How engagement is key to managing talent in a hybrid work world
An organisation's success and growth are contingent on employee engagement, and according to a study, 71% of business leaders recognise this aspect as having an impact on their organisation's success and survival. However, the same study found that only 24% of employees are highly engaged and that 85% of workers are actually disengaged from their jobs.
Business and HR leaders today have to recruit and maintain top talent, but they also must keep their current employees engaged.
Neeru Mehta, the first CHRO of Yellow.ai, an enterprise-grade conversational AI platform, says an engaged workforce delivers optimal performance and improves innovation and creativity, boosts productivity, and ultimately serves to boost the bottom line.
As the CHRO of a fast growing company, she has a unique take on developing and understanding work culture, especially in this changing post-pandemic paradigm.
“We believe that technology can play a defining role in an engaged workforce. Business leaders need to shift from traditional employee experience strategies and adopt new approaches to meet employee demands. More recently, there has been a lot of development around (and adoption of) automating processes as a way to provide employees with a greater overall experience,” she adds.
As a technology company providing solutions to others (Including EX), People Matters asked Mehta how her company is creating a holistic talent engagement framework to develop and retain talent in the new normal.
Recent times have seen a lot of changes in talent management. With Yellow.ai incorporating the virtual first hybrid model, what are some of the key changes you have had to make?What are some of the best practices on talent management in a hybrid/remote working model being followed at Yellow.ai?
Today, there is no dearth of opinions across the board on whether or not to go back to work from the office. From an employee experience perspective, a framework that allows employees to work from anywhere, anytime (such as our WFH policy), is optimal as it gives employees the freedom to choose the working environment that is right for them, and to act on their choice -- so long as their teams and managers are aligned.
Employees are not required to choose between their personal, family, and other pursuits or obligations. Working parents and primary caregivers, particularly, benefit from this approach, as they can be more efficient and productive when working in a flexible environment that encourages team collaboration. Or even today's younger generation appreciates this approach as it gives them the flexibility to travel, explore, and work at the same time.
Even in the pre-pandemic era, Yellow.ai was a remote-first organisation, allowing us to recruit top talent and build a vibrant team without geographical barriers. The pandemic simply expedited and globalised this fact.
At Yellow.ai, 60–70% of our employees work in a virtual-first environment or from anywhere. We are working to ensure that we get the best of both worlds -- online and physical -- to build and maintain social contact and a sense of the social fabric.
I strongly believe that the future of teamwork will be a purposeful hybrid combination of virtual coordination and in-person collaboration.
All our team leads are operating in two distinct modes. For one, they have been operating in a virtual coordination mode. This includes establishing goals, regularly monitoring progress, real time sharing of information, and sustaining connections with colleagues working remotely.
Two, they periodically meet with their teams for a face-to-face collaboration mode, fostering deep learning, innovation, acculturation, and dedication. For instance, we have taken up co-working spaces across cities, giving employees the opportunity to work there when they wish to do so or when there is a need for a face-to-face interaction.
We have also put into practice what we call “work sites”, which is an off-site meant exclusively for team collaboration. Depending on the need, specific teams get together in a designated location for a specific period of time, to brainstorm and have face-to-face interaction enhancing collaboration.
Furthermore, ours is an open door policy, or in the virtual world, an open chatbox policy, where anyone from across the organisation can easily reach out to the co-founders, other senior leadership or colleagues from across functions without any qualms. This approach has enabled us to foster an open space for communication and collaboration.
Are there any skilling/learning initiatives that can better prepare employees of the future in a virtual-first hybrid work environment. Has Yellow.ai taken any of these measures to help navigate the hybrid workforce?
Skilling and tooling (or equipping) our people with the right tools to facilitate remote and hybrid work in a post-pandemic world is an important priority.
In this context, up-skilling and L&D programmes that invest in the best-in-class collaboration and performance tools such as Slack, Monday.com, and Asana have become mainstays. Today, organisations need to focus on how technology enables the integration of their cultural and social values into every team, function, and operations.
Going forward, we also envision organisations investing in Conversational AI solutions to deliver an elevated employee experience.
With a homogenous work group, keeping learning relevant has been a priority for us. We have dedicated time in making all our learning offerings fit for virtual consumption.
By gamifying self-paced learning, ensuring digital fatigue doesn't become a hindrance for our employees who are taking the time to enhance their skills. We run dedicated workshops to reiterate the guidelines for remote working. Be it dedicated scheduled breaks, or increased importance of daily/necessary team connections, this to enforce the importance of our employees well being as well as a bullseye focus on our goals.
We are constantly updating our learning catalogue. In the coming months, we will be partnering with leading Moocs providers to bring the best practices to our employees.
Externally, can you tell us how HR professionals can be more effective and create a deeper impact by leveraging AI to deliver the best employee experience?.
In the new work order, HR metrics around employee performance, effectiveness, the employee- employer outlook, etc., have no doubt undergone a sea change. The employee-employer equation is today seen to be more interactive and collaborative as a measure to enhance employee morale -- a metric that can’t be emphasised enough in today’s scenario.
An effective blend of human and AI interactions has been effective in seamlessly managing the ever-changing employee functions, particularly in terms of adapting to change and being more responsive to evolving situations.
Automating repetitive and routine employee tasks with the support of AI has had a two-pronged effect: (a) the HR function is able to spend more time on value-added and strategic tasks; and (b) it frees up employees’ time and mindspace from having to perform tasks that can easily be automated, which ultimately enables them to engage in more higher-order and strategic work, adding more value to the organisation.
Furthermore, productivity today is monitored through results, and AI-powered tools have enabled teams to have a seamless purview into employee progress and development across various pillars.