Select the right worktech to drive an enhanced digital employee experience: Vishalli Dongrie, KPMG
Over the last one and half years, technologies have been playing a crucial role in keeping organizations and employees functional. And these technologies and disruptive digital innovations may have a long-lasting impact beyond the pandemic.
But what are the top drivers that organizations factor in to invest in work tech? How are they tackling the adoption challenge and making sure their investments are giving them returns? What are some of the areas which will see high adoption of worktech technologies?
To answer these and more questions, we spoke to Vishalli Dongrie, Partner and Head, People and Change, KPMG in India. Here are the excerpts.
The HR landscape is undergoing a drastic shift. Next-gen technologies that helped facilitate ‘work’ in remote mode have gone from being something of an experiment to essential for survival. What are some of the shifts that you foresee in the near future?
The COVID-19 pandemic required organizations to rapidly shift operating models and adopt work-technologies to prevent drastic impact on business continuity. As the situation stabilizes, organizations are now looking to re-evaluate their existing people strategy to design a future roadmap to create an aligned and empowered workforce through streaming of operating models and enhancing focus on technology and digitalization.
The key shifts shaping the future are:
• Reshaped workforce – Optimizing the workforce for maximum productivity and efficiency is critical as demands for agile and dynamic operating models continue to grow. Organizations are now relooking at the workforce size and the relevance of employee skills needed for their business to stay relevant. As a result, organizations are focusing on evaluation of new ways of working through role-based workforce segmentation to ascertain the need of flexible workforce models such as gig/ neo-gig and contractual workforce, and new distributed workforce model such as remote working and hybrid working.
• Connected workforce –Organizations are rethinking on how connect their people seamlessly, while strongly focusing on efficiency and productivity, and, at the same time, assuring high wellbeing, engagement, and motivation. There is an increased relevance of virtual collaboration tools and engagement platforms to provide improved digital employee experience as organizations embrace remote or hybrid working setups.
• Agile & Adaptive talent up-skilling and deployment –Organizations will increasingly require agile and flexible deployment of workers across projects, products, and other initiatives. To enable the same, organizations must focus on implementing technology platform to support recruitment, development, and mobility through deployment of an internal talent marketplace, AI based identification, inference and tracking of skills, and intelligent matching of skills with talent requirements. Moreover, organizations need to enable learning in the ‘flow of work’, rapidly design customized content, and use virtual learning to disseminate knowledge for faster talent development and deployment.
• Culture and Change Management – In today’s dynamic business environment, it becomes more important than ever for organizations to be agile and adapt quickly. Managing the impact of change is very critical and a change-oriented mindset needs to be cultivated. This requires an increased focus on behavioral change management which is empathetic and human centric and culture transformation needed to embed agility into the cultural fabric of the organization.
• Seamless Employee Experience – With remote working, managing digital employee experience is crucial as it has a direct impact on motivation, productivity, engagement, and retention of employees. It will be critical for organizations to adopt effective virtual collaboration and engagement technology and to enable seamless and simple end-to-end HR technology to improve end-to-end employee experience. Moreover, personalized processes and digital interfacing will be critical to focus on for the diverse composition of employees in the organization.
What are some of the top drivers organizations factor in to invest in work tech?
The dynamic and uncertain nature of the economy has forced organizations to adapt to new ways of working and invest in technology to enable agile and flexible operating models. The top drivers for organizations to invest in work-tech are:
• Evolving strategic needs of HR: Most of the evolving talent priorities for organizations today include optimizing workforce size, enabling the right workforce shape and streamlining talent processes and experiences. Investing in technology is pivotal in drive these objectives.
• Enabling remote or hybrid working: As remote working becomes a norm, organizations are focusing on technology to enable a connected, efficient, and productive working through seamless access to information online. HR needs to carefully select the right work-technology to also drive an enhanced digital employee experience that ensures seamless collaboration and engagement.
• Need for agile hiring, learning & mobility for talent: Today organizations need to manage large amount of data that help track the combination of skills, knowledge, experience, behavior, interests, and preferences of each employee over time and to map them to evolving business requirements. Skills data can be applied across processes like hiring, staffing, development, labor market analysis, and workforce planning. This has pushed organizations to leverage AI and tech tools for skill data analytics and dynamic skill mapping.
• Culture and Change management: Organizations need to be agile and adapt to changing technology, processes and skills. This calls for investment in tools and technology to measure, execute and manage data-driven change management, culture change and employee experience.
In a workplace that no longer functions on human interaction, the only way HR personnel can ensure employees have a smooth experience is through the adoption of tech tools. What are some of the areas which will see high adoption of worktech technologies?
Use of HR work technology has already proven its many merits by enabling remote collaboration, improved decision-making, expedited processes, and creating new value.
