When dealing with a workforce which is fast comprising of more millennials globally, it is imperative for an organization to understand ‘What Is It’ that the millennials want. Multiple overlapping pieces of research from around the world suggest that this workforce is different. In that, they want to connect more, belong more, own more and in general, know much more than their predecessors, about their own performance feedback and the direction of the organization. They also have limited or no tolerance for system inefficiencies and consider getting a seamless experience, in work-related matters, a hygiene factor.
Traditional HR is still run on the philosophy of x employees to 1 single window HR professional, more commonly known as the HRBP. Physical or even digital touchpoints are structured and are usually few and far in between. Typical centers of excellence in the HR space usually feed the HRBP who in turn becomes a conduit for the passing of work related info such as goals and mission, benefits, recognition as well as advise on career progression.
HR leaders are fast discovering that a plethora of HRBPs, elaborate R&R plans, e-sat surveys conducted annually or at best bi-annually or traditional methods of skill development such as TNI, classroom training, etc. have started to fall short of their employees’ expectations. It is also not surprising that, of late, the efforts of the HR teams coupled with internal communication teams do not bring adequate results in terms of driving awareness, behavior, motivation or change. The work-force wants to discover and communicate rather than being told. They expect interfaces to be intuitive, rather than simple. They expect to know “how they’re doing” at all points, rather than at annual or quarterly intervals.
The ask is really coming from the typical lifestyle of a millennial. Breaking news is no longer a factor of waiting for the morning newspaper or even prime-time broadcast. Connecting, communicating or collaborating with others is easier and quicker than ever before, thanks to social networking. Recognition is instant and crowd-sourced, & therefore considered more credible. Navigating through cross-functional or seemingly disconnected milieus is transparent and easy. And most importantly, information is only a click away.
The onus is on the HR leaders to provide an extension of this lifestyle and environ at the workplace. The asks of the workplace should seamlessly be able to integrate into the fabric of the employees’ habits & preferences. In this way, the mind-share to being productive can be much more as lesser time is devoted to comparing, complaining and complying.
Ultimately the organization stands to reap the benefits of bringing these changes to the workplace – more efficient & administratively lighter processes, a more productive workforce, lesser paperwork or physical coordination, system rather than people dependent organizations and a lot of rich data to derive meaningful insights from.
While the penetration of automation and AI is still nascent in the HR space, whether in India or globally, there definitely are early adopters who have started reaping some of the benefits. Let’s take the example of a few touchpoints within the employee lifecycle and see how automation helps the employee and the employer respectively in each of those.
Talent Acquisition is a common pain point for hiring teams across almost all organizations. From advertising to the right job boards, articulating role descriptions and employer value proposition, to sifting through multiple applications to identify the right skills set, to selecting talented candidates, and to rolling out the final offer; the entire process can become very light, with much faster response time by implementing an applicant tracking system – easily integration capable with any HCM. It will immediately afford you higher visibility along with a clear audit trail. By using a good ATS, one can not only bring down the time to hire but also get visibility on hiring funnel, source mix and job loss, which can then be optimized to better suit the organization. Tools like parsing save the recruiter a lot of time in non-value-add areas such as data entry and the need for trackers. Throw AI in the mix, & recruiters get more time evaluating the smaller but eligible talent pool. Candidates get a uniform experience, be it brand feel or recruiter connect, and are happy going through a friendly process.
*On-boarding & joining*
An employee will typically spend her first couple of days in joining formalities and on-boarding – submitting forms and getting access to various platforms in the company. Automated pre-boarding allows one to not only orient the new joiner to expectations and culture at the new workplace, but also to get the mundane task of joining formalities completed before actually joining the workplace. This allows for much faster on-boarding and the new hire can now focus on areas which actually interest or impact her – business overview, vision & goals, and role alignment. Since new employees need a lot of hand-holding, with a customized onboarding process for each position which focuses role & KRA clarity, automation can help in bringing in clarity on the role as well as its purpose in the eco-system of the organization, very early on. This goes a long way in retaining employees, all while maintaining a good onboarding experience.
As long as the company is invested in defining KRAs and targets for all of its workforces well, you only need a layer of automation on top of, say, your base ERP to do continuous performance management. Employee scorecards, a term which used to be on the wish-list of many managers, is now a reality, driven completely by automation. With a system in place which tracks real-time peer performance & own target Vs KRA achievement, HR managers & business stakeholders alike are able to assess performance more objectively. It’s easy to spot detractors and suggest the right training programs for the employees lagging behind the average team performance. Employees get a far greater sense of transparency relating to their standing in the team, & their individual growth.
With all of these data points combined identifying hi-pot talent, rewarding hi-performance employees, doing succession planning & boosting engagement automatically becomes easier.
*Workplace issues and their resolution*
HRBP’s put in an extraordinary amount of time & effort handling employee complaints & issues, may it be salary, task, role or behavior related. Add to the mix giving progress updates to the relevant people, & follow up till resolution, this becomes extremely challenging. Despite this, the HR manager may never have visibility of total quantum of open issues or concerns in the system as each HRBP will be dealing with these for his or her span.
With a proper system to document such tasks, say a simple ticketing system which allows re-assignment of tickets to the provide solutions on the fly, coupled with self-help documentation such as FAQs will go a long way in easing the burden on the HRBP and bringing a lot more visibility into issues faced by the work-force. Automating appropriate escalations, or role-based assignment of tickets to the right managers can make the process faster, consistent & more accurate. A simple dashboard can tell you which areas are toughest for the employees to navigate through – by checking CTR on the FAQ page or number of queries in any category. Processes can be re-mapped to address such areas for the whole org – a pro-active approach to managing e-sat!