Kankana Barua

Moving Forward: What’s the Right Way in 2022? | Kankana Barua | CHRO | Healthium Medtech Limited

Kankana BaruaThe great lessons of the pandemic have necessitated changes on humankind, regardless of whether we were ready for them or not. As the pandemic approaches its third year and businesses navigate this moment of uncertainty, HR directors should keep an eye on some of the developing trends that will shape work, the workplace and the workforce in 2022.

Empathy will continue to emerge as the most critical HR leadership skill. It is the driving force which builds and sustains positive relationships, encourage collaboration through learning, foster inclusivity and tolerance and helps in effective conflict management. It is a versatile and multidimensional skill that can be applied to nearly every complex HR challenge. It is all about being more ‘humane’ than ‘human’ in the field of Human Resources.

Employee mental health remains one of the most critical and essential challenge faced by HR professionals around the globe. The burden of remote working has added to the mental health issues further in the new normal. HR leaders must rise up to the occasion and help colleagues in distress by advocating the employee friendly conditions for a holistically healthy workplace. Boosting employee morale remains key to successful business interventions throughout sectors.

Being an HR leader today is not only about perks, remuneration and tangible benefits but also having a sense of fulfilment beyond the workplace. A HR leader today needs to be a People’s Manager, having the right people connect in times of need. They need to actively listen more than speak and drive engagements often within the organisation. And this has to above and beyond the organisational limits too, only then one can remain empathetically relevant.

1. Leveraging digital innovations, automation, analytics, big data and AI: Digital Transformation will remain a significant focus of Human Resources with an ever-increasing reliance on innovative technologies, AI, advanced analytics, IoT, cyber security and machine learning. Cloud-computing based HR systems will own up and solve the challenges in the new normal, thus easing up the administrative processes for organisations. HR leaders need to continue making strategic, more intelligent and data-driven decisions within the advanced setup. Blockchain
technology is also expected to become a key component of HR functions, with all data being encrypted.

2. Improving Diversity, Equity and Inclusivity (DEI) to create an inclusionary work environment: According to a Glassdoor survey, every 3 out of 4 job seekers today evaluates the inclusive nature of a workplace while considering a job offer. A company’s purpose remains instrumental in developing the workplace culture. As employers seek ways to encourage inclusion in new work models, that connection becomes a benchmark for employee culture. Leaders need to constantly improve their environment and create an overall sense of a fair, just
and equitable work culture that is conducive to the firm. It is essential to institutionalise organisational DEI in 2022.

3. Building critical skills to address key organisational skill gaps: Companies will continue their practice of skill-based hiring across emerging technologies to address their needs. However, from an insider perspective, it remains critical to evaluate and challenge the existing employees on their skillsets on a real-time basis by assigning case studies and out of the box projects. In addition, companies will continue to seek out future-ready employees who are adept in digital skills and new-age technologies. At the same time, L&D initiatives need to be robust in order to keep existing employees upskilled and on their toes for the firm.

4. Devising effective strategies in finding and retaining the right talent: The new world of work or future of work is going to be agile, non-linear, flexible and skill-based. Talent managers need to constantly work towards finding the right formula to come out on top of the looming talent war. Right processes and the right people usually leads to the right talent management practices. The talent war today needs to be won by creating growth opportunities. Whether it is tools for candidate management or AI-based sourcing platforms, companies need to harness technology
to make more innovative strategies to attract and retain the right talent.

5. Organise the HR function to achieve its goals of agility, customer centricity and operational efficiency: HR functions need to bring and maintain an iterative approach of developing strategies, interventions and initiatives that are more structured. Customer centricity involves experimentation, integration and constant review coupled with a collaborative culture. Operational efficiency is a direct function of the happiness quotient of the employees, given how the last couple of years have been. Strong HR functions will help drive programs that create
adaptability, innovation and collaboration to remain agile, customer-centric and efficient in today’s timeline.

6. Fostering long-term workforce resilience by reassessing workforce support to drive workforce health and not just performance: The human aspect of companies necessitates them to be more humane and remain empathetically dynamic. As a unit, we need to look after each other as a family-first approach constantly. Transparency in the workforce promotes employee engagement, resulting in increased cohesion as a unit. A great way of building resilience is for
leaders is to share their valuable learnings, experiences and mistakes, along with their wins. This goes a long way in boosting the overall employee morale, and the association extends beyond just performance or a business objective.

7. Employee safety and well-being will remain at the forefront of the workforce agenda: HR leaders need to continue looking after their employees with the imminent third wave of Covid and the Omicron strain. The safety and well-being of the workforce remain at the top of the ladder. The entire workforce algorithm should look towards a holistic approach to keep the employees’ safety, stability, and mental well-being at the fore. As remote working blurs the line between work and life, HR leaders are prioritizing employee well-being and mental health. The message is simple, and leaders have to keep looking after their internal stakeholders and maintain a positive culture. The future of our workplace tomorrow rests upon employee well-being.

8. Driving a sense of fulfilment with meaningful engagements to give back to society: The virtual workplace is an endless loop for employees working round the clock. However, the idea of being more humane and contributing meaningfully to the society can be one way of creating meaningful moments in these uncertain times. HR leaders can impact the overall mental framework of employees by encouraging them to teach in public schools during the weekend or at their leisure. Addressing social responsibilities along with work life, would go a long way in bringing in a sense of satisfaction for employees.