PwC India Partner Chaitali Mukherjee on Modern Employee Experience

PwC India Partner Chaitali Mukherjee on Modern Employee Experience
As workplaces get repurposed, the experience being delivered to employees/workers also needs to change.- Chaitali Mukherjee Partner and Leader – People & Organization, Pwc India

Rendezvous With Chaitali Mukherjee Partner and Leader – People & Organization, Pwc India, Territory Lead: Upskilling for the Digital World, PwC India on Modern Employee Experience

Chaitali is a Senior Partner with the Management Consulting division of PwC India and leads the People & Organization Practice for India. Additionally, she is PwC India’s Territory Leader for Upskilling for the Digital World and works with clients to help them get ready for the Future of Work.

As the PwC India Lead for People & Organization and HR Transformation, she is helping multiple clients across sectors, to get their organization and people across levels, ready for the future, by being focused on operating model and structures, people and processes, and capability/skills that will be critical to get future-ready.

Prior to PwC, Chaitali has served as a Partner with Korn Ferry Hay Group’s Management Consulting business, partnering with Promoters and CXOs in their leadership journeys. She has also been the APAC & ME Managing Director for Manpower Group’s Experis business and served as the India Managing Director for Manpower Group’s consulting business: Right Management. Earlier to this, Chaitali has spent almost a decade in management consulting with IBM Global Services and with Tata Consultancy Services Limited.

Chaitali holds an Executive Masters from Berkeley Haas School of Business, University of California and an MBA from IBS, Hyderabad, and her Bachelor of Engineering from Marathwada University.

Q. In your opinion what is modern employee experience in the Hybrid Work model?

As work and workforces are constantly reshaping as a response to the global and industry dynamics, workplaces are repurposing for their relevance. The workplace thus is no more where employees turn up for work. Instead, workplace is a space (virtual or otherwise) where employees come to work, collaborate, learn, and innovate.

As workplaces get repurposed, the experience being delivered to employees / workers also needs to change. The definition of employee and the expanse of the employee is drastically shifting. Employees today and in the future could be operating in any of the following formats: full-time, part-time, on-site, hybrid, and virtual.

The modern employee experience thus must meet the following expectations:

  • It must enable inclusivity and parity, regardless of where I work and in which format, I work
  • It must enable equal opportunity and clarity on career options, that suit the employee. Thus, personalised options being openly available to the employee to consider will become critical
  • Aligned to individual career goals and organisational growth considerations, learning and development options that employee can choose, and can curate at their own pace will be critical.
  • Finally, an employee in the future will no more be about working in the organisation at that point in time. It could mean, having worked and/or working as an external circuit. Thus, the options of learning and career are transparent, visible and the considerations for the selection must be clear.

In a futuristic hybrid work setup, modern employee experience would be focusing on enabling seamless hire-to-retire experiences, ability to work from anywhere(home/office), positive and transparent interaction with leadership, inclusive workplace culture, flexible and comfortable workspace, close collaboration with colleagues, agility to keep people engaged, intact productivity, improved health and wellbeing and integrated technology ecosystem.  

Modern employee experience in the workplace of the future is thus about being personalised, curated in pace, content, time, and purpose for the employees, and finally, it’s simple. Simplicity is truly going to define the epitome of employee experience. An experience that is effortlessly personalised will be the winner in the future.

Q. What are the important steps to make a great hybrid work experience?

A solid hybrid work experience needs to be designed around a few basic principles as a starting point. These will not have a consistent response. But the questions to be asked could be the following:

  • Are we considering all possibilities when it comes to the skill and workforce categories as we design the future in the context of the work we do?
  • Are we choosing the mode of work (on-site / hybrid/ virtual), or it is a nudged choice that is co-created by the employee as an outcome of what they seek as a career and life in the balance?
  • Are we truly trusting the employees equally and empowering them for the mode they have chosen for themselves?
  • Are we upskilling people to truly work in the hybrid mode, so that personal preferences and biases do not come in their way of making team, career, and growth choices? It is not enough for me to understand my work model but also the considerations and challenges of working across other formats?
  • How are we enabling leaders to think, design, and manage differently in the hybrid mode?

The response to all these questions and their interplay will decide the unique hybrid workplace experience each organisation wants to curate for its people.

Additionally, some of the non-negotiable commitments expected, include the following:

  • Transparent communication as well as feedback process to build trust, understand employees’ concerns and identify potential challenges. Enable employees to understand the benefits of being back to office, and human interaction for better productivity and morale.
  • Enabling leaders to be accessible, and responsive by adopting regular one-to-one check-ins so that potential challenges are identified, and individual circumstances are accommodated in alignment with the needs of the team.
  • Addressing anxiety amongst employees about how being back in the office might feel. This can be done by testing out their environment, catching up with colleagues, and breaking the fear factor
  • Supporting needs of both home and hybrid workers beyond the traditional workplace needs
  • Enabling performance evaluation to focus on tangible outcomes, not where the work was undertaken. This will also require maintaining regular conversation channels open between managers and team members.

Q. How do you see the role of HR Technology in defining modern employee experience?

If the future of employee experience is all-encompassing, enabling, empowering, and highly personalised yet unique for each employee, it is impossible to enable it without the right HR technology.

However, the route to the experience is not through technology. The route to the experience is through the choices we make for the experience and thereafter enabling it through technology. This would mean, organisations redesigning workplaces and experiences must first consider the choices they want to provide, the options they can make available, and thereafter the technology enablement.

Quite often, in the journey for the ‘best of the breed’ organisations spend an inordinate amount of money on technology and thereafter try to communicate, drive adoption and acceptance of the system that has no consent and voice of the employees. Also, at the same time, being articulate about what is not possible because of the choices we make as a business is equally important.

If the workplace is all about converging adults giving their best for a common goal, they cannot be convinced after the choice has been done.

Q. How to build the infrastructure that supports flexibility at work?

Flexibility at work is about deeply appreciating the choices employees make to deliver the best outcome for the business and in cognisance of their circumstances. Thus, the infrastructure to enable flexibility must as a starting point, be simple to use and intuitive, be secure yet enable connectivity using all devices.

Flexibility in the future is about working in a secured environment using your own devices and that ensures consistency for the people. This is easier said than done. But this is the first platform to solve for delivering humanised employee experience in the digital world.

As we think of infrastructure for the modern workplace, it would require thinking across the core elements of workplace infrastructure, which include the following:

  • Workplace design from an architecture and experience point of view that enables collaboration, innovation, and inclusive practices
  • Infrastructure that enables collaboration to enable all categories of workforce equally and work in a collaborative and shared manner
  • Design for cyber security and risks so that work can be done seamlessly and without the risks of data and information loss and theft
  • Cloud infrastructure…with all things being cloud, ensuring that seamless work and quantum of work and collaboration are not inhibited because of infrastructure

Q. Any concluding remarks?

As the world grapples to build a ‘humanised digital’ world and talent’s voice becomes critical in the skill’s scarce talent land, the means to attract and retain talent is through the experience. But the challenge of making it personalised to the individual and unique for the organisation is the equation that requires deep thinking.

Thank You, Chaitali!


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