K Jayashubha is Chief People Officer of TVS Credit Service Limited, where she is in charge of setting up well-defined employee performance management systems, rewards and recognition platforms, HR metrics using HR analytics and various employee engagement programs.
Jayashubha discusses the changing landscape and challenges HR leaders have faced during the pandemic, how HR leaders can help employees create a healthy work-life balance, how HR policies are being adapted to new working models and the importance of innovation in the sector.
What do you think are some of the biggest challenges HR leaders face in the post-pandemic world?
The pandemic has demanded rapid change from all of us- we had to make overnight transitions from the given, traditional ways of work to new and novel work platforms. Adaptability became the key to both survive as well as thrive. In the post-pandemic world, adaptability and the ability to learn, relearn and re-train will become an invaluable trait that will be sought after.
Suddenly it is not about “what you know” but your “learning ability” that becomes paramount. It is a wakeup call for our institutions as well as educational and training institutes. HR’s great challenge will be to discover, groom and nurture such people within the organisation in ever-evolving roles, functions and circumstances. It will make the HR function much more dynamic and change-oriented.
How can HR leaders help employees create a healthy work-life balance?
The daily commute was, for several decades, a way to both physically and psychologically change bearings from “home mode” to “work mode”. That buffer zone is now effectively erased, with home becoming the place of work as well as life. It is like having an international border without a buffer zone. Under these circumstances, it is essential to create and respect barriers that are not geography-based but time-based. That will require creating mental boundaries between work time and lifetime, even within the same location. We will have to redefine “availability” beyond the age-old definition of “physical proximity” and bring in new fences that will separate work and life.
Why is it becoming increasingly important now for HR leaders to recognise and work towards the mental health and well-being of employees?
Quite simply, because the “equilibrium” has been disturbed and such changes bring with it a certain level of trauma. We are living in an era of rapid change never before experienced by humankind. We face situations wherein children are more digitally savvy as compared to 40-year-olds, and this too causes stress and a feeling of redundancy. We are realising with a certain level of finality that what we learned 20 years back has no relevance to today’s demands and trends. HR has to recognise and work to mitigate the ill effects of these circumstances, which justifies the extra emphasis laid on employees’ mental health and well-being today.
How should companies modify their HR policies to adapt to the changing work models such as remote working?
The physical office defined its ways of working, set standards of behaviour and interaction, which created and sustained a common “company culture”. People knew their limits and worked in cohesion with teams, and even mentoring and grooming was more comfortable with physical proximity.
The change to virtual or hybrid working will challenge this very same culture, norms of working etc, and we need to collectively find ways to sustain the good aspects of “office” work. The first loss of virtual work is the keen sense of belonging and resultant social cohesion. Given that some teams will be working virtually and others attend to work in their offices, there is a danger of two sets of cultures emerging and impairing corporate norms cohesiveness. We will have to institute platforms, norms and practices that will support corporate culture, engender a sense of belonging and sustain human relationships even when remote.
What role does innovation play in the future of the HR/hiring process in the new normal?
Quite simply, the weightage will differ from what one knows to “Learning Ability”. The ability to deal with new challenges and learn and relearn will make the difference between relevance and obsolescence. In the age of social media, the formal interview will also have a redefined role and weightage, given that there is so much data available through social media platforms and people’s personal publishing. With AI’s help, psychological suitability is easier to discern, and the hiring process will continually become more IT-enabled.