Embrace adaptability and change: Cultivate a culture that is open to change and adapts quickly to new challenges and opportunities. Encourage employees to experiment, innovate, and take risks.

When it comes to designing the future of work, one size fits none. Discovering success isn’t about a hybrid model or offering remote work options. Individuals and organizations are looking for more freedom. The freedom to choose the work model that makes the most sense. The freedom to choose their own values. And the freedom to pursue what matters most. We reached out to successful leaders and thought leaders across all industries to glean their insights and predictions about how to create a future that works.

As a part of our interview series called “How Employers and Employees are Reworking Work Together,” we had the pleasure to interview Aradhya Srivastava.

Aradhya (Ardy) Srivastava is a Group Technology Leader for HR technology at a financial technology platform company. Ardy consults with colleagues across the company’s 14,000 employees to identify ‘pain points’ so that he and his team can design, launch and implement solutions using technology.

Driven by a dual passion for people and technology, Ardy sees HR technology as a blend of the two. He is particularly interested in ‘employee experience’ (EX), which is about ensuring employees have a consumer-like experience at work for all tech touch points in their workday. A consumer-like experience of technology is fast and proactive. When this is replicated in HR technology it frees up employee time for more creative tasks, makes companies attractive to top talent and saves millions.

Thank you for making time to visit with us about the topic of our time. Our readers would like to get to know you a bit better. Can you please tell us about one or two life experiences that most shaped who you are today.

Firstly, the COVID pandemic. During the early phase of the pandemic when the world was still figuring out how to deal with COVID, I was working for a retail company. We faced the challenge of developing an in-house health app for employees to self verify their COVID status, which included contact tracing. At the same time, we sadly lost a team member due to COVID and everyone knew someone who was impacted by the virus. For me, it was fascinating to see how the team came together for a bigger cause, irrespective of the challenges, and we were able to deliver a technology solution in 15 days to enable business operations to continue smoothly.

Secondly, the birth of my daughter during the early phase of the pandemic. This was a time when there was no vaccine and international and domestic travel was restricted so we couldn’t have any help or family or friends. We basically had no one at home to help us, and as first time parents, we were nervous. But somehow we managed and learned a lot along the way. .

Both of these experiences taught me to always think about the bigger picture and the long-term goal through the hard times and to enjoy the journey along the way!

Let’s zoom out. What do you predict will be the same about work, the workforce and the workplace 10–15 years from now? What do you predict will be different?

The only thing I can predict is change. Change is the only constant.

Having said that, and based on current data and new industry patterns in technology, I can see a few major themes emerging:

  1. Automation and AI: Automation and artificial intelligence (AI) will become increasingly prevalent, especially when it comes to handling routine and repetitive tasks. I predict there will be a rise in conversational AI bots in the Enterprise HR Tech Space, eventually. This will lead to a shift in the workforce towards more creative, strategic, and analytical roles, with a focus on human-centric skills such as empathy, communication, and problem-solving.
  2. Lifelong learning and upskilling: The fast pace of advancements in technology will require continuous learning and upskilling by both employees and employers to stay competitive in the job market. employers will need to invest in employee development, and learning opportunities will become an essential part of workplace culture. From a technology standpoint, this means the rise of skills based taxonomy and L&D product offerings.
  3. Integration of advanced technologies into the workplace: Workplaces will have to adopt technologies such as virtual and augmented reality, the Internet of Things (IoT), and advanced data analytics. These tools will revolutionize the way we work and collaborate, offering new possibilities for communication, project management, and decision-making. This will play a pivotal role in supporting remote and flexible work.

What do you predict will be the biggest gaps between what employers are willing to offer and what employees expect as we move forward? And what strategies would you offer about how to reconcile those gaps?

To future-proof an organization my suggestion to employers is to adopt a long-term mindset for HR tech, and to embrace digital transformation. This means organizations must be prepared to adopt new technologies and digital tools which streamline processes, enhance collaboration, and improve overall efficiency. This includes leveraging cloud computing, data analytics, AI, and automation.

