New Normal: Reimagining The Workforce Strategy

n recent times, the way businesses existed and operated has changed; and possibly, for ever. Notwithstanding, the good news is, the Information Technology industry is known to be resilient; and this time is no different. As organizations adapt swiftly to this ‘new normal’, the business game changer keep their workforce policies and practices unchanged.

A Human Resources Paradigm Shift

Conventionally, a major part of the IT industry is familiar with the concept of ‘remote working’; given its onshore-offshore business operating model. However, the current times have brought unmatched challenges for the Human Resources function. While employees’ productivity and safety are priorities, the new normal has led the HR function on an evolutionary path over a short span. Companies are now required to reimagine their HR processes like hiring and inducting new talent; or adapting to agile training methodologies in a virtual world; and redefining employee engagement and experience.  

Though different industries are characterized by various factors, it’s worthwhile to appreciate how HR professionals across industries have acknowledged this shift in outlook by reimagining the workforce strategies and making it relevant for all stakeholders. Above all, upholding the employee experience as paramount.   

The Art of Hiring and Integrating New Talent

Traditionally, as a part of employer branding, companies preferred in-person meetings with potential employees or candidates at the workplace premises; to impress upon them the state-of-the-art facilities. These interactions also helped in candidate assessment as body language is a key component in job interviews. Over time, sourcing talent and a part of the assessment became virtual; but nobody had imagined that one day, the entire process will have to be conducted in the ‘remote mode’.

Owing to current market realities, the complete selection process is now virtual, and hiring teams are solving issues of impersonation during assessments, managing huge numbers of virtual interviews and keeping the human connect intact through technology; while also achieving recruitment targets and onboarding expectations to keep businesses going. 

The biggest change has been in our campus hiring approach, as campus visits were integral to organizational brand building, and the top management took time out of their busy schedules. As everything is now done virtually, interviewers are learning new and efficient ways to assess these potential recruits. Recruitment marketing is unlearning ‘on-campus’ brand promotions and deploying ‘virtual and social’ marketing strategies.

Organizations work hard to make the first day at work memorable for new recruits, because it leaves a lasting impression and creates a sense of belongingness. Leaders come forward to interact with the recruits and the organizational culture is highlighted through discussions. It’s challenging to recreate this experience through virtual inductions, which is the norm now.   

The initial skills and professional development trainings have been made virtual. The challenge is not only for HR functions to enable this, but also for the new recruits to train virtually for the first couple of months. Trainers are quickly learning new and effective teaching methods. Immersion programs that were designed to provide personal attention and care by the supervisors and fellow colleagues, have adapted to retain the essence virtually. Companies like ours have invested in retaining the human connect by leveraging both technology and enhancing the roles of ‘project buddies’ and human resource partners for a sustained engagement throughout the onboarding and training process.  

New-Age Employee Experience

This is another focus area for HR functions and business leaders to deliver a novel, superlative employee experience. While employee safety has been ensured by enabling them to work from home, a new challenge of emotional wellbeing has taken precedence; considering the current turbulent times. Balancing of work and life has now become a daily necessity, as opposed to a concept looked at periodically. In this new normal, the lines between work and life have blurred. In my own experience, it’s no longer about work-life-balance, but about ‘work-life-integration’. 

Employee engagement is mostly about shared experiences; camaraderie and working towards the same goals. Companies like ours have tried to create this bonhomie by thoughtful initiatives and fun activities for employees, such as a virtual game of Housie! Spot awards and appreciations have become crucial in boosting employee morale. Public recognition is very important and hence award ceremonies previously held in silos have been replaced by online gatherings, where employees are recognized amidst their teams; with even their families joining these celebrations. Leadership’s connection with employees has become more important than ever, and various social channels and tools have helped in this process.  

Virtual connects and remote working will never eliminate the importance of employees’ need for social and in-person interactions with peers and seniors. However, with the COVID-19 risks not relenting any time soon, it’s encouraging to see that employees, leaders and HR functions have embraced this new reality. In fact, we as a community have grown tougher by continuously innovating our people processes and standing with each other in solidarity. Most certainly, whenever we head back to our offices, some of the HR innovations which happened during this time will continue to impact our people practices positively. We should be proud of the fact that we have made the best of the situation and emerged stronger in ways that we had not imagined before. 

By: Lokendra Sethi

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