Throughout the pandemic employees have had the opportunity to rethink their expectations of – and relationship with work. There has been an increasing sense that the dynamic of employee/employer relations has shifted as with the employee wielding greater power and choice. Furthermore, potential employees have become savvier in aligning what they want from work with an organisations value proposition, and it’s now perhaps more crucially than ever that employers are tuned in to what employees and potential employees really want.

Amidst the backdrop of a simmering workplace revolution, the ideas around greater flexibility, more visible signs of social responsibility, and opportunities for personal and career growth, where can employers raise their employee value propositions, and critically where should you start?

Panelists include:

  • Christine Belanger – Senior Director, Rewards, Performance & Workforce Effectiveness, Mubadala Health
  • Florencio Rhency Padilla - Founder and Managing Director, Perky People
  • Jon Boys - Labour Market Economist, CIPD
Play Video

Charlotte Chedeville: Good afternoon everybody. Thank you for joining us. Could you please let me know in the chat if you can hear me OK? OK, great. Amazing. You are very much on time everybody, we’re impressed. So hi, welcome. My name is Charlotte Chedeville. I’m the regional head of operations for CIPD in the Middle East and I am delighted to be your host today again for this CIPD webinar. This webinar is hosted by CIPD Middle East in cooperation with our headquarters, so 50% of the audience will probably be coming from the UK and regions and the rest from the Middle East, so if you do want to let us know where you're joining us from in the chat box and what you're hoping to get most from this session, that would very, very helpful. 

So we live in a little bit of a strange time and hosting a webinar and talking about business as usual can seem somewhat tone deaf, just when we thought everything was going back to normal or somewhat, we've been hit by another crisis. So we know that the news can be overwhelming and that many of you will be concerned about your family, friends and colleagues affected by the war in Ukraine and its consequences at home and afar. If you are as CIPD member in the UK, we do have a wellbeing hotline which my colleagues will pop down in the chat. If you need somebody to talk down, to talk to and we encourage you people, professionals to look after your own health and wellbeing and that of your teams and workforces and we have good resources available around sustain, responsible business, wellbeing, mental health on our website which we’ll be sharing with you. 

So today, we’re talking about raising our employee value proposition. This has been very much on top of everybody’s agenda ever since the dynamics have quite shifted since the beginning of COVID. Throughout the pandemic, employees have had the opportunity to rethink their expectations of, and their relationship with work and their co-workers. Amidst of the backdrop of a similar simmering workplace privileged and where employees are seeking more human centric workplaces with greater flexibility, more visible signs of social responsibility, inclusive cultures, flexible working and opportunities for personal and career growth, how can employers adjust their EVP, and most critically, where should we start. 

So in this session today, we’ll look into how the pandemic exactly has transformed the employer and employee relationship, the greater macroeconomic background that we are operating in and what's happened and what is about to happen and how it will impact our EVP and our employer brands. We will look into the critical elements of a good value proposition in a post COVID world and a look at the different elements and how employees can, where employees can start throughout the entire employee lifecycle. This session is being recorded, so you will be sent a recording after. If you’ve preregistered, you will be sent a recording and the link to our YouTube shortly after this is over. We will be starting with a presentation and a conversation. Please do let us know your thoughts if it’s helpful or not helpful, if you have a burning question, send us them in the chat. Please be engaging, that’s the only way that I can best help you and ensure this session is as valuable as possible for you. If the sessions relate, if the questions relate directly to what we’re talking to, I will pick them up there and then, otherwise, don’t worry, we will have time for direct Q and A to answer your questions at the end. We’ll try and keep 15 minutes for this. This webinar is one hour long. So thank you for joining us and now let us get started. So to get us started and give us a bigger picture in the backdrop against which we are operating, I’d like to invite my colleague, Jon Boys, who is a labour market economist at the CIPD.

Jon Boys: Thanks very much, Charlotte. So I guess I’m going to talk about some of the background and really it sets the scene for how difficult it is for employers at the moment. So we’re going to talk about supply and demand of candidates and what's really useful is that at any one time, it’s usually quite difficult to tell a story and to apply to more than one context or more than one labour market, but there's been an uncanny amount of synchronisation in the challenges that we face in the global economy at the moment. So if I talk about inflation, which is being largely driven by energy, energy costs, that’s something that’s being felt in lots of places. If I talk about the closure of the economy from COVID and the reopening, it pretty much happened at the same time. So my slides will be slightly UK centric, but they're more kind of demonstrative of challenges that are being faced all over the world. 

So if we start with the first slide. What the pandemic did is it did some really quite dramatic things to the vertical axis on all of our charts. So this is job adverts in the UK over time, so it’s going right back to 2003. You can see a big drop off after the financial crash, but relatively small in the grand scheme of things and then it started to grow. Now in the pre pandemic era, we were thinking wow, look at these vacancies, they're up to 750,000. This is a record breaker, we’re in a jobs boom and part of me thought, is it just that it’s easier to put a job ad on the internet nowadays? Can I even trust these figures, and then along came COVID and it fell through the floor. Such a dramatic fall. So at this time, it was incredibly easy to get staff relatively speaking. There were not many jobs, there were not that many employers recruiting. Everything was on hold. Everything was being chilled. Now the most obvious thing that then happened was the economy reopened and these job adverts, they did not recover to pre pandemic levels. They shot way past it, so I’m using words to describe the chart, but it does a lot of the heavy lifting for me here. So this is the context that we’re in today. Demand for people is through the roof and in these circumstances, you can imagine that the employee value proposition is even more important than it might usually be. 

