The Human Resources head at the benefits and rewards services is Suvarna Mishra. Over the last four years, she has galvanised the teams during the rapid digital transformation of business while keeping up with the values and culture of the company. In her career so far, Suvarna has led and managed multiple roles in various companies and is grateful to have been taught by some of the most reputed senior business executives in her career.

In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Suvarna gives her insights on how to strengthen work culture and lead digital innovation in the hybrid world of work.

What are some rising trends in the HR and Business technology space today?

This year seems to push the boundaries of HR to add value. The landscape for HR and technology is constantly changing. Along with talent retention being a business imperative, Upskilling takes centre stage. Artificial intelligence has become a must-have for predicting employee engagement.

Before investing in any digital solution, what is a checklist that you would advise leaders to follow to get the maximum ROI?

Organisation are trying to figure out how to bring technology closer to the core of their strategy for maximising efficiency and return on investment. Keeping people at the center of the transformation is a priority for leaders. To make them more efficient, deploy technology solutions aligned to the processes. Creating a culture of continuous innovation is what this would lead to.

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The following questions might be asked by leaders to evaluate and get maximum return on investment.

  • What problems will the solution address and solve?
  • How can the issues be prioritised regarding urgency and relevance to the business?
  • How flexible are the workflows in the digital software solution? Does it allow customisation to suit organisational requirements?
  • Does it align with the organisational processes and policies?
  • Will it enable quick adoption or add further complexities to the existing process?

As organisations embrace hybrid working models, how can leadership strengthen work culture among a distributed workforce? 

Half of the Indian hybrid workforce considers themselves to be more productive when working from home. In order to engage the workforce, leadership must empower employees, no matter where they work from. Positive work culture can be strengthened by anticipating challenges and offering solutions instead of following a reactive approach. Here are a few ways to improve the work culture.

Continuous engagement is fostered by consistent communication. A survey shows that 97 percent of employees think communication affects their effectiveness daily. Effective communication can start with substantial steps. Businesses will be able to retain talent and foster a positive work culture because of it.

In the age of hybrid work, employees want better work-life balance opportunities. It will be easier to retain talent with elevated workplace flexibility, thus positively impacting business.

Increased employee engagement, motivation, talent retention, etc., are some of the benefits of learning and development opportunities for employees. The focus of mentoring and reverse mentoring programs is on the employees’ growth journey.

Employee recognition is an essential part of showing employees that they are valued. It leads to a more productive workforce. It works as an acknowledgement of the efforts of employees.

How can organisations retain the human touch in a digital workplace? How can they balance productivity with wellbeing?  

Digital transformation has changed the way an organisation does business and carries out a standard work process with its employees. The digital workplace has allowed for greater productivity, efficiency and flexibility, along with alleviating the daily experience of the workforce. It is important to remember to keep the human connection while enjoying the benefits of technological advancement. In order for leaders to make the workforce feel valued, they must connect with them regularly.

There are ways to retain the human touch.

  • Organisations should drive initiatives that improve their employees’ work-life balance. This will lead to better well-being of their employees, which will drive better performance & increase productivity.
  • Proactive communication helps employees perform daily tasks better, identify and eliminate roadblocks in their working conditions, gain clarity and maintain focus, and participate in change. Efforts to build community and connectivity with proactive and transparent communication boost employee wellbeing.
  • When employees are aligned to a larger organisational purpose & objective, they are more engaged and productive and feel that they are creating an impact. This leads to improving the happiness index, fulfilment & thus health & wellness.
  • Competitive health and wellness benefits are the need of the hour to retain talent while balancing productivity with wellbeing. While offerings like gym memberships, doctor consultations, and dietary regimens are important, organisations must also focus on the employees’ mental health and offer mental health resilience training & employee assistance program.

What is your advice to our community on building sustainable work tech models? 

Building a sustainable business tech model would involve introducing machine learning and artificial intelligence systems that can diagnose problems in advance. It could involve the combination of historical data, data analytics and key Algorithms to detect anomalies and notify people quickly. Businesses can reduce costs by addressing and resolving any inefficiencies in processes and stay compliant by quickly identifying areas of risk to support rapid rectification.