Aug 16 2021

Employe Experience: The New Currency in HR

“A key market trend is the aspect of Employee Experience being delivered with a mobile-first and consumer-like tech experience for a work-from-anywhere world.”

by  Sriram Iyer, Founder & CEO,

The pandemic has become the accelerator for one of the greatest workplace transformations of our lifetime: how we attract and hire talent, how we work, where we work, how is our work going to be measured, how do we communicate and manage teams, how do we price our jobs and reward employees...all these aspects have been impacted. From business models to people strategy, things are going to be radically different post this crisis.

Not surprisingly, organizations have adopted technology in an accelerated fashion during the pandemic, in order to transform their workplace to become more agile & digital. A much-needed armor to future-proof themselves!

In my discussion with Juancho Jerusalem, who recently joined Darwinbox as the Vice President & Head of APJ Expansion, he speaks about the accelerated digital adoption in Singapore and the digital divide between SMEs and large organisations.

(Juancho comes with 20+ years of extensive cross-border management experience across the APAC region. He’s an ex-Regional VP at Salesforce for the Marketing Cloud business and ex-Regional Director for Oracle’s Applications business and later on Customer eXperience (CX) business. Throughout his career he has handled roles of varying complexity and difficulty at MNCs, including Citrix. Juancho takes pride in working with different organizations, from start-ups to large enterprises. His belief that technology is the best medium for change and HRTech should not be hard to use, particularly in a work-from-anywhere world, is what drives him to enable HR transformation. At Darwinbox, he will spearhead customer success across the company’s base of HRMS users, growth and expansion across APJ, and culture creation for attracting best talent and partners.)

Here's the excerpts from the Q&A session that I had with Juancho recently.

Singapore's government has time and again emphasized on the importance of digitalizing HR. What are some of the digital HR areas that you are seeing accelerated adoption in? Where is it that organizations lack or need to prioritize?

Juancho: Singapore was less affected than other countries during the pandemic but still saw similar or higher adoption of HR Tech. The country has, at its core, believed in digitalization for better experience and we are seeing the same being adopted in HR as well, over the last one year.

Overall, there is rapid adoption, especially, in the talent acquisition space – digital hiring, onboarding, and employee engagement and wellbeing have garnered attention. Speaking for ourselves, Pulse Surveys, Rewards and Recognition (R&R), and Continuous Feedback have been amongst the highest adopted modules in our HRMS.

Tech maturity is a relative trend, and, at a country level, Singapore leads the trend within ASEAN markets. From new-age brands like Zalora, Carousell to leading public or government companies like SBS Transit and EM services, all have adopted Darwinbox’s modern digital HR stack and have seen tremendous adoption from employees.

There seems to be a growing digital divide between large and small enterprises, as the latter continue to postpone their digital adoption journey. Do you see this gap reducing in the near future?

Juancho: Definitely. And this gap will reduce even more in the next 12 months. Smaller enterprises are more agile, and decision-making is quicker and less complex. I've seen start-ups that may only have 250 employees now, but can double, even triple their size in under 12 months. Moreover, in a talent war, both small and big, compete for the best talent and, in fact, small companies are increasingly investing in talent technology to scale and gain a competitive edge by offering a seamless and delightful experience to employees. These companies are fun to watch and will soon develop a stronger appetite for HR digital adoption.

What are the key trends that you are seeing in the HRMS space, both globally and specifically in Asia Pacific? And how is Darwinbox uniquely positioned to address these emerging market trends

Juancho: I would like to focus on the following four key trends:

1. Adapting to the pandemic for employee safety, and then driving the best performance and delivering best employee experience in a hybrid workplace.

From Darwinbox’s perspective, Covid-19 related capabilities such as touchless attendance, facial recognition, visitor management, vaccine tracking and medical or wellness related surveys have been very well received globally. So have social networking capabilities in the form of Vibe, OKR for Performance Management and R&R for Employee Engagement. Overall, we have helped more than 550+ enterprises to adapt to the post-pandemic world with configurable tech in no time at all.

