Roshni Wadhwa, Director – HR, L’Oreal India on Motivation and Engagement

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In an exclusive conversation with SightsIn Plus, Roshni Wadhwa, Director – HR, L’Oreal India.

Roshni has been in Human Resources domain for over two decades of experience across sectors and geographies. She has contributed significantly to L’Oréal India by leading and driving key people initiatives. As a true enable to the CEO, Roshni has helped create people centric culture fuelled by leadership transformation programs, talent management strategies, employee centric policies and hiring programs that have enhanced the culture and positively affected the company’s growth. One of her most commendable achievements has been transforming Human Resources from a function within the company to an important business partner that can change the course of a company’s progress and build a strong reputation and desirability in the market.

She is passionate about traveling and uses her leisure time to explore new experiences. She spends her free time reading about different cultures, social issues, and global communities, incorporating the insights to create a substantial change in the world around her. 

Roshni is Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Pune and she is also certified coach by ICF institute.

Q. You are an influential HR leader with vast experience in Human Resources, how you see the HR has evolved and what are the challenges you think are prevailing within the HR department in the current situation?

Over past 2 decades, the Human Resources function has evolved from being just personnel management to driving employee engagement to now a stage where HR is expected to play a strong business partnering role and lead from the front. Progressive companies and CEOs are now leveraging HR expertise to drive the culture of performance, real time transformation and building strong value proposition for the business in the most responsible manner.

At the macro level, the challenge still prevails where CEOs are unable to derive this value and that could also be due to the fact that the HR community itself may not be geared to deliver this expectation.It is important for the HR community to go beyond the transactional level of driving processes and policies. And organizations must invest in upskilling the HR teams and preparing them to take newer challenges.

Q. You are working with L’Oreal since 2013 in leadership role, what is your vision for HR? What are the significant changes that you brought to the organization and how?

L’Oréal’s mission is Beauty for All. Considering the business strategy and purpose of the organization, the vision of HR is to ‘lead the future of beauty by providing undisputed quality of beauty talent and build beauty leaders in sustainability and a loved company’.

With change in consumer buying behaviors and channel shift, L’Oréal in India is undergoing major transformation. Digital and eCommerce being the game changer, has bought significant changes to the talent strategy. Over last few years, a big focus has been on upskilling our employees on digital capabilities across levels and functions. Reverse mentoring, peer learning, externship (internship with external digital and startup companies), blended learning, ILTs, etc. are some of the initiatives taken to build digital capabilities.

Time to market and speed is another key priority which has impacted ways of working within the organization. Agility in the organization is another key aspect to survive and be relevant in the market. L’Oréal India initiated the ‘Simplicity’ project which focuses on leadership transformation by building a culture of collaboration and empowerment. Various initiatives are taken to simplify the way we work viz. cut down on unnecessary approval levels, introduce technology to drive efficiencies, collaboration platforms, Flex Learning, etc. to name few.

Another focus area has been to build strong reputation and attractiveness of the organization in India. With various external and internal engagement initiatives, L’Oréal is considered one of the most preferred company in the beauty industry. Our engagement with top B schools and young talent development program, launch of AI and chat bot to provide better candidate experience, equal opportunity initiatives, sustainability initiatives through structured program called ‘Sharing beauty with all’ and Diversity and inclusion programs, strong focus on social innovation through ‘share and care’ program, flexibility and work life balance, etc. has helped us create a ‘loved company’ and a great place to grow. We were raked at No. 2 in FMCG companies by Universum and we were also awarded with EDGE certification on gender equality programs.  

Q. What is Leadership & Culture vision of L’Orealand what can HR do to influence company culture?

Simplicity, Collaboration and an empowered work culture is the new vision of L’Oréal. Leaders play a big role in making this happen and HR has even bigger role to influence and facilitate this environment. There are many initiatives HR has taken over last 2-3 years to support this transformation.

