The Big Shifts driving Workplace Evolution of the Future

Created in collaboration with Oracle

By Saurabh Singh September 9, 2021

​Ever since the onslaught of pandemic, organizations across the world saw major shifts in their accountabilities and responsiveness in navigating through unchartered courses, bringing people & business operations back to normal. HR responded with great agility and commitment to become a force to reckon with, leveraging technology and diversified skillsets in unprecedented ways. We are rewriting the “future of work, worker and workplace” every given day as we prepare ourselves for an uncertain world. But this time we are more alert, aware and prepared.

With the objective of learning how workplaces are bringing their operations back to normal and people back to work, SHRM and Oracle launched one of the largest APAC study inviting 55+ Organizations & their CHROs to draw insights from their experiences, people & business priorities and future direction.

Here is a quick excerpt from the recently launched SHRM - Oracle Workplace APAC 2021 insight report.

The 5 trends that are detailed in the report are creating all the right noises with their accurate depiction and collective reflection of on-ground realities.

  • 1. The first shift is about how we perceive employee experience through the lens of Hyper-Personalization

The journey from EE to EX is based upon lasting and contextual experiences which is turning out to be a competitive advantage in the war for talent. Delivering a differentiated employee experience is becoming a strategic lever for attracting and retaining the right talent.

Today employees seek ‘Hyper Personalization” mapped to their individual needs, preferences and choices. According to David Johnson, principal analyst in employee experience at Forrester Research, “Moments that matter in the employee experience context are points in time when an employee feels strong or meaningful emotions, either positive or negative, that they will easily remember”. Hyper personalization strategy is built upon an individualistic idiosyncratic experience interweaving empathy toward employees & focus on their total wellbeing with technology playing a critical role across the employee life cycle to deliver contextual impact.

“VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality) would get into the hiring process and play an important role in hiring. There would be reinvention in terms of how we interact with each other and the way we work” says Rohit Thakur, ex-CHRO, Paytm.

A Hyper-Personalized experience leverages AI and real time data to enhance employee experience in way that establishes good will and increases loyalty.

  • 2. The second shift we are seeing is about Techno-ciency, primarily defined by a need for digital savvy talent driving hiring decisions and process automation within organizations, leading to enhanced productivity.

Talent configuration will move towards those talents who are digitally savvy, come with a mindset of getting things done digitally and can adapt to a remote work seamlessly. Organizations are setting clear expectations from their internal and external talent operating in a hybrid world on digital literacy, competence and dexterity being the key pivots for future.

Digitally native generations are evangelizing the technology adoption. The world is moving to a paradigm where everything that can be digitized will be / must be digitized. Therefore, digital skills will be foundational skills going forward. Also, the focus remains on employee productivity and efficiency through adoption of technology and investments in automation of employee life cycle. Role of data analytics is maturing rapidly to deliver insightful predictions rather than insightful analysis. Digitalization is paving the way for data analytics and visualization which will drive future management decisions through richer insights on the workforce and talent. Organizations are pouring investments in digital upskilling of talent in order accentuate transformation of their businesses digitally.

“I believe Incorporating technology in our work processes has greatly helped us to move faster, plan for future and ensure our people are performing as well as prepared to perform well in the future which is the principle of our HR department” says Kean Mun Loke, Head HR, Top Glove Corporation Berhad.

  • 3The third shift is about Total Wellbeing becoming a mainstream policy than a sub-header within benefit plan.

Organizations are keen to provide for psychological net, which will form the bedrock of employee-employer relationship. The concept of well-being is expanding with the systematic inclusion of financial and other aspects and seeing sustenance through policy formulation and creation of an ecosystem driving systemic behavioral change.

The blurring lines between work and home has made more employees vulnerable to mental stress, anxiety, loneliness and disengagement. While well-being and mental health have continued to be on the radar, they are now getting integrated with management practices.

