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Future of Work & desired HRM Practices from Individuals Perspective

HRM/HRD has always been considered as a Staff function in majority of the organization. It has been seen as a support to various department in achieving their targets. In the Brick-and-Mortar system, HR department has always been seen as a cost center. Thanks to the Pandemic, the concept is now bound to change. In fact, in various organizations, we see such changes taking place. With remote working or working from anywhere being the norm, the future and the current work space is seeing rapid transformation. In this transformation process HR is going to play a pivotal role to define the future work space and the way it will impact the various functions. Organizations cannot afford to have a passive HR department or “Pillion Rider”. They have to take the driving Seat, since the expectations of the most valuable resource “Human” (aka employees) will be diverse and the span of control is likely to be huge and far.

Expectation Management

Due to Migration of employees/work force, the growth which was restricted to few regions (Pre-Pandemic) will get spread in different geographies leading to the ripple effect of the growth of the economy. Having accustomed to WFH culture, Employees have now been more or less happy to maintain the status quo, albeit with some tweaks. As days pass by we expect to see a hybrid model taking shape- where people would visit the office few days in a week/month in a staggered manner. As this becomes a new norm, various changes are expected to be seen and new challenges will emerge.

Employees would expect more freedom at work space and would continue to demand remote working for time to come.

Technology will become Key, as everything will be virtual now. Data or MIS is going to play a very important role in employee evaluation. “Work from anywhere” will open plethora of opportunities for people leaving in tier 2 and tier 3 cities. Even companies will not have constraints in hiring talents as work will be location agnostic. More automation/digitization of work force is going to be seen. Processes will no longer be human centric in various industries, and companies will be forced to innovate, thereby adding value, quick TAT, with data trails. A huge investment in technology will propel the IT industry to flourish. Internet being the Key- will attract lot of investment in improving the bandwidth/speed and ultimately the cost of the internet.

Work from Home enables a person to be in touch with the family taking care of the needs and simultaneously working from the office. This would also lead to a change in way, how the housing sector is currently looked at. People will prefer big houses, a separate room to be dedicated for office work. Remote management of team members would be a new challenge, as sitting across the tables and counselling/grievance handling, mentoring, monitoring work will all happen virtually. The personal touch may no longer be available, and data crunching/report culling over various software will form the basis of new work force. Time and meeting management will be another factor, as managers needs to be sensitive that a person WFH should not be considered as perennially available for office work and line of demarcation in the working hours needs to be maintained.

Some Other Points that are also going to play an important role for the HR would be:

Since majority would be working remotely, the HR actions in term of identifying critical skills, understanding and creating competencies, evaluating performance, Developing Performance matrix, Data Storage on ethical and legal side i.e what type of date to store, use and allow it to be disseminated to different departments will be very important and crucial.

Managing Dispersed work force, engaging them with the culture of the organization, monitoring check in and log out timings based on which evaluation, rewards etc to be developed. Mentor and mentee relationship for the new comers and employees who need assistance will have to be inbuilt in the PMS.

As the societal role of employees change, HR needs to think of creating a position for an Engagement officer, who could discuss the challenges on burnout, fatigue, mental health, thereby engaging the employee and keep them motivated. The compensation department also needs to rework on the package and allowances, gifts, and various form of incentives to help the employees in mitigating some form of expenses that may arise due to the pandemic situation. Leave policy needs to be reworked and amended to incorporate the changes in the current scenario.

HR will have to use more Gig force, thereby it becomes more crucial to identify the right competencies and skill sets, to manage cost. Benefits extended to the gig force on the lines of Full-time workers needs to be carefully calibrated, along with setting up their evaluation parameters.

Multitasking employees with multiple skills and imparting training to assume different roles will be a key task of the HR guys. An employee needs to be prepared for disruptions and taking on different role as the organizations evolve. HR will have to evolve and think of all possible roles and skill sets that may arise due to disruption of technology. Succession plan of the roles needs to be adequately captured. Talent Mobility across regions and role needs to be mapped as talents would be wide spread and not easily noticed.

Leaders need to develop EI and connect with their subordinates/peers to make them feel comfortable. Expectations of the Managers needs to be set, specifically considering the remote working environment. Work place etiquettes, break hours and No phone/meeting hours should be defined and religiously followed. WFH should not be construed as “Always available”.

Diversity inclusion during hiring process, hiring from B towns, Inculcating Gender sensitivity are going to be the Key focus points of HR..

