-effective for the organisation.
With skilling being core to employee relevance and growth, what are some ways organisations can engage the workforce in becoming future-fit?
Skilling programs have become an important area of focus for organisations.
Companies are increasing their L&D spends as it keeps employees empowered with relevant knowledge.
Here are some of ways that employers can make their workforce future-fit.
- Personalised learning: We’re living in a hyper-personalised era where people prefer things that are optimally suited to their individual context. Employees don’t prefer learning modules that will not be helpful to their profiles. Hence, organisations must design personalised learning modules that focus on individual needs. This keeps employees motivated and engaged.
- Byte-sized learning: Another form of learning that organisations must use is byte-sized learning. Since the pandemic, most people continue to work remotely. Power fluctuations, unstable internet connections, and the lack of private working spaces in their homes are a few common issues that people have been facing. Learning modules that go on for seven to eight hours are not practical given these constraints. This is where learning in small chunks or byte-sized learning helps.
- Innovative methods of learning: Organisations must find innovative methods to provide learning modules to the employees. Innovative and engaging methods always attract employees attention. As I mentioned earlier, gamification is a method that has become very popular among both employees and employers.
Speaking of the practices that go beyond just enabling performance, and actively encourage it, how is HGS empowering its leaders and managers to assess and enhance the performance of their distributed workforce?
At HGS, we focus on building better ‘people managers’ who are able to manage their respective teams and create an environment which is performance driven. Our focus is to develop our managers as better coaches who are able to enable growth of their teams.
For performance management, we’re in the process of deploying an AI-based tool which provides insights on performances of our people on a real-time basis. We’ve already done a pilot of the tool for some of our processes, and are looking to implement the tool at scale in the next 8-9 months. The real-time insights help the managers and team leaders to take corrective steps at the right time. They don’t need to wait for various reports to access the performance of an employee. This tool also has an element of gamification in it.
Learning and Development (L&D) is a key focus area for us and we’re investing extensively at different levels specific to the area of work. We provide a lot of learning opportunities to upskill and make employees current and relevant. The upskilling and reskilling is not limited to technical skills but we also provide learning modules for enhancing soft skills for overall growth of the individual. We’ve enhanced our L&D tool with a lot of engaging formats like gamification, byte-sized and tailor made learning.
Organisations have already matured into an understanding of the close relationship between well-being and employee performance. What is your organisation doing differently to cater to the two elements?
At HGS, there are a bunch of activities which we do to ensure the well-being of our employees, physically, emotionally, financially, and mentally.
For mental wellness, we often organise webinars for our employees on topics such as positive parenting, work-life balance, stress management, and other relevant areas. Additionally, our HR managers also conduct personal connects with the employees and address their issues in the best possible manner to ensure they don’t go unheard.
For emotional wellness, we provide what we call the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). This program is not only available for the HGS employees but also to their immediate family members. EAP provides counselling and lifestyle management advice.
For physical wellness, we encourage our teams to do good and do well. As part of the Oxfam trail walk, employees covered a distance of 100 Km in an effort to raise funds to support education. Even in face of the pandemic, our employees continued to support these efforts through virtual trail walks.
For financial wellness, we arrange webinars from finance experts for our employees so that they can plan their finances better and fulfill their financial goals.