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Digital People Practices: Evolving HR Tech Platforms for the Post Pandemic Workforce

Perhaps, it’s not surprising that 91% of the HR leaders responding to a recent Gartner poll confirmed that they had implemented work from home policies in response to the pandemic. But in a sign that this isn’t a temporary measure, another Gartner survey revealed that organizations intended for 48% of employees to continue to work from home at least part of the time even post-pandemic. These new ways of working are bringing new challenges too. Companies are being driven to confront the stress and mental health and well-being of employees too as they battle unfamiliar conditions and changed conditions. 

A pandemic hit the world and disrupted the industry status quo. Physical contact is out of the question, workplaces are no longer accessible as they used to be, and work itself is going through a constant cycle of experiment, refinement, and then scrutiny. In this environment, we signed a few new customers and found it necessary to hire some key resources. Over the month of April, we looked for candidates, reviewed resumes, shortlisted people, ran tests and interviews, hired over 15 people, and onboarded them. Given the lockdown, the entire effort was carried out over digital channels driven out of PeopleApex, our own HR Tech platform. Maybe, there is a story here about the needs of the digital workforce and the kind of HR Tech platform that suits them! 

Clearly, Human Resource Management has its hands full. In fact, it might be fair to say that the HR teams are not totally equipped to address the sudden spike in the demand for their services. 

Of course, HR Tech platforms have been facilitating a collaborative and transparent work environment for a while now. Forward-looking companies have already been using such tools way before the global crisis came along. While no one could predict the abrupt reshaping that their workplaces and workforce would be forced to go through, companies that already had digital HR solutions in place were seemingly more adaptive towards remote workers and their expected transitions. 

It is evident that a scalable HR Tech platform is required to deal with a digital future without succumbing to it.

HR Tech – the new challenges 

Digital HR Tech platforms are not new. The people management technology has been helping companies to enable the performance of their associates with performance management, administrative activities, skill monitoring and upgrading, and raising work-related grievances among other things. 

However, post-pandemic, the criticality of the tool to the remote employees, and those managing them has increased. This is posing multiple challenges for these tools including:

  • Scalability: The architecture employed for building these tools needs to be ready for a rise in the number of users. While working from home, the reliance of employees on the HR Tech platform increases. They might use the tool to check about updates to the company policies, project work, payroll, etc. They might also use the solution to check about their performance, skill gaps they are required to work on, and other such career-oriented information. In short, the tool needs to work uninterrupted for so many more concurrent users without lagging in its performance. Moreover, the companies might have to identify the services of the HR Tech platform that are being availed more often than others. The scalability roadmap will have to be planned accordingly.
  • Workforce Engagement and Collaboration: Employee engagement was always in focus. Now, with all the employees being remote, engagement has moved beyond the physical workplace. While working from home in these uncertain times, the associates might need regular motivation while also being reminded of the expected demands of their role. Associates also collaborate for networking, recognition, appreciation, etc. Such engagements and collaborations are more necessary now than ever before given that casual conversations and informal linkages have become impossible. On one hand, the knowledge and experience sharing on the public timelines through collaboration tools help improve the morale of the associates. On the other hand, the HR Tech platform can also be responsible for regularizing the content that is being shared through such groups, chats, and posts to ensure consistency. The platforms need to be ready for understanding and coping with these new demands.
  • Secure (and varied) access: The reality is that employees and the HR team will be accessing the HR Tech platform from a variety of devices and home computing environments. This means the platform will be accessed from conditions it may never have been designed for. Mobile access as well as access from low bandwidth connections and poor computing infrastructure need to be catered to. With all that, the solution will also have to factor in the unhindered performance of basic functions like attendance monitoring and leave tracking, access control and permissions, and following pre-decided workflows. 

A modern HR Tech platform living in the cloud

The cloud can be a powerful ally against the challenges that current HR Tech platforms are facing. The cloud has the required infrastructure and configurations to provide scalable secure access to a growing number of employees and ensure a safe environment even during remote work. 

Coming to functionality, modern HR Tech platforms powered by the cloud can, indeed must, enhance engagement, performance as well as accessibility.  Here are some of the major benefits that could make a modern cloud-based platform a necessary part of the post-pandemic work structure:

  • Automation: There’s a lot of redundancy in functionalities like payroll management, attendance regulation, etc. Cloud-Based HR Tech platforms can be aligned with effective automation strategies that would serve throughout the remote workplace with all its varying geographies. Automation will relieve the HR personnel from repetitive manual work and help them focus on more employee engagement, upskilling, and collaboration opportunities. Payroll configuration, attendance processing, and integration, etc. can be automated and carried out whenever required.
  • Integrated 360-degree Solutions: The multiple features of the HR Tech platforms including skill management, onboarding, performance overview, etc. can be scaled for the growing number of simultaneous users. Cloud allows scalability while delivering a 360-degree service catering to the huge spectrum of user demands. Taking a mobile-first approach to architecture can make the tool more accessible from anywhere at any time. 
  • Distributed teams: Shift customization, project assignments, engaging user experience across different devices – these are some of the features that will help the company work untroubled with distributed teams. Modern cloud-based HR Tech platforms deliver these features to these new team configurations. In fact, the tool should be able to incorporate new features that would increase the efficiency of remote work.
  • On-boarding processes: Onboarding can be an overwhelming process in the remote working world. Especially, without a physical workplace, it can take much longer to settle into the new rhythm. Therefore, more engaging HR Tech platforms can help the onboarding associates stay in touch with the ongoing activities and also connect with the right personnel in case of any doubts. The connectivity and scalability offered by the cloud-based tool will make onboarding and other similar processes more effective, more informative, and less anxiety-prone for everyone involved.

What is common to Facebook, Twitter, and TCS? Apart from being giants of the tech world, these companies have all announced significant extensions to their work from home plans. Tech centers like Silicon Valley have been plagued by high costs of operations as well as high living costs. COVID-induced lockdowns have served to remind companies that remote employees could be just as productive as on-site employees. As the new digital employee takes over the organization, the HR Tech platform must be digital-friendly too.