Points to Ponder and Recommendation:

The survey has given strong indications that the Future of work Preferred by majority would be hybrid Model/WFH. Technology being critical organization will have to continuously innovate so that the employee engagement is maintained without losing the human touch as it used to be earlier. The HR needs to play a proactive role in devising policies which doesn’t encroach the personal space of employees, just because employees are working from home. Office hours needs to be strictly defined, so that fatigue and burnout doesn’t happen. The Reporting heads or the functional Managers needs to more sensitive in demanding work. While T&D for upskilling is recommended, it still leaves with a big question on the actual execution of the learning from those programs. It is high time that a matrix is created to ensure that the behavioral aspect of Managers is being seriously looked into. The Strategic Management Group or the senior leadership team needs to drive the same. As the policy conceptualization/Implementation and execution is dependent on the leadership team, it gets imperative for them to think of strong facilitators in terms of Strong HR department to get the ball moving. HR should not be considered merely as a support role, which is currently the case in most of the companies. They need to be empowered and should be allocated a budget to function like a Revenue Centre, if not a profit center. Empowering the HR is still an open area, which is pivotal for various policies, initiatives to set in specifically in the new era of Digital connect. Re-defining Roles and Responsibilities, creating assessment centers, Competency Mapping, ways of identifying talent in terms of lateral spread, Re-creating PMS will be the new challenges which HR has to think through for which the support of SMG is crucial.

In the Indian Context/developing countries, considering the SEC (socio economic class), WFH also has a challenge of Privacy/independence at work considering the House Size, family Size and the respective culture, which applies to fairer Gender particularly. It gets all the more important for the HR to play multiple roles/avtars of mentor/Colleague/Friend/Counsellor. Mechanism of Employee engagement will have to be reinvented and real time needs to be given.

Adopting technology will also lead to production, simulation and generation of tons of data about employee and Data Privacy is going to be very important, as various security system or software is going to be involved in managing employees. Ethical and Legal perspective of this data to any third party needs to be evaluated deeply and appropriate measures needs to be devised to avoid any misuse of it.

Gig workforce is also one open area where HR needs to proactively identify critical skills and deploy as per the need. This will also involve reframing specific policies or amalgaming that with the existing employee policies so that there is no distinction between a regular and Gig worker. Reengineering workforce Planning vis a vis critical skill is going to be very important.

Key Recommendation:

  • Proper Work Hours policy should be formed and everyone should be sensitized about adhering to the same. Apart from Lunch hours, some off time like Personal hours etc needs to be introduced. Work from Home should not be construed as always available.
  • Micro Management needs to avoided and design roles, structure and processes around outcomes, rather than tasks to increase responsiveness and flexibility.
  • A new position in HR (Engagement Officer) to specifically counsel employees on mental fatigue, build on EQ, help in counselling on skills etc needs to be created, who maintains connect with the employees on a periodic basis.
  • Upskilling or L&D programs should be periodically conducted in relation to the functional skills and behavioral skills
  • Reporting Head/ Managerial level guys needs to be trained on building trust and also trusting their subordinates. This equally goes to the top level also. Space and Freedom needs to be provided to all employees.
  • HR needs to be fully empowered and should take a leading active role and not be passive spectator to events. They should be proactive and not reactive in their approach. HR is going to play a pivotal role in transformation.
  • HR needs to ensure that leaders develop Emotional Intelligence and other soft skills and also help employees to navigate expectations by balancing empathy with performance expectations.HR also needs to fortify the culture of inclusiveness.
  • Rewards & Compensation: Make benefits highly relevant to employees. “One size fits all” may not work.
  • Shift to Agile operating Models and dismantle bureaucracy. 

Executive Summary:

Technology is going to play a significant role in Post Pandemic scenario redefining the way people work. Hybrid Model of work force is going to the new norm. HR needs to be proactive and devise dynamic policies in

  • Recruitment- Where by inclusiveness and diversity is focused, Innovative ways to hire from tier 2 and 3 cities and focusing on Gig employees to de-risk the model
  • Training and Development: To ensure that Upskilling/Reskilling is done for the existing workforce and timely behavioral set of training is also provided to build a strong EQ among the employees
  • Employee Relations: The HR will have to be more proactive in engaging employees in terms of retention, motivation and acting as a buddy. Senior Management needs to be more sensitive and accommodating along with devising various employee friendly policy to meet the financial and health objectives.

Talent would be location agnostic and evaluation of critical roles, developing succession plans, devising a suitable compensation structure, amending leave policies, engaging employees on a continuous basis at a remote level with inclusion of fun and frolic are going to be the distinguishing factor of potential employers. Talent decisions made now will define employer brands for years to come. Organizations demonstrating their commitments to employees will now be viewed as Top Tier employers.


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