“For the last six months, companies have been thinking about what businesses look like in the face of a prolonged crisis,” said Michelle Boockoff – Bajdek, Chief Marketing Officer, Skillsoft starting her keynote at the TechHR India 2020. Connecting over a virtual conference platform, she noted that the tools that enabled the conference have been the same modes of communication that have led to business continuity.
While no one knows what the future holds, the current crisis has catapulted HR’s role to the center of driving business operations – by creating an agile, resilient workforce, at the center of change. Today, most companies are evaluating how to handle a workforce that is remote indefinitely.
Wheels of change
The radical shifts in the aftermath of the pandemic have transformed how companies think about the work and the workplace.
Michelle reminded the audience that the wheels of change are only set to accelerate. And what companies have discovered during this time is that customers and employees need to have information when they need it the most.
A legacy IT Company that is still around has moved from the tabulation era to personal computing, from cloud and AI to quantum computing. This pace of change is only set to accelerate in the future.
Sharing the example of how one major banking firm solved the volume of employee queries by introducing a bot, she highlighted that new jobs and new skills are already changing the workplace. For example: Bot creators are a new job category that may not have existed even a few years ago.
According to WEF, “65% of children entering primary school today will ultimately end up working in completely new job types that don't yet exist,” Michelle told the audience.
Preparing for change
The key question is front of companies today is this: How do you prepare for change when you don’t know that change will entail?
Although data and analytics are aimed building predictability, there’s a need to go beyond known risk. “Contingency and continuity planning is now new, but there’s a need to go beyond that,” Michelle said.
“The best organizations are focused on becoming resilient, agile and adaptable.” And how are companies doing it? Companies are turning to developing their own talent to deal with the crisis. “The future really depends on your organization developing a set of power skills of your workforce,” Michelle notes.
As companies navigated a perfect storm of change, some companies did not furlough their employees. Instead, they worked towards reskilling existing employees to accommodate them on existing projects.
The COVID 19 pandemic has flipped the Maslow’s hierarchy, Michelle noted. It is basics of food, shelter, employee health and safety, child care that have become business critical at this crisis. And HR has played a key role in enabling businesses in navigating this phase.
Going forward, as HR continues to play a strategic role. They will have two fold responsibilies: 1) Organizational and 2) Individual
- There’s a need to build an agile business operating model,
- There’s a need to nurture organization’s relations with employees
- Share people data in real time
- Enable a leadership that inspires trust
- Support creativity, purpose.
At an individual level, there’s a need to equip employees with the skills they need to navigate change. What this pandemic has shown is that no amount of preparation will be enough. And what companies can do, is to get ready and help their employees get ready. Those that won’t prepare themselves well enough will be left behind.