Martin Lexa, EVP at Mölnlycke, in an exclusive interview with HR Tech Outlook discusses the changing landscape of employee wellness in the past decade and it’s potential in the coming future.
What do your workdays typically look like?
On one side, my job is to make strategic decisions on how to evolve the business and bring it forward. On the other hand, there are operational and tactical situations such that come to employee relations or matters at a senior level. So, this is what I appreciate in my job—it covers everything from being strategic at a macro level, right down to practical questions that you answer to support individuals.
How are you creating a meaningful employee recognition culture at your organization?
It all starts with listening first and not jumping to conclusions too quickly because cultural context situations can be different. So, you should be open to listening, asking questions so that you understand what exactly should be recognized. Secondly, the recognition has to reflect and support the values and culture you want to display as a company.
"When it comes to recognition, look into your culture, before you jump to any action"
Also, recognition in the past was all about monetary recognition. But now I see the change, particularly with the new generations which is more purpose- and value-driven. You should also consider the cultural context of recognition. One way in doing it doesn´t fit all. For example, in the US monetary and public recognition are highly accepted, while in Sweden it´s more important to celebrate achievements of a team instead of individuals
What are the major challenges faced by human resource management if it comes to recognition?
It goes hand-in-hand with the competition for talent; in general, the recognition part is the biggest challenge. It often happens that the older generations’ manager doesn’t understand what the recognition needs of the younger generation entering the labor market is. This is a challenge, because they don’t speak the same language, and that creates clashes. In the end, this can result in retention issues that people are unhappy with.
Can you tell us about a latest project that you have been working on?
During the current COVID-19 crisis we decided to implement globally a recognition program for employees and/or teams going the extra-mile to ensure that we serve our customers and patients in the best possible manner. These employees are stepping out of their comfort zone, displaying our high performing behaviours at their best. It was important for us to launch a consistent recognition program globally with three levels: country, regional and global awards. Instead of mandating in details all features of the recognition program, we only set a frame. Countries and regions were then asked to adapt the program to their needs and cultures. For example, we mandated that any recognition has to be done in public, however we gave the flexibility about the form of the recognition, like gift vouchers.
How do you see the evolution of the employee recognition space a few years from now with regard to some of its potential disruptions and transformations?
We should have the courage to recognize people who tried to do something different but failed. We should recognize their courage and the learnings they took, but we are still not good at that. So this for me, would be a signal of a strong culture. The second one is recognition for recognition’s sake, which is not good enough anymore: it can´t be just a ticking the box exercise. People would feel that it isn´t authentic. The recognition also has to be part of the culture of a company and has to be accepted in the way you do your business. The third one is about recognition for things you don’t know yet. For instance, take the digital or the robotic space; there are so many untapped areas worth embarking on. So let’s also for example recognize small, entrepreneurial pilots, which have an unexpected outcome, but have the potential to bring the business forward. So, these are the three things, I believe, where recognition will make a difference moving forward.
Would you like to give a piece of advice for the CHRO community as to how should they approach this industry?
When it comes to recognition, look into your culture, before you jump to any action i.e., what is the DNA of your organization and secondly what culture do you aspire to have. If you are in a cultural transformation for instance, recognize those publicly, who role-model the behaviours you want to have displayed. Whatever you recognize, has to be credible with the ambition that others get inspired to follow and to do the same.