We've been a strong thought leader in human resources, especially in the Asia-Pacific region. We've done recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) in different regions and locations and also created a talent management function that relates to developing, leading, and getting your organization ready to attract and retain top talent.

Can you highlight some recent trends you have observed within the HR space?

Among the many trends in the HR space, the talent management space is more near and dear to my heart in terms of the impact that it has had on our organization. This is especially relevant today because of a shift brought on by the pandemic regarding how we take care of and develop our workforces.

Do you have a set of best practices to identify the right personnel for fulfilling your business requirements?

At Nissan, we have a global approach, standards, policies and guidelines for talent management. However, within the local markets and regions, we allow for flexibility. My mantra has always been about having flexibility in the framework for evaluating and recruiting talent. This is because of the unique market needs, where you need to empower local recruiters with a consistent and structured framework around your organizational policies and processes for talent evaluation that is also flexible enough for smooth operations.

Building a strong talent pipeline is also crucial. To that end, we spot diverse, capable, and talented individuals with the potential to excel through proper assessment, engagement, education, and understanding. We expose them to leaders, helping prepare them to become individuals who could one day step into big roles. I've played a significant part in ensuring these best practices were implemented and executed at Nissan, and they continue to exist today.

Can you mention some technological tools that have helped you identify talent?

From a technology standpoint, we have leveraged our Workday tools and systems to quickly identify talent in our organization, complete with their backgrounds and locations. Once we define the competencies and capabilities we need for particular positions, we quickly look at their backgrounds, understand their history, and identify the gaps and needs, and fulfill them.

In terms of assessment tools, we have sought some outstanding firms to help us, especially at the top management levels. This is a work in progress for developing our assessment technology. While a lot of our work with the talent assessment process has been done with external vendors, our Workday system has been very instrumental in identifying talent.

What are some of the best practices that you have followed in ensuring employee retention?

We've done a lot of research and analysis in the employee retention space and discovered some vital aspects:

Firstly, the best practices involve employee engagement. The boss or the manager is always critical for employee retention through the right kind of communication, discussion, and dialogue.

Secondly, how organizations interact with employees—whether through day-to-day workplace exchanges, communication tools and systems, or efficient leaders—is also important.

"Talent management is especially relevant today because of a shift brought on by the pandemic in terms of how we take care of and develop our workforces"

Thirdly, organizations must communicate their goals, objectives, values, roadmap, or anything they prioritize to their employees in a well-articulated, clear manner.

To achieve this, organizations must utilize their communication tools, especially through their leaders conducting interactive sessions and town halls with employees. Mere employee satisfaction surveys are not enough anymore. Company leaders will have to be in front of their workforces either in-person or virtually, share company plans and goals via communication tools, and encourage dialogue and answer their questions. In essence, this involves engaging with your employees by listening to them in a more structured way.

Along with informal styles of communication, companies can also take a more formal approach by officially documenting the interaction data. They can analyze and compare that data with their observations during employee interactions—preferably on a quarterly basis—to modify and improve their employee engagement style and strategy. It's a simpler, nimbler, and more agile way to engage and listen to employees.

However, companies need to get their leadership teams fully on board with the changes, as they will be instrumental in implementing them and communicating the same to their workforces.

What is your take on the strategies that will engage the Millennial workforce?

When it comes to the Millennials, employee engagement is first and foremost to be approached from a technology standpoint. Companies need to ensure their technology is continually upgraded so that workforces can operate virtually—whether it's laptops, phones, iPads, or any other tech tools. They need to avoid situations where their systems are down or delayed, as it is very important for Millennials to have consistent levels of engagement with their workplace through technology.

For Millennials, it is also quite important to have a sense of ownership of the company, a connection with its goals and vision, and a feeling of belongingness. In response, companies have to create ways for employees—for instance, through project teams—to foster a sense of community and connectedness within the organization.

Millennials also seek a better understanding and have a higher standard of expectations from the values and culture of the company. Companies need to nurture progressive values and culture to meet their workforces' expectations.

Nissan is a step ahead in this regard. We discovered lots of issues and areas for improvement in our governance and made the necessary changes. Nissan has been defining progressiveness in its corporate culture and values and is communicating that to our Millennial workforces.

Millennials are also highly concerned with employee wellbeing. This implies companies need to emphasize the importance of their workforces' mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing. This is especially important post-COVID, with its associated stresses and supply chain challenges overwhelming employees. Companies must be incredibly strong in handling stressed workforces and ensuring their wellbeing. Building resilient leadership to uplift workforces has become critical in this day and age, and companies have to step up their game accordingly.