2. Employee experience delivered with a mobile-first and consumer-like tech experience for a work-from-anywhere world.

Mobile users continue to rise. It's a common phenomenon for employees to possess up to 2 mobile devices. This is where the real power of Darwinbox is realized. We have a very light mobile app that allows users to use our platform even in areas where internet bandwidth is an issue. It's important to note that Asia is growing 2X as fast than rest of the world in terms of mobile and internet adoption. Darwinbox is capitalising on this growth, in fact, we are growing three-fold in SEA. Our mobile app is no different from the daily apps we use like Grab, Instagram, or Facebook. Ease of use and configurability is something employees will continue to require for many years. Darwinbox is extremely configurable in that it can adapt to regulatory changes, whichever country you may be. HR and IT teams love our configurability.

3. Data is the new capital for any business and more so for the talent function.

Darwinbox is on a mission to democratize data and talent insights with persona-wise dashboards for manager, employee, HOD and HRBP. All this while also revolutionizing the way analytics is consumed and adopted with our first-of-its-kind innovations like interactive analytics and Org-view analytics (analytics that is accessible through org chart).

4. Adoption is the north star success metric for an HRMS.

HRTech adoption for many years had been a challenge. We've also heard of costly implementations from the bigger HRTech players. Some delayed for up to 2 years, sadly some have failed. Low adoption and delayed implementation are recipes for disaster that the HR department wants to avoid. The advantage of Darwinbox lies in high adoption, some up to 95% and rapid implementation. We've had many companies across SEA and India that went live in under 8 to 12 weeks. That is true value for money and effort.

Reference: Framework for Employee segments while creating user personas across the Talent Lifecycle,
presented by Darwinbox's Co-founder & Chief Product Officer, Chaitanya Peddi at a recent event . For more information about the event, click here

Coming in from Oracle and Salesforce, what would be the key focus for you while building the roadmap for Darwinbox in Asia Pacific?

Juancho: While my journey at Darwinbox is unique from my past stints, I've learned so much from Oracle and Salesforce. I'm indebted to all the leaders I've reported to back then. Now at Darwinbox there are 3 focus areas for me in Asia Pacific:

a. Onboarding the best talent: ‘People’ comes top of my mind. So we need to embody a culture that will attract the best employees and partners. I've been blessed to inherit a team that is genuine, passionate about their customers and hungry to learn. Since starting 3 months ago, I've doubled our team in Singapore and Indonesia while building the early team in Philippines and Thailand. We will hire more! If you know me well, you will know that I'm a recruiter by heart and strongly believe in people being the winning formula.

b. Laser focus on Customer Success: Since day 1 at Darwinbox, I've been talking to customers and prospects. They are the best source of learning for me. In Darwinbox, we do up to 2 new releases a month. So, you can imagine the innovation that comes with our platform. Luckily, our customers are very open to helping us with information that helps us to improve and become more relevant. At this stage, we also implement our solutions 90% of the time. In that regard, we make sure that we hand-hold our customers all the way to go-live and up to the point that they are completely comfortable using the platform. We also take pride in our adoption rates. Up to 95% as mentioned earlier. But we are all about continuous improvement, so we relentlessly reiterate and improve until we give 100% to our customers.

c. Accelerate Growth: I'm blessed to join Darwinbox at a stage where we are strongly positioned for immense growth. Apart from our investors like Sequoia, Lightspeed and Salesforce Ventures, we also have leading Asian companies that continue to invest in us. We value their coaching, and this has been instrumental in growing 3X. We are the preferred HR tech partner of some of the largest conglomerates and iconic brands in the region like JG, MAP, Indorama, SBS Transit, Tokopedia, Zilingo and more. We are aiming at a steeper growth trajectory in SEA where we plan to more than triple and are also now looking to expand in ANZ, Japan and GCR as early as this year.

Sriram Iyer is a Human Resources practitioner with around two decades of experience in the areas of HR Technology, Workforce Planning & Strategy, Talent Supply Chain, Employee Engagement, Talent Branding and Acquisition & Client Management. Based in Singapore since Jan 2012, he has strong exposure to the JAPAC region and has a knowledge of the cultural nuances of the region. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, he has also played leadership roles with NCS (Singtel Group Enterprise) and Nasdaq-listed Cognizant Technology Solutions in Singapore, running large scale talent initiatives across regions. He is a proud alumnus of National University of Singapore (Singapore) and Symbiosis Institute of International Business (India).


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