The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered a new normal in the global economy, with enterprises embarking on a journey of rapid digital transformation. Businesses are looking to upskill their workforce as part of modern, hybrid workplaces built for resilience to manage future disruptions.
The future of the human resource function too, hence, lies in its digital transformation. Even though HR implies human connections, it must evolve with technology for a future that is both human and digital. They can do this by deploying digital platforms for employee engagement, introducing personalized training and skilling programs, and using automation and analytics for insights and efficiency.
This paradigm shift in HR can happen by embracing digitalization from a system as well as a process standpoint, which leads to a cultural transformation within the organization.
Most enterprises focus on achieving better efficiencies for their customers and clients in their digital transformation programs. There is an equal need to focus on the organizations’ internal customers, i.e., the employees. While such digitalization efforts help align the infrastructure and business processes with the business goals, employees can also benefit from the adoption of apposite digital tools as well as personalized engagement.
In an increasingly virtual workplace where the workforce transcends traditional geographical boundaries since there’s no natural human connection, digitalization can help bring context – while hiring a candidate, onboarding employees, or managing them from an HR perspective. And while personalization is critical, there needs to be some automation as well to aid the processes.
For example, organizations can bring in digital paperwork practices. Such initiatives can use artificial intelligence to automate entire HR processes, like background verification of employees during their onboarding. Several such repetitive and standardized procedures can be built as plug-and-play modules making them more efficient and effective.
Similarly, many employee processes can be digitized and automated using a chatbot. Using AI and natural language processing, these chatbots can answer the mundane and straightforward queries of employees. Human intervention can be reserved to address only complex problems. Even in the latter case, the system can bring in additional context around the query, thereby improving the quality of interaction.
HR could leverage data points about the employees via diverse touchpoints across the digital and social footprint of the individuals. Analyzing these multiple data sources in almost real-time allows the organization to calculate ROI on various employee initiatives and keep a tab on workforce sentiment and organizational productivity. All these factors help the HR and C-suite leadership in faster and better-informed decision making and strategy building.
Additionally, the artificial intelligence and machine learning tools that organizations deploy to understand customer behavior or as predictive analysis of business processes can also predict employee behavior and design effective engagement strategies.
The focus is on a ‘workforce of one’ approach – which involves segmenting employees to create customized but standardized people practices for different workforce segments. The future of HR will be augmented by digital tools and cutting-edge technology to deliver a personalized and evolved experience for employees.
Training and upskilling
For long, HR practices involved managing linear career paths of employees punctuated by yearly performance reviews. However, to stay relevant in an intense and evolving market landscape in the current times, there’s constant pressure to adopt new and emerging technologies. Since the traditional training methodologies can’t keep pace, HR needs to engage new-age learning and enablement platforms to build a skilled and confident workforce while also improving employee retention.
Such community-based learning platforms allow virtual training based on common learning goals or interests. The organizations can also bring in gamification to encourage employees to undertake training as well as to measure them up amongst their peers.
When embarking on digital transformation, most organizations define their goals. Similarly, for the evolution of its HR function, organizations must define their objectives and continuously evaluate their processes and impact on employees to succeed, particularly when the business environment is dynamic with a rapidly changing workforce and evolving expectations and motivations.
by Sundaram Ganapathy, Vice President and Global Delivery Head of Data and Analytics practice, Infosys
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