2020: What to learn – what to erase
One thing that stood out for me was the human spirit — its ability to ‘adopt’ and ‘adapt’. In spite of the year being tough, several organisations, institutions, leaders and employees measured up to the new demands at work. Several changes got ‘adopted’ overnight literally. This tech transformation is surely a boon in disguise, as it will improve productivity, efficiency and cost of operations. Ability to ‘adapt’ to new ways of working was put to test, and many realised that there is another way of working, doing business and learning. On the flip side, one thing I would certainly want to erase is ‘human suffering’. Personal tragedies, deteriorating mental health and the struggles families went through in 2020 are best forgotten and the toughest to forget. Loss of jobs, near and dear ones, salary for a few months in some industries, or absence of social networking and interactions were a test for individuals and families. Many micro, small and medium industries have been wiped out and will take a long time to begin sprinting again. Many current business models and leveraged companies will not survive. Workplaces have struggled to cope.
2021 – changing organisational design
I think 2020 will be a year to focus on investment and growth at multiple levels. From an organisation-level investment and growth, I see a huge opportunity for India to set up new enterprises or build capacity in many industries, to exploit export opportunities and for our own consumption. Many companies will invest in ‘digital transformation’ and new ways of working. In this scenario, HR can play a crucial role establishing well-run green field projects or startup business ideas. I predict significant investment and time being spent on ‘capacity building’, which will create jobs and opportunities for people.
At an individual level, I predict investment and growth in ‘capabilities’ of people. Requirement of new skills, and adapting to new ways of working will have to be engineered. We have to invest in skilling and reskilling people. The need for people at all levels, will push up youngsters into higher levels of jobs and provide opportunities for quick career growth. Ability to cope with career growth and higher responsibilities needs to be facilitated. Individuals have to invest in their personal learning to keep pace with the changes and opportunities that these will bring. Hence, I predict significant investment and time being spent on ‘capability building’.
“The ingenuity and creative power of individuals and teams cannot be underestimated”
HR to stay human in a virtual workplace
While I believe ‘tasks’ will get automated and virtually delivered, the ingenuity and creative power of individuals and teams cannot be underestimated. For the ‘digital workplace’ to be a reality, significant collaboration and co-creation will be at play. Humanisation of the workplace can be facilitated by HR through several team and individual interventions. For me, to be human is to focus on the personal growth of people, coaching them, showing concern for their wellbeing, and keeping employees engaged in a virtual world. Human resource teams will have to focus on building their own ‘new skills’ to deliver on the challenges. From engaging in transactions, which will now be automated, HR folk will have to focus on their ability to connect the dots and engage people as people.