The pandemic has compelled every company to make big decisions to maintain business continuity, and it has resulted in some tangible improvements in the HR space. Express Computer spoke to Sukhjit Pasricha, President & Group Chief Human Resource Officer, Kotak Mahindra Bank, who shares with us how his bank’s HR function is making use of emerging technologies to improve internal efficiencies
Some edited excerpts:
What are the underlying paradigms that are influencing the banking industry in the aftermath of the crisis, and what do they mean in terms of the larger business ecosystem?
The Covid-19 pandemic has hastened the rate of digital adoption in the banking business dramatically. According to Deloitte, 35 percent of users increased their use of Internet banking, during the pandemic. As practically everything has gone digital, being online has become the new standard.
We’ve noticed that today’s customers are much more receptive to digital banking because they can access a variety of financial services from the comfort of their own homes. Bank account opening can be completed entirely online, and a bilingual voicebot can assist them with over 100 financial services. We are putting all our efforts into developing our digital core in order to make seamless remote banking a key element of the customer experience.
What are your views on the HR landscape and how will it look like in 2021. Also, how should companies redefine talent and workforce management this year?
The pandemic has compelled us to make big decisions to maintain business continuity, and it has resulted in some tangible improvements in the HR space. Considering that employees are more productive than before, the Work-From-Home scenario has increased robustness under the performance management system. To focus on performance and personnel management, organisations are now looking to use new-age technologies such as AI/ML, and Blockchain on the cloud.
In an era of digital disruption, the current HR landscape has intensified the struggle for talent, and the role of CHROs is constantly changing. The pandemic has radically changed the way leaders and employees operate, and it’s now more important than ever for HR professionals to add a strong digital quotient to their present skill set and be prepared to work in a digitally driven environment.
From pushing innovation to inclusion to teamwork and collaboration, Digital HR will dominate all we do in 2021. From a learning and development standpoint, the banking industry is avidly seeking employees with a technology bent and a strong service orientation, and CHROs must focus this year on how to acquire and manage this digital talent by establishing practical talent-priority strategies.
Your bank has recently deployed Oracle’s HCM health and Oracle Recruitment Cloud to help during the epidemic. In the previous year, how have these digital technologies aided your bank?
The two most important factors for a large organisation to run well are scalability and future preparedness, and we have been incredibly forward-thinking when it comes to new technology adoption. We pushed our attempts to become more cloud-oriented during the lockdown period, and we reinforced our efforts to provide seamless work procedures for distant workers. We decided to opt for Oracle Fusion HCM Cloud and cut down on all manual processes as it was getting tough for us to manage a 50,000-plus headcount with that.
For us, health and wellbeing are two of the most important parts of remote and hybrid working, and Oracle’s platform has been helpful in logging and tracking our COVID-19 cases. With regard to processes, our letters, whether they are for an appointment or a promotion, are all processed digitally, including signatures. In terms of performance management, we’ve seen that our recruitment and onboarding models are running well now that we’ve switched to Oracle Cloud. Today, 70% of our recruitment process already happens without any manual intervention, and we will soon be able to expand our shared service model.
When it comes to performance review, what were your significant takeaways from the previous year?
In the new normal, cultivating an ecosystem and culture that promotes performance in an uncertain environment has become critical. To measure and evaluate the sentiment of employees in a work-from-home situation and uncover possible concerns, we have taken a big step in that area with our first-ever Great Place to Work survey. We are formalizing a structure of informal interactions (Check Ins) with the manager to ensure performance aligns with the team and organizational goals in the absence of daily touchpoints with the manager.
Being a CXO, how are you assessing employee performance and how challenging it was for you in the new normal? Also, if you could cite some measurement tools that helped you in employee performance and productivity?
Kotak has taken its efforts in this direction by formalizing its goal-setting process, with managers and employees agreeing on annual financial and non-financial goals. We believe that goal setting and management by objectives that focus on the 5As of effective goal setting – assessable, aspirational, aligned, accountable, and agile – are driving the change to actionable measures that can be quantified and offer better transparency in a remote working context.
In a remote working environment, though, protecting the organization’s DNA is just as vital, and thus we’ve incorporated Kotak’s fundamental cultural values into the appraisal process. Simultaneously, we’ve formalised the senior leadership talent management process, including potential evaluations and developmental inputs, to ensure a stable talent pipeline in the future.
Multiple firms have had to adjust their performance management policies as a result of the uncertainty. What are the main differences between gauging performance back then and now?
Performance management has undergone a paradigm shift as most organizations thoroughly embrace remote working. The conversation about ongoing feedback has gained traction, and while firms haven’t completely abandoned the annual appraisal process, they are including more frequent, informal interactions as a key component. In addition, to promote transparency in a remote working environment, frameworks that emphasize quantitative indicators such as goal setting are being applied on a broader scale. Future-proofing the company has become a prominent issue, and employees upgrading their skills to increase productivity is becoming a topic of conversation. Finally, when considering appreciation and reward, goals such as health and wellness, volunteering, and so on are becoming increasingly important.
What have been some of the most important leadership lessons you’ve learned in the recent year?
The pandemic has transformed the way we conduct business, but it has also provided a plethora of opportunities for an organization to make changes that would otherwise take years. The spotlight has switched to digital technology and its ability to help businesses develop more personal relationships with their staff. Leaders must listen for the meaning and consequences of the data being offered and respond appropriately since emotional intelligence has emerged as a fundamental leadership quality.
With the need to communicate effectively, regularly, and concisely across geographies and channels, new technologies and methods of employee engagement have become even more crucial in a remote working environment. The emphasis on people management has evolved from controlling to facilitating, with a focus on discovering individuals who are resilient, flexible, and connect effectively across silos. As a result, in a rapidly changing business landscape, the organization must develop clear policies, customise offerings, streamline processes, and improve communication to assist its employees in transitioning to a post-pandemic world, and technology can and must play a critical role in this journey.
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