‘Professionals who will be relevant tomorrow all need to be digitally savvy’-Prithvi Shergill, CHRO, HCL Tech

|February 14, 2017 0

Anil Chopra

“Ideapreneurs put employees first, customers second”, is the tagline that’ll catch your attention the moment you connect with Prithvi Shergill, CHRO(Chief of HR), HCL Technologies, on LinkedIn. The chief of HCL Tech’s HR strives to convert talent into performance from employees. In an interview with CIOL, Prithvi advises enterprises to rethink their policies, processes and programs to adapt, accelerate and make the shift to a digital experience for their employees. 


What kind of changes do you see happening in the workplace due to digital transformation?

Digitalization is providing progressive organizations the opportunity to transform the manner in which the employee experience is delivered. By making process execution and service delivery more engaging, enabling and empowering it is the key to change how people will learn, unlearn and relearn skills as they work to be future ready.

It enables us to operate with a mindset of serving a ‘workforce of one’ by personalization, of the employment experience, taking into account the life stage and context that the individual is in. Collective learning and performance is enhanced by providing a platform that enables collaborative seeding of ideas, nurturing them to reach decisions and harvesting the actions taken. Digital platforms create the autonomy, mastery and sense of purpose that employees of tomorrow look for and help communities operate with democracy as their guiding principle.

We have seen the benefits of this with different people coming together to give their suggestions without bias so as to multiply ideation when HCL introduced MEME – an employee initiated communication platform that now serves as our internal communication platform of choice with functionalities similar to Facebook, so as to allows HCL employees to connect and share anytime, anywhere.

How has the working style of employees changed due to this digital shift?

Organizations that have enhanced awareness of, advocacy about, assimilation to and adoption of digitalization has led to a rethink in design and delivery of the employment experience making them persona centric, outcome oriented, agile, lean and service oriented across the ecosystem they are deployed in.

Some of the significant changes in the practices are driven by the opportunity to enhance peer to peer interactions and crowdsourcing. This leads to more dialogue on how to improve performance, by enabling 360 listening, collective ideation, collaboration and co-creation.

HCL’s Design U2.0 career management program aims to engage, enable and empower employees to apply these capabilities individually and collectively to seek clarity in the line of sight to their performance goals, feedback on their contributions, guidance on possible career paths, inputs on the skills they need to remain relevant and progress to the desired roles they wish to play in the future.

Digital has connected the workforce more directly and intimately 24×7 – making the technology a facilitator of enhanced passion, proficiency, performance and productivity.

We often hear that finding the right ‘digitally savvy’ manpower is one of the biggest challenges faced by hiring managers. Why is it such a major issue, and how should HR gear up to handle it? Is digital talent indeed difficult to find?

Professionals who will be relevant tomorrow all need to be digitally savvy.

These individuals are people who listen to their stakeholders and are service and outcome oriented, who look to ideate and create distinctive experiences using the collective ecosystem they collaborate with and are agile and passionate about translating their potential into performance and proficiency into productivity.

The 21st Century Employee is recognizable as he loves his work and sees it as integral to a life of purpose and is seen developing skills to translate what he hears into meaning; understands that his stakeholder goes beyond the user of his work; that a job poorly done and a good excuse does not equal good performance and an idea needs to be collectively seeded, nurtured to maximize its harvest.

Contrary to popular belief, if we understand that 75% of the workforce in our industry are people below 30 years of age who we see as Millennials and have been born into the Age of the Internet, we will realize that many of them demonstrate these traits.

With technology, organizations are looking to create integrated technology platforms that can provide predictive and prescriptive insight using the information from multiple channels to access such able talent where available. Using analytics to enhance decision support, identifying pools of people who demonstrate the experience and expertise needed to operate in a born digital or native digital ecosystem is a skill many talent acquisition and HR professionals have not invested in.

Investments in modernization of systems of record and engagement as well as data management and business intelligence tools as systems of insight, leads to persona specific analytics. This can shape the design thinking of cloud-based, mobile ready applications and platforms which provide a singular multi-channel user experience across video, audio and sensory wearable technologies so as to offer significant returns when used intelligently. The next frontier is to apply artificial intelligence and robotics to advance organizational capability by simplifying the work to be done and redirect people to shape innovative campaigns to attract employees of choice and increase their awareness and consideration of opportunities offered.

What kind of change do you see in HR to deal with this shift in terms of the way they acquire, manage, or retain talent?

There has been a shift in mindset as well as in policies, processes, programs and practices.

The time to hire is now being disrupted by progressive organizations using technologies that are integrated into the fabric of the sourcing and selection processes. Digitization has completely changed access to sourcing channels, screening yield, candidate engagement and experience, assessment, selection, onboarding and increased the capacity of recruiters to invest time in proactive talent pool creation using various virtual and physical platforms.

Organizations need to be present where the talent is – and engage in dialogue to understand their aspirations and ambitions and share how the value proposition they offer can help them translate their potential into performance.

By personalizing the candidate experience for every individual, at HCL we are using multiple online media including video to share the culture and nature of person who will be successful here. These platforms help reinforce the practices that reflect our commitment to allowing individuals to recast their roles as CEO of their career – allowing them to make decisions related to the nature of productivity tools they wish to use, enabling a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy, opening use of organizational applications on personal devices, introducing user friendly ‘Employee Self-Service’ applications on mobile to allow them to manage their time, leave, work. Using ‘iSuccess’, enables people to experience people practices on an integrated technology platform to access information to manage performance (on iPerform), learning (using iLearn) and career growth (using Career Connect).
HCL has been an early adopter of using creative campaigns to source digital talent by showcasing our digital capabilities such as gamification using a digital onboarding game (to progressively acquire information to make the right decision), releasing ‘hiral’ video role descriptions that went viral and partnering with Twitter to run the ‘#CoolestInterviewEver’, and with MTV and LinkedIn in their ‘#GetAJob’ campaign.

What sort of digital skillsets do you see in greatest demand today?

Even with the onset of digitalization, the primary competencies the industry will continue to look for are related to functional knowledge, applied innovation, and learnability / adaptability. Even entry level talent are expected to be skilled in emerging technologies and markets, such as- User Experience, E-Commerce, Mobility, Digital Platform Design, Business Process Management, Analytics and Agile development.

Some key words of advice for enterprises on how to manage people due to the digital shift…

There is a need to rethink policies, processes and programs as organizations evolve to adapt and accelerate and make the shift to a digital experience for their employees.

This will require leadership teams to shape initiatives to re-invent and re-design ways of working, in line with their beliefs and aspired culture. This re-design of the entire employment lifecycle will need to take into account their mindset and the preferred mode of engagement that a multi – generational workforce seeks. The practices will need to be distinctive and address the variety of roles that employees play and ensure they meet the expectations of each persona, segmented by location, citizenship, tenure, role, career band, experience, skill, life stage and other parameters.

We need to treat people as being in a “workforce of one”. This will ensure that we demonstrate that our organization has Heart and will drive maximization of the Results individuals contribute to – which is what the mandate for HR actually is!

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