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Future of work - state of employee feedback

Quick interpretations on the state of the Human Resources function today in a recent interview by Smitashree Menon, Founder and CEO, theboardiQ with AllVoices

1. What is the state of the human resources industry today?

The last few years during the pandemic and after, first to a completely virtual world and then to a hybrid environment, has only heightened the importance of Human Resources in organizations. Here are some of the reasons why:

  • Trusted advisor and change agent - Companies have had to pivot their business models to bring in sharper focus to a new vision / strategy, shrunk their operating budgets or had to re-skill / refresh their talent base, all the time keeping employee morale high. HR leaders are trusted advisors, helping organizational leaders, CEOs and executive teams deliver fast paced culture change interventions leading to better business results.

  • Employee culture custodian - Leaders need to keep a finger on the pulse of the organization in a virtual world, adopt an “inside out” approach in understanding employees’ personal values under these changed circumstances and see how they meshed in with overall organizational business goals and values. In a divisive society, HR leaders have had to step up internally, to ensure voices are heard, employees are “included”, create safe work spaces without fear of retaliation, conduct investigations with complete anonymity and confidentiality, and be seen as having courage to do what is fair and just by taking action on any form of misconduct, misdemeanor or harassment at the workplace

  • Global growth mindset and geo-political acumen - The need of the hour for HR leaders is to quickly understand new and changing laws, regulations, policies and processes globally and apply them at the workplace, sometimes in a very complex environment, dealing with religious, political and personal sentiments of employees.

  • Employee experience enabler - HR systems and virtual productivity tools have to be tightly interwoven with adequate security levels, to enhance employee performance virtually, in whichever locations they need to operate out of. Remote working policies, telecommuting and flexible work benefits are the norm. Seamless employee lifecycle virtual experiences - the entire talent management piece from recruiting, to on-boarding to finally, exit - is going to be more and more technology enabled, global and virtual. It is not too far off, where augmented / virtual reality enabled immersive work environments become the norm.

  • Sustainability champion - The increased attention on “sustainability” for corporations, meant that HR leaders are required to benchmark, envision, measure and link employee performance and compensation (variable and equity compensation) to sustainability metrics (progressive companies have begun using the world economic forum framework - people, planet, principles of governance and prosperity).

  • Diversity and Inclusion at the core - Progressive boards and management teams are ensuring that grassroots driven talent attraction and retention of diverse talent (entry level right up to management and board level) is a priority for business success.

  • Talent re-skilling - Moreover, talent re-skilling and refresh to newer priorities / new skills is being driven through HR.

2. What are the most common challenges you face when managing employee feedback and reporting?

There are basically three layers of segmentation of feedback and reporting during annual or periodic employee opinion polls / pulse surveys:

  • at the organizational / company level;

  • at the business unit / department level and

  • at the immediate manager / supervisor level.

It is imperative that HR leaders analyze the results and provide actionable recommendations at these three levels without any negative repercussions on any employee / associate / worker. Communication of results at the organizational level on all actions being taken throughout the year, brings about transparency and trust among employees. Sensitive information gathered on individuals, departments or organization as a whole, has to be properly investigated, ideally with an independent committee including legal counsel and neutral members who can take informed decisions on action to be taken.

In a recent case, a former Head of Sales and Marketing at Rivian and former President of Aston Martin, is suing her former employer on grounds of gender discrimination and retaliation. The HR leader to whom she bought the issue up with, was in the same room when her boss fired her a few days later. This is the same environment that had prevailed at Uber and it's toxic culture. HR has to be seen as a custodian and confidant of employees and provide a safe environment without fear of retaliation.

3. What are 3-5 pieces of advice for organizations in your industry looking to improve their employee feedback culture?

Communication, transparency and accountability are key for organizations to thrive. Boards, CEOs and leadership teams need to embrace the culture of always listening and practicing empathy with their employees, associates, workers and even customers. Cases in point, the CEO of a leading ride-sharing company being the driver for a full day to experience how well the app works and gather customer feedback; or the CEO of a leading retail company spending at least 2-3 days on the shop-floor every month to understand worker related issues or another CEO and his leadership team taking turns to sell in stores to understand how their products and services are being perceived and experienced by customers.

4. What’s the future of HR?

The future of HR is one where employee experience is seen by the leadership team as more critical than customer experience - employee experience driven by critical thinking and business acumen - where your visioning, coaching and execution skills as an HR leader are unparalleled.

You are adding value with every HR initiative that you introduce in the organization and are able to present the ROI impacting the top line and bottom line of the financials of the company.

You are data-driven - you are able to articulate and implement a compelling employer / employee value proposition to differentiate yourself from the competition.

You are making a difference in ensuring gender pay equity and reducing the CEO-median pay ratios with concerted compensation planning and execution.

You are fearless, independent and a trusted advisor. You lead by example in providing a safe environment without fear of retaliation. You understand geo-political issues, laws and regulations and how that impacts people and business. You practice “inclusion” where every individual is treated equal irrespective of their gender, color, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, ability, social, religious or political affiliation.

You are experienced in understanding different global cultures and are adept in change management and culture change interventions through mergers, acquisitions and divestitures ensuring minimum disruption to the business.

You have business acumen and can interpret financial statements of the organization.

5. How do you see your role evolving over the next 3-5 years?

The role over the next 3 - 5 years is one where one can create impact and relevance in four core areas that are the backbone of theboardiQ - inclusion, technology innovation, transformation and sustainability. A role where you are a thought leader and enabler of solutions that foster positive change in bringing about inclusion and equality. A role where you are a creator of a platform (or tools, processes or systems) that is a game changer in the People space.


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