Growing a creative, productive workforce: the digital challenges facing HR leaders
The pandemic has changed the face of human interaction forever, including in the professional world. Over the last 24 months, technology has emerged as key to ensuring business continuity, as basic access to corporate capabilities from home and via remote devices became non-negotiables. These systems continue to remain crucial as organisations navigate physical distancing restrictions and return-to-office procedures. They will also remain a central part of organisations’ strategies for building future-oriented digital workplaces that are sustainable, scalable and resilient to future crises.
In parallel with this, India's work culture has been undergoing a seismic transformation. This new era of working puts forth new challenges for HR leaders and team leads as they manage distributed and hybrid-workforces, especially since 70 percent of Indian enterprises consider a hybrid work model as the preferred option according to a NASSCOM report. This means HR teams need to expand beyond their set scope of responsibilities and add three more key areas: ensuring secure employee access throughout every touchpoint, ramping-up employee experience and focusing on wellbeing metrics.
Secure access at every touchpoint
Employees have quickly adapted to remote work. For many organisations, this now provides opportunities to access talent in new markets, which is particularly beneficial for knowledge-worker focused sectors that have struggled with persistent talent shortages.
Engaging workers today requires suitable IT infrastructure. This includes the virtual workspaces, secure connectivity, remote learning, videoconferencing and collaboration solutions which drove most companies’ IT investments in the past year, according to a research report by IDC. The new challenge of keeping productivity stable in a remote environment or when incorporating multiple flexible working styles will also require new investments.
Innovative technologies can be used to support new workplace demands , particularly as organisations look to create borderless and reconfigurable teams or integrate online-enabled freelance and contractor staff in their day-to-day operations. Workspace, desktop-as-a-service (DaaS) and virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) models will also continue to help enable more remote employees, providing more secure and manageable remote-working environments.
Furthermore, since technology today can enable on-demand services at scale, the gig economy is expected to thrive in the coming years, creating about 90 million jobs in India, according to a BCG-Dell report. This will result in the fundamental transformation of HR policies, processes and tools. Organisations will therefore require systems that deliver a single, portable and secure online digital identity for each team member, enabling extended access to business systems, content, data and applications across business entities as they work to attract and adequately support staff.
This goes beyond DaaS and VDI to provide appropriate levels of access to core applications and data for employees to perform their roles well - such as CRM, ERP, and analytics - and they will be largely hosted in hybrid multi cloud environments to deliver uptime and access, no matter where an employee is located.
Organisations can also use many of these same systems to enhance their customer experience, including digital platforms for events or one-to-one meetings or tools that field teams can use when visiting a customer and demonstrating a new service or capability. The same platforms that enable hybrid work also provide new opportunities to change all aspects of employee, supply chain and customer engagements.
Ramping up employee experience
By 2023, 80 percent of digitally transformed enterprises worldwide will rely on key IT-related infrastructure metrics tied to optimisation, resilience and ongoing enhancement to drive C-level decision making, as per IDC research. Digitising employee experience is one such area that 60 percent of enterprises heavily invested in this year to help transform the relationship between employers and employees. This includes finding ways to foster greater productivity and creativity from staff.
At a technical level, organisations should look to hire workers with specific skill sets or industry-specific expertise from multiple pools (such as remote, gig, and new-generation staff or career pivoters and those who have reskilled) to support business-critical initiatives. Protecting their productivity by ensuring they have access to the right tools and systems will ensure they complete projects faster and with better-quality business outcomes.
Key wellbeing metrics
On a more human level, organisations must also look to wellbeing metrics as key ways to foster more productivity, creativity and solidarity among teams. HR leaders must help create a workplace culture that is focused on health, empathy, trust and empowerment and which is open to diverse staff across all geographies and demographics. This is particularly crucial for attracting millennials and Gen Z employees.
Hire by considering all facets of a person: their technical skills and career history, as well as their life experience and culture. Be mindful of unconscious biases that may creep in throughout the hiring process and find methods to overcome them. Look for people who are a “culture add” rather than a “culture fit” and actively challenge your own biases and misconceptions. The future workplace requires profound cultural changes and engagement efforts beyond a HR leader or their digital counterparts. HR should work alongside IT, bringing teams and systems together to create lasting, positive digital employee experiences that aid innovation. Success in hiring next-generation talent and maintaining the productivity of high-value resources hinges on it.