By Dr Ebrahim AlKhajeh
Dr Ebrahim AlKhajeh, CHRO General Administration of Customs, Abu Dhabi, UAE author of How to Hack Your Mind
The unprecedented outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic entirely transformed the conventional work paradigm. As an avalanche of change and digital transformations disrupt workplaces today, the leadership structures have also shifted drastically. To accelerate growth, maintain business continuity and unlock future potential, it has become imperative for the organisations to redesign workplaces that are significant for attaining success in the future of work.
Some of the major trends catalysed by the pandemic are: Increase in hybrid working, organisational redesign for resilience, increased use of data analytics and collection, enhanced focus on continuous learning and development, focus on the physical and mental health of employees, and more.
Now that we are returning to a certain level of normalcy, the focus is to recover, reopen, and eventually return to the hybrid world of work.
From sharing key trends to highlighting the imperative qualities that our forward-looking leaders must adopt to transform businesses for the future;
Dr Ebrahim AlKhajeh, CHRO General Administration of Customs, Abu Dhabi, UAE, and author of How to Hack Your Mind, in a candid conversation with ETHR International, shared some in-depth insights on how organisations can adopt transformational leadership strategies to thrive in this digital age.
Working in the HR field for 22 years, Dr Ebrahim, currently, is the Division Director of Human Capital, PMO Program Manager and a Member of the Strategic Transformation Committee at Abu Dhabi Customs in addition to other committees, hence, leading all aspects of HR comprising 2000 people in 16 locations.
Being the recipient of five Stevie Awards in HR, a Certified Great Place To Work Award, the First government entity in the Middle East to implement the full Oracle HCM cloud suite and the first entity worldwide to adopt the Oracle HCM digital assistant;
He implemented a dynamic and efficient way of working by leveraging Artificial Intelligence and Cloud services to optimise productivity, reduce workloads and several business integrations, thus, resulting in full HR Transformation within two years.
Read on to gain some of the interesting and insightful excerpts shared by Dr Ebrahim from the interview below;
Q1. How do you see the recent events including the pandemic have impacted the Future of Work? Can you highlight key challenges and opportunities?
From my perspective, the pandemic positively impacted the whole world; as we learned the urgency of change and the urgency of digital transformation that was not the priority of most organisations and it changes the world of work.
The challenges that the pandemic provided such as not being able to go to work, the need for technology to work from home, the health and safety new measures, business continuity and other challenges that impacted businesses and opened new opportunities to work on digital transformation, remote work policies, use of advance technology and AI to enhance the work lifestyle and increase the productivity and efficiency of the organisations.
Q2. The world of work has changed and the workplaces are increasingly becoming digital. What should be some of the priorities that CHROs should be focusing on for leading this ongoing digital transformation?
To succussed in your digital transformation, you must focus on:
- Building a new strategy and vision aligned to your digital transformation strategy.
- Your employees’ and customers’ strategies and change management plans.
- Your processes need to be reengineered to be aligned with the digital transformation strategy and the market change.
- Your solutions and technologies need transformation to be aligned with future needs.
Q3. How can HR leverage technologies like AI, ML, and analytics that can create the right experiences for our employees where they can stay engaged, productive, and succeed?
The future of HR is to be more resilient and be the change champion where they focus on being the strategic business partner of the organisation and focus on future changes.
Currently we are focusing on being autonomous HR by implementing AI, ML, Cloud services and Analytics tools such as digital assistant to reply to employees inquiries in minimal time rather than few days, by using RPA (Robotic Process Automation) to automate the processes that are daily routine and eliminate the human errors from those processes to increase efficiency and effectiveness of the results, move all the applications to Oracle HCM Cloud applications that will cover all HR processes to get the updates automatically every 3 months and be aligned with best practices as Oracle will do the process reengineering and we get the update only, same with Tesla and iPhone example that you get the update and your car or phone is up to date with the market change, use face recognition and geofencing attendance to eliminate hardware and increase the productivity and simplify the full automation of the services and make it user friendly as the employee will have all services in his mobile, use of data warehouse as we implemented FAW (fusion analytics warehouse) for better use of analytics that are very important for the management to take decision and set the strategy based on numbers.
It is very important to make sure that any technology you bring to your organisation is a user-friendly system such as social media applications that don’t need any training to give a great employee experience that the employee will support the change, if the system is not user friendly and being complex that require training, this will lead to change resistance so make sure to add technologies that will make the life of your employees easier and to get the best support from everyone and try to have all your services on the mobile as everyone has one and will be the best way to be paperless and helps the environment.
Q4. UAE has always been at the forefront to reinvent itself as a global hub for tech and innovation. As upskilling and reskilling are the major touchpoints in today’s world of work, what will be the new systems of learning and development that could help the workforce in UAE gain maximum benefits from technology and automation?
Talent management strategy is a key to success, new technologies will help a lot in this strategy as the daily routine is very difficult to be done by humans without error as humans’ brains must be used in innovation and creativity and keep the day to day for the technologies and AI.
Some of the technologies we used in talent management are:
- Oracle OLM cloud application for training with AI, analytics and self-update embedded.
- Talent Management module in Oracle HCM Cloud that will cover performance management 360/270, profile management, goals management, succession planning, career development with AI, analytics and self-update embedded.
- VR training solution for all inspection operations and support services.
- Psychometric assessment is based on the competencies profile of every job.
- Hologram for Training Purposes with a control room and 3 holo-classrooms available in 3 locations (Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Ghuwaifat).
- Lastly, how do you envision the ‘present’ and the ‘future’ of work shaping up and a piece of advice you’d like to share with fellow leaders redefining people’s system.
- The current situation is between the classic HR and the start of full digital transformation where some organisations are behind and others working to be aligned with the market changes as the market is changing at a very fast pace toward digital, especially after the pandemic.
- We can see the future of work and where we are going as the future will be almost fully in the digital world and become more virtual similar to the sci-fi movies, as we can see we started to have virtual reality at work and training even in shopping, Interactive hologram for training and meetings, Mixed Realities, NFTs, virtual inspection, augmented reality, metaverse and other technologies that lead us to reach the full virtual capability that we can work from home with fully being virtual with immersive body language at work using not only avatars but being in real shapes.
- I advise every leader to focus on the urgency to change as the world of work is changing very fast due to the environment’s needs, if you didn’t change fast then you will be behind and the more you are behind the market, the more work you will have to catch up with the market and survive in your business.
- Some new competencies need to be added to the jobs especially the innovative thinking and analytical thinking and we need to open many new jobs aligned with the future needs, in conclusion, we are in the middle of the 4th industrial revolution and like any industrial revolution, many jobs will be redundant while new jobs will appear that mainly focus on AI and latest technologies.
This article originally appeared at https://hrme.economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/workplace/bringing-the-hr-digital-revolution-to-the-workplace-interview-with-dr-ebrahim-alkhajeh-human-resources-director-general-administration-of-customs-abu-dhabi-uae/90898382