The [EX] factor: Talent Strategies for the Gig Workforce

 

By Archana Jerath August 7, 2019
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Article based on a Panel discussion at SHRM HR Tech APAC 2019 moderated by Reena Wahi - HR leader, Tata Realty and Infrastructure Ltd. and the panelists were Mukul Jain - CEO, Hono HR, Ashutosh Sharma - Global HR Head, Pearl Global, Ajay Singhal - Chief Financial Officer, Gourmet Investments and Bishaka Prasad - Global Director - Strategic Talent at EY GDS. 

Employee Experience [EX] in 2019

With increasingly dispersed workforces and a growing gig economy, Employee Experience (EX) is being seen as the path to a more engaged and invested workforce.

"EX is what employees experience during their journey with the company and can be put in 3 different buckets: physical environment (the workplace), cultural environment (policies, leadership style, trust, everyday experiences) and technological environment (tools, systems, processes, etc.)," says Ajay Singhal.

"EX is an employee's journey in the organization which starts even before joining and continues even after leaving it. It includes all their interactions – good, bad and ugly – with the organization which, in turn, depend upon the organization's culture and values," says Mukul Jain.

Adds Ashutosh Sharma: "EX goes beyond the organizational boundaries and the structured value chain of HR from pre-joining to off-boarding."

EX is as important as CX?

"The turning point in the evolution of EX and its growing importance has been the realization that employees are the organization's biggest brand ambassadors and should be on the same plank as end-client users," says Bishaka Prasad.

Singhal strongly believes that 'if you take care of the people, people will take care of the business."

Technology and EX

There are multiple tools available that enable us to effectively capture deep, actionable employee insights. "Technologies such as AI, ML and social tools are enabling organization to capture data at a transaction level and produce insights in scientific dashboards. These insights can be used in a meaningful manner by decision-makers based on in-depth understanding of the employee perspective," shares Mukul.

Ernst and Young Global Deliver Services (EY GDS) has a large population of millennial employees, who tend to be digital natives, waking up to multiple technologies. "To be relevant and to engage millennials, we have worked our systems and processes around working on the go. Almost everything that can be done on laptops and desktops can also be done using a mobile app, such as checking meetings, appraisals, giving and receiving feedback, etc. Our processes and policies almost mimic the millennials' ask of flexibility in time and location."  

Going mobile has helped EY GDS tap into gig workers, retirees, single parents, young mothers, persons with disabilities and a growing section of workers that want to work only 3 to 6 months in a year.

EY BDS has introduced bots to handle the repetitive and process-driven tasks. This has promoted entrepreneurship, intrapreneurship and innovation in the organization. As a result, over 80% of the framework and products have come from the younger workforce. 

In Ajay's view there are three aspects to EX which are equally important:

  • Focus on strengthening trust within teams and in the leadership
  • Develop leadership styles that suit the needs of the workforce
  • Leverage technology to maintain consistent EX delivery across multiple locations. 

"Technology can promote regular and expedited communication, but the quality of the conversations depends upon the cultural environment," adds Bishakha. 

Organizations should adopt a selection-based strategy rather than a rejection strategy when it comes to technology. As per Ashutosh, "Organizations must delve into real-time challenges faced by the employees and understand what can be resolved using technology."

Pearl Global has developed and is currently piloting an app-based technology called WE to engage its factory workers. WE caters to the workers' day to day needs - understanding of policies, schemes, grievance management, etc. "With cheaper mobile data and increasing mobile phone usage in India, the adoption of mobile-based technology has been higher among the workers in the cities and metros. This robust experience of the factory workforce is helping with retention and engagement."

Tata Realty recently launched a performance management platform that has enabled employees to track and give feedback on their managers' and even CEO's performance every month. 

"Platforms like Yammer and WhatsApp are enabling globally dispersed teams to seamlessly collaborate and communicate faster," says Bishakha.

Technology can be a great enabler in delivering seamless experiences to employees and help keep them motivated, leading to higher productivity and organizational success. Technology is not and should not be the end goal.

Mukul firmly believes that "The intent of the organization is the key in EX and technology adoptions, so if there is a culture of caring, employee engagement will automatically fall into place."

Archana Jerath is Business Leader Operations, SHRM India & APAC

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