Employers also need to invest in IT infrastructure. This means regularly updating and maintaining the organization’s IT infrastructure to support new technologies, data security, and collaboration. They need to also keep developing digital skills and literacy by investing in ongoing employee development, focusing on digital skills, such as programming, data analytics, and digital marketing. As a rule, employers need to encourage employees to stay current with the latest technological advancements and trends.

When it comes to the biggest gaps between what employers are willing to offer and what employees expect, I’ve noticed that employees already want continuous learning and upskilling opportunities to stay relevant in a rapidly evolving job market. The risk for employers is that they might be too slow to provide adequate resources and programs.

Work-life balance and well-being is another point of contention. Employees are increasingly prioritizing mental health and well-being, and are expecting support from employers in these areas. However, some employers don’t fully appreciate the importance of these factors or are unwilling to invest in necessary resources.

To reconcile these gaps, employers can implement the following strategies:

  1. Adopt a proactive approach: Employers should stay informed about industry trends and employee expectations and proactively adapt their policies and practices to address any gaps.
  2. Prioritize employee satisfaction: Recognize that happy, engaged, and satisfied employees are more productive and loyal. By prioritizing employee satisfaction and well-being, employers can create a more cohesive and successful organization.
  3. Be flexible and adaptable: Employers should be willing to adapt and evolve their policies and practices to address the changing needs and expectations of their workforce. This may involve reevaluating traditional working models, investing in employee development, and offering more personalized experiences.
  4. Collaborate on solutions: Involve employees in the decision-making process, seeking their input and ideas on how to address gaps and improve the workplace environment. This collaborative approach can lead to more effective and sustainable solutions.

We simultaneously joined a global experiment together last year called “Working From Home.” How will this experience influence the future of work?

Simon Sinek says “Human beings are social creatures” and I believe that if one thing is certain for success, it’s that we have to collaborate continuously. Successful collaboration will require integration of advanced HR technology such as AR/VR, especially in a future where team meetings are in the Metaverse!

What is your greatest source of optimism about the future of work?

One thing is for sure, the workforce of the future will require advanced skills and knowledge. Therefore, it is essential to have education and training programs that prepare individuals for the jobs of the future. It’s imperative we all learn more about AI/ML and try to get involved in AI programs. I also think the pandemic gave an opportunity to people to reflect on their life and on what they really want, and it acted as a catalyst for remote work. So, we will see a hybrid approach for now and eventually it will evolve because change is the only constant. This also means there will be an increase in the use of advanced Enterprise Technology such as AR/VR for collaboration across teams, and predictive intelligence for decision making. There is also the rise of skill-based taxonomy and work, which is still in the experimentation phase, but to enable and scale, we will need robust Enterprise HR Tech.

Our collective mental health and wellbeing are now considered collateral as we consider the future of work. What innovative strategies do you see employers offering to help improve and optimize their employee’s mental health and wellbeing?

I think it’s important to understand the big picture. Whether it’s flexible work or mental health and wellbeing, ultimately it’s about people. In my opinion, there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. Every enterprise should understand their employee needs and implement benefits accordingly. Benefits have to be personalized to be effective. Generally speaking, we have already seen a lot of emphasis by all employers on mental health programs and flexible working. These changes don’t need to be sophisticated and big, a few small things which I do is try to have at least one walking meeting a day and have at least one one-to-one with my team a week, asking them about their wellbeing. It works wonders for us. A healthy employee is a more happy and productive employee.

It seems like there’s a new headline every day. ‘The Great Resignation’. ‘The Great Reconfiguration’. And now the ‘Great Reevaluation’. What are the most important messages leaders need to hear from these headlines? How do company cultures need to evolve?

