Pay attention to employees’ personal and emotional needs as well: Ruhie Pande, CHRO, Godrej Capital
Ruhie Pande is the Chief Human Resources Officer at Godrej Capital. Prior to this, she headed HR for Godrej Properties (GPL) and was with them for 2.5 years before taking on the mantle of Godrej Capital’s employee lead. She, along with the MD, was instrumental in identifying and on-boarding the CXO to the co-founder team. Today, she works on the key levers of people strategy to enable Godrej Capital to become a best-in class financial institution. Here is what she told People Matters about her successful approach to building a strong organisation. Edited excerpts:
What are the emerging HR tech trends that will dominate the future of work?
The future of work is characterised by increasing flexibility in ways of working and teams which will be highly dispersed. This poses a unique challenge wherein collaboration, flow of ideas and employee’s sense of belonging is not as strong as in the traditional way of working. Technology and AR/VR enabled tools, platforms and devices which help employees collaborate so that the flow of information, ideas and data is as effective as in a very traditional setup will dominate the future of work. For this, one upcoming technology HR should look to prototype and explore is metaverse to stay ahead of the curve and bring the workforce together effectively without the usual difficulties posed by remote ways of working.
What are some rising trends in the HR and Business technology space today?
Today, businesses are leveraging the latest technology to eliminate physical touchpoints and drastically reduce the time taken to reach customers with exactly what they want, all this while maintaining or even improving customer satisfaction. Many companies have put themselves ahead of the competition based on this. The emergence of the whole quick-commerce landscape in India during COVID is a prime example.
To support businesses in achieving this, HR needs to leverage the latest technology itself to pre-empt the skill requirements of the organisation and provide high quality and effective skill sets that businesses can leverage. This will require HR to track the skill repository of its organisation in real time, identify the skill lacuna that needs to be plugged and differentiate its offering to attract the requisite talent. Only by doing so can HR truly help the organisation differentiate itself from the competition and sail through difficult times.
As organisations embrace hybrid working models, how can leadership strengthen work culture among a distributed workforce?
Most of the best organisations have learnt their lessons well from the pandemic and are encouraging hybrid work models which suit both their organisation and their employees. Many people have even been hired virtually and never seen the physical office space. In such instances it may only seem natural that it would be a challenge to embed a strong culture. Building real connection and engagement that goes beyond a ‘Zoom call’ window is the need of the hour. Organisations will need to create opportunities for people to connect informally. Attention is needed on an employee’s personal and emotional needs as well. Since work now happens within the purview of the personal setting of the home, it is as important to evaluate how personal priorities and challenges are lined up for the employee. Overcommunication can address the issue of working remotely where leaders, team managers and employees alike can share feedback, perceptions and highlight concerns and challenges. A strong induction and handholding programme can help assimilate new employees in the organisation and its culture.
Given the increasing investments in HR tech, data and analytics today, what are some of the pain points that need to be addressed when implementing these technologies? For instance, how can leaders approach data quality and cybersecurity concerns?
To replace legacy systems with new-age highly integrated and automated platforms may seem an easy task but to actually implement is extremely difficult. System integration complexity increases when new systems are implemented alongside legacy systems. To be high-touch, organisations provide welfare in many aspects of personal lives of employees – e.g. health insurance, mental health benefits. This data if it falls into wrong hands can be extremely sensitive and the problem is a painful one to solve. Governance is also essential across all work environments and platforms (WFO, WFH, WFA, WFXR).
Treating employees as customers, ensuring that policy changes are based on employee feedback rather than top-down approach, providing a conducive environment for open and honest communication, un-polarised decisions and un-biased periodic short-term incremental feedback to employees is going to be the way forward. HR transformation will need to keep pace with this changing mindset to create futuristic HR policies and processes.
How can organisations retain the human touch in a digital workplace? How can they balance productivity with wellbeing?
In an increasingly remote, digital and hybrid world, it is the human touch which will be the enduring factor in creating a difference. One way to do this is by creating unique, engaging, and memorable experiences for employees. Right from the first touch point as candidates to the time they are with you as employees, creating experiences which are real, personal, and customised can help the organisation stand out from the rest. A great way to do this is to automate a lot of routine steps in the recruitment process and instead use recruiters to build meaningful conversation with candidates.
Organisations must also use social media platforms to showcase their culture and employees, talk about personal experiences and celebrate the individuality of people. Finally, organisations can enable their people to be productive by employing the use of productivity tools, setting standards for work-life balance, finding purpose at work and continuing to build a supportive team culture. A lot of businesses have also advanced various automation projects and this has helped with business continuity and eliminating unproductive work.
What are some words of advice to our leaders on building digitally ready and digitally empowered employees and businesses?
HR will play a critical role in building a digital organisation that is equipped with the right set of digitally skilled people. First and foremost, HR must have a seat at the table when it comes to strategic decisions surrounding the technological direction that the organisation is taking. This not only creates buy-in but also will enable the HR function to predict the skill sets required and the people positioning it needs to adopt. Hiring for Digital Attitude will be an important element that HR leaders can advocate – this is the mindset and ability to be comfortable and progressive with digital and it is important to steer this task away from inherent biases like gender, age, race etc. Incorporating the adoption of technology into the everyday by using tools such as recognition, performance management, rewards and career enhancement will enable HR to build a successful digitally ready organisation.
Given the rise of big data in HR strategies, how can we strengthen work culture and employee engagement with a more human touch?
Digitalisation, Artificial Intelligence, and big data have certainly changed the way we do things and in HR too. A lot of routine tasks are now automated or digitalised leading to reduced human intervention. Having said that, it is the skills that only a human can bring like soft skills, empathy and conscious thought that are non-replaceable by technology. Big Data and analytics give us more insights than were ever possible into how people and things work in the world. All of these can be modulated to give insights to strengthen elements like work culture and engagement. On the spot feedback has been a ready reality for some time, but it can now be combined with speed of response or accuracy to provide insights into intent and true experiences. Diversity is a way of the world today and big data can provide minute insights to enable us to create highly customised offerings to people based on their personal preferences and goals. The concept of Whole-Self is not just for the individual to work on but for the organisation to contribute towards too.