The pandemic upended business as usual and forced organisations to abruptly step into the unchartered territory and navigate the unknown world of remote working.
While the challenge of pandemic has ebbed, work from home (WFH) has become a way of life for employees as it empowers them with a greater control on their work-life and personal life.
Jasneet Kaur, director, people and culture at IPM India Wholesale Trading Private Limited (IPM India), says while it will largely depend on the nature of the work, it will be challenging to move back to the traditional way of working.
“Hybrid or few days a week will rule the future. It will be imperative to push workforce to resume working from office for a few days as it is critical in enhancing human and interpersonal relationships which thereby create a sense of belonging and fosters innovation. Working in silos builds a barrier in the employer-employee relationship which are then exhibited in the form of disengaged and demotivated workforce,” she says.
In an interaction with People Matters, Kaur talks about challenges of digitally managing the workforce, the biggest shifts in employee expectations and her top priorities as a chief people officer in the new normal.
Here are the edited excerpts.
What does the future of work look like for your organisation after Covid-19?
The work environment is changing at an accelerated pace. The last couple of years there has been a seismic shift in the way organisations are operating, forcing both the organisation and its workforce to be agile and adapt to the ever-changing new realities.
The methodology to measure ‘productivity’ and traditional work structures are being challenged. Today, workforce is looking at organisations that operate with a deep sense of purpose and provide flexibility ensuring a work-life and personal-life balance. An increased adoption of technology to manage the new era will be crucial to manage the workforce.
How does digital management of workforce throw up new challenges?
Organisations have rapidly implemented and adopted to digital transformation that was compelled by external environmental scenarios.
To lead a remote team well, managers may discover they need to loosen their reins a little while finding ways to continue to hold employees accountable. Without the ability to continuously monitor employees in a shared office space, they may find success by focusing more on what gets done and whether it meets well-defined quality standards.
It’s helpful, too, to be willing to experiment a little with technology and how meetings are conducted. In other words, successful pivots to virtual work – whether planned months in advance or in response to a natural disaster or a global pandemic – require that managers be willing to recalibrate how they lead their people and move away from the idea of micromanagement.
What has changed most in terms of what employees are seeking in their employers?
While optimal workplace practices are important, there needs to be shift towards enhancing employee experience (EX) to foster an engaged, motivated, and innovative mindset-based workforce.
The key attributes that individuals look for in an employer are – purpose, empowering culture, work life and personal wellbeing. To address all these, organisations need stay relevant in the long run, and here the employee value proposition will be of paramount importance to address to these evolving demands from employees.
There is a need to deliver customisable value to each individual employee which will be the elixir to emerge victorious in the talent war.
What are your top priorities as a chief people officer in the new normal?
Enhancing the experience of the employees will be of paramount importance in the coming years.
Defining and building organisations’ culture which ties in cohesively with the employee value proposition will be of utmost priority for chief people officer.
There is an inherent need for continuous evolution in the digital transformation, and hence, altering incumbent HR systems and adopting to new age solutions such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality, virtual assistants etc. will be critical to build resilient HR systems.
Adopting and implementing technologies across organisation will be the driving force of building an organisation of tomorrow.
As studies have proven that diverse, engaged and empathetic culture fosters innovative and productive teams, inculcating and driving behavioral shift showcased by leaders and inculcated across levels will be critical for HR leaders.
In addition, it will be important for CHROs to build strategies that root from situational awareness and further know how to navigate in different business context, complexity and market fluidity.