After what was originally deemed to be the world’s largest work-from-home (WFH) experiment, there is now no end in sight for remote working and organisations in flux are being forced to reinvent their operating model. Prior to the pandemic, leaders were less inclined towards digital transformation based on the convention that physical office spaces were key to success. Human capital processes and employee support relied heavily on manual, in-person interactions - a dynamic made increasingly complicated by an overwhelming amount of changes induced by COVID-19. Aside from the obvious health and safety matters to manage, HR workload soared as executives were presented with an unprecedented challenge of tackling the logistical, financial and wellbeing of staff.
As corporate India enters the recovery era, around half of Indian firms will be continuing to work remotely for the next one year, with as many as 23 per cent planning to do so for the next five. HR departments will be pressured to ensure the most efficient utilisation of resources through reliance on technology at every point of the employee lifecycle. From recruitment and onboarding, through to training and performance management, corporations will increasingly lean on outsourced HR services hubs to distribute workloads while labour dynamics remain hybrid. Increased automation penetration will allow firms to fulfil their role as being ‘people-focused’ and take better care of their employees in the long-term and ensure consistency of services for stakeholders.
Humanizing the digital ecosystem with RPA
Like most other departments, the pandemic has proven to be a catalyst for innovation and showcasing added value to stakeholders. HR executives have a newfound responsibility to support employees in ways that enable them to rise to the challenges that disruption presents. To successfully do so, they need to target and automate human capital processes from the bottom up.
Robotic Process Automation (RPA) adoption has been historically slow in HR, with only 11 per cent of HR departments adopting the technology in 2019. This has since expedited to the growing desire to free staff from highly transactional tasks and empower them to pursue strategic work. Deloitte recently confirmed this, as 22 percent of businesses had piloted or have fully implemented the technology by December 2020. As financial pressures loom, automated software will be instrumental for seamless and error-free salary processing, compensation and benefits administration, exit management and on-time delivery. First generation back-office efficiencies, delivered through RPA, help to sustain commercial performance through reducing the ‘Total cost of HR operations’ by 25 per cent to 60 per cent. Leveraging analytical technologies in this way reinforces a ‘First Time Right’ approach, in which leaders can dig deeper than in traditional methods, and source and prevent future anomalies, such as duplication of bank accounts or incorrect salary allocation. As RPA works in the background, what leaders will find is increased capacity to preserve the human element in HR.
Digitally transforming talent management
In the world of remote work, where career advancement sees no geographical boundaries, poaching talent is easier than ever. It is therefore unsurprising why nearly three quarters (73 per cent) of leaders agree employee engagement is a major issue in terms of remote working. Legacy recruitment and applicant tracking systems have long prioritised the need to capture high volumes of resumes, when retaining the best talent instead lies in delivering an exceptional candidate/employee experience. HR teams need to react by committing to continuous learning and adopting digital technologies that improve how they hire and engage with talent to retain and stay competitive.
The processes behind sourcing candidates, coordinating selection, onboarding and verification are undergoing a digital transformation with greater personalisation at the core. The widening skills gap – the competencies companies think they need versus what they actually have – is opening up the floor to robotics to analyse this gap and choose promising employees based on evolving competencies and client requirements. Onboarding alone can be simplified and be made a more enjoyable part of the journey for the employee with robust data integration. By leveraging software robots, new hire data can be automatically validated and replicated across multiple systems and be used to make rule-based decisions, such as which onboarding documents to send. While RPA stores and categorises employee profiles, further investment in HR interaction services, support helpdesks, and cloud-based platforms will prove pivotal to improving each employee interaction. The benefits of this model far outplay the traditional brick-and-mortar model - many more than the obvious cost savings and increased profitability it brings along with it. Through these platforms, various tools for managing remote resources in real-time work in harmony to allow for recruitment, training rooms, and personal support to operate in ways closer to that delivered in-office.
HR is designed to recognise a crisis and how it will impact its teams, and it is through these dedicated platforms that necessary sensitivity and compassion can be delivered to employees. Accounting for physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing will have a more profound effect on the employee experience in the recovery era. For those organisations that value the chain of stakeholder satisfaction, success (the quality of service received by end customers) will largely depend on how proactive they are in looking for new ways to better support wellbeing.
Designing a future-proof HR cycle
HR departments facing likely irreversible changes – in the form of remote working at scale, hyper connectedness, and increased workload – are tapping into the services of globally trusted partners for outsourced HR services. Looking to optimise efficiencies wherever possible, businesses in the recovery era are leaning on RPA and Intelligent Automation, leveraging new age technologies such as Artificial Intelligence as an integrated solution to ensure task completion is consistent and focus on employee satisfaction and wellbeing is restored. From hire to retire, accuracy of data-heavy processes is increased – without the need for human invention – therefore mitigating any possible quality associated risks and being compliant.