Post-Pandemic Trends in the HR Tech Landscape
With over 17 years of experience deploying complex HR systems globally, Arun Serikar joined Whirlpool in 2019, focusing on HR digital transformation and automation by powering experience and innovation. Arun is responsible for developing and investing in the tools necessary to deliver exceptional employee experience leveraging ServiceNow, Kronos, SAP, Success Factors, ADP, AoDocs, and Custom Applications. Prior to joining Whirlpool, Arun served as a Senior Manager of HR & Talent Systems at NBC Universal and successfully led the company through multiple HR transformations.
In an interview with HR Tech Outlook Magazine, Arun Serikar, Director of Global HR Technology at Whirlpool, talks about the new trends in the HR tech landscape and how the pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation to leverage efficient outcomes.
Can you elaborate on your background and what got you into HR tech?
I've been in the HR technology space for 17 years now. Bringing the systems and processes in line with the people and making sure it all ties together excites me the most about HR technology. My main focus has been enabling HR Digital Transformation and automation by leveraging experience and innovation. HR digitization is a key objective in the transformation to address work culture challenges. I enjoy developing and investing in the tools necessary to make the transformation successful.
"Reimagining HR has been an essential part of the digital transformation journey. In order to build a highly engaged, high-performing global workforce, we need to provide HR employees with tools that enable them"
Overtime, the HR landscape has evolved significantly. From hearing things like “as long as an employee gets paid, we are good” it has matured all the way to “the overall employee experience, engagement and mostly importantly HR having a seat at the table”
Could you speak about the technological evolution you've seen over the years and the impact it had on the enterprise sector?
The way we approach and look at data has changed. From the past decade, we have continued to mature on making data-driven decisions for every single step throughout the HR technology processes. For instance, the D&I (diversity & inclusion), talent acquisition, the way you attract and retain the talent as well as the whole experience as such, starts from the candidate. It is about the experience you give to a candidate who becomes an applicant and then an employee. In order to build a highly engaged, high-performing global workforce, we need to provide HR employees with tools that enable them.
We have done significant transformation around standardizing the HR processes and driving data-driven decisions which enables the broader execution of business strategies and addresses the work culture challenges. Investing in the right HR tools is necessary to engage the business in the right way. For example, the data audit tool that we have invested in over the past three years proactively ensures that all the data that is being entered into the system is accurate. This saves thousands of hours not only for the operations team members who are working on it from an operational standpoint but avoids any bad experience for employers as well. So the key is to invest in the technology to avoid all the ripple effects and to make sure we are providing a unified experience in the most seamless fashion for employees.
What are the initiatives you’ve taken, especially in the post pandemic setting?
One thing that we have learned through the pandemic is how important it is to have the right tools and technology. Technology played a very significant role right from day one when everyone was expected to work remotely but with the same level of efficiency and collaboration.
We brought the teams together through constant check-ins, investing in the right technologies. Even though we are far apart in different time zones and regions, we ensured to bring the teams together and have the same level of engagement in every possible way.
We also give attention to what is happening outside of work by making certain that the wellbeing of employees is taken into account. We need the right tools to address what is happening outside their professional lives, and that has been a huge learning for us, and we continue to invest in that space.
Apart from these, we have accelerated the overall digital transformation. That includes automating certain processes to ensure proper work-life balance for the employees who are in the operations. We also streamlined how we train the employees and people leaders and improvize the overall quality of work in general by introducing bots, audit tools, digital adoption platforms, thereby improving the overall experience. This has been the common theme I had worked on for the past 18 months. I have seen some amazing metrics around automation and what technology is driving; based on automation, but it all comes down to messaging and how you put it out there to gain the key buy-ins from not only the executives' leadership but also the people who run these processes.
What advice would you give to companies and people who are planning to adopt HR tech?
One of the key factors is ensuring that the tools we are deploying are seamless. If we are consistently asking our users to go through training, rely on knowledge base articles, FAQ's, we are going to run into some roadblocks with the utilization of these tools. Providing necessary digital tools has created the much-needed bandwidth for the employees. We have saved over 8000 hours in the past few months with automation, which resulted in providing the much-needed bandwidth for the operations team to focus on the processes optimization and be part of the strategic discussions. The switch from manual to automation has been a huge cultural shift.
The technology and automation tools are not here to take work away from people. Rather, we want the employees to focus on the bigger picture- the process and strategy. It is important to "go slow to go fast" Take your time initially to invest in creating a solid foundation to deploy the systems efficiently down the line.
For young professionals looking to embark on the same journey as you have, what would be your advice?
The most important thing is to enjoy what you are doing and to be in a spot where you are making an impact. My advice is to be curious, ask questions, understand, learn and execute. Just because a process exists does not mean that there isn’t a better way of doing it. The best road to take is to understand the way something is working and why it is working the way it is. Always put yourself in somebody's shoes- from an employee-user experience perspective- when you want to deploy a system. Data doesn't lie. Don't build your success story around just building and deploying a tool, but rather measure the success by finding out how many users are truly using the tool and the impact it has created on each of them by running the metrics. That would be my advice for them.