As the hybrid world of work evolves and changes how work gets done and how the workforce is organized, it is replete with change and challenges as there are increased organizational complexities. HR tech is the key link that can bind work, workforce and help transform businesses for the better.
Employee expectations have undergone dramatic change in the post-pandemic era. Peoples’ mindsets have changed, they have started craving a lifestyle and experience not just centred on advancing one level ahead.
Kumar Mayank, CEO and Co-founder, Zimyo agrees, “In an office-going culture, you never thought of the essence of life, but today Maslow’s hierarchy has taken a new pivot with more focus on personal and mental health”. Employers need to rewire their engagement strategy to cater to the new needs of a new workforce.
Curating an employee-centred experience starts with building the right leadership attitude. “Leaders are going through a phase of disbelief, where they cannot believe that peoples’ mindsets have changed, and the subsequent ways of managing and motivating people have changed”, said Sanjiv Bajaj, Jt. Chairman and MD, Bajaj Capital. For example, most people are not willing to come back to work, and the ‘great resignation’ is real.
To attract, retain and engage talent, HR professionals must offer the right blend of technology-based convenience and engagement. For example, an ‘organization mood score’ can help track cases of stress and depression caused by work-from-home isolation. “Before getting back to work, we renovated our offices with co-working spaces, ambient music, and on-demand lighting,” shares Sanjiv. Also, talking benefits than mere cash-in-hand helps increase commitment and ownership. Building a conducive culture means listening to the employees and using tech to deliver the desired design.
The role of tech in delivering the desired employee experience
Today’s employee expectations have changed from mere ‘job’ to balancing productivity and efficiency while being empathetic. “We moved to Zimyo for HRMS because employees wanted a mobile-app first HRMS”, says Sanjiv. Another tool helps see how many people are working and track performance. Such tech tools allow people to come together for camaraderie, social interaction and motivation. “We are rewarding the top 5-10% population for displaying efficiency on time”, shares Sanjiv. Infusing empathy into these interactions through 1-0-1s, Zoom team calls like coffee meets will engage and involve people, and foster productivity.
This engagement should touch the end-to-end HR workflow, from recruitment to retirement. Mayank shares, “Online interviews are allowing candidates to get hired even within a day while offering comfort, convenience and confidence to the candidate”. Better people ecosystems, fast and pragmatic logistics, re some benefits of technology. Because the future of work is hybrid, companies must innovate in tech-first approaches, through training simulation games and alumni networks. One size does not fit all, and choosing the right technology tools for your business is important.
How to shortlist the right technology
The design thinking approach is effective in every aspect of business, said Sanjiv. Openly talking to employees both individually and in group discussions, with candid questions, like “What do you expect?”, and “What is happening in your life?” can help gather insights. It is also important to note the insights from outsiders such as vendors, industry people etc. Create a prototype and build robust practices that will enable and empower people to work with high productivity.
“This will connect and integrate people into the organizational culture and make them feel a part of the team”, says Bajaj. At Bajaj, a variety of tools based on AI-ML, process automation enabled leaders to hear the employee voice. Leaders were then trained on how to engage people using the tools, for example, through 1-0-1 two-way dialogue and continuous feedback. HR leaders must start connecting and innovating, keeping in mind what would work best for what teams.
- IoT software for work-from-office for real-time scans.
- Objective performance management using OKR
- Training as per competence and assessment levels
- Mental wellness and health benefits aligned to their levels
HR leaders must keep talking to industry folks, vendors, and their own employees to understand what is the requirement to be fulfilled. “Curating experience is the way of the future.”, quips Mayank.
Tech transformation is about mindset and culture
Technology can only be an enabler, the true success of hybrid working stems from how leaders get people to work in a different manner. For example, encouraging learning and managing remote teams are key next-gen competencies. Change is a softer aspect, hence to cultivate the right culture, leaders must start ensuring that employees are truly happy, and teams are oriented to the company vision. “Employee is the customer, so learn to make the best of everything and curate a ‘wow’ experience for the employee”, shares Sanjiv. Some tools and activities to drive cultural engagement are:
- Candid discussions basis continuous feedback
- Conversations like “How are you feeling?” rather than “What have you achieved?”
- Mental wellness, yoga etc.
- Weekly townhall for sharing good updates and weekly awards
- 2-week back-to-office working every quarter.
- Camera-on Zoom meetings to ensure the presence
- Acknowledgement and recognition based on culture and values
“People want the real thing, real human conversations, be that person”, shares Mayank. Such authenticity comes with openness. “If a question is asked, I make sure I answer the question”, shares Sanjiv.
Everyone should be able to speak up. For this, leaders must become flexible and versatile, adapting to the times. In a hybrid environment, one must learn to collaborate and manage one’s energies. Mayank reiterates the role of the new-age leader in building a conducive culture, “Just be anything and everything as per the situation demands. Working from home demands much-needed attention to give to yourself”. Truly, self-leadership is the starting point from where to lead others.