The need for trust and communication remains a top priority for businesses in this age of new work arrangements. While defining jobs that can be hybrid friendly, and relooking at roles and relationships that are needed to make the business successful, companies need to remember the lessons they’ve learned over the last two years - including the need for human connection, new ways to build workplace culture and transforming workplace productivity. In an exclusive conversation with People Matters, R Anandakrishnan President of Human Resources and Information Technology at TVS Motor Company reflects on the shifts that are likely to shape the future of work.
1)Technology at the workplace has now become more pervasive. In fact, there is an excess of technology tools and services – right from onboarding to wellness. How are you thinking about making the most of technology? And how are you thinking about enabling human connection?
Today, organisations that harness technology to rethink their business model are ahead of the curve. Digital transformation initiatives play a significant role in sustainable HR operations, including talent strategy, learning and development, employee productivity and collaboration. It is imperative to remember that the technology has been designed for the benefit of the workforce and is represented by the workforce, so, a collaboration of emotional and technical intelligence can bring out the best in each one. Although communication channels have changed due to the integration of technology, it can’t substitute the importance of personal interaction in enabling better employer-employee relationships. Physical interaction plays an important role to ensure a healthy work environment.
Technology has percolated employee engagement and has been key to forging belongingness and unity among team members. Our digital infrastructure has helped us establish the right hybrid operating model, leading to significant productivity gains.
2) With an extended remote working culture, the conventional approaches to culture building have to change. There’s a need to embed more trust and transparency now. How can businesses navigate this problem?
Timely, open and transparent communication channels with senior leadership on recognitions, benefits, and business announcements have helped us to build trust and assurance amongst the workforce. Furthermore, our information mailers have come in handy to ‘inform and not alarm’ the employees by providing them with much-needed information in advance on the developments during the pandemic. The company also rolled out engagement platforms to boost employee morale via virtual recognition and accolades.
3) How has managing performance and productivity changed as we navigate a hybrid world of work?
Empathy and open communication have been critical in the virtual workplace models that streamline performance and productivity. The pandemic introduced us to a new way of working. Organisations had to develop policies that allow employees to prioritise their’ s and their family members' mental and emotional well-being. Integration of technology has enabled organisations to overcome varied challenges posed by the pandemic.
Data-driven HR practices have opened many possibilities to drive change and growth. As businesses transition into a hybrid world of work, CHROs will now facilitate digitisation to enhance seamlessness in operations. Organisations get a competitive advantage if they focus on upscaling their investment on training and development opportunities to build the skill sets of the workforce. HR has to ensure that they provide something for all learning styles. Making the opportunities accessible to all employees is very important. This will keep them at par with the rapidly changing digital transformation landscape.
4) From an employee standpoint, there’s increased focus on learning opportunities. How do you think companies should navigate the need to transform the learning culture?
The pandemic witnessed the world of business change rapidly with the evolving business models, the faster adaption of technology and emerging room for new skillset development to build a future-ready workforce.
The easiest way for any organisation to navigate the wave of learning is to surf it because it has to be continuous as innovation and progress are endless. The Institute of Quality and Leadership (IQL) at TVS Motor Company continuously evaluates the skill requirements for the workforce and accordingly designs relevant and engaging virtual training sessions by experts for essential and continual professional development. The company has also created a learning culture by onboarding academic partners who impart training basis competency framework and functional skills. The company has introduced e-learning resources to create a culture of continuous learning for the workforce.
5) What is the role of leaders in making sure their cultures are adaptable now that it’s harder to solidify shared beliefs with a distributed workforce?
Today, it is essential for leaders to create curated experiences across levels to align people to the organisation’s goal whilst respecting their personal space. The first step to achieving this is to encourage the employees to imbibe organisational values and agility by listening to their values and goals. The second step is to invest in dedicated channels that provide them access to continuous skilling and learning opportunities. To ensure the effectiveness of these programmes, it is essential to sensitise managers across levels to be empathetic towards all their colleagues. Ensuring business continuity and balancing an employee’s mental and emotional well-being supported with career growth must, eventually, become a key parameter to evaluate good leadership.