Leaders need to instill trust that return to work will be absolutely safe: Krishna Muniramaiah, Altimetrik
Krishna Muniramaiah is Head of HR, Altimetrik for the APAC region. He has over 21 years of experience in the IT/ITES industry and joins Altimetrik from NTT Ltd, where he was the Global Head of HR for NTT’s Delivery Centers based out of India, Europe, South Africa, and Malaysia. Prior to NTT, he was with IBM for over 15 years where he held various Global Leadership roles. He led several transformation projects at IBM which helped the organization move towards automation and digitization of HR processes.
At NTT, he was responsible for providing leadership and guidance to all the areas of HR such as Talent Acquisitions, HR Business Partnering, Learning & Development, C&B, HR Operations, and Separations across Delivery Centers. He was instrumental in designing and implementing strategies across Talent Acquisition which helped business grow at a faster pace, and implemented strategic initiatives around employee engagement and learning programs, helping talent retention, and upskilling of employees.
He is passionate about driving automation, transformation, innovation, and agility across HR processes leveraging the latest technology. In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Krishna shares his views on the outlook for the second year of the pandemic.
What are the key trends that you think will accelerate in the long term in terms of work? What gaps have COVID-19 brought to the fore?
The pandemic brought into vogue work from home and the trend of hybrid work will continue in the future- so a certain percentage will continue to work from home and there will always be a certain percentage that will be in office.
The second trend would be around embracing and accepting digitalization. The pandemic pushed every industry and company to relook at their digital strategy and develop specific digital capabilities.
The third trend that will define the future of work and industry will be AI and Chatbots. Every company through the pandemic relied on technology and Chatbots to keep in touch with remote employees and it will continue in the future as the workforce is spread out today. Even our workforce is working from 250+ cities.
The last trend will be around the combination of humans and technology which will certainly define the future of work. It has to be in tandem.
All leaders need to see through how to make the best use of human and technology together.
The pandemic will be an impetus for innovation in times to come, as many experts say. What have been the biggest lessons this pandemic has highlighted in terms of the culture of innovation?
The pandemic forced everybody to look at the current situation and how to make the best of it while pushing innovation to the back seat. At Altrimek, however, it is in our DNA, so it did not take a back seat and we innovated for our company as well as our customers. On the innovation aspect, we have this aspect called ThinkThursdays-a platform to discuss new ideas, innovations, and best practices. We don’t differentiate here between a manager and a team member. Everyone is welcome to present on the platform and people who are interested in the idea can choose to be a part of it. We continued this initiative through the pandemic as well. So we are innovating continuously and also building a seamless innovation platform for our employees to develop ideas into a greater solution or product.
What are some of the top questions that leaders need to ask to prepare their workforce for the future of work as we strive to come out stronger from this pandemic?
It is of paramount importance for leaders to think about this question. The foremost thing will be ensuring employee safety and it is important for leaders to instill that trust that return to work in the office will be absolutely safe.
Trust is not easily earned unless you have transparency built in-so that people should know exactly what is going on.
Hence consistent communication is important to earn that trust. Bringing employees from their home towns will be a challenge and that’s where we need to build that trust.
The net question is how do you bring them back-who takes the precedence, who do we bring first, and when-so that level of detailing needs to be done. Hence it becomes important that you have a BCP team in place. We still have our weekly connects with the BCP team to look at it from all angles and then take the next step. And every step needs to be communicated to employees.
Lastly, the pandemic brought forth the importance of empathy. People were working for longer hours, with blurred lines between work and life. We need to assess how well our work-life balance is defined. Are managers prepared well enough to manage in this new norm? We are slowly training our managers to be cognizant of these new realities.
How do you see the larger HR landscape evolve in 2021 and how should talent leaders reimagine workforce management in 2021?
More than ever, HR was at the forefront as they managed this entire situation along with business leaders in ensuring employee safety and that the transition happens seamlessly. What is important for HR is to realize that this pandemic has fast-forwarded the need for the skills that were needed in the future. The landscape is emerging drastically-it’s important that every HR leader thinks about what skills do employees have today and where does their organization stand. And how do they enable them to bridge this gap?
The second focus needs to be on employee wellbeing. As we think of returning to work, HR leaders need to start putting a plan to see how employee well-being is taken care of-be it physical or mental well-being. HR needs to create the right kind of supportive environment.
The third focus would be on engagement, which was different in the pre-COVID era. In a remote era, it is different. Technology will come to the forefront here in understanding the environment and mood of employees in the hybrid work environment as well as relooking at rewards and performance management.
One key learning for you from this crisis and why is it important?
For me personally, one of the key learnings is no matter how much technology you bring in, what helped our employees stay engaged and motivated during this time was the human interaction.
Our HR team is expected to pick up the phone and talk to at least one employee every day. What emerged was that employees appreciated the fact that there was someone to talk to them, to listen to them, during these difficult times. Hence human touch is really important and that will continue.