PwC India Partner & People Leader Chaitali Mukherjee on Future of Work

PwC India Partner & People Leader Chaitali Mukherjee on Future of Work

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

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- We’re living in COVID-era, how do you see the future of HR post-COVID pandemic?

The current era which is being deemed as the COVID era has changed the thinking, pace, and needs of the Future of Work in more ways than one. While the ‘Future of Work’ was about preparing the world to a human-machine coexistence, COVID added an additional paradigm that pushed the need for hybrid workforce and the need for dynamic operating model almost immediately.

Amidst all this, the role of HR has changed dramatically. From being the owner of the organization’s culture, driving the experience agenda partnering for business continuity and productivity to being at the centre of employee well-being and care, suddenly the HR is expected to have wings and be everywhere with all the necessary capabilities. This also provides a unique opportunity for HR to redefine its role and purpose in organizations, regardless of the organization’s maturity. Whilst in the past, HR has had to adjust itself as per the maturity of organizations, COVID has been a level setter to a great extent even for people expectations.

Thus, this is the opportunity for HR to play it big, take the big bets, redefine the people, and experience agenda in their organizations’ journey into the future. In a summary, this is perhaps one of those unique opportunities where HR can play an even bigger role in the organizations preparedness for the future and impact the organizations’ growth as much as strategy, operations, and sales in a tangible way.

Q-How HR has evolved since the COVID pandemic started?

HR on its part has also changed its ways of working the most to change and impact the organization and its preparedness into the future. Right from being at the centre of managing the pandemic, driving business continuity to provide care and wellbeing support to people, HR has been expected to do and it has also done it all. But the other big expectation that has gotten HR to reconfigure itself has been to be at the centre of driving the technology transformation agenda and upskill/reskill the employees for the role of the future. Thus, HR into the future will need to have capabilities that are multi-dimensional in nature, with as much deep understanding of the business of the future as of the capabilities required to deliver that business.

As we all know, while technology transformation was one of the ‘table stakes’ capabilities for organizations to constantly drive efficiency in the past, today it has become an absolute ‘lights-on’ capability that is required for organizations to survive. Again, whilst in the past, this was expected from the IT or Technology Team, this is no more a discussion that can be done without HR. Thus, the additional capability that HR of the future is expected to have include deeper appreciation of Technology for driving Human Capital experience.

Q-How COVID is changing the future of work, what’s temporary, and what’s transformative?

COVID has changed the way world is and will be forever. While some of the changes may seem temporary, they may metamorphosize into some long-term changes into the future. Some of the big permanent shifts that have happened include the focus on what employees want. While this may seem like a temporary factor, almost all organizations have realised the importance of employees for continuity in the workplace.

The second important permanent shift is the focus on employee wellbeing, flexibility, and experience. Whilst in the past, this was considered a critical part of forward-looking organizations as a differentiating factor, it was yet not considered a’ lights on’ capability. But given the current experience and its impact, this is indeed going to be one into the future. The triangulation of these focus areas along with the role of technology as an enabler will change the way organizations look at the role of culture in shaping strategy for success into the future.

Q-Employee experience is transformed to Employee Life Experience. In your opinion, how companies can improve it in the present context?

At the centre of enabling the culture in the workplaces of the future is to take an approach of starting with what the employees augmented needs are. As with customers, even in case of employees, defining the experience of the future requires understanding the employees’ needs into the future, particularly aspects they are not aware of themselves but will shape their purpose and expectations.

That’s where the role of analytics, technology, consistent focus on delivering experience and understanding of humanized experiences come together. Organizations are working on some or all of these simultaneously to ensure they can deliver the employee experience that takes care of the needs into the future and also ensures that it will give them an edge over the others in the race of being able to attract the best talent, first.

Q-Any concluding remarks?

In a summary, COVID has changed the way organizations thought of their existence and purpose into the future. The role of HR and its impact to make a difference and building the organization of the future has become even more critical. However, the capabilities required and expectations from HR have also changed dramatically, whilst the current ones haven’t been removed. Thus, organizations could as well as HR capabilities that are catering to the needs today to make operations happen and there will be capacity built in the organization to focus on continuous readiness into the future.

 The biggest challenge that COVID has left on the table that it hasn’t given the transition time to organizations to make these changes. Thus, the ability to drive simultaneous shifts in capability and make it happen today is the big ask from organizations and HR. Even more critical to keep in mind is that there isn’t a template from the past to refer to, and learn from best practices of what others have done and take calculated risks.  Thus, the biggest ask from HR is going to be their ability to truly align to the purpose of the organization, be courageous to present their perspective, follow their instinct, and build the talent and leadership agenda for the future.

Thank you, Chaitali!


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