This year’s People Matters Ex Virtual Conference 2021 - APAC was all about tackling new age work challenges, boosting productivity and ultimately building happier workplaces. After a year and more of global uncertainty, there was finally a place where a bunch of CHROs regrouped on the foundations of EX to succeed in business.
inFeedo founder and CEO, Tanmaya Jain sat down with Syukri Sudari, the Chief People Officer at Affin Bank Group in a high-energy Keynote Session. While the topic in discussion was Evolution of EX during 'The Great Resignation', Tanmaya and Syukri both stressed on the importance of HR tech to solve people-retention problems.
The U.S. Department of Labor reported that a record 4 million people left their jobs in April 2021 alone - the highest number since they started collecting the data. If that alarmed you, you may need to sit down for this next stat Tanmaya shared from a Microsoft report:
“With the attrition rate being at an all time high in the last 20 years, 41% talent is expected to quit over the next one year.”
As many organizations have already transitioned to remote and hybrid workspaces, how can one leverage people analytics, data and bots to survive the great tsunami of the Great resignation? Here are our 4 hot takeaways as we plug into Tanmaya and Sukri’s conversation. Read on:
1. Automation will be our guiding light
At Affin Bank Group, Syukri believes technology can be the major resolution to all EX problems. For Syukri, Automation can resolve organizational issues efficiently by allowing employees to self-serve through a conversational AI chatbot, and we couldn’t agree more.
On that note, have you met Amber? - the AI chatbot that is currently talking to 90 percent of the employees at Affin Bank Group.
An important question to ask when we talk about mixing automation with people processes is are we compromising an individual’s experience? The answer is simply NO, and both our panelists agree on that. We’re shifting dynamics from employee experience to human experience and “automation can spot and reduce manual human error”, notes Syukri. Backed by people science, hyper-personalised interaction with employees can be infused with empathy and emotion.
For Tanmaya, whether it’s a simple step like manager change or onboarding, everything can be automated to improve experience. Ultimately, automating internal processes will lead to more bandwidth for your people and managers to take up important tasks.
2. Hi-tech marries into touch: HR tech with a heart
It’s not a new fact but something that gets us every time we read it - people have been really lonely during the pandemic. Some of us have had to spend months alone locked up in a room just with ourselves and our thoughts. In a survey of 1,008 people aged 18–35, 80% of participants reported “significant depressive symptoms” during the pandemic. The only touch points most of these people had were their colleagues. While HRs are doing their best to make their employees feel safe, they’re donning multiple hats currently - that of a colleague, a counselor, a line manager, and so many more.
In line with that thought, Tanmaya pointed out three cohorts that are especially struggling in the workforce - GenZ employees, working moms and the remote hires who were onboarded during the course of the pandemic. How does a single HR individual sense issues with so many different employees and possibly come up with solutions for all?
Syukri suggests a genius amalgamation of hi-tech and touch - Hi-touch. We’re talking about a software that uses the values of empathy to have sensitive conversations with all our employees who’re feeling even a bit disengaged. The last year has made it important - nay, compulsory - for us to understand how our people feel without any physical way to read their body language.
3. Shifting conversations to holistic wellness for employees
From health concerns to financial crises, we have quite possibly seen all grappling situations recently. Since the impact of the pandemic is so deep, impacting our minds and bodies, our approach towards our employees needs to be holistic too. Quizzing Syukri on his views regarding ‘home-office blending’, Tanmaya quite directly asks how important is the holistic wellness of employees.
As a fix, Syukri explains how he doubled down on his company’s initiatives of wellness programs. Regular check-ins, helplines, prioritizing mental wellness were his core focus areas.
A firm propagator of mental wellness, Tanmaya observed that as those chance water-cooler conversations and impromptu brainstorm sessions faded away, social wellness was the worst hit since last year. While Tanmaya has been talking about radical candor for years, there’s never been a better time to practice it.
Here’s what it really looks like:
Tanmaya also notes that most of us in India and SEA lie on the top left quadrant, i.e we care too much but don't want to risk being rude. Learn more about radical candor in just six minutes here.
4. Building high performance teams with focus on trust and empathy
While Syukri and Tanmaya doled out gems on employee wellness during these times, the attendee chat was buzzing with interesting questions. A common concern among a bunch of HR leads was that most of their employees left because of leadership misconduct. Some team members reported feeling overlooked and ignored, and others didn’t trust their line managers for their growth. What Syukri infers, and we agree, is that there’s a clear lack of trust among teams and that could be a major reason for employees to either leave or to not perform at their full potential.
“Empathy was and always will be the key to relationships - personal and professional’’, insists Syukri. Literally every one of us have struggled during the pandemic - directly or indirectly. While employees need more autonomy in their work, simple liberties like shutting down work at 5 PM, managers just want to be taken as human beings who’re probably dealing with their own set of challenges - at work and at home. “We need to listen to our people, and need the best tools to be able to do it”.
The future of HR tech looks promising
As we wrapped up the session just in time, our panelists pointed out that with their unique products, and values they drive it with, HR tech is on the brink of a major breakthrough. Although all functions of the workforce boast of a slew of great tech tools, sadly, HR seemed to have been devoid of that; fortunately that ends now!