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Breaking language barriers for a better employee experience

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By Andrew Welch, Executive Director, Global Client Services, Landor & Fitch

With the prominence of diversity and inclusion contributing to the success of big corporates and multinationals, one dimension seems to have attracted little attention: language. English is widely accepted as the lingua franca for communication within global organisations, from town halls to presentations to everyday emails. While any immediate change to this may seem unlikely, a globalised working world that embraces an increasingly diverse workforce will inevitably need to address the issue of language inclusivity.

Of the 1.35bn English speakers around the world, only 37.5% of these are native speakers. It is sobering to take stock that the large majority of employees are operating in a language that isn’t the one they naturally communicate or think in. From appreciating local idiom and nuance to filtering stalling exchanges on Team calls, it can be a difficult and frustrating process for non-native English speakers to have to adapt all day, every day.

Simply put, does a single language mandate align to an inclusive and diverse world that boasts over 7,000 languages in use today?

Day in the life

As the working world rises to a new working day, the morning drill is as habitual as it is predictable – from firing up local news channels and social media feeds to tending to family matters or a partner, a rapid fire of routine exchanges takes place effortlessly in a native tongue with all its local idioms, nuances, and idiosyncrasies.

Then at 9am, as the workday begins, all that has been natural and innate to the non-native English speaker must be stifled for at least the next eight hours and replaced with English. As a native English speaker, if you think this is fair play or ‘just the way it is’, then just for one minute make your next call, write your next email, prepare you next presentation in a language that is non-native to you.

Business impact

Companies that don’t find ways to better engage with employees in their native language could find their retention rates begin to fall. Not only would this represent a loss of talent, with additional recruitment costs, but it could also damage the company’s brand as a good place to work, with prospective non-native workers put off by the lack of inclusive policies.

Companies ignorant towards language may also be more inclined to choose native speaking candidates over non-natives – regardless of experience and suitability to a role – in turn risking the loss of brilliant talent and a diverse range of thinking on their team.

Alongside this, potential foreign business partners could begin to look elsewhere, while overseas opportunities could be missed if there’s not a culture in place open to other languages.

If these issues go unchecked, bigger problems for businesses can arise that could impact on workplace culture and experience, loss of talent and, ultimately, business success.

Opening up

In a world where most employees are non-native English speakers, how can businesses better support their workforce so they bring their whole self to work? 

First, companies must create a more understanding workplace environment, one that encourages discussion and education around different cultures and languages, with explanations about all the various nuances and idioms that come with them. This could be done through various internal initiatives which focus on interactivity, and social rituals which might educate in a fun but informative way.

At the same time, new policies can be introduced to further help upskill English native employees around linguistic differences. Introducing language lessons and offering secondments or placements to partners or branches in other countries on a regular basis can improve education around languages and encourage teams to embrace new cultures. Experiences like this can be incredibly rewarding, with long-lasting effects on team morale and engagement.

Meanwhile, companies should always display empathy when engaging with non-native English speakers. Small steps such as asking whether employees would like to do tasks in other languages, using subtitles during virtual calls and presentations, and making emails and presentations clearer, can immediately improve accessibility and enhance the working experience in new ways for everyone.

Breaking down barriers

Beyond the more practiced aspects of diversity and inclusion, truly inclusive businesses will be those that pay attention to language inclusivity, and who can genuinely invite every employee around the world to bring their whole self to work, without feeling apprehensive or isolated. A more inclusive approach to language can be easily achieved while bringing an overwhelmingly positive impact on employees and the culture of their workplace.

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Source: http://hrnews.co.uk/breaking-language-barriers-for-a-better-employee-experience/

HRTech

“Happiness lies in the moment of truth,” Shailesh Singh, chief people officer, Max Life Insurance

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[email protected] is a regular series, where HRKatha talks about how companies are ensuring happiness at work. With work stress and employees’ mental wellbeing becoming a major cause of concern for many Indian companies, happiness of employees at work is something, which can result in better engagement, stronger bonds, improved employee health and overall productivity.

