The Changing Role of HR in the Age of Digital Transformation

The Changing Role of HR in the Age of Digital Transformation

Melvin Gladstone, Chief HR Officer, Edelweiss General Insurance, 0

The last two years have been unprecedented and profoundly impacting our lives. The learning from these years have been enormous, building our ability to adapt to new ways, build resilience, hope and courage. It has also changed the way we live and work too. Digital is now the new way of working!

Digital transformation has disrupted all functions within a business organization, and HR is no exception. The ‘People function’ has transformed right from hiring, engaging, managing, empowering and retaining talent.

Imbibing a digital first approach has become an integral part of today’s workforce management and progressive HR practices. To make business transformation journeys and innovation initiatives successful, HR needs to be at the heart of all digital business transformation. HR should help facilitate creating and imbibing a culture conducive for the workforce to innovate, where people have the flexibility to unlearn, learn and relearn.

By understanding the rationale of digital transformation clearly and building adequate support throughout the organization, HR function will be in a better position to attract and retain the desired talent.

How is technology changing HR at its core?

The Hybrid Way of Working
Remote working was one of the biggest changes that Covid brought in. What started as a compulsion, has now become an almost permanent way of working. Employees are demanding flexibility with their workspace and a lot of employers are also being equally receptive. A smart combination of working in an office setting and remote working is the new norm. A hybrid working model is therefore definitely here to stay. The fulcrum to making this work largely lies with the HR. Ensuring that employees across levels are engaged and motivated enough in a distanced world, so that performance does not dip, is one of the many challenges. Providing them with the right infrastructure, requisite accesses to business applications and collaborative tools, to enable them to contribute to organization’s success is important. How do you then ensure productivity? Having the right governance model will be helpful. Clearly defining realistic performance standards and measures of productivity, regular check-ins to ensure employee discipline, etc. is what is needed.

Hiring and Onboarding
Hiring strategy has evolved in the last couple of years. Physical formats and location-based hiring has made way for digital assessments, video interviews, etc. Recruiting efforts are focusing more on social skills, cultural fitment, etc. rather than only on competence and functional soundness. Digital tools can also help streamline job postings and pre-interview assessments too. This change is not a short-term phenomenon, this will continue being the trend going forward as well. Post hiring, creating that warm first impression with the new employee with a seamless onboarding and settling in experience will also help nurturing a positive and happy employee.

Building a Future Ready Workforce
For businesses to be digitally transformed, it is imperative that the workforce is also digitally competent. This will help boost productivity, leading to better business outcomes. Continuous learning, regular upskilling and capability building on digital skills make up for a good people strategy that will enhance the digital quotient of employees and drive the digital-first culture within the organization.

Keeping the Human Touch Alive in the Digital World
HR practitioners are re-looking the way they communicate with employees. Organizations are transforming the HR function to make it more personalized and engaging for employees. Training and rewarding employees for moving away from age-old practices and embracing newer and digital ways of thinking and working.

HR is now accepted as a Business enabler of Digital transformation to drive organizational vision

Maintaining employee morale is another challenge to consider. Simple steps like showing appreciation for a good work done, expressing gratitude for pulling through a tough situation, acknowledging accomplishments, recognizing that extra effort, etc. will go a long way in maintaining employee stickiness. Closely monitoring motivation triggers and acting on it will help in building an energized and resilient workforce.

Dealing with Employee Anxiety
Ensuring physical and emotional wellbeing of employees is one of the priorities for HR in current times. A personal one-on-one chat, providing financial support where critical, offering medical help through teleconsultations with doctors, organising counselling sessions with medical experts where employees can unburden themselves, fun sessions at work, Friday breakouts, power naps at work, etc. will be useful methods that can be practiced to keep employees de-stressed and stay connected with them

HR has a critical role to play in continuously driving digital transformation. Priorities for HR managers and HR leaders would be:

•Ensure your leadership is in synch and completely signed in on newer digital ways of working.

•Drive effective and continuous change management.

•Ensure workforce is future ready with learning and development programs on digital skills and knowledge.

•Focus to develop the middle management for them to assume strategic senior leadership roles basis their readiness and Individual. Development Plans.

•Articulate clear and consistent digital transformation strategy and ensure it cascades to the last mile of the organization.

•Create, drive, and sustain a culture of agility and innovation.

To summarize, being the voice of an organization and an evolving workforce, HR is now accepted as a Business enabler of Digital transformation to drive organizational vision. As technology evolves and we touch newer heights of digital transformation, the role of HR too will transit and transform.