Shikha Rai has been a part of the Canon family for the past 18 years, having initially joined as Sr. Director of IT and HR Operations. Since her association with the organisation, she has been aligning IT strategies with the business as well as bringing excellence to HR. Presently, Shikha is spearheading the role of Vice President, Canon India and has been working to make Canon a people’s organisation, committed to its employees, customers, partners and the community.
Shikha shared critical insights on how digital adoption can succeed with change management, communication, L&D involvement, and more in an exclusive interaction with People Matters.
How is Canon India leading digital transformation in their HR functions?
HR functions have rapidly adopted the digital wave, even more so since the pandemic. As workplaces transformed, one of our focus areas has been leveraging technologies to develop new ways of collaboration as people work flexibly or remotely. Platforms for smooth Virtual meetings and productivity management tools have been introduced. Our strategy has been a mix of homegrown software and digital solution providers. We have automated workflows, especially ones related to core HR processes such as leave approvals, travel approvals, expense management and the like. Finally, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has introduced the Digital workforce and taken up the routine and monotonous tasks of employees. So, to sum up, digitisation in the HR space can be broadly divided into collaboration tools, digitised workflows and RPA.
As the digitisation of work processes increases, how can HR leaders retain the human touch at the workplace?
When working remotely or in a hybrid environment, one must be conscious about sustaining connections with your employee and designing an engaging employee experience through strengthening collaboration. We encourage our managers to pay close attention to their employees' needs and review their productivity, engagement, and sense of belongingness. In-person team gatherings once a month could also be fruitful because there is no substitute for that face-to-face connection; we cannot solely depend on the virtual collaboration platforms.
We are also training our managers on how to build trusting teams in the new normal, use new-age tools to manage productivity and maintain a good balance between digital and physical collaboration. We are also finding new ways of opening up communication channels within the workforce, such as the monthly CEO address or even breakthrough ideation opportunities where employees can share their insights on the changes we can bring about in the workplace. I would also recommend switching on the cameras during virtual meetings so that we can see people as they are and not miss out on those smiles and banter beyond work.
How can organisations implement digital solutions to yield the maximum ROI? What are some challenges they must be mindful of?
Any technology implementation calls for a detailed gap fit analysis to clarify what we need. No technology can be an answer to all organisational needs, so we must be strategic and define what is a must-have, what is nice to have, and select the solution which fits our budget too. What determines the success of any digital implementation is change management. You must make people a part of the digital transformation agenda.
We must identify the initial adopters or the power users and utilise their enthusiasm to propel the implementation forward. Involving the users from the start of the project is a must. For instance, if we are looking at Sales force automation, we should involve the field sales force to understand their challenges, their needs and how we can improve their work experience as they spend time in the field. We must then align our solution to meet these expectations. After this, a pilot test is also essential before doing an organisation-wide roll-out. Initial learning can be plugged in to make the complete roll-out successful. Change management by clearly explaining ‘what’s in it for me’ to the employee and communicating the benefits of digital solutions for the organization along with pilot roll-outs become critical stepping stones to the technology implementation and adoption.
As we drive change management for acceleration in adopting new-age technologies, what is the role of L&D in this process?
At Canon India, we have a very evolved L&D program. We have designed and implemented a portal called ‘Learning at the Workplace’ where all the tools and technologies geared towards learning and upskilling are available. L&D plays a key role in accelerating certain technology adoption. For example, during the pandemic, we invested in various tools such as MS Planner for project management. L&D conducted multiple training sessions to bring all employees on one platform within one month.
Finally, what is your advice to our community of HR leaders on empowering a digital culture at the workplace?
Embrace the change that’s happening today and adopt and adapt to the new normal. Flexibility is a value we must instil at an organisational level and in our mindsets. When we lead any change that is digitally driven, we must communicate the needs and benefits of that implementation. Building trust is central to the work culture; leaders must change their ways of managing teams. And above all, become technology friendly to innovate new ways of communication, collaboration and engagement.