The pandemic has had a far-reaching impact on the way we work. In response, companies have been nudged to focus on business acceleration, boosting digital transformation to complement the new work models, and enabling employees to be efficient from anywhere. While companies may have embarked on this new digitization journey in reaction to the crisis, today it is no longer restricted to it. Organisations now look at strengthening their digital capabilities to drive business excellence and enhance employee experience.
As leaders move ahead in this digitisation journey, the important questions they reflect on are: What are the critical elements of digital transformation? And how HR can partner with the technology function to select the right digital transformation technology?
To sustain growth and ensure success for 2021 and beyond, digital transformation is the clear mandate for organizations. In the closing panel discussion on Day 2 of People Matters TechHR India 2021, leaders discussed how HR & Technology functions can partner together to nurture talent & accelerate digital transformation for continuous organisational growth.
From experimentation to excellence: Digital transformation for the post-pandemic era of work
Initially, in response to the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent lockdown, the key priorities for leaders were how do they ensure we stay connected even while working remotely. The focus was more on enabling communication. The next big thing for many companies was also taking care of organizational IT security, as the work model becomes more vulnerable. “But now as employees get used to the new ways of working, the businesses are now focusing on revisiting their entire employee experience scenario and making it more digital,” shared Jacob Jacob, Group CHRO at Malabar Group.
From writing an experience letter for an employee to checking COVID-19 vaccine updates, everything is available at the click of a button. Digitization is now impacting each and every critical moment of truth for employees across the employee lifecycle.
Pavitra Singh, CHRO at PepsiCo India said, “Last year when we were put into working from home suddenly, no one had a playbook and hence, began the journey of experimentation. But it also forced the organizations to take a step back and really question the status quo and reflect: Is this the right business model? Is there a better way of doing things? How can we leverage technology to streamline processes and reduce costs, without compromising experience?”
She further added how technology has helped us reach the masses and enhances the HR team’s ability to know their people across levels and geographies better and design more relevant policies and interventions for them. Now it’s critical for HR leaders to sustain these positive implications of the crisis we have all faced together. Hence, now for 2021 and beyond the investment needs to be made in digital experience strategy.
Returning to work: Planning for a hybrid workplace
Dilip Pattanayak, President & CHRO Steel & Corporate at JSW threw more light on the dilemmas of the manufacturing sector. The challenges for companies in these sectors were primarily around bringing the workforce back to factories and workplaces yet ensuring their health and well-being. In fact, it was not only the health of the employees they needed to take care of but also the employees’ respective families. Next, the HR teams have to mitigate the fear factor still bothering the people. So the focus is on creating a safe place to work. From a business perspective, the challenge is how to grow while also managing a crisis. “But this is where technology continues to play a key role,” added Dilip.
Technology is being leveraged to create safer work environments, streamline communication, and also managing massive hirings and onboarding even amid restrictions. Dilip added, “We have been focusing on reviewing and redesigning our digital platform to make it more fit for our changing business needs and to drive an excellent employee experience.”
Digital Employee Experience: It’s just the beginning
The implications of the pandemic are yet to be saddled. “For example, what's happened in the last year or so far has driven inclusion in a way that will drive trillions of dollars of productivity and value creation. Creating opportunities for people from smaller cities. People with disabilities can join the workforce,” said Navneet Kapoor, Executive VP and CTIO at A.P. Moller - Maersk.
For HR leaders it is now more about how they take advantage of these implications and create a better tomorrow both for people and business. “As we plan to work with this new reality, HR technology and HR in general needs to react and think differently,” added Navneet.
Historically, it's been at the lower end of the totem pole, in regards to getting love and attention from a technology investment perspective, but that has changed significantly as well because you can't run your large global globally distributed businesses with more traditional processes. So now it is time for HR leaders to relook at their investments in digital tools, redesign their experience strategy with both people and technology at the center and see how they can make a greater impact. Jacob suggested, “We have to leverage tech to gain better insights, drive more customization and derive more business outcomes.”
Dilip further added how technology also needs to be agile as the business ecosystem keeps on changing and so does talent priorities. “We are moving into a world which is becoming more and more bespoke, so the technology should be able to create the right experience and help the organization create a pool of bespoke solutions for employees,” he said.
For instance, JSW adopted Darwinbox to streamline their entire performance appraisal process and make it more continuous and real time. Rather than operating in silos, the solution ensures how performance and growth discussions happen in the flow of work.
This is the digital experience future HR leaders are co-creating along with the digital solutions. It is more agile, real-time, and personalized, meeting talent wherever they are.