Dr. Mitul Thakker, Chief People Officer at IKS Health, in a recent interaction with People Matters stressed on the need for creating and nurturing talent, given the pace at which the business expectations keeps on changing. He discussed the changing role of HR, shared how IKS Health is investing in continuous learning and creating leaders for the future and also talked about his next curve as an HR professional.
Here are some excerpts from the interaction:
How do you think the role of HR has evolved over the decade?
The role of HR has evolved significantly in the past decade. Especially in the last five years. HR leaders today are the real partners of business leaders. It is no longer an enabling function for the company. With an increased focus on employee experience and its direct correlation with customer experience and business, people's decisions have become all the more critical. HR professionals across functions and industries today contribute to a successful business.
From capability building to career pathing to employee wellbeing, all of these aspects start to play into what HR does today and indirectly impact the bottom line and business.
Given the many disruptions your company and your industry are dealing with, what are some talent trends on the top of your priority list?
Technology, quality and regulation drive healthcare today. Given the pace at which the business expectations keeps on changing, our larger problem is going to be our ability to create talent for ourselves.
If we continue to grow at the pace which we are going we will note able to hire people laterally nor are we gonna find leaders to manage the future of work. Hence, two focus areas for us become creating and nurturing talent.
While we recruit talent from diverse geographies and hire them for a particular skill, it is absolutely imperative that we identify the other skills they would need to build and upskill them over a period of time. We build their competencies and help them create learning pathways so that they can grow successfully not just in our company but in their career as well.
We have four diverse portfolios and they are niche in their own way as compared to other industries and companies, therefore for us continuous learning is even more important area to focus on. Besides investing in skillking of the workforce and ensuring they are always job-ready, we also focus on leadership development. Creating more leaders and having a wider pool of them as we move ahead on our growth journey is an important agenda for us.
If we don’t build a strong pipeline of leaders and invest in their growth, firstly, we will struggle to grow and scale, secondly, we might not be able to engage and retain talent.
Can you share how you are investing in continuous learning and creating leaders of the future at IKS Health?
We have tapped into the various opportunities digitization has brought in. With a blended approach to learning and development, we have both classroom training programs as well as e-learning modules for our workforce. We are continuously investing in tools that would help them build competencies and are also evaluating how they are being able to use these competencies at work.
As we hire a lot of people at entry level and have a bunch of employees who have not taken up leadership roles in the past, we have a dedicated leadership program for them. We have been running that for almost six months. There are about 200 people who are first time managers, learning to manage people, project and time. While it is classroom training, most of it is on the job. We see how they are applying what they have been taught in their work daily.
Then we are creating a list of middle managers to go through a special training. Currently, we are doing an analysis and identifying the competencies required for people at different levels. Then specific training and development plans will be designed for them.
Further, we are also investing in building a strong HR team. We encourage our HR professionals to take up certification programs to hone their skills and specialize in various areas.
What are some competencies that you think are essential for HR professionals to be future-ready?
To become the real and strategic partners of business the HR professionals have to enhance their business acumen and be customer-centric. They have to understand business, the industry and the various aspects influencing the business. HR professionals also have to be digital ready and have sufficient knowledge to implement technology and maximize its benefits.
Most importantly they have to enhance their competency "Impact and influence" and strengthen their change management skills as they have to play the role of change leaders in the organization and drive the workforce and the business towards a better future.
Going forward, what do you think will be YOUR #NextCurve as an HR professional? How are you preparing for it?
There are three areas I am focusing on:
- Becoming an equal partner of business and contributing to the strategic level.
- Diversity and inclusion. Creating a diverse & inclusive workforce.
- Leveraging more of analytics to make people decisions and designing relevant and impactful talent solutions.
There is a lot more that can be done with analytics. How can we use it to get data and evidence of people's behaviour across their life cycle and create framework of policies that redefine their journey and create a better experience for them in the company.
To be able to do all of this and create relevant impact on your business and entire community, you have to constantly be in learning mode. And that’s what I practice too. Reading, meeting people, networking, and continually adapting to change is important for all HR leaders today. In terms of learning digital skills and learning about the technology, I groom myself to not only adopt but understand technology so that I can implement it well to empower people.