We recently partnered with Colgate Palmolive to host a Global HR Leaders Forum in Mumbai, bringing together senior leaders from the FMCG, BFSI, Technology, Mobility, Supply Chain and Healthcare industries. The goal was to discuss and deliberate the new realities of work post-pandemic and to learn about new practices, challenges, and success stories in this field.
The discussion revolved around three main pillars. Firstly, it focused on how work gets done, including the adoption of new technologies such as Generative AI and Robotics. Secondly, it discussed the various models of who does the work, including crowdsourcing of work, building talent marketplaces internally, talent exchange programs, and the gig economy. Finally, the discussion focused on where the work is done — whether it is remote, hybrid, or WFO.
Several factors determine how work is designed in an organisation: industry, company and country culture, leadership mindset, and age demographics of leaders and employees, for example. Most HR leaders agreed that hybrid seems to be the popular model for now, but they raised questions about whether it is something that will stay for the long run and whether it is something that is needed in the long run. We heard from several HR leaders who were very transparent about the current situation in their companies.
For instance, HR leaders from a manufacturing organisation shared examples where they mandate a certain hybrid work policy and fixed working days in their companies for better collaboration across teams. The ability to provide flexibility in manufacturing plants has enabled them to hire more female workforce, bring in job-sharing models and create project-based teams, improving the diversity quotient for them.
In contrast, for a large healthcare organisation with highly matrixed global structures, it is not possible to mandate a certain style of working. They admitted to still figuring out a way to request employees to return to the office because there has been no clear way to measure and compare the productivity of remote employees vs fully WFO employees.
We also came across examples of very evolved practices in technology companies that are highly trust-based and give complete autonomy to managers to design the workflow, working styles and working hours with their teams. This has led to better talent attraction, higher productivity and engagement levels despite creating some ambiguity due to a very fluid system.
It is clear that with the evolving future of work, it is imperative that HR leaders build processes and capabilities internally to become successful in their chosen operating model. As the corporate world now welcomes the Gen-Z workforce, who all started their careers in this new normal of hybrid, it will be interesting to see how they are coached to become managers of tomorrow and how they think. There is no “one-size-fits-all” as each organisation comes with its own set of culture, challenges and opportunities. The core lies in leaders having the right accountability and growth mindset. Any model will only work if the employees see their leaders role-modelling, and HR plays a big role in coaching and developing managers for this new future that lies ahead.
I enjoyed the meeting, and it was reassuring to know that we are all grappling with similar challenges around the Future of Work and Engagement. The discussion provided some useful tips on how to approach the challenge.Shishir Agarwal, Chief Human Resources Officer at PNB MetLife India Insurance Co. Ltd
It was great to be part of the discussion on some very relevant topics of these times. Some of the insights were great thought starters and a push to do better.Isha Goyal, Head – HR India & SAARC at Godrej Consumer Products Limited
We would like to thank Balaji Sreenivasan, Executive Vice President HR, India, the rest of the team at Colgate Palmolive, and our HR community in Mumbai for making this event a great success. We are excited to bring our network together again soon for further thought leadership opportunities in India and around the world. Keep an eye out here for upcoming opportunities for networking and best practice sharing.