Article: Intelligent HR automation processes can help attract, develop, and retain millennial talent : SABIC’s Preet Boparai

HR Technology

Intelligent HR automation processes can help attract, develop, and retain millennial talent : SABIC’s Preet Boparai

The role of HR automation has become very critical in the new normal as it manages the entire lifecycle - be it talent acquisition, work-from-home policies or employee engagement, says Preet Boparai, HR Head, India of global chemicals manufacturer SABIC.
Intelligent HR automation processes can help attract, develop, and retain millennial talent : SABIC’s Preet Boparai

Apart from a severe health crisis, the Covid-19 pandemic also became an accelerator for one of the greatest workplace transformations. With the need to reinvent conventional HR policies and processes around the employee life cycle, the role of HR automation has become very critical in this new normal. Whether it is talent acquisition, work-from-home policies or employee engagement, the entire lifecycle has shifted to being managed on automation platforms.

Preet Boparai, Head - Human Resources - India, of Saudi Arabia-based SABIC, a global leader in diversified chemicals and present in India for over 25 years now, says with the help of automation platforms, organisations are experiencing a seamless transition between work-from-office and work-from-home, recording ease in planning, monitoring, and evaluating employee performance in a virtual world, compared to a manual process. The platforms are helping companies to make their routines more effective and efficient.

During an interaction with People Matters, Boparai talked about advantages of HR automation, its role in helping organisations retain the millennial workforce, and criteria for choosing the right HR automation platform for an organisation.

Here are the some excerpts from the interview

Most innovative HR platforms and the selection criteria

Success Factors, Workday, Zoho, and ADP are some of the names that come to my mind in terms of innovative HR platforms. When it comes to choosing the right HR automation platform for your organisation, there are a couple of factors that should be kept in mind - firstly, the platform should not just be functional but accessible as well, there should be an ease of use for all stakeholders.

Secondly, the platform should meet the company's requirements, it should provide the flexibility to customise as per the organization’s culture, environment, and needs. Thirdly, it should not just be a platform to run processes, but should also provide intelligence and insights, which can help the organisation to take informed decisions.

Role of HR automation in enhancing transparency, productivity

Every tool lays down a clear process for an organisation to follow. It simplifies the engagement process and enhances accessibility round the clock.

Automation helps prioritise our efforts, whether it is about any regular process or engagement activities, and nowadays, automation also helps you to keep a healthy working style - forcing you to take short breaks during long meetings etc. I believe transparency between the organisation and its employees is extremely important because it eventually builds trust and the value system for an organisation.

Talking about productivity, automation provides standard operating processes and a clear demarcation of what is needed at what point in time. This enhances effective time management and reduces margin of error - increasing productivity as a result.

Take for example the hiring process: At SABIC, we do hiring through Success Factors wherein right from the approval stage until a talent is hired, automation helps to track the process. It further keeps the potential candidate informed about our internal review processes which is a difficult task to do manually.

Other than this, if we look at the most common complaint potential candidates have, is the lack of response or feedback sharing with the applicant. Automation can help in closing these loops and acting more efficiently after listening to what potential candidates want when it comes to hiring experience.

HR automation in retaining millennial workforce

Millennials, the digital natives, are the first generation to use the internet, and have embraced technology like no other generation before them. This group of employees are tech-dependent, want purpose in their work, and require the most cutting-edge tools. Therefore, with the high standards set by this younger workforce, it becomes imperative for organisations to utilise intelligent automation within HR processes enabling them to attract, develop, and retain millennial talent.

For example, automating the recruiting strategies allow HR to focus more on people and less on the process.

I also believe, while automation is important, it can never replace human interaction. Even today, the impact from a personal interaction cannot be replaced by any digital platform. Therefore, the right combination of automation and human intervention is the way forward.

Top HR automation challenges faced amid pandemic

Showing empathy, gaining trust and building personal connect among employees was something that no intelligent and innovative HR automation platform was able to achieve during the pandemic.

With limited face to face engagements and social interactions, the sense of belonging is nonexistent, especially the ones who joined during the pandemic.

HR automation in employee wellbeing

The pandemic has made each one of us realise the importance of mental health. During this period, the HR automation platforms definitely helped in providing a complete sense of the employee wellbeing. It reflected on whether they were engaged or disengaged as well as their state of mental health.

There are various analytics through which we can tap into these areas to take informed decisions towards their wellbeing.

For example, at SABIC, we provided our employees a platform for them to connect with counsellors or experts like doctors, psychiatrists etc. This helped our employees to consult doctors, order medicines, schedule health checkups not just for themselves but also their family members – living in different parts of the country.

HR automation and performance management

The tools ensure that employees do not spend time doing tedious manual tasks which. in turns. helps them with better time management. The tools are self-explanatory and having several learning resources online to guide employees on how to be more effective, and efficient.  

During the pandemic, the tools offered learning opportunities for our first-time people managers. It guided them on how to keep their teams engaged and motivated in a never experienced before virtual world.

How AI's rise enables informed decisions for leaders across functions 

At SABIC, we engage a number of artificial intelligence-based platforms. They start from chat bots, where employees can raise day-to-day queries and receive immediate responses, and go to digital versions of the manual processes for easy use.  

We also use AI to gather data and insights to make informed decisions while developing policies or employee welfare programmes. These platforms help in capturing employee sentiment, engagement rate, motivational levels as well as help in capturing attrition risks to proactively work on these.

What is important here is that the decisions are not just based on a certain perspective or individual understanding, but supported with data and insights.

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Topics: HR Technology, Talent Management, Employee Engagement, #HRTech, #RedrawingEVP

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