Why other functions need to pace-up with HR for successful digitalisation

Driving digital transformation is not about technology but about the people in the company

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In the last 16 months of the pandemic, the workplace environment has been undergoing drastic change. Though many progressive companies had already embarked on their digitisation journeys a decade back, the pandemic was certainly an eye opener for those who were lagging.

“With other functions in the business environment already digitised, the HR is supposed to build a mindset and competencies where people can use and adopt such digital tools to build a culture around it”

Chandrasekhar Mukherjee, CHRO, Bhilosa Industries

A 2021 global study has revealed that the intention of HR leaders to digitise their HR processes is quite high at 83 per cent. However, digital transformation at the workplace is a journey, which requires everyone to be in sync in order to be successful. That means, every function in the organisation needs to transform digitally. In a global conference at Paris, a representative of Orange, the global telecommunications company, revealed that the CEO hired an HR head to enable digital transformation in the company, instead of appointing a chief digital officer.

“If employees find that one function of the organisation is not as competent and digitised as the others, they will seek better employee experience elsewhere”

Ramesh Shankar S, senior HR leader

That means, driving digital transformation is not about technology but about the people in the company. As the HR department is connected to all other functions in the company, it needs to ensure that everyone is in sync with the process of digitisation. Let us see how the HR can facilitate this transformation journey.

Ensuring a seamless experience

Ramesh Shankar S, senior HR leader, explains that it is very similar to how people operate in a bank. Nowadays, all financial assistance to the customer is provided digitally. All queries are addressed digitally, and all monetary transactions, even loans, are facilitated digitally. If customers find that some areas of service are digitised and others are not, they will simply move to another bank for a better experience. This can happen with the workforce as well. If employees find that one function of the organisation is not as competent and digitised as the others, they will seek better employee experience elsewhere. “Now, people are used to enjoying a seamless experience at work. They want things to be accomplished with a single click of a button,” points out Shankar.

“True integration will happen when the heads of departments and managers drive the adoption of digitisation through a top-down approach to make it a success”

Anil Mohanty, head of people, Medikabazaar,

Ensuring the right mindset & competencies

Chandrasekhar Mukherjee, CHRO, Bhilosa Industries, likens digital transformation to any other change-management process. He believes that HR has probably been the last function to be digitised in a business environment, compared to other functions. The reason is clear — larger cost saving processes were digitised first.

“With other functions in the business environment already digitised, the HR is supposed to build a mindset and competencies where people can use and adopt such digital tools to build a culture around it,” explains Mukherjee.

Ensuring a top-down approach

For the HR, however, undergoing digital transformation in the HR processes has been a big challenge, especially in the smaller companies. As per Anil Mohanty, head of people, Medikabazaar, tech savviness and the eagerness to adopt digital tools flows from the top. Mohanty admits that he has seen people refraining from using digital tools for leave approvals and performance management, claiming them to be too complex. “True integration will happen when the heads of departments and managers drive the adoption of digitisation through a top-down approach to make it a success,” insists Mohanty.

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