So the next slide show unemployment and you can see the dotted line. Anything after that is a forecast. Now the interesting thing to note is it jumps up a little bit when the pandemic came along, but for the most part, and this is in the UK, it stayed low. Now in the US, they didn’t have a furlough scheme, they had enhanced unemployment, so their unemployment went up really high, but then it came down really low again and this is a general pattern that you’ve seen across Europe where there were similar furlough schemes. It didn’t rise too high. Now the interesting bit is to look at the forecast into the future and we can see that it’s actually expected to get a little bit lower to go down to 3.8%, which is really low unemployment and then it’s expected to rise gradually to about 5%, but the context is that unemployment is low, and it’s expected to stay very, very low to continue. So I think of this as the, if vacancies are the demand side, this is the supply side. How many candidates are available? And certainly, the ratio of people unemployed to vacancies, there are about four people unemployed to every one vacancy during the pandemic. There's now about one, so there are just many fewer people looking for each job. Now I had to put a note in here that this is from the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Report from February and since then a war has broken out in Europe and the consequences are such that I think this unemployment projections are probably a little bit too optimistic now. I suspect it will rise a little further. 

So if we move onto the next slide, there's been a lot of talk about the great resignation, and of course this is very important for the employee value proposition again because we’re thinking about how to treat the incumbent workforce, I, are people getting itchy feet and looking to move? I picked up this chart, it’s job to job moves and I think the interesting thing to see is again we can see the great recession, the financial crash, and there's a big drop. So when there's a downturn you expect a bit of a drop in people moving jobs. They stay where they are, it’s the safe place to be and a lot of people have been pointing towards the record breaking figure, the 3.2% at the end, but I just think well that clearly has come just after a massive drop. So on my sort of thesis that the rate of job to job moves, of resigning, is really just all that built up churn from the lack of churn or turnover during the pandemic and now that’s being unleased. I don’t actually think there's a massively increased appetite for moving jobs. 

So the next slide, which I think is quite an important one really and probably going to become one of the most important things, talking points this year, is inflation. This was the Bank of England’s report from February again, they were expecting it to peak at 7¼% in April. Who knows? It could now, it could be, foreseeably be 10% now. We could have very high inflation. What's clever about this chart is they’ve kind of teased out the effect of energy prices and the effect of everything else. So inflation’s just a basket of goods, it’s yogurt and blueberries and bananas and all those things, but also energy and you can clearly see that the line that is CPI inflation and the one that excludes energy, this, the blue, the light blue line. These are terrible charts. When I make charts, I use different colours, I’ll use a blue and a pink or something, but Bank of England have a preference for ten shades of blue. So the lower line is where inflation would be if we didn’t have this big effect of energy prices and the war in Ukraine has only made this worse. So we’re thinking inflation’s going to peak at a very high level. That means that workers will have less money in their pockets in real terms, even if wages manage to increase by 5% then you're looking at a net difference of 5 and a, quite a big cut. I guess the only thing to, the only saving grace is that that is felt across the world, and it’s felt across all businesses. So you're not necessarily put, disadvantaged, but I think it will put pressure on wages, on raising nominal wages. 

So I think I have one more slide. This is just some fun data, Google Mobility data on how many people are travelling to the office. I’ve chosen a selection of cities, but you can actually do anywhere. I think you can do Bahrain, Dubai, you can do Singapore, all that data’s available. The only problem is that because different countries locked down at different times, when you chart them all on the same chart, it’s quite a mess, whereas at least while I chart cities in the UK they sort of move together and you can see essentially the story of this chart is that during the first lockdown, everyone started working from home and it’s gradually crept back up, but it is way, way below the baseline. We are still not moving to the office anymore. I think when, in the context of employee value proposition, I am just thinking about it. There's a clear preference that’s been shown. It’s a norm that’s started to embed, we’re two years on and I actually don’t know where this is going to settle, but I think that it probably will settle somewhere near wherever it is now. So most cities, we’re talking about 20% less footfall as a result, and like I say, Google keep publishing this data and it’s free and it’s openly available and you can look up all sorts of geographies. You can get really quite granular, even in the UK which is interesting. So yeah, that’s pretty much me done. That’s set in the context of some of the pressures where the balance of power is between employees and employers and crucially, thinking forward a little bit about the challenges we’re going to have this year particularly in regards to an energy crisis that will force inflation a bit higher and possibly unemployment a bit higher too.

CC: Thank you, Jon such an interesting presentation and not necessarily the most optimistic, but certainly eye opening. Joining me today is Christine Belanger, who’s senior director at Mubadala Health and based in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates and Florencio Padilla who’s a managing director and founder of Perky People, he is a consultant working with some of the largest retail groups like Chalhoub and other organisations in the region and we’ll let them introduce themselves in due time. So to guests, Christine, do you, what, how do you see this trends reflected in the Middle East? What's your impression on them?

