Anuradha Purbey, People Function Director for Southeast Asia, Aviva, is tapping on technology to create capacity for accelerating business growth. Here's how the team got started on this journey, as told to Aditi Sharma Kalra.

Insurer Aviva is proud of its progress in leveraging HR technology, having undertaken three key projects:
  • Implementing robotics for onboarding and off-boarding processes (which are simple, but repetitive and time-consuming, and can be subject to human error);
  • Using predictive analytics to develop insights on attrition; and
  • Leveraging on AI and machine learning for scenario planning to reskill/upskill employees.
“We have huge ambitions to accelerate our business growth and that requires us to drive our workforce transformation to ensure we are resourced with the right capabilities by building for both current and future needs, as well as tapping on technology to create capacity,” says Anuradha Purbey, People Function Director for Southeast Asia at Aviva, on the business need for these programmes.

Even before they were implemented, the first step in the journey was changing the team’s mindset – helping people understand why there was a need for change and how they would end up benefitting. One of the ways to do that was the monthly department meetings, where speakers from tech firms, consultancies and such, came and shared their experience, thus helping the team to better understand what was out there and what could be applied to the team.

“Making them feel comfortable and helping them to overcome the fear of change is easier said than done, especially if they’ve been doing things a certain way for so long. But once there is that mindset shift, the pieces fell into place very quickly,” Purbey explains.

While implementing robotics, the challenge was more around the team juggling its existing workload while working with the IT team to map out the processes, test the tool and then implement it. “In this instance, it does get worse before it gets better … way better,” she admits.

The employee life cycle team no longer needs to send out multiple emails to various parties as part of the off-boarding process.
But since the implementation, the story has been rosy. The employee life cycle team no longer needs to send out multiple emails to various parties as part of the off-boarding process. Its time is now freed up to focus on exit interviews to delve deeper into the reasons why employees are leaving.

“By implementing robotics, we are saving nine man days a month across the team. With the capacity that has created, it has allowed the team to move away from performing operational tasks to higher value advisory work to drive the employee experience.”

For predictive analytics on attrition, Aviva is able to use the data and insights to provide strategic advice to hiring managers. It is then empowered to take meaningful actions to prevent the outcome (attrition).

Meanwhile, the team has just started using AI and machine learning for scenario planning. While it is still early days, it does expect to achieve strategic oversight of budget, capacity and which roles will be impacted by emerging technology, enabling it to discover reskilling pathways.

With a host of benefits to cite, Purbey remains clear that technology will never replace the human element or people as long as they can deliver value. “Tech will help us do our work in a different way, in most instances, faster and better, but that doesn’t mean that people will have less work to do! Instead, it allows us to move our focus to higher value work that really shifts the needle,” she says.


Photo / Provided

This case study was first published in Human Resources' August 2019 edition of the Singapore magazine. Read the full story here: "Is technology the dark knight for HR?"

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