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UKG to digitise Great Places to Work certification, will launch new platform

Brian Reaves, Chief Belonging Officer, UKG, one of the largest global HCM player, and the owner of Great Places to WorkPremium
Brian Reaves, Chief Belonging Officer, UKG, one of the largest global HCM player, and the owner of Great Places to Work

  • UKG's Chief Belonging Officer, Brian Reaves has confirmed to Live Mint in an exclusive interview that the human capital management firm is in the process of digitising the process of providing Great Places to Work certification to firms
  • Reaves feels in order to truly understand how to make an employee feel belonged and not just included, a technology-enabled Life-Work philosophy needs to be adopted by every organisation.

Brian Reaves, Chief Belonging Officer, UKG (one of the largest global human capital management player), was recently in India to advocate the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion at work places and how technology can act as a good catalyst against attrition, motivation and performance of employees.  UKG, which recently acquired Great Places to Work and now wants to use technology in its certification process, a software that will analyse organisational cultures and employee management by giving companies insights as to whether they are doing the things consistently to make them a Great Place to Work. 

In an exclusive conversation Reaves highlighted his views on the importance of belonging in today's work places which are struggling with 

Ques) Chief Belonging Officer, it’s a designation not many people hold, especially none in India. Could you elaborate on its importance.

Ans) If you think about diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging, the four words are all different, but all necessary. There’s a person in Netflix, who has a job like mine. About 6-7 years ago she said diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance. When you think about belonging, it’s like dancing to your favourite song. Because all of us have been invited to parties and sure you dance. But if you don’t hear the song that resonates with you, you just act like dancing. Same thing if you’re invited to a meeting and you show up but nobody asks your opinion to the degree that you expected or you’re not able to engage, you don’t feel really contributed. So belonging, that’s why it’s the first thing in my title! 

There’s no place in the world I’ve been to where people don’t want to belong. Ultimately, if you sort of created an environment, but then your company culture should be where you are really trying to meet people where they are, as opposed to asking them to be different, then that’s what I think will speak to why people stay with your company, why they thrive in your company, why they were promoting your company and bring others into your company.

Ques) There is a ‘Great resignation wave’ being witnessed across the world and now overtaken by Quiet Quitting, how do you think a culture like belonging can help reduce resignations and attrition?

Ans)  There are 4 things that companies need to focus on - one is, equity of opportunity and you have equity of representation, equity of compensation and equity of well-being. If you think about all those things are different, the same as before with diversity, inclusion, belonging they are all really important. When you think about why someone would leave a company or why do they resign? Well, it’s either the environment or money. During Covid, people needed to go towards where families were. If a company is inflexible and their ability to allow you to take care of business, and certainly you’re not being compensated. That’s transaction, people would prefer leaving. In fact, when people just leave for money and go to an environment where they don’t feel belonged they will come back. That is boomerang as being called.

There is a difference between career and a job! A job is just something you do and then you start reflecting like I can do that anywhere. A career is something that you invest in and hopefully want to be an alumni in the long term. So I think what people are feeling now is, that once the world has been shaken up, people start re-evaluating what’s important. If you haven’t created an environment where they hold you and what you do for them and what they do for you, then they will change! Certainly, I think that for companies if they want to get people back they just have to show up things differently. Really, if they looked at their sentiment surveys from before, those are always leading indicators. People will tell you what’s on your mind or not, if you don’t pay attention all it takes is that significant event and then they will make that change.

Ques) On the basis of Great Place to Work surveys how would you sum up Indian companies right now? 

I think they’re (India) on their evolution in this whole topic. It’s a journey and it’s a never-ending journey. I think people compare India to the United States to Europe to Latin America, that’s unfair.

Right now we see a lot of MNCs having these human values, where they talk about taking care of each and every employee making sure of that. But we see a lot of attrition happening over there as well.  I think it’s like I said, the journey. To always go back to the journey, saying things are easy. We are not saying anything is horrible. People still leave, that tells me there’s a gap between saying and doing, because of intellectual honesty. I think the greatest thing that all companies, certainly in India, could do is recognise that you don’t have the answer. 