Christine Belanger: Hi, Charlotte, thank you very much for this session, for inviting me and I was really looking forward to it. Can you hear me well? Yeah? Perfect, OK I just wanted to make sure with the sound. So basically, when we look in the Middle East, it’s I think very similar than the rest of the world in regards of how the pandemic has impacted us and the way we have, I would say, reacted because we, as the world or as the Middle East are an organisation and us Mubadala Health, it’s something that we talk about, but then it really hit us and we had to really adapt in the agile, very quickly. So and for us it was at the same time, we were launching the organisation in January 2021. So the year of pandemic started, we were at the project phase, and we launched in January 2021. We’re still in the pandemic, and I will say that the good thing with that is we were already living the pandemic, tweaking our benefits, our rewards, our policy, our approach, as we were like, OK this is not, this is a big impact. This will, we will need to be more innovative, creative and adapt and when we see the working from home and other way of work, then it’s not going to go anywhere because, you know what? It’s, there's things that are working, so let’s keep it and it makes our people happy. So we need to incorporate that, but as Jon has, raised it’s not something that’s only impacted the UK or Canada or the United Arab Emirates, it was literally worldwide and everybody was adapting, and I think we all have the same impact, and we will need to think about similar approach.

CC: Absolutely, thank you. Christine, can you give us a better up, background on Mubadala?

CB: Yes, so I hope, yes, and by the way, Charlotte, your sound is squeaky a little bit, OK? So Mubadala Health basically, we considered our first years were around 2006, when the healthcare sector within another investment company and we became our own in January 2021 as Mubadala Health. So currently with the welcome of our new member of the family, UEMedical, we are currently around 11 assets and about 5,000 caregivers. So basically, Mubadala Health is our mission, our vision, is to really change and transform the healthcare landscape here in the region and expand and see if it’s, not only could there be not only the United Arab Emirates, but in the Middle East and we’ll see where it goes, but it’s really a positive change that we want to make, something that is sustainable. Patient centric, our caregiver are at the heart of everything. We are the healthcare sector, have been strongly hit by the pandemic, but we have incredible and very, very agile and tough people within our rank and we are very proud of them. So this is, in a nutshell, what is Mubadala Health and very proud to be part of this organisation.

CC: Thank you, Christine. All right, so in your perspective Rhency, how has the, I hope you can hear me. I’m very sorry, I have, yeah? Can you all hear me?

Florencio Rhency Padilla: I can hear you, but it’s a bit garbled, but fun.

CC: All right. Rhency, how have you seen the pandemic and the recent situation impact and affect the employee/employer relationship and what have you seen in your clients and organisations in your region due as a consequence of that?

FRP: Thank you, thank you, first of all, let me introduce myself, Charlotte, and hello everyone wherever you're joining from. My name is Rhency, I used to head the people experience of Chalhoub Group. Chalhoub Group is basically one of the large, biggest luxury retailers in the Middle East representing brands like Sephora, Swarovski, Lacoste, Chanel, Carolina Herrera. Most recently, well just actually last year, I decided after heading the people experience of the group that I would like to set up my own employee experience consulting business. So now I’m also consulting for the likes of L'Occitane, LVMH Beauty and some of the fintech organisations in the Middle East. So that’s a bit about me. 

So going back to your question, Charlotte. What I have seen especially having worked with clients now in the Middle East, I think I can relate to what Jon was saying, something about the great resignation. What I have seen very, very clear was in the beginning of the pandemic, I, those organisations who didn’t pivot enough when it comes to offering flexibility, not only talking about people being able to work remotely or not because that was a given already during the pandemic. We’re actually struggling more two years into the pandemic, not only attracting talents, but also retaining talents. For example, back in 2018, I authored the flexible working arrangement of Chalhoub Group where we, together with my team, we designed what that roadmap looks like and then create the basic framework of what flexibility means not only from the standpoint of where can they work, but how do they do their work within the larger scheme of things and then from there, we've offered the different business units within the group flexibility on how do you interpret that, given the DNA of your business unit, given the DNA of your brand on how would you like to be flexible. So I think that was initially well appreciated once it’s launched, but I think a few months into the implementation people realised, oh it’s too open, mainly the senior people, the VPs, the GMs and the C levels. They said like, well this is too open, we cannot work this out, blah de blah de blah, and then what we discovered was actually when you work with the senior people and then give them, enable them by letting them know what technology will enable them and their people to offer flexibility, it becomes much easier for a lot of people. So we have also invested at that time on developing leaders on to make sure that they are equally enabled in making sure that they also drive flexibility in their business units. Going back to what I was saying earlier, also working with other organisations in the Middle East, one of the things that I’m also seeing is around wellbeing because I think globally most organisations were seeing they’re only driving, the easy ones that drive in the space of wellbeing, which is around let’s organise a yoga session, let’s organise a webinar on mental health. Let’s organise this and that without really looking at the entire employee lifecycle. How do you embed that wellbeing, holistic wellbeing aspect in your entire employee lifecycle to make sure people really feel that they are well taken care of by the organisation. So looking at the different dimensions of wellbeing, whether it has something to do with your process or your policy, Christine mentioned something about reviewing all the benefits. Yes, I think that’s important, that’s something we've done in Chalhoub Group two years ago. We really, really looked at the statement of benefits for employees so that they really see that in addition to salary, which is always a given when you run surveys where people want more money, more money, more money, but once  you show them the picture of what are we offering you to look after you, while you, while we, while working for us, then you completely see a different picture or maybe a shift on how employees see when it comes to  holistic wellbeing. 

