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HRO Hotspot: How Societe Generale is driving employee satisfaction, achievement, and psychological security

HRO Hotspot: How Societe Generale is driving employee satisfaction, achievement, and psychological security


CHRO for APAC, Mukta Arya, believes in developing rewarding careers in line with the values and priorities that mean the most to the workforce.

When we talk about the banking & financial services industry, what comes to your mind? Successful bankers in business suits? Generous pay cheques? Or long working hours and stressful working cultures?

Whether good or not, these are stereotyped impressions people usually have of the industry. But Mukta Arya, Chief Human Resources Officer, Asia Pacific, Societe Generale (SocGen) – a European financial services provider, is a #futureofwork champion who has successfully transformed the employee experience in the workplace.

With over 24 years of experience in HR, of which the last 17 have been with Societe Generale, Mukta – who is currently based in Hong Kong – is spearheading regional HR functions for the group, while building Societe Generale as an ‘employer of choice’. Mukta is also a certified coach and an author of four books, driven by the passion to help others succeed.

In APAC, where Mukta and her team are spearheading HR initiatives for its workforce, Societe Generale’s expertise ranges from corporate and investment banking to asset management, securities services, global transaction banking and specialised financial services.

In this edition of HRO Hotspot, Aditi Sharma Kalra interviews Mukta Arya to find out how Societe Generale is helping people develop rewarding careers in line with the new values and priorities that mean the most to them. Read on for the excerpts of the conversation, and do be sure to check out the video below to watch the full interview.

Shedding stereotypes: It’s not just all about work

The banking & financial services industry has long been known for its hectic work style, oftentimes jokingly dubbed an industry with "work life only" – where employees are faced with only work life, no personal life. Meanwhile, close to half (48%) of employees from a variety of industries and companies polled in a recent survey, said that one of their motivations to advance in their career was, in fact, to be able to maintain a better work-life balance.

In the face of such developments, how is Societe Generale making employee wellbeing a priority, and helping them strike a balance – or create harmony – between their professional and personal lives?

First, it begins with acknowledging that even as a results-oriented organisation, if employees are not healthy in all aspects, it will impact their work. This is followed by action. For Mukta and her team, this means providing employees with the flexible work environment they need in order to help them balance or harmonise their life.

She admits that it is not an easy task, given the hectic and fast-paced nature of the industry. That said, there is a need to adapt.

“In order to facilitate how employees can manage their work and life, our policies help them, for example, by providing personal time-off with a family care leave that we launched last year, flexible working where we have work-from-home arrangements for most of our departments (except some regulatory ones), above-market entitlement for annual leave, other types of leave, and more, which I think do help them.”

In addition, the organisation provides dedicated support for mental health, the pace and volume of which has been accelerated in the last three years. This includes mental first aid training which has seen a “pretty high take-up rate”, as well as a ‘Bounce-Out’ series that aims to enhance employees’ awareness of the topics around mental health as well as all other aspects of health.

On this, Mukta affirms the important role that managers play in creating an environment where employees feel safe, thus acknowledging the concept of psychological safety. “So, we are doing a lot of work in terms of enhancing the managerial culture, where managers – whether they are first-time managers, mid-managers, or senior managers – understand their role, which is extremely important in any organisation, to genuinely look after not just their teams, but also themselves.”

In her view, if a manager does not understand their role properly, they will not be able to create an environment where people feel safe to have a psychologically healthy work atmosphere, which she highlights also ties back to work-life harmony.

Overall, the leader believes there are various components which lead to a balance, harmonisation, and integration of work and life, something she and her team are looking to support the workforce with from all angles.

Creating a workplace where everyone thrives

The above are some of the beliefs and attitudes that drive the HR strategy at Societe Generale, with the aim of creating a workplace where employees feel inspired, everyone feels included – regardless of their background, age or gender, and is able to bring their best selves to work, in an environment that allows everyone to thrive.

To find out more industry-leading best practices from Societe Generale, be sure to click on the video interview above, where Mukta elaborates on:

  • Putting in place policies aligned with different angles of diversity – and what these mean for the workforce,
  • Why it’s important to look at employees as individuals who are unique, with their own sets of aspirations and career paths that differ, and
  • The key ingredients needed to attract and retain the best talent.

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Lead image / Screenshot of video interview

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