HR function has evolved into a core part of the business ecosystem.
It began with HR 1.0, which started in ancient China and took us into the 20th century – the personnel department, which was a highly administrative function.
Then came HR 2.0 – the human resources department, in the latter half of the century. Here, HR was seen as more strategic and critical to the business. In the early 2000s, it evolved into HR 3.0 or the people team, where the function began to show more of a focus on employee engagement, growth, and leaning forward.
Rajesh Rai, vice president - people team and head of human resources, India, GlobalLogic says now we are on the cusp of HR 4.0 which is the culmination of three major paradigm shifts in the world: the fourth industrial revolution with “smart everything”, the Covid factor which is causing us to reevaluate what we mean by the “workplace”, and the rise of the millennials and gen Zs in the workplace.
“I believe that HR 4.0 is the next iteration of our profession. It’s a new way of thinking about how we do business and how we can help our employees and clients in their digital transformation journey. HR 4.0, which is closely interlinked to the fourth industrial revolution or industry 4.0, is the automation of many HR processes for more agility and efficiency. Thanks to emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and the internet of things (IoT), or the Metaverse, it will be easier than ever to integrate new software applications into a company’s daily business activities and provide an amazing experience for employees,” he says .
Rai says HR 4.0 is heavily focused on flipping the pyramid - moving away from a heavy focus on the executives and managers as the target audience of our efforts and moving more towards the employee base. “They are the ones we should be engaging with on large-scale problem-solving and creating a digital ecosystem that will drive the best experience for them.”
In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Rai dwells on how HR 4.0 is transforming organisations in this new digital era, critical strategies for HR leaders to prepare for the future of work, and how companies can build a broad reskilling agenda that nurtures a future-ready workforce.
How is HR 4.0 transforming organisations in today’s digital era?
I believe that HR 4.0 is playing an integral part in designing and implementing socially sustainable solutions. It is offering the necessary provocations to build up positive social change, adopt new digital systems and practices, and pioneering organisational solutions in a sustainable way, supporting the positive outcome of Industry 4.0 and preventing possible drawbacks.
Furthermore, HR 4.0 is contributing towards innovation in the workplace, empowering people with the right tools and mediums to work, enhancing their capabilities and competencies, building a robust ecosystem with new talent and a smart workforce, and enabling them to combat the current labour challenges.
With the rapid transformation that is taking place in today’s digital era, HR 4.0 could be the key driver in enabling people to emphasise and work towards their job characteristics, thus improving their work motivation and socially sustainable development. Employees in this model remain the centre of it all and it's their continuous feedback that drives this too.
What are critical strategies for HR leaders for the paradigm shift in work?
The pandemic has pushed the boundaries of how organisations operated traditionally.
Drawing on these experiences, businesses are striving to create working models that enable employee well-being, ensure business continuity, and create value.
Organisations must define work and the employee-employer relationship to prepare for the future of work. In today’s volatile environment, hybrid work is here to stay. The current workforce has accustomed itself to the hybrid working model, giving them the flexibility to integrate their work and personal lives.
Businesses should focus on building critical competencies and skills to keep up with the fast-changing digital environment and tackle talent shortages in the future. While skills will ensure a market-ready and relevant workforce, care will safeguard that an employee, their families, and their work life are supported by compassion, trust, and focus on their well-being.
We are focusing on responding to the employee as a full human being, not a human resource, so we are trying to create programmes and tools that support their full life experience and not just what they do at work.
Technology will be a fundamental asset to enable the future of work and build the workforce of tomorrow. As businesses continue to evolve, organisations must lay the foundation to ensure continued success in the future.
As technology becomes more and more central to HR transformation, how is GlobalLogic keeping up with the latest innovations and solutions? What are the priorities?
Tech is everywhere, and it's making our lives more seamless, but it's also changing the way we work and conduct ourselves. It is not only enabling us to take breaks between meetings and from our day-to-day activities, but also allowing us to create a more engaged, robust, and healthier workforce. We are building a tech-enabled workforce that is highly productive, competitive, and collaborative.
Moreover, we are leveraging technology to drive employee engagement and performance at all levels. In fact, for our daily interactions and ensuring business continuity, we are harnessing the power of technology that is enabling our HR teams and employees to improve their experience across the talent lifecycle.
From building networks digitally through our GLO platform, our ‘anytime, anywhere digital learning ecosystem’, virtual engagement of our employees, automation of experiential assets like through shared services or our reward decisions or analytics and voice of employees for decision making - this and more has all been central to the HR transformation at GlobalLogic. It is indeed empowering us to build not only a more engaged but also a healthier and happier workforce by keeping the employees central to us.
How can companies build a broad reskilling agenda that nurtures a future-ready workforce?
Organisations must take steps and make significant investments to reskill their workforce to stay relevant in the rapidly evolving talent ecosystem of today.
According to the World Economic Forum, by 2022, 42% of the core skills required to perform existing jobs are expected to change and more than a billion people will need to be reskilled by 2030. Hence, technological interventions become necessary to drive skilling at scale.
Organisations must focus on rethinking their delivery mechanism and drive digital learning initiatives in a self-paced environment. Leaders must collaborate with younger generations to identify the tools and platforms and create learning strategies that are best suited to them.
At GlobalLogic, we are investing in numerous learning and skill initiatives to help our employees acquire relevant skills and progress in their careers. Our 13 state-of-the-art digital academies such as Data Skills, DevOps, Architect, Digital, Design, etc. provide experiential learning through real-world engagements. In fact, our recent learning initiative – Ascend Program addresses the acute need and shortage of digital engineering talent in the industry through building talent in-house.
What are your thoughts on leveraging digital tools to enhance employee engagement and recognition? How can leaders retain the human element in these functions?
I am a big fan of technology and its use in retaining and engaging employees, especially the younger generations. I believe that leaders should invest in building custom digital experiences for people.
With flexible work becoming the new norm, organisations must get creative with how they can engage better with their employees, and I believe, the best place to start is with the people themselves.
Moreover, we are witnessing a shift where the physical workplaces are becoming more of a collaboration space where employees come together at regular intervals to build teams and solve problems. Therefore, organisations need to drive the right engagement for their employees by investing in efforts to create fun and collaborative spaces focused on team building and problem-solving. This can bring the human element to the rapidly expanding digitally hybrid workforce.
At GlobalLogic, we invest our time and energy in understanding how our people like to engage and what are the right tools/technologies that will help them feel engaged at work. However, technology cannot completely replace the need for human connection.
We have an internal networking and information platform called GLO, which is the center of all we do virtually – so from innovative ideas to white papers and recognition drives associated with those ideations, our GLO universe enables us with everything. We are also developing an app that will enable a personalised experience for our people.
What is your message for leaders, as they revamp business models and people strategy for the rapidly changing world of work?
The pandemic has given organisations a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change and revamp their approach to conducting business and engaging with their employees.
As we take a leap into the future of work, one that is highly connected and flexible, leaders must focus on understanding their workforce. The understanding will help the leaders to unlock new systems which are more organic, flexible, and human in nature. The young generations are the architects of the new evolved workplace, and they must have a say to build the future workplace.