CB: Thank you, Rhency. I’m just going to take a little bit over while Charlotte is trying to log back in and have a perfect sound, so you and I will have a great conversation. So when I prepare myself for this session, I was just looking a little bit into the updates on the trends and I was looking at some of the cluster, like people, work, wellbeing which, yeah, grow and also great resignation. I will give you an example where as we were creating our company and we went live in 2021, the compassionate side of our leadership, and I’m sure Rhency, you will have something to say about that, but this is something that I have seen at Mubadala Health, the transformation and the willingness of our leader to go on the floor, visit our asset and we have 11 asset now. We have Mubadala Medicine, we have national reference laboratory. I’m not going to go through all of them, they're not really matter. Going on the floor and having this discussion and hearing them, their personal life and I think this is part of this new employee EVP is now our employees and also our candidate are expecting that we have this connection. It’s not only me as an employee, I’m not a worker, I am a person, and we've seen that. We have done more one to one, we have done, they face to face, they are, I went to one of our assets sitting with the physician, hearing them out. Understanding what they're going through, explaining our process, our guidelines, having a one to one same level topic of conversation and you could feel like I would say, the sentiment of the engagement. It changed, before it was not like that, it was kind of OK let’s have some check ins, let’s see, (inaudible) this and that. Now it’s something that is demanded for a good cause and serves very well. I don’t know if you have experienced something similar in your experience, maybe you can share?

FRP: Yes, I love what you said there, Christine, about compassion from leaders. I think even for us, back in 2018 if I remember that, in the beginning of 20, 2019 at the beginning of the pandemic, because a few years back we basically created people experience communities within the organisation in different countries so that we want to relieve HR of the responsibility of driving all these engagement wellbeing and all these things, and it’s, becomes more of a bottom up approach. So what happened was during the pandemic because of all these things that are happening, like people feel isolated, people are working, they don’t have the right environment for them to work from home, what we've seen was these communities basically fostered deeper connection with all our employees, even virtually because now people are exposed to their dogs, their cats, their, like their family and everyone else. So what was entering, that actually happened there because we already set up these people experience communities in the very beginning, going back to your point about leaders showing more compassion, I think people also become more vulnerable to one another and that also strengthen that deeper connection between team members, between managers and also employees and what I have seen was in managers, in leaders, capitalise on these deeper connections because it’s not all about money, right? So when you feel connected with another person, it make things so much easier. Do you agree?

CB: Sorry, we have a technical moment. Let me try, if somebody knows how I can bring back Charlotte into being a panellist, I will love your support. I’ve been thrown, so Charlotte is asking if she can come back --

[Technical issues]

CB: Not good at it. Do you see it? Can you do it? OK, so OK. I think she’s going to try. Oh, we’ll continue. I do agree, Rhency, and depending, there might be questions, but I want to cover other things that might be worth to also share with our attendees is maybe some of the things that we have worked on as we were going to the pandemic. So as an example, from Mubadala Health, what we have looked into in our rewards, it’s part of my function and what we have looked is having a relook and we did not hesitate. You know, usually in the old days in companies, you have to have a really good business case to go and say, hey let us relook at the way we have modelled our bonus or our, do we need to introduce (inaudible) do we need to take, now it’s like it’s a given. We need to, we need to to take care of our employees and we need to to be able to attract the candidate. We really need also to showcase or walk the talk, showcase a strong, a company culture and brand, but also demonstrate it. So this is something that we have done in terms of, from our side in reward, we really looked at our bonus. We’re considering maybe a long-term incentive plan. The work for, the work from home lead, this is something that it’s not like during the pandemic, it is part of our policy, there's a flexibility, there's a numbers per month that is allowed. There's the lead if you are, have a COVID. We are also looking at more going to internal appointment instead of let’s say, a promotion because why? Because that’s the need, we need, we want to encourage and demonstrate that it’s growth within the organisation and again, retention is really what we think. So internal appointment, so in terms of reward. Have you done similar things or change your rewards or benefit or policies?

FRP: 100%, Christine. I think, (clears throat) sorry, like what you said about retention, I think what I saw in the last couple of years was the focus was all, one the focus is attracting people, but it’s retention is equally more important because going back to what Jon was presenting earlier, it’s this great resignation. What we have seen in the last two years as key people are leaving the roles, especially here in the Middle East because they're more demanding. Going back again to what Jon said something about, the shift in the power. Now, I remember very clearly having sat down with our head of talent acquisition, attracting people, the first thing that they actually ask is what does flexibility look like in your organisation? Am I expected to come to work all the time? Actually, this is very interesting, I’m just going to side track a little bit here. I read a very interesting article this morning about, on CNBC about COs now are asking their employees to come back. Tim Fox, for instance, asking Apple employees, oh we want to welcome you back but there's a gap with the perception of employees wanting to go back to the workplace and it’s very similar here in the Middle East and people might think Middle East is too far away from the flexibility practice globally, but we’re not. People are people and people have the same needs. I think it’s the mindset also of senior leaders when it comes to making sure that employees feel heard about what's going on and what's important to them and then this is what the deeper connection I was talking about earlier, they don’t want anymore of the usual, OK we’re going to offer you Monday, Tuesday work from home and then you come back here and that. I think if you're doing that, I think at least for me, I’m running a lot of surveys here in the Middle East and people do not want that. People want real flexibility where people can actually do things that matter to them. So if we don’t want to lose employees, we need to start having the dialogue. Exactly what you said there earlier, Christine, employee listening now is the past, what  we need, it’s a dialogue with employees and turn those dialogue into actions.

