In this exclusive interview with All Things Talent, Megha Gupta, Director - HR at Fiserv talks about Microlearning becoming the new normal, the importance of learning and re-learning in the corporate world. She also shares her insights on the future of business strategy and the importance of capability building in the post-pandemic world.
Q. Looking back at your career to date, you have worked across Fortune 500 companies and various industries like financial technology, US-based IT services, telecom and creative sector. How has this roller coaster journey been like?
A. I have been extremely fortunate in my career to get roles that were challenging which not only led to personal growth but also gave me an opportunity to reinvent the wheel. A lot of people when they join an organization and find that something is not working, they start to feel anxious and get easily demotivated.
One of my biggest success factors was that I did not try to fix the problem but rather focussed on finding the deep-rooted issue while working with other business leaders to find the right solution.
This not only solved the HR issues but also built trust and credibility with other business leaders as it was a collaborative way to arrive at a decision rather than just HR owning everything. My key success mantra is to take leaders along in the talent journey keeping in mind the impact that it creates for business and not just people alone.
LEARNING & DEVELOPMENT
Q. As a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, reimagining workplace learning during Covid-19 has become more crucial than ever. In your opinion, why is microlearning a necessity amid the pandemic? Also, how can we use gamified microlearning activities to boost employee performance?
A. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we have already witnessed that the largest work-from-home (WFH) experiment has been a huge success. This is going to accelerate the technology advancement, shift the focus to remote learning and work on upskilling to be future-ready.
Q. Speaking of workplace learning, how has Covid-19 set the stage for reskilling in the corporate world? How can organizations harness agile learning techniques to effectively future-proof employees, while also reskill and upskill employees for digital transformation?
A. Pandemic is the best leveller that has accelerated the pace of technology adoption across industries. Learning and re-learning are the only way that will enable people to be future-ready.
Multiple data show that the new generation workforce prefers to learn through small videos or self-searched learning platforms more than traditional classroom lead programs.
In my view, we must reinvent the traditionally learnt ways i.e. move from classroom-based, or should I say instructor-led learning to a new age learning methodology having small, sushi-bite sessions which enables self-paced learning and enhances the learning experience of employees. We have to crack the new learning in 4 ways:
- Learning experience – Technology can help in accessing the online modes of learning i.e. books, podcasts, videos, articles, that can be part of the learning portfolio other than classroom or on the job learning.
- Upskilling – Thinking of current skills and what skills we need for the future, organizations need to help people to get those new skills by upskilling and tracking the progress through technology.
- Create new opportunities via data and analytics – We must create agile solutions through matching the learner and learning opportunity/stretch assignments and easily deploy the new opportunities via technology solutions that ensure that the users can learn and track the progress themselves.
- Design virtual learning experience with human connections and empathy – With the help of technology we need to ensure a way to have human connections along with virtual experience.
Microlearning will be the new normal going forward. Traditional learning methodology of the 70:20:10 model – learning on the job, learning from projects, and learning through the classroom will also change. Technology will become the primary interface for any learning solution.
Q. HR leaders have been at the centre of their organization’s rapid response to this crisis. According to you, how can HR make use of capability building in keeping the workforce engaged, productive, and resilient? What is one highly effective capability building initiative that you have found successfully engages employees?
Q. More than ever, promoting employee health and well-being has become a key focus amid the COVID-19 pandemic. How important is it to help people stay focused and mentally healthy in the face of such significant change? What initiatives and programs would you recommend towards the health and well-being of employees?
A. Health and safety are the two biggest challenges for any organization today. With evolving business & talent strategy and permanent remote working culture, there will be a need to think about what is the current benefits portfolio of the organization which can be matched with the new talent strategy and what shifts need to be made accordingly.
– Mental & Emotional Well-being – We have already seen burnouts, increase in mental stress with multiple roles that people are expected to play when working from home. Organizations should think about Employee Assistance Programs, interventions on mental & emotional stress and create more awareness about mental health.
– Physical wellbeing remains a challenge with WFH. Ergonomic furniture, webinars for maintaining physical fitness to fitness challenges are some ways to look for.
Multiple organizations have already started giving out leaves on account of the pandemic from 10 days to 28 days, no meeting post 5:30 pm is another trend to take care of burnouts and maintain people’s work-life balance.
Many organizations have also started to give allowance for ergonomics furniture, power backup, internet expenses, and much more. Most of the insurance companies are now covering for Covid-19 expenses for self and family members.
Organizations need to look at each benefit that they’re offering and its relevance in today’s context, like free food service in the office, needs to change to something more relevant in WFH’s context, for example, creche facility in the office needs to change to child care allowance at home, gym facilities should also include a tie-up with mobile-based online fitness classes, etc. There is also a need to think about the Emotional Quotient and providing flexible working hours to people to manage both work and home.
In my view, we must reinvent the traditionally learnt ways i.e. move from classroom-based, or should I say instructor-led learning to a new age learning methodology having small, sushi-bite sessions which enables self-paced learning and enhances the learning experience of employees.
Q. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to evolve, so are the ways of working. Although it’s too early to say what the future of work will look like, what are some of the key changes we are likely to witness in the post-COVID-19 world?
A. I think activities post this pandemic should not be a PAUSE button wherein we all should start from where we left but rather it should be looked as a RESTART button wherein everything should be started from scratch and carved into a “new business strategy”.
My belief is that the new normal should not fundamentally just solve business or talent priorities but also be looked at from the lens of socio-economic issues, like increasing income gap between rich and poor, environmental issues like deforestation, water, climate change and many more.
A new business strategy should take care of and support both business and social & environmental growth. This means if the business instead of going entirely back to old normal even go back with 50% WFH arrangement, it would mean less real estate pressure on urban cities, 50% fewer cars/transport on the road that in turn will reduce overhead costs for the organization and open opportunities to tap into talent which goes beyond geographical barriers. Remote work will also take care of huge gender diversity challenges and ensure better living conditions for people as they can work from their home locations without having to relocate to another city.
A new generation of tech tools will help workers who work in distant locations to collaborate and communicate effectively. Organizations that have not yet adopted technology solutions would be forced to incorporate technology solutions for every process whether it’s hiring, onboarding, filing for expenses or exit. Also, with more remote working we would also see a new culture of organization emerge that would have a huge focus on communication and collaboration.
Q. Lastly, how can this crisis represent an opportunity for leaders to create more team collaboration and innovation and rethink a leader’s role in the face of adversity?
A. Every crisis has a silver lining and brings an opportunity to think differently and start from a white canvas. The crisis has proven to the world that 100% WFH is possible and productive. The role of the leader is to first relearn how to manage teams in a physical environment which means being empathic and yet be able to drive the collaboration through multiple platforms and technology channels. The crisis will also bring new business opportunities and hence, innovation will be a key for any business to survive or succeed in the future. Leaders will have to reinvent themselves to be successful in the future with much more agility, transparency, and building an emotional quotient.
Megha Gupta, HR Director at Fiserv is a seasoned professional, who comes with an overall experience of 15 years in various facets of HR and across Fortune 500 companies. Having worked for organisations in financial technology, US-based IT services, telecom, and creative sector, she has partnered with many business leaders on capability building to meet future technology requirements. Her key priority is to create a culture for technological & digital disruption and support the transformation across the company. Prior to working with Fiserv, Megha was working with Publicis Sapient as HR Business Partner. She is passionate about the future of work, leadership, inclusion, and capability building. Her specialities include- Strategic Business Partnership, Organisational Development, Leadership Development, Talent Management, Performance Management, Diversity & Inclusion, and Employee Engagement.