In Conversation with Paneesh Rao, Chief People Officer, Mindtree on HR Plans and Priorities for 2021
Paneesh Rao is a career Human Resources professional with a successful track record spanning across industries and geographies. His rich experience spans the entire HR spectrum including strategy, career development, organization development, compensation & benefits, and M&A.
Earlier, Paneesh was with L&T Technology Services, having led their HR function globally. Prior to LTTS, he was the HR leader for Atos India & Middle East. Paneesh holds a master’s degree in Personnel Management from Symbiosis Institute of Business Management, Pune.
Q- What are the HR challenges that you see in the IT Industry in next couple of months?
We have already seen a paradigm shift in HR practices across industries during 2020 pandemic. The challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic have led to acceleration and adoption of digital services and cloud which in turn has brought growth in the IT sector. Being at the digital forefront, it was natural and much easier for us to quickly adapt to the new normal way of operating through remote working as the infrastructure and facilities required were already in place at Mindtree. Safety and security of Mindtree Minds (our employees), reskilling through digital platforms and virtual hiring became the core focus during these times of uncertainty.
As we take the next leap in the coming year, HR trends and challenges will change with the evolving situation of the economy and the industry. Work from home is going to continue for longer so staying relevant will become one’s own responsibility. Compensation and leave structure may undergo a change in near future as well while the gig economy is expected to see a boost. Mental health, social intelligence, and emotional connect among colleagues are going to be the next big focus for HR practitioners. Virtual hiring, onboarding, employee engagement practices, and relearning through digital platforms will continue to be a forever practice.
Q- How have you turned the pandemic crisis into an opportunity as an HR leader?
The pandemic has given us an opportunity to prepare for the worst by becoming a resilient and agile organisation. We have stayed ahead of the curve during these times of crisis. As a digital-first organisation, we have been observing traction towards the demand for cloud-based services from the past few years, however, the pandemic accelerated its growth multi-fold within a short period of time.
Digitization and automation across sectors are increasing and picking pace. The cost of administration has drastically reduced because of remote working. We have seen a significant increase in online learning for Mindtree Minds during lockdown. Engagement techniques adopted by us has helped in keeping employees’ motivation levels high and also maintain productivity level. The pandemic also helped us come closer and develop deeper relations with our clients by helping them in cost take-out and to digitize operations to be future-ready.
Q- What are your plans and priorities for 2021?
The priorities and focus for 2021 will continue to ensure the well-being of our employees and adopting best practices for people engagement in the new normal. The current situation has made it crucial for organizations to build a future-ready, hybrid workforce model that can adapt to unforeseen challenges during times of crisis.
Although remote working has changed the dynamics of employee engagement, digital collaborative tools have helped us ensure seamless connectivity within and outside the organization. With increased traction in cloud adoption, artificial intelligence, and automation, we believe that technology will bring a fundamental shift in the way we work. Needless to say, digital transformation will continue to be the key driver for growth.
In order to make learning more relevant, we have an ecosystem that enables employees to up-skill and cross skill effortlessly using our digital platform, Yorbit. We believe the best use of available technologies will be important for staying engaged and achieve the most in the current times.
Q- What are your hiring plans for 2021 and how do you see the skillsets of the future?
We have not witnessed any change in hiring at the moment. With accelerating demand in cloud services, hiring in IT continues and will continue to surge. Skills in artificial intelligence, machine learning, customer experience, data and intelligence, and cloud-tech are going to be in high demand, and hence, hiring in these areas will be observed.
Q- How do you see WFH Trends for 2021?
Remote working is here to stay, at least in the foreseeable future. Corporates have gained confidence with a large number of workforces working remotely and will witness momentum in WFH practices. In the long run, we believe, it is going to be a mix of remote and office work, with employees empowered to make a choice between the two. Satellite offices will also spring, giving an opportunity to go for work, network, attend in-person meetings, and do much more.
Q- Any concluding remarks?
Just like all other functions will refresh its ways of working, HR too will have to tune itself to the new realities of working. Managing people will change to managing people-related issues, leading to a transformation in ways of rewarding and awarding workforce.
The future workforce will be inclusive of all ages, genders, and nationalities. Workforce engagement will also add diverse options of part-time, full time, gig, and be result oriented.
Employee count from a particular location will be irrelevant in the future of HR as well. In conclusion, new and exciting times are ahead of us in the HR function as it is in every sphere of business in the coming year.
Thank you Paneesh!