Suvarna Mishra heads Human Resources at Sodexo Benefits and Rewards Services. Over the last four years of her role, she has galvanised the teams during the rapid digital transformation of business while keeping up with Sodexo's values and culture throughout the restructuring and talent evolution at Sodexo India. In her career spanning 18 years, Suvarna has previously led and managed multiple roles in organisations like DHL Express, Aditya Birla Group, and Qualcomm and remains grateful to have been mentored by some of the most reputed senior business executives in her career so far.
In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Suvarna shares her insights on strengthening work culture and leading digital innovation in the hybrid world of work.
What are some rising trends in the HR and Business technology space today?
This year seems to push the boundaries of HR to add value to the hybrid work environment. The HR & technology landscape is dynamic and constantly changing. As a result, Upskilling takes centre stage along with talent retention as a business imperative. AI chatbots today have also become a must-have in organisations to predict employee engagement & attrition.
Before investing in any digital solution, what is a checklist that you would advise leaders to follow to get the maximum ROI?
Today, organisations are trying to navigate how they can bring technology closer to the core of their strategy for maximising efficiency and ROI. Leaders must focus on keeping people at the centre of this transformation. Deploy technology solutions aligned to the processes to make them more agile and efficient. All this would lead to creating a culture of continuous innovation.
Apart from this, leaders might find answering the following questions to evaluate and get maximum ROI:
- What problems will the solution address and solve?
- How can the issues be prioritised regarding urgency and relevance to the business?
- How flexible are the workflows in the digital software solution? Does it allow customisation to suit organisational requirements?
- Does it align with the organisational processes and policies?
- Will it enable quick adoption or add further complexities to the existing process?
As organisations embrace hybrid working models, how can leadership strengthen work culture among a distributed workforce?
A recent survey revealed that 50% of the Indian hybrid workforce considers themselves more productive when working remotely. Therefore, leadership must empower employees, no matter where they work from and drive initiatives that engage the workforce. Anticipating challenges and proactively offering solutions instead of following a reactive approach is the key to strengthening a positive work culture among a distributed workforce. Here are a few ways to enhance work culture in the current scenario amidst distributed workforce:
Platforms for effective communication: Continuous engagement is fostered by consistent communication and feedback. A global survey suggests that 97% of employees believe communication impacts their efficacy daily. Companies and leaders can start with substantial steps toward effective communication. It’ll help businesses retain talent and foster a positive work culture.
Flexible work arrangements: Employees look for better work-life balance opportunities in the age of hybrid work. With elevated workplace flexibility, it will be easier to retain talent, better efficiencies & employee productivity, thus positively impacting business.
Learning and development opportunities for employees: These bring uncountable gains to organisations, starting with increased employee engagement, motivation, talent retention, etc. With the changing dynamics of how we work, upskilling and reskilling will be crucial to business growth. Mentoring & reverse mentoring programs bring in focus on employees' growth journey and create a culture of continuous learning.
Rewards and recognition: Employee recognition serves as an essential key to showing employees that they are valued. This leads to a more engaged, motivated, productive workforce. In addition, it works as an acknowledgement of the efforts put in by employees.
How can organisations retain the human touch in a digital workplace? How can they balance productivity with wellbeing?
Digital transformation has reshaped how an organisation does business and carries out a standard work process with its employees. Along with alleviating the everyday experience of the workforce, the digital workplace has facilitated greater productivity, efficiency and flexibility. However, while enjoying the benefits of technological advancements, it’s vital to remember to maintain the human connection. Hence, Leaders must regularly connect with the workforce, communicate and engage with them, making them feel valued.
Some ways to retain the human touch and ensure productivity with wellbeing:
- Organisations should drive initiatives that improve their employees' work-life balance. This will lead to better well-being of their employees, which will drive better performance & increase productivity.
- Proactive communication helps employees perform daily tasks better, identify and eliminate roadblocks in their working conditions, gain clarity and maintain focus, and participate in change. Efforts to build community and connectivity with proactive and transparent communication boost employee wellbeing.
- When employees are aligned to a larger organisational purpose & objective, they are more engaged and productive and feel that they are creating an impact. This leads to improving the happiness index, fulfilment & thus health & wellness.
- Competitive health and wellness benefits are the need of the hour to retain talent while balancing productivity with wellbeing. While offerings like gym memberships, doctor consultations, and dietary regimens are important, organisations must also focus on the employees’ mental health and offer mental health resilience training & employee assistance program.
What is your advice to our community on building sustainable work tech models?
Building a sustainable business tech model would involve introducing machine learning and AI-powered systems that diagnose problems in advance, enabling quick intervention and problem resolution. It could also involve the combination of historical data, data analytics and key algorithms to detect anomalies and notify the relevant people quickly. This can enable businesses to reduce costs by addressing and resolving any inefficiencies in processes and help stay compliant by rapidly identifying areas at risk to support rapid rectification.