Article: HR must invest in tech to support an agile & connected workforce: Jyothi Menon

Strategic HR

HR must invest in tech to support an agile & connected workforce: Jyothi Menon

“Technology has redefined HR and the way people work. The focus has shifted from a ‘high-touch’ structure to investments in technology for recruitment, planning, learning and development, payroll, benefits, and analytics,” said Jyothi Menon, Head India Human Resources and Head HR Service Delivery at UBS BSC.
HR must invest in tech to support an agile & connected workforce: Jyothi Menon

READ the August 2021 issue of our magazine: The Rise of Work Tech

For the BFSI industry, the working from home revolution can now be observed morphing into a hybrid model as ways of working. For companies in the sector the focus is now on enabling employees to work more digitally and collaboratively in a hybrid model, while on the other hand, customers also embrace more digital interactions with banks. 

As leaders rewrite their talent strategies for a hybrid workplace, they have an opportunity to take a look at changes in workforce composition, hiring, retention and development policies from both a physical/geographical perspective, and to assess if they are inclusive to set themselves up for long-term success.

To discuss these opportunities and challenges HR leaders of financial institutions are facing in the new hybrid world of work, we interviewed Jyothi Menon, Head India Human Resources and Head HR Service Delivery at UBS BSC. 

Jyothi joined UBS in 2017. Apart from leading the HR Service Delivery and Human Resources function in India, Jyothi is deeply involved in the DE&I initiatives and leads the diversity, equity and inclusion workstream at UBS India. She has been in the realm of HR for over 24 years with experience in managing the Human Resources function from startups to multinational environments. She has held various leadership roles with Credit Suisse, Standard Chartered Bank, Aditya Birla Group, Lason and Computer Associates.

Speaking on the emerging role of HR Jyothi highlighted the biggest actions HR can take is to use innovative technologies to attract the right talent to support an agile and connected workforce as well as developing remote leadership skills and a supportive company culture. 

Here are excerpts from the interview:

What unique talent challenges does the hybrid work create for the BFSI industry? How can HR leaders help the business deal with those challenges?

We believe that the future of work will require an agile and connected workforce to respond to ever-changing circumstances as well as evolving client behaviour and requirements.

Organisations need to ensure that a hybrid working model enables their employees to embrace the company culture, develop their skills, and support the employees’ health and well-being. 

Building on our experience and capabilities, we at UBS embrace cultural and digital transformation to enable our employees to succeed in new environments and to remain a widely recognized employer of choice.

Our in-house UBS University plays a central role in building skills and capabilities for the future. We put special focus on future skills development and new ways of working, providing dedicated and experiential online learning offerings to develop agile and digital skills, but also to help our employees thrive in a virtual environment. 

We also expanded our holistic health and well-being initiative to encompass mental, physical, financial and social well-being, and we entered into a partnership to offer an app-based solution for guided mindfulness techniques, sleep, nutrition and physical activity to all employees globally. Health and well-being, including resilience and positivity, were and will continue to be important focus areas to help our employees manage their work-life balance in a hybrid working environment. 

How do you see the role of HR emerge, in context of the new world of work? How can HR prepare for this changing role?

The hybrid workplace marks another leap forward in the progression of the working environment. It offers employees a better work/life balance and can help companies to attract a more diverse pool of applicants. 

The biggest actions HR can take is to use innovative technologies to attract the right talent to support an agile and connected workforce as well as developing remote leadership skills and a supportive company culture. 

As more and more organizations move towards this hybrid work model permanently, tech is now slowly becoming critical to survive. What's your take?

Technology has redefined HR and the way people work. The focus has shifted from a ‘high-touch’ structure to investments in technology for recruitment, planning, learning and development, payroll, benefits, and analytics. 

With significant strides being made in digitalisation, for example chatbots that support our HR experts in communication on less complex issues, we were able to boost efficiency.

In a workplace that no longer functions on human interaction, the only way HR personnel can ensure employees have a smooth experience is through the adoption of tech tools. How can organizations ensure a digital yet human experience?

Whilst we drive digital transformation, we are cognizant of the fact that in-person interactions will remain important.

They help build long-term relationships and trust. They support employee connectivity, positive team dynamics and agile working. 

Initiatives are therefore examined in the context of employee experience. For e.g., chat bots are used in HR for simple queries and at the same time we have HR advisors who connect with employees and Line Managers. 

The pandemic has trigerred companies to invest in meaningful innovation in the workplace well-being space including employee engagement tools, benefits platforms, and mental health offerings. Have you made any recent investments in such tools or are you planning to?

The pandemic proved that we’re highly adaptable and productive – and that our employees deliver excellent results wherever they are working. Internal surveys revealed that many employees were just as, if not more productive while working from home.

To support our employees in their remote working environment we expanded our holistic health and well-being initiative in 2020 to encompass mental, physical, financial and social well-being. We invested in employee assistance programs and platforms like Headspace that are available for our employees without any cost and ensured our employees have on the go access to medical consultations. Therefore we have rolled out memberships to Practo 24/7 online consultation app along with an existing medical support helpline available through the week.  

We are seeing the advantages of these investments as over 80% of our employees feel that UBS supports their health and well-being. Employee benefits like reimbursement of Covid infected Home quarantine treatment, Salary advances have along with the existing benefits been rolled out to  our employees

How has your HR tech adoption journey been so far amid the pandemic? What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?

At UBS, we were already well prepared to implement the tools at a much faster pace, when the situation changed overnight. This was possible due to our prior investments in technology as well as years of developing remote leadership skills and a supportive company culture. 

When the pandemic struck, we were on the last mile to implement our mobile working strategy A3 – anytime, anywhere, any device. We accelerated the rollout and were thus ready. 

We had ca. 60’000 people working remotely at the same time. We assured the operational continuity of our bank and staff to serve our clients as normal and in the role as a systemically relevant bank.

In a collaboration between HR and IT, UBS created a virtual onboarding process for new joiners (for internal background: in 2020, more than 3,000 external and internal employees were onboarded virtually) – this means that those new joiners were able to be on-boarded by working from home. We will continue to offer a remote/virtual part of onboarding, e.g. in the first phase of the recruitment process.

In the first half of 2020, we anticipated the lock down in India in which we have parts of our Business Solutions Center. Mass mobilisation in response to the India lockdown enabled us to move 86% of all staff to WFH within 3 days. Overall in India, we were at 97% staff working from home at the peak.

Lastly, how can Tech and HR leaders work together to ensure a smooth transition to a hybrid work model?

HR and technology should work together on strategies and tools that will support the blended workforce to encourage a more innovative thinking and agile working environment. We believe a hybrid approach will allow employees to have a better work/life balance and make companies an attractive employer. We also believe it will increase employee productivity and, as a result, the quality of service to clients. 

 

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Topics: Strategic HR, HR Technology, #HRTech, #HybridWorkplace, #RiseofWorkTech

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