In this special interview with All Things Talent, Srinivas P.M. talks about his long career with P&G and how the company is using technological advancements to create an ecosystem that fosters learning. Further, he talks about the importance of engaging employees, why working remotely can be a challenge and various initiatives that are in place to support the health and well-being of employees when working from home. He also sheds light on how P&G is onboarding new hires and interns who are joining the company remotely.
Q. Having worked as an HR leader in the industry for almost 20-years, how has this journey been so far? What successes are you most proud of in your career?
A. My 20-year career with P&G has been a meaningful journey packed with both breadth and depth of experiences. I have had an enriching experience working across a multitude of areas within the HR function like Business Partnering, Talent Acquisition & Development and Organizational Culture & Strategy. It also gave me the experience of collaborating with various teams within the organization including plant, sales and commercial functions. I also have had opportunities to work across different geographies like Singapore, China, Australia and Indonesia.
In 2018, I moved back to India to lead the Human Resources function. One of the areas that I am most passionate about is ‘building gender-equal workplaces.’ When we say ‘workplace of the future’ – an important aspect of this future workforce will be Gender Equality.
There are several myths preventing equality for women in the workplace. Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to drive deliberate action that breaks these myths; and create a system that accelerates equal representation in the workforce.
FUTURE OF WORK
Q. Technological advancements are constantly changing the fundamental nature of work. How desperately is the rapid adoption of new skills needed today? How are you approaching this digital transformation?
A. Advancements like artificial intelligence, the internet of things (IoT), and blockchain are rapidly changing the world. Organizations are embracing these advancements to be future-ready and win their customers. However, employees play a critical role in leading the organization through this dynamic transformation. To unlock the full potential of these advancements, it is critical for employees to understand how these advancements work and how they can help solve business challenges.
“One of the areas that I am most passionate about is ‘building gender-equal workplaces.’ When we say ‘workplace of the future’ – an important aspect of this future workforce will be Gender Equality.”
At P&G, we are creating an ecosystem that fosters learning and provides a platform for employees to upskill & build digital IQ. We introduced our capability program ‘IGNITE’ which consisted of digital tools, enabling our employees to adopt the latest technologies in enhancing skillsets & doing more meaningful work. We also launched an online platform where employees could continue to build on the learnings and be updated on the latest developments in their areas of interest.
EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT & WELL-BEING
Q. How is Procter & Gamble monitoring COVID-19 closely, from an employee’s perspective? What initiatives and programs are in place to support the health and well-being of your employees during these testing times?
A. For us, physical and mental health is a part of our ongoing wellbeing program for our employees. In these unprecedented times, we have stepped up our interventions and are focused on ensuring that employees are able to meet their physical and mental health needs. We are providing benefits to employees to enhance the infrastructure and productivity tools to effectively work from home.
Within P&G, we are also providing employees with a remote well-being tool that provides tips as well as do’s and don’ts to employees as they work from home. We have a qualified medical team at P&G and virtual resources available to our employees 24X7 for their own and family needs.
We are also providing our employees with virtual resources on health and safety measures including steps to protect themselves from COVID-19, tips to maintain right health and hygiene, tips to clean and disinfect frequently used surfaces at home. We are empowering employees with virtual resources that will help them build a customized plan based on their needs to manage their mental and emotional wellbeing. We also have a designated website containing tools and resources to help employees cope with anxiety or stress that they may be experiencing in these difficult times.
We are collaborating with external experts to conduct physical fitness and mental health sessions for employees which may not otherwise be accessible in these times. In addition to that, we have a 24×7 helpline that is available not only for employees but also for their family members seeking assistance on mental wellbeing or any stress and anxiety-related issues. We are giving our employees the flexibility to help them balance their personal life and work. We are also providing employees with virtual resources to take care of personal priorities like caring for children during this time.
Q. Never has the nature of work and workplace changed so dramatically, and HR is in the middle of it all. How can HR help create an efficient virtual engagement with employees?
A. Engaging employees is more important than ever before. Companies and leaders are innovating to constructively engage employees in this remote working environment. One of the most important aspects of creating an effective employee engagement program is to monitor feedback and opinion. We must continuously gauge employee sentiment and adjust interventions accordingly. At the same time, we must also dare to try out new ideas – test them and learn quickly.
An example I would like to share is from our #RemoteLife intervention that we introduced last month. With the lockdown, employees shared with us that they were looking for opportunities to constructively engage their children. We launched our initiative ‘Pastimes’ wherein we are inviting experts to host activities for employees’ children like doodling, storytelling, cooking, kitchen gardening, Zumba, painting, and craft to name a few.
Q. Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, how are you on-boarding new employees and interns joining the company remotely?
A. This summer, we have more than 90 interns joining us from various locations and nearly 35 new hires have joined us in the last month. We want to provide our new hires and interns with an experience that makes them feel welcomed, excited and they truly experience what we are known for – ‘Doing something that matters from Day 1.’ Working remotely can be very different from an in-office internship or onboarding. For example, in an office environment, it can be easy to get information, but it can be difficult when working remotely.
Therefore, to navigate these unprecedented times we are innovating to craft a new playbook that truly translates our on-ground ‘GetIn’ onboarding program to a fully virtual experience that facilitates engagement, learning and building connections. We created a customized app named ‘P&G Connect’, empowering our new hires and interns with the resources that give them a headstart in this remote working environment.
The app includes a P&G 101 module that helps new hires understand the company’s history, values and purpose; and has a virtual checklist and resources guiding them through the mandatory onboarding processes in their first 90 days. The app also serves as a learning and engagement platform. It is empowered with pre-recorded training sessions and bite-sized information on the company’s strategy, structure and brands giving them essential information about the organization. As an engagement platform, the app drives interactions among the new hires and among the internship batch.
We are gamifying engagement through the app and have designed an intentional plan with regular touchpoints to make sure new hires feel connected with the company. In addition to this, our managers and leaders are fostering camaraderie and community within teams and workgroups through virtual ‘meet & greet’ sessions with the new hires. We are also continuing our existing ‘buddy’ program – connecting new hires to ‘buddies’ that can advise and guide them as they work remotely. Our managers are also empowered with best practices and tips that will help them onboard new hires virtually.