A New Lens Of Seeing Human Capital Management Platform- Gautam Ghosh [Interview]
Gautham Ghosh is a well-known HR influencer, ranked among the topmost in the world. He is a writer and a speaker, one of his fields of expertise is business blogging and is known as ‘The Authority for Business Blogging’ by the press.
About Gautam Gosh
Gautham Ghosh is a well-known HR influencer, ranked among the topmost in the world. He is a writer and a speaker, one of his fields of expertise is business blogging and is known as ‘The Authority for Business Blogging’ by the press. Bringing with him a lot of corporate and consulting experience, he is the right person to talk to us about all things HR. His blogs were listed among the top 25 by the HR world, and has many more recognitions under his name.
We have the pleasure of welcoming Gautam Ghosh to our interview series, I am Aishwarya Jain from the peopleHum team before we begin just a quick introduction of peopleHum, peopleHum is an end-to-end, one-view, integrated Human Capital Management automation platform, the winner of the 2019 global Codie Award for HCM that is specifically built for crafted employee experiences and the future of work with AI and automation technologies. We run the peopleHum blog and video channel which receives upwards of 200,000 visitors a year and publish around 2 interviews with well-known names globally, every month.
Welcome Gautam, we are thrilled to have you.
It’s my pleasure.
The first question I had for you was if you could tell us a little bit about your experience so far in the HR world, there has been a lot of transitions in strategies, technologies, so how has your experience been so far?
Technologies keep evolving, I think from the early ERP days to now cloud-based applications, from best-of-breed solutions to now point solutions a lot of evolution in technologies have taken place both at the business process level and at the consumer side level. So I think a big change that I have noticed is the expectation of employees’ have changed.
There has been a lot of talk about the consumerization of the enterprise and I think about 6-7 years ago people started talking about it but now I think people expect the same seamless intuitive use of technology that they expect from their workplace is the same ease and intuitiveness that they get from consumer applications, so essentially people don’t want to see user manuals or go through a large training session on how to use HCM products. I think that has been the biggest transition, vendors now understand that the “User has to be at the core and not the buyer.”
“User has to be at the core and not the buyer.”
Earlier, the finance department or to a lesser extent, the HR department, were the buyer and they would dictate customization or ease of technology for their needs, now it is the employees that are users in the centre of all the focus and that’s the big change between last decade and this decade that I have noticed.
And if you see the legacy products, you have to kind of go through a lot of training to understand them, to understand a very basic aspect. So I do think that it is a very big issue, you know, like even though it might be a whole package, however, it might have 100 different functions that will face difficulty as an end-user to actually go ahead and use it, so we have seen a usability factor that is really coming into the picture.
Yes, I think most of the legacy systems themselves are trying to make user experience and user interfaces simpler.
Yes, I think they know what is going on for them, they have a lot of data as they have been deployed in so many organizations for many years, in fact, they should actually know which parts are used more, which parts are used less and I think the other big thing is the way of work itself has changed from earlier say performance management system would be very individualistic, but now, with the rise of continuous performance management coaching, counseling by the managers, continuous monitoring the legacy systems don’t really have a way to pivot their products very easily to these new realities.
So “it’s like steering a big battleship because suddenly the iceberg has emerged, new changes have come in”
“It’s like steering a big battleship because suddenly the iceberg has emerged, new changes have come in”
…so I think that’s why nimble and smaller startups, which factor in the teamwork, the cross-functional teams and the project mode in which most organizations and people work, their performance management is also evolving, the modules and the apps are also evolving so yes it’s like comparing a big battleship with a small sharp nimble boat.
Yeah, I think the smaller organizations have that advantage and they can steer the battleship better during these times and, you know,
Talking about these times the current scenario of Coronavirus and the whole fact that the future of workers is suddenly the now of work, how do you think Coronavirus has changed the now of work?
I think there was a joke that was going around and I posted it on Facebook and LinkedIn yesterday and today saying, ‘Who’s leading the digital transformation of the organization? The CEO, the CTO, and the third option were – Covid-19?
So yes for innovative and leading organizations that were already looking at the digital transformation to drive growth it wasn’t such a shock, but yes what coronavirus or covid19 has done is it has dragged the laggards and the people who were vacillating about a digital transformation or were thinking about it, or we’re not really putting in a plan in place or were putting plans in place but not really implementing it have now been dragged from the past into the future, and that is, I think, the biggest impact suddenly organizations which were traditionally hesitant to do work out of home now have to do that. It’s also impacting how “HR itself needs to reorient itself in this new world of work.”
