Article: Humanising HR in the Tech era: Herman Cahyadi of Gojek emphasises putting people first

Leadership

Humanising HR in the Tech era: Herman Cahyadi of Gojek emphasises putting people first

Herman Cahyadi, CPO at Gojek, on embracing the upside and downside of AI and leading with optimism rather than fear.
Humanising HR in the Tech era: Herman Cahyadi of Gojek emphasises putting people first

In the rapidly evolving landscape of HR, it's easy to get caught up in the advancements of technology, data, and analytics. However, according to Herman Cahyadi, Chief People Officer of Gojek, the essence of HR lies in the foundation of human relationships. While the future is undeniably shaped by artificial intelligence and automation, it is crucial to remember that HR is ultimately about people.

As he gears up to join us for People Matters TechHR Singapore 2023, we discuss with him the upside and downside of AI, why understanding them helps separate reality from hype and how leaders and organisations can effectively and efficiently address the challenges on the horizon. 

In this interview, find out how Gojek fosters consistency, clarity, and context to empower employees and maintain a purpose-driven approach and how they strike the perfect balance between technology and the human touch

Excerpts from the interview: 

As we move into an artificial intelligence-powered future, how can leaders embrace AI with optimism rather than fear?

First, we need to understand the benefits and downside of AI. The benefits comprise automation, decision-making support, improved customer experience, advanced data analysis and increased efficiency in various industries. The downside encompasses job displacement, bias and ethical concerns, lack of human judgement and creativity, dependence on data and technical infrastructure and the potential for misuse.

By approaching AI with a positive and informed mindset, leaders can shape their organisation’s AI strategies, inspire their teams, and navigate the AI-powered future with confidence. Thus, leaders need to understand the usage of AI and bring this powerful tool to another level without forgetting the basis of human nature. A few points that can help in this endeavour are: 

Highlighting augmentation, not replacement: Emphasise AI as a tool to enhance human potential, automating tasks, providing insights, and supporting decision-making. Leaders should showcase examples of AI's positive impact on productivity, efficiency, and innovation, inspiring optimism and highlighting breakthroughs in customer experiences and complex problem-solving.

Encouraging collaboration: Begin with encouraging employees to see AI as a partner rather than a threat, emphasising the benefits of working alongside intelligent systems. Highlight success stories where AI and humans have collaborated to achieve better outcomes. By providing opportunities for employees to acquire new skills that are relevant in an AI-powered future, leaders can instil a sense of confidence and optimism in their workforce.  

Education and awareness: Understand how AI works and its benefits can help dispel myths and misconceptions, reducing fear and fostering a more positive outlook. Emphasise the importance of ethical and responsible AI use. By establishing guidelines and practices that prioritise fairness, transparency, and privacy, leaders can build trust and confidence in AI systems. 

Leaders need to take a long-term perspective on AI adoption. At the end of the day, usage of AI will not solve every problem. So, it is important to understand how to leverage it for improving our work efficiency and excellence. Leaders can emphasise the positive impact AI can have on society with examples where AI has been used for social good, such as healthcare advancements, environmental sustainability, and improved accessibility. 

What are the significant challenges you see on the horizon and how can organisations and HR leaders address them efficiently? 

Among the greatest challenges today are attracting the best talent amid increasing competition, adopting flexible work arrangements, bridging the skills gap between current and future skills, and keeping employees motivated and engaged. But one can begin to make the following changes to address the deeper issues within the organisation:

Workforce transformation: The rapid pace of technological advancements and automation is transforming job roles and skill requirements. HR leaders can address this challenge by collaborating with business leaders to identify future needs, and fostering a culture of continuous learning and adaptability. 

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI): Organisations are increasingly recognising the importance of creating diverse and inclusive work environments. HR leaders need to address unconscious biases, promote equal opportunities, and foster a sense of belonging for all employees. 

Employee well-being and mental health: HR leaders should focus on creating a positive employee and work experience, ensuring meaningful work, recognising and rewarding achievements and fostering a culture of trust and transparency. Promoting a healthy work culture, encouraging open communication, and providing flexibility can help address this challenge effectively.

What are some best practices brought forth at Gojek that focus on providing clarity, context and consistency to employees to keep them motivated, productive and efficient? 

Some general best practices that Gojek or organisations in general can integrate to provide clarity, context and consistency are: 

Clearly defined goals and objectives: Communicate the company's vision, mission, and goals clearly to ensure employees understand their roles and how their work contributes to the overall success of the organisation. This includes regularly sharing information about company updates, performance metrics, and progress toward goals to provide context.

Leadership support and guidance: Ensure that leaders provide support and guidance throughout the change process. Leaders should be visible, accessible, and approachable. They should actively listen to employees' concerns, provide clarity, and offer guidance to alleviate any anxiety or uncertainty.

Foster a culture of adaptability: Encourage a culture that embraces change and adaptability as a norm. Help employees understand that change is a constant in today's business environment, and equip them with the skills and mindset to navigate change effectively. 

With passion and purpose taking centre stage with the workforce of today, how are you explaining the ‘why’ to the employees while aligning it with business goals?

One needs to start by articulating the overall purpose of the company and help employees understand the impact of their work on customers, merchants, stakeholders and the society. In short, show them the bigger picture. 

Secondly, leaders need to connect with each employee in order to encourage two-way communication to ensure they can express their thoughts and concerns. This includes actively listening to their feedback and ideas, and providing meaningful responses, which demonstrates that their voices are valued and their contributions are important for the company. 

Thirdly, regularly assess and measure progress towards the company’s goals and highlight the success stories, achievements, milestones that made a positive difference to the employees. This will inspire employees and showcase the impact of their collaborative and collective efforts.

According to a study by Adecco Group, 87% of people management executives believe that HR tech, data and people analytics will be crucial competency for CPOs in the future. What advice do you have for leaders that reflect your learnings and experience of working as a CPO at Gojek?

I will go back to the principle of human relationship, which is the foundation of HR that we should never forget. The tech, data and people analytics have their own purpose. 

The latest HR tech and tools can streamline and automate HR processes, which in turn will lead to efficiency and effectiveness in several HR functions including recruitment, performance management and people administration. Data and analytics can help us learn how to extract meaningful insights from employee data to make informed decisions and make the right call. 

But all of them are tools and the most important thing is to stay focused on the human element and remember that HR is ultimately about people. Leaders need to ensure that the implementation of HR tech and data-driven practices does not compromise on human touch. 

In the new world of work, what is the one thing that you are excited about and one thing that you are dreading? 

One thing that many people are excited about in the new world of work is the increasing flexibility and remote work opportunities. With advancements in technology and changing attitudes towards work-life balance, more companies are embracing flexible work arrangements. This allows employees to have greater control over their schedules, work from anywhere, and enjoy a better work-life integration. 

On the other hand, one thing that some people may be dreading is the potential for increased isolation and decreased social interaction, which creates loneliness, making it challenging to build strong relationships and maintain a sense of connection with colleagues. Some individuals may miss the social dynamics and spontaneous interactions that accompany working in a physical office environment. 

It's important to note that people's experiences and perceptions of the new world of work can vary greatly. While some may find excitement, others may have concerns or reservations. Adaptation, open communication, and finding a balance between flexibility and human connection are key to navigating the evolving landscape of work.

To understand the gaping gaps and inconsistencies in the business landscape and how best to address them, join us at People Matters TechHR Singapore on August 24 at Marina Bay Sands, Singapore and hear it from Herman Cahyadi himself in-person. 

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Topics: Leadership, Skilling, Culture, HR Technology, Diversity, #TechHRSG

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