Rise of the autonomous workforce – Enabling ownership and authority

 

The wave of change that swept through workplaces in the last decade is no less than revolutionary. Broadly, this is about three generations with radically different ideologies, working as a unit to run businesses and drive the economy. There has been a gradual shift in the perception of several components of business like culture, definition of a workplace, work-life balance etc.. Multiple socio-economic changes contributed to this trend, primarily driven by access to information and a better quality of life.

Let me take an example to build the case here. Not so long, say fifteen years ago, the focus of a majority of the working-class population was to have a steady job, put bread on the table, secure a future for the progeny, and save enough for life post-retirement.

However, it is no longer the case.

Cut to present and your modern day employee no longer aspires to just about survive. They switch jobs far more often, freelancing or gig economy, & the concept of the remote workforce has gained massive momentum. Their focus is to scale greater heights while learning & contributing meaningfully as a part of their career. On top of this, they want to indulge in leisure far more often, ultimately to strike that perfect work-life balance. It is safe to say that they want to be autonomous.

The definition of workplace is far more fluid than what it used to be in terms of policies, role & responsibilities, and culture. The concept of standardization has taken a backseat. One size definitely does not fit all, not anymore!

The need of the hour is to embrace this change, leverage the available technology to enable and engage the autonomous workforce and make the most out of this opportunity to innovate; so as to make ourselves ready for the consequences that stem from this.

Autonomy in the truest sense can happen only when HR makes a strategic role shift from being a controller to an enabler!

Autonomy makes way for job roles that are cross-functional and often involve multiple stakeholders. With this changing nature of work, an increasing number of traditional philosophies of HR management are now coming under scrutiny. Here are some aspects of HR which I believe will witness a major shift:

Talent Management – Own your own Career

It is no longer the HR or the immediate manager who owns the employee’s career development. As policies become more employee-centric, the employee will rise to be the key stakeholder in decisions making. This, in turn, will have its own implications on the conventional framework of measuring progress as well. Once annual, performance reviews will now reduce to an instant and real-time input from multiple stakeholders at work. This ultimately will resonate in the form of a heightened sense of independence and authority.

Workplace Policies – Bend or break

When companies invest in the employees the authority to manage themselves, it pays priceless dividends in terms of trust and engagement. A leading travel booking company started their journey to autonomy by doing away with the system of fixed leaves/year. To everyone’s surprise, there was only a marginal difference in the leaves consumed, but the sense of ownership & trust came a long way in shaping their culture! It is critical to leverage intelligent systems for transformations of this scale to measure the implications, providing much-needed flexibility.

Employee Engagement – Proactive, not reactive

When the stakeholders involved are proactive rather than reactive, strategies are far more impactful. And to ensure such proactivity from your workforce, engage them well right from day one. From the acceptance of offer letter to onboarding, to finally becoming a vital part & parcel of the organization, engagement efforts must be ample and prominent. Aligning employees with organizational values & beliefs ensures the much-needed ownership and autonomy irrespective of the location and/or mode of work.

With so much happening around, these are definitely exciting times to be in HR and technology! As HCM takes new shape every day; we at Darwinbox, live the challenge of enabling this transformation in enterprises through an HR technology platform, just as swiftly.