The future of the workplace will bring in an era of flexibility: Mohit Anand, MD, Kellogg South Asia

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July 12, 2021 12:36 PM

' The pandemic has taught us all that challenges will come and go but our people will continue to stay with us long after.'

future of the workplace, pandemic, employee survey, flexible work environment, Mohit Anand, Kellogg South Asia'In the post pandemic era, people will be looking for workplaces that are flexible. '

The on-going pandemic has turned the focus on the workforce like never before. The initial lockdown made employers push the envelope to introduce remedial interventions for protecting their people. After arresting immediate threats at the beginning of the pandemic, the spotlight fell on how employers are reinventing work practices to engage employees more effectively. This gave birth to a slew of ideas and policies that have redefined employer-employee relationships.

The Financial Express Online caught up with Mohit Anand, Managing Director, Kellogg South Asia on the occasion of the launch of Kellogg’s EVP and discussed how this is expected to help the company get through the post-pandemic times, his thoughts on how the workplace will transform in the immediate future, and the challenges that the FMCG industry must address as the situation evolves. Excerpts:

How do you expect the future of the workplace to change in the next six months?

The pandemic had disrupted markets globally with sudden short term consequences which displaced many companies. The new normal of work in the post pandemic era will be closely linked to a change in culture, from command and control or supervision to the one around empowerment and trust. The future of the workplace will bring in an era of flexibility with a greater focus on managing the productivity of human resources remotely and technology will play a key role in it.  At Kellogg, we are prepared for the future workplace and have already begun to incorporate changes within our organization in the form of policies or initiatives like flexible hours, remote working, and encouraging leaves for mental and personal well-being.

The success of such working models, say hybrid working, will form a unique culture of trust shown by management in the workforce. Finally, the workplace will be people-centric. The new normal of the workforce will hence experience the personalization of people policies, work culture, and workflow that speak to their unique needs in the organizational ecosystem. The pandemic has taught us all that challenges will come and go but our people will continue to stay with us long after. It is our people and how we engage with them is what defines us as Kellogg.

Please share your thoughts on how business leaders can keep the workforce engaged in these times?

When people and organizations are challenged by uncertainties triggered by the pandemic, taking care of the employees’ safety, keeping them engaged and managing business continuity becomes tough. At Kellogg, we tried to do that in an authentic and meaningful way. We first reassured them about protecting their lives and livelihoods. We then engaged with them on a personal level to understand how we can better support them and what resources they require from us to perform better. This was reflected in our global (and anonymous) annual internal employee survey which reflected that 93% employees appreciated the organization empathetically caring for them in myriad ways amidst pandemic.

It was also important to improve in areas of work effectiveness since changes were drastically hitting the workforce in unexpected ways. The use of technology, data and analytics added efficiencies. We even tailored the roles and objectives of certain functions like sales so that they are able to perform with the confines of the pandemic restrictions.  Overall, people’s investments only went up. We saw 85+ growth opportunities for our employees through promotions, including international movements, 5000+ training man hours in the past 1 year are a reflection of our efforts towards keeping the workforce engaged and taking care of their growth amidst tough times.

There is a lot of chatter about hybrid working models being the norm once the pandemic ends. Do you feel this will impede the innovation, manufacturing, or supply chain functions among consumer brands?

At Kellogg, we have always advocated a more agile and flexible work environment. Since the pandemic, we have managed to create a synergy between various business functions working remotely without any compromise in our output or delivering on our brand promise. A hybrid working model, if executed correctly, will not impede innovation, manufacturing, or supply chain functions but will bolster productivity and growth. During the pandemic, we resumed our supply chain within 40 days of lockdown, entered two new categories through the launch of Kellogg’s Upma and Kellogg’s K-Energy Bar, leveraged technology to make 400+ consumer connections, all remotely and successfully.  We believe the foundation of a hybrid working model should focus on tapping into the true potential of employees and equipping them with the resources they need to contribute meaningfully.

future of the workplace, pandemic, employee survey, flexible work environment, Mohit Anand, Kellogg South AsiaMohit Anand, Managing Director, Kellogg South Asia

Give us an overview about Kellogg’s EVP and how did you arrive at it?

I am excited to announce Kellogg South Asia’s newly launched Employee Value Proposition (EVP) as ‘Nourish Your Gr-r-r-eat’. It is an invitation to our employees and the potential talent to realize their true potential in Kellogg. Our EVP is coming to life through three strategic pillars, namely, ‘Be the Real You’, ‘Make a Mark’, and ‘Do a World of Good’. If I were to spend a minute explaining each pillar:

Be the Real You really encourages our people to bring their true selves to work. We’re open, accessible and approachable as an organisation which provides a platform for individuals to discover who they really are.  We are an organisation of promise and possibilities.

