Do we need an HR in the organization? This was the most asked question last year. While there were multiple theories on how Artificial Intelligence will replace HR professionals in the coming years, the COVID 19 crisis put the focus back on Human Resource function in terms of communication with employees and navigating the situation on the ground. This brings us back to the discussion around how people leaders can leverage technology to manage talent.
The year 2020 brought unprecedented challenges to our personal and professional lives. The ongoing crisis has also tested the preparedness of organizations across the globe in dealing with the employees and customers in a remote working environment.
According to the ‘Employee engagement report’ by Salesforce, 85% of office workers in India say they feel unhappy and unmotivated when struggling with outdated and inefficient technology and 82% admit this affects the quality of their work. In such a scenario, organizations need more robust technology to address these issues. With remote working becoming the new normal, technology will play a key role in navigating a crisis.
Technology enabling collaboration and efficiency of processes
Technology creates a massive opportunity for almost every human resource function. Talent management, like everything else, has changed over the past few decades. It is now that the leaders are using technology a lot more to manage talent effectively.
Jaidip Chatterjee, HR Head, SREI, says that technology can be used to attract, develop, and retain talent which in turn provides a single platform to create talent databases for the future.
“Organizations currently use technology to attract, develop, and retain employees. These technologies have additional useful facets such as robust modules for job descriptions aligned with the recruitment process. Leaders see this as a great tool to manage talent with agility.” Jaideep added.
A single platform technology can be used to manage the entire process of talent evaluation from recruitment and hiring to classification and compensation. Companies need to partner with these management platforms for learning and skill development; and complete the full circle of employee processes, all on a single platform. Leaders believe a-one-click-window on talent enables better decisions and pushes them from ‘data to decisions’.
The report indicates the important role that technology has provided in managing talent during the time of crisis. The basic functions of human resources such as screening CVs, on-boarding, recording employee databases are managed by artificial intelligence. The bots are taking up the basic roles and making it easier for the people leaders to focus on other useful activities.
Virtual upskilling and employee engagement
In a remote working scenario, one of the biggest challenges is keeping the remote employees engaged and addressing the sense of isolation they might feel from the larger group. Technology provides the tools to communicate with their peers and managers easily. Today’s remote communication platforms offer sophisticated collaboration tools that are efficient in creating vibrant opportunities for conversations and may be considered an equivalent to everyone being in the same location, in a connected environment.
One of the findings of the Salesforce survey highlighted that most Indian office workers (56%) strongly agree that their workplace apps help them to do their job effectively and efficiently. However, Indians also say their work experience could be enhanced with new or improved apps.
While people leaders are adapting to the new technology processes, they are also trying to overcome the challenges at the same time. N V Balachandar, President – HR, Corporate Communications and CSR, Ashok Leyland shared that the company quickly realized that this was the right time to effectively start training on modular business programs and engage with employees virtually.
“We have used various tech platforms and assigned well-curated learning programs at all levels across the organization. Gamification and simulations for junior and middle-level employees and video-based learning for senior management worked well for all the teams. We also launched a learning module called 30 ML – 30-minute learning where senior industry leaders as well as SME leaders who supply to us, deliver learning bytes to employees. Around 5,000 unique learners in one or more of our learning engagements were leveraged with the help of technology.” said Balachandar.
Companies have also started switching to virtual workspaces mode to cut facility costs and have increased investment in intelligent HR technologies as well. Companies in India and across the globe are using tech not only to manage their workforce but also to up-skill and re-skill them.
For example, Tata Consultancy Services has already announced a 25/25 business model wherein 75% of its workforce will work from home till 2025. As quoted by NG Subramaniam, COO, TCS - "The new model will require only 25% of the workforce at the facilities to give 100% productivity."
Gone are the days when companies used to send employees for physical training. With online courses booming in the industry and employees working from home, virtual training programs are the best way to up the game. HR managers are suggesting employees the ideal online courses on multiple platforms.
Organizations are engaging employees through video sessions by stand-up acts, virtual yoga classes, motivational speakers, or lifestyle coaches. Free of cost meditation was used for employee wellness. AI-enabled emotions monitoring apps are helping employees 24*7 about varied emotions while working from home.
Employees are the end-users of technology and many companies are proactively training the employees on future preparedness on handling technology with responsibility and effectiveness. They are being motivated to up-skill and re-skill themselves during this period. Undoubtedly, the workforce and the organizations need to walk the rough road together, and with the help of tech, empathy, and trust, all of us will come out of this crisis better and stronger.
Download the Salesforce Employee Engagement report here.