Number one, when you say something so authoritatively like, we’re just going to take care of everyone, really, are you? Because if people see that, it’s disingenuous statement then they are gonna be like, I don’t trust in the route of truth is trust. Indian culture is deep, complex, it's rooted in history, it’s tough family values . I mean there’s a lot of good stuff by which you know trust and engagement in people investment in one another and thinking not as the individual but thinking almost, say, the unit. These are core principles that I think company should lean into and say I’m going to take care of the wellbeing, I need to know all parts of you so I can take care of you better. 

Ques) India is battling a huge employment crisis, but when one speaks to employers they thrive for good employees. So, in a landscape where skill development is a key concern how does diversity fit in?

Ans) The gap is just because of the bias. If you define a good employee as A,B and C, that definition is traditionally based on one’s own judgement. If you as a manager have had success your natural and your biased inclination is to hire people whose pattern match. I mean we lean into likeness we reject from difference. But if you have empathy to understand the world of 8 billion people. In India there are enough people with raw sort of ability to have to build with talent. You just have to invest in those people to tell them that very thing. 

By the way, my computer science degree is much different to the computer science degree now. AI, ML, big data these things didn’t exist before. We train. We know how to train people, all the time! It’s not like your degree that you are already, ready. We actually bring people then we train them, all the time! That’s got to be the mindset, to lean into difference to lean into the sort of people who need opportunity and that gap will close. If you only go after the people who are traditionally wanted, that’s why people say oh there’s a skills gap! No, it's not a people gap or that’s not a human potential gap, what’s the missing element is the investment by industries in people so that they can actually be successful as well.

Ques) You are a big advocator of technology in belonging. How do you see that happening, especially at a time where remote culture is rampant?

The beauty of technologies, is that it scales. Great companies will listen to their people no matter who they are, again it’s about the majority and the minority, being all thriving as one. So technology allows you to engage employees every day and get input from them. 

It can measure sort of whether your strategies and tactics are working. So if you have a development program with the software, who’s in the development program, what would they learn, are they in over-time, getting the opportunities that you’ve developed them for? If not, you need to change the processes. Technology allows you to measure and automate things around, I call it the talent continuum. From where you go to identify talents? How you engaged to interview that talent? How do you hire? How do you onboard? How you ensure that it's developed? How are those opportunities accurately going on? That’s what technology can do at scale. 

Now what you’re going to see, certainly towards the end of the year, we are going to announce it at our customer conference in America. We have Great Place to Work, the acquisition we made, they measure people on what creates a great place. If you were taking that thought leadership that is in the certification and putting that into software so that as we get all this data about what people are doing we can actually give a manager, a company, insights as to whether they are doing the things consistently that make them a great place to work. and give that still not just that is certification.  

Q9) Is it going to be a project management kind of a tool which will be integrated into an organisation's operations?

It’s gonna be a platform that integrates into our workforce management and human Capital Management, that would be a platform of itself that integrates to take all the data- qualitative data, quantitative data- so its more than dash-boarding, because the first step is let me see where I sit, the next step is giving insights into what that is, and the 3rd step within a year of the project is, let me give you recommendation nudges on what you can do to be successful. Why do we think that’s important? Well, that’s great knowledge and intellectual property we have in UKG. 

It's not only good for us, we want it for our customers too. We can help them accelerate on their journey so it will give you benchmarks of. How you doing as an individual versus other managers that will give you benchmarks of how your company is doing in its industry and then benchmark you against how the best of the best regardless of the industry does it. We think that will help a lot of people accelerate. 

Ques) Is there a business case for diversity, why should big businesses invest in it?

Ans) It’s Innovation. I have been in the World Economic Forum 3 separate times, in which what frustrates me- you have a lot of people, it’s the most privileged people on earth talking about non-privilege things, hunger! So think about it, who do you think is going to solve hunger? Somebody who has never been hungry or someone who starves most of their life? Those people should be part of the conversation. I think if you add people who are closest to whatever the problem is into the conversation you’ll get to the solution a lot faster than the academics. 

Privilege is a superpower, you can bestow upon someone or you can just use it for yourself and I think that’s the world we’re in, the socio-economic difference and opportunity difference. If we start to close those gaps, that will never be close to 100% but another 20 to 30%. I think, that’s what diversity represents. It is that opportunity to have a different mind in the room which is going to get you to a solution that is going to help that company thrive even greater. 

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