We provide the skills, talents and opportunities to enable our people to Make Their Mark and create their own legacy.

Rooted in our values, we are an organisation which strives to Do A World of Good and care for our people, community and environment.

Our EVP came together authentically through the work of a cross functional team with representatives from different departments of the organization to provide the most holistic perspective around the experience and perception of Kellogg as an employer. Over the course of one year, close to 850 candidates from within the company and the FMCG sector were studied via deep-dive interviews and focussed group discussion and surveys to ensure the EVP was rooted in’’what employees, alumni, and external partners felt about the organization. The team also scanned social and third-party platforms to gauge general consensus in the talent market about Kellogg as an employer.

What is the impact expected on Kellogg and its workforce post launching this EVP? Will it lead to change in any of your current HR policies?

The tenets of our EVP, centred on nourishment of its people, consumers or communities, have been prevalent in the organization, however the articulation of our EVP will give us a unique and differentiated standing in the industry with respect to attracting and engaging the right kind of talent for Kellogg. Our existing talent will be more attuned to our vision and purpose and have a better understanding of how they can march together with the organisation in contributing towards their own growth and the success of the company simultaneously.

EVP will be the guiding principle of how we engage, communicate, and on-board external talent creating inspired experiences for people though their journey at Kellogg. Our existing policies of being flexible, the culture of staying connected, taking care of one another in all facets of their professional life will continue to exist. EVP will only strengthen the framework of our HR policies and all initiatives and programs will become an extension of our EVP to help actualize a sense of fulfilment and purpose within the organization.

Please share how you plan to launch/roll-out this EVP with your workforce?

The EVP was recently announced with our employees first. This included the entire organisation, across corporate offices, sales offices, and our manufacturing units, coming together in a town hall and experiencing the EVP in the form of their own EVP stories. To mention a few, examples included the progress made by our manufacturing plant towards doing a world of good in our commitment of 100% recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging by 2025, celebrating Santhi, a female colleague at our Sri City manufacturing unit who is the first woman to step out of her village to work and is proudly standing shoulder to shoulder with us in the plant, a colleague who joined us as a plant technician 24 years ago and is now the factory manager of our Sri City manufacturing unit, and congratulating 25+ people who have made a mark and gone to regions beyond AMEA and making India proud in the Kellogg world and so on.

The next 12 months will form an important foundation to establish the EVP across stakeholders. It will include communicating with our EVP throughout the entire recruitment process to help potential candidates through each touchpoint they have with our organization to understand what is unique about Kellogg as an employer. It will also focus on the experiences of new employees, to make them feel welcome and connected with the brand Kellogg through the lens of EVP. The EVP will be immersed with our people through several touchpoints, in the form of engagement events, business town halls and informal check-ins with managers.

Do you feel your EVP will help you navigate the post-pandemic world better? If so then how?

Adversity reveals character and the COVID-19 pandemic has been a true measure of the character of Kellogg, which was ‘people before profit’. Protecting lives and livelihoods right from the start of the lockdown, taking care of the mental, physical, emotional and financial wellbeing of not just our colleagues, but our extended partners are some of the examples of how we humanized our business. And that, we feel, is what will differentiate us from the clutter in the market and help the talent to look at us as uniquely Kellogg.

In the post pandemic era, people will be looking for workplaces that are flexible. We have several employees at senior leadership positions who are permanently working remotely. Our programmes such as ‘Pit-stop’ that encourages employees to take regular breaks, ‘Locate For Your Day’ that allows remote working from anywhere in the globe, no attendance or shift time tracking, etc., are all a reflection of us being truly flexible. Such a culture at Kellogg will foster trust with the employees and instill ownership of responsibility within teams, which to me is a great advantage in helping organisations navigate the post pandemic world better.

Now that the second wave has subsided in India, what do you expect to be the next challenge for the FMCG industry?

The biggest challenge for the FMCG industry will be to stay relevant and within the consideration set of consumers. Purchasing power has decreased due to factors like the economic slowdown, job losses, and salary cuts making consumers spend more using another word like discretion or prudence. Brands with a meaningful purpose will be relevant to consumers as they are no longer looking for brands to fulfil a need, but to also fulfil a purpose they resonate with.

The pandemic has changed how consumers discover products and ultimately make a purchase. There is a heavy reliance on e-commerce while discovering and exploring new products. Brands will need to innovate and invest in a robust digital framework to capitalise on this growing trend. Another challenge for the FMCG industry will be to gather insights and gain a deeper understanding of consumer behavioural changes and consumption habits of consumers. The pandemic has changed the way people eat, what they eat and when they eat, which unless correctly identified, companies will lose out on consumer demand for their products.

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