CB: Charlotte, you're back. I’m so happy.

CC: I hope this is sound is fine.

CB: You're perfect. You're perfect.

CC: Oh good, I love what you just said, Rhency, employee listening is the past, what we need is a two-way conversation. I think we all agree on this as, on this need that are, some might argue not so new. We had the Gen Z coming into the generation, that was a debate. That was really quite pre pandemic. The pandemic definitely put, employee experience, flexibility. You’ve talked about compassion and empathetic leadership front and centre and certainly that human centric idea. Now if it was that easy, all organisations would have a fantastic employee value proposition, so right, so I’m interested to hear, we mostly understand what employees want. In your experience, Christine, my first question to you is what is the biggest barrier to, if have, to changing our value proposition?

CB: Ah, that’s a really good question. So the biggest, OK it could be that people that are already within the organisation really like what it is right now and when you bring change for anybody, even if it’s the nicest and the most beautiful and packaged change, it is change and people will have a first reaction of no, wait a minute. Why are you doing that change? What's the background? What is, was is, what it is for me in this. So they will have this, so it’s just we all need to accept that when you bring change, you need to be, this needs to be well communicated. This needs to be a presented example and don’t shy away from saying, hey you know what? The change, if I take you personally and it’s to go back to this personal touch that we were discussing with Rhency, is you know Charlotte, this is you presently, this your current employee value proposition and this is how it’s going to look like. So it’s now you have almost to go group by group, sometimes person to person, have the door open for people who are more resisting to it to explain. That I will say it’s, if we can perceive it, it’s a barrier. I would say it’s a little bit of challenge, but if you have the heart of the good place and you know that this is the best thing for your people and for the organisation, then it’s, it will not be a hard seller.

FRP: If I can jump in on that? If, and in addition to what Christine was talking about also, I think for me, it’s the biggest thing is also the mindset, at least me coming from an organisation with employees who have been in the organisation for the last 50, 60 years, the biggest challenge because we did actually, because I was part of the taskforce in redoing an EVP early on in the transformation period of the group and then it was revamped again during the pandemic. The biggest part was actually the mindset of people on who are we? What do we want to do? Because this is where confusions, becomes a big challenge for a lot of organisations because of do we want to become a Google, do we want to become a LinkedIn, do I want to be, everyone just wants to be, wants to aspire to be another organisation, but what people are forgetting is who we really are. That’s why perhaps these days more and more purpose is becoming more important, really defining what your purpose is. Clarifying and clearly articulating to your people who you really are as an organisation because if you are not a fun organisation like Google, why do it because then it becomes less authentic for people and then you attract the wrong people. The other thing, I think, if I may add here is the biggest barrier to redefining your EVP is not communicating it. Defining EVP is one thing, but communicating the EVP beyond emails, video, is another thing also. This is where we struggled also in the very beginning, where we saw, OK, we’re communicating the culture, the culture and the future culture, for the future, but people are not digesting the information. So we really look, relooked at, revisited how we communicate, how we activate a lot of these things beyond the normal channels of communication such as email, such as townhall because if again, we go back to the deeper connection, how do we connect with them where we don’t just send an email? How do we connect with them where just advise people in a townhall setting?

CC: Yeah, absolutely what you're saying reminds me of the constant parallel that we make between employee experience and a customer experience, right? You're thinking of a holistic journey where it would seem so outdated to just talk to your customers by phoning them, yet it seems that HR is lagging behind a little bit in that communication in that we don’t always have that partnership with marketing, with internal comms, with comms throughout the business and I love that you're touching upon culture as well. So I know this could be a much more long, much more than one hour long session, but we’ll try and keep it to. Just starting on culture, I think what's, which we’re touching here is one end of the EVP. It’s the bigger part, the purpose, the strategy, which we always talk about culture change. I know Christine, you’ve done a lot of transformation. It’s one of the longest and most difficult processes to do in a company, it’s not as simple as just changing one element. I’m interested to delve a little bit into that and then later I’m also interested for people who want something they can take way today to look at more simple elements further down the line of the EVP that could be implemented. So perhaps just a word on culture change and leadership buy in. Christine, what's your biggest lesson when it comes to engaging leaders in culture transformation?

CB: Ah.

CC: And such a team.

CB: My biggest lesson is first of all, be, as human capital, be very ready when you introduce change because you can have leaders that you need to convince, that you, it comes from you. You are a role model, people are looking at you and then you have the others that will have that instinctual and this is the second part. This is what we have here, and we still have at Mubadala Health. It was not hard to convince our CEO, Hasan Al Nowais, and our C suite just to say, guys and ladies and gentlemen, we really need you onboard. They were already onboard and that, I had lived it when I was at Mubadala Investment Company, and we did the merger and it’s the same thing. The success, even if you struggle and even if there's back and forth and red flags and whatever, if you have your leadership that it comes from them, they already know, yes, we’re here, what do you want us to do? They, and not even that, they even propose a way forward. I’m going to be there, let’s do a tour. Let’s go one to one. Let’s meet, let’s sit down. Make sure that you go one by one, and we answer all the question, and everybody has a voice. It’s, oh, it makes the road to making the change successful so much easier. It doesn’t mean that when leadership is a bit resistant that it’s not going to be successful, but it’s harder. So that will be my biggest lesson learnt. Be ready and then you can, you adapt to which leader you’ve got to partner with.

