The aviation industry has always stood out for its exceptional levels of technology and innovation, and this has reflected in its human resources (HR) domain as well. AirAsia India (AAI) is one such airline, which leveraged innovative HR technologies to stay afloat during the times of global pandemic.
The popular low-cost carrier wanted to put an effective people strategy in place, in line with its overall business strategy and do away with all its manual integration of Payroll solution, which was leading to myriad inefficiencies. To reduce dependency on its parent organization, AirAsia-Malaysia and focus on making its manual processes online, AAI started automating its core HR processes to boost employee experience and secure newer opportunities.
In a recent conversation with CXOToday, Anjali Chatterjee, CHRO, AirAsia India, explains the key role played by cloud in increasing business efficiency and how a fully mobile-enabled HR information system powered by Oracle HCM has helped the airlines boost employee experience and productivity during this difficult time. Chatterjee also sheds light on the latest HR tech trends and challenges in the aviation industry.
With more and more companies’ adopting the hybrid and work from home model, how do you think employees in the aviation industry are reacting to it given that physical presence is important in your business?
The aviation industry is customer-centric and therefore requires customer interaction and its physical presence can never be eliminated. There are two aspects to our business operations and hence we have two different sets of employees. First, we have employees who manage operations which includes flying and cabin crew and employees handling airport processes like reservation counters, ramps, cargo, and engineering functions, etc. This accounts for 90% of our employee base as these are the workforce who are not part of the hybrid model as they are required to carry out tasks physically. However, they are all on rostered duties.
Moreover, we are focused on implementing state of the art digitalization across our airport operations and our entire guest processes have become low touch, a very crucial aspect keeping in mind the pandemic induced limitations. We also have non-operations teams, which include sales and marketing, network planning, route revenue, customer happiness teams, and so on. These teams work at the back end and, as a result, have been using the hybrid model for quite some time, albeit with extremely high levels of productivity.
What role do you think HR technology has played in the aviation section? How has the role of tech evolved operations for AirAsia in India?
As stated previously, aviation is a customer-centric industry, so our employees must stay connected on the go, and the same applies to our HR functionalities. I’d like to emphasize that 90% of our employees in operations do not use laptops or desktop PCs and to maintain mobility and flexibility, their primary means of communication are mobile phones, as they are a highly dispersed team across various locations. While the teams are in direct contact with our valued customers, technology, particularly mobile technology, is the only way to establish a vital connection within the organization.
As a result, HR technology, especially mobile-enabled HR technology, has played an important role in AirAsia India. Previously, we used a web-based human resource information system (HRIS), and now based on our needs, we evolved and implemented a fully mobile-enabled HRIS powered by Oracle HCM. Currently, all our employees can access all HR-related applications via their mobile devices, rather than a laptop, which makes life much easier for the generation that manages their personal lives through mobile apps.
With the coming together of AirAsia and Tata group, what kind of synergies and streamlining was required within HR and employee processes and how has technology supported this transition?
The merger of AirAsia and Tata group required a high level of coordination, and many synergies were realized through technology. However, because we use highly scalable and customizable solutions, we were able to easily integrate our Oracle web and platform powered by OTON, which is a critical component for us to manage our HR and employee processes. We were able to take advantage of the TATA group’s extensive technology, which proved to be extremely beneficial for us. The integration of our Oracle platform with TMTC’s Tata Tomorrow University is one of the most prominent examples. We were able to leverage TMTC, a world-class learning organization, and the best of global content they provide, attributable to this integration. As a result, in addition to the amazing plethora of content, we achieved huge employee engagement as well as a commercial advantage with this.
What are some of the latest HR trends that you are seeing in the aviation industry, specifically on the AI and predictive analytics? How are these trends leading to the evolution of work culture in India?
The HR industry is undergoing dramatic changes like every other business operation around the world. Employee engagement, satisfaction, and career development have become critical concepts in the aviation industry. With this regard, artificial intelligence and virtual reality, and predictive analysis are expected to be game changers for the industry. Artificial intelligence assists HR team in relieving many repetitive tasks and employee queries using in-built automated systems and analytical tools, allowing us to focus on strategic imperatives.For instance, Oracle has completely digitized the recruitment and onboarding processes, which has increased our bandwidth as well as improved factors such as employee engagement in terms of new joiners, as they are instantly onboarded without having to wait for the HR personnel to handle lengthy processes.
The most significant change has occurred in our learning spaceby utilizing the Mobile Learning platform and combining it with world-class content from Tata Tomorrow University (TMTC), we have been able to manage improved learning and reskilling at lower costs and with better user experience.
Can you share the business benefits or any sort of metrics of how using the new cloud solution has supported Tata AirAsia?
With the new cloud solutions, we have seen significant and rapid business benefits. There are some short-term benefits that we achieved. Firstly, the solution’s user accessibility has aided in onboarding our entire workforce to the application. Secondly, it provides extensive support for learning and skilling, with many of our employees completing at least 2-3 learning programs via mobile devices.
Thirdly, we have completely digitized the recruitment and onboarding process, reducing hiring time and streamlining the entire process. Also, while the cost of training our workforce has decreased significantly, the training resources and modules are quite extensive, resulting in the overall development of our employees. The solution includes built-in HR analytics, which allows us to seamlessly get a comprehensive view of our entire workforce as well as provide data-driven insights that we can act on.
As we progress with our partnership with Oracle, we hope to achieve aspects such as employee net promoter score, employee satisfaction index, workforce balance (diversity and inclusion), absenteeism rate, employee productivity rate, and cultural interventions, as well as impact to respect and promote our employees’ cultural and social aspirations in the long run.