The current crisis of the global pandemic has pushed HR leaders to reinvent processes and policies that will ensure agility and future – preparedness of employees and the organisation as a whole.
Priya Khanna, Senior Manager – People Partner, S&P Global is a dynamic HR professional with a decade of wide-ranging experience gained in high-profile organisations across varied industries.
She speaks to us about the changing work scenario brought on by the pandemic, the challenges HR leaders face during these unpredictable times and the role innovation plays in helping companies to keep pace with the changing work environment.
What do you think are some of the biggest challenges HR leaders face in the post-pandemic world?
Flexible working is now like a genie that is out of the bottle, and it is not going back in! Flexible working will now be a key hiring, engagement and retention driver. There will be a greater future for work from home.
Organizations that will promote flexible working options need to ensure that there is equal adequate access available to all employees in terms of the opportunities and tools for work from home.
Also, there will be hurdles in altering the organizations’ cultures where people managers and leaders remain involved to direct oversight and visibility to manage talent. Flexible working is here to stay and will now be regarded high in the employee benefits package.
In this new normal world, organizations that are more agile will thrive. Hence, another important challenge that lies ahead is to increase organizational agility. We need to continuously evolve to make our work processes, organization structures, behaviours and practices nimble and seamlessly technologically driven. Agile strategic planning and management are here to stay.
In a time when the lines are being blurred between home and office life, how can HR leaders help employees create a healthy work-life balance?
HR can strongly support maintaining a healthy work-life balance by establishing an employee assistance wellbeing program. Wellbeing programs should critically focus on drawing certain ground rules in this flexible working model like setting reasonable deadlines, educating people managers about not contacting their team members outside of traditional office hours, setting clear expectation boundaries, regular check-ins and career conversations to keep the momentum going, as well as wellness monthly days and Zoom-free days to well-established employee assistance programs.
Sincerely support modelling healthy behaviour – advocate team members prioritizing self-care and setting boundaries between their professional and personal world. The organisation should consider well-structured medical insurance covers including OPD benefits, wellness allowances and mental wellbeing support systems.
Also, communication is the cornerstone – HR should actively communicate with employees and importantly advocate that the organisation is there for you, just reach out.
Why is it becoming increasingly important now for HR leaders to recognise and work towards the mental health and wellbeing of employees?
We are living in unprecedented times. This uncertainly around us is breeding anxiety, depression, burnout and trauma. These mental health experiences will be unique and will differ according to culture, economic opportunity, job, parenting and caregiving responsibilities, and many other variables. Hence, it becomes critical for every organization to develop clear mental and employee wellbeing assistance programs to support people as they face new stressors, safety concerns, and economic upheaval.
Also in this new world, organizations that are able to provide a safe and engaging employee experience will strengthen their employer brands and will be able to attract, engage and retain talent.
How should companies today modify their HR policies to adapt to the changing work models such as remote working?
Today, the organization should have a clear focus on the adoption of new (perhaps ‘kinder’) people policies that address the flexible, financial, mental and physical wellbeing of team members and support their unique needs. People policies should be mindfully curated with a benchmark to clear market study. The cornerstone in drafting future people policies lies in embracing the values of empathy, kindness, and human connection. Keep it simple and nimble.
What role does innovation play in the future of the HR/hiring process in the new normal?
This pace of change in the corporate world is driven by digital technology at an exponentially accelerated speed. Innovation has always proven to be essential for business continuity and sustainability. In these testing times, ground-breaking digital transformation is playing a critical role in supporting HR leaders to thrive in the future of the new normal.
From chatbots to predictive people analytics, gamification of the onboarding process to virtual recruitment, a seamless offboarding process to interactive learning agility digital transformation is essentially re-establishing our organization culture and ecosystem that not only inspires and engages existing talent but also supports in attracting new talents and enhancing employer brand equity.
Organizations that are ready to adopt next-gen digital transformation with a well-established security framework in place, agile people-centric processes in place will be well -prepared for whatever the future brings.