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Don’t Get Left Behind! Talent, Engagement and Culture Strategies for 2021

Virtual People and Culture Lab

ChapmanCG recently hosted a virtual People and Culture Lab for our collective HR networks. We featured two highly accomplished HR leaders: Soni Basi, Global Head of Talent at AIG; and Praveena Nathawat, Head of Human Resources, Global Operations & Technology, the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. Soni and Praveena shared their perspectives on talent, engagement, and culture strategies in light of what transpired in 2020 and how organizations are adapting to a new normal in 2021.

This is a time that is going to challenge us. As a culture, we want to be more agile, decisive and nimble and so it’s become more important than ever before to refresh and reskill.

Praveena Nathawat

Only the fortunate have choices, but only the brave dare to choose… what are the choices you will help your organization to make… we all have the power to make an impact.

Soni Basi

You can watch the full recording at the end of this article.

Soni Basi Presentation

Soni Basi spoke about the challenges facing AIG and all organizations since COVID-19 struck and how companies are preparing themselves for the future of work. Areas Soni covered included:

  • We are all used to operating in a VUCA world (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity). This has been a model we have been familiar with for the last 12+ years, but never more so than last year have we truly felt we have been living in a VUCA environment.
  • Do organizations and people have the skills and experiences needed for today, and more importantly, are they developing the required skills for the future? AIG is focusing on five top skills:
    1. Agility
    2. Talent Magnet
    3. Innovation
    4. Inclusive Leadership
    5. Data Fluency
  • Careers are no longer a straight line. Organizations have hierarchies but work more in a matrix and project environment.
  • As we look to the future of work, organizations need to determine their position and also be able to articulate the “why” to be able to develop high-level guiding principles. The chosen model will have an impact on attracting, developing, rewarding, and engaging talent.
  • After implementing their initial response to the pandemic, AIG are now looking to the future. The short-term, tactical work is focusing on the near-term return to work. The longer-term strategic approach is focused on initiatives preparing the organization for work in the future, recognizing that D&I programs and initiatives that foster belonging become more difficult with a remote workforce.
  • The future of work is really about how much disruption your industry of organization has faced, and how you are going to respond to that, in the longer term to create an environment that is really going to appeal to all generations in the workforce.

Praveena Nathawat Presentation

Praveena shared insights to the journey that HR and talent leaders are on, pointing out that purpose, well-being and inclusion are more important today than ever before. The evolution and agility needed to adapt to the new ways of supporting a remote workforce is critical in retaining talent and supporting mental health, engagement, and productivity across an organization. She shared that inclusion, as it pertains to culture, needs to be continuously looked at and no longer applies simply to underrepresented populations, but rather the broader organization.

  • A deeper effort in consistent and thoughtful communication is needed. The “hey, how are you” is much more meaningful in today’s workplace. Well-being and discussions on mental health are at the forefront of supporting employees and ensuring people know that the employer cares and there are resources available.
  • Inclusion has never been more important, and the definition of inclusion is changing. Traditionally, inclusion has been spoken to as in inclusion of minorities or underrepresented groups. Today, in the environment we are in with teams working both remotely and onsite, inclusion has a much broader meaning and companies need to be thinking of this across the greater workforce.
  • Praveena shared that more than ever, purpose has become imperative. As we continue to reflect on the last year, we have realized our families and health mean the most to us. To ensure employees feel their contributions at work are purposeful helps engagement remain high.
  • Educating leadership across an organization to ensure there is constant evolution of ways to connect, inspire, communicate and lead is critical as the realization of the future of work becomes a reality.

This is a time that is going to challenge us. As a culture, we want to be more agile, decisive and nimble and so it’s become more important than ever before to refresh and reskill.


One thing has become very clear these last few months and echoes what Soni and Praveena discussed: we now face a new way of working, whether we like it or not. Successful organizations will embrace this and focus on preparing leaders and employees for the future. Reskilling and developing core skills such as agility, resilience and tech skills will help create a workforce that can adapt to change and remain engaged. Last year put HR front and center in terms of helping leaders pivot quickly to immediate needs. This year, HR is playing a critical role driving strategic initiatives that develop a thoughtful approach to the future of work that will appeal to, and keep engaged, all generations of the workforce.

The People and Culture Lab video in full


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