Joveo is growing, and we’re expanding our team to support customers worldwide. Veteran tech executive Sanjay Chandel recently joined Joveo as Head of People & Culture. We sat down with Sanjay to get to know him a bit better, and find out about his vision for building Joveo’s most formidable asset: our company’s human capital.
Q: Sanjay, welcome to Joveo! Tell us about your role and your career path toward developing people and corporate culture.
Sanjay: It’s exciting to be back in the startup world. My career has been distinctly divided into three phases; I started my career in hospitality operations and later transitioned to IT services strategy. For the past couple of years I have been in tech human resources (HR). I made a conscious decision to move from operations to strategy, in the process learning about creating organizational competencies on a longer time horizon.
I realized that moving forward in the future, organizations will be able to differentiate themselves mainly by the quality of their human capital. The factors that differentiated companies in the industrial economy – the traditional structure-conduct-performance paradigm – will no longer be effective. Instead, companies will be differentiated by the quality of people, caliber of talent, creativity, innovation, collaboration and how all of those factors are brought together in the business. That’s what I’m looking to do in Joveo – to use my experience in operations and strategy to drive the development of our human capital, talent and people-culture practices.
Q: That’s a very strategic view of human resources! Can you talk about some of the challenges and opportunities of leading human capital and culture development in a global company?
Sanjay: The world today has become so interconnected and interdependent, wherever you are, you have to collaborate with people across the world. That’s the challenge that large, diversified companies face and start-ups, too. I’m really looking forward to tackling this challenge at Joveo because there’s so much that we can learn from each other.
Fundamentally, workforces are not distinctly very different from one another. At Joveo we have a multigenerational workforce with millennials, Gen Z and Boomers. We also have a multicultural workforce in India, North America, and Europe. People want flexible schedules, that is a common expectation across the world. Solving this piece of the puzzle is the first part; how you get a diverse workforce to work together to create real competitiveness is the next challenge.
Across generations and geographies, people also want to work for organizations with purpose, a place that can inspire them and help them to fulfill their potential. They want autonomy. These are key challenges across continents and different cultures. So, in that sense the challenge in building human capital is not different; what’s different is the way you do things in one part of the world, bringing in local expertise and cultural context. The challenge is in execution. What people expect from an HR leader is no different in one part of the world compared to another.
Q: As the work world emerges into a post-pandemic world of remote, in-office and hybrid work, how do you build a shared sense of purpose if everyone’s remote, in a world that’s fundamentally distributed?
Sanjay: I don’t think anyone has declared they’ve found the panacea for this issue. Unlike many others, where you always had a pretty good template to follow and could pick it up, modify and use it, we don’t have that here.
It’s true that the pandemic fundamentally changed how people look at work and life. COVID-19 has flipped Maslow’s hierarchy, making physiological security, which we’ve taken for granted for so long, our top priority. It’s made people reevaluate what’s important in life: Balance? Purpose? Money? That kind of realignment is still top in peoples’ minds.
This is just the context. As for the question, you’ll eventually have to look for a model that works well with all the generations within the workforce. Some people are wanting to come to the office; you simply can’t replace it for connection, meeting people and discussing ideas. That’s fundamental to creating culture. People also want the flexibility to travel or to move to less expensive places where they could be equally productive but with better quality of life.
We have to find a middle ground that allows both. Maybe hybrid is a way to go forward. But you can’t enforce one solution and say, “This is what we need to do.” You need to continually experiment with different options to find the sweet spot for your organization. At some companies, 90-95% of people are back in the office. Others have decided to work completely remote. Still others are in the middle and trying to find the balance. Until we find our sweet spot at Joveo, you have to give people options and be flexible, evaluating and evolving policies as the workforce ecosystem demands.
Q: How do you keep your finger on the pulse of an evolving global workforce?
Sanjay: Tech is a great enabler if you integrate it into the flow of work. We have a new performance management system that lets us roll out spot-check employee surveys at any time – daily, weekly, biweekly. We can send a one question survey integrated in channels such as Slack and email. It’s easy for people to respond and with that information you can gauge the mood of your workforce. You can slice and dice the data, double-clicking where you need to go a little deeper. We have HR partners in all of Joveo’s geographies, whom people can connect with for questions, feedback and suggestions.
The principle here is that if you need to provide a consumer-grade experience to your employees, which we believe, you need to know what they think and feel. if you assume that people in India feel the same way people do in other Asia-Pacific countries or Europe, you’ll get it wrong. Every decision must be based on data you believe is good and employee feedback data. If you don’t, new policies could be way off the mark.
In sum, a nimble approach to measuring employee sentiment needs to become part of the culture. It’s important to keep that connection; in the start-up ecosystem today, we are seeing a downturn and companies laying off people. At Joveo we are instead investing. Our goal is to create a stable environment, with communication at the heart.
Thank you Sanjay, and best wishes in leading our global Team Joveo!
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