CC: On that, and I will try to encourage you to keep your answers short just because we do have a bit to cover later, on that --

FRP: Yeah.

CC: Making the case for certain things that have a direct proven return on investment is easy. Making the case for things like culture change, diversity and inclusion, wellbeing and mental health are either a difficult, is more difficult because you don’t necessarily have the data historically, or it’s more difficult to measure or sometimes by trying to measure those very elements, you are actually sabotaging your own view because such, some of these things shouldn’t be measured long term. So what would you say to those leaders who want to offer flexibility and those HR professionals who would like to modernise their EVP, look at flexibility, look at growth opportunities, look at mobility, but can’t make the case for those because of the data.

CB: Rhency or myself?

FRP: Me?

CB: Me?

FRP: Yeah, OK --

CB: Both of us?

FRP: Well maybe I can share? I’ll share. I think for me, the big thing here is inspiring people. This is a very different approach from Christine because my experience working with senior leaders is I found myself really hustling to convince them we need to change, we need to change, we need to change. So what I’ve done differently to change my approach was I looked at partnering with a leader in the organisation who was actually basically my ambassador who’s willing to do it in their business unit. So we partnered together, we worked together, and we created success stories, and just like any change, when they see something is successful, everyone just jumped the bandwagon. I remember very clearly early on in my hustling days of culture transformation and employee experience, I had to go to different GMs, VPs, SVPs, asking them, oh let’s work together, let’s work together. Only a few said yes, and the ones who said yes also are maybe, no let’s, I want to do this because it’s a fad, but one thing I realised from that experience was the ones who really committed to, I built stronger relationship with them and they become my promoters and ambassadors to the point of now I don’t even have to tell them or ask them, let’s work together. They just come to me because they have seen the success stories of other business units.

CC: That’s something that we see for, as a thread always when we talk about HR analytics as well and workforce planning and all of these things that at the end of the day, the figures are one thing, but it’s how you tell the story that you're going to get people buy into this. Having said that, we have been talking about mindset and I think that, to me, trust is critical. It’s the underlying, it’s the base to everything that you're going to build on. Without trust, you can’t have successful flexible working. There are people are not going to take their parental leave, you are not going to have psychological safety, and unfortunately, a lot of traditional businesses have seen business continue and even flourish, for some, during the pandemic yet are keen to get back to the old ways because they do not trust employees. I, it’s obviously difficult to say that, how do you build trust or if you were an HR professional within an organisation where the leaders are mistrusting, what would you try to do perhaps? What would be a workaround for somebody who wants to bring about change in that context?

CB: I think here it’s having a one-on-one approach, so for me, I will go and sit down with that leader and have a discussion and where does it come from and give me some example. Trying to coach that leader to, you know what? Put some things that will make you comfortable and we’ll test to see that the person on the other side of the computer or at home is working, is, and have this conversation with your employee in a constructive way. Hey, listen, we have a big project and it’s important that maybe you can give me an update in the morning, at night, but set the discussion, the expectation and then hopefully, with time, the comfort will settle in, but not going directly and says, no, no, no. I want everybody, I want to micromanage. I want to see people. Sometimes seeing people we have seen presentation, it’s not better. That doesn’t mean that they are working, so I will have a chat. If either it’s a leader or group of leader, and just try to find a way to build that trust or confirm that this person need to have a more of a, a lot more touch points with that person.

FRP: If I can chip in to that one, I have a very interesting story with one of my clients. This was back when we implemented also the flexible working arrangement, everyone was celebrating and then come implementation time, some of the GMs who were reporting to a VP called me, Rhency we need your help. We need your help because I thought we can implement a lot of these things, but our VPs are like, no, no, no. We’re not going to be doing it, everyone has to come to the office. So just like what Christine had done, I actually just sat down with the, with that leader and then just found out what was he afraid of when it comes to implementing it because with trust, usually people cannot trust because of so many fears because trust is two ways, right? Two way, people don’t trust because of they cannot guarantee the repeatability of the value that this person will bring. They cannot trust the knowledge or the expertise of the other person, but once you identified what are the fears of the leader, then work with the leader on OK, how can we minimise the fear? So then this is when they start talking to you about, but I don’t know how would we collaborate, I don’t know how would I know if someone’s doing a lot of these things. Then we start looking into introducing the use of technology so that they can collaborate online. Then we started redefining purposeful meetings on when do you do meetings online and when do you do meetings offline also so that we can have that face to face conversation with employees. I think after that, there's a quick, huge turnaround. 180 degrees turnaround and then the, some of the GMs says, call me, I don’t know what you’ve done, but listen, now the VPs are like, OK yeah, we’re going to be implementing this, but we have to do A, B, C, D, E, F, G. So I think approach this with compassion as HR professionals. I think we live and breathe a lot of these topics, but leaders, senior leaders or any employees, they don’t know any of these things. So let’s approach this with compassion and understand where the fear is coming from and help them to identify what are those things that can help them minimise the fear of not trusting other people.

CC: Thank you, that’s a great segue into the next topic I wanted to address with you. You were talking about HR talking with leaders and onboarding leaders and leaders are not just, you're not just managing, of course you're managing across the organisation. We very often talk about the critical role of line managers. We've seen it during the pandemic, the importance manager, that line managers have played in the installing of psychological safety in managing their people. How do you upscale line managers and onboard line managers because we were talking line manager, for not talking an HR team. We’re talking line managers across the business and very often across sites if you're in retail or banking or, so how do you upskill line managers to be able to a) make these decisions and have these conversations, b) we were talking earlier about being more authentic leading, being human centric. Is that something that’s learnt? So I would love to have your take on those line managers.

