Last year saw an unprecedented shift to remote work, which has been a disruptive force when it comes to talent and workforce management. This new reality presents a host of new challenges for HR and talent consultants, who are in essence writing the post-pandemic playbook in real-time as companies adjust to this major change. To help organizations navigate their way around the new working world we all find ourselves in, PA Consulting has hired organizational consulting and change management expert Radhika Philip as a partner in its people and talent practice. Consulting sat down with Philip to discuss her new role, the changing talent landscape in the profession, and how firms are looking at culture with a mobile workforce.
Consulting: What will be some of your top priorities for your new role? What specifically do you consider your mandate?
Philip: A priority for 2021 is to expand and augment PA Consulting’s capabilities in organizational, workforce, and workplace transformation, so that we can provide seminal insights and meaningful support to our clients. Technological advances and disruption in business models are constant and unrelenting, and the path forward is not always obvious. Our objective at PA is to be ahead of what we anticipate our clients will need. We are investing heavily in accelerating our cross-disciplinary learning and experimentation, to position us to conceive of multifaceted approaches to solve client problems not just for today, but for tomorrow and further into the future.
Consulting: What are some of the big COVID-driven people challenges that clients are facing right now?
Philip: The pandemic has unleashed a gamut of challenges for work: how it is organized and how it is delivered. These impacts vary based on business and geography, but there undoubtedly are shared challenges that many organizations are facing today. Preeminent among them is that COVID-19 has forced the rapid acceleration to a digital customer experience, and organizations are being forced to rethink not only their customer engagement model, but also their talent resource and capability plans to meet their digital needs. Some of the other critical talent-related questions facing organizations today include: What would be a suitable “return to work” plan? How do we adapt HR services for a combination of remote and in-person work? What protections are needed for employees in the workplace? What wellness benefits should we offer to address the physical, emotional, familial, financial, and job stresses that COVID-19 has brought about? Should compensation cover at-home work-related expenses?
Consulting: How have companies’ mindsets shifted around transformation in-light-of events of the last year? What sort of transformation efforts do you expect to see a lot of clients needing help with?
Philip: Designing digital solutions and experiences—for customers and employees—will be the primary driver of transformation. Crafting a feasible “return to work” program will also be top of mind for organizations. There is no one-size-fits-all “return to work” solution, and clients, we anticipate, will lean toward flexibility—establishing standards, while allowing for differences (virtual/on site) based on the work at hand and the state of COVID-19 in communities and families. Concurrently, clients will likely rethink square-foot requirements, as well as the workplace layout for “hoteling” talent segments. Beyond “return to work,” COVID has led to a heightened focus on designing for resilience and agility, as organizations pause to rethink their talent supply models and design for core/ecosystem relationships.
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