“Empathy will play a bigger role in 2022,” Deepti Varma

The importance of diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) in the workplace cannot be overemphasised says Deepti Varma, HR leader – APAC & ME, corporate & consumer, Amazon

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A big change in 2022

Employee experience has always been at the heart of planning and execution of people-related strategies. With employees and organisations learning to adapt to the virtual work environment as a new normal, prioritising employee experience will only gain more prominence. An integral aspect of this model of work is to keep the engagement going within and across teams and constantly develop new initiatives and processes to enable the growth of employees as well as the company.

At Amazon, we have introduced various initiatives that enable employees to interact with each other, stay connected and maintain their productivity levels. Even before the pandemic, our employees had the flexibility to work from home. We leveraged technology to the fullest to enable engagement platforms and knowledge-sharing avenues to allow employees to connect with larger teams with ease. The workplace of the future needs to be transformed to be more enabling and friction free, to allow a performance-led culture.

Also, empathy will play a bigger role in 2022. Employers as well as employees have come to recognise the importance of empathy within the organisation, as it leads to stronger collaboration and a higher employee morale, thus leading to a high performance culture. While the workforce certainly wants ambitious and complex problems to keep them challenged, they also want to be provided with opportunities and amenities that aid in physical and mental well-being. An inclusive, open and empathetic culture is crucial for higher engagement and retention.

“Empathy will lead to a high-performing culture in future”

What will be that one big change at the workplace in 2022?

The way HR will create impact will depend on the evolving needs of the employees. Over a period of time, digitisation, AI (Artificial Intelligence) and chatbots will become an integral part of HR and most companies will be able to evolve the role of HR by automating some of the function’s operational aspects. Human resource professionals will continue to focus on more strategic areas such as making the organisation future ready, organisation design, facilitating achievement of business results and building the right culture. Of course, HR will continue to emerge as the consultant for talent development, retention, and working with leaders on their people agenda to lead to long-term success. While the role of HR will evolve steadily, it will need to have the right foundations by making sure operational effectiveness can be achieved through automation. In fact, it will help to leverage technology to reinvent, rather than only automate.

“It is also essential to embrace the diversity of thoughts and recognise special needs, which are not just physical but mental as well”

Broader strategy to boost DE&I in 2022

The importance of diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) in the workplace cannot be overemphasised. At Amazon, we strongly believe that every individual brings something new and unique to the workplace, and we constantly look for ways to scale our impact as we grow. It is imperative that organisations focus on their readiness of diverse talent and ensure the workplace has the capability to welcome all. It is essential to go beyond just gender and ensure that policies, hiring practices, reviews and facilities are inclusive for employees across all sections. Providing individuals from different backgrounds, demographics and social strata with equal access to opportunities always brings in newer perspectives that drive stronger and well-rounded growth.

It is also essential to embrace the diversity of thoughts and recognise special needs, which are not just physical but mental as well. To do this well, managers need to be equipped with the right resources and leadership elements. They need to invest in educating themselves on the choice of words, support required, and develop themselves to be inclusive leaders in their behaviour, conduct and approach.

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