More Digital, More Human - Aligning the Workforce in the New Normal
In the prevailing pandemic, business leaders have decided to launch fresh initiatives for a digitally savvy enterprise in order to keep businesses running smoothly and efficiently. However driving change comes with a plethora of challenges especially for employees who have to adapt. Thus it is imperative that transformation occurs without losing the human touch.
Unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures and businesses find themselves having to resort to urgent business continuity plans. Overnight, employees reverted to work from home, keeping their own safety in mind.
Despite the ensuing turmoil, companies are setting a new precedent on ways to strategize their talent decisions. Limitless opportunities abound in acquiring new-age technologies to acquire and keep talent. Thus arises the imminent need to accelerate a digital transformation with a human touch. Let’s find out how:
DIGITAL HARMONY THROUGH COLLABORATIVE TOOLS
As the pandemic continues to wreak havoc, remote working will become a permanent possibility for many. With time companies have begun to realize that remote working is not a deterrent to creativity, profitability and productivity. While this has proved beneficial for people with long commutes and dependents at home, the future will see a blend of office space and remote working.
There is a need to bring in collaborative and interactive tools across industries as we adapt to a new way of working. Communication tools using the latest technology are helping to bring in greater interconnectedness between employees. This has proven to be favorable for gender diversity. Women are now seeing career opportunities given their limitations on the personal front. While work from home does not match up to the office camaraderie, using the right digital tools can help companies to drive performance with flexibility and empathy.
Similarly, how companies manage and retain their top talent will depend on how efficiently these digital tools are used to manage the various parts of an employee’s lifecycle such as self-esteem, career growth and social needs. Tools for communication that encourage empathy, participative discussions and compassion will now see an emergence.
DIGITIZED TALENT MANAGEMENT
With the ‘new normal’ enforced in place, companies across the globe are making digital transformation a huge priority and this has huge implications. A good amount of talent that can drive this transformation is needed.
As the environment gets digitized, soft skills will become increasingly imperative. Demand for skills such as being able to learn, support, adapt and give empathy will be critically needed skills.
Virtual on-boarding is already spreading its tentacles as a hiring practice. New-age tech such as AI will give an impetus to this but a large majority of companies are using the current hybrid model for on-boarding to retain the human touch. With millennials entering the work force and being comfortable with technology, the advent of technology driven interviews will be seen. These track eye movement and body language.
WHAT LIES AHEAD
Human resources is not alien to technology but it still wants to retain its focus on people. This translates to hiring the best talent that can harness the new technology without compromising on human ethics and values. The focus is definitely on preparing a workforce that can effectively leverage this newfound technology.
Demand for digital skills is already shooting through the roof. This gap can be bridged by not only hiring the right talent from outside but also holistically developing the existing talent. Re-skilling and upskilling programs can help employees feel more connected to the ongoing digital transformation that is occurring. The ‘new normal’ is here to stay and organizations must arm themselves if they want to stay ahead in the game.
BOUNDARY-LESS WORK PLACES
An arrangement where 50% staff works from home and 50% from the office could prove to be more efficacious in the interim till pandemic subsides. This will help HR to enforce effective communication between teams. With technology at the forefront, healthcare services are also in offing for employees. Employees are currently undergoing a very big lifestyle change. The following measures are being taken to ensure that employees remain at the pinnacle of their well-being and health:
- Protection kits being distributed to employees coming to office
- Communication with regard to stress and mental health through emails and pamphlets
- Cab re-imbursement and car pooling to minimize exposure to the virus
- Zero footfalls at malls, cinemas, market post office hours for better safety
One important fall out has been the rise of an embedded work culture with stronger collaboration across teams, very productive work routines and managers reinforcing health practices that are positive and proactive. Smarter corporations are also looking at embedding whatever they have learnt during the pandemic. Virtual team catch-ups and online learning modules keeps the employees’ morale very high.
TECHNOLOGICAL YET SUSTAINABLE EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT
Post-lockdown, employees are feeling alienated from their offices and colleagues and this time is ripe to chalk out an effective engagement strategy. HR leaders are thus going all out in building a more engaged workforce through a virtual engagement calendar. This calendar is set to ensure employees’ well-being, stress management and overall fitness which will help them attain a better work life balance.
THE RAMP-UP OF TRAINING AND INVESTMENT IN REMOTE WORKING
With mandates in place for employees to work from home, this is definitely the new normal for workers. As work from home becomes rampant everywhere, companies are conducting large scale experiments for dealing with remote working. One way they are accomplishing this is through training. Many are launching employee resource groups to adequately mentor both families and remote workers. The guidance ranges from time management, guidance for managers and the proper setting up of your physical and virtual workspace. There are groups where employees can ask questions, brainstorm ideas and share jokes for remaining cheerful and productive on their jobs. This exhaustive guide for working from home introduces mechanics on how to emotionally handle it all – work, home, children and your own self-care.
REMOTE HEALTHCARE GETS IMPORTANCE
Virtual care and tele-health are witnessing a huge acceleration. These are now shifting towards the mainstream. This also requires quite a few changes to the overall workflow, skills and technologies. Medical representatives also have to deal with the influx of advanced billing tech. AI driven bills are posing the threat of fraud. Thus employees are taking advantage of health systems that function from the cloud. Employees are not only being taken care of through technology but companies are striving hard to retain this personal touch through remote healthcare.
DEALING WITH EMPLOYEE BURNOUT AND DISENGAGEMENT
Many companies have been in firefighting mode ever since the pandemic first struck. The shift to remote working has occurred at breakneck speed and is very exhausting. The pace has proven to be unsustainable leading to burnout among the larger teams. Alarming levels of stress and fatigue are being observed in the teams. This is particularly true for those who have had to downsize or layoff staff. The paradox is that while there has been a gain of efficient technologies for digitization such as zoom for remote working, there is also the risk of losing employees who feel disengaged and disgruntled. There is a threat of losing top talent. It is but natural for companies to re-think their digital strategy in context with employees.
The main dilemma companies are facing is how to connect people to long term goals that they wish to achieve through technology. Many prior attempts to completely digitize work has failed as there has also been a deterioration of engagement from employees. A new approach where employees’ personal aspirations are aligned with the company’s strategic vision can help so that everyone is working towards the same objective.
CALL TO ACTION
Amidst the pandemic, this approach is even more important as there is a lot of emphasis and importance being given to employees’ goals and their engagement thus underpinning the company’s overall success. This can be done in two key areas:
- Implement Outside In – Airbnb suffered huge losses in the pandemic. To obviate this, they adopted an ‘outside in’ transformation exercise. This helped the company get back to its roots or its basics such as people hosting their homes and offering some good experiences. Since people can work remotely, they can also travel and experience unique cultures for an indefinite time
- Alignment of outside-in with inside-out – The creation of personal vision statements for employees is helping them to align with the greater good i.ea human connection which is so much needed during this pandemic. This can be done by enlisting employees feedback in re-building efforts so that businesses can scale up and prosper
COVID-19 has given companies a new learning curve, that of integrated technology without losing the human touch. It’s time that more organizations step forward to engage their employees whilst digitizing. With strategy and measures in place, it is possible to imbibe technology, upskill workers and pave way for a smooth transition.