Article: HR needs to come to speed with the business: KPMG’s Vishalli Dongrie

Employee Relations

HR needs to come to speed with the business: KPMG’s Vishalli Dongrie

Organizations that will survive the onslaught of the pandemic will benefit from a revitalized and renewed HR, says Dr. Vishalli Dongrie, Partner and Head - People and Change, KPMG in India, in an interaction with People Matters.
HR needs to come to speed with the business: KPMG’s Vishalli Dongrie

Vishalli Dongrie has more than 17 years of experience in the field of Human Capital Consulting. She has led HR transformational and leadership projects in several countries including - India, China, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, ME, Australia, Sweden, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. She has previously held varied leadership roles such as Partner Human Capital Consulting at Deloitte, Director, Hewitt Associates and Principal Consultant, ECS. Vishalli is certified in Hogan, Work Level application, BIOSS work-MCPA, LOWA, LPA, IRIS, MBTI, 15 PF, Quest, EvaLax, 16PF, and other psychometric tools. 

She has authored more than 40 publications and has presented in more than 30 Indian and international management conferences.

Here are the excerpts of the interview.

How can organizations prepare their workplace and workforce for the ‘New Normal’ in the Post-COVID-19 era?  

I strongly believe that 50days back, when the pandemic hit us and lockdown got initiated, We were in the same level playing field - no one was more prepared or less prepared to deal with the COVID impact. With most of the organizations facing a crisis of cash flow, global leaders are devising strategies to optimize the cost and adapt to the new ways of working in these changing times. In the current scenario, organizations need to think beyond just Work From Home. Some of the aspects they must evaluate are:

  • Can all the roles now be clustered in different categories – like Onsite, Virtual, Hybrid, Flexi Hours, GIG for BAU situation? By doing so they may have considerable cost savings: Cost saving will vary from 15% - 25% of Workforce Cost via change in operating model changes 15% - 30% Workspace Cost saving due to the virtual and hybrid working set up 
  • Family of Roles - Beyond WFH - Unique roles are no longer standard for the site jobs; but are now classified in Virtual, Gig, hybrid and On-site. It will be critical to understand its impact on the larger HR and organizational landscape. Exploring and introducing flexi hours for seasonal or less utilized roles, along with increasing Virtual roles is an avenue organization can adopt.
  • Ways of Working – Liquid Vs Solid working - Organizations today are assessing feasibility to drive certain tasks in liquid working manner (i.e. roles which can wear multiple hats as per needs). This would change the dynamics of performance management and many critical aspects. We need to be talking about making Liquid Workforce model a reality, some roles will remain Solid however liquification of some roles will also help bring the cost down.
  • Cost Optimization with Workforce Segmentation - Workforce segmentation can also be done looking at contribution to value chain for an organization- keep your strategic and critical roles separate, one must plan their compensation & talent strategy separately; however, for the non-critical/operation roles can be moved out from your P&L. They can either move as GIG roles or automated or they get outsourced. 

What are the top pain points that HR should gear up to tackle when it plans a workplace post-COVID-19?

Post-COVID era will be a testament to the new beginning, organizations that will survive the onslaught of the pandemic will benefit from a revitalized and renewed HR. Agile and nimble HR models will pave the way forward for organizations to succeed in the future. HR would need to shift gears to come to speed with the business. I personally see HR playing a critical role in making the important workforce and workplace decisions along with Business leaders, as new workforce operating model will have a direct impact on workspace cost savings. 

On the other hand, HR will also be looked up to for driving work efficiency through reimagined the performance management system and compensation models. 

  • Measurement of productively and performance are going to be different if you have a different operating model:
    PMS will move from Effort Based to Outcome-Based, as you cannot check your employees in remote working - you will have to digitally monitor their productivity. Features of few PMS for New operating structure will include the following
    • Outcome-Based yearend and monthly milestone-based scorecards
    • Effort Based Milestone KRAs
    • Productivity Measurement will be an important part of PMS – this will be done through- Task Allocation, Team Planner, GPS Tracking/Geofencing, VPN Based Analysis, Keyboard and Mouse Activity, Project/Task Output, Attendance, and Time Tracking 
    • Multiple (2-3) Stakeholder Involvement for rating and coaching, which will be identified bases the outcome-based scorecard
    • Formation of Virtual Cohorts
    • Live dashboarding and Digitalize Assessment
    • Reverse Feedback is a must for new ways of working
  • Engaging and enhancing Employee experience will be another avenue that HR will need to look at – how they become the brand ambassadors and marketers for the Organisation to retain the top talent and engage with potential future talent.
  • Perform to Earn your Compensation is a new revolutionary concept evolving. It talks about - Can we relooking at restructuring the compensation wherein - the variable component is increased to 60-70% of the entire salary bucket, thus reducing the fixed - Employees will now have to perform and earn. 

The most common compensation measure which I am seeing many organizations adopt during this pandemic for cost saving is Deferred Pays of their employees. But one can also be innovative in their deferred pay plan, rather than using the vanilla approach: 

  • Solution 1: Staggered Increments: By ensuring effectively communicating the appropriate pay differentiation to your performers through proportionate pay hikes as well as balance overall cost impact, you can look at staggering the increments on the fixed cast into two tranches during the year. 
  • Solution 2: Revising Pay-mix and introducing an additional v-pay: You can reduce the impact on an escalation of fixed cost for the coming year/s by revising the pay-mix to include a higher proportion of performance-linked pay ( which is communicated upfront as target earning opportunity ) so in the same example above. 
  • Solution 3: Staggered Bonuses: Staggering the bonus payouts over the year can help us regulate the cash flow better for the firm as well as differentiate based on performance and retain talent. 

Last but not the least- HR along with the business must look at the organization values and culture. A quick dip-stick check of the deviations in it at this point might be a good idea before it cascades to the last level negatively – One must gauge what is going on at the ground and what can be done about it or to improve it. 

How do you think the new workplace should be designed because employees will not return to an office that doesn’t feel safe?

Physical Safeguarding and support for security and survival is going to the first existential need of each employee, and we cannot deny that. Basic sanitization and hygiene is a mandate that organizations are required to abide by. But I have seen some organizations going a mile ahead - they are exploring innovative ways reduce the physical, mental and psychological risks for their employees – such as leveraging technology and apps to enable effective workforce rotation or hot-desking; Apps to trace the live health status of employees, their family and neighborhood, extending counseling and EAP support for employee mental health. Employers can redesign their workplaces by increasing hot-desking, sanitization measures and strict employee guidelines to operate within the office premise. 

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Topics: Employee Relations, #TheNewNormal, #ResetWork, #COVID-19

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