Companies are talking about the new normal and employees are adapting to this new era of work. COVID-19 has changed the workplace and the way we used to work before the corona era. With digital playing a pivotal role in enhancing the work experience it’ll be interesting to know what does the new normal look like: now, in six months’ time, in a year’s time? In an exclusive interaction with People Matter, K Narayan – President HR, Raymond Limited shares how the company is adapting to the new work environment, significance of technology and role of HR professionals.
As we rethink the workforce, we also rethink productivity and performance. What should these look like in the post-COVID world? What will the profile of the new workforce look like?
Based on the various conversations I have been having, it seems the productivity and performance of workforce in offices seems to have significantly improved. People working from homes have contributed without consideration of time boundaries. However, productivity of those who are in manufacturing units have been very low.
The profile of the new workforce will be employees who seek flexi working with options to work from home as well as tech-savvy. The current pandemic has really challenged our conventional imagery of the workforce and operating in matrix environments. People will ask for task focussed work environments rather than environments requiring physical presence.
What constitutes “critical” roles today? How does our new perception of “essential” services and “critical” positions change the way employers hire, train, and compensate these people? What are the implications for society and our perceptions of a job’s value?
I don’t think the definition of critical roles will change. Having said so, we will hire people who are more adaptable to succeed in matrix and virtual work environments. They will be trained to operate through virtual networks and who can participate in meetings remotely using technology. Leaders should know how to conduct review meetings and other business meetings with people participating from multiple locations. Large conferences and sales training meetings will be passé. Training will be automated using webinars and other technology mediums. The employees, at least in the short run, will be those who are comfortable to succeed without social connects.
Reward systems will be more sharply focussed on delivering results as teams rather than individual contributors.
What skills have emerged as important, and conversely, what skills are de-emphasized? How should employers change the way they hire and reskill?
Digital skills, analytical ability, agility in decision-making and succeeding in ambiguity have become premium. Leading in absentia will be critical.
Where do companies stand now in terms of technological preparation, and what more must they do going forward?
I think each organization and industry are at different phases of digital adoption which will accelerate depending on their business needs.
Health and safety considerations and the experience of WFH have changed the way we work. What are the new expectations around the physical working environment & adjustment would employers and employees alike have to make?
Few essential people in office, people working on rotation with no permanent work stations, re-modification of work spaces, toilets, canteens, crèches with high standards of hygiene, libraries which are digital and frequent health checks with proper medical infrastructure will define the new work place.
Some HR leaders have said COVID-19 is really the time for the HR function to shine. How can the HR function make its own adaptations? Will the CHRO rise to the same level of prominence that the CFO did after the global financial crisis?
This will depend on each organization and individual but this situation has surely tested the quality of HR leadership. Managing employee morale and maintaining productivity in a highly fragile environment has really pushed HR leaders to innovate and maintain business continuity. Having said so, it is too early to predict whether this crucible by itself is going to catapult HR into the Board rooms.
Business continuity plans have become the new operational norm, but that does not mean companies can continue with these policies and processes that were initially meant for contingencies. What are the new BCPs going to look like? What kind backup plan should companies develop next?
Essentially protecting data and making it available virtually for decision-making, ensuring safety of key employees as well as continuously getting business leaders to make contingency plans to deal with unexpected situations like migrant labor, remote working and significant economic downturn will define the new BCP.