[email protected] is powered by Happyness.me, a part of the consulting division of House of Cheer Networks, a full-service people, technology, media and entertainment hub specialising in Creation, Curation and Consultancy, to help companies reimagine their business and growth strategy.

In this interview, Shailesh Singh, chief people officer, Max Life Insurance shares that the concept of happiness has shifted from long term satisfaction to short term desires. The new generation wants to ‘live in the moment’. He also shares how Max Life Insurance ensures happiness at their workplaces.

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Source: https://www.hrkatha.com/special/happiness-work/happiness-lies-in-the-moment-of-truth-shailesh-singh-chief-people-officer-max-life-insurance/

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Does hiring a star CHRO impact the employer brand?

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Given the name and fame that back star leaders, the organisations that hire them definitely stand to gain. Not only does their reputation get a boost, but even their processes are impacted and they gain a positive outlook overall. It is just like hiring a hot shot CEO or a CMO, where the clients, customers, internal stakeholders and the employees of the company themselves start taking pride in the person hired. So, yes, in the case of CXO roles, the impact is definitely significantly positive, but what about star CHROs?

Like in any other domain, there exist some very popular figures in the HR community in our country. In terms of their performance, media coverage and social-media popularity, these people have a significant following. When a company hires such hot shot profiles, do they experience a positive impact on their employer brand?

“It is easier to make changes with someone with a legendry background and a history of phenomenal work. This is because, bringing in changes requires winning over the belief of the organisation, and that is pretty easy for someone who is well regarded and has a following”

Shailesh Singh, chief people officer, Max Life Insurance

Charisma and craftsmanship

As per Abhijit Bhaduri, HR leader & author, Dreamers & Unicorns, it definitely impacts the employer brand. He believes that sometimes people are so impressed and mesmerised with the individual’s work and craftsmanship that people tend to get attracted towards them. He cites examples of famous surgeons and doctors who are very popular in their field. As a result, no matter which hospital they work for, people will seek them out. Similarly, in the advertising industry, many a time, when creative directors move to another company, the entire account moves with them, because the clients pay for the creativity and craftsmanship of the creator. “The individual’s craftsmanship, charisma and popularity attract a lot of people, and this applies to the HR world too,” shares Bhaduri.

Limelight can distract

A research paper published in 2007, called the ‘Superstar CEOs’, studied the growth trajectory of more than 250 award-winning CEOs between 1993 and 2002. It concluded that all such CEOs were doing fine in their personal lives but the firms they were working for had started underperforming after their having received such recognitions. The companies had underperformed both in terms of stock returns and returns on assets, over the one-, two- and three-year periods following the award.

One explanation to this phenomenon can be that, such people tend to get distracted on becoming popular ‘stars’ in their domain of work, given the increasing rate of outside interest. They start focussing on authoring books and sitting on boards. This can also be the case when an organisations gets a popular CHRO in its leadership team. There can be a reverse effect.

“A celebrity leader’s craftsmanship, charisma and popularity attract a lot of people, and this applies to the HR world too”

Abhijit Bhaduri, HR leader & author, Dreamers & Unicorns

Team work

As per VDV Singh, former VP-HR, JK Cement, hiring a star CHRO may help but with certain conditions. “Those who possess business acumen and have proved themselves in the field, begin to be respected by the board and the HR function gets a space in the board, which eventually creates an impact internally,” enunciates Singh former HR leader from JK Cement.

Singh, however, believes that creating a strong employer brand requires team work. There have to be policies in place, an ideal environment and a strong culture to create a strong employer brand, which can only be achieved as a team. “I would say, the face of a popular CHRO with no strong team in place to support him, will only result in a short-term impact,” tells Singh former HR leader from JK Cement.

Track record

On the other hand, Shailesh Singh, chief people officer, Max Life Insurance, sees this phenomenon through two lenses. First is a short-term lens where he does agree that hiring a superstar CHRO gives an employer brand a temporary boost. “It is easier to make changes with someone with a legendry background and a history of phenomenal work. This is because, bringing in changes requires winning over the belief of the organisation, and that is pretty easy for someone who is well regarded and has a following,” points out Singh from Max Life Insurance. He cautions, however, that actions speak louder than words. If the popular CHROs fail to replicate their reputation in terms of their actions post hiring, then this positive impact will remain short lived.

