Leaders have a huge impact on promoting and sustaining organisational culture: Priyanka Anand

Leaders have a huge impact on promoting and sustaining organisational culture: Priyanka Anand

Priyanka Anand, Head of HR (South East Asia, Oceania and India), Ericsson, talks about how the organisation makes the most of technology to drive efficiencies and help the business succeed in a time of rapid change. She also gives an understanding of the possibilities of data analytics in HR and how leaders at Ericsson model key behaviours to enable and empower their teams to be and do their best.

There have been surprising changes in the attitude and approach of HR functions towards the uptake of technologies connected to the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) since the pandemic. What are some recent applications of technology in HR at Ericsson?


HR has always been a multifaceted function, and it has quickly evolved into a technology-based function. In the last decade, we have witnessed a massive shift in the adoption of technologies/tools for various tasks and attaining key insights.


HR processes are being automated to improve employee experience and productivity. Technologies such as AI/ML are being adopted to conduct various tasks, from manpower planning to employee exit. Over the past year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ericsson’s recruitment and onboarding processes were moved online completely. Technologies like blockchain, IoT, big data analytics, AI/ML, and so on will further aid activities such as searching for the right candidate, conducting background checks, behavioural analysis, evaluating emotional well-being, etc.


At Ericsson, we encourage employees to continue building their competence through learning modules available on our anytime/ anywhere learning platform, called Degreed.


We have also added a multiple technology stack as a bouquet of offering to the managers planning to hire, which touches on various hiring aspects, such as sourcing, assessment processes and interviewing. Some of the platforms we have integrated include the following:


Textio, an augmented writing tool (AI), has brought immense value to our commitment to diversity as it helped to implement gender-neutral language in adverts and job descriptions.


Modern Hire (video interviewing platform) has helped save 90 minutes per candidate selected for interview.


Ubidy, an agency vendor platform, has expanded sourcing options by connecting our recruitment team to a network of 300 specialised recruitment agencies.


Today, people-related data is everywhere, and it is growing ever more enormous. What are some ways HR can put data to good effect and extract meaningful, value-adding insights?


HR has access to a lot of data, perhaps more than any other department, and even more so now, given the transition to the digital environment. The right data can make HR decisions more credible and create a more positive impact on business outcomes. For that to happen, we need to make better and more connected use of data.


In the manner by which consumer data can be leveraged to drive sales, HR data can be leveraged to drive better employee experience, improve employee productivity, set organisational benchmarks, and maximise business outcomes.


For instance, data from company-wide surveys could be used to measure investments in reskilling and deliver the right competencies by modifying training. Data from social media posts and feedback surveys can be used to guide HR practices and set benchmarks. Other data in the form of employee training records, reporting structure, employee tenure, and so on can all be leveraged and organised into relevant buckets to build an organisation-wide perspective on employee behaviour, expectations and overall experience.


Therefore, HR professionals need to acquire an understanding of data analytics to be able to spot patterns and trends that may point to underlying issues and opportunities in their business.


The pandemic turned performance management processes topsy-turvy. Many organisations unlearned much of how they have traditionally evaluated employee productivity. Others took the opportunity to shift to newer approaches to enable performance and productivity in a dynamic environment comprising dispersed, distributed, and remote workforces. How is Ericsson enabling performance to ensure that employees are productive and successful, whether they are at the office or not?


When it comes to employee performance, we focus on what the business impact is and how our employees create that impact. Ericsson employees are empowered to lead and perform at their best. And the company creates an enabling environment where they can do so.


While the pandemic has changed the way we work, our employees are empowered to balance their work and personal lives while achieving their performance goals. We believe in our employees and their competence, and trust has never been a question mark or something we ask employees to prove when working remotely.


At Ericsson, we believe that professional development and growth happen every day. Our business, our people, and the way we work are very dynamic. Our performance management system acknowledges the changing environment; it is simple, collaborative, and impactful to support our employees perform at their best.


Performance management systems are widely despised for rigidity, opacity, and bias. How can organisations create a culture where people want to perform and not be ruled by either the carrot or the stick?


