Madhavi Lall MD, Head HR – India, Deutsche Bank

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It is imperative for organizations to support employees in every way possible, Madhavi Lall MD, Head HR – India, Deutsche Bank

In an exclusive interaction with SCIKEY, Madhavi shared on how organizations can deliver improved efficiency, what jobs can become non-existent or can experience risks, some new jobs listing that may evolve/emerge who will win the battle between technology and HR.

In the wake of a distributed workforce enforced by pandemic, how organizations can reinvent operations and ways of working to leverage this new workforce environment. How they can deliver improved efficiency, sustainability, trust, and engagement?

Firstly, I would like to acknowledge that these are really tough times for everyone, especially people who have lost their jobs or have had to return to their hometowns for safety reasons, or people grappling with taking care of older family members and children. Everyone is living in fear of the pandemic with no certainty of the future.

In light of this background, the biggest shift that we have seen is moving beyond employee engagement to employee reassurance through an increased focus on wellbeing. As organizations adapt to such evolving times and changes, it is imperative that they support employees in every way possible to help them navigate through this crisis.

From providing technological and financial support to engaging employees actively, providing them the platform to seek mental and emotional support, we are and we must continue to have regular dialogue with employees. Leaders and managers must encourage a culture of allowing people to speak up, share concerns and seek help where required.

Many organizations including Deutsche Bank are putting employee well-being ahead of productivity issues, and have come up with various initiatives such as virtual connect sessions including coffee and lunch breaks, insurance plans for Covid-19, doctors on call and mental counselling helplines, and online fitness and learning sessions. We have also had virtual CSR activities where volunteers have taught children online.

Organizations must continue to instil and reinforce agile execution, better resilience, and flexibility into work arrangements to maintain productivity.

Skills like leading the teams virtually, building cohesion in teams and engaging customers remotely are the need of the hour and will remain important for the foreseeable future.

One of the most important challenges would be to figure out how the vision of the organization will bind the employees, who are spread across the globe. Building a connected culture when most people are working remotely does sound like a challenge but our experience over the last few months has been very encouraging. Even though the workplace has shifted to our homes, the values and beliefs which are very important aspects of the organization’s culture remain the same. The question is – how do we ensure people are living the values even as they work remotely. How do we make virtual connects as effective and meaningful as face-to-face connects?

 

Do you think there could be jobs that can become non-existent, considering rapidly changing business dynamics due to COVID? Which jobs do you think are more likely to experience these risks?

I don’t believe Covid-19 by itself has rendered any jobs redundant in the banking sector. Bear in mind that even before the pandemic hit us, the banking industry, like many other industries has been deploying technology for process and cost efficiencies and the disruption has required individuals to adapt and reskill.

We need to ensure that we tap this huge talent base which is location agnostic. We are also evaluating some of the new skills that will make us effective in a virtual world and are working on learning solutions to build these across the organization.

 

While some may get lost forever, while others kinds may emerge. What are the new jobs listing that may evolve/emerge altogether in the post-covid era?

While it is not easy for anyone to predict what kinds of jobs will emerge from the pandemic, some of the common themes that will find stronger reinforcement across all organisations are that of agility, flexibility and empathy. The focus could very likely be on hiring and nurturing individuals who are more resilient, adaptive, tech-savvy and innovative.

After the pandemic set in, we further adapted to the changing needs with agility. The digital learning curriculum has been revisited and reprioritized to enable employees to leverage resources creatively through blended learning methodologies. We are also leveraging skills of our leaders as trainers and reaching out to a larger audience with short, modular learning sessions.

 

An ongoing debate – One is about technology replacing HR, on the other, the discussion is around how people leaders can leverage technology to manage talent. Whom do you think will win the battle or both will complement to manage people outcomes better why?

Technology will definitely challenge certain aspects of HR which are administrative in nature. Routine activities which are managed manually will definitely get automated sooner or later. That being said, this will also improve efficiency.

As human interactions move from being predominantly office-based to entirely online, transformation is imminent and can impact the workplace in the following ways:

 

  • Empowered workforce– objectives-driven management based on trust and outcomes rather than “time at desk”

 

  • Technology and “self-service” model driven services– for both internal and external stakeholders

 

  • Thinning of management layers– flatter pyramid

 

  • “Impact” “Outcomes” and “Skill” replacing “Seniority” “Experience”– this will drive reward decisions

 

My personal opinion is that technology and HR will work in harmony for sharp, data-based critical and effective outcomes for the organisation.

 

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