Priyanka Anand in a conversation with All Things Talent talks about how Ericsson is investing in company culture and EVP, the potential for 5G to drive innovation and build a talent pool, and more.
Could you give us an overview of Ericsson with respect to its India employee base and its global presence in other countries?
We are close to 100,000 employees globally cutting across 180 countries. We are technology trailblazers and have been in existence for more than 140 years. We take pride in our strong, rich cultural heritage, as well as in having survived the majority of technological changes over the course of more than a century and a half. And at the same time, we’ve been very strong in terms of putting people at the center of whatever we do, by leveraging technology to the best of its advantage, bringing value to society to our customers, and enhancing how people experience connectivity. In India, we have close to 22,000+ employees. We are spread across multiple cities in the country. Our R&D facilities are located in Gurgaon, Bangalore, and Chennai, and our sales and marketing teams are spread across more than 20 cities. As a result, it’s a full-fledged, large-scale operation, and Ericsson has its largest employee workforce in India.
With the largest employee workforce here, how do you design or develop your employer branding strategies?
Employer branding is more about us trying to share our vision and purpose externally and internally. One of the key campaigns that we’ve been investing in right now is “Imagine Possible”.
At Ericsson, we believe in the power of technology for good. As the world changes rapidly, we will enable technologies and innovations that will both open new possibilities for our customers, and also be applied to help resolve some of the world’s greatest challenges. Our purpose is our enduring reason to exist. It guides what we do and why we do it. It captures the specific role we at Ericsson play, and how we benefit others.
In addition to our Imagine Possible Campaign, we are building our employer branding through our participation in industry forums; our employee brand ambassador programs; our campus recruitment and academia partnership programs as well as leveraging social media platforms.
“5G has happened in many of the countries where Ericsson has successfully deployed 5G contracts. Therefore, by leveraging our global talent pool, we can in some ways harness that expertise and work to expedite the adoption of 5G in India and the implementation of 5G services while also developing local competency. As a result, our focus will not only be on upskilling and reskilling the existing workforce, but Ericsson will also bring talent from outside.”
Could you elaborate on the entire network, and the impact of 5G on all of this communication as a key factor in terms of rolling out the HR policies worldwide?
In line with our strong 5G leadership, we are looking at investing in technology to create the next generation of networks that can revolutionize the end-user experience. To be able to leverage the 5G leadership and get the technology to deliver the outcomes we expect it to, we have to invest heavily in upskilling and reskilling our workforce.
We’re also investing in academies that build competency and talent pools to meet future demands. When we talk about 5G, it not only enables remote working but also enables us to build talent repositories where people can upskill, reskill and also imbibe a strong learning culture. Therefore, one of the key mindsets we embrace as an organization and tell our employees also is to have a CEO mindset where every employee is the CEO of his or her career, and they must start to choose their learning journeys.
As HR, we enable that learning mindset and those learning journeys by creating academies and digital platforms, for example, we have a subscription to a platform called Degreed, which equips people to learn anytime and anywhere. We’ve also done a huge amount of investment in evolving virtual leadership skills, evolving leaders as coaches who lead with empathy, humaneness, and compassion.
You mentioned how 5G is going to help you with talent repositories as well. So, does this also impact the present EVP that you have at Ericsson? How has it evolved in the last two years?
We have a people story that weaves into our narrative, keeping people at the heart of whatever we do. However, to make that story come to life, we have also made a significant investment in company culture through our cultural initiative called “Ericsson-on-the-move”. Through this, we ensure that our employees understand the expected behaviours and what we value as an organization. These behaviours pretty much set the tone for the whole employee journey.
One key facet of Ericsson-on-the-move is cooperation and collaboration, which is all about collective success. Our employee value proposition is that you come and work in a larger family and work collaboratively and cooperatively. The next one is to speak up. We encourage our employees to foster an environment where they feel comfortable to even speak “the uncomfortable”. Also, we fully support employees having diverse points of view, and having opinions that are not in line with what the majority are saying.
When we talk about the external market, we also consider how we can maintain our external advocacy for equal opportunity, which begins with job opportunities because, in our opinion, diversity exists at all levels, including gender, age, nationality, ethnicity, and even personal and professional backgrounds.
Can you throw some light on how data analytics helps you make sound decisions?
When it comes to data analytics, we have made significant investments in both the business and HR. We, therefore, use people analytics, people planning, and data points from the reports in the system – investing in data points that can come in handy proactively and investing in more predictive analytics – it has been a big investment from our side. We also strongly believe in the democratization of data.
