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HR - The Leading Edge of the ‘New Normal’
Anurag Purohit Business Consultant - Oracle HCM, Oracle Practice | September 17, 2020
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It’s July, which is normally the time to enjoy the monsoons in South Asia or be outdoors soaking in the sun in Europe or North America. 2020 though, has been anything but normal. The pandemic sweeping the world has indelibly impacted our lives– confining us indoors, limiting social interactions, testing our physical and psychological resilience and changing behaviors. Businesses and industries around the world have been devastated– from mobility to hospitality, from recreation to higher education, from airlines to cruise lines– and the stress is palpable.

Whether we are yet to reach peak vulnerability, have flattened the curve, or are in recovery mode– the world has shifted around us. The disruption is centered around the lifeblood of all productive endeavors in the world– people– and thus, not for the first time, HR has been propelled to the forefront of leading organizations into this new paradigm. This blog post attempts to explore some of the changed dynamics facing HR, and the tools that can enable organizations to recalibrate their HR strategy and thrive in this new world.

Talent Acquisition

The sheer scale and rapid impact of COVID-19 has meant that job losses have been swift, devastating, and pervasive. Millions of lives have been impacted. Uncertainty prevails– while some businesses like online retailers, frontline healthcare, and grocery stores are struggling to find staff to handle growing demand; others like hospitality, airlines, and retailers have been utilizing government-funded selective furlough programs to protect jobs. Organizations which are recruiting successfully, are finding a very different environment from before the pandemic:

  • Deluge of Applications: For every open position, the number of applications  has increased manifold. Being able to sort and screen these applications effectively and efficiently is a major advantage.
  • Remote Recruiting: Conversations, interviews, and prehiring interactions have all shifted to tools like Webex, Zoom, or Teams. Perfecting video interviewing techniques and being able to track and collaborate effectively ensure better outcomes.
  • Compassion: With so much devastation, the onus is on all of us to be sensitive to the hard times many of the applicants and their families are going through. The ability to handle openended enquiries, provide frictionless visibility, and crafting the right communication– whether selection or rejection– can make a huge difference here.
  • Onboarding: Traditional preboarding and induction activities– trainings, introductions, equipment delivery– are passé. They all need to be enabled virtually; all the more for workers who are going to be remote for the foreseeable future.

An HCM platform which can enable HR to respond to this new reality is the need of the hour. Oracle’s HCM Cloud provides tools for every stage of the new Talent Acquisition process– AI-enabled sorting and screening, ability to communicate in a personalized manner, a virtual assistant with a conversational interface for enquiries, collaboration within the organization and with partners, as well as an integrated, guided onboarding process to make the ramp-up efficient.

Ways of Working

Five generations in the workforce are adapting to the pandemic and evolving into a new workforce. The CEO of Airbnb, Brian Chesky, recently wrote about what constitues the epitome of compassionate communication to employees. Expectations from HR are to provide such leadership and be able to deliver enhanced ways to ensure safety, achieve productivity, access services, and collaborate widely. The foundations of the new paradigm of working can be laid through a structured set of interventions:

  • Access to Services: A frictionless, alwaysavailable way to find information, ask questions, and start transactions enabling HR to deliver an exemplary experience

  • Help: Being able to log, and prioritize, flag, and track help requests including safety incidents improving HR responsiveness to employee needs
  • Learning and Development: Compliance, but also new skills, delivered online or offline, delivered bitesized, allowing personalization and learning with others to facilitate reskilling, upskilling, and deep skilling
  • Internal Mobility: Being able to track and harness all of the skillsets within the workforce while providing employees new ways to connect, learn, and develop is key when uncertainty abounds, hiring is severely limited, and demand from different areas of business is uneven

A digital assistant with a conversational UI, skilled at all HCM transactions and procuring information, combined with an HR Helpdesk, Workforce Health and Safety, and a platform which recommends new skills to learn are all part of Oracle’s HCM Cloud Solution and gives HR strategic levers to drive transformation. Add to that, abilities to form learning communities, find opportunities in a structured marketplace, and foster collaboration, and HR can empower the new workforce, with tools such as an HR helpdesk, to explore the limits of their potential.

Forging Connections

The pandemic has severely impacted the ways we get together and interact socially. The need of the hour is to inculcate a meaningful work culture which builds camaraderie, compassion, and a sense of community to fuel the recovery:

  • Connections: Enhanced ways for employees to find their tribe, forge connections, get access to information, and build stronger relationships

  • Collaboration: Fostering collaboration, and enabling employees to find a shared purpose like volunteering or working out together for Agile and connected teams
  • Engagement: Checkins, feedback, and appreciation has never been more important to bridge the gap created through curtailed face to face interaction. HR leaders must also realize that really skilled talent will continue to be in demand, pandemic or no pandemic, and craft an HR strategy to engage them. Figuring out what they like about the organization, and giving them more of it, might be a good place to start.

Oracle’s HCM Cloud offers tools to help employees connect and pursue common goals, provides for regular feedback mechanisms, and provides HR with a platform to gather insightful feedback. A built-in social network, Work Life apps, and a combined org chart and personal profile enable stronger connections, closer teams, and shared values, whether employees are in office or working remotely.

Conclusion

As organizations prepare to re-emerge, recalibrate, and re-invigorate business, HR will play a strategic role in readiness and future outcomes. The phases of ensuring compliance, gaining efficiency, empowering talent, and improving experience are behind HR. The focus is now on facilitating a cultural transformation, enabling organizations to pivot and be best positioned to thrive in a new world. Simple, personalized processes that focus on service delivery and engagement are going to be the recipe for success in this new paradigm. And HR will be leading the charge. The time is now to sharpen the edge and empower HR to deliver on the promise of a new future.

HCL and Oracle HCM Cloud solutions can help HR personnel, and thus businesses, be ready for this shift wherever they are in their HCM journey. HCL delivered the first ever Oracle HCM Cloud engagements in both the USA and India, has field-tested expertise, and a stated promise of reframing the future– leveraging XaaS, AI/ML, IoT, and everything-in-the-cloud vision for our customers. Numerous cloud engagements and specializations in Oracle ERP, HCM, SCM, and EPM cloud is a testament to our expertise. Our HCM in a Pod offering is designed for organizations to accelerate HR modernization with self-contained, quick start, fixed scope, and price packages built in with best practices utilizing the Oracle HCM Cloud platform.

As we navigate through this massive disruption, with the changes in ways our customers do business, we can help you by converging HR strategy, leveraging technology, and embracing innovations to build a resilient, Agile organization.