Since the dawn of the 21st century, disruption has forced many industries into a state of flux. Corporate leaders have struggled to reinvent their businesses and to stay relevant in the marketplace. Transformation programs—focused on improving customer engagement, products and services, processes and methods—have achieved varying degrees of success. The most successful merge a focus on employees and their experiences at the workplace.
An organization’s strategies are built and executed by people, and a focus on people determines the success of a transformation. In this era of mass disruption, people are an organization’s biggest competitive advantage and must be at the core of their company’s strategy. Engaged employees bring more passion, purpose, and accountability to make the difference. Innumerable studies suggest that improvements in profitability and market capitalization are the result of employee-focused strategies. Engaged talent fast-tracks an organization toward success. It’s obvious that every organization wants to attract and retain the best talent to enable transformation.
The question is, how?
In this paper, we look at how talent as a C-suite priority is shaping tomorrow’s organizations. We highlight how new ways of working are making the case for tailored workplace solutions and why technology is the key enabler for “people-first” organizations. We also offer a strategy to technology adoption that will help companies cut through the clutter and invest in technologies that can deliver the required impact. This paper is intended as a guide for companies looking to embrace the future of work. Are you ready to dive in?
Talent as a C-suite priority
Winning organizations recognize how employees feel at work and enable every employee to partner toward a shared purpose. Talent-related priorities are on top of a CEO’s to-do list, and talent engagement and experience are taking center stage in the modern workplace.
CHROs and CIOs are coming together to partner on ways an organization should shape its talent strategy as the workforce’s needs change, new ways of work emerge, and digital technology enables readiness for the future of work.
Modern workplace needs: Consumerization & personalization
Advancements in medical sciences have increased our life span, affording us more years of work. Ease of travel and technology advancements that enable remote work have dissolved geographic barriers. As a result, the modern workforce is truly unique. It is multigenerational with five generations working together. The workforce is also multicultural and truly diverse, and a significant portion are digital natives. The workforce today prefers working from home.
The new workforce wants an always-on enterprise that can give them consistent and location-agnostic access to tools and resources they need to get work done. Collaboration is high on the agenda for Millennials and Gen Z, and they respect the freedom and flexibility to work on their terms, in their space, and on their own devices. Employees now demand a fully loaded experience, similar to what they are accustomed to as consumers, in their personal lives.
For many traditionally structured organizations, accommodating these new demands is not easy, especially since talent needs are morphing so quickly. It seems like yesterday when BYOD (bring your own device) was the in thing; today it’s a norm. Today’s challenge is to manage the blended workforce, where people and AI are working together, and to find ways to integrate the dynamics.
An organization cannot provide a one-size-fits-all solution, but it can personalize services. All services and touchpoints need to be reimagined as new ways of working. The consumerization of workers puts the responsibility squarely on CIOs and CHROs to work collaboratively and find future-ready solutions.
Technology fuels talent-centric priorities
To embrace the future of work, the C-suite is working together to find solutions and explore technology opportunities that will shape how people communicate, collaborate, and accomplish their tasks.
What if all you need to provide at the workplace is a place to sit and a power connection? What if everything else is virtually enabled? Imagine driving to your office, and smart solutions guide you to the right parking space. You check in for a desk using your mobile to scan a QR code, and the workplace adopts your personal preferences. IoT sensors change the color of the lights, your phone auto-configures to pick up your voice mails, a virtual desktop is available with all data and applications on cloud, and you have a fully functional workplace, personalized for you. Sound like science fiction? In fact it’s very real, and all this technology is available today.
Although workers’ priorities are generally well understood, and a plethora of technologies are at our disposal, enterprise transformation is not just about selecting and implementing technologies. Three critical steps must be taken before choosing tools and technologies for your organization.
1. Take a people-centric approach
Understanding what your people need is where the biggest challenge is. A PwC study found that while 90% of CXOs say their company pays attention to employee needs when introducing new technologies, only 53% said employees actually agree with that.
Instead of blindly following technology trends, CXOs need to understand the unique needs of their workforce. Are most of your people remote workers? Do your employees need a lot of customer interaction? Interest groups, employee surveys, social platforms: these are good ways to start assessing and understanding the needs and sentiments of your employees.
As we mentioned earlier, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. With people at the center of your transformation journey, spend the time it takes to understand the needs of your employees.
2. It’s all about the process
Most organizations have well-articulated processes and methods. With changing times, it is a great opportunity to question the relevance of your processes and ask, Why we are doing things the way we are doing them? Are there new ways of working to deliver much better outcomes? As the saying goes, “A fool with a tool is still a fool.” Unless we reimagine employee journeys, taking their needs into account, and then fix the process gaps, companies cannot leverage digital technology to deliver successful returns.
