Excellence in Employee Engagement Strategy: Abhishek Mishra “One Person Can’t Solve All Problems”

Abhishek Misra, Head -Human Resources India, Rockwell Automation, on his philosophy of inclusivity and empowerment, and steps taken by his organisation for employee wellbeing and career growth


What have been some key initiatives taken by you and your team that have made a difference to the organisation?

Rockwell Automation (RA) will complete 40 years of its presence in India next year, which itself is a landmark. One of the factors that has contributed to the success is our continuous focus on strengthening our culture – of integrity, diversity and inclusion. Globally, for 12 years in a row, Rockwell has been named as one of the most ethical companies to work with by the Ethisphere institute.

We optimise all stages and aspects of employee experience, trying to bridge any gaps on any front right from onboarding to workplace culture to employee empowerment through technology. We recently revamped our HR share point through which new, as well as tenured employees get all the information that they need in the system.

Our Workday learning platform provides opportunities for employees to learn from a vast set of learning journeys and modules available, and do this at their own pace, time and place (including while on the move). This helps learning on the job, offering meaningful work, and career growth.

Employee wellness is the cornerstone of our employee experiences, which has been underlined by the pandemic. We provide employees access to app-based teleconsultation with doctors, app for overall wellbeing, a mindfulness app, EAP, and other specific interventions focussed on employee wellbeing.

What were the challenges you faced, because in any initiative, not everybody would be onboard with the direction you would wish the company to take?

It’s never easy to get everybody on the same page and the reason is that the needs of different constituents of business are different. As leaders we need to ensure that we create the culture that enables people to unleash their individuality and collective abilities. For the country leadership team, our job, besides heading respective business functions, is to constantly wear the hat as if we are One RA (One Rockwell Automation).

Secondly, one would realise, when organisations are small, there is much more bandwidth to have connect with all the employees, but as organisations grow, because of the huge number of

employees, the connect may not sustain. To address this challenge, we have mechanisms that ensure that people are heard. We have something called Global Voices wherein we ask people to give feedback.

The third is developing resilience to deal with the rapid changes in the business context and society. Some of our wellbeing measures are aimed at building that.

Even as organisations chase targets, how can genuine empathy come about regarding employee concerns?

As we move towards the post-pandemic era, the nature of work, the workplace and relationships between employer and employees have dramatically changed. As leaders, we have to communicate to the last man in the organisation, what is the direction of the organisation. One of the ways we do it is by empowering our employees to own their career and make choices based on their skills through different internal platforms like EDGILE – stretch assignment platform, KYB (Know Your Business) intervention, mentoring connections that gives opportunities (projects, mentors, Internal jobs, etc) across the organisation. Providing the basic elements as part of our culture – meaningful work, continuous learning, and meritocratic workplace helps employees to stay connected.

What are the training needs of the HR function itself?

For HR function in any organisation to be successful the team needs to understand the business well and how business priorities shape the people priorities.

Understanding business, functional expertise and driving a culture of integrity, diversity and inclusion are the areas that HR teams focus on.

Business leaders frequently come into HR meetings and provide updates and perspectives about their businesses. We also have HR team members participating real time in business assignments through our internal talent marketplace (EDGILE).

HR team members participate in internal business and HR events to keep them apprised of the latest and the greatest.

Also, within HR there are so many functions. We encourage representatives from each of these functions to talk about ‘a day in the life of’. That gives a better understanding and appreciation about every function in the HR. Moreover, our Workday learning platform offers many learning journeys for team members to sharpen their skills. Team members are encouraged to forge mentoring connections with leaders to gain from their experiences.

What are your guiding principles in HR?

As the environment around us is evolving, agility in evolving processes and practices is the topmost guiding principle. The second principle is to be inclusive. One individual cannot solve all the problems. Including people who can provide a very different perspective is important. By not involving people, we may be blinded to some part of the problem. The third is, giving people

empowerment. People other than you or me might be best suited to deliver something. So, avoid hoarding everything for yourself.

The other challenge is regarding frontline managers. As organisations grow, either we promote employees as first-time managers or hire from outside. The challenge is empowering these frontline managers. To that end, we have started several structured programmes like Manager Learning series and Emerging Leaders programme. This helps empower them and enabling them for much quicker decision making.

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