As the second wave of the COVID19 pandemic challenges companies to once again refocus their priorities on the health and wellbeing of their employees, it is shaping the outlook for work more strongly than ever. And this means finding ways to support employees digitally and becoming nimble with many HR policies and processes.
In an exclusive interview with People Matters, Amol Gupta, Chief Human Resources Officer, India & Philippines, FIS shared his insights on the lessons learnt over the last year. Amol has over 23 years of HRM experience and as worked across Financial Services, IT Product Company, IT/ITES, Pharma and Bio Technology throughout his career.
1. How has the last year changed your perspective on workplace performance and productivity?
Transformable leadership, scalable technology and agility are the key to success during such unforeseen circumstances. Hit by the pandemic, we quickly pulled ourselves because of these factors, ensuring remote working, productivity and keeping employees’ morale/motivation high.
Productivity is not space-dependent and it is technology depended. A typical example would be our BPO employees who have always worked from the office given that they work on sensitive Banking and Payment data -NPA and NPCI data. This is one segment of the population who had never tried to work from home earlier. But with the necessary infrastructure in place, we managed to enable them to work from home and got the productivity up to 100%. We did not see a productivity dip anywhere.
Clear expectation setting and SMART goals give purpose and direction to employees. You ensure that – you enable with technology, keep the communication going, and keep them engaged. This is all that is needed to create the right environment for workplace performance and productivity. Nothing changes except the place of work.
2. What are some new practices you’ve adopted in light of the emerging hybrid workplace model?
We are listening more through our Voice of Employee program (VoEs). It is a medium through which we pay attention to employee feedback. Our focus is also looking at workspace profile consolidation which means employees are requested to provide their views on what kind of new working style will be suitable or convenient for them — work from home / remote model or hybrid model. Based on the feedback, we are making the necessary changes to our workspaces and the way we work.
India was not widely equipped with WFH (Work form home) infrastructure earlier, hence it took us some time to evaluate our job profiles and understand how many of them can operate virtually and to what extent.
This year, we conducted virtual tours with our CEO who is based in the U.S. Earlier, he visited every region yearly. But since the pandemic, virtual tours has helped leadership engagement with employees. We organised town halls, met with different focus groups, and executed business reviews etc. over video calls for employees in India.
The learning and development initiatives /modules have gone all digital. All our people touchpoints have gone online – from hire to exit. We have eliminated all in-person, paper-related processes. Our employee engagement, wellbeing (physical/mental), telemedicine everything has gone digital. Plus we have put in incentives to track the physical well-being sessions using the Virgin Pulse tool.
3. The year 2021 is set to become the year of continuous reinvention – with new ways of working becoming more permanent and innovation becoming central to HR’s practices. How are you thinking about these challenge areas?
AI and Robotics are already in. As an organization, we’re already rapidly changing. . Digitization and automation in HR are one of our primary goals, but they cannot replace empathy. This is one of the greatest challenges. While bringing in more innovation in these areas, we have to be mindful that the application of human behaviours/psychology cannot be replaced and the need for it has increased all the more. Skills and upgrading the skills have become much more important.
Manpower planning in this digital world is surely one of the challenging areas with variations in the demand for the work. Can we have boundary-less hiring? Can we hire a candidate from Delhi for an opening in Chennai? What are the possibilities and what are the hindrances? ? Can we move to a ‘no policies’ concept in HR? How do we ensure there are no women dropouts due to rising pressure due to remote working – especially when there’s an absence of house help, day-care, etc.,
4. How is the role of HR set to change? With greater individual autonomy and accountability – what’s the impact of the HR function and policy/ process level change?
The HR function has been in the driver’s seat since the last one year of pandemic. We have been strategizing, enabling and facilitating the company towards its goal and to overcome people’s challenges. Our role has evolved from working on people strategies to influencing business strategies and key decisions like never before. The pandemic has changed the focus of corporates to the well-being of employees, work-life balance, and drive self-motivation while working from home. Empathy is the key driver for these changes and we are seeing its impact on HR policies, insurance policies at work place etc.,
I believe our policies are going to be more nimble to be able to relate to an individual. Processes will be built around to help the nimbleness.
5. How are you mapping continuous learning/ skilling with workplace performance, given that it has become critical to business continuity?
With a increased focus on learning and up-skilling, separate emerging technology up-skilling programs, coaching and mentoring programs have held priority.