Predictive analytics also helps us look at how we can proactively contain some of the outcomes that could create exposure for us whether it’s employee turnover, employee satisfaction, or employee motivation. We regularly solicit employee feedback since we believe in crowdsourcing. Therefore, we have a bi-annual process of securing employee feedback on what is and is not working well, analyzing feedback, and the data points we receive in terms of scores and comments, and then curating our own strategy based on the input we receive from various interfaces, along with roundtables, speak up environments, and employee forums. That gives us many data points to continue to course correct both our strategy and the journey we are on.
Has there been any change made to your talent strategies after getting feedback from your employees, any instance that you can share?
One of the big feedback that we are hearing – and it’s more of a global phenomenon but even within Ericsson – is about how we continue to invest in bringing more balance to employees. We recently launched an initiative called “Rethink Balance” where employees are empowered to rethink how they can bring more balance to their work and personal life. While there won’t be a magic bullet coming from a corner office, we are empowering every single employee to have a customized conversation with their manager about what balance means for that individual.
We formed an entirely new unit across Ericsson called Group Function Global Operations, which has mostly been focused on driving simplification across the company and building a comprehensive employee experience that is being mapped based on feedback.
Work-life balance is one of the parameters that a lot of review sites have and there have been instances where people have rated it more than other criteria. What effect do you think these review websites have on an organization’s talent strategies?
At Ericsson, we continue to compare employee experience to several external benchmarks. The pandemic has compelled businesses, like Ericsson, to rethink the future of work and the workplace, which inevitably involves work-life balance. At Ericsson, we have been driving a balance between business continuity and empathy. It’s important to prioritize customer commitments, ensure business continuity, deliver commitments to customers, and at the same time, do everything possible to stay empathetic and humane towards the people.
What we really continue to focus on right now is figuring out how to implement a much more widespread flexible work policy. With this flexibility, we give our employees more tools, invest more in IT, build more collaboration platforms, and improve our offices so that they have a comfortable experience when they visit the office. As the employees navigate the post-pandemic environment, we have regularly been holding open forums and consistently engaging with them in two-way communication.
This collaborative environment and culture that we’re investing in also work leaps and bounds towards building up the balance that we are looking for.
From Ericsson’s point of view, what would be the talent acquisition strategy for the 5G workforce and what kind of skills would you be looking at?
That’s one thing we are thinking about a lot. That’s because 5G is going to transform this entire country and to make it happen, we need to be able to transform our workforce much before the industry transforms itself. We are talking about challenges, the skills that we need, and the demand we have internally. 5G won’t be just about connectivity, but how it will create more opportunities across sectors like manufacturing, transportation, healthcare, agriculture, and so on.
We will need to build professional expertise and an in-depth understanding of the technology and, therefore, there’s going to be both high demand today as well as an increase in demand as we move forward. The only way we can meet that requirement is by both having a strategy of building competence as well as upskilling that competence within the company. So, with the 5G services rollout, we think both technology and telecom companies will hire and carry-on jobs like network management, testing, software development, R&D, innovation, and integration. As a result, we need to prepare our teams to invest in these skills.
5G has happened in many of the countries where Ericsson has successfully deployed 5G contracts. Therefore, by leveraging our global talent pool, we can in some ways harness that expertise and work to expedite the adoption of 5G in India and the implementation of 5G services while also developing local competency. As a result, our focus will not only be on upskilling and reskilling the existing workforce, but Ericsson will also bring talent from outside. Local talent pools are already sitting in India supporting the other 5G rollouts across the world, and we’re also hiring talent from outside.
Our strategy is to make full use of these technologies by using a mix of our existing workforce, which will be reskilled and upskilled, tying up with universities and hiring people from the campuses, and hiring people from the market as well as our global talent pool.
“As HR, we enable that learning mindset and those learning journeys by creating academies and digital platforms, for example, we have a subscription to a platform called Degreed, which equips people to learn anytime and anywhere. We’ve also done a huge amount of investment in evolving virtual leadership skills, evolving leaders as coaches who lead with empathy, humaneness, and compassion.”
Do you have a tentative number or target for how many people you’ll add to your 5G workforce?
Today with 22,000+ approximately employees working in India, we have a huge knowledge base, competence potential, and upskilling potential within Ericsson. But like I said, that can’t be just internally filled, we also have units like the Global Artificial Intelligence Accelerator unit which does cutting-edge work in the areas of artificial intelligence, and machine learning and we have centers across Sweden, and North America. So, they’ve been already investing in 300+ data scientists that we have across these centers. So, we will always need to borrow from other parts of Ericsson, build from the campuses, build internally, and acquire from the market. Basically, a combination of many things, it’s difficult to put a number because it depends on what part of the equation accelerates faster than the other parts of the equation.