As an organisation, driving a balance between business continuity and empathy is key. Even as we have maintained the focus on meeting customer needs and preserving seamless connectivity, we continue to ensure that our employees are well supported as they grapple with this new reality. We are ensuring that there is open communication within teams across the organisation so that they do not feel isolated. The well-being of our workforce is our top priority during this pandemic, and some initiatives undertaken towards this are:


• We launched a “Leaders as Coaches” Program, which aims to enhance the skills of leaders, equip employees to have greater self-insight and take control over their own career development, and establish a stronger coaching culture in a way that mobilises Ericsson employees to deliver customer value.


• We launched an Employee Wellness Program focused on interventions around their physical, financial, emotional, and social well-being.


• We have set up a 24/7 Employee Assistance Program to provide one-on-one support to employees.


• We conduct Pulse Surveys from time to time to assess employee sentiment and understand how we can augment our existing programs.


• Our employees are being encouraged to continue building their competence through learning modules available on our anytime / anywhere learning platform called Degreed.


Even with high unemployment levels, hiring today is still difficult. Recruiters often end up with a lot of applications but have a hard time finding the talent with the skills they need. Moreover, rapidly changing business needs require hiring processes to be quick. It can also mean there’s little time to evaluate candidates. How does Ericsson get hiring right?


HR’s relevance as a business enabler and a transformative force is at the forefront in this ‘new normal’ world. While productivity, employee engagement and experience have been the core focus areas, the HR function had to pivot, recrafting strategies right from the fundamentals of hiring to virtual onboarding, training, and skilling of employees.


To specifically address improvement in the hiring process experience from both the candidate and manager perspectives, we have leveraged technology by adding a multiple technology stack as a bouquet of offering to managers planning to hire. As outlined earlier – Textio, Modern Hire, and Ubidy are some of the platforms we have integrated that touch various aspects of hiring, like sourcing, the assessment process, and interviewing.


The year 2020 exposed whether organisations view diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) as a nice-to-have box-ticking exercise or as a core value. Has the post-COVID future, which heralds a hybrid way of working for many companies, rendered DEI more critical than ever?


Gender diversity in the workplace is a key focus area for us. Ericsson strives to be a genderintelligent organisation that recognises and values the differences everyone brings to the workplace. Diversity & inclusion represents an essential building block for our company and is fundamental to our culture and core values. We are committed to equal opportunity for diverse groups across gender, age, nationality, and ethnicity in personal and professional backgrounds.


We have always believed that diverse and inclusive teams drive performance and innovation, creating greater business value. Our focus on diversity and inclusion aims to increase a sense of belonging and strengthen our organisational culture and business performance. We strive for an environment where each employee can bring their whole self to work.


Ericsson has a long history of supporting D&I initiatives, with ‘October’ being celebrated globally as Diversity and Inclusion Awareness Month to remind us of the positive impact a diverse workforce can have on society.



What role do leaders at Ericsson play in creating and sustaining a company culture that is well-being oriented?


Leaders have a huge impact on promoting and sustaining organisational culture, which is especially important today, given the pandemic. We needed to smoothly execute our cultural transition so that our employees could continue to engage with their workplace/colleagues and feel safe. To manage this, we launched our Leaders as Coaches program, which aims to lift the skills of leaders, equipping them and their teams with greater self-insight to take faster decisions and have more control over their career development.


Employee well-being is one of the most important aspects for us at Ericsson. We believe that overall well-being empowers people to perform better, deliver on the business strategy, and ultimately bring “their great” to work every day. During these challenging times, we have focused on:


 i. Increasing awareness around well-being; and


 ii. Engaging individuals to participate in well-being sessions


We have also set up a 24x7 Employee Assistance Program to provide one-on-one support to our employees and conduct regular pulse surveys to assess the employee sentiment and augment our program. Fun “virtual coffee sessions” (called Fika Sessions in Swedish) are organised regularly to allow the teams to catch up over coffee in engaging sessions – this helps build a sense of togetherness and maintain employee well-being during this time of physical distancing.


Do you have any hobbies or interests outside of work that makes you better at your job?


I enjoy reading and travelling.


If you could only keep three apps on your phone, which would they be?


I would keep a connectivity app, a news app, and a banking app.

Ankita Sharma is working as Senior Editor with Human Capital. With 6+ years of experience, she has performed diverse roles across the entire spectrum of corporate HR — from hire to retire.


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