CB: For, so basically and this is something that is naturally inside of me is like everybody can learn, develop at their own speed, at their own level and you cannot also force somebody to go to a certain extent if that this is the limit, but everybody should be given the chance and maybe a little bit like the approach with the manager that have an issue with people working from home, then again, it’s I think as an organisation, as HC you have struck a right chord when you say, we need to be very good at analytics, at trending, at surveying, at taking the pulse of our people as HCs, it’s our responsibility to take care of our people. So when you see a line manager that you have issues or don’t feel comfortable, don’t assume that everybody’s at the same level. Just go reach out, provide training, provide a one to one, provide support. Give them the tools, give them the tools of hey, you know what? Can I observe or what, how did you felt when you met with your employee? Oh I didn’t know how to start. If I knew how to start, it would be so much easier. OK, there you go. Let me provide you with some tool. Let’s do a role case or a scenario, and so I think it’s, everybody can be upskilled to a certain limit, and you need to respect that, but you have to give the benefit of the doubt and just go ahead with that and then just take whatever tool and intelligence that you have in HC and just create that opportunity for the line manager.

CC: Yeah, and I, if I can just say, we know that, I think it was the 2017 report that found that less than half of line managers ever had any formal training whatsoever in people management.

CB: Yeah.

CC: And very often, we see organisations unfortunately leaving out line managers unless they are, consider it as high potential leaders. They are kind of left out and they yet have the responsibility of people who are trickling down your values into your, and the behaviours that you want to promote. Rhency, you were going to say something.

FRP: Yes, my personal purpose in life is to inspire people to bring their best to work every day and I really believe in inspiring people. So in addition to what Christine mentioned earlier about training people, what I have seen work really, really well in previous projects that I have worked on was when you create this community of leaders and then you showcase best practice or a case study or how they did it, then it’s less intimidating for people because what I have seen in the past was managers, you feel more lonely the higher you go up in the corporate ladder. You feel alone and you feel like you don’t want to be vulnerable, but the moment you see that within your community of leaders and managers that these things can be done, then it’s such a powerful thing. I remember when I hosted a breakfast session where I invited some of the GMs of the business units to highlight a particular topic and how did they approach this and it’s a very, very important topic across the organisation. That was a huge success because they don’t have to learn it from a professor, they don’t have to do an MBA. They are hearing it directly from their peers on how did they tackle the problem, and I think the growth there and the learning is much better because it’s in a safe place where we’re all leaders and we’re only highlighting things that have been done and what worked really well.

CC: Thank you, Rhency. I want, I see we are, we've got a couple of minutes left, so if you do have questions or comments for us, please do drop them in the chat or the Q & A button if you prefer to be anonymous and we will pick them up. We've talked about so many different element of the EVP and if I reflect on the ones that are emerging or that have changed the most in the centre of a need, we've seen I guess two trends, right? There was a compassionate leadership, the human, bring your whole self to work, going from seeing your boss with their cat, their dogs, their home, their, what you were referring to earlier, Rhency, to suddenly going back to the old corporate codes just doesn’t cut it. It seems as if you're being pulled, you're not only being old fashioned, but you're cutting out a line of communication that had been open throughout the pandemic and the other part which we've talked about is flexibility and we’re seeing now, so at, during the pandemic, we've seen many organisations offer hybrid working etc. We've seen, we thought that was going to be the way forward. We saw organisations starting to go with that and just a few weeks ago, we've seen Google suddenly asking every employee to return to the office. Was that a, and I guess a comment to that is probably the difficulty of maintaining culture when working remotely or a single cohesive culture. So perhaps a comment to that if you’d like, Christine, and what's next? Do we have to offer that flexibility? Can we go back? Do we, should we go back?

CB: I think hah, OK it’s a slash personal/organisational hat that I have but no, I think that keeping that flexibility is, will be the way going forward because what we have seen and maybe sorry, Jon, if I’m just picking on you right now, but I think the trends that we could see is that you know what, during the pandemic, at the beginning, and I do remember some webinar that I have participated or attended is like performance in terms of employees have not drop. Sometimes they have super increased because all of a sudden it’s a change, it’s exciting. We have to do it, we’re not the only one and we want to demonstrate that we are able to do, Sometimes it’s not that good because it can lead to some kind of burnout and such a thing, but the performance of our employees have not considerably dropped, it changed. We adapted, so I will say no, flexible working environment are there to stay and it’s now through the organisation, I think I saw some comments from a Rachel, or I don’t know who about the brand of the organisation. This is just going with the culture and the branding of your company is like how you present the flexible working. Is it a lot, not a lot, but it needs to go in sync with your company branding and able to be, to attract and retain, but flexibility is there, I think to stay.

CC: And the final comments I get rounding back to Jon’s initial presentation about the current situation and what we’re expecting to see in terms of trends, blue worker chasing power, potentially economic prices, weaker financial and manager’s ability etc. so people looking out for safety. Do you see this as a challenge for companies or as an opportunity and I wonder Christine, you're, you’ve been working in rewards for a very long time and we've had so many talks about long term incentives and reward and finding the right way, the ways to reward and motivate employees with, and reward the right behaviours. How much of this today is about financial reward? Can you --

CB: It depends on the general, oh sorry, I’m cutting you, you get me --

CC: No, no.

