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Date posted: 18th January 2024

18th January 2024

Meet the 2024 Top Inspiring Workplaces Judges: Alya Lilani

Meet the 2024 Top Inspiring Workplaces Judges: Alya Lilani

IW: We’re delighted to be joined by one of our judges for the Top Inspiring Workplaces 2024: Alya Lilani. Firstly, What does an Inspiring Workplace mean to you?

For me, an inspiring workplace is one that cares about and supports its people, whilst also providing them with opportunities to develop within the organisation. An inspiring workplace is one that inspires its own people to be their best, to achieve their best and treats them like human beings at the same time! Another layer to this, for me, would be that the organisation contributes to making our world a better place.

IW: You’re a judge for the Top Inspiring Workplaces 2024. What do you hope to see in the entries?

I’m really excited to judge the awards this year and see what great initiatives are being delivered across the continent. I’m hoping to see some new ways – beyond an annual engagement survey – that organisations are giving their people a voice, and more importantly, what they are doing with that information. The last few years, across all industries, have been difficult to say the least, and many organisations have reverted back to a pre-covid world, with many no longer investing in company culture or experience and/or putting it on the backburner. I’m looking forward to hearing some inspiring stories from organisations who have put continued importance on culture, employee experience, inclusion and well-being, and really have embedded it in their DNA rather than doing it as a tick box exercise. That absolutely includes senior leaders getting involved and being held accountable.

IW: Following on from that, What are three areas of focus for organizations looking to improve the people experience?

Picking 3 is hard!!! Added a 4th…

  1. DE&I has been a huge topic of conversation for the last 4 years, and it is intrinsically linked to the people experience.. Within DE&I, a huge area of focus we need to talk about more, is intersectionality. This term, coined in 1989 by professor Kimberlé Crenshaw, explains how some personal characteristics interact and overlap with each other and create unique challenges that affect people in multiple ways and build layers of injustice.
  2. Investing in employee health and wellbeing, and having different options for employees to choose. Employee health is being talked about more and more, with conversations from burn out, to menopause to fertility, period policies, and even in the States more organisations are adding egg freezing to their benefits. Not one size fits all with health and wellbeing, and to have more flexible benefit choices will have an impact on the people experience.
  3. Making the work more meaningful! Through celebrating employees contributions, reminding people it’s not just about the grind, and living and breathing the values of the organisation.  We are all human beings at the end of the day and we need to connect with each other, and to a purpose.
  4. Development opportunities and creating CSR initiatives that are not just ‘a company away day’ and gets forgotten immediately afterwards.

IW: Leadership plays a huge role in everything we’ve just spoken about. What do you think is the most important quality in a leader?

Empathy and authenticity

IW: What’s the best advice you were ever given? Who was it from?

My initial thought goes to a quote, by one of my favourite artists, Ella Fitzgerald. “Just don’t give up trying to do what you really want to do. Where there is love and inspiration, I don’t think you can go wrong”.

IW: We are a big believer that fostering psychological safety is an organisational imperative. Do you agree and if so, why?

100%. Psychological safety is CRUCIAL for any organisation. Feeling safe enough to speak up, challenge situations or raise concerns without the fear of negative consequences creates an environment of growth and creativity. This not only creates a more diverse and more inclusive organisation, but impacts employee experience, retention, performance, but also results in better decision making and allows teams to work better together.

IW: 4-Day week – Yes or No?


IW: To say we’ve seen a lot of change in the past three years would be an understatement. We want you to get your crystal ball out and predict what will be the top priorities for people choosing an employer over the next 5 years?

  1. Ethics – what does the company do? Is it aligning with my personal goals? Is it making the world a better place or making it worse? Am I making an impact?
  2. True flexibility – can I work 3 months abroad? Can I work different hours? Between various locations and maybe even 4 days or part time?
  3. Sustainability initiatives and enhanced DEI practices – does this company have more than just a strategy? Does it believe in putting people first or is this just a tick box? Are there fertility policies, is there no pay gap, is parental leave equal? etc

IW: A few fun ones to end! 

Favourite film
The Lion King (the original, 1994)

Favourite album
By the Way, Red Hot Chili Peppers. (Also anything by Nina Simone).

Best song to get you motivated at work
I have this playlist, but I’m not even sure how to describe it. Techno, funky, some light electronic, middle eastern vibes – but it always gets me into concentration mode.

Best place you have ever visited
It’s too difficult to pick one place, but one of the best places I’ve visited recently is Fiji

Your biggest inspiration
Honestly, people and experiences. Whether that’s the people in my life, the new people I meet, the places I travel to, the experience of trying a new restaurant, sharing a meal with someone, or trying something completely new. All of this contributes to me learning more and more about the world we live in, as well as peoples’ worlds, cultures, experiences and ways of life.