  • Pulse, our internal employee survey, today not only measures the results on ‘engagement’, but also measures the scores on ‘enablement’. This puts back accountability on line managers to build an environment which enables their teams to perform efficiently.
  • Our initiative –‘Great Meeting App’enables inclusive participation in the meetings. Through this feedback app, our focus is to ensure everyone get equal opportunity to share their point of view, ensure clear communication and direction.
  • In a strong network driven organization, breaking silos and promoting collaboration is very important. More and more our organization structure are moving towards ‘eco system’ based structure as compared to hierarchical structure. To promote collaboration, building ‘co-operation objective’ is now part of our performance management system.
  • Our reward program is now focused on recognizing and rewarding teams working on collaboration projects. These are some of the initiatives taken to name few. 

Q. What do HR Heads expect from CEOs, when it comes to building an agile company culture and what is your advice to Business Heads?

An organization is as good as its CEO and his/her leadership style and values. While HR continues to play a role of trustee when it comes to driving culture in the organization, CEOs and CXOs must role model and walk the talk. Creating platforms for communication, constantly engaging and creating a sense of common purpose helps build engaged workforce.

In addition to this, strong demonstration of fairness, objectivity, transparency and keen interest to build human capital is equally important.

Q- Women represent 69% of L’Oreal’s 82,600 employees worldwide, 33.3% of its Executive Committee and 46% of its Board of Directors. What is your strategy to promote gender diversity and inclusive culture in workplace?

My view has always been to build a diverse workforce which is representative of the diversity of your market and consumers. L’Oréal strongly believes in building diversity and positive discrimination. Building diversity and diverse work culture is the shared responsibility of top leaders in the company. Through specific focus in our talent acquisition, talent development, mentoring, etc. we promote the strategy of equal opportunity. 

Q. How do you motivate your team as leader? What are the best practices implemented by you and HR team to keep the workforce motivated and engaged?

Diversity of workforce at workplace is getting more and more complex. One size fits all does not work. The policy approach at large does not help serve every person at the workplace. Precision marketing is the way of life which even HR need to adapt.

As HR leader my expectation from team is to act like evangelist and volunteer. The role of HR has so much potential to add value to people’s lives.

HR Team is highly motivated to build a strong proximity with employees, listening to the employees and using the insights to create engagement initiatives. Some of the initiatives are:

Flex Learning

this was the initiative which was created to empower employees participate in their learning journey. With this program, employees are encouraged to own their development journey and chose the program they wish to go for.

Youth Voice

This was another initiatives which was created to build a ‘Shadow Board’ to our India management committee. Through this, we invited young employees to come forward with ideas and implement the same under the mentor-ship and guidance from the management committee. The board was also used to act like sounding board and to get the feedback from the ground on various projects/initiatives.

Internal Speakers Club

Very simple idea to create internal speakers who have the expertise and skills on certain areas and providing them platform to play on their strength areas.

Q. What are workplace flexibility best practices at L’Oréal?

L’Oréal in India has been an early adopter of flexible work culture. The company has rolled out framework on flexible work options viz in and out time, working remotely, various flexible work options for women who are expecting and post maternity smooth transition. 

Q. As more and more youngsters are joining the workforce, what are your plans for retaining & engaging millennials?

Workforce mindset is going through big evolution. Apart from technology advancement, strong purpose driven culture, youngsters are also looking for using the company as a platform to pursue their interest and ambition. Understanding their ambition and interest areas, personalized approach will become more and more critical.

Q. How do you see job market in FMCG sector? Due to technology advancement, which jobs will be replaced and which will be on high demand in your industry?

Digital, Ecommerce, data analytics and anything to do with technology will continue to be in high demand going forward. With data privacy enforcement, legal and compliance roles will undergo a big change.

Leadership behaviours will undergo a big change. Skill sets like Empathy, high EQ, collaboration, ability to work in complex environment with speed and agility will be key success factors.

Design thinking and disruptive mind-set much needed skills in the YUCA world.

Q. What should be the HR Resolutions for a Successful 2019?

Digital mind-set with strong data analytics together with transformational organisation development capabilities will be the survival kit J

Thank you Roshni!

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