Mridula Venugopal is the Chief People Officer at MiQ. Over the last 17 years, she has worked across talent management, development and acqusition. In an exclusive conversation with People Matters, she talks about how businesses are transforming, and consequently, how HR has to reinvent itself to tackle emerging trends and technologies.
As businesses undergo transformation, there is a need for a stronger alignment between HR and the business. How can the alignment with the business improve? What do you do in your company’s context to ensure alignment?
Talent/ HR sits at the epicenter of all departments and functions. We are responsible for attracting, hiring, onboarding and developing everyone, that is why it’s critical that HR play a role in driving how the overall business aligns itself, which actually answers the question of how can HR better align with the business – by enabling a business to be more than the sum of its parts.
To make real business impact it is critical for HR teams to understand the fabric and history of a business, there is no one size fits all model of how to recruit, onboard and develop people. If a business has been successful to date then it is HR’s role to scale and mature those practices that made it successful, doing it in a way that aligns to the businesses history, future and ultimately DNA.
That’s why the HR team at MiQ rolled out OKRs (Objectives and key results) across the business. To ensure everyone has clear, focused and measurable goals. OKRs also enable departments to understand where they need to work together and be dependent on one another to drive overarching business goals in addition to their own department focuses – thereby enabling a business to be more than the sum of its parts.
What is the new role of HR in a changing work context? What are emerging functions, skills in the HR function? And what are functions that are being automated?
Ultimately, the goal is to be more strategic, what that means is making decisions that drive material impact to the results of the business. That involves not following a textbook approach but tailoring practices across the employee lifecycle to align with what the business has been and will go onto be. HR’s decisions in how and what they invest in when it comes to the people they recruit, onboard and develop ultimately determines the ability to attain business goals.
The next part of HR’s role is to play a key role in how a business mobilizes skill sets in a way that enables peak performance – that spans across organizational design, leadership and rewarding people to feel a deeper connection to a business. The role of HR in a changing world is to adapt their approach to changing demographics in the way work is done and where it is done from.
Global trends point towards three key areas to start automation to minimize human error, remove redundancy and improve efficiencies: Onboarding, performance management, Offboarding
Employee experience has become the central focal point for business and talent leaders navigating the future of work. How is experience delivery changing?
Employee experience will always remain a top priority - in a market where there is no dearth of jobs for highly skilled talent, it is critical that we deliver world class experiences that begin even before we hire an employee and continues through the lifecycle of an employee even beyond their exit.
Every company is paying competitive remuneration and providing total rewards, you have to differentiate for employee experience by showing someone that they belong/ create a sense of belonging. At MiQ’s, we strive to empower and over-deliver for our people, who over-deliver for our customers. The goal is to be a place where you ‘Learn the most, earn the most, make the best connections and have the most fun.’
Globally the trend on employee experience has moved from fun fridays and well stocked pantries to:
○ Holistic wellbeing- Spanning across emotional, physical, career, environmental aspects
○ Personalization- Unique experiences to wow the employee
○ New ways of working- 4-day week, flexible working, non-tracked holidays
Gig workers are set to rise in the future. How should companies get ready for a future where gig workers continue to become a recurring feature of the employment model?
Gig economy is our new reality. Companies like UrbanClap, Uber to Udemy share goods and services. It’s now a multi-faceted industry that touches on nearly every aspect of our daily life. This has now extended to sharing expertise, which is what the alternative workforce is about.
Short team contractors, part-time employees, consultants, freelancers are already an integral part of the current workforce. Companies are slowly but surely embracing this large untapped economy of the Gig workers. This is growing to be one of the most inclusive workforces, with baby boomers having as much of an opportunity as the Millennials.
The incentive for organizations to engage with the gig workforce was primarily because they were less expensive or they did not come with overhead cost like insurance, workspace, retirals etc., The reality is that this untapped talent is critical to filling the skill gap in an economy driven by talent.
Companies are progressing to engaging this workforce as a strategic part of their business strategy. Embracing gig workers clearly stand to benefit organizations:
- On-demand (companies have seasonal/fluctuating needs for skills- meet productivity demands)
- Speed to competence (drastically reduces the time to hire-onboard-deliver on projects)
- Cost effective
As an HR leader, what are the key aspects of your role is likely to change, in the context of, the future of work?
A talent leader’s role will continue to evolve into taking a lead in setting the overall direction of HOW people deliver upon the business need. While the ‘WHAT’ aspect of people focus will be set by their department leads, the methods those department leads use to set that direction, how it is disseminated to everyone and then how people are given the reason to pursue those goals through purpose, reward, development.
A talent leader’s role will start to have a much bigger influence on the biggest financial decisions of a business, specifically the investment in headcount, commissions, and overall rewards. As more businesses move into the online world, more of their fixed cost base will evolve around people. The decisions around what headcount and skills to invest in and when becomes one that a talent leader has the opportunity to drive, arguably even more so than the CFO, because of their close proximity to the business and its people.
Spending more time ensuring the business has the optimum equation in place to enable the highest possible output over a sustained period of time. That means deciding on the areas to invest in when it comes to attracting, engaging and retaining its people, while combining that with clarity of direction, expectation and accountability of goals and day to challenge for its people.
What are the three strategic ‘people and work’ focus areas for the future?
1. Enabling the use of AI etc. to drive efficiency and data collection, thus enabling people to utilize their skills to drive the value derived from those efficiencies and additional access to data, i.e. creating insights and focusing on the actions that will drive the biggest impact
2. Enabling businesses to focus on the outputs of their people rather than face time in the office. The key here also comes in still enabling a great office environment that harnesses and exhibits collaboration, fun, creativity and teamwork.
3. Making meaningful impact in the world of inclusion and diversity, the work place can often be a microcosm of society so to make real change in this world businesses need to bring about change in the demographics of their own workforce while also making a change in the wider world to ensure the pursuit of this goal is authentic and sustainable.