Reetu Raina, CHRO, Quick Heal gets candid with All Things Talents and shares her thoughts on the evolving role of HR as a business driver, major challenges for HR in 2021, and the importance of learnability.
ATT: Having worked as an HR leader in the industry for many years, how has this journey been so far? What was the turning point of your life as an HR professional?
Reetu: I think my journey as HR Leader has gone through an evolution as I feel the industry itself has undergone an evolution. Having worked across various industries helped me to have a varied perspective, I always felt irrespective of industries people are just people and people-related challenges are not different. I worked predominantly in the BFSI industry before joining Amdocs which is a technology company and I felt that made a big difference in my learning growth as an HR professional. Technology companies were ahead of the curve in HR practices and I learnt a lot.
ATT: As we navigate through the next normal, what are the major HR challenges that you see in 2021? What do you think will be the most challenging part for people in supervisory roles, especially for a CHRO?
Reetu: The biggest challenge of 2021 would be adapting to the new normal. We need to accept the myths which COVID-19 has busted. Whatever happened in 2020 was a kind of forced adaptation in response to the crisis. The biggest adoptions we saw in this period were technology and work from home. As we progress during 2021, the pandemic will start subsiding and the lessons learnt from this pandemic that we carry forward will define our new way of working. In that situation, the role of the supervisor is going to be key and the biggest challenge would be a change in role perception of supervision in the ‘New Norm’. It would be empowering and enabling teams rather than micromanaging and controlling. Since we will have to work in a hybrid work model, for a supervisor, these new attributes will be key to success which has a learning curve.
ATT: In 2020, COVID-19 forced a transformational shift that changed the face of HR as we know it. How do you see the overall role of HR and people managers evolving amid this pandemic and how will it shape the future of work?
Reetu: The role has fairly evolved for HR and it has moved from administrators to business enablers with a focus on employee well-being. For people managers, it has evolved from control to empowerment. The future of work will demand different attributes for success. Managers who empower, enable people, and focus on outcomes will be successful. HR will be a soft business driver managing talent development and engagement. HR as a business driver became very clear in this pandemic because Covid-19 has provided HR with the ideal opportunity to “step up” and become more business-focused ensuring business continuity.
Whatever happened in 2020 was a kind of forced adaptation in response to the crisis. The biggest adoptions we saw in this period were technology and work from home. As we progress during 2021, the pandemic will start subsiding and the lessons learnt from this pandemic that we carry forward will define our new way of working.
ATT: Today, business leaders are focused on the huge business continuity challenges posed by COVID-19. How has the pandemic impacted your people strategies and how are you preparing for a post-COVID business? What are your top priorities?
Reetu: Thankfully for us in the IT industry business continuity challenges are at a minuscule level, but yes, people strategies have changed drastically even for us. One of the key strategies we changed is to hire talent from any location and it does not matter whether we have an office there or not. What matters is the right skill set, attitude and infrastructure. We have completely done away with attendance management, now people will only have to record their leaves. Work from home is no more an exception but slowly becoming the norm. We introduced OKRs as a performance philosophy since performance is about outcomes and not activities.
ATT: Millennials today represent the largest segment of the working population. In your opinion, how has Covid-19 and remote working changed millennials and what long term impacts will COVID-19 have on future employees?
Reetu: Millennials had different expectations from the workplace as compared to the previous generation. They never wanted to work in a command and control environment. They have long been seeking employers that provide flexibility, a positive workforce culture, opportunities for growth, and of course objective-driven performance. The industry was well aware of these needs but still was slow in adopting a flexible work model. However, the pandemic has fast-forwarded the adoption of the new working model which will be more suited for millennials.
ATT: Obviously reskilling has become a big topic. How do you see skills needs changing in this changing world? What advice do you have for HR professionals looking to help people find new pathways forward right now?
Reetu: Before I talk about skilling, I would say learnability has to be a focus. When you deal with the unknown like this pandemic, people who are open to learning can reskill themselves and move forward. I think one of the things that were hugely leveraged by organizations was online learning platforms. Learning was happening for two reasons: one to learn new skills to meet future business demands and second to engage employees. I think HR can play a very important role in navigating employees through learning paths to meet their career goals. Learning can no longer be looked at as a stand-alone aspiration, not connected to employees’ career and business requirements.
LEARNING AND DEVELOPMENT
ATT: How can the Learning Management System (LMS) in L&D help in developing skills in remote environments? Also, what trends in L&D do you think are going to be the most important in the years to come to cultivate a workforce ready to meet the needs of their employers?
Reetu: I think the only thing which could create learning in this pandemic was LMS and other technology platforms for learning. This space is only going to increase with each day. The readiness of learning platforms and LMS to meet this huge demand along with user experience will play a key role. One of the biggest shifts in learning culture would be learner-centric learning that is a ‘pull’ and not organization driven learning that is a ‘push’. The main trends in L&D I see is the user experience of learning platforms, customizations, and learner-centric learning, and connecting learning to the individual career goals and organization business goals.