The pandemic has spun multiple new workplace trends – from the viability of remote work, an increased focus on health and wellbeing and the ‘great resignation’. It has also forced employees around the world to reflect on their own purpose and wellbeing from a career perspective. New data shows that a majority of the Indian workforce are rethinking their own career priorities.
A majority of the Indian workforce (96 percent) said the meaning of success has changed for them since the pandemic, according to a new AI@Work 2021 study by Oracle and Workplace Intelligence. Data from the research suggests that people have used the past year to reflect on their lives and they’re redefining their priorities at work. A whopping 83 percent of the Indian workforce said they’re feeling stuck in their career and that it’s had a negative impact on their personal lives by adding stress and anxiety.
More than half of the survey’s respondents (52 percent) explained that success is more aligned to achieving work-life balance, 44 percent said they’re prioritizing mental health and 49 percent are focused on flexibility over when and they work. 44 percent said that having a meaningful job is more important than a steady pay check.
Conversely, the study also noted that in India, 67 percent of the people noted that they have lost control of their personal lives, careers (60 percent) and relationships (55 percent).
“The last few years have been eye-opening and have exposed the vulnerabilities of nearly every sector for which none of us was prepared. Simultaneously, it puts many factors into consideration, including work-life balance. As a result, people may feel as if they have lost control of their personal lives for a variety of reasons, including uncertainty about the future and emotional and psychological stress because of the global health and economic crisis,” said Deepa Param Singhal, Vice President, HCM, Oracle APAC.
Despite feeling like they weren’t completely in control, employees seem open and interested in gaining more knowledge and information for their career journey. They are also willing to leverage technology to help chart their career roadmap.
The supportive role of technology
The study’s findings have also shown that employees are more likely to turn to robots over their peers for career advice. In India, 97 percent of people said they wanted technology to help them define their future; 49 percent said they would like technology help identify the skills they need to develop. 52 percent said by technology could help recommend new skills to learn and 49 percent said by identifying the next steps to progress in their careers.
“Employees are turning to robots to help them advance in their careers and do the mundane work,” Deepa noted. “Technology can provide data-driven, unbiased, and objective judgment and indeed has been the unifying thread that has enabled businesses to continue operating in remote locations. However, it’s still important to maintain a tech-life balance so that it does not become overwhelming, and the workforce is able to make the best use of it,” she added.
“Today, AI is seen as a way of assisting our decision making. I strongly believe even with all of the technology in the bag, the need for human interface is significantly higher. In times of stress, mental wellbeing and a sense of listlessness need humans to assist,” said S. V Nathan, National President, NHRDN.
The lessons for HR leaders
With an increased interface of technology due to remote work, there are now many technology tools that are changing the landscape of work. Deepa expressed the need to tread with caution while choosing the right technology, “HR leaders are prone to looking for flashy solutions and onboarding them. The problem with these solutions is that they are ineffective as they are too complicated and to make these HR solutions work, there must be an integrated system and not the one which is functional in silos.” she added.
When reflecting on the implications of the findings for the workplace both in terms of technology and employees, Deepa said, “HR leaders should avoid underestimating the power of human judgment and intuition while automating. Technology should be used for decision-making processes, but at the mindset and policy levels, human decisions should always be at the forefront.”
Even as employees navigate feelings of being stuck, data now shows that they are more likely to turn to technology to help regain control of their careers especially in areas of skilling and navigating their career paths. Companies have an opportunity to better align their talent strategy to meet these focus areas.