How digital filled the happiness void during lockdown
ARTICLE BY: Vivek Ranjan, CHRO - Zensar Technologies | Published: 16 JULY 2020
News | 16 Jul 2020
The last few months have clearly outlined the fact that not only customers, but also our employees seek meaningful and fulfilling experiences, more than ever before. Those businesses who figure out how to make the employee experience as good as its customer experience will thrive and succeed. Healthy, happy and engaged employees are the secret weapon for improving metrics like profitability, engagement, and productivity. Never before, has the hr department taken centre stage with a direct impact on the company’s profitability, growth and expansion through its biggest asset – its people.
Today, improving and enhancing an employee’s experience has become a serious consideration for the HR department, especially since the global pandemic which has been a catalyst for change across many different spaces; economic, social, personal and corporate. It’s also a time for great opportunity in the long-term where companies can create a more engaged, robust and talented workforce.
While a virtual workspace and an immersive experience for employees is key going forwards, it will be fuelled by an increase in digital adoption at workplaces. This is amplified by the fact that millennials and Generation Z, who comprise half of the global workforce, puts a higher emphasis on experience, flexible working structures and new opportunities other than tangible benefits. Companies of today need to create the workplace for the employee of tomorrow who will be doing everything digitally. The key is to include this thinking in today’s strategy.
There is enough evidence available to suggest that working from home is here to stay, or at the very least becoming more of an acceptable option. A Gartner survey revealed that 74% of CFOs intend to shift at least 5% of their employees permanently to remote work.
As the workforce evolves, with more distinct and diverse objectives and expectations, CEOs are looking to their Chief Human Resource Officers (CHROs) to ensure the business has the right people, talent and agility to achieve profitability and compete in an increasingly complex and competitive marketplace. Employee experience is going to play a critical part in achieving these goals, but how can HR put this at the forefront when there is limited access to the employees’ environment and traditional methods are proving more difficult? Can a digital HR strategy be the answer or the catalyst to effect this change?
The answer is YES. Let’s look at how an integrated digital HR strategy touches different key roles played by the HR department across any industry.
Recruitment, onboarding and induction
Innovation in recruitment has advanced to the point where hiring through digital platforms is ubiquitous. And so now, the challenge for innovators is to create a more personalised experience from the very beginning. Enabling direct interaction between the candidate and the company – through its own application or chatbot – creates a heightened personalised experience, where from day zero, the candidate is engaged and curious to learn more.
Then follows the very important task of employee induction. Moving this to a digital platform presents the HR department with numerous opportunities for a seamless, hassle-free welcome for the employee(s) into the organisation as well as familiarising them with the culture. This leads to several benefits including: increased networking, consistency, clarity on roles and responsibilities, motivation and showcases the business in a positive light. Companies have realised throughout the pandemic that virtual hiring without any physical interaction works.
One of the most noticeable advantages is that a digital employee induction platform allows an induction to begin at any time of the day and can take place anywhere, which ultimately saves everyone time. Compare this to the current, physical process which is heavily reliant on 1:1 meetings and at the mercy of the availability of key people within the organisation. In some cases, travel and stay facilities need to be arranged creating a direct impact on the OPEX of a company.
Adjusting and updating the process, based on feedback from those who have participated, is much easier to do via a digital platform. Finally, a digital induction process is cost-effective because there is no cost of printed materials, room hire, and lost time of experienced colleagues.
Inclusive, new pool of talent
We are all familiar with talent migrating from smaller cities to larger cities for relevant employment opportunities. Now, as we shift the gear to the concept of remote working becoming a norm, rather an exception across various sectors, this is a huge game-changer for talent scouting. HR departments now have access to an extensive pool of good talent who were hesitant to move out of their home towns due to various personal commitments, the physically challenged professionals who had limitations or those who took a break to raise their families. All this untapped talent pool is within reach now. Diversity in talent, skillsets and capabilities is within easy reach when moving to a digital HR platform.
Tailored learning and development
As a result of digital adoption, tracking an employee’s personal development has never been easier. In the past, it typically fell on the HR department to provide updates / feedback. There are many technology choices to choose from so it is important that as the HR consultant you invest time into how the tool(s) can be used and tailored in response to the needs and skills of your employees.
With digital platforms, those wanting to upgrade their skills can benefit from a much more thorough monitoring system, receiving a more tailored and effective approach to enhancing their skills with the help of personalised up-skilling and re-skilling programmes. Benefits of this approach include the creation of a cohesive and dedicated plan which incorporates developmental feedback, multi-channel learning and the opportunity for employees to continue learning throughout their time with a business. Plus, the learning can take place anywhere. It is also easy to scale, operate and is very cost-effective.
Access to leadership
Typically, in any organisation due to geographical boundaries, presence of key leadership is limited, resulting in the larger employee base not getting the opportunity to interact or hear from them very often. Digital is a great leveller here.
As businesses move to sharing key conversations digitally, interactions with leadership increases, creating a new audience pool and serving as a good motivational tool for HR to offer.
Technology, when it comes to an employee’s wellbeing, can be a double-edged sword. However, used in the right way, technology can facilitate a healthier, happier workforce.
There is an array of digital variants available to choose from, however my recommendation would be to select a platform where it truly and effectively helps to promote the wellbeing of employees. An incentive such as a free phone line or app for employees to log in at their own leisure is OK but using a platform that has features to power initiatives beyond work and cover holistic wellbeing is the direction companies need to focus on.
Offering new learnings in the personal space, ways to cope with multiple home and office responsibilities as well as encourage a balanced life for the individual is key today.
Using technology as part of workplace communication is not as simple as downloading a tool and watching it become the norm for your colleagues to use. That said, adopting digital communications within the workplace is a fantastic way to provide transparency of the business – its goals, its culture, its people and its processes. What’s more, it allows for a collaborative environment, even when working remotely, as well as providing colleagues with a direct line to senior management – wherever they may sit within the organisation.
From chatbots and podcasts, to employee apps, artificial intelligence-powered and virtual reality-supported solutions, there are heaps of tools available to provide your employees with an immersive experience.
Choose a platform that actively keeps employees apprised of health-related advisory and information, addresses and offers diversity and inclusion initiatives and recognises individuals for exemplary performance.
As the competition for talent increases, the importance of getting the right employee experience heightens. Digital transformation is an exciting opportunity for businesses looking to improve, enhance and optimise their employee experience.
Regardless of whether they are working remotely or under the same roof, best practices for a successful digital transformation includes understanding the unique needs of various employees and stakeholders within your business. Empowering your colleagues by giving them a platform which offers full transparency on business communications, developments and goals. If your employees are happy, they are more likely to be productive, stay with you for the long-term and want to participate in making the business profitable.