Article: The more you digitize, the more human you need to become: Leena Nair, CHRO, Unilever

HR Technology

The more you digitize, the more human you need to become: Leena Nair, CHRO, Unilever

In her keynote at TechHR India 2019, Leena Nair spoke about how companies need to think about utilizing technology to unleash human potential.
The more you digitize, the more human you need to become: Leena Nair, CHRO, Unilever

"As the world gets more connected, we’re getting more disconnected,” Leena Nair, CHRO of Unilever said addressing a packed audience at TechHR India 2019.

Technology has connected us in ways we can’t imagine. The world has moved from 21 percent of internet user penetration to 51 percent - of which India accounts for a massive 12 percent of users. At the same time, there are worrying statistics about the rise of anxiety, depression and mental health issues. Data shows that workers in the age group between 19 to 32 are some of the most disconnected. 

“As leaders, we need to focus on digitization, but at the same time, we need to become more human,” she said. Companies need to reflect on how to have a dialogue with their employees in this changed scenario. 

Leverage the power of technology

One of the key powers that technology gives us is the power to scale. It’s possible now to equip everyone in your organization with personalized reports. Speaking of examples within Unilever, she spoke about how the company uses a learning platform that curates content on a daily basis in the form of a feed. The courses are aligned to: 1) The needs to the job 2) The aspiration of employees and 3) The learning method that the employee most prefers.

The result of using such a platform is that the company now has access to data that is the personal – from data on active learners to efficient personalized learning tools.   

Leena also spoke about how the company’s Una bot helped create business impact by automating simple queries. It freed up close to 250 call center employees on HR queries. Leena also spoke about the variety of tools that from crowd sourcing, to employee listening that are now available for talent leaders.

Leena urged the audience to speak the language of business performance. And one of the benefits of using technology is just that - to give meaning to data to make transformative shifts.

The importance of the human aspects

“The key to human experience is effortlessness, whether that’s to do with people analytics or emerging technology tools.” she noted.

“Experiment with different platforms and tools” she encouraged the audience. “Even as you do that, have a clear focus on the human side.” Here's what companies need to focus on while focusing on the human aspects:

- Purpose: At the heart of the digitzation journey is purpose, Leena said. 100% of employees go through purpose workshops at Unilever. And the level of engagement is far higher among these employees, she said. 

- Wellbeing: If employees aren’t feeling good, they can’t function. Companies need to invest in the employee health and wellbeing. For every dollar invested in wellbeing, a company earns a return of 2.5 dollars, she said.

- Invest in learning and leadership: Companies need to invest in learning agility and leadership. As hierarchies give away to network based teams, companies need to ensure that everyone is equipped to be a leader.  

Even as the future of work is going to increasingly be determined by jobs that are going to be purpose driven, there are a number of transformative shifts in work – creativity, empathy, collaboration are all going to be important for a new world of work. Talent leaders and HR professionals need to think about how they are nourishing, nuturing and unleashing the human potential with technology. 

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Topics: HR Technology, Talent Management, #TechHRIN

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