The Human Resources department is no stranger to challenges. Yet, the inexorable onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic has thrust it into unchartered territory, where it finds itself cornered and compelled to reimagine, redefine and reinvent itself in order to nurture the enterprise of the future. Bracing for disruption at an unprecedented scale, Chief Human Resources Officers (CHROs) are witnessing the remodelling of the business landscape, accompanied by one of the greatest workplace transformations of all time.
Amidst the flurry of new challenges that have emerged, the virtualization of work and securing the physical and mental well-being of the workforce have become imperative. As is evident, technology is the fulcrum upon which this new way of operating rests. While organizations have worked towards keeping their employees connected and productive, now is the time to further leverage technology in HR to redefine how work gets done.
Automation of routine workflows
The job shortage and scattered workforce during this ‘new normal’ builds a strong case for automation. Automating mundane tasks takes the drudgery out of work and enables employees to improve productivity. Relieving employees from routine work allows them to enhance their skill sets by strategizing, innovating and creating and delivering value in new ways. Thus, automation can be the catalyst to retain workers and help them deliver more value. Additionally, it has the potential to induce cost savings and increase the speed of delivery. A report by the International Labour Organisation revealed that in India, 51.8% of activities can be automated, resulting in reduced costs and increased savings in the long run.
AI for improved workforce management
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is gradually becoming a game-changer in the digitalization of the HR process, and can play a defining role in almost every aspect of the function. In the recruitment process, AI can help analyse and evaluate job applications in the first round, thus helping to shortlist applications for the next round. In talent acquisition, AI can supplement HR-specific decision making to ensure cost savings related to poor hiring. Moreover, conversational AI can resolve new employees’ queries by providing the requested information or the contact details of the concerned people they should connect with.
AI can also help analyse and predict the needs of employees, and help plan, organize and coordinate training programs. Additionally, using technology, HR managers can quickly design feedback surveys, reward systems, and employee recognition and engagement programs.
Data-driven insights to lead organizational growth
People analytics is a crucial enabler in the HR discipline, helping companies make smarter decisions for strategic initiatives – all backed by facts and data. Analytics helps in allocating resources, planning initiatives and measuring impact, thereby improving overall efficiency. It facilitates the monitoring of employee well-being and the impact of remote work, besides measuring key metrics such as productivity, collaboration and employee burnout. It also helps identify anomalies and inefficiencies in the system, and enables HR managers to gain a deeper understanding of employee skills, and match those with available positions.
As per a recent LinkedIn report, 92% talent professionals in India feel people analytics will be integral in transforming the future of HR and recruiting In India. Analytics helps identify the right skills needed for various positions, and optimize HR processes through meaningful near real-time insights. Once HR managers are armed with insights, they can track key metrics such as time to hire, cost per hire, early turnover, revenue per employee, etc. With improved insights, HR managers can identify employees that are critical to the business, and assess their risk situations and design appropriate contingency plans.
Using virtual channels to facilitate employee engagement and well-being
The ongoing crisis has accelerated the proliferation and adoption of new digital channels, platforms and tools for improving connectivity, productivity and employee health. These initiatives were designed with a view of helping employees respond to the new work environment, and to recover from possible stress. Through two-way, transparent interaction and feedback, HR managers can pick up early signs of employee anxiety and stress.
With the long hours invested by employees while working remotely, several organizations have introduced yoga, activities to foster mental wellness including providing subscription to meditation apps and stress management, medical consultations with doctors and helpline numbers. Further, virtual employee led resource groups have also given employees the opportunity to connect with each other based on shared interests, introduce their families, showcase their talent and share creative ideas with the rest of the organisation. This way, HR managers have managed to establish an emotional connect with employees through platforms for learning and collaboration.
During the current crisis, it has become evident that organisations need to continue investing in technology to enhance collaboration, engagement, productivity, as well as employee health and morale in order to reimagine how work gets done. Succeeding in this uncertain period requires building trust and resilience among employees and providing the necessary tools for them to perform and grow. Organizations that are conscious of this will navigate the crisis and emerge stronger, and HR managers will play an integral role in making organizations future-ready.