Blog: Forging the ‘next’ normal!

Strategic HR

Forging the ‘next’ normal!

In the current context, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the scope for HR professionals worldwide. The role of HR professionals has been exemplified by their ability to manage employees’ expectations and their competency to co-lead an organisation’s survival strategy amid uncertainties and ambiguities.
Forging the ‘next’ normal!

With the fast-paced evolution humankind is witnessing today, we are experiencing rapid change in societal norms and the corporate world is no different. Reimagining ourselves and being nimble at all times will be the mantra of success.  To survive and thrive, organisations will need to value their human capital in congruence to their business objectives. An interesting comprehension by The Human Resource report 2021 states that “Inclusive marketing and diverse business orientation will drive the growth for brands this decade. Having a positive work environment increases business profitability by 21 per cent.” When we talk about a positive work environment, it is about dedicating efforts towards the central asset of the organisation- the employees. Companies with happy and highly motivated employees are destined to flourish.

In the current context, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the scope for HR professionals worldwide. The role of HR professionals has been exemplified by their ability to manage employees’ expectations and their competency to co-lead an organisation’s survival strategy amid uncertainties and ambiguities. As a result, the Human Resources teams globally are emerging as the harbinger of shaping the “next normal” through adaptability, agility, problem-solving, and innovation.

Adaptability is the simple secret of survival

While some sectors have an inbuilt framework for working remotely and conducting business digitally, many, especially those in manufacturing and trade, still operate in a brick-and-mortar set-up. In such organisations, going to the office and working with colleagues is not up for a compromise. Here is the need to have a shift in the mindset rather than simply adopting digital tools. As per an article in Harvard Business Review, fostering an adaptability mindset in an organisation requires shifting away from complicated thinking and embracing a complexity consciousness. Simply put, complex situations are often predictable and require linear thinking, while complexity is mostly unknown, such as the pandemic, which requires a dynamic approach. Hence it is crucial to gauge how HR can use an organisation’s collective intelligence, prioritise company values and allow solutions to emerge by collaborating more with employees at every level. 

Working as a team and learning from each one’s first-hand experience while allowing the exchange of views and insights from a trainee to the senior management level will lead businesses in the future. According to a recent survey by Ocean Tomo, the ‘intellectual capital’ has increased from 68% to 84% from 1995 to 2015. However, the traditional definition of intellectual capital itself has evolved from its formative years. Businesses that are empathic, employee-centric and purpose-driven will not only have higher goodwill but will also be more successful.

The journey to an agile organisation

While companies have to deal with the unpredictable situation that keeps unfolding, they have to remain future-oriented. This can be achieved by being agile and proactive. A ‘one size fits all’ kind of solution cannot be presented as a solution for all business verticals. HR teams have to now assume the role of a catalyst to initiate a prolific work culture where each team is encouraged to work towards the solution. Alternative thinking and millstones need to be instituted to better measure the proficiency of employees and not just their outcomes. Pandemic has made us realise that it is imperative to have a ‘task-based approach’ to evaluate performance which can add value to the organisation’s work ethos in the long run.

Innovation is a key liberator 

Companies will need to experiment, see what works and then disseminate the findings on their learning platforms. The need and greed to continuously innovate and harp on the opportunities are fundamental. Even before the pandemic hit, HR teams were working round-the-clock to make the workforce ready for the “future of work” which is increasingly getting digitised. What might have been a gradual transition has now been fast-tracked due to the pandemic, throwing processes off balance. Organisations are now thinking creatively and innovating to achieve efficiency. According to an analysis by Deloitte, the jobs of the future are expected to be more machine-powered and data-driven than in the past; however, the involvement of human skills in areas such as problem-solving, communication, listening interpretation and design will not be obsolete. Organisations that are data-centric and adapting to the newer methods of engagement are bound to process the change and become more agile. Today, we know that remote work works. People are now not only working in a hybrid work culture but also attaining goals that were probably not expected before. 

The key for an organisation to achieve this level of commitment and delivery is by equipping the workforce with optimum resources, providing seamless connectivity and ensuring maximum collaboration. With sustained efforts in this direction, an organisation is destined to be resilient and a preferred choice while attaining trust and transparency within teams. 

Despite how the COVID-19 crisis keeps unfolding, it is time to build strategies that will foster broad-based growth. A sense of purpose, belief in the work culture, brevity, decision making and execution capability will help businesses thrive in the long run. Sustained investment in human and physical infrastructure will not only boost a company’s finances but will also build an organisation that can be acknowledged as a great place to work. 

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Topics: Strategic HR, #GuestArticle

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