Concisely, what would be the top priorities that worked for Ericsson as an employer of choice, according to you?
The first thing would be our culture, or to be invested in our culture, which is truly inclusive and diverse and heavily banks upon integrity. The second thing which is extremely important is we continue to attract and retain the best talent in the industry. Our EVP will carefully consider the best ways to achieve this by investing in people’s growth, mobility, career journeys, and recognizing and rewarding them for the efforts they make. The third thing we’ll do is continue to invest in upskilling and reskilling our people. And fourth, we will continue to invest in the future of work – getting flexible working, work-life balance, and employee satisfaction, to all work in tandem – to create a unique, satisfying journey for employees at Ericsson and map the moments that matter to them in every way we can.
About the Author: Priyanka Anand is an accomplished HR professional with a career spanning 20+ years, Priyanka leads a team of 60+ resources across more than 10 countries, driving HR strategy across the geography with around 25000 employees.
Year of Incorporation: 12 March 1992
Number of Employees: 22,000
Founder: Lars Magnus Ericsson
Nitin Bansal – Vice President and Head of Network Products, Ericsson India,
Nunzio Mirtillo – Senior Vice President and Head of Market Area South East Asia, Oceania & India, Ericsson,
Priyanka Anand, Vice President and Head HR, Southeast Asia, Oceania & India at Ericsson
Business Line: Ericsson is one of the leading providers of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to service providers headquartered in Stockholm.
Workforce Growth: 3% CAGR till 2027
Key HR Factor:
Learning & Development
In line with our strong 5G leadership, we are upskilling and re-skilling our workforce. We have launched three initiatives:
1. The newly launched ‘Digital academy’ is a platform that aims to empower employees to build their digital skills to drive technologies like AI/automation through digitalization and data science competence building.
2. Ericsson’s ‘5G academy’ is a platform dedicated to creating pathways for employees to upskill and stay ahead of the curve on 5G RAN, 5G Core and Cloud RAN
3. Ericsson’s RISE UP is a virtual leadership platform that has a targeted development approach to building employee power skills and learning business strategy, storytelling, negotiation, and Ethics.
Degreed is our anytime/anywhere learning platform is a step towards making learning easy and accessible
Diversity and Inclusion – We work on building teams that reflect our approach of equal opportunity for all. Our ERG ‘Women of Ericsson’ and Aspire program mirror our D&I focus
Health and wellness of employees
We launched an employee Wellness program that is focused on interventions around their physical, financial, emotional, and social well-being.
We have set up 24X 7 Employee Assistance Program to provide one to one support to employees
We launched a program called “Leaders as Coaches”, which aims to enhance the skills of leaders, equip employees to have greater self-insight, take control over their own career development and establish a stronger coaching culture in a way that mobilizes Ericsson employees to deliver customer value.
Flexible work principle – We offer a range of flexible working options to support our diverse employee community across the various Countries within our Market Area.
New HR Technology:
Onboarded SuccessFactors that enables us to carry out Core HR tasks such as payroll management, talent management including recruiting and onboarding etc.
We have also added multiple technology stack as a bouquet of offering to Managers planning to hire that has touched various aspect of hiring like sourcing and assessment process / interviewing. Some of the platforms we have integrated include:
Textio as an augmented writing tool (AI) has brought immense value in our diversity commitment as it helped in implementing a gender-neutral language, in adverts and job descriptions.
Modern Hire (video interviewing platform) helps save 90 minutes for every candidate selected to interview.
Ubidy, an agency vendor platform, expands sourcing options and provides the access to the recruitment team to a network of 300 specialist recruitment agencies.
Leadership & Culture:
a. Career Competence Model – the foundation roadmap of learning requirements: ensures that every one of our employees can visualize how their career can progress
b. Careers Experience Centre: It is a one stop shop that empowers employees to design their future. In the virtual site, employees can find all information and resources related to careers that will support them in effectively managing their career choices within Ericsson.
c. Leadership Training: We aim to ensure that all our employees reach their potential and reach a goal of equitable opportunity. ASCENT (for graduates), ASPIRE (female leadership) are some of our programs.
d. ‘Ericsson on the Move’ is our strategic leadership culture transformation which aims to shift the mindset from ‘burning platform’ to ‘burning desire’ of a great culture and behaviors that will support our future business success.
e. Our Kindness Commitment is a set of guiding principles which will support us in creating a sense of community at work
f. Transparent communication to raise awareness of learning opportunities to all our employees leveraging multiple channels