Article: Employee Experience and Engagement in the age of AI - Insights from CHRO Roundtable Part 2

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Employee Experience and Engagement in the age of AI - Insights from CHRO Roundtable Part 2

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At a CHRO roundtable held in New Delhi, experts in technology and HR shared their ideas on how companies can navigate talent related problems in an AI world
Employee Experience and Engagement in the age of AI - Insights from CHRO Roundtable Part 2

The Oracle Impact for Business Summit was held in New Delhi on September 28th, 2018. Leading Indian companies shared how innovative technologies like AI, IoT, Blockchain are being employed to address the challenges of HR, finance, and more. On the sidelines of this conclave, People Matters invited 18 top HR leaders to discuss how AI-based technology is changing work.

Keynote: How AI is impacting Employee Experience & Engagement

Dipak Roy, CHRO of Bharti Infratel in a keynote session noted that AI adds a layer of self-awareness. He spoke about how machine learning uses its own intelligence for better outcomes as it starts with a fresh data-centric approach. This is good news. Because the scale and size of most companies are such that information is available. There is a need to explore and parse this data and learn to use the data and insights for improvement. 

Addressing the myths vs realities in the age of AI, the speaker noted that there is a hubbub that machines will replace human beings, leading to a loss of jobs. This is a myth. A site called “Will robots take my job?” indicates a low 0.55% probability of people losing a job. While some of these jobs like manual processing will go away, this is where HR will intervene positively. HR is the custodian of the softer part of the organization – knowing people, capabilities, cultivating the right culture, and building capacity to grow. These are the foremost areas that organizations expect from HR. In this AI-revolution, there’s an opportunity to actually create jobs or enhance existing jobs. For example, data analysts, technology specialists are in high demand. HR must ask,

“What are the shifts required for a digital environment? What are the functional competencies, and digital skills?”

The overriding 'ask' of the business is to have a digital strategy which is tightly knit with the HR strategy because the employee experience is directly related to this. Becoming a digital company requires an eye on how to leverage data. Talent acquisition, resource utilization, productivity, continuous measurement and driving employee engagement through daily experiences- these are some of the key action areas for HR.

The need for logical, transparent and reliable data stacks to build a strong AI foundation was highlighted. But more importantly, apart from the technological and infrastructural elements, there’s a need to understand how organizations work is changing. As humans, we will not do information-processing or data-processing going ahead; machines will do it for us. Machines will move beyond old-fashioned automation-like sequencing and will solve complex problems for us. Therein lies a huge opportunity. Businesses and stakeholders must wake up to this reality, and start this journey, no matter where they stand today, by donning a high tech-focus. 

The ways of working are fast changing. There is an increasing need for competencies such as collaboration. Emotional analysis and sentimental analysis which have become necessary workplace tools, to address the needs of a highly distributed workforce.

Workshop: Identifying your Employee Experience and Engagement challenges in the age of AI

Hardeep Singh, Head of HCM Applications Strategy, Oracle India facilitated a workshop on identifying experience challenges in the age of AI. Here’s a roundup of the key challenges highlighted by HR leaders:

  1. HR today is expected to partner with business to accelerate value creation. There are a number of asks in this context:

    1. Optimization of manpower number and cost – fixed cost reduction/Manpower productivity enhancement (including outsourcing non-core and transnational function)/ HR Admin cost reduction.
    2. At the same time, making the process transparent, efficient and employee friendly. There’s a need to create a lean organization for down cycle, attract, reward and retain high-caliber and business critical talent/ IT-enabled HR processes for good governance/Build competence (Leadership and Functional).

  2. Key challenges relating to Employee experience and Engagement:

    1. People conversation is missing. Employee communication mechanism is not so strong (and this includes mechanism of communicating Organizational and Functional objectives for annual goal setting. Lack of communication causes a poor line of sight and loosely defined KRAs).
    2. Performance coaching by managers is not practiced systematically or the process has substantially deteriorated.
    3. Leadership development – a robust process/system is missing. Also, communication and development plan is not aligned to succession.

“How can I create an experience which is personalized to each person?” To enable managers, it is important to engage in the moment. A standalone engagement approach will not work, it has to be together while building a sense of data. Understand more about the employees and correlate parameters such as performance, attendance etc., to derive patterns for employees.

*Articles addressing these challenges will be featured on Let’s Talk Talent

HR leaders shared practical case studies in their organization’s context.

 A leading company had a situation where they were not sure whether hired candidates would join on the designated day of joining. So looking at onboarding and engaging right from the offer roll-out stage, collecting all the required documents beforehand, getting to know the person and thus predicting outcomes became important. They addressed the data challenges head-on to achieve this. Raising the digital skills up to mark was the biggest challenge on this onboarding effectiveness journey.   Another HR Leader spoke about how using chatbots for HR queries – which eased the jobs of HR partners, created the opportunity for new jobs.

Other pertinent HR agendas on the AI journey include addressing governance issues and integrating siloed functions i.e. bringing everyone together for one AI transformation journey. Perhaps, the most important agenda is on how HR should pace itself, to create new thinking and new capabilities which are AI-friendly such that man and machine can work together productively. There has to be a balancing of human touch and machine-intervention, and it will be a huge opportunity, fail fast, and eventually succeed in an age where man and machine are so intricately linked. 

Keynote: The future of technology is now: Oracle’s Satya Prasad

Opening the Impact 2018 Conference, Oracle’s Satya Prasad – Vice President, Application Sales for India set the context by talking about how technologies are dramatically transforming the experience.

Prasad spoke about how Adidas partnered with ‘Carbon 3D’ to deliver a unique offering to their customers: A custom sole and a 3D printed shoe – based on the data that was collected from customers in their store. A first-of-its-kind mass-market 3D printed shoe, which effectively converted the store into a factory.

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Topics: Lets Talk Talent, Events, HR Technology

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