“HR itself needs to reorient itself in this new world of work.”
Today I saw the news that a BPO organization has suddenly found out that 70,000 of its employees can’t work from home because they don’t have the infrastructure and suddenly the IT and the HR departments together have to start thinking about how do you make these people productive because the lower levels which typically consists the most of these organizations are still in very steep pyramids.
How do we get the people who don’t have laptops or who have personal laptops, but you need to give them security purposes, for access purposes also for client confidentiality. Clients wouldn’t want employees to access their work using their personal laptops.
All these organizations, IT, HR, Cybersecurity and the finance departments together to figure solutions fast because their clients are also cutting back, I think it’s a three-pronged challenge for most organizations, but those that can think outside the box and find out solutions and put their people and their customers at the center and think about what can be done rather than focusing on what they can’t do.
I think at some level, Coronavirus will not let the business go back to usual, it will change a lot of assumptions about work, about how we get work done? Whether business travel is needed? Whether all these meetings are needed or not?
At another level, it’s also focusing on- How do we focus more on the emotional wellness of our people when they work alone, how to rebuild the camaraderie and teamwork that we would normally build in organizations. Suddenly you have conversations with your people on video conferences and you get to know their personal space because “The line between work and home earlier was blurry at the edge of 6 PM or before 8.30 PM. Now work and life has merged.”
“The line between work and home earlier was blurry at the edge of 6PM or before 8.30PM. Now work and life have merged.”
There was a lovely HBR article I read about How do you keep working alone? Because everybody is working alone there will be a lot of unforeseen impacts, you’ll become snappy at your colleagues if you don’t understand where somebody’s coming from but now because you suddenly see that person’s home, his pets, his children.
And I think at some level it is going to impact our relatedness with other people. Our engagement with our co-workers, our subordinates, our managers, and our leaders. It is also going to change how leadership is done and how leaders themselves engage in these days when nobody seems to know or have answers to all the questions and everybody’s asking especially.
Absolutely, I think a lot of corporations are grappling with, you know, not having the answers to so many questions because it’s just so unpredictable, right? There are all kinds of professionals that are coming up with new issues and new problems, and we suddenly see ourselves in a place where, actually, we will have no idea how to really go about this, and especially when
We have so many gig workers now and contract workers and they used to be on the field, and suddenly now they are at home, so kind of, you know, how to stay connected which is also the big question?
I think gig workers themselves can be broken up into quite different sections. There are delivery boys, drivers, etc, it has impacted different sectors differently, Also, for example, today or tomorrow in the US, gig workers of the delivery company InstaCart and Amazon are going on strike because they want protective equipment and hand sanitizers before they handle cash or make deliveries to people and they want sick days when they can’t work if they fall sick, we have to remember, these daily wage workers are not employees in the traditional sense.
They are independent contractors, the day they don’t work, they don’t earn. At some level, they’re like daily wage workers, even though they have smartphones and have bikes or cars, and then there are gig workers who are more expertise-driven, which are, say, are freelance consultants, trainers, people who are more at the higher-level skills, who come in when an organization needs them to deliver a program, deliver a project and then leave. “Everybody is going to get impacted differently in this whole big Venn diagram of gig workers.”
“Everybody is going to get impacted differently in this whole big Venn diagram of gig workers.”
Over the last three-four years, in all the conferences, there has been a lot of talk about VUCA- Volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. This is the actual VUCA. What we had been talking about all these years were not VUCA, it was a more incremental change but Covid19 or the Coronavirus crisis has actually made VUCA come home, making people realize what VUCA actually is, as everyday realities are changing, everyday information is getting outdated or coming in and nobody really seems to know. “It’s like taking a boat down the rapids. You can’t really row a boat without teamwork and precision, every new rapid has to be negotiated.”
“It’s like taking a boat down the rapids. You can’t really row a boat without teamwork and precision, every new rapid has to be negotiated.”
Everybody has to do their own part without really a plan. I think that’s the reality for maybe almost a year. We really don’t know the time frame of this change. That’s the other big thing.
Yeah, Exactly, because we do not know what is the time frame it becomes difficult to even take the next steps whether you think short term or you think long term how you strategize and get to a level where you’re not only surviving, but you’re also thriving, and there is productivity in the mix so that becomes a very big question and especially, you know, for HR professionals.
How do you think their approach has to change over these times? What is it that they should now focus on?
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