Whether it is L&D, talent acquisition or performance management, technology solutions are taking over HR and are making their presence felt right from enterprise grade products to bespoke solutions, from AI-enabled workplaces to analytics suited for every challenge. In a Facebook Live session with People Matters, as part of the Let’s Talk Talent Week, Shaakun Khanna, Head of Human Capital Management Applications, APAC, Oracle Corporation and Amit Malik, Chief People, Operations & Customer Services Officer, Aviva Life Insurance India Ltd discuss the state of affairs with regard to the tech-invasion at work and its implications for the future.
The broad role that HR leaders have to play in this digitally driven, tech-enabled environment is two-fold:
To take introspective decisions regarding products that could be suitable to the industry context and the organization
To ensure that the digital experience enhances the employee experience and individual performance without impeding productivity.
The tech challenge
As with most invasions, any change is deviant from the present norm, it comes with its set of challenges.There are, at large, two major types of challenges that the workplace is facing due to the surge of technology – challenges created due to the growing presence of technology and those solved by technology.
Survival of the fittest: Shaakun Khanna points out that a lot of the basic challenges that surround technology at work today exist due to the hasty evolution that technology has undergone from being a tool for automation to becoming an enabler to now being a way of life. Hence, organizations also cannot stop the ball rolling and compromising with technology that merely enables but rather integrate solutions that provide a unique experience at work. The challenge has also changed for HR because one can no longer evaluate technology based on age-old parameters but adapt to adopt new parameters that can measure the fittest and strongest technology that has survived the blitzkrieg of advancements, updates and modifications.
Prediction paradigm: The HR function needs to tweak its processes in accordance with the new generation of technology. It is a challenge for many organizations to move from using technology only to gain insight, assess root causes and improve efficiency to now understanding how to use predictive technology that allows proactive planning with prescriptive strategies and protective roadmaps.
Breaking mindset: Amit Malik talks of how technology is at the center of the people, process and customer pyramid and how all three sides of the pyramid demand technology. Moreover, if an organization is not tech-enabled, they run the risk of losing out on a big chunk of customers- both internal and external. He mentioned that it is a challenge to alter the mindset of people when it comes to how they have always learnt to use technology. That said, every employee, albeit at different life cycle stages at work, are all on the path of technological improvement and thus the organization needs to understand how use technology to bring meaning to work so that the shift in mindset is easier.
The application staircase
Whether technology can be incorporated effectively to the point where employees feel comfortable asking their AI Assistant to submit a report or apply for leave on a regular basis may make us a wait a few more months to observe but at the moment, it needs to be applied across the employee lifecycle:
The process of recruitment is often the first interaction that an employee has with the organization. Technology can be leveraged to better the candidate experience. There are companies today that gamified job application processes since systems cannot just be easy but have to be fun as well. Ensuring a dose of fun also improves engagement during the crucial deflection period post offer and prior to joining.
The 60-90 day experience has a strong correlation with the overall longevity of the candidate. The onboarding process thus needs to be able to communicate to the new joinee all that the organization stands for and how the values, mission and organizational promises can be translated and achieved.
Processes of performance management, learning and career mapping cannot be troublesome anymore and need to be looked at through the employee experience lens with the aid of technology.
The most relevant application of technology through the processes that transform a candidate to a value-adding employee therefore has far-reaching implications. Employees today demand that work-technology interaction and as Amit rightly points put, “the question is no longer what have you got but rather when will you get what they have too” which encapsulates the need to stay ahead of the curve and of competition.
The whole nine yards
The HR is thus at a juncture where it must change, internalize and lead. Gone are the days where the existence of an HR department could be justified citing “soft skills”. HR functions need to evolve to serve its intended strategic purposes. While on the one hand, people functions need to look at the seamless integration of humanness and technology, a culture also needs to be built where employees know the importance of work life integration and have the ability to plug out of work as well.
The idea is to live up to the age-old HR promises of being agile, adaptive and proactive. Moreover, instead of always squeezing technology to fit into organizational needs, at times technology could be used as a benchmark for change and used to trigger a few organizational tweaks. As with the norm of how most information pieces travel today, new technological adaptations need to go viral within the systems so that there is greater engagement, involvement and participation. The HR, to be able to lead the technology piece as a strategic business partner, needs to learn more, adapt more and change more.