A workforce transformation should be based on an evaluation of all business and employee processes with the goal of simplifying, standardizing, and harmonizing operations across units, geographies, and functions. Reimagining workflows, with a key focus on business outcome, is a critical step before deciding on the tools and technologies. We’ve done it within Wipro, by reimagining the hire-to-retire process, and moved all our employee-related services to a mobile app-based delivery. We’ve also used service design principles to reimagine employee journeys and processes for our clients and helped them identify opportunities to improve experiences.
3. Integrate, integrate & integrate
Once you’ve discovered the process gaps, the next thing is to ensure a seamless experience across the employee lifecycle. Over the years, organizations end up investing in varied tools to serve different purposes. A tool for learning management, another for people data management, another for applicant tracking, time management, and so on. Over time, these systems become siloed and start delivering broken experiences and redundancies.
When conceptualizing a modern workforce, companies must aim for an integrated architecture with a single source of truth, focused on delivering unified and ubiquitous experiences. We’ve worked with CIOs and business stakeholders to create connected workplaces for their organizations by building the necessary architectures throughout the employee lifecycle.
Supported by these tenets, CXOs can shape a workplace transformation strategy. It’s obvious that technology will play a key role in transforming this vision to reality. The question is, where should you invest now?
Technology strategies that should lead your workplace transformation efforts
Today the market is full of technology products and solutions that make grand promises. Companies need to prioritize their technology investments to ensure optimal usage of their IT budgets as well as maximum benefits for on people and processes.
Here are our top three recommendations for devising an effective transformation strategy:
1. Go mobile
Mobility, access, seamless workflow, and choice of device are the necessities of a digital workforce. In a study by Jamf, 68% respondents claimed that choosing their own device (CYOD) makes them more productive. Mobile platforms make engagement easier and encourage peer collaboration. Imagine a new hire’s first impression when they’re onboarded in a few clicks via a mobile platform. Or the time and effort an employee can save with a mobile expense reimbursement app. Top it up with conversation assistants.
2. Harness data
People analytics and data discovery across structured and unstructured data sets can provide invaluable insights into the top drivers of happiness, productivity, and retention. Use data science to determine productivity bottlenecks, predict and prescribe hiring and upskilling efforts, and optimize workforce allocation. There is huge potential in harnessing data to build a data-driven, decision-making organization.
3. Infuse artificial intelligence
When you know your people’s needs, you can assist them better—even pre-empt their questions and provide proactive support 24x7. We see immense potential in using automation and AI to predict and respond to most employee support needs. We implemented 600 bots in our Shared Services center, delivering savings in time and money. AI and machine learning are changing the game for organizations that strive to be exceptionally responsive and build an employee-centric culture.
Consider these steps in your workforce transformation journey. The use cases will differ based on your organization’s structure, employee demographics and their needs. Adjust implementation to your organization’s needs, but ensure that these investments deliver business outcome.
Entering a new era of people-first businesses
Before your transformation efforts get under way, ask the following questions: How prepared are you to embrace the future of work? Do you know your talent’s needs? Do you have a workplace transformation roadmap in place? How much of your digital transformation budget is allocated to employee-facing priorities? Do you think you are doing enough to enable the future of work?
Although many organizations have carved out a budget for investments in customer experience, many more are realizing they also need to invest in employee experience—happy employees, happy customers. Workforce transformation, enabled by digital technologies, is essential for a company to be relevant to their employees, care for their needs, help them deliver to the best of their abilities, and differentiate themselves from the competition.
To be successful, these transformations needs to be ably sponsored and supported with leadership buy-in, approached as a change management effort, and be based on the right partnerships. This is the era of people-first businesses, and the time to act is now.
President & Chief Human Resource Officer
Saurabh Govil in this role leads all human resources functions for Wipro. In this capacity, he has contributed significantly to improve processes and introduced many new initiatives. Saurabh was instrumental in Wipro’s transformational journey and shaped people, processes, and organization structure to help Wipro prepare for the next spurt of growth. He has been a HR practitioner for over two decades. He is on the advisory board of SHRM India and has been a regular speaker at NASSCOM’s HR summit. He is also a contributing author to NHRDN’s journal.
Transformation Partner & Experience Evangelist
Kannan is a digital futurist and experience evangelist. As a strategic technology executive, he counsels on transformation journeys for high-tech clients using applied digital solutions, competitive distinctions, and differentiated experience to fuel growth and profitability. He helps Fortune 100 companies build robust business-focused IT strategies and adopt new ways of working. With over two decades of global experience, he coaches global teams to build organizational capabilities.