Mukta Arya, Head of Human Resources, Southeast Asia, Regional Head of People and Talent Development, Asia Pacific, Societe Generale Corporate & Investment Banking, delves into the aspects of her job that involve walking a tight rope.
Q What is the hardest decision you’ve made in HR?
The role of a HR leader, to me, often involves walking a tight rope. The precarious balance between being an employee advocate and a management representative makes the job challenging, but exciting. Whether it is taking a call between two equally competent external candidates, or an internal promotion process where promoting one over others may lead to the exit of others, it is never a straightforward decision.
Rewards is another area where the decision making is tough, especially when you have limited resources to allocate, particularly with high performing teams. As a HR leader, even seemingly simple decisions such as the choice of benefits for employees can be difficult, especially when one must consider rising costs of providing meaningful benefits to employees and other more cost-effective scenarios. However, the aim is always to find a win-win situation.
Q How can HR manage the varying demands brought about by the four generations?
HR and management need to recognise the fact that each generation brings unique and equally important capabilities to make the organisation successful. At Societe Generale, our APAC D&I charter ensures we are a diverse workforce in an inclusive workplace with opportunities for talent of all ages to deliver value, innovative solutions and an outstanding client experience.
In my opinion, the approach to managing the different generations is ensuring the employees of different generations understand each other’s way of working. Workshops where four generations come together and openly discuss their differences (and similarities) are very effective.
In addition, organisations will need to move towards personalised solutions whether it is the mode of recruitment, employee self-service, onboarding, benefits or development programmes recommended to them.
That Singapore is a hub for several technology start-ups, including a few HR ones, helps us to keep in touch with the latest HR technology.
Mode of delivery is also very important. Some people will favour face-to-face meetings over electronic communications, hence, a mix of communication channels is important. It is key for HR to keep track of the latest technology in our industry and make a conscious decision in getting the right mix.
Q Many companies admit they are still in the early stages of their digital transformation initiatives. Your take on their next steps ahead?
In terms of digital transformation in HR, we started our journey some years ago and it remains a progressive journey. The key is to maintain a balance between the extent of digitalisation and the human touch, which is increasingly important for retaining top talent in today’s corporate world.
Digitalisation in some areas is a necessity and we have progressed a lot in terms of employee self-service, HRIS, performance management, training delivery modes, benefits administration and people analytics.
The next steps will be to explore other areas and new technology to increase the value addition of HR.
That Singapore is a hub for several technology start-ups, including a few HR ones, helps us to keep in touch with the latest HR technology and see what we can adopt going forward in terms of other areas such as measuring social capital.
Vital stats: Mukta Arya has more than 21 years of experience positioning HR as a business partner for excellence in multiple industries and markets. Before Societe Generale, she served as the Mumbai Talent Head for Ogilvy & Mather as well as the Senior HR Manager in Tata TD Waterhouse Asset Management/Securities in Mumbai. She regularly speaks at HR events and writes for industry publications.
This interview is part of our CHRO 4.0 special edition where we we introduce you to Human Resources’ Advisory Panel 2019, and pick their brains on the burning questions the function is facing.
Read more here: CHRO 4.0: Decoding the HR skills of the future
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