CB: Excited. I would say that when you were talking rewards, flexibility are you, I go back to some reading I have done, but also what I’m going through. It depends on the generation you're talking about and right now, not only about the pandemic but where we are in terms of work environment. We have multigenerational people working together, but I will say that the two main component are flexibility and the right reward. So again, HC, the intelligence, be acute to your people need, be acute to your population and then your etc. etc. but this is it. Flexibility and reward or depending on the generation where the top two, but always the top two. So both of them goes together, but you will not attract or retain somebody just saying, hey we have the greatest bonus. It will not work if this person wants to be able to go back home earlier, to go pick up their kid at school and then continue working at home. It’s not going to work for long. You can give them the best bonus ever, if for this mother or this father, they want to go and pick up their kids at two o'clock and then promise they will work from home from then and you say no, that has as well a very big impact. I don’t know if I answered your questions.

CC: Yeah, you have. I’m here, I’m listening to you. I sincerely agree and I think too that and to conclude our discussion as well. We've had a few discussions offline which would make for hours of broadcast probably, but we were talking about attracting talent and how the negotiating power environment that candidates have today with organisations where it’s been a few years, we’re saying, candidates should also interview organisations and not just one way, but today we’re not only expecting it, we actually want it to be so. We’re expecting candidates as well to negotiate and we've observed, I mean that’s offline conversations I’ve had with a few people from the community. The biggest part of the negotiation lately was around flexible working, being able to go and work from my home country when I haven't been able to travel for two years during the pandemic, knowing that I don’t have to take three weeks off just because my parents are at the end of the world. Perhaps I can find a way to work outside and that will mean for HR and human capital to go beyond the traditional framework and find ways to work around it. Perhaps the legal framework isn't there yet. Perhaps there isn't a precedent yet, but how do we meet candidates halfway? While researching for this session, we've, there are a couple of articles that came up, including the great Gartner report on the topic we've been discussing today, and I love what their VP said. She said the reality is that free shifts in a work environment have eroded the impact of the traditional EVP. Employees are people, not just workers. Work is a subset of life, not separate from it and values come through feelings, not just futures.

CB: Yeah.

CC: And I felt that really encapsulated a lot of the aspects that we've discussed. OK.

CB: And I’ve seen, we've seen the switch. I know we are over the time and Rhency is lying there, but I’ve seen the change in our talent acquisition team, the quick turnaround, the passion they have for the candidate and the approach they have and the touchpoints and the, it goes with the onboarding, taking care of our candidate is as much important because once they come in, they want to, when they're getting interviewed, it’s like I want to have the feeling of what it is to work for you. So tell me the truth because I will discover very quickly. So we need to respect the candidate as well and I have seen them. It’s like those conversation, the, those close contacts share, sharing the information, the brand, the culture, how we are, the flexibility that we are offering etc. is becoming very, very important and part to all those other discussion. I think.

CC: Absolutely. Rhency --

FRP: If I can add also there --

CC: A few final words.

FRP: Yeah, yeah, forget, if I can just add, I think if we really want to really look at our EVP in this, I don’t know if I can say we’re still in the middle or we’re at the tail end of the pandemic, but I think we really need to look into more focusing on the culture of the organisation because what Christine said, money is one thing. Sooner or later, no matter how high the salary of a person, but if the person is not treated well, going back to what you were saying about Chalhoub, but people need to feel it. People need to feel valued. If they don’t feel anything with the organisation, sooner or later, this person will leave or this person will stay and will stay unproductive while collecting the money from the organisation. So we have the biggest opportunity, I’m talking about for organisations across the globe now, to really relook at what kind of culture would you like to have in the future and whether it’s flexibility, what does flexibility mean for your organisation without copying on an organisation. What does development opportunities beyond technical training behavioural and leadership training, but training me as a person, as a human being. Talking about wellbeing, going far beyond what a typical wellbeing notions of yoga and physical work exercise, how do we embed a lot of these things in the entire employee lifecycle and then make it in such a way that we’re watching a movie. You will always have your ups and downs in the movie, but you know, you know you have that deeper connection with the organisation.

CC: Absolutely.

FRP: So you can forgive the mistakes.

CC: Absolutely and you know what, it very, very often starts and ends with culture, all of these important discussions. Thank you so much for this fascinating discussion, Jon, Christine and Rhency, if people want to find you and connect with you, can they connect with you on LinkedIn? Find you on LinkedIn?

FRP: Yes, yes, yes --

CC: We can find --

FRP: They can find me Florencio Rhency Padilla or even you can just visit, happy to just even just have a chat with you guys, if you just want to have a chat.

CC: Fantastic, so thank you so much for joining us. This was Jon Boys from the CIPD, Christine Belanger from Mubadala Health and Florencio Padilla from Perky People. Thank you everybody for joining us today, it’s been a pleasure. I hope that it’s been helpful. You will be sent a recording along with relevant information and please don’t forget to follow us on social media, CIPD Middle East on LinkedIn or CIPD for our main, big account in the UK. If you’ve got stuff to tell us, some things you’d like us to talk about in our next editions for CIPD Middle East, it’s and the team will be delighted to hear from you. Thank you so much everybody, please do take care of yourselves.

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