Article: Innovate, retain, thrive: Freshworks' Simon Ma

Talent Management

Innovate, retain, thrive: Freshworks' Simon Ma

In the face of widening skills gaps and talent churn, employee fulfillment has become mission-critical. In an interview with us, Simon delineates strategies to elevate next-gen employee experiences, through a blend of automation and human touch.
Innovate, retain, thrive: Freshworks' Simon Ma

As economic, demographic, and technological crosscurrents reshape talent strategies, the CHRO’s role has taken centre stage. “Cultivating employee happiness is essential,” asserts Simon Ma, Managing Director ASEAN at Freshworks, an India-birthed SaaS firm. “Toxic work cultures engender talent bleed, undermine morale, and hamper productivity.”  

As remote and hybrid working models mainstream, technology proficiency increasingly impacts employee satisfaction – especially among digital-native cohorts expecting seamless, consumer-grade experiences. Lagging digital dexterity risks talent drain, as demand outpaces supply across industries and geographies.  

“The inclusive, high-performance teams of tomorrow warrant a fusion of automation and human collaboration,” Simon explains. Freshworks embeds automation to expedite high-volume administrative tasks, freeing HR leaders to unlock strategic value from talent investments. AI-assisted chatbots address frequent employee queries, while omnichannel human support enables personalised interactions on demand.

“Leverage data-driven insights to align hiring, development, and retention efforts with global talent trends,” Simon urges HR factions. As part of banishing fragmented data lakes, Freshworks consolidates employee information into dashboards – so organisations can glean enterprise-wide visibility to inform agile strategy. 

"The future belongs to the digital-first. HR professionals must drive workforce transformation by embracing the latest tools to enrich employee lifecycles”

Intuitive self-service and device-agnostic accessibility also rank among Simon’s top recommendations for enriching employee journeys. “HR solutions must embed frictionlessly within digital tools like Microsoft Teams or Slack to drive productivity,” he explains. “Consumer-simple interfaces boost voluntary adoption and satisfaction.”

As HR technology investments accelerate, projected to eclipse $30 billion by 2025, Simon believes people-centric HR pacesetters are uniquely positioned to steward business success – by pioneering tools to futureproof both talent and jobs.  

"Become citizen developers. Low-code/no-code technology can help HR to rapidly respond to evolving needs with custom workflows."

“Become citizen developers,” Simon advocates, envisioning low-code/no-code technologies empowering HR teams to rapidly build custom apps and workflows without engineering support. This DIY ethos promises more responsive and economical capabilities to address evolving organisational needs.  

As an industry practitioner, Freshworks’ own priorities distill into two north stars: enabling workforce resilience amid global uncertainty and designing exceptional employee experiences – with integrated automation, conversational AI, and consumer-inspired user journeys at the helm – to engage and retain high-value talent.

The company has set its sights on $1 billion in revenue by 2026, with a strategic emphasis on securing larger, higher-yielding enterprise customers. Freshworks is betting big to monetise the capabilities of its AI chat, Freddy AI, added Simon.

"The future belongs to the digital-first. HR professionals must drive workforce transformation by embracing the latest tools to enrich employee lifecycles”

“The future belongs to the digital-first,” Simon asserts. He calls on HR professionals to lead the workforce transformation vanguard – by harnessing the tech tools of tomorrow to drive impact today. For those scripting the next chapter of work, the time to accelerate adoption is undoubtedly now.

“HR must help blaze that trail - by pioneering the tools to flourish today and flourish tomorrow.”

He also emphasises continuous reskilling to lead increasingly tech-driven roles with both strategic and empathetic vision. As Simon sees it, the path to navigating workforce volatility lies not just in sustaining competitiveness, but equally in uplifting employee well-being and purpose.

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Topics: Talent Management, #LeadingEdge, #CEOseries, #HRCommunity

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