One significant impact on the world of people and work that we’re all aware of is remote working. The pace at which this development had to be carried out is unprecedented and organisations continue to grapple with it as they try to drive business growth in a vuca world. It’s benefits and challenges continue to be discussed by leaders as they try to devise strategies that cater to the wellbeing of their employees as well as their customers while simultaneously trying to sustain organisational culture. The goals are plenty, the core priorities are universal and each is in need of careful attention for attaining success in the new and coming hybrid world of work.
In this panel discussion brought to us by People Matters and LinkedIn Talent Solutions moderated by Ruchee Anand, Director, Talent and Learning Solutions at LinkedIn and joined in by Wendy Xia, CHRO, DB Schenker; Sameer Bendre, CPO, Persistent Systems; and Sanjay Jog, CHRO, Reliance Jio, the agenda then is to discuss this hybrid workforce model and how leaders can offer flexible, sustainable solutions which focus on value creation, are grounded in a forward looking approach and seek too drive employee engagement.
Simple, effective strategies which need to be amplified:
Based on their unique organisational and industry experience, each leader offers their own take on what are some of the strategies that can help companies ease into the hybrid workforce model. Wendy emphasises on the need for agility in the HR domain and prioritising employee experience by boosting employee morale. She advocates the decentralisation of employee engagement which ensures that the pressure of encouragement no longer rests on HR leaders who may at times be at a distance from everything that is unfolding. Strengthening of leaders across all departments and guiding them to be the ones motivating their teams can drive employee engagement to reach at all levels in a more grounded and in-depth way.
Sameer, on the other hand, offers two simple solutions-1. Design processes and policies for flexibility rather than efficiency; and, 2. Energise your core business. The intention with this is to focus on both the people and business aspects.
“Who are we as a company?” is a question that is raised by Sanjay as he too stresses on driving business growth with a human centric workforce strategy which caters to both employees and customers. We have no choice but to revisit our assumptions about the workplace and think and strategize on how people can work together and collaborate.
Attract, develop and retain talent with the right culture:
It is no surprise that talent management is the driving force behind an organisation’s success and the one advantage offered by remote working is that there are no boundaries to the talent market. But this in itself demands that we keep certain things in mind. Sameer emphasises on the need for connection, the right fit between skills and job roles to ensure the best customer service but he also calls for a re-innovation of the talent acquisition process which can offer an answer to this question raised by any hire: How can this organisation be a part of my life journey?
Frameworks that are designed around the practice of flexibility by looking into roles in terms of which are synchronous and which are asynchronous are equally important, according to Sanjay. It is only through this framework that one can decide which roles can be completely shifted to the virtual environment.
Wendy offers her organisation’s unique take on this by explaining their experience of non-traditional hiring wherein they have opened the doors for workers coming in with diverse experience and backgrounds. They have taken in temporary workers for their on-site work arrangements as well as collaborated with government unions to offer jobs for workers who were displaced, regardless of the industry they came from.
Coming back to the question raised by Sameer on how an organisation can become part of an employee’s life journey, another significant facet of talent management is building a culture of continuous learning. Employees must invest their own time and be motivated to learn for their own individual growth as well. But at the same time, according to Sanjay, when building an organisational culture, certain elements and activities need to be institutionalised and made mandatory rather than voluntary.
What not to do when creating an effective hybrid strategy:
Sameer stresses that organisations and HR leaders must not forget that they are “Business HR.” There is a tendency to focus too much on the people aspect, especially in relation to employees but one also needs to prioritise business growth because the remote world of work has impacted the business side of operations too. One also needs to look at the way communication systems can be designed to accommodate both offline and online workers.
Sanjay and Wendy both reiterate the need for empathy on the part of management. One must recognise the vulnerability of the workforce as well as the ecosystem they continue to carry out their duties in; there needs to be trust in the employees as they take their own time to adapt to the new normal and make the necessary adjustments; leaders must be open to making mistakes and re-thinking their decisions and must always go the extra mile, ensure promise and transparency while offering assurance to their people.
A final take away from this discussion is that leaders need to think and rethink the role of HR and people connect and how HR leaders can act as enablers in this hybrid working model. Organisations need to focus on employee experience, enhance it, streamline varied HR functions to drive greater efficiency and derive successful business outcomes.
To watch the full session, click here.