Consequently, multiple areas in HR have witnessed extensive technological adoption and will continue to do so in the years to come. Major areas which will see high adoption of work technologies are:
• Workforce Collaboration & Productivity – As organizations make remote or hybrid working a norm, it will be critical for employees to continue to adopt advanced workforce productivity and collaboration tools, engagement platforms, employee self-service tools, chat bots, virtual assistance etc. to provide enhanced digital and customized employee experience in the current working arrangements.
• Recruitment and Selection – To cater to the organizational needs for an agile and flexible employee deployment on projects and other work opportunities, HR will need to adopt advanced recruitment and selection technologies and processes. Technology is evolving to incorporate management of flexible workforce hiring, enablement of Internal Talent Marketplaces and AI for dynamic skill inference and assessment to make faster and more accurate decisions on internal and external hiring.
• Learning and Development - In future, HR will need to leverage technology for dynamic inference and assessment of future skill needs, rapid content creating and dissemination. Organizations will need to focus on investing in technology to enable customized, flexible, and collaborative learning. For instance, AR/VR applications in learning delivery may see an increased adoption.
• Performance Management, total Rewards & Career Pathing –Measuring employee productivity and performance in the current virtual working scenario, needs to be reengineered to be more agile, collaborative, and frequent. Thus, high-end technological platforms could be used to manage this agility in goal setting, effectively tracking ongoing performance conversations as well as to incorporate transparency. Predictive modelling will see an increased adoption in ascertaining the future performance of the hires. Technology driven feedback conversations, development of customized career paths for employees will also become important.
• Workforce Planning and Analytics:
“Gartner found that 29% of the skills that were present in an average job posting in 2018 will not be needed by 2022”.
We will see high adoption of workforce analytics to drive effective workforce planning for all types of employees including blue-collared and white-collared employees. Advanced data analytics can be leveraged to analyze jobs, required skills, required number of employees for job and dynamic inference and mapping of skills with requirements to manage operations.
What are some of the challenges that will be faced by organizations and employers alike when it comes to adoption and how can they mitigate those challenges?
While digital adoption will revolutionize businesses and workforce operations, doing so is may poses some challenges in the future. Some of these could be in the following areas:
Lack of alignment between technology implementation & service enablement - As organizations continue to leverage technology, many fail to back the transformation with the right operating model shifts, hence they are faced with issues pertaining to role-redundancies and non-optimized operations, which ultimately hinder the ROI from work-tech implementation. An effective way to deal with this would be to back technology implementation with aligned transformation of existing structure and processes to support the change.
Gaps in skills & capabilities - The current skills and capabilities of the people maybe insufficient to use the work technology solutions being implemented and employees may need to re-skill rapidly. To navigate these challenges, the HR can look at investing in data-driven assessment of future skills and developing talent internally at an early stage to be well-versed with future technologies. Organizations can look at relevant and rapid content creation and embedding learning in their organization by combining the concepts of agile learning and dynamic skilling.
Resistance to Change – The current workforce may not always be ready and able to re-invent itself which may create resistance to tech-driven change. Organizations would need to consider developing an agile culture by assessing current culture through culture diagnostic tools and implementing initiatives to reach the desired cultural shift. Effective behavioral change management mechanisms need to be implemented. Similarly, performance management and rewards need to be linked to agility, change acceptance and propagation.
Fragmented and non-user-friendly technology– In the COVID 19 scenario, there was a sudden advent of multiple technology platforms to facilitate collaboration and minimize disruptions in day-to-day work. This led to cumbersome technology and many fragmented systems, making end usage difficult and complex for at times. The overall employee experience may deteriorate in such a scenario, thus creating bottlenecks for adoption.
How can organizations make sure that they are getting an ROI on worktech investments?
Investments in technology could be significant; hence measuring their impact on business outcomes becomes extremely crucial for the top management.
The first step is to enable the right ROIs to gauge the success of any implementation and to follow it up with a systematic and continuous measurement of these ROI for action-planning.
For HR, there could be several important indicators to measure ROI on specific technology investments.
- Financial - Revenue per employee due to workforce & workspace cost optimization enabled through organizational reshaping
- Process Efficiency – Process TAT, Time-to-Hire, Employee Engagement & Experience Scores
- Workforce Efficiency - Learning Effectiveness Analysis, Performance Scores, Employee Turnover
- Impact on Business Goals –Training & Hiring more efficiently, improving employee experience
- Unlocking Value – Enabling new ways of working, productivity and collaboration, and simplifying work, creating process efficiencies, improving employee experience, well-being
While selecting and linking the right ROI on technology investments is critical, it is also equally important to ensure that all the supporting systems and processes are in place to derive maximum value out of technology, which translates to ROI targets being met. Some of the key considerations to enable the same are having clarity on the ROI objectives and tracking them, creating priorities and implementing phase-wise and revisiting organizational and talent capabilities to ensure talent readiness to gain maximum output from these technologies.