Pharmaceutical giant, CIPLA, for eg, had a wellness app extended to all their employees, providing them with a fitness regime, yoga and meditation courses right at the confines of their home, while extending counselling to employees to deal with stress, anxiety and any new issues they were facing while working from home. In that sense, there is a continuous focus on leveraging technology to make well-being monitoring and prediction more sustainable and scalable.

Leaders and Managers are getting upskilled to be empathetic, and sensitive to employee needs and create a psychologically safe work environment. Preemita Singh, CHRO Hero Fincorp says, “There was a lot of work required in the training of managers to help them understand how to lead in an empathetic manner using a digital medium, this was a big initiative we undertook”.

  • 4The fourth shift is about Heliotropic Culture, becoming a centerpiece of an organizations digital strategy augmenting the aspects of both Hyper-Personalized experience and Techno-ciency as covered above.

Shaping organization’s culture to support virtual work paradigm shift is an aspiration requiring an integrated organizational view of culture across several aspects like workforce mix, digital aspirations and even agility as a component.

Preserving the core and introducing new digital elements in the culture is gaining traction. Movement towards an agile work culture has been accelerated through hybrid work models.

New talent assimilation into the virtual culture by way of connecting with organizational purpose is emerging as a new challenge for organizations. Increasing adoption of Gig and Freelancers is re-shaping the traditional workforce models. Focus is shifting on assimilating this diverse workforce as part of the culture by leveraging innovations in technology for their hiring, on-boarding, work allocation, performance, engagement and rewards.

Vishal Dhingra, HR Director, Goodyear India Limited says, “I believe flexibility is going to be a key differentiating factor in terms of attracting and retaining talent. I believe that the hybrid working model will be the norm in the future specifically for those working in offices (Non-Manufacturing (location based) and Non sales) where employees may have more flexibility and freedom to decide the number of days they want to come to office to work or work remotely.”

In short, Heliotropism is something that organizations must imbibe to raise the bar if they were to become a talent magnet for a diverse millennial workforce.

  • 5The fifth shift is about Humanizing Connectedness, is about “living the Human” in Human Resource for building a cohesive workforce.

HR’s focus on Humanising Connection in a hybrid/virtual world by helping Organizations build Emotional and Relational capital has come to forefront of people strategy.

There is a realization to preserve the social fabric of the organization by blending digital and human touch. At the end of the day while work can be delivered virtually from anywhere, relationships need to be complemented by a sense of touch and feel, which are clearly being missed.

Investments and innovations in everyday collaborations platforms to build cohesiveness are paving the way for a workplace model that breaks silos and allows for free, fast and seamless exchange of information.

“Our team also dialled up our communication to a level we’ve never done before. We ran daily live streams for all our employees, we communicated on topics they needed to know about how we were supporting the people, what tools and tech was there for them, what seminars, extra leave and care was there for them. That ability just to connect with leaders on a daily basis became very important” says, Alex Badenoch, Group Executive Transformation Communications and People, Telstra.

So, what does this mean for the world of work across APAC?

Here is a quick excerpt from Mr. Shaakun Khanna, Head, HCM Applications Strategy & Transformation, Oracle JAPAC

  1. Work models will change for almost all industries with distributed workforce and Felix working as a business norm across industries and sectors. Very few roles and regulation will need to continue with traditional form of working.

  2. While physical offices will remain, clearly the workplace will undergo massive transformation. Significant part of office space is likely to evolve into hubs of social activity and shared space will replace personal offices.

  3. As the focus on social, emotional, physical and mental wellbeing increases, new ways of connection and relating will evolve and organizations must continue to adopt and experiment with new technologies. Organizations, in parallel, must also find ways to enhance the empathy and mindfulness of their leaders – a herculean task.

  4. Digital is not a choice anymore; it is the fundamental block of workplace effectiveness. Anything that can be digitized, must be digitized, using agile and future proof technology cloud platforms. Not imbibing technology or investing in wrong technology can be suicidal for organizations.

These valuable insights from APAC region will become guiding principles for organizations at various stages of their evolution to transcend and evolve their workplace practices with changing times. Click on the link below to deep dive into the Workplace APAC 2021 research findings and learn from their experiences and best practices.

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