Divya works closely with the Uber India SA leadership team to consolidate Uber’s growing presence in these strategic markets and build a diverse and inclusive work culture. She joins Uber from a successful career with Accenture, where she consulted in the Talent and Organizational Consulting practice for many years before joining the Accenture People team. She has a rich international experience and takes a keen interest in furthering cutting-edge topics like Big Data, AI, Automation and Neuroscience within HR. In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Divya shares insights on how Uber is leveraging digital solutions to streamline workflows, lead wellness interventions and more.
Here are some key excerpts.
What are the emerging HR tech trends that will dominate the future of work?
There is no solution or execution without technology today. HR tech solutions are the modern-day face of “HR activities”, and this, in conjunction with individual needs for seeking connections at the workplace, will make HR’s role as connection-oriented as it is strategic.
At Uber, a resource portal called UberHub is our tech-enabled employee support, designed to provide personalised and curated information and be the one-stop shop for all HR and IT-related needs. Our employees can tap into it at their own time and convenience and get timely resolutions, leading to enhanced productivity and efficiency for both employees and the business.
From backend improvements, enhanced workflows, and search optimisations, we’re always looking for ways to create a seamless employee experience.
Cloud-based HR tech has enabled an increasingly hybrid and gig economy workforce distributed across geographies. Location is no longer an issue, thanks to collaborative project management and messaging suites.
If we were to talk about the wider landscape for Tech in HR - this ranges from employee-engagement platforms, talent marketplace or online job marketplaces, and learning exchanges to AI-enabled burnout detection tools, identifying early attrition and more. That said, we are seeing maximum traction within employee engagement in the field.
How can leaders build a more robust and sustainable DEI agenda?
Research demonstrates that having diversity in the workplace improves financial outcomes, team performance, innovation, creativity, and the overall success of a business. India, one of the world's largest and most populous nations, sees diversity in all shapes and forms. From caste and religion to gender and sexual orientation, Indians hail from extremely diverse backgrounds. The great Indian diversity, however, does not always get reflected in the workplace.
At Uber, our DEI strategy is embedded in the organisation's strategy that touches the Workforce, the Workplace, and the Marketplace. It’s geared towards building the highest performing diverse workforce; working in the most inclusive and engaging workplace; to enable Uber to anticipate and meet the needs of its diverse customers and thus, lead in the global marketplace. For an organisation to truly meet the needs of its diverse customers, the inside of the organisation needs to reflect the dynamics outside the market.
India needs DEI conversations specific to our region. Historically, DEI conversations in our country have taken a leaf out of what has been done in the Western markets.
It is now time to acknowledge the uniqueness of DEI conversations in our country. Racism is not only Black Lives Matter and Stop Asian Hate. In India, race conversations must evolve to encompass privilege and discrimination based on religion, caste, and linguistic diversity. It’s where we need to play a proactive role in broadening the scope of the DEI conversation.
Given the rise of big data in HR strategies, how can we strengthen work culture and employee engagement with a more human touch?
Even with increased tech interventions in the HR world, HR practices will be much more humane going forward. As we went virtual or transitioned to being hybrid, workflows and processes continue to adapt seamlessly for employees.
Technology can play a critical role in empowering businesses with information on how their people feel, how they are treated, their frustrations, the moments that feel really great, and more. This can help employees feel more supported throughout their lifecycle, leading to better retention and greater insight into leadership development, diversity and inclusion efforts and priorities.
For enhanced employee engagement and experience, since the pandemic, we have moved to a continuous listening mode as opposed to quarterly and bi-annual surveys.
The rationale is to gather employee feedback on an ongoing basis. The survey tracks the experience of working at Uber and timely signals that help leaders understand what’s going well. It also indicates areas for improvement.
As an organisation focused on employee well-being, we recently collaborated with leading lifestyle and integrative health coach Luke Coutinho to launch ‘UCare’ - a holistic corporate wellness program. The UCare corporate wellness program takes employees through a personalised wellness journey to introduce them to various foundational pillars of holistic health and lifestyle. With the help of technology, the participants will be able to interact, measure progress, and get guidance from Luke’s team of skilled nutritionists, doctors, and yoga therapists through live webinars and yoga sessions.
What is your advice on empowering a digitally ready workforce?
Being a tech company, Uber employees have always enjoyed the privilege of being enabled with cutting-edge tools and technology and the advantage of being ahead of the curve. As we went completely virtual or as we transitioned back to being a hybrid workplace, workflows and processes continue to adapt to changing needs. We remain vigilant and mindful of the fatigue this evolving technology-enabled workplace brings. We have our listening mode always on.
Flexibility has always been the mainstay of our policies at Uber. While in-person collaboration has merits, we have always valued flexibility, even before the pandemic forced us to switch to working from home.
Instead of quarterly employee surveys, we moved to a continuous listening model spread throughout the year. It’s designed to collect frequent employee feedback about their experience working at Uber and provide signals that help leaders understand what’s going well and where to dig deeper within the organisation. It also indicates specific insights on areas of improvement.
We introduced our hybrid Return to Office approach last year, and it met with a great response from our employees. Within this hybrid work approach, our employees have more flexibility in their preferred office location, choosing from a list of dedicated team hubs. Additionally, every team and function is also empowered to make its own decision on what works best for them.