Learning drives L’Oreal India’s makeover to beauty tech

As part of its endeavour to become a beauty tech company, L’Oreal makes digitally-savvy candidates a top priority at the time of hiring

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In response to a rapidly-changing business, L’Oreal India has been on a journey of digital transformation for the past three years. “We changed our entire mindset, positioning ourselves not just as a beauty company but a beauty tech company,” explains Roshni Wadhwa, director – HR, L’Oreal India. This involved a “big shift in strategy, the way our managers lead their teams, encouraging team collaboration, and nurturing a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation within the organisation,” adds Wadhwa.

Always learning

Learning and development play a critical role in taking the Company closer to its goal of becoming the world’s leading beauty tech company. “We strongly believe in promoting from within. Therefore, we focus and invest a lot in people development and learning,” says Wadhwa.

To make sure the nationwide lockdown’s limbo doesn’t lead to a dip in learning momentum, L’Oreal India launched an initiative called #LearningNeverStops. “Just because they weren’t able to attend classroom sessions or meet trainers physically, we didn’t want employees to feel like the learning has to stop,” notes Wadhwa. The Company built a virtual platform enabling the workforce to upskill on a variety of topics.

To keep employees motivated to learn, L’Oreal India turned learning into a celebration. “We hosted a five-day virtual learning festival, where we invited close to 50 speakers belonging to internal, external and global sources,” informs Wadhwa. Employees were treated to more than 30 sessions on a mix of topics, such as digital, finance, marketing and life in general. Interacting virtually opened up many opportunities for learning that were earlier logistically difficult. “It has allowed us to involve many members from our global team which has been very well appreciated by our employees,” says Wadhwa.

“Just because they weren’t able to attend classroom sessions or meet trainers physically, we didn’t want employees to feel like the learning has to stop.”

On-demand training

L’Oreal India also introduced a Netflix-like on-demand learning platform. “Called Flex Learning, it has a lot of learning content available for access whenever one wishes,” informs Wadhwa. “One can pick and choose what one wants to learn and how much, whether one wants to finish the session in one sitting or spread it out over two days,” she adds.

The programmes are a mix of function-driven, soft skills and culture-driven learning. “Understanding e-commerce acceleration, the world of marketing or what being entrepreneurial means in the context of L’Oreal are some examples,” says Wadhwa. The learning platform’s democratic and self-serve nature hit a sweet spot with the millennials and GenZ workforce of L’Oreal India in particular. This is because “they believe in being empowered and choosing what they want to do,” notes Wadhwa.

These initiatives have helped L’Oreal India turn learning into an ongoing affair rather than being limited to the earlier format of in-person training programmes spread over several days. “That’s now a dying practice,” points out Wadhwa. Going forward, she believes, “the O+O that is the online and offline model of training will be well appreciated by the people of today.”

What’s your DQ?

This leap towards technology means digitally-savvy candidates are a top priority for L’Oreal India at the time of hiring. No matter what the function or area of expertise, it must be backed by digital knowhow. “Even if I want to hire someone in finance, I will do a good check on whether the candidate is digitally oriented,” explains Wadhwa. “It’s not just about digital domain core native people for us. It’s also about building a whole digital culture in the organisation so that level of check is now important.”

Leaders who listen

Virtual and remote working has brought to the fore the importance of humane leadership. “In these times, this has emerged as a very critical aspect of behaviour.” To keep up with the times, L’Oreal India “launched a lot of leadership series for our managers to sensitise them on the need to be more empathetic when managing their teams remotely and allowing people to have their personal space,” says Wadhwa. Such leadership skills have been a top focus in recent months, informs Wadhwa. “How you connect with your people remotely while maintaining an empathetic outlook, is going to be very critical going forward.”

Widening talent horizons

L’Oreal India has also embraced flexible working conditions. “Many different models of flexible hiring are already emerging,” notes Wadhwa. “There’s a lot more contract-based, short-term assignment and part-time hiring happening.” The organisation launched Career 2.0 for women returning to the workforce after a long break. “It gives us the opportunity to hire a candidate on a short-term or project basis and depending on their performance, we gauge whether we want to integrate them internally for the long term,” explains Wadhwa. Location-agnostic hiring has also widened talent horizons for the company. “The available talent market is no longer restricted by location constraints.”

These and many more elements make up L’Oreal India’s ‘New Ways of Working’ project, which is slated to be launched in 2021. “We’re looking at new ways of working, where we’ll be more flexible, allow people to work remotely and hire people from different locations,” adds Wadhwa.