“The face of a popular CHRO with no strong team in place to support him, will only result in a short-term impact”

VDV Singh, former VP-HR, JK Cement

Visibility

The impact will be different in smaller and bigger brands. The hiring of a star CHRO by a smaller organisation will catch the imagination of people more rapidly than if the hiring is done by a bigger organisation. In the latter case, building an employer brand and culture is a collective call. “Sometimes, in bigger firms, where things are performed in certain ways, there are no individual heroes. It is a collective effort by all. The overall impact of hiring a star CHRO may not be visible because the company’s brand is bigger than the individual,” explains Singh from Max Life Insurance.

Taking on a star CHRO can be rather eye catching and head turning, as it will definitely give a company’s employer brand a short-term boost. However, if such celebrity hires do not show real action on ground, the positive effect will soon wane.

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Source: https://www.hrkatha.com/employee-branding/does-hiring-a-star-chro-impact-the-employer-brand/

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Ex-gratia of Rs 10 lakh for staff of general insurance

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The four government-owned non-life insurers — The Oriental Insurance, The National Insurance Company, The New India Assurance Company, and The United India Insurance Company — will pay an ex-gratia amount of of Rs 10 lakh to the nominees of the employees who have died of COVID-19 since the outbreak, or happen to die of it in the future.

One of the four, The Oriental Insurance Company, has already communicated to its staff about the ex-gratia payment via a circular. It has also assured reimbursement of 100 per cent of the remaining medical expenses — which were not covered by the Staff Group Mediclaim policy — incurred for the treatment of the employees/spouses/children and dependent parents.

This benefit is offered over and above the prevailing ex-gratia Medical Relief Scheme for certain diseases. The benefits will be paid to those who contracted COVID-10 after the outbreak happened last year and also to those who may contract the infection in the future.

The other three insurers are expected to officially announce this ex-gratia payment soon.

About three weeks ago, the Supreme Court had directed the Union government to frame— within six weeks — uniform guidelines on ex-gratia payments to the surviving families/dependents of those who lost their lives to the disease. The Court also stated that the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) failed in its duty to design a compensation scheme.

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Source: https://www.hrkatha.com/news/compensation-benefits/ex-gratia-of-rs-10-lakh-for-staff-of-general-insurance/

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Benefits To Working From Home Continuing Post-Covid

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Over the past 18 months, the entire world has been affected by the global pandemic caused by Covid-19 and has ensured that we have had to change how we have lived our lives dramatically to prevent the spread of the virus. One of the main ways in which we have done this as a globe is to work from home where possible, and with the successes that this has brought to both employees and colleagues, it looks as if its going to be a trend that stick around post-covid.

One of the main benefits to working from home has been that employers have been able to see which of their workforce that they are able to trust, and who is willing and wanting to work hard, even when they aren’t under supervision. Employers have then been able to see how productive each employee is and work out who then can be praised for their efforts with added perks, and who needs to have a performance review on their productivity throughout the working day.

During the lockdown months, whilst employees have been working from home, they have had to find alternative ways in which to entertain themselves, and at TBC, they have seen a surge in numbers during this time. These particular sites guarantee that your casino fun won’t be limited by gamstop at any point, and numbers continue to rise even with coming to the end of the pandemic.

Another benefit to working from home, but this time for the employees, is the money that they have been able to save during this period. There have been multiple different ways in which employees have been able to save money, but the main way has been through their commuting money, as they are now working from home and don’t have to travel to work. Commuting costs can come in an array of different ways including petrol costs, wear and tear on the employee’s car, parking costs, train tickets, bus tickets or any other way in which it costs to get to work.

And finally, working from home has given employees a better work life balance which has in some cases improved the mental health of employees. Because colleagues now have more time at home, they have been able to utilise this time to start work early and therefore finish early, and then use their extra time to do something productive like exercise, learn a new skill, working on their cooking/diet and a whole host of other things, which have promoted a healthier work-life balance.

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Source: http://hrnews.co.uk/benefits-to-working-from-home-continuing-post-covid/

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