Creating an optimal workplace experience that meets the needs of the workforce and organisations needs to be proactively designed. This means aligning a company’s processes and systems to adapt to shifting priorities and employee values – whether new flexibility norms, productivity or performance – it is crucial for companies to identify key focus areas.
In an exclusive roundtable discussion with Keka on 19th May at the Ritz Carlton, Bangalore leading executives shared their thoughts on strategising in the context of the changing dynamics that require organisations to adopt new strategies.
Organisations need to develop a talent strategy that resonates with the evolving mindset of employees. A noteworthy trend among the younger generation, such as Gen Z, is their emphasis on purpose over paychecks. Citing a McKinsey study, Dr Varadharaju, Vice President, Human Resources Flipkart, highlighted a significant global increase of approximately 50% in productivity resulting from remote work arrangements.
However, it's important to acknowledge the existence of a "trust deficit" stemming from the generational gap between younger employees and those aged 45 and above. Addressing this challenge necessitates a shift in mindset for HR professionals, moving away from confirmation bias and embracing a fresh perspective that values flexibility, purpose, well-being, technological enablement, and the business impact of HR practices.
Leaders in the Roundtable highlighted that the trust deficit stems from people having fear of job security, alignment in thinking and passion, health etc. Hence there is a need to look at people's benefits holistically. Here are some steps from work, workforce and workplace perspective
According to a University of Chicago study, providing flexibility and work-from-home options has led to a remarkable 20% increase in productivity. Surprisingly, employees also report a 54-minute increase in focus during their work hours. Despite this compelling data, there is a tendency to rely on the "seeing is believing" mindset. However, it's important to acknowledge that certain industries, such as healthcare and hospitals, may need to approach flexibility differently.
Gracy, the Head of HR at Kinara Capital, observed that people had more inquiries about the changes in the work-from-home policy than the recently concluded salary increments. This demonstrates the significance employees place on flexibility. The concept of flexibility is contextual and varies across organisations. In some companies, implementing half-Fridays increased productivity. These small shifts, the leaders noted, are essential for fostering a people-centric workplace culture.
While HR leaders work on the sentimental framework, change needs to be gradual, said Kshitiz Sachan, People Coach at Keka, “Employees need to understand the value of changes being made. A gradual increase within a sentimental framework, allowing employees to understand the value of the implemented modifications, will be more effective,” he noted.
Offer innovative well-being programs
While Covid redefined well-being and focused on how a company takes care of the employee, new firms took the lead in new offering innovations through an action-first approach and later reverting to data and relevance.
In the aviation sector, for example, there is a business need for physical wellness, and it is not merely a check-in-the-box initiative. The thrust on wellness is also being pushed by employees themselves too. In other companies, it is the employees who are pushing the HR to run monthly wellness concepts to create a favourable environment.
To truly make a lasting difference, flexibility and well-being must be tech-enabled and science-backed. Technology and data will help drive real action. It will be crucial to see how science is used to design calibrated sessions, impart education, and offer employees preventive care solutions. “The illness ratios dropped in 1 year from 18% to 6%, and insurance claims came down”. Tech-based collaboration is a critical success factor.
Map the evolution of technology
Several leaders also pointed to how they leverage software to understand better their employees' needs. Real progress is about how much HR connects with the employees and understands the employee pulse. The ‘happiness index report’ can help plan engagement actions.
Citing an example from Keka, Kshitiz noted that the technology tool is evolving from a people-experience platform to a collaboration tool. Keka built a ‘people expressions-wall’ to cultivate a sense of community and give people the power of choice. The usage of the performance and analytics pulse saw unprecedented adoption. Tech plus touch will bring a quick shift as AI and HR co-exist. Hence, sustained success requires leaders to take onus, i.e., to align objectives and create visions-missions from top-to-bottom.
Thinking with a business outlook
Now that the employee is the centre of attention and HR is building experiences around what employee wants, companies are thinking of ways to enable a business mindset. One leader noted that the company had adopted revenue as a company-wide OKR measure – so it bring a business perspective to all roles – including HR.
Interacting with clients and engaging employees to think of themselves as entrepreneurs and not merely as employees will foster a much-needed shift in business paradigms.
HR leaders emphasised the need to equip managers through training, counselling, and guided charters. HR professionals must be tech-savvy and understand data and analytics to be able to take bias-free long-term decisions. Ultimately, HR leaders can change employees' mindsets, but only when they think differently.