Technology has the ability to enhance, not decrease, value to almost every aspect of an employee’s role. When leveraged appropriately, it increases their effectiveness and creates space for them to focus on creative problem solving.
In an exclusive interaction with People Matters Sunil Setlur, chief people officer at Southeast Asian tech giant Gojek talks about the significant challenges that might come up as the HR function becomes more digitised in the hybrid milieu, how can they be addressed efficiently and shares a structured and systematic approach to choose the right HR Tech solution for a company.
What are the aspects of work where technology can improve/add value for people?
For people and culture teams, the use of automated solutions - from applicant tracking systems to internal talent management solutions - has many benefits. In particular, it enables HR professionals and people managers to focus on being more ‘employee-centric’ and think of new ways to elevate the employee experience, in essence, solving for experience instead of procedural and administrative tasks.
For example, at Gojek, a significant amount of time used to be spent on administrative and compliance reporting but the automation of several key reporting capabilities in our people and culture teams has given the team more capacity and flexibility to work on other projects. I would like to believe that this has freed up our team and empowered them to look at the world a little bit differently.
This has resulted in our team rolling out several innovative initiatives to better engage employees - such as the recent introduction of VR technology to help employees experience what it is like to be a Gojek driver for a day. We’ve also seen an overall improvement in our Employee Engagement Survey and in questions about the quality of interaction with our HR team, which is proof of technology’s positive impact.
What do you think about leveraging digital tools to enhance employee engagement and recognition? How can leaders retain the human element in these functions?
Personally, I see technology as a tool that augments the human experience in the workplace. Every new aspect of technology that has found its way to our daily work has served to connect and empower people. A common misconception people have is that technology dehumanises the workplace but, when used the right way, technology can actually help to make the employee experience more personal and strengthen human connections.
For instance, we recently redesigned the employee onboarding experience at Gojek leveraging technology.
With more and more employees being onboarded virtually, we wanted to create an immersive onboarding experience that would help them experience Gojek firsthand and feel an exciting affinity for the community that makes Gojek possible.
An online game-like environment was the perfect tool for that internally called GoQuest, our refreshed onboarding experience enables new joiners to enter a 4-day long experience in the meta-space to learn and experience the Gojek business through various challenges and modules. Feedback on the programme has been very encouraging so far, and shows us that technology and the human element are not mutually exclusive but rather, they work hand in hand.
As the HR function becomes more digitised in the hybrid milieu, what are the significant challenges that might come up, and how can they be addressed efficiently?
Every change presents opportunities to do things differently, and with digitising the processes in the people and culture space, having an incumbent team change its mindset to approaching work and equipping them with the skills to do things differently will be areas of conscious investment.
On mindset, to truly embrace digitisation and understand its full benefits, teams need to have a thorough understanding of what exactly digital tools can and cannot achieve. This is because while technology can improve processes and enhance our understanding of certain trends, it cannot tell us what to do. HR teams must be ready to use the insights and data derived from technology to solve real problems.
On skillsets, technology is only useful when teams have the correct skills to deploy technology and use its output efficiently.
One way we’re doing this in Gojek’s HR team is by ensuring we have team members who can understand and apply statistical concepts. The use of technology has enabled us to efficiently conduct many types of employee surveys, giving us access to a wealth of useful data - but to use the results to its full advantage, we must be able to understand correlation and leverage those insights to come up with the right solutions. This is why we have structured our team such that it comprises people from diverse backgrounds - such as data analysts - bringing in different perspectives that help us to solve problems innovatively.
Could you share a checklist that could benefit leaders before deciding and implementing any HR technologies?
Technology, at its best, amplifies what exists in the real world and acts as a force multiplier. Being clear on what outcome you want to achieve is absolutely essential before deciding to implement HR technologies.
Let’s say a company is trying to change its culture - leaders need to have an end goal in mind, including what aspects of the company’s culture they want to change or keep and which areas they want to amplify, or create disincentives around.
Leaders also need to understand the impact of the changes they intend to make, because one seemingly small change can have an outsized impact on many other functions and processes in the company. It’s therefore important to work closely with other departments and leaders within the company to get their views on any proposed changes, and also have the ongoing channels in place for employees to share their thoughts and feedback.
Finally, having a comprehensive review system in place is crucial when making a decision on what technologies to implement. No one tool is perfect, so leaders must weigh the pros and cons and know what suits their teams best. For example, within Gojek, we take a “hybrid” approach to the use of HR technologies, which means that we use multiple solutions instead of a single HR solution end-to-end.
While our teams will need to spend more time to familiarise themselves with the way the various solutions work, this approach is most appropriate for our needs as it enables us to use the best-in-class solutions in each area.
What advice you would share on empowering digitally-ready organisations as we embrace the future of work?
Adopting a consumer-product mindset for people processes is the key to utilising technology to its fullest potential.
In practice, this means that technological tools that are rolled out within an organisation should be easy to use, and implemented with a user-first perspective in mind. Ensuring that we are thoughtful in this change management process will ease the process of introducing new technologies and help get employees on board with the changes.