Interview: Inspired By The New

Not shying away from weathering the storm is perhaps a way of marching ahead for Rahul Goyal, Managing Director and General Manager, ADP India & South East Asia. In his vast experience stretching across diverse HR domains, Rahul has achieved professional success because of his potential to transform challenges into opportunities. A proponent of the outside-in approach to business, he has an entrepreneurial mindset and enjoys working on ambitious greenfield projects. Making things happen rather than waiting for them to happen is Rahul's strong belief, and finding innovative ways of solving the workforce challenges of tomorrow are perhaps his favourite food for thought. In pushing the limits daily to bring next-gen HCM and payroll solutions to businesses, Rahul has set an example for many in the HR industry, whether it be in enthusiastically going the extra mile for clients during these challenging times or being passionate about technology, employee experience, and the future of work.

Question: ADP has a 70-year history of leading the way globally in the HR technology space – and it continues to be at the forefront of providing next-gen solutions for the human resource industry. Take us through the journey and evolution of ADP in India.

ADP has been present in India for quite some time. We have had our global delivery centers from way back in early 2000 with around 10,000 associates now based in Hyderabad, Pune and Chennai locations. We have been offering HCM solutions and payroll outsourcing services to domestic clients and multinational corporations (MNCs) based in India. The Indian market is adopting payroll outsourcing and HR technology at a fast pace. Both Indian corporations and MNCs across industries seem to have developed a greater appetite for ADP solutions and services.

 

Question: The current situation has forced organisations to rally around bold ideas and radically rethink the way they work. How are your clients’ needs changing amidst the pandemic, and how are you supporting them?

COVID-19 came as a surprise, and I don’t think many organisations were fully prepared for a pandemic of this magnitude that has challenged business continuity plans.

In this situation, we realised that our clients needed flexibility in Service-Level Agreements (SLAs) and timelines. They also wanted additional digital functions and features matched with a supersimplified approach as well as necessary checks and controls. We seized this moment, and our associates closely connected with our clients to listen and understand their evolving requirements. We collaborated with clients to deliver the services. Our digital solutions met the increased demands for a work-from-home (WFH) environment, and we helped our clients to operate their payroll and compliance needs remotely.

"The pandemic is a shared experience, and COVID-19 brought our clients and us together."

 

Question: The fast-changing regulatory environment in response to the continually evolving COVID-19 situation is significantly impacting organisations in India. How is ADP supporting businesses to respond quickly and remain compliant with the frequent legislative changes?

"Like in many other countries, India also witnessed several legislative changes that impacted payroll, affecting both employees and employers. Thirty-five legislative changes were brought in a short span of three months."

We have a team of compliance and legislative experts who actively follow these changes, interpreting and incorporating them into our products. This had to happen very quickly, with immediate effects for our clients. We also conducted a number of webinars to communicate these changes to our clients, answering their queries, and preparing and helping them to stay compliant.

 

Question: India hosts the second largest group of ADP associates after the USA – with several business units based here. What talent challenges have you been facing over the last few weeks, and how are you addressing them?

With the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown, ADP India offices also transitioned 100% of our associates to work from home.

Switching to full remote working was new to everyone. This was also a very challenging period. An uncertain environment was around all of us. First and foremost, our response began with the health and safety of our associates. We invested in developing a strong culture of communication across the organisation. Our leaders spent significant time and effort connecting with their team members with daystart and day-end meetings, prioritising informal discussions about their wellbeing and their family’s health rather than only being task-oriented. This element of empathy, acknowledgement of the constraints, and genuine expression of thanks helped our associates to be continually engaged and deliver our clients’ requirements efficiently. We all felt a sense of urgency and found a new meaning and purpose whilst servicing our clients.

 

Question: What has COVID-19 changed the most for HR professionals? What are the areas of concern that employers might be called upon to address going forward?

I believe the biggest lesson from COVID-19, as we just discussed, is the importance of employee wellness. HR professionals will have to incorporate employee wellness programs into their future HR strategy.

Secondly, we’ve been talking about flexible working for a very long time. Employees would expect flexible work conditions and a hybrid approach in terms of working in the office or remotely from home. HR professionals need to also consider temporary unavailability in their workforce plan because of the current COVID-19 situation.

"Going forward, HR leaders will also be spending significant time in building a stronger work culture focused on empathy and gratitude, thereby fostering stronger human connections and collaboration."

 

Question: Which are the biggest opportunities that COVID-19 has brought forth for the HR Technology industry? Also, what are your immediate focus areas?

This crisis has brought to the surface a very important and yet often less visible core HR activity: the payroll function. Organisations are realising that timely and accurate payroll processing is central to business continuity in times like these. Companies will be investing in building robust and scalable payroll systems and will focus more on data security and data privacy aspects, along with easy-to-use features. We also see organisations increasingly wanting to consolidate and aggregate multiple payroll vendors, especially in multi-country scenarios. At ADP, we will continue to focus on providing innovative payroll and HCM solutions to our clients and their employees.

 

Up-Close and Personal

 

Question: What has changed the most for you since the COVID-19 outbreak?

I now have a new mantra: "Fitness first."

Question: Which hard-won lessons will this pandemic have taught you?

This pandemic has taught me to genuinely care for others. We've never gone through a crisis like this, and connecting with others, including family, friends and my teams, is really important to me.

Question: What would we be surprised to learn about you?

I have recently developed a keen interest in Indian mythology.

Rapid Fire

 

  • Favourite quote: Growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together. — James Cash Penney
  • The best business book you recently read: Nine Lies about Work – Marcus Buckingham, Ashley Goodall
  • Complete this sentence: I strongly believe in… making things happen rather than waiting for them to happen.
  • What comes to your mind when you hear these words?

 

The future of work: Bots

Inclusion: Human connections

Resilience: Optimism