The most important messages leaders need to hear from these headlines are:

  1. Employee priorities are shifting: The workforce is undergoing significant changes as employees are reevaluating their work-life balance, career goals, and personal values. Leaders need to recognize and adapt to these shifts to retain and attract talent. Flexibility is crucial. Companies need to offer flexible work options, such as hybrid models, and adjustable schedules, to meet the changing needs of their workforce.
  2. Continuous learning is essential: Rapid technological advancements and evolving job roles require employees to keep learning and updating their skills. Leaders should invest in employee development, providing learning opportunities and encouraging a culture of continuous growth.
  3. Diversity, equity, and inclusion drive success: A diverse and inclusive workplace is essential for driving innovation, creativity, and overall business success. HR Tech can play a big role here because technology can help provide the right data point to make data driven decisions about diversity, equity and inclusion.

To evolve their company culture, leaders should consider the following:

  1. Adopt a people-first approach: Shift the focus from prioritizing business outcomes to prioritizing the well-being, satisfaction, and the professional growth of employees. A people-first culture leads to increased engagement, productivity, and loyalty.
  2. Foster open communication: Encourage transparent and open communication, creating an environment where employees feel comfortable expressing their ideas, concerns, and feedback. This will help leaders stay in tune with their workforce and make informed decisions.
  3. Embrace adaptability and change: Cultivate a culture that is open to change and adapts quickly to new challenges and opportunities. Encourage employees to experiment, innovate, and take risks.
  4. Recognize and reward achievements: Implement recognition programs that celebrate employee achievements, both individually and collectively. This will help to create a positive and motivating work environment.

Let’s get more specific. What are your “Top 5 Trends To Track In the Future of Work?”

The future of work is shaped by the evolution of Enterprise HR technology, which is constantly transforming how organizations manage their human resources. Here are my top 5 HR technology trends that will define the future of work:

People Analytics:

People analytics, also known as HR analytics or workforce analytics, involves using data-driven insights to make informed decisions about human resources management. Organizations are increasingly leveraging people analytics to optimize recruitment, performance management, and employee engagement. For example, tools like Visier, ChartHop, and Humanyze provide data-driven insights to help companies make better HR decisions and understand the impact of those decisions on business outcomes.

AI-Driven Recruitment and Talent Acquisition:

AI is transforming the recruitment and talent acquisition process by automating repetitive tasks and providing data-driven insights. AI-driven recruitment tools like Pymetrics, Eightfold.ai, and Ideal help organizations identify the best candidates for open positions by analyzing resumes, matching skills to job requirements, and even predicting the candidate’s potential for success in a given role.

Continuous Performance Management:

Traditional annual performance reviews are being replaced with continuous performance management systems that allow for real-time feedback and ongoing development. Platforms like 15Five, Lattice, and Betterworks facilitate regular check-ins, goal-setting, and progress tracking, fostering a culture of continuous learning and improvement. This approach promotes employee engagement and alignment with organizational objectives.

Employee Experience Platforms:

Employee experience platforms aim to create a seamless and engaging workplace experience by integrating various HR processes and tools. These platforms, like ServiceNow Employee Workflows, Gloat, and Saba, provide a centralized hub for employees to access information, manage tasks, and engage with colleagues. They help streamline HR processes, improve communication, and boost employee engagement.

Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) in Learning and Development:

VR and AR technologies are making their way into corporate learning and development programs, offering immersive and interactive experiences that enhance knowledge retention and skill development. Examples of these technologies in action can be the use of VR to provide immersive training simulations, or the use AR and VR for soft skills training. These technologies allow employees to practice and hone their skills in realistic, risk-free environments, improving their performance in real-world scenarios.

I keep quotes on my desk and on scraps of paper to stay inspired. What’s your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? And how has this quote shaped your perspective?

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” — Robert Frost

This quote has always inspired me to think about the big picture and long-term goal in everything I do and I find it resonates with the principle that despite all the ups-and-downs, life keeps moving forward.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He, she, or they might just see this if we tag them.

Satya Nadella, CEO at Microsoft, has played a pivotal role in the company’s transformation, focusing on cloud computing, AI, and other emerging technologies.

Our readers often like to continue the conversation with our featured interviewees. How can they best connect with you and stay current on what you’re discovering?

LinkedIn is the best way to stay connected with me and follow my latest articles and posts.

Thank you for sharing your insights and predictions. We appreciate the gift of your time and wish you continued success and good health.