“The future of work is NOW,” Manu Wadhwa

The R.E.A.L. approach can help build a more flexible, digital, and purposeful future, says Manu Wadhwa, CHRO, Sony Pictures

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2020: What to learn – what to erase

Many memories need to be erased for 2020, memories of despair and loss. However, there are also significant lessons that we all learnt.

I think the year made for an invaluable lesson in gratitude. We all learned to acknowledge our blessings and seek contentment in what we have. The year also made us realise our interdependence on each other. Beginning with the healthcare workers who have been at the frontline for more than a year for our safety, to the essential-service workers who ensured that we always had all that we needed.

We now have a growing appreciation for the good things we get from others, including our family, colleagues, nature and society. By being thankful for everyday things, we have made the invisible, visible again.

HR has shown great agility and business acumen

In my opinion, HR has always been an integral business function. Over the years, HR has become responsible for creating and implementing business transformation, with people at the core. It is the people in an organisation that ultimately determine the success or failure of the business. Transformation of any kind is not restricted to new technology or new processes. Real change gains momentum when employees understand the new business direction and recalibrate their thinking.

It is true that COVID has reshaped industries and the workplace alike. In 2020, HR played a major role in ensuring business continuity and was pivotal in making sure learning and innovation remained a priority.

Employees are looking at HR to help them navigate the ‘new normal’ and it indeed is HR’s moment to lead the organisations into the future of work, which is ‘NOW’.

Today, aside from the traditional role of designing organisation structures, framing people policies, building agile succession plans et al, HR is designing the future of work, worker and workplace.

Some of the key shifts being led by HR currently include the massive shift towards creating business models on the gig workforce; building a bridge between the usage of AI and human interaction; redefining the alternate work arrangements, the associated people practice, and cultural shifts connected with the same.

2021 – changing organisational design

In 2021, there will be multiple areas that HR will need to work on simultaneously.

As mentioned earlier, the future is ‘Now’. It is not something that will come to us in a few years’ time. The multiple priorities will be to decode and design:

Organisation design and change management: To optimise costs and execute business transformation

Future of work: To adapt the talent plan and align processes by building an explicit strategy to align with changes in the environment

Critical skills and competencies: To help improve operational efficiencies, and also imperative to grow the business.

Managing hybrid workforce is more challenging

A hybrid workforce model will be the way to work in coming times. Done right, it will allow organisations to better recruit talent, foster innovation and create value for all stakeholders. While the challenges are plenty, by keeping it R.E.A.L, organisations can help make this a win-win for both the employer and the employee.

Reinforce Organisation Values: Remind your employees what your company and your brand stand for, reward individuals and teams who display behaviour driven by values. Equip Employees: Make sure employees have the technology they need to be successful

Active Dialogue: In a digital world, human interaction tends to become impersonal. Regular dialogues with managers and peers provide employees with the required information and perspective, and keep them in contact with teams beyond emails and virtual meetings.

Learning and Skilling: Prepare the workforce for being relevant with shifting skill needs.

The R.E.A.L. approach can help build a more flexible, digital, and purposeful future.

Upskilling leadership or diversity in leadership

Both have their distinctive challenges. However, bringing diversity in leadership continues to be a greater challenge. Leadership diversity is a long-term strategy, which requires disciplined effort by the organisation, its systems and processes. It also needs a shift in culture and mind-set across levels. At SPN, we have implemented several initiatives that build inclusion and support diverse talent in every stage of their lifecycle. Women, LGBTQ members and people with disabilities are provided requisite support and platforms with the concept of equity in mind, and not equality.

Our Inclusion philosophy of #BYOS (Bring your Own Self) believes in Building gender diversity

Yielding inclusive content

Optimising cognitive thinking

Sensitising our people

This philosophy is ingrained in our people practices and covers the entire employee lifecycle, specially addressing critical life stages or challenges because of which diversity candidates can drop off.

To ensure diversity in leadership, organisations need to recognise and subvert stereotypes and social patterns that can overshadow the progress we make.

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