As businesses digitize at a faster rate, upskilling employees regularly is now more important than ever to avoid gaps between their skills and the organization's needs. As the World Economic Forum says that over half of all employees will require reskilling/upskilling to address changing job requirements over the next three years, a digital workplace learning program is essential for businesses to effectively educate and engage with their employees, and create a well-trained, and high-performing team.
Harnessing HR technology to drive precision learning and just in time learning is not just an option but a necessity for the virtual workforce of today.
During an interaction with People Matters, Romita Mukherjee, Senior Director, HR, Whatfix, a global digital adoption platform, shares insights on how workforce optimization is an essential part of today’s skills economy and on workforce optimization strategies that can help organisations increase efficiency in the post-pandemic world.
With over 15 years of diverse HR experience, with specializations in organizational transformation and restructuring, performance management, organizational change management, and HR technology implementation, Mukherjee empowers business growth at Whatfix by developing a high-caliber talent pipeline, implementing strategic leadership development and employee development practices, and driving a growth mindset-oriented culture.
Here are excerpts from the interview.
Workforce optimization strategy
A combination of data-driven strategies and practices to improve employee and organisational efficiency and decrease operational costs, workforce optimization is critical in present times as every organization needs to strive to build a work culture that thrives on innovation, collaboration, and experimentation. Meanwhile, technological efforts should ensure ‘work smart’ ideology and healthy productive goals for every team.
At Whatfix, we encourage a collaborative approach and knowledge sharing across teams and a strong bias for action. We look at technologies that can help drive an innovative mindset such as innovation labs, hackathons and ideation tools and include multiple collaboration platforms for seamless communication and function.
For instance, we use Slack, a key engagement tool as employees socialize on it. With Jira and Trello, we keep a real-time check on the progress of work and bring in visibility to project members who are collaborating on various activities. Our human resources information system and SAP SuccessFactors assists us in managing the employee experience by keeping them up to date on critical aspects, as well as managing expectations. Additionally, our innovation lab is an internal platform where all employees are invited to share ideas, backed by feasibility plans and ROI, to address customer pain points.
We also reward employees for ideating on key customer solutions and appreciate their entrepreneurial mindset through a yearly awards program. In the pursuit of empowering employees with information, we have made conscious efforts to involve mid-level managers in key discussions and strategy, instead of letting information trickle down from leaders to managers.
Rising need for workforce optimization in the post pandemic world
As businesses are going full throttle with digital adoption, upskilling employees regularly has now become more important than ever to avoid gaps between skill sets available and the needs of the organization.
According to The World Economic Forum, more than half employees in the IT sector will require reskilling or upskilling to address the changing requirements in their jobs over the next three years, while a Gartner report, says 58% of the current workforce will need new skill sets to do their jobs successfully in the future.
A digital workplace learning program is thus essential for businesses to effectively educate and engage with their employees, creating a highly-skilled and high-performing team.
To address the growing skills gap, companies must embark on an upskilling revolution that empowers employees to learn new skills and functions across departments, and equip themselves with fresh and exciting capabilities to stay ahead of the competition. Harnessing HR technology to drive precision learning on the go is not optional anymore but has become a prerequisite for the virtual workforce of today. In addition, constant education and sensitization on working in distributed work environments with a global mindset is imperative to business success.
How is Whatfix leveraging workforce optimization?
Workforce optimization, that introduces automation into an organization’s business, provides real-time guidance and actionable insights for revenue generation opportunities. This helps in improved customer service and strategy implementation to retain customers, helping organizations achieve customer satisfaction.
Talent development is at the forefront for Whatfix and we believe that learning should be accessible at any time. We are setting competency frameworks for teams, mapping competencies for specific roles/job families to enable employees to understand the expectations well and continuously develop and bridge any gap areas. We have been introducing new relevant courses for employees through our partnerships with Coursera, Udemy and LinkedIn Learning. We are also leveraging peer learning sessions in respective functions through enablement series.
Additionally, all our BU heads are equipped with approved programs that would help their teams enhance their current performance. Some teams are also focused on the individual development plan (IDP) approach wherein the development is prioritized as a goal and action learning projects are carefully designed for employees to develop skills on the job.
Apart from a Manager Development Program, every last Thursday of a month, we invite an eminent speaker from outside for all employees. The participation in such programs has always been very impressive and feedback has been quite positive for us. Whatfix plans to roll out a “Whatfix Mentoring program” to encourage people to choose their mentors and develop skills/potential through structured 1:1 connects.
What are your workforce optimization strategies?
The global pandemic necessitated organisations to switch to an almost entirely digital mode of doing business and connecting with each other, and we have been supporting our customers with their remote onboarding and skilling initiatives during this time.
To make the model effectively work for us, we focus on ensuring clear alignment of goals and streamlined operations to remove bottlenecks. Everyone in the organisation is being involved into the process of setting departmental goals and OKRs for better commitment and clarity around role expectations. We are using an external platform to track key priorities, stay updated, and drive transparency. To strengthen team performances, we also ensure that the quality of engagement with customers is constantly evolving through quality management, business intelligence, and analytics.
As a growing organisation, our roles will continue to evolve and it's critical to re-assess the role impact at frequent intervals. Reskilling and enabling employees to shoulder higher and larger responsibilities is a win-win strategy for us. Additionally, ensuring that the hiring plans are deliberated well and thought through, planned in advance rather than doing things just in time.
Work schedules are designed in a way that most teams are able to work in tandem with good overlap without stretch. While we continuously aim at improving our customer experience, this is not possible without having real time coaching and feedback to employees.
Using data to find the right mix of employees
In the new hybrid world, striking the right balance between meeting employees’ new needs and keeping business afloat remains a challenge for organizations; hence HR strategy around data is key.
A data-driven approach to HR provides insights for executives to make strategic decisions, quality talent retention and enhancing the employee experience. With the help of data, employers can evaluate their business across departments. Data is crucial in determining compensation packages.
Organizations need to analyze their finances, research the market and industry averages, and ensure that they’re offering competitive salaries and benefits. This insight will also determine raises, additional bonuses and what type of salaries should be offered for open positions.
Moreover, employee data provides insights into the effectiveness of employees' tangible benefits options. The shift to hybrid work has also highlighted companies’ onboarding experience. Data is also a key indicator of employee productivity and measures their success on a timely basis. How companies measure success has shifted, requiring the collection of various new data points.
Whatfix streamlines the accessibility to information and the simplicity of employee onboarding. Through our “holistic employee view” approach and data, we determine where employees really shine and what keeps them engaged. This helps us track our employees’ upward mobility curve and implement better opportunities in terms of employees’ career growth and to continue the momentum. We are also building stronger DEI initiatives more than just a “box to check” for better development opportunities.
The 2021 talent market has drastically changed the way companies handle recruitment, onboarding, retention, and off-boarding. There is no one-size-fits-all approach for employers. The best route to success is to be informed by data and keep the business moving.