Prerna Kohli is the Director of Human Resources at Cyware. An alumnus of XLRI Jamshedpur, she has led the HR function for over two decades in a number of organisations such as Oracle, Navisite and Clairvolex. Her expertise lies in talent acquisition, leadership hiring, setting up HR functions ground up and integration of HR programs in line with business needs. In this exclusive interaction with People Matters, Prerna talks at length about the key trends in HR, the future of work and the impact of digital transformation.
Here are some excerpts.
As we navigate this New Year which holds endless possibilities for the HR function, what are some of the top trends that you’re most excited about? How do you plan to incorporate them?
As we prepare to return to work, we need to reflect on how the role of HR needs to evolve for a tech driven future. In 2022, HR functions will be all about strengthening the future of work at organizations.
- Dive Deep into Technology: Data and automation tools will be instrumental in helping HR drive the business forward. The use of data analytics can provide HR leaders with insight on everything from turnover rates to benefit plans and pay disparities. Human resources department will need to adopt virtual HR processes in 2022 such as remote recruiting and automated onboarding. In addressing these changes, HR leaders need to consider which technologies and solutions will enable them to have a productive remote workforce in the long run.
- Individualize Virtual Employee Experience: One size does not fit all when it comes to shaping employee experiences. As a matter of fact, tailoring the employee environment is becoming more important than ever in order to optimize their productivity and keep them happy at their jobs. HR leaders must create employee experiences that are personalized, authentic, and motivating to improve individual, team, and company performance.
- Reimagining the future of work: In the coming years, remote work will become more mainstream, democratizing opportunity and enhancing the spread of skilled workers. HR will have to handle variations in policies and restrictions in local, national, and global workplaces, in addition to the physical walls of the workplace. A people-centric culture will also need to be fostered.
- Skilling to lead the new workforce: The most critical skills for HR leadership today are empathic listening, building processes based on creating a positive and caring employee experience, and strengthening trust and commitment between employees and the organization. To do this, HR leaders need to go from being task-oriented to being service-oriented. They need to shape the policies and structures that empower and support the new age workforce.
Given the accelerated pace of digital transformation, HR tech will have a massive influence on the way we work. What are some challenges that can turn up? How can leaders leverage HR tech to its full potential?
There is no single HR tech solution that will meet the needs of every organization, so implementing it can be a challenge. For most companies, investing heavily in training and developing people to use these new tools is the most effective way to ensure that employees adopt it. In the same company, there are a variety of generations that may react differently to new software and new ways of doing things. A readiness mindset and motivation are also required. Additionally, HR tech creates a large amount of data depending on the workflow of the organization. However, the data can only be used for making more informed decisions if the persons concerned are familiar with and adept at utilizing these tools to extract meaningful data.
As a result of collecting and analyzing this data across the entire company, HR tech can help identify trends or aggregate feedback that is essential for identifying new challenges and addressing employee concerns. By using augmented and virtual reality, AI can also accelerate training and development for new recruits, while also personalizing the content to meet the trainees' interests and abilities. People analytics will become more important to the C-suite and HR leaders in 2022, with employers seeking metrics that can provide data on talent supplies, market compensation trends, and employee attrition in real time.
With the Covid surges continuing across the globe, the hybrid work model will inevitably take center stage. How can we sustain a positive, healthy work culture within such constraints?
In 2021, discussions on organization culture focused on how to create a healthy environment for a distributed workforce. For many companies, the priorities in 2022 will continue focusing on how to create a healthy hybrid work culture. No matter where employees work, whether at home or in the office, leaders should ensure they have a relatively consistent experience with tools that enable collaborative interactions and provide equity, so nobody feels left out. In the hybrid scenario, communication should be treated as a strategic priority.
Having relaxed activities allows employees to build connections without having to strive to remain productive all the time. It can be an in-person team bonding exercise, Yoga class online, a fun music session, or a weekly check-in with employees. Keeping employees motivated and in a good mood is made much easier through such activities. It is important to create an environment where employees feel their concerns are heard by the leadership.
One learning from this turbulent time has been the importance of leadership. In line with that thought, what would be some of the best practices that talent leaders must engage in to attract and retain the best talent?
Leaders are under pressure to prioritize strategies that effectively retain and attract top talent as employee expectations have radically changed. To acquire the talent they need, leaders must concentrate as much on retaining existing employees as they do on hiring new ones. Your top performers will be more likely to stay with you if you invest in their personal growth. Many studies suggest that more millennials and Gen-Zers will leave a company that does not offer career and professional development opportunities. There is a rapid increase in demand for new skill sets and evolving roles. When there is stiff competition for talent and intellectual property, investing in your employees' education can help retain them.
The workplace should offer employees fast-track career opportunities. People feel valued as individuals when they see their employers make genuine efforts towards their growth, and that is what leads to increased engagement. A culture of recognition also can play a significant role in attracting and retaining skilled workers. Through recognition, workplaces become more engaged, teamwork becomes stronger, relationships are strengthened, and a clear purpose is aligned with achievable goals. To hire and retain the best talent, organizational culture must align with best practices on diversity and inclusivity. This makes companies more attractive to talent. Also, one of the best ways to attract top candidates - and keep them - is to foster an environment where open, honest, two-way feedback is valued.
What are some of your key learnings as an HR leader from last year? How do you envision the future of work to look like 5 years down the line?
2021 has taught us that the key to attracting, motivating, and retaining the best employees is an engaging, inviting, and safe workplace. During the pandemic, employee experience, mental health, and well-being have been the focal points, and many companies are working to address these issues through training and support. Although inclusion is at the top of many company board agendas as they begin to realize the value of diverse teams, there is also the realization that there is still a lot to do.
In today's digital economy, employees will have to use creativity, critical thinking, and constant digital upskilling to address complex issues. In order for companies to grow, combine, and expand into new ventures and businesses, they require new ideas, new information, and new business models. As part of the day-to-day activities, HR leaders will have to promote a continuous learning environment that emphasizes knowledge acquisition and transparency across the organization. Employers can ensure employees are continuously unlearning and relearning by trying non-traditional learning methods such as bootcamps and hackathons. Businesses that have a more flexible, distributed workforce will be better able to withstand the sudden changes regardless of where the changes originate.